Belief Predicts Behavior

Belief Predicts Behavior

The Christian faith is an intimate relationship of the heart and mind, yet we live in a physical world that requires our bodies being brought into subjection and being yielded to the lordship of Christ. The Christian life is a war, and that war must be waged in our bodies (Eph. 6:10-18; 2 Cor. 10:3-6; 1 Pet. 5:8-10). It would help us to understand the basics of spiritual warfare; otherwise, we will be rendered useless in the area of service through our spiritual gifts. The Bible teaches us that there is a battle going on for control of our soul. The center of our being is our soul. Your body, which houses the soul and spirit, becomes subject to temptation of the world and the devil.

That belief predicates behavior is an axiom of truth I learned early on in my ministry. It was a favorite phrase of my mentor. The concept behind the thought is thoroughly biblical. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Clearly, from a scriptural point of view, what we believe determines the way in which we behave. It therefore greatly behooves us to believe correctly in order to behave correctly.

Justifying Sin

The Scriptures are explicit in their declaration that the properly attuned mind is critical to living the Christian life in a manner that would please God. Sadly, we are living in days where in order to justify certain sins the mindset of some professing Christian leaders has been to dismiss any reasonable responsibility for the way one thinks.

We should consider that within the ranks of the evangelical church there have been a number of leading pastors and theologians who have come to the false conclusion that sexual orientation (a state of mind) is something that individuals cannot control. In other words, they believe that a person who has same sex attraction (SSA) is born with that as an orientation. If this is so then it means that they should not be held accountable for thinking in accordance with their alleged orientation.

Thinking Like Christ

This needs to be examined in light of Scripture which clearly contradicts that conclusion. For example, we know that if we are to follow Christ, we must strive to be more like Him. The key to acting like Christ is thinking like Christ which is one of Paul’s main points in the book of Philippians. He says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (2:5).

Paul was admonishing us to think like Jesus and to develop the same type of attitude that He had. Another version translates the verse, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (NIV). Bob Utley frames it this way: ““have this attitude in yourself” – This is a PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERATIVE. Believers are commanded to continue to think (phroneō) like Christ. The goal of Christianity is Christlikeness in thought and deed” (emphasis mine).

Renewing Our Minds

The only way we can have the transformation necessary to live in a Christ honoring manner is to renew our minds (Rom. 12:1-2). This is the only way we can fulfill the will of God for our lives.  Paul tells believers here not to be conformed (suschematizesthe) to a worldly standard but rather to be transformed (metamorphousthe) by that renewal.  In Second Corinthians, Paul clarifies that the renewal of the inner man should take place, “day by day” (4:16).

We know that thought precedes action and that is why Paul was insistent on this point: you can never live the life of a Christian until you genuinely have the mind of a Christian. How we think is critical to our success in living the way Paul instructs us to live. The truth is, the only One to ever measure up fully to the standard was Christ Himself, so Paul sets forth the mind of Christ as our supreme example (Phil. 2:1-17). He will follow this instruction by using Timothy and Epaphroditus as examples, showing us that we, too, can live godly lives that honor the Lord (Phil 2:19-30). The excuse that many have is, “Well, I’m not Jesus.” No, you are not, but with the help of the Holy Spirit you can grow to be more like Him. We should never lose sight of the goal, being “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

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