This is the fifth in a series of articles about spiritual warfare. In the last article, SPIRITUAL WARFARE: CONDITIONS OF THE MIND 2, I covered the conditions: the doubtful and unbelieving mind, the anxious and worried mind. In this article: Spiritual Warfare: Conditions of the Mind 3, I will be covering the judgmental, critical and suspicious mind, and the passive mind.
Much torment lands in people’s lives because of judgmental attitudes, criticism and suspicion. Many relationships are destroyed by these enemies. Once again, THE MIND IS THE BATTLEFIELD. So we must keep in
mind that our actions won’t change until we change our minds because it is up to us to control our thinking.
Being judgmental, opinionated, and critical are three sure ways to see relationships dissolve. Satan of course, wants us to be isolated, so he attacks our minds in these areas. So the goal of covering these conditions, is to help us recognize wrong thought patterns, as well as learn how to deal with suspicion.
So to begin we’re going to first look at judgment. What is judgment? Judgment according to Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary is:
Discernment or separation between good and evil. It goes on to say: God judges among people and their actions according to the standards of His LAW. Judgment can refer either to this process of discernment, or to the punishment meted out to those who fall under His wrath and condemnation (John 5:24). In the Bible the most important judgment is the final judgment, the ultimate separation of good and evil at the end of history.
So from what I can see, God is the only one who has the right to condemn or sentence, therefore, when we pass judgment on another, we are, in a certain sense, setting ourselves up as God in their life. I personally don’t want this responsibility. God is the only perfect judge, so in my humanness—in our humanness, we can’t possible be qualified to judge another with much accuracy.
Criticism, opinions, and judgment, all seem to be related, and can easily be addressed as one big problem.
We all have different personalities that can range from one end of the spectrum to the other. On one end we have the jovial personality, which care not to see anything but the happy or the fun things in life—to a fault, and pay little or no attention to anything that would interfere with their bliss. On the other hand, we have the melancholy personality, or the controlling personality, who immediately sees what is wrong first. This personality is being addressed at present. These individuals usually have no problem expressing their negative opinions, and outlook with others.
Now we all know the Ten Commandments. But in areas where there is no defined commandment in the scriptures, what is known as non absolutes, or as the scriptures states: doubtful disputations, [Rom. 14:1] it’s left up to an individual to determine in his own heart—his own conscience, what is right. Let’s look at
13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience
from dead works to serve the living God?
Now basically what this passage tells us is that the Old Testament sacrifices cleansed the flesh. But the sacrifice of Christ’s blood is much better because it transforms our lives and hearts and makes us clean on the inside, because it purges our consciences. Christ’s blood cleanses his followers from dead works.
But because we are all on different levels in our walks, so are our consciences. So there will be, differing of opinions. Satan uses this, as one of his tools to produce havoc amongst the people of God.
But while the issue is doubtful things, the scriptures are clear as to how to handle such matters. Let’s turn to Romans 14:1-4
1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations
Now in this verse we have the expression doubtful disputations (in the King James Version). It renders
two Greek words that mean “judging” and “opinions,” “disputes,” or “doubts.” (The NIV simply translates it disputable matters.) [Gray areas] What Paul is prohibiting here, is the apparent response to one who is weak in the faith, for the purpose of passing judgment based on his or her opinions. The fact is: Christians who are Young and weak in the faith need love and acceptance, not criticism #1
2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
At issue here is the matter of Christian liberty. From the very beginning, Christians have had to make decisions about how their Christian faith applies in their culture. To repeat what I said earlier: since Christians have not always come to the same conclusions about these differences, disagreements and even conflicts have followed.
The one whose faith is weak takes a narrow, limited view of freedom. He or she interprets Scripture in such a way as to limit liberty. This does not pose a problem as long as these limitations are applied only to one’s own life. But when the person seeks to bind others to these restrictions, conflict is likely to follow. I’m going to temporarily move to Galatians 5:13
13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Let’s now look at 1 Peter 2:16
16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
So what we see here is that the scriptures address both issues of liberty; the over restrictive as well as the undisciplined use of our liberty. We can either be too tight or too lose with liberty.
Now back to our passage in Romans 14
Paul illustrates his point with a specific example: the eating of meat. Some people today choose a vegetarian diet for health reasons, but in Paul’s day the issue was religious. Some Gentile Christians had come from pagan religions that involved animal sacrifices. Much of the meat sold in the market, came from these sacrifices, and eating it seemed to these people to involve them in the paganism they had just left. Jewish Christians, who had been taught to avoid eating meat from unclean animals, or from animals not killed according to the Law of Moses, often refused to eat meat also.
3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
Looking at verse 3, Eating meat or not eating meat was not a moral issue, but a matter of opinion. Since God accepts both groups, they are urged to accept one another. The strong, those who ate, were not to look down on those who did not. Those who did not eat were not to judge or condemn those who did. What verses 2 and 3 bring out is: Allowing minor despites to fester may manifest severed relationships in the church.
4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
In this verse, Paul basically asks: who are you to judge? Every believer will be judged by God alone [14:10] therefore, believers have no right to judge one another. Each believer is someone else’s servant, that is, God’s servant. And before God, he or she stands or falls. Each person is accountable to Christ, not to others. [Matt 7:3-5; Luke 6:37, 41-42; 1 Cor 4:3-5] While the church must be uncompromising in its stand against activities that are expressly forbidden by Scripture (such as adultery; homosexuality, murder, theft, etc.), it should not create additional rules and regulations and give them equal standing with God’s law. That’s not to say that the church shouldn’t have rules, but they must be kept in proper perspective. Often Christians base their moral judgments on opinions, personal dislikes, or cultural bias, rather than on the Word of God. When they do this, they show that their own faith is weak, and they demonstrate that they do not think God is powerful enough to guide each of his children. When we stand before God’s judgment seat [14:10], we won’t be worried about what our Christian neighbor has done [2 Cor 5:10]
He will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. No matter what one believer thinks of another believer’s sense of right and wrong in some matters, the Lord, as Judge, will oversee each person. What matters is each believer’s individual accountability before God. So the moral to the story is: God is better able than we are to settle discord among His people.
Now to moving on: Judgment and criticism are fruit of a deeper problem – pride. Let’s look at this also in Romans 12:3
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Whenever we excel in an area, it is only because God has given us a gift of grace for it. If we are high-minded, or have an exaggerated opinion of ourselves, then it causes us to look down on others and value them as less than we are. This type of attitude or thinking is extremely detestable to the Lord, and it opens many doors for the devil to enter into our lives.
Now it is important to know, that Scripture also reveals to us, how we are to respond to the weakness we observe in others. It sets forth the mental attitude we are to maintain within ourselves. We must have such a fear of the Lord with regard to pride, that we are very careful of judging others or of being critical of them.
One important point to remember regarding the faults and the judgment of others: while we aren’t to pass judgment, we are to recognize when our brothers and sisters are straying from the path of righteousness, in one way or another; and attempt to steer them back on track. This applies especially spiritual leaders. But it must be done in the proper way, according to the scriptures. [It’s not what we do, but how we do it]
Let’s look at this in Galatians 6:1-3
1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
The scripture reads: “ye which are spiritual.” That is those who are mature, feeding on meat and not milk, must restore a fallen one with meekness—gently and lovingly. They must not be heavy handed or domineering, but should watch out for their own lives, realizing that they also can be tempted to fall in the same direction.
2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
We are all engaged in spiritual warfare—individually and collectively. So we must help each other when the going gets rough. Therefore, we step in to carry each other burdens, whenever we see that the load has become more than a brother or sister can bear. Not gloat, rejoice or judge. As the scriptures read in Romans 15:1: “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” When we follow this, we are fulfilling the law of Christ as it states in the latter part of this verse 2.
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
Now here again, the issue of pride is addressed. We are simply nothing. The bible tells us why in 1 Corinthians 1:25. It reads: “Because the [foolishness]
of God is [wiser] than men; and the [weakness] of God is [stronger]
than men.” So in comparison we are in a word: nothing!
One of the areas that must be addressed when approaching the area of judging is: what about ourselves? Are we as willing to be judged, as we are to judge? In most cases no. Matthew 7:1-6 contain some of the classic Scriptures on the subject of judgment and criticism. Whenever we are having trouble in our minds in this area, it might be a good idea to read them through. Let’s look at Matthew 7:1-6
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Now these Scriptures tell us that we will reap what we sow. The principal of sowing and reaping not only applies to the agricultural and financial realms, but it also applies to the mental realm. Scripture tells us that if we sow to the flesh that we will of the flesh reap corruption. When we sow to the flesh, it is manifested in our attitudes. Therefore, we can sow and reap an attitude, as well as a crop, or an investment. So when we hear of someone talking about us, we may ask ourselves: are they sowing, or are we reaping what we, have sown?
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
Now the observation here is that Satan loves to keep us busy mentally judging the faults of others. His methodology is to keep us from seeing or dealing with what is wrong with ourselves.
What we must realize is that we cannot change others; only God can. We can’t change ourselves either. But we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and allow Him to do the work.
When our thoughts and conversations are dominated by what is wrong with everybody else, we are usually being deceived by our own conduct. Therefore in this passage, Jesus commanded that we not concern ourselves with what is wrong with others, when we have so much wrong with ourselves. So we must allow God to deal with us first, and then, we will learn the scriptural way of helping our brothers and sisters grow in their spiritual walk. Let’s look at Ephesians 4:32
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
We all make mistakes. We all have weaknesses. This scripture says that we are not to have a hard-hearted, critical spirit toward each other, but instead to forgive one another, just as God for Christ’s sake, has done for us.
We’re now going to move into the last condition of the mind in this article: the Passive Mind.
The passive mind is a result of an activity called passivity. Passivity is the opposite of activity. It is a lack of feeling, lack of desire, general apathy, lukewarmness, and out right laziness.
Not only is passivity the opposite of activity, but it is also the opposite of what the scriptures instruct us. In 1 Peter 5:8 we are instructed to be alert, cautious and active. [“Vigilant”] In 2nd Timothy 1:6, we are instructed to fan the flame, and stir up the gifts within us. Christianity is a belief of action, not non-action. So since passivity is not condoned in the scriptures, it must [not be of God] and anything that is not of God is [of the Devil] Evil spirits are behind passivity. The devil knows that inactivity, failure to exercise the will, will bring the believers ultimate defeat.
As long as a person is moving against the devil by using their will against him, the enemy will not win the war. The bible says: “resist the devil and he will flee from you.” However, if an individual enters into a state of passivity, they are in serious trouble because they lack the motivation to resist.
It is extremely important for Christian believers to exercise their wills. Because when we don’t, we operate exclusively on our feelings. We praise & pray
if we feel like it; read the scriptures, if we feel like it;
give, if we feel like it; keep our word, if we feel like it; and if we don’t feel like it, we don’t do it. So we depend on external actions—something other than ourselves to motivate us. If the music isn’t a certain way, we don’t want to praise; if the preacher isn’t doing acts of an acrobatic nature, we don’t receive the word. Many believers are so emotionally led, that an absence of feeling is all that is needed to stop us from doing what we’ve been taught to do. This is extremely dangerous. For the simple reason that, just because we don’t feel like doing something, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done. We must Press forward. As Paul said: “I press toward the mark for the prize.” [Phil 3:14]
There is a familiar expression which states: the devil enters an idle mind. A passive mind is an idle mind. It is empty, leaving it open as Satan’s playground, allowing him to fill it with all kinds of wrong thoughts.
In the natural, results rely on actions. For example: it takes speed for a plane to remain in flight. Once it begins to slow down, gravity takes over. The slower it moves, the stronger the pull of gravity, to the point of stall and crash. We must remember that what applies in the natural, applies in the spiritual. So the way to avoid wrong thoughts from entering our minds is to fill our minds with right thoughts. Phil 4:8 reads: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Once we become saved—once we accept salvation, crucifying our flesh, and removing old thoughts, they must be replaced with good thoughts. Otherwise the old thoughts will return, greater than they were before.
The condition of passivity can be overcome. So how do we overcome passivity? The first step in overcoming passivity in actions is to overcome passivity in the mind. The prescription is same as it has been throughout this series, and is found in Romans 12:2. This time I’m taking it from the amplified translation: do not be conformed to this world (this age),
[fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by it’s new ideals and it’s new attitude]…
Notice that it said: the entire renewal of your mind. Now what we see in this scripture, is a dynamic principal of God. Which is: Right action follows right thinking. Let’s look at the rest of the scripture: So that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. Now here’s the blessing: the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God for our lives. But only after our minds are renewed—our thinking is changed.
It is impossible to get from wrong behavior to right behavior
without first: changing our thoughts. A passive person may want to do the
right thing, but will never do so unless he or she purposely activates their mind, and line it up with God’s Word and will.
So if we truly desire to have victory over our problems; if we truly want to live the resurrection life, we must have backbone and not just wishbone. We must be active—not passive. Keep in mind that right action begins with right thinking.
Let us not be passive in our minds, and start immediately choosing right thoughts.
The next article will cover the final condition of the mind which is a positive one—The Mind of Christ.
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