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Archive for January 4th, 2013

Battle of the Mind

The Role of the Mind in Sanctification, Part 1

Definition of the Mind

Pastor John MacArhur says this about the mind, “No sin is more destructive to the conscience than the sin that takes place in the arena of the mind.”[1]

Since the mind is a serious discussion in regards to its role in sanctification, it is important to find a working definition.  Without a working definition, it will be difficult and impossible to find out its implications or its role in sanctification.  Paul J. Achtemeier defines the mind in this manner,

The English translation of various Hebrew and Greek words denoting the human capacity for contemplation, judgment, and intention. As intellect, mind makes possible the critical appraisal and selection of differing opinions. In this sense, mind may also describe one’s own mind-set, attitude, or characteristic point of view (e.g., Phil. 2:2-5). In both the OT and the NT, ‘heart’ is often used as the equivalent of ‘mind’ and, indeed, is sometimes translated as ‘mind’ (e.g., Isa. 65:17; Jer. 19:5). In the NT, Paul is especially concerned that the Christian’s mind be transformed by a renewed dedication to the will of God (Rom. 12:2). See also Conscience; Heart.[4]

Although, the OT and NT uses the heart as an equivalent of mind, the NT does seem to have a bit of nuance when compared to the OT use of לבב (heart).  For example, see Romans 12:2 concerning Paul’s use of the “mind” (νοῦς).  According to koine Greek it means to “to perceive,” “to note,” “to grasp,” “to recognize,” “to understand” (Mk. 7:18; Ac. 16:10; Eph. 3:4; 1 Tm. 1:7) “to consider,” “to note,” “to pay attention to.”[5]  It appears Paul’s usage of the mind, which is used around twenty-four times, refers to man’s cognition, thoughts, and human mind.[6]  The closest equivalent to νοῦς as stated before is לֵב/לֵבָב in the Hebrew.[7]

Description of the Mind

The mind can be used for evil.  Paul states in Romans 1:28, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”  Depraved people who have unregenerate minds are hostile to the Gospel and do not understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14).  But as Christians, we have the mind of God.  Because we have the mind of God, we are to have knowledge of Him (cf. Phil. 1:9; Rom. 12:2; Col. 1:10; 2 Cor. 10:5); and we are able to mediate and delight in Him and His wonders (Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:27).


[1]John F. MacArthur, Jr., The Vanishing Conscience (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994), 182.

[2]Paul J. Achtemeier, Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, 1st ed. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985), 637-38.

[4]Ibid., 637-38.

[5]Vol. 4, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-), 950.

[6]Adam J. Landrum, “Can the Νοῦς [nous] Set You Loose? the Role of the Mind in Sanctification,” bible.org, http://bible.org/article/can-%CE%BD%CE%BF%E1%BF%A6%CF%82-nous-set-you-loose-role-mind-sanctification (accessed December 4, 2012).

[7]Landrum, “Can the Νοῦς [nous] Set You Loose? The Role of the Mind in Sanctification.”

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