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 Philippians 2:1-11 1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
2 Fulfill you my joy, that you be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.
9 Why God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
American King James Version×).
We can take the contrast between the mind of Satan and the mind of Christ one step further by considering Proverbs 29:11 Proverbs 29:11A fool utters all his mind: but a wise man keeps it in till afterwards.
American King James Version×: “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 Hebrews 12:14-17 14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For you know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
American King James Version×).
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 Galatians 5:19-24 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
American King James Version×). 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 Romans 13:11-14 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
American King James Version×).
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 1 Samuel 3:13For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knows; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.
American King James Version×). 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.