We may have all heard the quip about patients in a mental institution. It goes: “We’re all here because we’re not all there.” The mind is the most important component of the human body. Without a sound mind human beings simply cannot function properly. How we think directly relates to what we think. In brief, how and what we think are essential to happiness and a successful life. One may wonder why so many people lack the ability to think things through without allowing emotions to rule. Or why they don’t realize what the consequences of wrong decisions can do to them.
From the Bible perspective, the mind of man is far inferior to that of God. God’s mind is on a level beyond human comprehension, yet He reveals in His Word enough of His thinking to give us an insight of what we lack. The Scripture states: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8–9). The fact is: There is something fundamentally lacking in the human mind. The Bible says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). How we think often results in how we act. To be pleasing to God the human mind must be changed. We are told: “That ye put off concerning the former [conduct] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22–24). What, then, is wrong with the human mind—that is, with the nature of the old man that is often influenced by the mind?
For one thing, human beings tend to be self-centered. They look out for their own interests often at the expense of others. The Apostle Paul said there would be perilous times in the last days, and the primary characteristic is, “. . . Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous . . . ” (2 Tim. 3:2). The tenth commandment forbids coveting, and in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote, “. . . I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” (Rom. 7:7). The desire to have unlawful things, or to lust for what other people possess, is endemic in the world today. It has been stated that the origin of war begins with theft. Theft is to a large degree motivated by coveting. It is one of the sins of human nature and has its origin in the mind.
Also, human nature is antagonistic toward the Law of God. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote: “. . . The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7–8). The book of Proverbs tells us: “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes. . . ” (Prov. 21:2). What then is the result of men believing they are always right? The answer: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12). Misery and agony have been caused by world leaders who believe they are right and cause millions to suffer and die. In the sight of God these world leaders are fools. Why? “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise” (Prov 12:15). But they don’t want any counsel from God. God states: “They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices” (Prov. 1:30–31). Why do men act this way? The answer: Counsel from God would require them to change their ways, but they, being antagonistic toward God, refuse to even consider it.
The mind of man is full of wickedness. The Apostle John wrote: “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). Jesus described what was in the mind of man as follows: “. . . He said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:20–23).
Furthermore, the Apostle Paul gave a vivid description of human behavior. He wrote:
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Rom. 1:28–32)
Another characteristic of human nature is self-justification for what one does, even if it is wrong. One of the most difficult things for human beings to do is to admit they are wrong. Some will go to great length to excuse their errors. Jesus encountered this characteristic more than once when confronting the religious leaders of His day. On one occasion Christ encountered a lawyer who did not like to hear what He said about love for one’s neighbor. “But he, [the lawyer] willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29). Jesus gave him an answer with which the lawyer was forced to agree. On another occasion, the Pharisees were piqued because of what Jesus said about mammon (material wealth or possessions), so they fiercely derided him. Jesus answered: ” . . . Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). To these Pharisees wealth and possessions were highly regarded as a sign of righteousness, but Jesus revealed how God feels about them when they have a debilitating effect upon those who possess them. Of those who think they are good and without fault, we read: “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Prov. 20:6).
Many men have little interest in those things which do not appeal to their desires. Since the carnal mind is enmity against God, many have no interest whatsoever in God’s word. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness [moronic] unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). This intellectual disinterest reflects egotism, “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him” (Prov. 26:12). The man who has no interest in the things that really count in life can certainly be considered conceited.
Since the mind of man so easily misleads him, what can be done to correct it? The truth is: The mind of man cannot be changed without the help of God. This begins when one seeks to know God’s will and to obey Him. Jesus said, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Luke 11:9–10). We are told: “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). We can know what the will of the Lord is by Bible study and prayer. Remember this: It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance. Romans 2:4. The means to bring about a change in human thinking rests in a series of steps. The first of these is repentance. Repentance means to change. But what does this change entail? It means to recognize evil thoughts and behavior that are contrary to God’s law, and then endeavor to stop doing these lawless things. It means to recognize the significance of Christ’s sacrifice, and that His death paid the penalty for our sins. Then comes baptism, which signifies the burial of the old man, and by coming up out of the water, the representation is the new man. Then, by receiving the Holy Spirit the individual receives the power to live a godly life. This is why there is such emphasis in the New Testament on the need to put on the new man.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 “. . . Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2). To repeat, we are told: “. . . Put off concerning the former [conduct] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22–25).
Furthermore we are told:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. (Phil. 2:5–9)
Man must be given a new mind, a mind that recognizes the preeminence of God and the sacrifice and shed blood of Christ. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Christ was perfect and did not deserve to die. But all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). As a result, all human beings are under the penalty of eternal death. But Christ paid the penalty in our stead, and by accepting His sacrifice, repenting, being baptized, and receiving the Holy Spirit, we can become a new man with a different mind than that which we presently have.