Mind Control and Transformation in Christians
The Bible, which is quite radical in its description of reality, states that “the minds of the unbelievers are controlled by the enemy who has taken them captive to do his will.”
“..they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will…” 2:26
“..The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel…” 2 Cor. 4:4
It’s quite clear that the Bible presents an extreme reality where there is no neutral ground… that there is a ongoing battle of good and evil – one which we are born into - and that it is up to believers to be aware of this battle and to put on the armor of God to defend against the forces of evil arrayed against us... It makes sense then, that a believers life (being led by the holy spirit), should look radically different than the rest of the world – whose minds are controlled to be agents of Satan… “…We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one…” I John 5:19
Pretty extreme.. So, how are believers different? Unfortunately, most are not.
We go two hours to church on Sunday, then watch the same propaganda machine known as the MSM… we tune in to the same ‘entertainment’ filth with no discernment about how the values which are both subtle and blatantly embedded in virtually every hollywood production are being absorbed into our and our kids conscisousness…
So our salvation is something that God does, but it is incumbent on us to renew our thinking, or our salvation is of ‘no effect’. I think that this part-time christian life, this half-in, half-out ‘faith’ is the new par for the course, the new norm, and it is the source of our weakness, because we often live in a continual inner conflict about doing and thinking about things which the Spirit of God inside them does not want to do. In other words, we largely absorb the same inputs and consequently think the same way as the world.
Christians affirm a level of morality and behavior that is higher and yet mindlessly indulge in the same activities – entertainments,
Why are we so desparate to be entertained that we drop our Christian values and seemingly have no filter against values that are so blatantly opposed to God and the character which he expects from his people? Is this supposed to be how we spend our time as Christians anyway?
I was at a friends house one Sunday afternoon while the tv was playing some ‘romantic comedy’. Their 8 year old son was casually viewing while a graphic sex scene came on. No shock,attempt to filter, monitor, to turn it off. I was at another friends house while the tv was on and witnessed animated depictions of little children having an graphic sexual adult arguments/conversations while they physically asaulted each other. Good family entertainment. I wanted to say.. “Why are you such an idiot for watching this crap?” But it’s the norm. Everybody (apparently) watches it. Of course the Christians will be the first to declare me a prude or whatever.
If you don’t see the low level of degradation of our current culture in virtually everything – books, movies, pop entertainment, music, education, etc. You are part of the mind control. I truly think that most everyone is to some degree, but many Christians actually see nothing wrong with content which blatantly pushes anti-God ‘values’ in various flavors (disguised to appear ‘good’ or ‘funny’ or ‘wholesome’ or ‘tolerant’). They have taken on the patterns of this world so much that they don’t see them as in opposition to God.
Paul repeatedly talked about greed and the proliferation of this bad desire in those who were falling short of God’s grace or who were blatantly false teachers/prophets. One of the main strategies of the enemy is to create greed – in the form of desire for material things or for anything that is sought after more than God (an idol), be it power or notoriety (self-exaltation) or material wealth. Our culture subltly creates these desires to suck people into a mindless carrot and stick pursuit for materialism/success or fulfillment in things other than in God, and have robbed people of the true gain of “Godliness with contentment”.
So how is it that we should be different? How can we change? How are we different or how do we become transformed? “..Being transformed by the renewing of our minds…”
A principle in computing is “Garbage in, garbage out”, meaning the output or behavior of a computer is only as good (or bad) as the programming that went into it. This applies as well as the human mind.
If we ingest the same “garbage” as the world, we will put out the same behaviors. If we wonder why our lives are weak, our kids gone astray, our problems overtaking us… it may have something to do with the fact that we are not battling, have not set ourselves to renewing our thinking to break the patterns of conformity to this world…maybe we have partially conceded, and are instead following (or partly going along with) the same “patterns of this world” and It’s desires which are contrary to God.. and so we end up living the same as those whose minds are controlled by Satan.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires” Rom 8:5
What we should do then:
“…set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things...” Col. 3:1
“…Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance…” I Pet 1:13
If we transform our minds, we will become Godly. Rom 12:2
It is clear that the obligation is on us (not God), to make conscious choices about what we will and will not put our focus and attention on, and (subsequently) what things we will therefore desire, which worldview we will adapt.. It’s up to us to align our desires (set our hearts) on Godly things, and to focus our attention (minds) off of worldy things. “…the whole world is under the control of the evil one..” I John 5:19
One way to do this is to turn off the devils inputs which he using to exert his mind-control over the world.
It is quite obvious to me the reasons why we now have TV screens embedded in gas pumps, why we now have people carrying around devices which allow them to tune in and tune out 24 hours a day, why you can’t go to the gym or the grocery store or anywhere else without being exposed to foreground and background noise whose content is subltly or explicitly opposed to God and his message.. This is the devil’s schemes - to bombard our culuture with messages that at the very least ignore God, do not consider him relevant, and at the worst (which is where we are at now), exalt ‘values’ that are blatantly against Christian lifestyle (self-exaltation, materialism, sensual pleasure, etc etc)…Remember that the anti-christ, when he is revealed (also called the man of lawlessness) will exalt himself over God and everything Godly.. This spirit of self-exaltation (as opposed to God-exaltation) is present and rampant within our culture today.
One time I stopped in very briefly at a gas station to pay for my gas.. I was down the road a minute later and caught myself mentally singing “Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight”. I realized that I had ‘picked up’ that mental “tape loop” from the gas station intercom. This is Just a simple example which illustrates how the inputs of the world can take root in our minds and cause us to think on things that are not “lovely and pure” etc.
If a visitor from the 50’s 60’s or 70’s was to travel forward in time to todays world, they would think (rightfully so) that an evil invading force has taken over our culture.. observing unresponsive, zombified children as the norm, a culture that surrenders large amounts of their time voluntarily glued to a screen where other people tell them how to think, watch programming which instills a world-view which ignores the relevance of faith, which exalts a life of sensuality, increasingly accepts perversion, and the general notion of individual rights as opposed to the honoring of God and God’s law. This visitor would observe people going into debt in order to purchase the latest tech toys or new cars or houses or myriad other things by which people feel compelled to live way beyond their means. He would observe an education system which seeks to make non-thinking, compliant individuals, easily manipulated by the devil’s mind-control system. (Of course, this invading force didn’t come in overnight… Culture and the world has always been under the control of the evil one (in every decade and generation). But it is quite easy to see just how far we have come into this blatant state of mind control when we compare where we were as a culture 50 years ago.)
In the movie ‘They Live’, subliminal messages are embedded in behind every TV show, billboard, advertisement etc to assist the subconscious compliance of the masses to the will of evil invading aliens. This is an accurate portrayal of what is currently happening in the spiritual war for our minds and souls. I think the majority of people in our culture, even Christians (especially christians?) are under varying degrees of this mind control…
Besides the ubiquitous broadcasts of the messages which basically say ‘live for yourself, your immediate pleasures, morality and standards are old-fashioned, buy more things to make you happy, etc etc’, the proliferation of drugs of all kind is another facilitating portal through which demonic forces gain control over a mind.
What can we do?
First of all, The Bible confidently asserts that Christians have “everything we need for life and Godliness”… 2 Pet. 1:3
We have the word of God. We have the armor of God by which we fight and obtain the victory which Christ has won for us. (And it is not enough to just quote this scripture, you must actually put on the whole armor). One of the pieces of this armor of God is the Holy Spirit who is within us.
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be, the counsellor who will lead us into all truth. “…But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth...” John 16:13
However, it is incumbent on us to make the choice to ‘put on the armor of God, to listen and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives and decsions. This leading will often cut against the patterns we have learned (which are still conformed to this world), but this is how transformation and understanding of the will of God is brought about. Many times Christians stay in a place of non-renewed thinking, always guessing and wondering what God’s will is. They may stop conforming to some of the worldy patterns in that they stop committing some habitual sin and start going to church (which is all good), but it is step one – and we need to go on to mind renewal and transformation.
From Rom 12:2, the process is:
Stop conforming to worldy patterns? Renew mind ? Transformation happens ? We undertand God’s will.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. And so it is up to us to live by the instruction of the Word of God (not to be hearers only and not doers). It’s up to us???
“..Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it….” Rom 8:12
We must continually re-pattern our lives in accordance with the desires of the Spirit of God. “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Rom 8:6
Many times we get stuck in an area of life (a bad habit, personality ‘fault’, addiction, etc) and cannot procede beyond that point. But God is faithful to show us new ways to see where we need to change and to give us the understanding and power to overcome these things. He will bring about change in circumstance and surroundings etc. to accomplish His work in us, and he will be forever “faithful to complete the good work” he bagan in us, no matter how long or how many attempts it takes. The whole world is in the control of the evil one.
And though we are not of the world, and have one “greater than he that is in the world” living in us, the cultural/demonic mind control forces continually reach out and attempt to grab us through appealing to the base natural impulses of our flesh nature. It has always worked that way.
John says that “everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world”, and that it is through these, (if we fall for it), that the evil one can affect us. We see repeatedly in scripture that the battle begins in the mind – on the thoughts we entertain and the mindsets through which we view the world. So much attention is given by all the new testament writers to this reality.. “Casting down imaginations and every thought that exalts itself above the knowledge of Christ.”
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
“Whatsoever things are lovely.. think on these things.”
“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.”
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace”
It is clear then, that we have an active, on-going, moment by moment obligation to continually be alert for the attacks of the enemy through his aforementioned tactics. God knows that we can get worn down, numbed out, and un-alert so that we are susceptible to these continual inputs (flaming arrows) of the enemy, but he has given us everything we need, and promises to be our ever-present help in trouble.
Remember that God is for us, that we are told to “be alert so that we can pray”, to put on the armor of God so that we can stand in the victory that is ours in Christ, and to perservere through hardships.
Paying Attention to RetentionThe beginning of all bad things is when people ignore God.
See a brief paraphrase/commentary on Rom. 1
synopsis of Rom 1 18-32
People see the created world, (and we are also created with an inner conscience which speaks clearly of a creator and a sense of right and wrong), and yet we do not acknowledge the Creator - his existence, relevance, or praiseworthiness. We fail to make the connection between an orderly, complex, and magnificently engineered, beautiful Creation and an intelligent, superior Creator. Because of this, our thinking becomes futile and hearts become dark.
In this, people claim to be wise but are in fact, fools because they live in denial of the greatest reality - the existence/relevance of God.
Instead of giving our attention and praise to God, we give it to other people or other things that we or God created. It would be like people lavishing praise on a work of art, without giving one thought or acknowledgement to the artist. (And in the process, somehow thinking themselves clever or praiseworthy for recognizing the beauty of the art work!).
Furthermore, and as a result of their wilful ignorance of God, people indulge in every kind of lust, which degrades people and brings shame and guilt.
The final stage of this regression is that people do not retain the knowledge of God and as a result, God gives them over to despicable practices. We see this process of regression in our culture today (and it has been seen in every culture). (These practices demand increasing levels of evil - regression away from what is natural and God-approved, in order to satisfy.)
The danger is that we as christians can find ourselves on the same path, when and if we go along with the cultural thinking/worldview, which at its core, tries to live in denial of God.
We may not think we are involved in the extremes described in the passage, but we do ignore God when we live our lives after the pattern of this world and do not allow the knowledge of God which we possess to transform our thinking (See Rom. 12:2). And we are therefore in danger of being on the same downward regression, and experiencing the same dire consequences laid out in the passage.
In other words, if we don't retain the knowledge of God - though we may hear it or read it, bad things follow.
Unless we make concerted effort, we will be naturally trained in the self-deluded value system of the world which again, ignore God and his ways, and which substitute it's own value system, patterned after the lusts of our unregenerate nature. These offer material pursuits, pleasures, and the 'worship' of people and things apart from God. (Also, this is a short-term, delusional worldview which doesn't take into account eternity and judgment.) So we are trained to get up, go to work, store up money, get more things, be consumed with cultural entertainments, tv shows, sports, politics - all of which come out of the Rom 1 mentality of those who deny God (or his relevance to our daily life) - but oh yes, we'll give God a little corner on Sunday.
Jesus said that the religious leaders of his day actually nullified the true word of God by their traditions. Many times traditions, especially religious ones, are actually man's substitutions for God's truth.
This can also lead to a segmentation in our thinking, or a double-minded life, where we take on a worldview which ignores God or minimizes him in most of our daily life, yet offers lip-service on Sunday.
In fact, many christians are practicing atheists, because they live in practical denial of God, though they acknowledge him on Sunday.
So, unlike culture, we must think it worthwhile to retain God's word.
We also know that we have an enemy that tries to steal the word. So even if we are sincerely seeking to hear God's word, it's sometimes the case that we can be encouraged on Sunday during a message, and yet by midway through the afternoon football game, not be able to recall what that message was.
So how do we retain God's knowledge - His word, and allow it to change our thinking and lifestyle?
People enrolled in a college class generally highlight relevant lines in their textbook, take notes, review the notes, test themselves on the information taught for the week, practice examples related to the teaching etc etc.
First of all then - we need to consider the received knowledge as valuable and necessary, and to understand that not to do so will result in failure.
Other things to do include:
writing things down
reviewing those things
implementing those things when tested in real life
Honestly assessing, with God's help, how you are doing with that process
As much as we have an enemy trying to steal the word, one advantage we have as Christians is that we have a counsellor, the holy spirit who is always with us, who will "lead us into all truth", and who will bring to our remembrance things when we need it.. But we must do our part in co-operating with him.
Hebrews asks the question "how can we saved if we ignore such a great salvation?" the root word of ignorance is ignore...which is back to the original point of not valuing God's knowledge (not thinking it worthwhile to retain it).. and setting into motion the cycle of negative degradation which results from that.
James says that if we just hear the word, and don't make effort to implement it in our lives, then we live in self-deception.
Finally, Psalm 50 gives a warning to those who forget God, but also a promise..
This passage is a contrast between people who merely give outward appearance or nominal acknowledgement of God (sunday christians) versus those who truly acknowledge God in their hearts.*
22 "Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you:
23Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me, and to the blameless d I will show my salvation.”
the one who truly rejects the worlds delusional system of worshiping people and things (cars and songs and american idols and sports heros and politicians etc etc) and instead recognizes the false system of the world and that there is a creator who is instead worthy of our attention, praise, and obedience, and whose instruction is worth the effort to retain in practice in our lives - he is the one God will show his salvation to. That person will live in a state of favor, peace, and divine protection.
*Here are some further notes (edited) on the passage from the Pulpit Commentary.
Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me - That is, he truly honors me; he is a true worshipper; he meets with my approbation. The word here rendered ""offereth"" is the same which is used in Psalm 50:14, and means "he that sacrifices:" here meaning, he that presents the sacrifice of praise. So the Septuagint: "the sacrifice of praise glorifies me." So the Vulgate. The idea is, that the worship which God requires is "praise;" it is not the mere external act of homage; it is not the presentation of a bloody sacrifice; it is not the mere bending of the knee; it is not a mere outward form: it is that which proceeds from the heart, and which shows that there is there a spirit of true thankfulness, adoration, and love.
And to him that ordereth his conversation aright - that is, to him who is attentive to his going; who seeks to walk in the right path; who is anxious to go in the road that leads to a happier world; who is careful that all his conduct shall be in accordance with the rules which God has prescribed.