“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word” —Psalm 119:9, NIV
It sounds amazingly simple.
The difficulty is not in the execution because the body will go where the mind tells it to go. The key to the problem of execution lies in the mind. In this case, does this young man want to keep his way pure?
The question and the lesson is easily transferable to everything else and to everyone else.
Our theme verse in the old Sky Force program that I grew up in as a kid comes from Colossians 3:1, 2: “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Romans 12:1, 2 takes us one step further: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing o your mind. Then you will be able to test and prove what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The battle begins in the mind. The mind can’t be changed or transformed by us, it can only be submitted to the One who is capable of working the change in us. Philippians 2:13 tells us that “…it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” He changes our minds as we submit those minds to him and focus those minds on him. Then the body will follow. We become what our mind most focuses on.
How often does this submission of the mind need to happen? In the beginning stages, or when a habit or sin is persistent, the submission of mind and body to God may have to be made many times throughout a day. But we should never grow cocky about the victories we enjoy over those sins and habits. Every day announces a new battle to be fought, attacks that may come from unexpected places and through unlikely people. Each day needs to covered by our submission, our commitment to be willing to live out God’s purposes, to “beat feet” and run from temptation, to obey even when that yet unchanged part of us is screaming for us to do otherwise.
We complain that obedience to God is too hard even while John tells us in 1 John 5:3: “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”
Is it possible that there is a correlation between how difficult we find obeying Him is and how much we love Him? How much we love Him will affect how much of ourselves we are willing to submit to Him. How much we submit to Him will affect the extent of the changes He can make in us. And how many changes He can make in us will affect the purity of our lives and how easily obedience comes to us.
The passage in 1 John encourages us with this note: “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (5:4). Victory is a sure thing as we exercise the faith God has planted in us and commit ourselves to Him and to His purposes each and every day.