"gird up the loins of your mind."
To the 21st-century ear, 1 Peter 1:13 sounds a bit peculiar in the King James Version of the Bible, and the New King James Version didn't update the wording. It tells us to "gird up the loins of your mind."
When I first read that verse I couldn't help thinking, "I didn't even know that my mind had loins, and how do you gird them anyway?" As unusual as it may first seem, Peter was inspired to record those curious words for us because they do have meaning and significance for our lives today.
What Do You Mean, "Gird Up the Loins"?
Imagine living at the time of the apostles. First-century dress was very different from today and people normally wore long robelike garments. If they tried to hurry, they could easily trip and fall over their lengthy clothing. It would be like trying to run somewhere in your long bathrobe.
To offset this dilemma a man would gather the folds of his long garment and tuck them into his belt so that he could move freely and speedily. Examples of this are also found in 1 Kings 18:46 and Luke 12:35.
Peter takes this common expression of his day and, instead of speaking about running with robes, he applies it to our minds. He tells us to take those long robes and pull them up, tuck them in and turn them into activewear. It's not time to lounge around in lengthy robes and take things as they come, but it's time to be ready for action. The NIV translation echoes this idea saying: "prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled."
What should our minds be actively doing? How do we prepare and protect our minds? We should begin by guarding the door to our mind. The process of guarding our minds is similar to protecting our computers. If our mind is to be ready for godly action, we must guard it like we secure our computers.
Install a Firewall
To keep our computer safe from attacks, we try to strengthen its defenses. What can be done to ward off computer problems? Install a firewall. A firewall isolates our computer from outside influences like the Internet. It allows the data we consider safe to enter and blocks the data we don't consider safe from corrupting our computer.
It's no different with our mind. We must strengthen our defenses by installing a spiritual firewall to guard our thoughts.
Proverbs 4:23-27 (New Century Version) tells us: "Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. Don't use your mouth to tell lies; don't ever say things that are not true. Keep your eyes focused on what is right, and look straight ahead to what is good. Be careful what you do, and always do what is right. Don't turn off the road of goodness; keep away from evil paths." We must constantly be on the defensive to ward off wrong thoughts.
Isn't it true that our thoughts dictate the direction of our lives? The greatest battlefield of life is the mind, and we are constantly at war for its control! If we want to live right, we must put up a spiritual firewall and not allow just anything to affect our thinking.
We have to be careful what we let in, and what we allow to influence us. We have to keep wrong thoughts and wrong ideas out of our minds, because how we think will affect how we live.
Computer geeks have a name for this process. It's called GIGO. GIGO is an acronym that stands for "garbage in, garbage out." It means that the quality of the output is directly dependent on the quality of the input. In other words, if we put bad data in our computer, what comes out will be bad results.
Jesus taught that it is exactly the same with our minds. In Mark 7:20-23 He said, "The things that come out of people are the things that make them unclean. All these evil things begin inside people, in the mind: evil thoughts, sexual sins, stealing, murder, adultery, greed, evil actions, lying, doing sinful things, jealousy, speaking evil of others, pride, and foolish living. All these evil things come from inside and make people unclean" (NCV).
Don't allow ungodly thinking. If we allow wrong thoughts into our minds, it will result in wrong sinful actions. We must keep our minds clear, uncluttered, pure and right. By being filled with God's Holy Spirit, it is possible to keep the garbage out of our minds.
Install Antivirus Software
There are circumstances, impulses and desires that constantly threaten our thinking. This is reminiscent of how our computer's processing, its thinking, is also threatened.
A common threat to guard against is a computer virus. A computer virus is a small piece of software that piggybacks on a computer program. For example, a virus might attach itself to a program on your computer and then each time that program runs, the virus runs too and has the chance to wreak havoc.
The key to controlling a computer virus is to prevent it by using antivirus utilities. Installing antivirus software and keeping it updated will keep our computers secure by not allowing a virus access to our programs.
The same is true with our minds. We have to guard our minds so that wrong thinking is stopped even before it can begin. We must be sure that we have God's Holy Spirit activated in our life.
The apostle Paul didn't know about computers, but he understood that our minds are under attack. He tells us in 2 Timothy 1:13-14, "Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us" (New Revised Standard Version). The word for guard is the Greek word phulasso . It can mean "to keep by way of protection." We must protect our minds by using God's Spirit. It's like a spiritual antivirus program that helps us to guard against wrong thinking.
Romans 8:5-6 states, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
Have we set our mind in order to guard what has been committed to us? Have we shielded our minds by thinking according to the Spirit?
Computer techs tell us that we should be sure to use real-time monitoring and keep our antivirus software updated. To safeguard against the latest virus, we should be sure that the update process is set to the daily mode.
Spiritually speaking, we must be "updated" daily. Are we sure that we are building a close relationship with God every day? We are spiritually updated as we constantly focus our minds on submitting to God and build godly character as we live His way. We are told in 2 Corinthians 4:16, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day."
Protecting and directing our minds during our daily spiritual update will bring remarkable blessings. "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation! Selah" (Psalm 68:19).
Guard Against Spyware
When you use the Internet, it is possible that spyware could invade your computer. Without knowing it, spyware (also called adware or malware) can track your computer usage, what Web sites you visit and even what keys you strike on your keyboard. It knows what you're doing, collects your personal information and can send it to a third party without your permission. This can certainly be a threat to the health of your computer and your personal information.
There is a direct correlation between spyware and the way Satan and his demons try to track what we are doing. They watch us and try to influence us. They see what we are doing. Remember 1 Peter 5:8? We're told to "discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour" (NRSV). Satan tracks our movements and watches for an opening so that he can go on the attack.
We cannot let Satan's spyware influence our minds. Our perspective must be one of self-control so that we are not a vulnerable target for attack. As Ephesians 4:14-15 states, "...we will not be influenced by every new teaching we hear from people who are trying to fool us. They make plans and try any kind of trick to fool people into following the wrong path. No! Speaking the truth with love, we will grow up in every way into Christ, who is the head" (NCV).
We should be sure of the integrity of all of the thoughts that we allow in our mind. To get rid of Satan's spyware, we must raise the security level of our browser (our mind) from minimal safeguards to the highest security level. Proverbs 13:6 tells us how we can accomplish this: "Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner" (NIV).
Unfortunately, some have the misguided idea that somehow thoughts have a life of their own and that these thoughts determine what goes on inside our heads. This is not true. Each of us has control over our thoughts and the ability to guard them if we're determined to do so.
"We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses. Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy's strong places. We destroy people's arguments and every proud thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NCV).
With God's help we can take control to root out wrong thinking before it even begins. John confirms this: "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
Reject the Dangerous
Computer security experts tell us to further protect our system by refusing unknown software, unfamiliar e-mails and unspecified attachments. Do not download unknown software. Don't open unknown e-mails, especially if they have interesting headlines. Make every effort to stay away from questionable and dangerous Web sites. If you browse them, your computer will be at risk and you can imagine what will happen next.
When applying these principles to our minds, the spiritual implications of this kind of protection are even more serious.
We must have the resolve to refuse wrong reasoning. We have to be always ready to recognize sinful influences and defend ourselves from attack. The apostle John reminds us to "look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward" (2 John 8). "Look to yourselves" in the NRSV translation conveys this ready resolve by telling us to "be on your guard."
Be an Effective Guard
We worry about the safety of our computers, but how much more should we be concerned about what enters our minds? Do we stop to consider our daily diet of radio and television? What about the newspaper or our favorite magazine? How many times are our minds under attack by the philosophies of our day?
Do we realize the extent of the powerful influences that movies and music produce on our thinking? Even the people we associate with can have a detrimental effect on us. Do we just take it all in, or do we set a guard at the door to our mind?
Let's be ready for mental combat. Think about what we view. Contemplate what we read. Let's ask ourselves: "Where is this coming from?" "How does it want me to think?" "Is this the way God thinks?"
We can secure our lives by keeping our eyes open, being vigilant and resisting wrong. A breech of computer security could result in a hard drive crash and the loss of our data. If we do not guard our mind, the loss of life will have eternal consequence.
Remember, the most powerful weapon in your arsenal is "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17)—a sound knowledge of and a deep respect for the Bible.
As we stay close to God, we can take security in His promise in Psalm 121:7-8: "The Lord will protect you from all dangers; he will guard your life. The Lord will guard you as you come and go, both now and forever" (NCV).
Guard the door to your mind. UN