Of all the goals and plans God has for his creation, his first priority has always been that every person believe in him . . .
He wants to see everyone “confess” and “believe” that his Son, Jesus Christ, is Savior and Lord (Romans 10:9). But beyond this first goal of salvation, our heavenly Father wants to have a loving relationship with us. He wants us to know his blessings and his love, his guidance and his consolation. He wants all of us to know the dignity of being his children. In this article, we want to focus on the prize—intimacy with God—that will be ours as we win the battle for the mind.
Knowledge and Experience. We know that to become an expert in something requires both knowledge and experience. Through knowledge we understand how something works, and through experience we gain the insight that can come only through personal participation. We could say that knowledge is the “science” of learning, and experience is the “art” of doing.
For example, in medicine, a doctor must master a large body of scientific knowledge before he or she is allowed to begin treating patients. Medical students are required to learn how the human body works, the effects of various illnesses upon the body, and the ways different drugs and other treatments can help heal a person. This knowledge is extremely important, but it doesn’t give a medical student the necessary experience. That comes only as he or she actually works with patients. This is what transforms a learned medical student into a trusted doctor. After all, none of us would let a knowledgeable but inexperienced medical student perform bypass surgery on a loved one!
In a similar way, we know that Scripture teaches us a series of truths. It tells us about God and the way he has called us to live. It explains the principles of creation. It tells us that Jesus saved us from eternal death. It encourages us to yield to the Holy Spirit and to serve the poor and needy. We can learn all these things as we read, study, and learn the Bible. Spiritual books, Church history, and the lives of the saints can also go a long way in expanding our knowledge of God’s truths and promises.
But Christianity is first and foremost about a relationship with Jesus and not about learning a body of knowledge. It’s the difference between knowing all about love and actually being in love. This is why Jesus told his disciples about the vine and the branches (John 15:5). It’s why he told them, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (14:23). It’s why he urges all of us to eat his Body and drink his Blood (6:35).
Keep Your Mind Clear. St. Paul told the Ephesians that standing firm and holding onto the truths of the gospel were integral to their experience of the Lord. That’s why he told them to put on the armor of God. Perhaps another analogy—this time from marriage—can help us to see this principle more clearly.
When a man marries a woman, he promises to be faithful to her. He knows that he must not fix his gaze on other women. This vow he takes calls him to stand firm and say no to wandering eyes and wandering thoughts. If this truth were to get muddled in his mind, he would be more likely to let his eyes and thoughts wander. When that happens, temptation will have won some ground in him—and it may win even more ground. Clearly, there is a strong correlation between the man’s grasp of the temptations he faces, his decision to stand firm against wandering eyes, and his ability to share love with his wife.
In the same way, our relationship with God is closely linked to our decision to keep our minds clear about who God is and who we are. Our experience of God’s love—and our desire to know that love more and more fully—can motivate us to take up the battle for our minds. It can become the driving force behind our willingness to say no to anything that threatens our relationship with God.
Yield to the Spirit. When Paul first visited Ephesus, he found a group of people who were disciples of John the Baptist. Hearing about their faith, he asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” “No,” they said. “We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Paul told them that the baptism of Jesus was different from John’s. The baptism of Jesus was not limited to repentance. It was an empowerment by the Holy Spirit. The believers eagerly accepted this baptism, and when Paul laid his hands on them and prayed, they all were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2-6).
If we want our relationship with God to keep on growing and deepening, we need the Holy Spirit. It’s the Spirit who reminds us about everything that Jesus has said, who fills us with God’s wisdom and love, and who keeps on convincing us that Jesus is Lord. Throughout his letters, Paul continuously challenged his readers to seek the Holy Spirit. He urged the Romans to live in accord with the Spirit (Romans 8:4, 11). He called the Corinthians to seek the wisdom of God through the Spirit and to use the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10; 12:7-11). He told the Thessalonians, “Our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
So let’s take a moment right now and ask the Holy Spirit, who already lives in our hearts, to fill us with the presence and love of the Lord. Let’s ask him to reveal Jesus to us in ways that we cannot conceive of. Let’s yield ourselves to the Spirit by repenting of our sins and by words of faith. Let’s decide never to let anything stand in the way of what the Spirit wants to give us!
An Incalculable Treasure. Medical students are willing to undergo a tremendous amount of schooling. Parents are willing to make extraordinary sacrifices to ensure their children’s well-being. Business owners borrow large sums of money to invest into their businesses, knowing they may lose everything. Why? Because when we find a pearl of great price, we are willing to do extraordinary things to obtain it.
If you know the presence of God in your life, then you already know why it’s important to devote time to seeking Jesus and his wisdom and love. You know that this relationship is more important than any other relationship. It’s something you know you can’t afford to lose, take for granted, or misuse.
If you haven’t had a personal experience of Jesus and his love, why not ask the Holy Spirit to help you open your heart? Jesus is standing at the door of your heart, knocking. He is humbly asking you to hear his voice, open the door, and let him in. He promises that if you do open the door, he will come into your life and live with you (Revelation 3:20). Like the sun, which shines through the windows of our homes when the curtains are drawn back, Jesus will shine his light on us if we but open ourselves to him.
Victory Is Ours! God wants intimacy with us. He wants to draw us into his presence and fill us to overflowing with his love. But it’s up to us to listen for his voice. It’s up to us to open the door of our hearts when we hear Jesus knocking. It’s also up to us to close the door of our minds when we hear the voice of the liar. His only goal is to turn us away from Jesus, and we shouldn’t give him any opportunity to cloud our minds. So let’s decide to take a stand against Satan’s schemes and welcome the Holy Spirit and his work. With him in our hearts and the armor of God surrounding us, we have every hope of winning the victory!