"Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth." (Colossians 3:2)
This week we will begin a new series and turn our attention to what it means to be heavenly-minded. Let us start by stating what heavenly-minded does not mean. There are two categories upon which we will center our attention. One is pretentious spirituality, and the second is worldliness. Worldliness is a large category, and we will take several weeks to explore some of the ways God speaks about what it means to be worldly. Then, of course, we will consider how we can become worldly-minded and how to avoid it.
Jesus was never timid to talk about sinful behavior. For example, during the greatest sermon ever preached, The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly warned about keeping the law for the wrong reasons and in pretentious ways. Jesus' forerunner, John the Baptist, also foretold the heart and mindset of the people of Israel.
"So he was saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, "You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore produce fruits that are consistent with repentance and do not start saying to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children for Abraham. But indeed the ax is already being laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (Luke 3:7-9)
John was not holier in his own estimation; he prepared the way of the Lord by announcing the sins of the people so that they might see their need for repentance. Later in Jesus' ministry, religious leaders said the very thing John declared, "We have Abraham as our father." Israel was full of its own goodness, even though God brought them into slavery by the Romans after being exiled from their land for seventy years once before.
After declaring how leadership should behave, Jesus summarized His teaching by saying, "Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." (Matthew 23:12) Self-exaltation makes men spiritually pretentious. A proper view of self instills humility. We should always pray that God would enable us to see ourselves for what we are in His eyes.
Hypocrisy is saying one thing intending to do the opposite. Jesus said, "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut the kingdom of heaven in front of people; for you do not enter it yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in." (Matthew 23:13) Jesus said the religious leaders in Israel were preventing people from entering the kingdom of heaven. Except for repentant believers, all religious leaders, by hypocrisy, obscure how repentance and faith lead to eternal life.
How to Avoid Spiritual Pretence
First, it is vital to pray for awareness of our presumptions about our goodness when in reality, we are just proud. Second, there are only a few things necessary to live a Spirit-filled life. We must continually humble ourselves by taking to heart what the Bible says. "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
Second, we must always consider that head knowledge of itself is not a change of heart. We can listen to a one-hour sermon once a week for fifty years and never be transformed into something new. In Romans 12:1, 2, we are told, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind," only after we are admonished. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."
Before our mind can be renewed, we must be given a new heart by which we repent of our sins and offer ourselves to God as His slaves, making Him our Lord.
First comes justification then sanctification. First, we need to be born again before we can mature as adults. First, we must be adopted into the family of God, before we can act like sons.