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)

The human mind is an amazing tool which must be honed into usefulness. We tend to be creatures of habit, and habits form by following patterns of behavior. We also have inborn tendencies which afflict the effective functioning of our minds. To illustrate, in everything from money to relationships we tend to feel the feeling of failure twice as acutely as we feel the joy of success—meaning that we will be more likely to bail out of a situation than to persevere to a satisfactory conclusion. This thoroughly human foible plays havoc in our decision-making.

Not only has every man, woman and child on this earth inherited a sin nature, but we also labor under the burdens of that fallen nature. While we may be brilliant in earthbound calculations, we may be entirely helpless in matters requiring divine and moral prudence. Even believers must guard against such “stinkin’ thinkin’.” There is within each of us a general aversion to materially changing our spiritual status quo.

With the coming of each New Year we rightly tend to look for things to improve. If your portfolio is worth revisiting once a year, why not revisit everything from the monumental to the mundane? I submit to you that your spiritual review belongs in the monumental category. Where better to begin than to review the spiritual mechanics of your mind?

As our verse teaches, when a man becomes born-again through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, he is given the spirit of a sound mind. After all, 2 Corinthians 5:17–18 reads, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away…. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ.” Sound mindedness is the opposite of delusion (a false belief or opinion implying a belief in something that is contrary to fact or reality, resulting in deception or misconception). Far too many of us labor under certain delusory conclusions that militate against spiritual advancement and fulfilling our fullest eternal service.

The Greek word for sound mindedness is sophroneo, a compound word of “to save” and “mind.” It is used in Luke 8:35 describing the demoniac man of the Gadarenes once the Lord worked a miracle upon him. He had been delivered to a state of a saved mind and was sitting, clothed, at the feet of Jesus (being instructed). The work of Satan is always to delude (John 8:44, 2 Thessalonians 2:9–10). It is the work of God to renew our minds through the Word (Ephesians 4:21ff).

A New Testament search of the root word phroneo produces some great steps toward “Renewed” Year thinking:

  • Guard against satisfaction with your spiritual status quo. Revisit the anchors of your thinking. We get busy with surviving life and forget to reassess how the foundational, immoveable truths affect our perspectives, our sense of bearing, our comparisons and, therefore, effect our actions. We spend a lot of time on the business of life and soon our balance is lost to the drift of time, tugs of emotions, and erosion of resolve (Romans 12:1–2, 16).
  • Guard against the “know-it-all” syndrome—spiritual satisfaction in your spiritual comfort zone and in thinking you know all there is to know about spiritual things. No preacher, no Sunday School teacher, no church is going to hit the sweet spot every Sunday; you need to put forth the effort to stretch your mind and feed your soul. Keep learning (2 Corinthians 13:11, Colossians 3:2, Galatians 5:10).
  • Guard against “magical thinking.” Feeling good about things is not the same as reality. Feeling spiritually lucky will cloud your judgment and mislead you into making bad decisions (Philippians 3:19, Romans 8:5–6). Stay grounded in the Word. Discipline your thought life according to the absolutes of Scripture.
  • Guard against “cooking the books.” Be real with God in assessing your spiritual progress, in owning your limitations, in identifying your current battles. No one likes to be a loser and therefore we tend to ignore the inconvenient truth that we are redeemed sinners who need divine assistance throughout the grueling race of life (Romans 12:3, Titus 2:6).
  • Finally, guard against spiritual beauty pageants. Stop playing the spiritual version of “keeping up with the Joneses.” Stop being more concerned about “image” rather than “Image”—the image of Christ in you (2 Corinthians 5:11–13, Philippians 2:2–11).

Our Lord grants us the capacity of a sound mind when he grants us the miracle of our redemption. Do not fail to use it. Spiritual inertia is a tough force to overcome. Assess your thinking today. Yes, it takes work. Yes, it requires honesty. Yes, it demands spiritual discipline. And, yes, it is worth the effort, for eternity! Trust and obey.