"A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways."—Jas. 1:8.
BY NATURE all mankind have the depraved mind or will, whose chief characteristic is selfishness. And it is the desire to gratify this depraved will, including all selfish desires, that leads into sin in its every form. But those who have tasted of divine grace, and have come unto the Father through the Son and the merits of his sacrifice, and whose eyes have been opened to discern the difference between righteousness and unrighteousness, and the natural result of both under the operation of the divine law, and who have consecrated themselves to the Lord, are said to have a new mind, a new will,—sometimes called a clean heart and a right spirit. The natural, fallen disposition or will or mind is Scripturally termed "the mind of the flesh," while the renewed mind, disposition or will is termed "the mind of the spirit," because it is the result of the influence or spirit of the truth.
Nevertheless, this new mind or will, based upon more proper views of right and wrong, is evolved through the very same brain as the other; and these brains by which we do our thinking and reasoning and willing are very closely and sympathetically allied to our depraved physical conditions, so that it is more natural, more easy, for us under present conditions to exercise the will or mind of the flesh than to exercise the will or mind of the spirit. Nor can this connection between our depraved physical conditions and our wills be completely broken up: so long as we are in the flesh it will be impossible for us to completely deaden its influence upon our minds and wills: consequently the will of the flesh and the works of the flesh would be the most easy and the most natural to us—the thoughts, words and deeds of the fallen disposition coming without seeking and without effort.
On the contrary, as the new mind or will was begotten or implanted in us by an outside influence, foreign to ourselves and our depravity, it, like all invaders, for a long time at least must hold its control, if at all, as would an invading foreigner—by force. The force or power by which the spirit of truth, the spirit of righteousness, the spirit of our God, gained a foothold in our hearts, was through the enlightenment of our minds and the quickening or revivifying of certain organs of the mind which had for many generations lain dormant and consequently become dwarfed and weak, and of other organs which for many generations had become distorted and perverted through misuse, under the domination of error, superstition, etc.
The spirit of truth, the spirit of the Lord, entered our minds as a great general might land upon a foreign shore, and recruit his army from amongst those whom he desires to conquer,—by lifting up and encouraging and enlightening the rightly disposed, and drilling these and arming them in his service, for the overthrow of a bad government, and the establishment of a righteous government. Such a new government, seeking the best interests of every citizen, and willing to have the cooperation of each, would nevertheless find it extremely difficult to control the lower elements of society, except by putting all of its affairs fully in charge and under the control of the rightly disposed: and so, too, in our minds, we find that there are certain lower organs or propensities which have maintained their strength and vigor, while some of the higher organs of our nature have lost their vitality and power to rule, and become dwarfed under the control of sin and ignorance. The spirit of truth, the spirit of the Lord, having gained entrance to our minds, has enlightened [R2335 : page 212] and quickened and is constantly drilling these better elements of our natural dispositions, and seeks to restore to them the control originally theirs, over the baser or lower propensities of our nature.
Nothing else need be expected than warfare between the new mind seeking under the Lord's direction to regain the control, and the depraved mind which obtained the control under the reign of sin and death. The Apostle mentions this warfare, saying:—"The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." (Gal. 5:17.) The inspired Apostle here puts the matter very strongly, and yet experience proves to all Christians that he puts it very truthfully, "Ye cannot do the things that ye would."
So far, then, from being discouraged that our new minds cannot conquer an absolute peace, and come into such perfect conditions that a wrong thought could never rise up to assert itself and to tempt us, we should, on the contrary, while prompt to crush the slightest uprising of the mind of the flesh, nevertheless realize that our condition is the very one which the Lord designs as best for us. We should realize that our faithfulness to righteousness is attested, not by the fact that we have no trials or besetments from the evil mind of the flesh, but that by the grace of God we have a holy will, a holy desire to promptly resist and by the Lord's grace to overcome every evil suggestion.
There are a few people in the world, we believe, who claim to have become so dead naturally and so alive spiritually that they have no "motions of sin in the flesh;"—so that no evil thought or desire ever so much as suggests itself to them. In our judgment these people are deceiving themselves; not only because their alleged experience is different from the experiences of other Christian people, faithfully battling against every motion of the flesh to the end of life's journey, but more particularly because their alleged experiences are contrary to the Word of Truth which in many places assures us (concerning the new creature with the new mind, seeking to overcome the mind of the flesh, and to bring every thought and word and act into subjection to the will of God in Christ), saying, "Ye cannot do [perfectly] the things that ye would."
This implies not only that the Lord's people, the new creatures in Christ, will be liable to besetment on the part of the mind of the flesh, but it implies also, that the mind of the flesh (in spite of our best efforts to down it, to mortify it), while not succeeding in accomplishing its evil purposes, will nevertheless hinder us in divers ways from accomplishing all the good and great and noble things to which the new mind will prompt us. He who thinks that he is accomplishing great things, he who succeeds in accomplishing all that he would, all the things that he wills to accomplish, may be sure that he is not willing on a high enough plane; just as he who fancies that he has no besetments of the flesh is merely deceiving himself, and is so asleep as respects his new mind that he does not recognize sharply the distinctions between the new mind and the old mind, nor discriminate closely between truth and error, righteousness and sin.
A double-minded man or woman is one who has received the new mind and recognizes the difference between the mind of the flesh and the mind of the spirit, but who, instead of giving over the control of his life to either one, thinks erroneously that he can succeed better by dividing matters. The double mind is the compromising disposition. The old nature, as soon as it recognizes the presence of the new, is inclined to dissimulate, and to propose compromise and peace, fearing its own extermination. The new mind urges right, truth, the spirit, disposition, of God; and that these should have free course, and that every thought daring to assert itself in opposition to these recognized principles of righteousness should be summarily dealt with and put to death as a rebel. The mind of the flesh trembles at such thorough-going law and discipline, and raises various objections:
(1) It would cause an awful rupture and a lifelong war between the new mind and the tendency, mind or will of the fallen flesh. It would mean self-denial; it would mean the risk of breaking of tender [R2336 : page 212] ties, and the rupture of long cherished hopes and ambitions.
(2) It objects that such a course would be fanatical; that such is not the course of the world in general, nor even the course of the most respectable among those who are classed as Christians; and that to follow the course proposed would, therefore, mean, as gauged by worldly wisdom and customs, to become a fool for Christ's sake, and to be considered such by all the worldly-wise.
(3) It urges its own claims and rights: it admits that at one time it usurped full control improperly, but declares that it is reformed now. Its proposal, therefore, is that there should be a lasting peace as between the old mind and the new, that the new mind shall have the full right to control in all matters pertaining to religious worship, Sabbath observance and outward deportment, and that the old mind (reformed) shall continue to have full charge of business and secular [R2336 : page 213] affairs; and that in matters of conscience, respecting dress, amusements, etc., there shall be a compromise between the two minds, which, it suggests, would really be the happy medium and more desirable and in better taste than the extremes of either.
This is the condition represented by the Apostle, when he says, a double-minded man is inconsistent in all his ways. And alas, how many Christians are in this very condition of inconsistency: they profess on the one hand to be renewed in mind, and are actually so to some extent; yet on the other hand, in many of the affairs of life they are walking not after the spirit's direction but after the will of the flesh. They more or less feel this inconsistency, and their lives are not satisfactory to themselves, and far from satisfactory from the divine standpoint. Nor does the world appreciate them; for frequently it calls them hypocrites, pointing to their inconsistencies as proof. Their course is thoroughly disapproved by the Lord's Word which declares that none such shall constitute the Kingdom class, which shall be composed only of "overcomers," in whom the mind of the spirit has the control, the mastery, bringing even the thoughts of the heart into subjection to the will of God in Christ.
The double-minded man, the man who has two wills in control, and who is obliged to compromise matters continually, by "splitting the difference" between the two minds, will be apt to find the old mind more and more securing control in his heart;—until finally his mind or will becomes as fleshly as it was before grace and truth reached him—full of selfishness. The only trace of the "new mind" remaining in such will be an outward semblance of respect for righteousness, truth and honesty, a "form of godliness" which, as a mere veneer, will serve to keep up outward appearances and respectability, while inwardly the heart, the will, is completely reprobate. Such have reached the condition of the scribes and Pharisees of old—they have become mere hypocrites, "whited sepulchres, full of all manner of corruption."
What then is the right attitude of mind, what is the proper course to take? We answer that the proper course is to have only one mind, one will—the will of God—to permit the new mind, the new spirit, the new disposition, to have full control. As the Apostle says, "Let the mind of Christ dwell in you richly and abound," and it will bring forth good fruit, that will be a blessing to yourself and to others, and pleasing to the Lord: and such will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord. We are to place ourselves in every particular under the control of the new mind, and as the Apostle again declares, "Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its desires." (Rom. 13:14.) The mind of the flesh, the desires of the flesh, are to be considered as mortal enemies,—to be fought against and exterminated so far as possible, and with them there is to be no compromise, no terms, no covenant, no agreement. "Mortify [kill, deaden] therefore your members [your mental members, your depraved tendencies] which are upon the earth."—Col. 3:5.
This same thought of the necessity of having only the one will, the one set of principles before our minds, if we would be successful in making our calling and election sure, was enunciated by our Lord, when he said, "If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." That is to say, if our eyes be focused in harmony together as one, the object before us will be seen in its true, proper light and shape, but if we were cross-eyed, our eyes glancing in different directions, every object looked at with both eyes would seem distorted. So with the eyes of understanding: if we attempt to look at matters from the heavenly standpoint, and at the same time from the earthly standpoint, the result will be unsatisfactory—confusion, uncertainty, incorrectness of judgment.
As we have found that the old nature, if permitted to have a voice at all, would eventually capture the citadel of the heart, so we find also that if the new nature be granted full sway to overcome the will of the flesh, to bring every thought and word and deed into subjection to the will of God, this also means a gradual development, a growth in grace and in the knowledge and the will of God. It means that the entire heart is thus seized in the name of the Lord, and reckoned as his, and reckoned a pure heart on this account; but it means also a progressive battle with and a progressive victory over the weaknesses, the frailties of our mortal bodies; and it means additionally the establishment, in every quarter of our beings, of fortified defences against the besetments of the world, the flesh and the devil. Thus the developed Christian, whose eye is single to the pleasement of God, and whose mind, purpose or will is single to the service of the one Master, shall, by the grace of God, day by day, month by month, year by year, find the ability, more and more, to hinder his flesh from rendering service to Sin. And not only so, but his flesh, once the willing servant of sin until mortified, rendered dead to Sin, shall more and more be quickened, energized, by the new mind, to its service, and thus more and more become a servant of righteousness and of truth: so that it not only will be passively the Lord's, in the sense of not being an opponent of truth and right and purity, but so that it will be the Lord's in a positive sense, aggressively and actively engaged in opposition to sin and error, and in the service of truth and righteousness.—Rom. 8:11.
Many gibes and taunts are thrown at the present House of Congress, whose Speaker and representative is the Hon. Thomas B. Reed, who is styled "the Czar and autocrat of the House." Nevertheless, and without attempting any discussion of the merits or demerits of the arrangement criticized, from their political and human standpoint, we see there a most fit illustration for our subject under consideration.
The human brain is scientifically, phrenologically, subdivided into various organs, representative of various propensities or dispositions: these may be illustrated by the various representatives of the various States, assembled in the House of Congress. Each different organ has its own particular thought or interest, yet the will is not the expression of any one organ merely, but the voice of the majority. When a motion or bill is offered in Congress, it may be of special interest to only a few of the members, and the State interests which they represent. In such event, if personal or sectional selfishness ruled amongst the members, the matter in question could not be passed, because the majority would not be sufficiently interested to favor it; and hence, to accomplish its end it would be necessary to appeal to the selfishness of the various other members, by agreeing to favor certain interests of theirs in return for their cooperation. Thus, Congress, if each member and each state stood entirely separate, and without any combination, would be comparatively powerless, unless a degree of patriotism should be shown larger than we would have any reason to expect. Hence the tendency has always been to party division and party cooperation; the party in the majority having the control of the situation, and being held responsible accordingly for the results. So with our minds: if each organ stood wholly separate from the others, it could move only on lines of selfishness, unless it were perfect, which we know it is not. Hence in the human mind, as in Congress, party lines have been established, and for very much the same purpose. In the mind of the Christian the party lines are, the old mind and the new mind, the old self and the new self, the old creature and the new creature, the old will and the new will, the mind of righteousness, and the mind of sin, the mind of love and the mind of selfishness. All these various names describe the same two minds.
In Congress it was found that as its number of representatives increased there was an increased tendency on the part of minorities to baffle or hinder the accomplishment of anything by the majority: the minority party would discuss the subject for hours, days and weeks, if permitted to do so, rather than let the matter go to a vote, in hope that in the end the will of the majority should be frustrated. But Speaker Reed, cooperating with the leaders of his party, concluded that it was not the intention of the law to hinder legislation, and that consequently the dominant party should have opportunity to proceed to enact the laws which it, as the majority of the body, deemed to be the proper laws. Consequently rules were laid down giving the Speaker, as the representative of the majority, certain privileges and powers, by which the opposition would be limited in its discussion of the various subjects, and the will of the majority more speedily and more thoroughly enacted.
Now this is exactly the condition of things in the human heart, where the teachings of the Lord have been accepted, and where the propensities or organs [R2337 : page 214] of the mind have come to a strict party division;—the one the party of truth and righteousness and love, in harmony with the Lord, and the other the party of sin and selfishness, with contrary sentiments. If conversion has taken place it means that the higher organs of the mind, sufficient in number or in influence, have gained the control of the mind; that these preponderate in number or in influence; that they constitute the majority, and the evil propensities the minority. Any heart in which the evil propensities are in the majority and in control is an unconverted heart.
And what was found in Congress respecting the disposition of minorities to baffle the will of the ruling majority is found also in our minds, namely, the disposition of our natural mind not only to be heard, but to foil and baffle and render void the will of the new mind, in respect to the control of the affairs of life. What the Scriptures propose to us, therefore, is illustrated again in Congress: the Scriptures propose that the new mind, having obtained the control, shall elect a Speaker, a head,—and that that head or Speaker for our every talent, directing all our interests and all our efforts, shall be Christ Jesus our Lord. They propose that we shall place full authority and power in the hands of the Lord, so that his word and will shall be our will, our law. And how safe it is for us to admit such a Czar, such an autocrat, to control us, since we have learned to know him as the very embodiment of justice, wisdom, and love. Safely we can trust our affairs in his hands.
There are other analogies which might be drawn: for instance, the power of the Speaker of the House rests solely in the fact that it is the power of the majority. If the majority which placed him in power and gave him the authority which he exercises should become a minority, his power would immediately terminate; and the opposition party might give its representative equal power in an opposite direction. So [R2337 : page 215] with our hearts; only as our hearts voted to have the Lord in control, did he take charge; and if our wills, the preponderance of our propensities, our judgments, cease to be on the side of the Lord, he no longer retains his power in our hearts and lives, and the evil majority appoint a successor, in line with the selfish propensities, favoring everything selfish.
In Congress, when any matter is brought up, each representative has an opportunity for expressing himself, either directly or indirectly, either on the floor personally, or through representatives in committee. And so with our wills: when a matter is presented by one organ of the mind, the other organs have a chance to respond, and to seek to influence the majority, and to overthrow the rule of righteousness. For instance, a suggestion is made to the mind by the organ of Combativeness, to the effect that there is a good, proper cause why the whole being should be angry, and undertake vengeful retaliation; and under the influence of the eloquence of Combativeness, various other of the lower organs would most surely be aroused; namely, Pride, Self-esteem, Destructiveness, Selfishness, etc., and in addition perhaps some of the higher organs might be temporarily swayed by the old sympathies, prejudice, antipathy, etc., to favor the angry, malicious and resentful course. Conscientiousness might excitedly declare that it was a righteous cause of indignation; Caution might join, and claim that if the thing were not now opposed violently, worse results would follow; even Spirituality and Veneration might be swayed into favoring the angry course, with suggestions that it was in the service of God, and a duty towards God, and toward righteousness, to be angry and to crush the opponent with retaliation and vengeance. Thus, for a moment the entire mind might be swayed toward the side of evil, yet without previous wilfulness or sin—because of the hereditary tendencies of the mind.
But here the gavel of the Speaker is heard, Memory calls attention, and points out that the will of the majority has already been expressed to the contrary of such a course; and calls attention to the rules already adopted;—namely, to put away all anger, malice, hatred and strife, as being in general works of the flesh and of the devil. Memory calls attention to the fact that the majority adopted as the rule of action the words of the Speaker, Christ, "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and speak evil of you." Commit your way unto the Lord, remembering that he has said, "Vengeance is mine, I will recompense." Where the will of the majority of organs is loyal to its own previous decision, the effect of Memory's calling attention to that law will be instantaneous: at once Conscientiousness, Veneration, Spirituality, Caution, and all the higher organs realize that they were about to make a mistake; and immediately they change front, fully supporting the law of the Speaker, Christ. Selfishness, Combativeness, Pride, etc., may attempt to argue the point, but immediately they are called to order and reminded that by vote of the majority they are strictly under the law of Christ, and all further discussion of the subject is forbidden.
Similarly, illustrations might be drawn as representing other passions, tastes or desires of the flesh, which temporarily might seem to gain some control; but from the moment that Memory calls attention to the proposal as being in conflict with the law of the Master, there should be an instantaneous surrender. Such a course would prove that the will had all along been thoroughly loyal to the Lord, and that he reigns there. It proves the reign of Christ in that heart far better than if no suggestion to the contrary course had come up. And who cannot see that a life thus ordered, and under strictest control of the will of our Head, Christ Jesus, is not only the only proper life (the only one in which the new mind is properly exercised), but in addition to this the only mind which is a "sound mind." People who are continually carried from their moorings by their emotions show that their minds are unsound; such are continually proving to those around them that they have poor judgment. They are frequently angry, troubled, vexed, hurt; or continually falling into one wrong act or another, as they confess afterward. Indeed, the majority of the things at which they take offence, become angry, etc., prove to have been mistakes, nothing having been done or intended to anger, hurt, or injure them. And we know, not only from the Scriptures, but also from our own observation, that the world of mankind in general is thus of unsound mind; and, as the Apostle explains, the only ones in all the world who have even the spirit or disposition of a sound mind are the new creatures in Christ Jesus, who have the new mind, the new will, in control. These, as we have seen, would be liable to be carried away also, by evil passions, evil surmisings, etc., but those who have put themselves fully and completely under the control of Christ and his law of the New Covenant are kept from the extremes to which otherwise they would be as subject as others.
The Apostle's exhortation to the double minded, is in place, and should be heeded promptly by all who realize that they have a double mind or will which can never please the Lord nor bring joy and blessing either now or hereafter: "Purify your hearts, ye double minded;"—purge your consciences by hearty obedience to the truth, by the washing of water through the Word.
"First somebody told it,
Then the room wouldn't hold it,
So the busy tongues rolled it
Till they got it outside.
When the crowd came across it
They onward did toss it,
Till it grew long and wide.
From a very small lie, Sir,
It grew deep and high, Sir,
Till it reached the sky, Sir,
And frightened the moon;
For she hid her face, Sir,
At the dreadful disgrace, Sir,
That happened at noon.
"This lie brought forth others,
Dark sisters and brothers,
And fathers and mothers
A terrible crew.
And while headlong they hurried,
The people they flurried,
And troubled and worried
As lies always do.
And so evil boded,
This monstrous lie goaded,
Till at last it exploded
In smoke and in shame.
While from mud and from mire
The pieces flew higher,
And hit the sad liar,
And killed his good name."
—Mrs. M. A. Kidder in Jewish Gazette.