We Are At War!
The Bible clearly indicates that Christians are at war (Ephesians 6:12). There are spiritual battles that originate in external forces and there are others that arise from within.
Undoubtedly, one of the greatest wars that I have waged since becoming a Christian is that of controlling my own thoughts. And, I must confess, many times I have faltered and fallen short of what God expects of me.
Controlling Our Thoughts Is Not Easy!
We are to be the masters of our thoughts. Sadly, sometimes this is not the case. Sometimes we allow incorrect thoughts to control us. We can be guilty of permitting ourselves to be carried away by impure thoughts, thoughts of animosity towards others, thoughts of bitterness, thoughts of jealousy, thoughts of failure, thoughts of worthlessness, etc., etc.
One thing is for sure, controlling our thoughts is not easy! This is probably why the writer of Proverbs says, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32).
It is possible for Christians to suffer from a spiritual form of schizophrenia. This word comes from the Greek roots SCHIZEIN (“to split”) and PHREN (“mind”). In an informal sense, we use this word to refer to “behavior that seems to be motivated by contradictory or conflicting principles” (thefreedictionary.com).
If we’re not careful about how we use our minds, we’ll find ourselves being driven by the principles of God’s word and those of the world at the same time. Instead of having beautiful minds, we’ll end up having minds that are torn apart by discordant identities.
The “Double-Minded Man”
The Bible speaks about this kind of Christian as the one who “doubts” (James 1:6). This word refers to the condition of being “in strife with oneself” (The Complete WordStudy Dictionary). Such a person has two diametrically opposed principles operating in his mind at the same time. He finds himself caught between two combating decisions or judgments and vacillates between the two. He can’t seem to make up his mind between loving God and loving the sinful things of this world (Matthew 22:37; James 4:4).
Later in chapter one of his epistle, James talks about the “double-minded man” (James 1:8). “In a general sense [this term refers to] an unstable person (James 4:8). Such a person suffers from divided loyalties. On the one hand, he wishes to maintain a religious confession and desires the presence of God in his life; on the other hand, he loves the ways of the world and prefers to live according to its mores and ethics” (The Complete WordStudy Dictionary). Another Bible dictionary says that such a person is “two spirited, that is, vacillating in opinion or purpose” (Strongs). The double-minded person swings indecisively from one opinion or course of action to another.
Stop Thinking Like Men
Christians must do everything in their power to avoid this split-mind condition! James and other writers of the Scriptures do not address this matter as if it were beyond our control. God is able to help us overcome our double-mindedness, but we must first make a firm decision to not be conformed to this world, but rather transformed by the “renewal” of our minds (Romans 12:2). The only way to undergo this mental renovation is to stop thinking like men (Isaiah 55:8-9) and start thinking like what has been revealed in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 4:8). Only the gospel working in us can give us a beautiful mind!