The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting. We encourage you to please contact us if you would like to know more about us.
Click here: Romans 12:2, for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.
Romans 12:2, A Transforming Mind:
- This is our final message in the ‘Living for God’s Glory’ series. And today I want us to look at the mind, or the conscience. John MacArthur has noted that ‘no sin is more destructive to the conscience than the sin that takes place in the arena of the mind.’
- The issue is, many of don’t realise that the sins we deliberately entertain in our minds may be a thousand times more evil than anything we would ever think of doing in front of others. Scripture says such guilt is the same as if one acted out such fantasies (Matthew 5:27-28).
- MacArthur further says, ‘to indulge in sins of thought, is to molest the conscience directly.’ That says, the sins of the mind assault the conscience like no other sins, because the conscience is their only warning. Impure thoughts cannot have pure consciences.
- Titus 1:15 reads, “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.”
- Nothing damages the conscience more than the habit of indulging in evil thoughts. And unfortunately, once begun, the practice becomes all too easy. And therefore, evil thoughts lay the groundwork for all other sins.
- So today we need to look at the real danger presented by the sins of the mind, and see how Scripture instructs us to guard our minds; especially when tempted while facing a pandemic. The first is to prevent a thought life characterized by sin, and the second is to overcome the sinful pattern in our minds!
1. Prevention; Better than Cure:
- Text – v2
- Explanation – The difficulty in dealing with the sins of the mind is, it becomes harder to overcome over time, because we become so accommodated by our thought patterns. And then we can become very skilled at covering up our sin.
- When we do this, you might not realise it, we dull the conscience. Then we get very good a covering our sin. Hebrews 3:13 says we can become “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” We’ll think of ways to cover our dirt and no longer feel guilty. 1 Peter 2 says we can even “use our freedom as a covering for our sins.” Therefore prevention is better than cure!
- Illustration – Like Adam and Eve, we work hard to cover our sin with our sew coverings. But where does it trouble you? In the mind right? Sin wants to energize its impact first in your mind, your imagination, and then work its way out. And yet, God knows our hearts. Psalm 44:21 says, “He knows all the secrets of every heart.”
- Application – So how can we prevent the covering of sin in the mind and be transformed instead? We need to first off know what causes us to go down the rabbit hole engages in sin. And one way your mind sins is by reaching back to a memory. See, someone who has repentant about a sin in the past can still enjoy the pleasure from that sin once repented of.
- It might come across as strange, but the mind can recycle old sins. In Psalm 25, David he prayed “Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions.” Why? I believe he was asking God to do something that he couldn’t do, David most likely battled with past thoughts.
- And this could either be remembering sexual sins, sins that produce pride, sins of anger and bitterness toward enemies, etc. So remembering your former sins can lead to recycling those sins. Satan can also take the garbage out of your past and try to drag it back through your mind so that you relive it.
- Another thing that can send us on the downward spiral is, planning or plotting to sin. Psalm 36:1 gives an example of this as it says, the ungodly “plans wickedness upon his bed; He sets himself on that path.” Proverbs 12:20, “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil.” Proverbs 15:26, “Evil plans are an abomination to the Lord.”
- Conclusion – Some of us love to dream of the sins we want to commit. Now another way we go down the sinful path in our minds is to grasp what appeals to us now, in present. This could be lusting after someone, or hating someone, being covetous – such as desiring the lottery. Or imagining yourself with great wealth, or great power.
- So how can we prevent the sins of mind taking control? Confess and forsake the sin, and look to the Lord. Don’t look inside. You can’t just lie somewhere and shift your brain into neutral, and try to think positive thoughts. You have to turn to the Lord! He will have compassion, and He will abundantly pardon you.
- If your thought life dwells on sins of immorality, or anger, or bitterness, repent and ask God’s forgiveness. Additionally, pray for the strength to refuse to entertain such thoughts. Pray that the Lord will help you to think on that which is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and of good report.
- But you also need to play an active role here. You shouldn’t expose your mind to activities, to images, to conversations, and relationships that provoke evil thoughts. In the language of Jesus, if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out. It’s better for you that one of the parts of your body perish than for your whole body to go into hell.
- You need to deal with sin radically. Don’t expose yourself to those things that encourage sinful thoughts. Be filled with the Lord’s Word instead. Psalm 119:11 reads, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” So the Word protects the mind and strengthens the heart.
- Bridge – And this will truly only take place when you cherish the love of Christ. If Christ is your treasure, that’s where your heart will be. Focus on Christ, on His death for you, on the glory of His resurrection, and saturate yourself with Scripture so that you will see Him clearer.
- This is a transforming mind, one that works to prevent a thought life of sin. One that puts off the pattern of sinful thoughts, and ideas, and dreams.
2. Overcoming Sinful Patterns:
- Text – v2
- Explanation – Again, MacArthur said, “to sin in the mind is to desecrate the very sanctuary where our highest and best worship should be taking place.” This is where we wither win, or lose the battle. See, I might seem easy to confess and forsake tangible sins, such as the words we speak or our physical actions.
- But if the sins of our thought life go unconfessed, they work directly against the conscience. Besides, we can’t hide these sins in our minds from everyone, God knows whether we have a lusting, or angry, or proud heart.
- Illustration – Think of this; Proverbs 23:7 says “As he thinks within himself, so is he.” Our external behaviour is not necessarily a true reflection of who we are, it is the thoughts of our hearts that reveal the truth. Those thoughts only known to God and your conscience.
- It should concern you greatly, and so for this reason you cultivate a pure thought life so that you can enjoy your faith with a clear conscience, and have a testimony of a clear conscience.
- Application – So, we’ve got to deal with our thought life. Therefore, instead of remembering past sins and reliving, think about God’s grace through that experience. Recall how He previously helped you to push through and how you grew beyond those temptations. Don’t cherish the past memories of sin. You can say no to those temptations.
- Additionally, when you start to realise your mind has gone astray and is plotting sin, get up and walk away. Kill those thoughts before they kill you! James says the desire of our sins leads to their birth. And one way of killing these thoughts is to be thankful for your current relationship with the Lord despite your circumstance. Thanks giving quickly reminds us of where we are, who we are – and who God is! It causes us to consider His ongoing work in our lives.
- Conclusion – And finally, indulging to the thought of what appeals to you now, can lead to imagined sin. Committing adultery, or murdering, or coveting in the heart, or being discontent with what you have, day dreaming about a luxury that you want in your life, these are not things that glorify the Lord, nor do they help you when you experience trials.
- Creating a fantasy in your mind of being free from suffering might comfort you for a moment, but it brings no assurance of God’s work in your life.
- Instead, think of the truths in God’s Word that are real. Have the thought that when He says He is the comforter, He will comfort! If He is the provider, He will provide. The psalmist said, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, so that he could have a clear conscience.”
- Bridge – And the longer you learn the Word, and the more you’re exposed to the Word, and the more your heart is filled with its truth. Then your love and your worship toward God will grow deeper! And the result is, the cleansing of your mind that is going to affect clear conscience.
- Now as you actively do your part, as your kill sin, remember that there is something God does to help in a special way; He enables us, and gives us peace, joy, a sense of satisfaction, and gratitude when we overcome. And when we fall short, even in His discipline, He forgives and restore us.
- Will you ever get victory over sin? Yes, you will progressively. As you mature in the truth and as you grow in grace, you will experience victory over sin. Because the more you become like Christ, the more you see victory over sin, and you will grow to hate the sins that rule your mind.