Who's Controlling Your Mind?
“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do…I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing…When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being, I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
If I were to open a forum and ask for personal illustrations of this truth, I doubt I would have any trouble finding them. We know, with absolute certainty how easy it is to want to do what is good and then to end up doing what is not good.
Paul will go on in the following chapters to explain how it is possible to break this vicious cycle. But before he goes into the details he makes a huge statement in answer to his own question: Who will deliver me?
“Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (7:25)
The cycle can be broken. It was declared broken on the cross, the chains smashed by Jesus Christ when He died for our sins. The bondage-breaker came into our lives when we accepted Christ as Saviour and Lord. We don’t have to want to do good and end up doing evil instead.
Every moment of the day we make choices. We choose to allow God to be glorified as we do the dishes, or drive the car, or interact with the kids or a client. Or we choose to let evil, lurking close at hand, to reclaim ground that belongs to God.
In Romans 8 we are urged to live according to the Spirit that God has placed in us when we came to faith, to let the Spirit of God have control: “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (8:5, 6).
Some of the opponents of Christianity accuse us of doing a “Jim Jones” on people, of using mind control to manipulate our “victims.” That, of course, is nonsense. True Christianity does not bend people to the will of its human, and very fallible, leaders. However, we are to submit daily, moment by moment, to God’s mind control. We are to allow the Holy Spirit to dictate our thoughts, emotions, and acts, in accordance with His will. Then, and only then, can we be free from the dilemma Paul describes of wanting to do good and ending up doing evil.