For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7—NKJV)

One of the phrases most associated with the making of a will is the phrase, “I, being of sound mind?….” How can you tell? Real soundness of mind is a marvelous blessing. We live in a brutal world which has been reduced to its cruel state, because of the sinfulness of mankind, from the early days after creation (Genesis 1–3). Sinfulness militates against real soundness of mind. Romans 1:21ff states, “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man…who exchanged the truth of God for a lie…and even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind….”

Truth is truth and stands unshakeable whether it is acknowledged or not. Mankind was concluded in unbelief through the sin of the first father, Adam. From that day to this, mankind’s ability to process the savage brutality of nature and the selfish aggression of his fellow man has been damaged. His soundness of mind flails about in a wholly unredeeming manner. It is my suspicion that when a man is saved, trusts Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice upon the cross as full payment for sin, and yields his life to the perfect One who has purchased him with His Own blood, he is given all the tools to develop soundness of mind. Application of pure, biblical truth will aid any man in processing the exigencies of life and, most especially, every man who is indwelt by the Spirit of God as our verse states.

Man naturally thinks with his feelings; simply watch little children play in the absence of adult leadership for proof. A man’s worldview, unaided by divine revelation, is made up of the vestiges of moral training, which he retains from people he respects, that have survived his experiences along the road of life. You only have to meet a bitter old man whose idealism of youth has been crushed by cruel and unforgiving experience, and who believes he has outlived his own usefulness, in order to observe the natural conclusion of man-made worldview.

Very few of our generation are taught to think critically. Few have learned to think “God-thoughts.” Christian thinking will be concrete, real world, inform emotions (not the other way around), and be unchanging—like God is! The “sound mind” of our passage is the Greek word sophronismos, which is a compound word including the word saos (safe—;related to save) and phren (the mind, think, be mindful)—essentially an admonishing or calling to soundness of mind, or self-control (Vine’s), akin to sobriety. This kind of mental discipline can be called critical thinking in that it has certain parameters laid down by God Himself. First, God is Sovereign. Second, God is the Creator and the Author of all that exists and therefore He is the One to whom all will give account. Third, man is His highest creation, designed in His image, and therefore is entitled to all the unalienable rights that only God can give. Fourth, sin has marred the image of God in man. Fifth, the perfect Son of God became one of us and gave His life a sacrifice for many so that the redeemed may be justified before their Maker through obedient faith.

Accordingly, Paul states in Romans 12:3, one should not “think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith,” meaning “not to over think beyond what it behooves him to think, but to think unto sober-thinking (Vine’s).” The same concept is translated by our word “sober” in such passages as 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8, 2:2, 5, 6, and 12. It is found in 1 Peter 4:7, 1 Timothy 2:9 and 15 where Trench states, “it is that habitual self-government, with its constant rein on all the passions and desires, which would hinder the temptation to these from arising, or at all events, from arising in such strength as would overbear the checks and barriers [i.e., modesty rooted in character or shamefastness?], that which would restrain a good man from an unworthy act.” This is a sound mind founded in redemption and forged in the love of God.

As the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” so the intelligence and discernment of the believer has a head start on acquiring wisdom for life and living. The sound mind is a gift that God provides through His Spirit to believers. Yield to His wisdom in all things and think “God-thoughts.” Trust and obey.