Speaker: Vasko Belovski
This morning we’re going to be talking about the mind. The mind is a fascinating thing. And even today, in the 21st century, so many people have been trying to understand the mind. And yet they not, cannot come to a complete understanding of the mind of man. It is such a sophisticated, it’s not even an organ. It is something that our brain, the organ allows us to have. But yet, it is part of us. And the Bible talks about it specifically, when it comes to the battle in this world, the spiritual battle that all of us have to face. And we’re going to go through some verses in the Bible and examine them and see what it is that we can learn, particularly with respect to the mind of man, so that we can understand it better, and in turn, receive more help in the fight against sin.
But before we begin, I invite you to kneel with me and I’ll just ask the Lord to be present with us. Dear Lord, and Heavenly Father, we thank You so much for giving us the blessed Sabbath hours every week. And as we enter into this morning’s subject, I pray and ask that You guide our minds, that You specifically guide my mind and the words that come from my mouth. I pray and ask that they may be Your words and Your thoughts and not my own, and that You continue to lead us on the path of righteousness, guiding us closer and closer to You. We surrender and leave everything into Your hands, praying and asking all of this in the name of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
All about the mind. There’s a section in the Bible and if we were to lose all the pages of the Bible, but we were only able to keep two or three pages from it, it would be the chapters found in Matthew, chapter five, chapter six, and chapter seven. And that is known widely known as the Sermon on the Mount. And there are so much studies found in the Sermon on the Mount. So, if we were to have one opportunity to have something from the Bible, it would most certainly, that would be on the priority list of making sure we have with us and we have understood. And that’s why this morning, we’re going to begin with a passage that is found there that corresponds or relates to the subject that we’re going to be discussing. And in Matthew, the fifth chapter, we’re going to start at verse 17. And go all the way down to verse 20.
So Matthew 5:17-20. And it says there, Jesus here speaking, He’s delivering HIs message, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you,” and this is the focus of, this is the primary verse that we are going to examine, verse 20, where it says, “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
If I were to ask how many of us want to enter the kingdom of heaven, I’m sure that every single hand is going to go up. But Jesus here gives us some sort of a prerequisite, if you will. So how one is to enter the kingdom of heaven? He says: “Unless our righteousness”, because He was he speaking to us today as well, “exceeds that of the Pharisees, ye shall by no means enter the kingdom of heaven”. Now He didn’t outright say that the Pharisees were sinners, right? He said, they have righteousness. But your righteousness has to exceed that righteousness. So there’s a higher calling that He is asking all of us to attain to. What is it that Jesus was trying to teach them here, and in just a second, we’re going to see as we continue reading from the Bible.
But in the meantime, I want us to go over a passage that is found in Spirit of Prophecy, Volume Two; commenting on that section that we are studying this morning and notice what she says: “The righteousness here taught was conformity of the heart and life to the revealed will of God.” This is why Jesus was asking or speaking and preaching that if anybody, not just those that were present there back then; if anybody were to enter the kingdom of heaven, their righteousness has to exceed that of the Pharisees. And the righteousness that He was speaking about was a righteousness that was conformity of the heart and life to the revealed will of God. “Jesus taught that the law of God should regulate the thoughts and purposes of the mind.” And this is what we’re talking about this morning, we’re talking about the mind. It is all about the mind. And Jesus says that if we want to attain to a righteousness, that will open the heavenly gates, the thoughts and purposes of the mind need to be regulated. She says: “True godliness elevates the thoughts and actions; then the external forms of religion accord with the Christian’s internal purity; then those ceremonies required in the service of God are not meaningless rites, like those of the hypocritical Pharisees.”
So do you notice what Jesus is trying to present to people back then? He was trying to use the Pharisees as an example. Why? Because they were performing certain rites and ceremonies. And on the outside, they had a form of religion. They were considered righteous persons in the eyes of those around them. And why were they consider righteous? Because they were following the rites and ceremonies that God had given them to follow. But there was an issue. And Jesus wanted to make sure that His followers understood what that issues is, because that was not enough. These rites and ceremonies, that is basically what everybody sees on the outside, was not enough. There’s something higher that the Lord is calling all of us. And it all, all of it, centers around what is going on in our minds.
So coming back here to Matthew five, we’re going to carry on with the next five verses starting in verse 21. And Jesus is now going to explain to us exactly what it is that He means by what He said in these first verses. He says: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old, Thou shalt not kill.” Right, we understand that the moral law, the 10 commandments, are the moral compass of the universe. And the Pharisees knew that.
But notice what happens: “and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment: And whosoever shall say to his brother, Ra-ca, shall be in danger of the council; But whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hellfire.”
What Jesus is trying to present to us here is that, although I might not be physically taking the life of somebody else, at the very same time, I myself might be violating the sixth commandment. Now let’s use an example. Let’s say I have a desire to go and break into the bank here in Midland, and take all the money in that bank. I’ve set out the plan. I’m ready to go. On my drive down, I run a stop sign. And a big truck hits me and sends me to the hospital. I don’t make it to the bank. Now, when I opened my eyes in the hospital, am I to expect the police officer to be beside my bed and arresting me for going into the bank to steal that money? No, why not? I never did it. And nobody even knew where I was headed. Why? Because police, the judicial system, everything that we have here around us, even my friends and family, they can only see certain things that happen on the outside. But if they never happened, because the opportunity never came about, that does not mean that I do not have something inside my mind, inside my heart, that is not in accordance with God’s will; that is not in accordance with the 10 commandments. And that is what Jesus is trying to present to the people and the importance of it, because ultimately, it is all about the mind and what happens in the mind.
Again, I’ll take us to Spirit of Prophecy Volume Two on page 222, paragraph one: “Many who had regarded the commandments as prohibiting actual crime”, just like the laws of the land that we have, “but reaching no farther”; in other words, because I never got to the bank, in the eyes of God, I am an innocent man. This is the kind of religion that the Pharisees had. She says: “Now”, as a result of what was being preached to them, “perceive that the law of God should be obeyed in spirit, as well as in letter.” And that is the difference between obeying the law in spirit and in letter. One is to be visible on the outside. But the law is to be obeyed on the inside as well. That’s why we know that the law is spiritual, it reaches the inner depths of our being. It reaches our thoughts and everything that goes on, day in and day out, moment by moment. That law is to be the, the bar if you will, for what these thoughts should be.
In Proverbs 4:23, the Lord has told us: “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” You see, the Pharisees had lost sight of this principle, they thought if the form of religion, if they had followed everything, all the ceremonies, and all the rituals, and if the people had seen them do so, they would be considered as righteous. They would be considered as followers of God, and worthy of eternal life. But at that same time, there was something else taking place inside of their hearts. And this is what Jesus wants us to understand better. What is it that takes place in the heart? How is it that our heart can be, as we read earlier in the quote by Ellen White, how can we regulate the thoughts and purposes of the heart, of the mind? What is it that takes place?
The battle that goes on in our minds is illustrated in several accounts in the Bible. And the first one and one of the most popular ones is found in Romans chapter eight. So let’s go in Romans chapter eight, and just learn a little bit more about the mind. So Romans eight, starting at verse one. Romans seven presents to us the experience of a sinner who has come to the realization of his sins. An individual who is now begging for help, and who wants to find help. And by the end of chapter seven, we see that that individual comes to understand where that help is found. And notice how, now, verse chapter eight begins in verse one. Paul says here: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
And that’s what we’re trying to understand. What does that mean? What does it mean to walk after the flesh? And what does it mean to walk after the Spirit? Because we don’t want condemnation. We want to be overcomers. We want to have righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees. So in verse two, we are given the solution as to how that takes place: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” There are two groups of people. And the difference between these two groups of people boils down to the difference that takes place in their minds.
As we continue reading chapter eight. It says in verse five: “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Now, it’s interesting that the word mind here in verse five is actually a verb. Why? Because it demonstrate to us what our thoughts are set on. What are the things that we mind? What are the things that we think about? What are the things that we contemplate upon? As time goes on, moment by moment. Everything in the Christian fight is all about the mind. And Jesus tells us that there would be two groups of people. Those who mind. Those who have set their thoughts on the things of the Spirit, and those who have set their thoughts on the things of the flesh. When it comes to the mind of man, there’s one very important thing that we need to realize. And that is that our minds were weakened and enfeebled about 6000 years ago. Something happened to the mind of man. After Adam and Eve partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that brought consequences upon each and every one of us; and I want us to see what that is. Because as we understand these things, it’s going to help us to know how it is that we could be from among those who exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees.
Review and Herald, March 1, 1887 we have the following statement. Notice what she says: “In creating men, God gave him noble qualities” Right? Everything that God made was good, very good. “He endowed him with a well balanced mind, and made every power of his being harmonious”. There was perfect harmony between the different aspects of our body, the different aspects of our mind, the different aspects of our nature. And notice what takes place after the fall of men. “After the fall, there was not given to man another set of faculties.” In other words, they had the same structure, what we called man before the fall is what we call man after the fall. But something else happens: “The powers given him before sin entered the world through Adam were high, and their aims holy; all in perfect harmony with the divine mind. The fall did not create in man new faculties, energies and passions; for this would have been a reflection upon God. It was through disobedience to God’s requirements that these powers”. Which powers? The powers of the mind that God originally put in men. “Through the disobedience of God’s requirements, these powers were perverted.” They became enfeebled, weaker, in a sense. “The affections were misplaced, and turned from the high and holy purpose to a lower aim, and to meet a lower standard.”
In Ministry of Healing, which is such a beautiful book, and that deals so much with the mind, she gives us a little bit more detail on exactly what it is that has been wrong with us for nearly 6000 years. And she spells it out clearly. In the following paragraphs, she says: “One of the most deplorable effects of the original apostasy, that of Adam and Eve was the loss of man’s power.” Of what? “Of self control.” One of the greatest or most deplorable effects of the original apostasy was the loss of man’s power of self control. All of us here today, have lost the power in ourselves of self control, we cannot control ourselves the way Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, were able to control themselves. It is a consequence, an effect that has come upon us. We don’t have the ability to fully control ourselves. She goes on to say: “Only as this power is regained can there be real progress.” So we don’t have the power of self control. And we cannot really progress unless this power is regained. She continues: “The body is the only medium through which the mind and the soul are developed for the upbuilding of character. Hence, it is that the adversity of souls directs his temptations to the enfeebling and degrading of the physical powers.”
What does that mean? Satan is trying everything possible to make sure that our minds are weakened on a daily basis. And this is why it’s not just random, that the Lord called us to a higher, let’s say, use the example of diet for example. Good food brings out good blood. Good blood in the system does what for everything that is found in the system. It nourishes the organs. This is why the three Hebrew boys in Daniel chapter one had to go through this particular diet in order for them to be able to stand later on in Daniel chapter three; when the big test came upon them and when they were asked to either worship God or worship the image that was set before them. These things are not random and Satan tries everything possible to enfeeble and degrade the physical powers.
“His success here means the surrender to evil of the whole being. The tendencies of our physical nature, unless under the dominion of a higher power, will surely work ruin and death. The body is to be brought into subjection. The higher powers of the being are to rule.” The higher powers of the being are to rule. “The passions are to be controlled by the will.”
So she’s bringing out a few things here that we need to understand with respect to the mind. We have higher powers, we have passions, and we have the will, which is the governing factor in the mind of men that allows certain things to be controlled and the whole being to be control. This is what she’s telling us. And I’ll stop the quote here, because she then gives us the solution to this problem of self control. And we’re going to come back in a second. But right now I want us to look at what the mind looks like. Here we’re given with the simple understanding of what goes on in our minds. And we all need to understand that because it impacts our lives, not just for today, but for eternity as well. This is what the Bible is trying to help us understand. In the mind of man, you have two primary areas, that’s what we’ll leave it at. We have the frontal lobe, and we have the limbic system. And we can generalize that by the higher nature and this is the term that you would see used in the writings of the spirit of prophecy, and the lower nature. Now what are the difference between these two? What is it that they deal with? How are they connected with everything that you do? In the higher nature’s we find the moral and reasoning, powers of man faculties. In the lower nature, we find the emotions and feelings, we find the passions, and we find the appetites. You might even use the word instincts as well. And the will, in the mind of man, the will that all of us have is the governing factor of having a proper connection between the higher and the lower nature. Now the Holy Spirit works through the higher nature, through the reasoning capabilities of men. But the flesh and the enemy, work through the lower nature, when the will gives its side to the lower nature to the passions, then that lower nature’s becomes the governing system in men. And that is what is meant by living according to the flesh.
But the Lord tells us that the lower nature needs to be in subjection to the higher powers of the mind. And only by having proper self control, can we regulate that. You see what that means? Because it is the will that decides who regulates what, in the whole being of man. So a person who walks according to the Spirit has his mind set on the things of the Spirit. And a person who walks according to the flesh has his mind set on the things of the flesh. It is a battle that is continuing in our beings, moment by moment by moment. This is why Paul says, I die daily; and we’re going to see now what it means to die daily. What that means practically, and how that is the first step in not only the building of character, but also ultimately in exceeding the righteousness that the Pharisees had. So what is it that takes place in the mind? James chapter one, verse 14 to 15 gives us a little illustration of what it is that we just talked about. We learn of this battle that takes place on the inside continually. He says, James says here: “But every man is tempted”, How? “when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” So let’s use the example that we read of in Matthew chapter five with the violation of the sixth commandment, and see what that means, based on what we have understood here. So when there’s temptation, for example, you have just gone through some bad experience with somebody and your flesh is tempting you to become what? In wrath with that person. You’re not going to physically kill him. But something is taking place on the inside in your mind. And then, practically speaking, you allow that lust as the Bible says here to conceive. Your will allows that lower nature that we see here to take control of the whole being and what is the result? Wrath being formed in your heart. And as Jesus said, that is a violation of what of the sixth commandment that is the example that He used. Later on in Matthew chapter five, He gave another example. He said, You don’t need to go and commit the act of adultery in order to be considered an adulterer. So let’s bring this into our mind now and see what it is that takes place. A temptation comes from where? From that passion, from the lower nature, from the flesh. And you allow that to take place in your mind. Now you have not gone out and committed the act of adultery. But because that is already being formed into your mind, you’re beginning to mind, the things of the flesh are beginning to mind that lustful desire that came into your mind and tempted you. You are now violating the commandment, just as if you were to commit the actual act. And this is why the law is spiritual. And this is why everything boils down to the mind and what takes place in our minds. And this is what Jesus wants us to understand even today that our righteousness has to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. Our mind has to be set on the things of the Spirit, and we are to be overcomers. We’re to shun these thoughts, these temptations, day in and day out, moment by moment. So how? What is it that is going to help us to achieve that?
Testimonies Volume 5, on page 513, we find the following statement and helps us to understand this battle that goes on, and how one can be successful in this battle. Because remember, in order for you to make sure that the higher nature is in control of the flesh, is by the will. The will is the governing power in the mind. The will is the governing power in the human being. She says: “Pure religion has to do with the will. The will is the governing power in the nature of man, bringing all other faculties under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination”; Right? You’re in the middle of this temptation, it’s coming through, you want to get angry. And she’s telling us here the will is not that. That’s not what the will is. “But it is the deciding power, which works in the children of men unto obedience to God, or unto disobedience.”
She says the body, in Ministry of Healing page 130: “The body is to be brought into subjection. The higher powers of the being are to rule.” Always. Now there’s nothing wrong with healthy emotions, right? Jesus when He was on Earth, He had emotions. He cried when He went to visit Martha and Mary. The Bible is not teaching us that we are not to have emotions, not at all. But what the Bible is telling us is that we need to make sure that the higher nature is in control of all of these things. The reasoning powers, the moral powers, they need to be in control. Because if they’re not in control, then we’re going to lose the whole being, and become captive by these lusts that come from the flesh. She says: “The passions are to be controlled by the will.” And notice the key here, “which is itself to be under the control of God.” Why? What is it that we learned earlier? What is it that took place after the fall of Adam and Eve? Human beings lost their ability of self control? We cannot do that. The only way we can do that is if our will is given in the hands of God in His control. “The kingly power of reason sanctified by divine grace is to bear sway in our lives.”
And here’s a section from the Ministry of Healing that really brings everything into such a beautiful perspective and gives us the solution as to how we can truly exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees; and how we can have a mind that is a spiritual mind, a mind that minds the thing of the Spirit rather than the things of the flesh. She says: “Apart from divine power, no genuine reform can be effected. Human barriers against natural and cultivated tendencies are but as the” sandbanks, sorry, as the “sandbank, against the torrent. Not until the life of Christ becomes a vitalizing power in our lives, can we resist the temptations that assail us from within”, from the lower nature, “and from without.” Christ came to this world and lived the law of God, that man might have perfect mastery over the natural inclinations which corrupt the soul.” Where do these natural inclinations come from? They come from the lower nature, they’re constantly trying to push and take control of the whole being.”The Physician of soul and body, He gives victory over warring lusts. He has provided every facility, that man may possess completeness of character. When one surrenders to Christ, the mind is brought under the control of the law; but it is the royal law, which proclaims liberty to every captive. By becoming one with Christ, man is made free. Subjection to the will of Christ means restoration to perfect manhood.” What does that mean? Now your not longer going to be captive, by the lusts of the flesh, they’re no longer going to take control over you. And no matter what we try, remember, that’s so important for us to understand, we have no ability for self control, we have no ability to make sure that our will is strong enough, to make sure that the higher nature will be in control of the flesh. We cannot do that. “Obedience to God is liberty from the thralldom of sin, deliverance from human passion and impulse. Man may stand conquerer of himself, conquerer of his own inclinations,” that are continually coming through, “conquerer of principalities and powers, and of the ‘rulers of the darkness of this world’, and of ‘spiritual wickedness in high places.'”
So very often we think of all these lusts, and we project them as this big thing, big sin. For example, you know, cheating on your spouse, or stealing, killing somebody. But remember, what is it that Jesus told us? The law is spiritual, it reaches into the depths of your heart. So what are some of these things that could be warring against us in the flesh, that can take control of us that we don’t so often talk about? Well, if we go to Galatians, chapter five, we learn a little bit more about this battle between the flesh and the spirit, and how they war against each other. For the flesh, remember, as we can see it on our diagram here, the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary, the one to the other, so that he cannot do the things that he would. But if you be led of the Spirit, you’re not under the law. Now, the works of the flesh are, and we’re going to go through a short list of some of these works of the flesh because it will better allow us to understand what it is that takes place in our minds; and the temptations that we have to face and overcome on a continual basis, specifically that take place in our minds. The Bible here lists a few of them, and we’re going to go over five or six, and try to understand them and see if it is something that we experience on a day to day basis.
The first one is idolatry and witchcraft. Now, how many have committed idolatry or witchcraft now that you read it? The first answer would be: Well, never. I never went the bow down to a pagan deity. I never did witchcraft. This sounds so, you know, out there. I don’t in fact, I don’t know anybody that has done witchcraft. I’ve never met a person who’s done witchcraft. But come with me to 1 Samuel 15:23 and notice what the Bible says there: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and Idolatry.” Idolatry is not only going to bow down to a pagan deity. It reaches the inner parts of your being. It hits right in the mind. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Do you remember the last time you were tempted to rebel, be it against your parents, be it against your spouse, be it against authority? A person at the store that cut you off, or sorry, a person on the street that cut you off? Someone in the store who took the last box of toilet paper in a time when the store is running out of toilet paper? All these battles are found within. The law is spiritual, it reaches the inner parts of our being. And we need to make sure that our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees. We need to make sure that everything on the inside is set in perfect control under the will of God. The higher nature needs to be ruling over the lower nature.
The next one here in Galatians, five is hatred. Hatred is of the flesh. You don’t need to take the life of another person to be violating the sixth commandment as Jesus said, Variance, strife, emulations. What are emulations? Jealousy, jealousy, envy. These are all things that happen inside of us that are constantly trying to take control of our minds. Maybe we can throw in competition. And I can give you an example from my personal life. In my youth, I left going to church on Sabbath, so I can go and play competitive sports. This is why I wouldn’t want my child to be involved in competitive sports because all these things are just stimulating emulations. And according to the Bible, emulations are of the flesh. The next one, seditions, which is division. I’m sure that all of us have remembered at least one time when we have faced these things, warring against us, inside of us, wanting to take control.
The next one is heresy. What is heresy? Heresy is that which is not in accordance with the law and the prophets; not in accordance with the truth. People at times just want, have a desire for something new and exciting. And when these thoughts take control of our mind, the whole being comes under the control of the enemy. That’s why the enemy uses heresies to lead people astray. It’s listed here for a reason.
So let’s come back now that we have seen what the issues and understand how this will that God has given us, which is the deciding factor in the nature of man, the deciding factor in the mind of man. How that will can function properly because that’s what we need. That is the first step. If you have a properly functioning will, if you restore the ability of self control in the mind of men, only then are you going to be able to progress and form a character for eternity. That is the first and most important step.
Review and Herald, January 4, 1881. A familiar acquaintance with the scriptures sharpens the discerning powers, and fortifies the soul against the attacks of Satan. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit, which will never fail to vanquish advesaries. It is the only true guide in all matters of faith and practice. The reason why Satan has so great control over the minds and hearts of men is that they have not made the Word of God, the man of their counsel, and all their ways have not been tried by true test. The Bible will show us what course we must pursue to become heirs of glory, says the psalmist: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” But this is not the case when it is left unopened and unread.
In that same word, the word of God the Bible, in John 3:14, John says: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” And I have a challenge for all of us today. And that challenge is based on something that the testimonies present to us and probably most of us are familiar with this, but I wanted to serve as a reminder and I also want to challenge all of us to apply that. Now I’m not ignoring prayer. I’m not ignoring servicing or doing service for others. There are many things that are beneficial to the mind of men. But we’re focusing here on the Word of God, because there’s something very particular about the Word of God. And most specifically, when it comes to lifting up Jesus, this paragraph is shown in volume 4 of the testimonies. “It will do you good,” she’s speaking to somebody, and she’s speaking to that person, she’s actually speaking to all of us today. Because we want to make sure that our will is consistently given into the hands of Christ. Because we don’t have the ability to control ourselves, we’ve lost that. And only as this will is consistently given into the hands of Christ, only then can we actually be overcomers. And begin the journey of forming a Christian character, character that’s going to prepare us for eternity. We are to die daily, as Paul says. But there are things that help us to make sure that we die daily. And notice what she says here, “It will do you good” and he will do us good. “And our ministers generally, to frequently review the closing scenes in the life of our Redeemer. Here, beset with temptations as He was, we may all learn lessons of the utmost importance to us. It will be well to spend a thoughtful hour each day, reviewing the life of Christ from the manger to Calvary.”
You know, we were talking earlier about how life has changed in the 21st century, someone mentioned how things are nothing as they were 2000 years ago. And there’s truth to that. I mean, look around, people are so busy, via chasing dreams, taking care of their family, whatever else it might be, we’re just so busy, who has the time to meditate every day for about an hour? Nobody. But that is what the Lord is calling us to do. Why? Because only then are we going to be able to truly be ready at every moment, to give our will into the hands of Christ. And here what is being presented is meditating specifically upon His life.
So my challenge for all of us today is to make sure that we put some time aside every single day, and I am not talking about our morning and evening worship, we have our morning and evening worship. Right? But how many of you have lunch during the day? How many of you eat lunch during the day? I do. And I need that lunch in order to carry on with my body being able to take care of the physical things that I need to do in the afternoon. Now, how much more important is it for us to eat spiritual lunch every day? Right? And the challenge this morning for all of us is to make sure that we all find time to meditate upon the life of Christ, in particular, specifically, His closing scenes, because in it, we are going to find valuable lessons. And by lifting up Jesus in our own lives, are we then going to be able to surrender our will to God. So then we can ultimately have control of our being and exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees.
In closing, I’m just going to read one more statement. And leave us with that. So we can meditate upon these things and take them to heart. And hopefully we have come to understand a little bit better of how important our mind and what it is involved in moment by moment by moment. Because you know what the biggest mistake Christians make, or I should say one of the biggest mistakes that Christians make is that they think that at conversion, temptation just goes away. Right? The moment you become Christian, you think that that lower nature is no longer going to push against you. But you know what? It’s the exact opposite. The more you become aware of it, the more is this battle revealed in your own mind. And unfortunately, people tend to make two mistakes because of that. Either they get discouraged because they think that now that they become a Christian, they should have gone through this miraculous transformation. The lower nature is to never push against this again. But that’s not what the Bible talks about. The flesh roars against the Spirit. That battle is going to be present with us for as long as we are here in this sinful world. And because of that some people get discouraged and they think that, “but I have become a Christian. Why is it that this old self is still trying to push through? Why am I experiencing all these temptations over and over again?” It is because the lower nature is there, it is part of our minds. And the mistake that other Christians make is to begin ignoring that and become accustomed to it because they think that now that they have become a Christian, they are already this perfect person. And when these temptations come in, then they just ignore them and allow them to manifest themselves because they think that now they are Christian, they have already gone through a transformation of some sort that is eliminated the old self. But remember, the old self will be pushing all the way until the end. This is why Jesus in Gethsemane, when He was having His last communication with His Father, one of the last words that He meant, that He uttered, were “Not My will, but Thine be done.” Why? Because the will of men is never wanting to go through the difficulties that Christ was about to go through. But because He placed His will, in the hands of His Father, He was able to be successful, He was able to have control over the lower nature. And that’s what the Lord expects of all of us today.
Testimonies Volume 4, page 606, paragraph two: “Every faculty in man is a workman that is building for time and for eternity.” Every faculty, our body is to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. And that incorporates every single faculty that we have. “Day by day the structure is going up, although the possessor is not aware of it. It is a building which must stand either as a beacon of warning because of its deformity or as a structure which God and angels will admire, for its harmony with the divine model. The mental and moral powers which God has given us do not constitute character.” Very important for us to understand that what God has given me the things that I have been born with, this is not what constitutes character. She says: “They are talents.” Remember what Jesus told us about talents and how we are to take care of the talents that He has given us. So our moral and mental powers are talents that God has given us their talents, “which we are to improve, and which, if properly improved, will form a right character.” That is the starting point. A man may have precious seed in his hand, but that seed is not an orchard.”
You listen to a good sermon, and you liked it. There’s the seed in your hand. So what do you do with it now? It’s not an orchard yet, it needs to be worked with. “The seed must be planted before it can become a tree. The mind is the garden.” How many of you garden every summer? How easy is it to garden? You have to put a lot of effort, don’t you? Every day, you have to weed that garden, you have to water that garden, you have to take care of that garden all the time. And this is what she’s trying to present to us. “The mind is the garden, the character is the fruit.” Unless you water that garden, unless you weed that garden from the things of the flesh, unless everything is under control, you’re not going to see fruit. “The seed must be planted before it can become a tree. The mind is the garden, the character is the fruit. God has given us our faculties to cultivate and develop. Our own course determines our character.”
And that is the beauty of how God has created us. Every one of us has a free will. God cannot come and take your will from you. You have to give it to Him. And He has given you the ability to choose Him and surrender your will and give it into His hands just as Jesus did. And as a result of that, we’re going to have this self control restored in our minds. And ultimately we’re going to be able to form characters for not just for this earth, but for eternity as well. And may the Lord help us to understand how important that is. And for all of us to continue to water and take care of the garden of our mind. So we can ultimately exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees and see Our Lord and Savior face to face one day.
And now I invite you to pray with me and ask the Lord for help in these things, to not just understand them, but apply them in our own lives. Dear Lord and Heavenly Father, we come before You because we understand that we have no ability to control ourselves. We have no ability to make sure that our higher nature is in control of the whole being. Father, without You, without surrendering to You, without choosing to give You our will, we’re not going to be successful in this earth. And most importantly, we’re not going to be able to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees, something that You has, that You have called us to accomplish. Father, please help us understand how important this battle of the mind for our minds is. We live in the midst of a great controversy. There are two powers that are contending for our thoughts, the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of antichrist. Lord, I pray and ask that we can make changes in our lives to make sure that we lift up Jesus. I pray for every person that is here. And I pray that they will be able to, just as they need physical food, to make sure that we all find time to meditate upon the life of Christ, specifically the closing scenes; so that the examples and everything that we’ve seen in those passages can have a beneficial effect upon us. And having the desire to leave our will into Your hands. Take us and mold us and shape us into what we ought to be, Lord. And we know that as a result of this internal transformation, everything on the outside will follow through, follow suit. We leave everything into Thy hands and we pray that You’ll be with us throughout the rest of this Sabbath day. And may Your blessings be upon us and help us to guard our minds from secular thoughts and discussions and place them upon You, upon heavenly things. We ask all of this in the name of Your beloved Son Jesus Christ, to whom be glory now and forevermore. Amen.