Sin’s Fortress is the Mind

The book that Brandon and I are currently reading, The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan, is all about restoring our souls by restoring Sabbath. It was given to us by mentors after I explained how busy our schedules have been and how much I have been struggling to delight in Christ. The question they posed, and that ate at the back of my mind as we began reading was: “How can you delight in God when you can’t rest in Him?”

So far the book hasn’t been about practical ways to establish a Sabbath day every week, or even what Sabbath is. It has been about the transformation that comes when we are constantly aware of God’s presence. Transformation comes from the Spirit’s work in us, not our willful “changing of ways.”

What does that look like? Romans 12:2 says to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Transformation starts in the mind. Why? Because sin’s fortress is our mind.

The ultimate consequence of evil behavior, [Paul] says, is that it makes us “enemies in [our] minds” toward God (Col. 1:21).

The ways in which we think, reason, and desire determine our course. God has been reminding me of this concept for the last month and a half. It has reminded me of when Paul talks about beating his body to make it his slave for the sake of the Gospel and glory, and when he commands us to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ. Such discipline.

I’ve been pretty disciplined over the last year. It has been exactly a year since I started consistently working out. My first stab at it was just running, getting my miles longer and time shorter. Then I moved onto more intense cardio, where the warm-up is a workout: Insanity. Followed by a weight training program focused on building strength (because I sure need that!) in the traditional squat, dead lift, and bench. Finally my brother began using me as a guinea pig for a new program he wrote. I am now lifting 4 times a week and it’s starting to feel like I know what’s going on!

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Outside of a couple sick weeks, I haven’t missed a day. I rearrange my schedule to make sure I get all 4 days in every week, have woken up at 4am to get it done (I hate anything that happens before 10am, especially the waking up process), have done late night sessions (when I’d rather hang with my husband), began adjusting my eating habits so that I can make the proper gains (talk about a lifestyle change!), now live in leggings and chucks, drive 20-30 minutes each way to the “gym” (thank God the gas prices have decreased), consistently waddle in pain from leg days, but most amazingly, have sacrificed morning cuddle time for sweat, lots of pain, and tears.

Why?

That’s a good question, one I’ve been trying to figure out lately… because I want to look good? Or maybe it’s because I want to live a healthy lifestyle? No wait, I want to be strong – physically capable of holding my own. I am willing to sacrifice sleep, comfort, connection, convenience, finances, and time to do something that only sometimes feels good so that I can be strong.

And actually, it’s not that hard for me to do. I had a couple weeks of really not wanting to, but then some instagram fitness people motivated me out of that rut. But outside of that it’s just what I do. It’s a priority in my schedule, my time, and my finances and so it doesn’t get compromised.

Do you know what has been hard for me to do? Have consistent alone time with God. To significantly connect with Him on a daily basis. To rest in His presence and surrender my desires, will, and day to Him. To study His word and learn more about His heart. To be vulnerable with Him about how I am really doing. It has been extremely difficult for me to prioritize the Ruler of the universe in my schedule, my time, and my heart (and don’t get me started about finances!).

But do you know what happens when I do? Peace. My days are characterized by it. I allow the Spirit to have His way in me and empower me to be all He is calling me to be each and every moment. My temper is slow to fire up, my tongue more courteous, my judgments more understanding and empathetic. And the joy is unbelievable. I am a way better wife and friend. I genuinely care about people and am intuitive to core issues going on.

What do I sacrifice for this? Physically, it is not nearly as much as it takes to work out. I wake up a little earlier, stumble a few yards to my Bible and begin. While reading it, I am attracted to Truth. I want it rooted deep in my soul. But I don’t discipline my mind to think, or body to sacrifice, in the ways needed for intimacy with Christ.

It has amazed me as God keeps opening my eyes to how easy it has been for me to discipline my body, and how epically I’ve been failing at disciplining my mind. That’s where the battle has been lost: I resist my mind being transformed and renewed. If sin’s fortress is the mind, no wonder I’m struggling!

So friends, walk with me into this battle. The war is won, but we must still do our part in disciplining our bodies and transforming our minds with the Gospel. Let us be known not by our healthy lifestyles, but by an inexplicable peace that only comes through intimacy with Christ. May our minds no longer be sin’s fortress, but a magnificent picture into God’s Kingdom.

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