Two opposing ways of life are portrayed by the mind of Satan and the mind of Jesus Christ.
Our mindset determines how we live and what our values will be. God’s mindset is love. Love is an outward focus and the way of give. Satan is self. Self is an inward focus and the way of get. Paul instructed the Philippians to put away selfishness. To not do anything through selfish ambition or conceit. To look out for the interests of others. To esteem others better than themselves. He described that as taking on the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:1-11).
We can take the contrast between the mind of Satan and the mind of Christ one step further by considering Proverbs 29:11: “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” Christ’s way of loving and giving includes exercising restraint. Satan’s way of selfishness and getting is to cast off restraint. Esau is described as a profane person who sold his birthright for one morsel of food. He traded his incredible future promise for just a moment’s satisfaction. Later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, there was no going back. His desire for immediate gratification caused him very deep regrets (Hebrews 12:14-17).
Works of the Flesh vs. Fruit of the Spirit
Our flesh cries out to be satisfied but, in responding, we must be careful to act with restraint. The works of the flesh include outbursts of wrath and selfish ambitions while the fruit of the Spirit includes exercising self-control (Galatians 5:19-24). The works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit take us in totally opposing directions.
Exodus 32 is the account of Israel worshipping before the gold calf that Aaron made. The account records that after Aaron fashioned the molded calf and declared a feast, the people sat down to drink and rose up to play. It says that Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame. In response, God determined to destroy them, but Moses pleaded on their behalf. Verse 14 records, “So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.” God punished Israel for their sin, but even in correction, He exercised restraint. He continued to work with them as His people. It is instructive that God sent a plague on Israel when they gave themselves up to craving for meat (Numbers 11), but He was going to destroy them for idolatry. There is a difference between temporarily giving in to sin and making provision to sin day after day after day.
One sin we face today that goes beyond just temporary weakness is involvement with pornography. It has become particularly destructive in our time because of its easy access in the media and on the Internet. It becomes deeply embedded in people’s thoughts and habits and also impacts the relationships they maintain. Still, as difficult as any battle may be, we must not make provision for sin. Paul listed doing so as being in opposition to putting on [the mind of] Jesus Christ (Romans 13:11-14).
The Sons of Eli the Priest
Eli was a priest and a judge in Israel when the tabernacle stood in Shiloh. His sons were disrespectful and corrupt, and they troubled the people when they came to make sacrifices and to give offerings. They even had sex with some of the women. It ultimately cost them their lives. It cost Eli dearly as well. By giving in to them in their sin he brought a curse of suffering and death on his descendants, and his lineage was removed from the priesthood. Even though Eli had warned his sons against what they were doing, he took no action. The Bible says, “His sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them” (1 Samuel 3:13). It is not enough for us to just refuse to do evil. We must also choose to do good.
The importance of our mindset can hardly be overstated. The words we say, the example we set and the actions we take impact our future and the future of those around us. My wife Michelle was in a head-on car accident in college. A drunk driver came across the line and hit the car she was a passenger in. The driver, in his consumption of alcohol, had cast off restraint. It is Satan’s way. The actions of a complete stranger, in just a moment, left her with serious consequences that remain to this day.
In this life we can strive to give, or we can seek to get. We can be outwardly focused, or we can be self-focused. We can exercise restraint in the fear of God, or we can cast off restraint. These choices all have one thing in common. They portray the difference between the mind of Satan and the mind of Jesus Christ.