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Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 11/26/06
What it means to be initiated into the secret of the mystery. Part 45.
The Portfolio of Invisible Assets. Part 5.

We have been noting the general categories of testing which occur in all stages of spiritual growth as a part of your portfolio of invisible assets.

  1. The old sin nature test.
  2. Cosmic #1 test.
  3. Cosmic #2 test.
  4. Disaster testing.
  5. People testing.
  6. System testing.
  7. Thought testing.
  8. Prosperity testing.

We have noted the first six and we are now ready for #7: Thought testing.

Thought testing occurs at all stages of Christian experience, but its direct application as a part of suffering for blessing in momentum testing is the subject here. In spiritual self-esteem, providential preventative suffering provides some preliminary thought testing, as noted in 2CO 12:10 “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses [thought testing],” The Greek word anagke is translated distresses, and it means necessities, distresses, calamities and pressures. It refers to hindrances to the soul. Anagke refers to pressures that attack the mental attitude of the soul. It is mental attitude testing.

In spiritual autonomy, momentum testing includes thought testing. In spiritual maturity, evidence testing provides definite thought testing. To pass thought testing at any stage of the Christian life, the believer must have metabolized doctrine to meet thought testing at a given stage, and the filling of the Spirit at the time of thought testing to make the correct application of metabolized doctrine. This means possessing the ability NOT to be distracted by false issues or to be misled by wrong priorities. These are a continual distraction in the Christian life. They accumulate a tremendous amount of self-induced misery under the law of volitional responsibility. Mental attitude in the Christian life is the function of your thinking and the pressure of thought conflict in your soul. You will always have questions, but if you're patient, you'll eventually receive the answers.

So, thought determines the believer's life, and thought has such a powerful effect on the believer's success or failure in the Christian life that thinking must be considered a major momentum test. In all stages of Christian growth the believer will face the pressure of thought conflicts in his soul: human viewpoint will conflict with divine viewpoint. False concepts will challenge Bible doctrine. Arrogance will intrude upon humility. Self-benefits of all kinds will compete with the PPOG. Fear will paralyze reason. These are essentially private conflicts which the believer must resolve in his own soul. Thought testing may also exist when circumstances are overtly prosperous and tranquil. A person is not always what he appears to be on the surface; the real person can be found in the thought content of his soul. PRO 23:7 “For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, Eat and drink! But his heart [the place of thought] is not with you.” This verse tells us we are what we think, not what we do, and not necessarily what we say. PRO 27:19 As in water face {reflects} face, So the heart of man {reflects} man. PSA 12:2They speak falsehood to one another; With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak. Or in PSA 55:21 His speech was smoother than butter, But his heart was war; His words were softer than oil, Yet they were drawn swords.”

Because a believer is what he thinks, a thought can make or break him, depending on the nature of the thought. If his thought is consistent with Bible doctrine, he advances in the PPOG. If his thought is contrary to doctrine, he is distracted from his true destiny in life. His mental attitude toward life is the function of his thinking, the composite of all he knows and believes. Rational thinking is the essential human activity that distinguishes man from animals. Like the angels, man was created with a soul capable of rational thought. Therefore, the mentality of the soul is the battlefield of the angelic conflict. When the believer thinks evil, he is evil, residing in Satan's cosmic system. From evil thinking comes evil motivation; from evil motivation come evil actions. MAT 9:4And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?”

In contrast, thinking that is consistent with the truth has enormous repercussions for good. Salvation itself is appropriated by a right thought, by non-meritorious positive volition toward the Gospel of Jesus Christ, MAT 22:42a “What do you think about the Christ?” Mankind's great enemy is a thought called arrogance. Arrogance can inflate or deflate man's opinion of himself. Both self-promotion and self-depreciating distort and deny reality, which is the realm in which God's plan is effective. God's grace deals with us as we are, but an egocentric believer who does not live in objective reality will never use God's grace provisions to advance in the PPOG. GAL 6:3 “For if anyone thinks he is something [arrogance] when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” There is a grim irony in arrogance. A person who thinks more of himself than he has a right to, is actually depriving himself of his greatest advantages, the benefits that come with the fulfillment of God's plan for his life. ROM 12:3 “For I say through the grace of God which has been given to me, to everyone who is among you, stop thinking of self in terms of arrogance beyond what you ought to think, but think in terms of sanity for the purpose of being rational without illusion, as God has assigned to each one a standard [of thinking] from doctrine.”

Arrogance is illusion or unreality, and when perpetuated, arrogance becomes insanity. The preventive is the truth of Bible doctrine. 1CO 10:12Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” The divine commands that the believer must obey in order to consistently pass thought testing are summed up in ROM 12:2 “Stop being conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renovation of your thought, that you may prove what the will of God is, [namely] the good, the well-pleasing, and the complete. “The renovation of [one's] thought” is accomplished over a period of time by giving Bible doctrine number one priority; by organizing one's life around the daily perception of the Word of God. “The good, the well-pleasing, and the complete” is the PPOG being executed. Only in the PPOG can the believer receive all the blessings God has prepared for him in prosperity or adversity. The pattern of right thinking is the humanity of Jesus Christ, who constantly lived and functioned inside the PPOG for His life. Therefore, we are told in PHI 2:5 Keep on having this mental attitude in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Our Lord's mental attitude of humility was manifested by His total conformity to the plan of the Father.

Humility, which is obedience to divine authority and orientation to God's grace, should be the attitude of every member of the Royal Family of God. Humility excludes false solutions to thought testing. Here are some of the pseudo-solutions which genuine humility avoids: 1) Rationalization is self-justification while blaming others for one's own failures and sufferings. 2) Anger attacks a problem with temper and tantrums, which manifest total irresponsibility. Unjustified anger ignores the problem, diverting attention instead to self, and attempting to cower people and control them with threats or violence. Power lust and approbation lust are often expressed through anger, which arises from feelings of inferiority that are temporarily relieved by revenge or by injuring those who challenge one's inflated opinion of self. 3) Defense mechanisms attempt to insulate the believer's mind from overpowering pressures. Such sociopathic functions as drug abuse, lasciviousness, and drunkenness merely compound the original problem by divorcing the believer from reality. 4) Denial ignores the problem in the blind hope that it will go away. Believers who plead with God for miracles often fall into this false system of problem solving. 5) Sublimation reacts to frustration by finding a new outlet for uncontrolled emotions. A bored believer may seek happiness in social life, sex, or a pursuit of money when he actually needs to develop love for God through Bible doctrine. Most sublimation is directed into activities that are moral and normal but which have been given a false priority above Bible doctrine and the plan of God.

The apostle Paul depicts thought testing as a battle in the soul. But this is a battle for which God has devised brilliant strategy and tactics. He has powerfully armed and supplied the believer to win this inner warfare against erroneous thinking. 2CO 10:4-6For the equipment and weapons of our warfare [are] not human attributes but attributes of power by means of God [the utilization of divine omnipotence in the PPOG] against the destruction of fortifications [Satan's multifaceted systems of false thinking], We are assaulting and demolishing speculations and every obstacle of arrogance against the knowledge of God, even making a prisoner of every thought to the obedience of Christ, And we are holding in readiness [doctrine in the soul] to punish all deviation when your obedience has been fulfilled [obedience to the mandates of God's PPOG resulting in spiritual adulthood].

Although divine viewpoint thinking searches out and destroys false human viewpoint, the destruction of incorrect ideas and attitudes is not the ultimate victory in thought testing. Victory lies in possessing the true perspective, thinking with true ideas, understanding and applying true doctrines. JOH 8:31-32, Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word [Bible doctrine], then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” In other words, worship of God is a mental attitude. JOH 4:24 God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit [filling of the Holy Spirit] and in truth [knowing and thinking Bible doctrine].

All aspects of worship are based upon accurate, doctrinal thinking. Even in the Eucharist the believer concentrates on Christ, remembering the doctrines that reveal His person and saving work. Giving is a mental attitude, and the privilege of contributing to the Lord's service is extended to believers who understand God's grace, (2CO 9:7-8). A lot of people believe the doctrine but their unbelief is revealed by their failure to personally apply to their lives that which they claim to believe. In 2CO 9:6-8, Paul writes “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;” This verse is saying that there will not only be enough for your own needs but then plenty left over to give joyfully to others. 2CO 9:9 as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness abides forever.” There's your eternal value from what you gave in time! 2CO 9:10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; God will give you more and more seed to plant and will make it grow so that you can give more and more away and invest in treasure in heaven which also gives you treasure on earth. In 2CO 9:11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. God will give you much so that you can give away much, and this produces thanksgiving and praise to God for your help. If we give this money away as God leads us to give it, every bit of this money will be deposited into our accounts in the Bank of Heaven.

But by far the most important form of worship is concentrating on the teaching of God's Word (PSA 138:2). As a result of victories on the battlefield of thought testing, the believer deepens his personal love for God, shares the happiness of God, and acquires inner beauty (1TI 2:9-15). Mental attitude in the Christian life is the function of your thinking and the pressure of thought conflict in your soul. This conflict is brought out in ISA 55:6-9 “Seek the Lord [positive volition to Bible doctrine] while He may be found [while doctrine is available] call on Him while He is near. Let the evil believer forsake his way, [negative volition toward doctrine must be reversed], and the unrighteous believer his thoughts. Consequently, let him return to the Lord. And He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are My ways your ways,' says the Lord [during the forth cycle of discipline, Isaiah made it clear that the people did not have divine viewpoint]. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” So the whole issue is to learn the thoughts of God through Bible doctrine; the thoughts that are higher and greater; the thoughts that search the heart, (PSA 26:2; JER 17:10; 20:12). Consequently, thinking is the battlefield of your soul. That's why PSA 23:3 says “He restores my soul;” The soul is the great battlefield.

The greatest battles in history are not overt battlefields where men die. The greatest battlefield is what takes place in your soul.PSA 19:7 “The doctrine of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” The life of every believer is in his mental attitude. The life of every believer is determined experientially by two principles: What he thinks and what he decides. Divine viewpoint mental attitude is part of the greatest delegation of divine power in human history. What you think is more important than anything else. People evaluate others based upon how they look, what kind of impression they make, personality, superficial evaluations, whatever one's concept of success may be, admiration, or approbation. Actually, these things are not what is important. So many believers are struggling through life as mindless losers full of emotion. Whether it's the lusts of the have-not's, or the dissatisfaction of those who have, there's a general unrest today which merely reflects one very important fact; believers in TLJC have failed in the dynamic of the divine viewpoint of life. It can be said of most believers today what MIC 4:12 says, “They do not know the thoughts of the Lord, And they do not understand His purpose;”

What counts is the power of divine viewpoint in the right lobe of the soul. Your life comes to be what you think, not what you feel, and most believers today want overt impact, yet know nothing about the PPOG. You should be exposing yourself to Bible doctrine daily so that your thinking comes to divine viewpoint. ROM 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,”

Satan has so many distractions today to deaden thinking so that born again believers become mindless imbeciles, struggling through life looking for some emotion experience to pull them through. Whereas God has delegated to every church-age believer all of the power to handle any problems or difficulties in this life. The born again believer should be an alert thinking person, not a mindless, emotional, irrational, yapping, rolling, screaming imbecile. LUK 12:37 “Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find on the alert when he comes;” ACT 20:31 “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” 1CO 16:13 “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1PE 5:8 “Be of sound mind, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” EPH 1:18-20 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who have believed. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might or for the delegation of His superior power which He has put into operation by means of Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in heavenly places.” The average believer does not even know anything about God's superior power or how God has delegated it to us through thought. There is very little doctrine being thought today. No one can do doctrinal thinking for you. This delegation of divine power depends on perception, metabolization and application of Bible doctrine. The delegation of superior power comes in the form of thinking metabolized doctrine circulating in the right lobe of the heart called the kardia in the Greek. This system of thought called Bible doctrine produces mental attitude divine viewpoint that is from the content of the infallible word of God. What you really are as a person is what you really think, not what you appear to be on the surface, not the way you are dressed or groomed, but what goes on inside the invisible you, which is your soul.

Some people can hide their thoughts and some cannot. People who can hide their thoughts become masterful at the practice of hypocrisy. The real you is the thought content of your soul. PRO 23:7 “For as a person thinks within himself [nepheshmeans soul], so he is.” Nephesh is the Hebrew word for soul, the place where you think or do not think. We think by using concentration. Concentration is matter of your priorities in life, and we all have our priorities. What you're concentrating on, even right now, will reveal your priorities in life. If Bible doctrine is your number priority then you will be motivated from your own soul. In the Christian way of life you have to be motivated from your soul and not relying on others to motivate you.

Hence, what you really are is what you think. Personality is not the real person; thought is. Bible doctrine is the thinking or the mind of Christ, 1CO 2:16 “For who has known the thinking of the Lord that he should instruct Him, but we have the mind of Christ [the mystery doctrine of the Church Age].The delegation of divine power to every Church Age believer is Bible doctrine metabolized and deployed on the FLOT line of your soul. The delegation of divine power includes: The content of thought, which is Bible doctrine with emphasis on the mystery doctrine of the Church Age, and secondly, the communication of this thought through the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher. And if there's anyone who's going to be a pain in the neck to everyone, it is a pastor-teacher (GAL 4:16). God has provided for us in grace everything it takes to transfer what is written on the pages of the Bible to the soul. Thirdly, the delegation of divine power includes the concentration of the believer on doctrine as it is being taught. Concentration is a matter of your priorities in life. Worship demands concentration, and as believers in TLJC, we are mandated to worship God. But very few people have told us that we have to think to do it, or concentrate to do it. It's a lot easier to get the emotional joy than to concentrate on thought.

All forms of worship are a concentration test. Concentration on the teaching of doctrine reflects four things in your life: a) It reflects the values in your life. b) It reflects your motivation in life. c) It reflects your mental attitude in life. d) It reflects your spiritual status quo in life. Whether it's concentration on doctrine, concentration during the communion service or concentration in prayer, it's all a part of the same thing, thinking! The delegated power of God is thinking Bible doctrine with the resultant mental attitude divine viewpoint. It is astonishing what an effort it seems to be for many people to put their brains definitely and systematically to work. But that is the only way we are going to grow spiritually.

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