For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
~ Romans 8:6
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
~ Romans 8:4-5, Romans 8:9-10, Galatians 5:22
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
~ Romans 8:1, Romans 8:14, Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:25
Evidence of a Spiritual Mind, by John Owen.
There can be no greater evidence of a renewed heart and mind than a change in the habit and stream of our thoughts. The more our thoughts flow in a new spiritual channel from a new spiritual source wrought in us, the more evidence we have that we are spiritually minded.
Thoughts fall from the mind like leaves from a tree when shaken by the wind in autumn. How awesome, then, are God’s words: the thoughts of men’s hearts are “only evil continually” (Gen 6:5). What a hell of horror and confusion there must be, then, in the minds of men. To be delivered from this state must be the most desirable deliverance in all the world. Without this deliverance, neither life nor peace nor immortality nor glory can ever be had.
The whole purpose of conviction of sin is to put a stop to these thoughts, or at least to lessen the number of them and so to lessen guilt. True conviction of sin is not only concerned with outward actions but also with the thoughts and intents of the mind. Conviction of sin therefore, for a while, makes a great change in men’s thoughts, especially if it is assisted by superstition. Conviction of sin and superstitious practices are the foundation of all that superstitious religion to be found in the papacy. Conviction sets bounds to thoughts that are absolutely evil and corrupt, and superstition suggests other objects which the natural mind readily embraces. But it is all to no avail. The minds and hearts of men are continually minting and coin- ing new thoughts and imaginations. As the streams of a mighty river run into the ocean, so the thoughts of the natural man run through self into hell. To build a dam to try and stop this mighty river is use- less. No dam could ever hold back the mighty flow of men’s evil hearts.
There are only two ways of dealing with this river. The first way cures the moral evil in men’s thoughts. This way is to throw salt into the spring, as Elisha cured the waters at Jericho. The heart and mind, the spring and the source of all thoughts, must be seasoned with grace. The tree must be made good before the fruit will be good.
The second way deals with the abundance of thoughts. This mighty flow of thoughts must be diverted into new channels. New aims, goals, and objects must be presented to the mind. When these aims and objects are spiritual, then our minds will be spiritual.
Paul counsels Christians not to be “drunk with wine” but to “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18-19). When men are drunk with wine, they quickly show they are drunk because of the foolish, ridiculous thoughts that fill their minds. Believers must not be under the influence and control of drink, but under the influence and control of the Holy Spirit. They must “be filled with the Spirit.” They must so seek to be under the influence of the Spirit that their hearts and minds are filled with spiritual thoughts. And when their hearts and minds are filled with such thoughts, then they must be expressed in “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” making melody in their hearts to the Lord (Eph 5:19).
So, when we are spiritually minded, we shall abound in spiritual thoughts. Occasional thoughts of spiritual things do not prove we are spiritually minded. A spiritually minded person abounds in spiritual thoughts.
How may we know that we abound in spiritual thoughts? Read Psalm 119 and examine yourself by that pattern. Can you truly speak the same words as David, if not with the same degree of zeal, yet with the same sincerity of grace? You will say, “But that was David. We cannot be like him!” But as far as I know, we must be like him if we mean to come to that place where he is now. It will ruin our souls if, when we read in Scripture how the saints of God express their experience of faith, love, and delight in God and their constant thoughts of God, we excuse ourselves by saying that we were never meant to be like them. But these were our examples and were “written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come” (1Co 10:11). If we do not have the same delight in God as they had, the same spiritual mindedness as they, then we can have no evidence that we please God as they did or shall go to that place where they have gone. The holy men of God, who obtained this testimony—that they pleased God—did not walk before God in a corrupt, earthly manner. Their obedience was not half-hearted. They meditated continually on the law; they thought of God at every moment and their minds were free from other things; they delighted in God and followed hard after Him (Psa 63:8).
How can we be like these saints? How can we be like David? We must take hold of God’s promise: “He that is feeble…shall be like David” (Zec 12:8). We cannot make ourselves like these saints. But the Holy Spirit dwelling in us can, if we put ourselves under His power and influence. It is good that we examine ourselves to see how spiritually minded we are.
Consider how much time you spend thinking about spiritual things compared to how much time you spend thinking about other things. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mat 6:21).
What other things do men usually think about? Men’s hearts are set on themselves, their jobs, and their families. If our hearts are wholly taken up with our worldly concerns, can we truly say we are spiritually minded?
We say we are bound for heaven, immortality, and glory. But do we really desire these things if our thoughts are wholly taken up with the trifles of this world, with only occasional thoughts of heaven? (Mat 6:31, 33-34).
All our worldly worries mainly revolve around three things: food, drink, and clothes. About these things Christ forbids us to take thought. He does not forbid us ever to think about these things, but that we should not allow our minds to be filled with anxiety and worry about them, and that we should not allow our minds to be wholly taken up with them. Worry and anxiety about these things show lack of faith in our heavenly Father’s care and in the providence of God. Christ teaches us that our chief concern should be to “seek…first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Mat 6:33).
Many complain that when they think of spiritual things, worldly thoughts intrude. Well then, when you think of worldly things, do spiritual things intrude? If they do, then there is evidence that you are spiritually minded.
Many thoughts in the minds of men are vain, useless, and thoroughly unprofitable. These are often looked on as silly rather than sinful. But wherever there are “vain thoughts,” there is sin (Jer 4:14). The word implies hoping for good out of something that is nothing. The Israelites sought for happiness from idols that were nothing and could do nothing, much less bring them happiness. So many seek to find happiness from vain thoughts about themselves. Such vain thoughts are indulged in when men fancy themselves to be what they are not, to do what they do not do, and to enjoy what they do not enjoy. Such thoughts spring from pride, sensual lusts, and love of the world. The heart of man is still filled with the old ambition to be like God. To be given over to such thoughts is a great misery and punishment. To be freed from them is a great blessing and part of the blessedness of heaven.
If your mind is taken up with such vain thoughts, instead of with meditations on spiritual things, can you call yourself spiritually minded? Do you make any effort to mortify these vain thoughts and stir up spiritual thoughts?
Then, there are thoughts that are actually evil, whose aim is to satisfy the lustful desires of the flesh. Such thoughts abound only in the unregenerate, whose minds are ruled and dominated by “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1Jo 2:16).
Consider whether spiritual thoughts constantly take first place when the mind is free to think as it pleases. There are times when men retire into their own thoughts. A man is foolish who is so busy he has no time to consider the state of his own house and family. No less foolish is the man who spends all his time thinking about other things and never about the state of his own soul. But it is difficult to completely avoid being alone with one’s thoughts, though the unspiritual man does his best.
If we are spiritually minded, if thoughts of spiritual things abound in us, they will naturally claim these times as their own (Psa 16:7-8; 92:2; Deu 6:7). But if these times are given to other things, then it is clear that we do not think spiritual thoughts to be all that important.
If we do not give these times to meditation of spiritual things, then vain thoughts will begin to haunt our minds and plead to be entertained. These precious moments, which could greatly influence our souls to life and peace, if not redeemed, will bring trouble, sorrow, anxiety, and confusion. If we cannot give God our spare time as well as those special times we have dedicated to Him, it is clear that we do not think that fellowship with Him is a thing to be greatly desired.
What do you think about when you are in bed, either settling down to sleep or waking up? There are those who “work evil upon their beds!” (Mic 2:1). And there are those who “sing aloud upon their beds.” The high praises of God are in their mouths (Psa 149:5-6). There are those who devise mischief on their beds (Psa 36:4). And there are those who commune with their hearts and remember God and meditate on Him on their beds (Psa 4:4; 63:6).
If we would have a claim to spiritual mindedness, we must give these special times to spiritual thoughts and meditations.
Consider whether we are disappointed if, for one reason or another, we have not been able to use these times for spiritual meditation.
A carnal, unregenerate mind is not at all worried if it never has time for spiritual thoughts. But a truly spiritually minded soul will mourn when it misses an opportunity for spiritual meditation and is determined to be more watchful in the future. Filled with regret, the soul thinks, “How little I have been with Christ today! How much time has passed without a thought of Him! How foolish I was to neglect the opportunities I had! What assurance, what joy, what readiness for the cross or for heaven I might have had if I had only made use of these times!” So, one great evidence of spiritual mindedness is that our minds abound with spiritual thoughts.