by Brett Barry
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 7…always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…— II Tim 3:1-7
I’ve always found it interesting that Paul is writing to Timothy about the church when he speaks of “…having a form of godliness but denying its power…always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” It sounds a bit extreme, after all, the church is full of people who are in the process of growing up in Christ.
Or is it? I mean, it should be, but is it really?
It doesn’t take much observing to recognize that the life-exchange, Spirit-empowered message of the Cross within the church (at least the western church) has been sufficiently misrepresented to the degree that the lives of many today who profess to follow Jesus bear no fruit of His presence. The result? A form of godliness, but no life-transforming power. Nothing to indicate that their lives belong to Jesus.
Heart-check: Ask yourself, “Is this true of my life in any way?”
The true Church hungers for and pursues life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ; however, the institutional church, the one most visible, represents a God made in man’s image. It is, therefore, powerless.
I believe a key contributor to this process is the belief that the lordship of Christ Jesus is somehow separate from His salvation; that a person can be saved yet not live in reverent submission to God. In this way, some profess a heart belief that Jesus is the son of God raised from the dead and proclaim His lordship with their mouths yet refuse to submit to God their independent perspectives that run contrary to who Jesus is, therein denying the very holiness in which He stands, provides, and expects.
In short, they remain headstrong, and are a house divided against itself.
This can be really obvious at times, but it can also be extremely subtle. For example, before God, how much difference is there between the person who willfully resists Him and the one who doesn’t consult Him? Didn’t sin enter the world through the subtle guise of seemingly innocent pondering that reasoned independently of, “God said?”
Whether by lack of a commitment to seek, understand and wrestle the things of God, a willful independence, or a greater hunger for the things of this world, those who in some way retain the “right” to manage their own lives and nurture their opinion over God’s do not recognize that the only way to enter and remain IN Christ is to belong TO Christ: heart, soul, strength, mind — Lk 10:27.
We were bought as a complete package for the price of Jesus’ life. We can commit our heart to Him and perceive ourselves on the journey, but without also intentionally dedicating our mind, we will remain headstrong—the one calling the shots, and actually never leave the parking lot.
Heart-check: Ask yourself, “Are there areas in my thought life that I am not submitting to God? Am I still independently minded in any way?
On the flip side, Scripture calls us to be Headstrong IN Christ; Kingdom minded—Matt 6:33, as ambassadors of Christ tending to the ministry of reconciliation—II Cor 5:19-20. We have the mind of Christ dwelling in us—1 Cor 2:16. We are transformed by the renewing of [our] minds—Rom 12:2. And by His Spirit we are to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ—2 Cor 10:5.
Just as it is possible to commit our life to Jesus yet not love Him with all our heart, it is possible to know many true things about God yet not think like Him. Conversely, when God truly has our heart we begin to desire what He desires; and when He has our mind we begin to reason through that desire—intentionally seeking to find out what pleases the Lord—Eph 5:10.
In Christ, our logic becomes God-centered. And having first deposited His Word into our minds we meditate on it until it resides and resonates fully within our hearts. We are then able to filter our thoughts, dreams and intentions through knowledge of the Holy One to grow our understanding—Prov 9:10. And when our thoughts wander off into territory we know is not of God, we, by the resurrection power of His Spirit fully alive in us, take them captive and make them obedient to Christ!
Living the Spirit-led life is not about shutting off our mind, it’s about bringing it into alignment with truth; it’s not about getting it out of the way, it’s about getting it into The Way.
Through God’s laws being written on our hearts and minds and the power of His Spirit residing at the depths of our very being, we delight ourselves in the Lord, lift up Jesus and overcome those things in us for which He died to set us free.
This is the path of righteousness.
This is the path to becoming Headstrong.