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CHAPTER 37

THE CARNAL MIND

When our Saviour was teaching Nicodemus the nature of the new birth, the latter inquired “How can these things be?” The Saviour did not attempt to explain the how. He insisted upon the fact; He made no effort to remove the mystery of the manner. To endeavor to do it would be as unsatisfactory as to try to show where the wind comes from and where it goes to. Those who receive it must receive it by faith.

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.”—John 3:11.

Those who know least about how food builds up the body, often have the keenest appetites, and the best blood. So those who are least inquisitive about the manner in which the Holy Spirit operates upon the mind to sanctify it, often have the greatest degree of the Spirit’s influence upon their hearts. He who receives the kingdom of God receives it, not as a philosopher after all his questions have been answered and his doubts removed, but as a little child, who takes it on trust, and asks no questions.

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”—Luke 18:17.

Speculations in religious things easily become perplexing and unprofitable. Those who make a hobby of talking and writing about the “carnal mind” are in danger of running to an extreme that is not Scriptural.

There are seven different Greek words which, in the New Testament, are translated “mind.”

1. “gnome”—purpose, judgment.

But without thy mind would I do nothing.”—Philemon, 14. “These have one mind.”—Rev. 17:13. “He purposed [literally it was his purpose] to return.”—Acts 20:3. “Yet I give my judgment.”—I Cor. 7:25, etc.

2. “ennoia,”—inner purpose.

Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind.”—I Pet. 4:1.

3. “nous,”—mind, understanding.

God gave them over to a reprobate mind.”—Rom. 1:28. “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind.”—Rom. 7:23. “Then opened he their understanding.”—Luke 24:45. “I will pray with the understanding also.”—I Cor. 14:15.

4. “psuche,”—soul, affections.

Made their minds evil affected.”—Acts 14:2. “With one mind striving together.”—Philippians 1:27. “Take no thought for your life.”—Matt. 6:25. “But are not able to kill the soul.”—Matt. 10:28.

5. “noema,”—mind, thought.

Their minds were blinded.”—II Cor. 3:14. “Shall keep your hearts and minds.”—Phil. 4:7. “We are not ignorant of his devices.”—II Cor. 2:11. “Bringing into captivity every thought.”—II Cor. 10:5

6. “dianoia,”—mind, intellect.

With all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”—Matt. 22:37. “I will put my laws into their mind.”—Heb. 8:10. “Having the understanding darkened.”—Eph. 4:18. “Hath given us an understanding.”—John 5:20. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God.”—Rom. 8:7. “Knoweth what (is) the mind of the Spirit.” Rom. 8:27. “To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”—Rom. 8:6.

These are all the passages in which the last word is found in the New Testament. It means “what one has in mind, what one thinks, feels, wills.”

A man has but one mind, one intellect, one soul. He may have many thoughts, inclinations and purposes. If he is in his natural state, unrenewed by the grace of God, his mind taken in with worldly thoughts, and plans, and purposes, he is carnally minded,—in a state of spiritual death. If he has been truly converted to God, his mind is taken up with spiritual things. Whatever may engage his attention for the time, God is never lost sigh of in all his plans and purposes. The bent of his mind is toward God. He is “not in the flesh, but in the Spirit,” for “the Spirit of God dwells in him.” But if, while he is devoted to Christ on the whole, he, at the same time, is partisan in his spirit, and attaches himself to some leading man, so as to follow his dictation, he is in a measure carnal, though still a babe in Christ.

And I, brethren. could not speak unto you us unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”—I Cor. 3:1, 3.

But as they were not wholly given up to this spirit of strife and division, they had not yet reached the state of being carnally minded—that is, a state of death, though they were on their way to it.

If one is sanctified wholly, his mind, his will, is so changed that earthly things lose their attractions, and he sets his affections on things above, and not on things on the earth. Such persons follow the Lord fully. But their minds are not destroyed. The “carnal mind” is never so destroyed as to do away with the freedom of the will. There is need to constantly watch and pray. Things that may be lawful in themselves may be easily run to sinful excess: The love that begins in the Spirit may end in the flesh. Eating “their meat with gladness” may degenerate into a desire for luxuries. “Diligence in business” may easily run into a love of the world. Even a fixed determination “to follow the Lord fully” may unconsciously slide into a consecration to one’s own will, so that those will be fellowshipped who indorse us and our methods, and those who do not will he unChristianized.

The Sun of Righteousness may shine with cloudless splendor into our souls; but we must keep the soul constantly open to its influences. We cannot lay up in one hour a stock of light and heat for the next. We may in faith pray, “Give us this day our daily bread;” but we shall need to pray the same prayer tomorrow. Our dependence upon God is absolute and unremitting. As the law of gravity draws the earth toward the sun every moment, so does the law of love draw a saved soul toward God.

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