(No, this isn’t about an 80’s sitcom.) This is a very important question that we need to ask ourselves daily. Who’s the boss? In my youth, “You aren’t the boss of me” was an often used phrase by my peers. It spoke of the rebellious, free-willed nature that was (and is) rampant in society. There is always a desire to be “in charge,” “the master of my own destiny”, a “self-made man,” etc. I suspect that any cursory study of history would show that this element was always a part of culture.
Simply put, we do not like to be told what to do. However, someone must be in charge. In government, the lack of a central leading body allows society to digress into anarchy or mob rule. In health, if we do not follow “life principles,” we will quickly find ourselves either in the hospital or the grave. Yet, when it comes to spiritual matters, our tendency is to rebel against leadership.
Our greatest leader is our conscience. Think about the times we have ignored our “inner preacher.” We know when we’ve eaten too much at dinner, yet we still find room for that beautifully prepared pie. Later, we wonder who broke our scales because they are showing an additional 5-10 pounds. You know where I’m going with this line of thought, so I really don’t need to give any additional examples. We ignore our inner leader because we want the instant gratification.
As Christians, we not only have our conscience to guide us, we also have the Holy Spirit. Yet many times, we resist the nudging of both in order to pursue that which pleases our flesh. This can refer to many things, including an interesting Facebook exchange about someone who wronged you, discussing a coworker’s actions with another member of your workforce team, etc.. I could give many examples of this type of pitfall. Yet, if we had only listened to our conscience or “that still small voice,” we would have given a more Christian response.
“When you do the wrong thing, knowing it is wrong, you do so because you haven’t developed the habit of effectively controlling or neutralizing strong inner urges that tempt you, or because you have established the wrong habits and don’t know how to eliminate them effectively.” (William Clement Stone)
This issue of determining one’s “boss” is critical. As I stated in my previous blog post, “Want to Wrestle?“, the real battleground is our mind. We need to develop a war doctrine so that we can win this battle. Paul devotes a significant part of his letter to the Romans on discussion of this topic. Most of us make Paul out to be a hero and yet, in this letter, he freely admited that he was constantly fighting this very inner war.
Romans 7:14-25 (NLT)
14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.
15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.
16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good.
17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.
19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.
22 I love God’s law with all my heart.
23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
I once watched a neurologist describe the process of nerve impulses that are required to raise one’s hand. This process only takes a fraction of a second, yet it took this doctor, speaking rapidly, almost two minutes to list what occurs in our body. The sad irony is that if any of the nerves mentioned did not act as directed, the movement would not be correct and might not even occur at all.
The spiritual parallel is alarming. I may be absolutely convinced that Jesus can heal my body. I can know that, as Creator, He has the power and ability. I can know that he has healed others of the very same ailment from which I am suffering. I can know that the Bible shows that He healed everyone who asked. The facts are overwhelmingly in favor of His wanting to heal me. However, I do not believe that I am worthy. Although God has forgiven the sins I have committed in the past, I may believe that they disqualify me from His healing touch. Maybe I think that I have not yet earned the privilege of His touch because I have been remiss in my prayer, or …
These incorrect assumptions short-circuit our faith. Because we have lost the battle of the mind, we negate our miracle. We do not receive our healing, deliverance from sin, or blessings that He has spoken into our lives. The mind is the beginning of all action in the human body. The parallel is that the mind is the beginning of all spiritual action as well. We must gain control of our thought processes.
Philippians 4:4-9 (KJV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Paul understood the battle of the mind. In his parting statements to the church at Philippi, he gave them a key to winning this battle. When we control our thoughts, we win the war.