Single-mindedness vs. Double-mindedness: Part 1

Against the Tide

II Corinthians 10:5-6 gives us a very important directive. It tells us to "take every thought captive" and to deal with the thoughts that are not of faith. God knows that taking every thought captive is critical because our thoughts are the first to be triggered in the chain-reaction of our souls. In other words, our thoughts stir up our emotions; our emotions then influence our choices; and, our choices are what produce our lives. Thus, whoever controls our thinking will ultimately be the one who controls our lives.

In this article, we want to visually see how this process works and why our choices are so very critical.

Let's begin by exploring how the Bible defines our minds and see if we can understand a little more clearly why the Lord considers our thoughts so very important. According to Scripture, our minds are not just our thoughts or our reason or our intellect, but a whole conceptual process. This process begins with the spirit that resides at the core of our being and ends with the life that is produced out in our soul. This whole process, according to Scripture, is called "mind," or nous, in the Greek. (Romans 12:2)

Here is a visual picture of how this conceptual process works.

Chart 1

As you look at this chart, you can see that it's the spirit (which is the power source or the energy source) that creates the thoughts of our hearts. And then those thoughts are produced out in our lives (or our souls) as actions. In other words, the spirit creates the thoughts of our hearts and those thoughts then produce our life actions. This whole process, according to the Bible, is called our mind.

Three Types of Minds

Scripture speaks about three types of minds: the natural mind (an unbeliever), a double-minded person (a Christian) and a single-minded person (also a Christian).

Chart 2

"Mind" in the natural man, i.e. an unbeliever or one who has no influence from God at all, is going to be a natural, self-centered conceptual process. The process begins with the natural man's spirit, which resides at the core of his being. This spirit creates self-centered thoughts in the natural man's heart and, eventually, self-centered life actions in his soul. For this unbelieving person, there is no other choice but to follow what he naturally thinks and feels because there is no other power source (no other spirit within him) to produce anything different. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Chart 3

"Mind" in a believer (someone who has asked Jesus Christ into his heart), however, should be a God-centered conceptual process, because God's Spirit dwells at the core of his being. In other words, God's Spirit is the One who creates God-centered thoughts in this person's heart, which should then produce God-centered life actions in his soul. This is God's ideal and His perfect will.

This God-centered conceptual process is called in Scripture "single-mindedness." The Greek word is psyche, which means one-souled. Single-mindedness means there is only one life being lived here - God's. In other words, God's Life is freely coming forth from this person's heart and producing Godly life actions in his soul. This is a person who, for the moment, is spirit-filled and is living the truth (his words and deeds match).

A Perfect Example: Single-minded Joseph

A Scriptural example of someone who was single-minded is Joseph in Genesis 39. As you may recall, after Joseph was sold to the Ishmaelites traveling to Egypt, he was assigned to work in the household of Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard. Potiphar chose Joseph to be an overseer of his house because he trusted him completely. Potiphar committed everything into Joseph's hands and God blessed Potiphar because of this.

Potiphar's wife, however, was not as trustworthy. When Potiphar was gone, she enticed Joseph to lay with her. Refusing her offer, Joseph responded with, "How could I do that to Potiphar when he has entrusted everything to me? And besides, how could I sin against God?" Potiphar's wife wouldn't take no for an answer, however, and day after day, kept persisting. One day, when Joseph went into the house, she physically caught hold of him. As he tried to flee, she ripped off his garment and kept it as evidence against him. She lied to the servants and to her husband that evening by saying that Joseph had attacked her. Potiphar was grieved, but he had no other choice but to put Joseph in prison.

The Lord adds a footnote to this story in Genesis 39:21. He says that even in prison, "...the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy and gave him favor...." It also goes on to say that all who saw Joseph knew God was with him.

Joseph, to me, is a perfect example of a person who is single-minded. Even though he was repeatedly tempted, he kept on choosing to give God his thoughts so that God's Life could still freely come forth from his heart. Because of his choice to stay single-minded, Joseph was easily conformed to God's image and everyone who saw him was aware that "God was with him." In other words, he showed forth God's character. Unfortunately, there is another choice for a Christian, and this is where many of us live our entire Christian lives.

Chart 4

This is a picture of a believer who has God's Thoughts in his heart (he's a Christian), but because he has chosen to follow his own lusts, hurts, frustration, anger (justified or not), etc., God's Life has been blocked from coming forth and in its place, self-centered life actions are produced. This is called double-mindedness, or being "twice-souled." It means that two lives are being lived-God's and his own. This, then, is a Christian who is being conformed to the world's image, not Christ's.

An Example: Double-minded David

A perfect Scriptural example of double-mindedness is David in 2 Samuel 11. As you recall, David was on the roof of his palace when he saw Bathsheba bathing next door. He thought she was absolutely beautiful and he wanted her. Rather than catch those first ungodly thoughts as Joseph had, however, David allowed those lustful thoughts to stir up his emotions, feed his desires and finally influence his actions. David sent his servants to inquire after the woman. They came back and reported that she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. But the thought that she was someone else's wife didn't stop David. He was so emotionally wrapped up by this time that he chose to act upon his own desires, sent for Bathsheba and lay with her. When David learned that Bathsheba was pregnant, he called Uriah home, thinking he could cover his own sin. Uriah, however, in deference to his men on the front lines of the war, didn't sleep with his wife, but rested on the porch of his house.

When David found out that his cover-up had not worked, he commanded that Uriah be put at the front lines of the battle and that the troops be pulled back from him. Just as David had hoped, Uriah was killed. David then took Bathsheba as his wife.

To me, David's behavior presents a perfect example of a double-minded man. Even though he had God's Life in his heart and had been "a man after God's own heart," he nevertheless chose to go with the tide and follow the lusts of his own flesh over what God was prompting him to do. (Acts 13:22c)

James 1:14-15 is provocative in light of David's story: "...Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away [from making the right faith choice] by his own lust [a strong desire], and enticed [captured by it]. Then when lust hath conceived [they have made the choice to follow it], it brings forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death [separation from God]." For this short period of time, David lived a lie. His words, "I love God," and his actions obviously did not match. People could no longer see God in him. He totally had given himself over to his own will and desires, and thus, God's Life was quenched.

How Satan revels in our double-mindedness! He knows that double-mindedness not only keeps us bound by our hurts and wounds, but it also causes the enemies of God to blaspheme. (2 Samuel 12:14) Thus, all Satan and his hordes want is to have us respond "emotionally." Then, he's got us!

Consequently, we can be Christians all of our lives with God's Life in our hearts, and yet because we continue to make emotional choices to follow what we think, what we feel and what we desire over what God has prompted us to do, God's Life in us has been quenched. Thus, no one will ever see the difference between our life and that of our neighbors who don't even know God. Yes, we're Christians. Yes, we belong to the Lord. But, we're Christians living two lives. God's supernatural Life is still in our hearts, but the life that is coming forth from our soul is "self life," our own thoughts and emotions, and not God's Life at all. Titus 1:16 describes this state, "They profess that they know God [intimately], but in works [actions] they deny Him...."

Throughout Scripture, God is alerting us to the fact that the battle for our lives is really waged in our minds. We're either going to be single-minded, allowing God's Life from our hearts to motivate and direct all our actions; or, double-minded, blocking God's Life in our heart and showing forth "self life" in our soul. Which are you?

To be continued: This article was excerpted, in part, from Chuck and Nan's book Against the Tide.