“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16)
Peter wrote these words to believers who were enduring suffering for the cause of Christ. He told them to prepare their minds for action (i.e., “be sober-minded”), because he knew all-too-well the difficulties that come with suffering. Without intentionally–and consistently–engaging the mind, Peter knew that these believers would not be able to successfully endure their suffering for the glory of God. It is interesting to realize that the spiritual battles are most fiercely fought on the soil of the mind. The very shortcomings of our flesh are usually reflected in the mind, and the mind seems to be the place most targeted by the enemy. In many ways, the mind is the seat of the soul as the heart is both rational and emotional. The two can hardly be separated. Spiritual ground to be won or lost starts in the way that we think about God, ourselves, and the world around us. Through the Spirit’s work upon our minds, we are given new and precious thoughts of Christ and a resolve for eradicating the sin that so easily entangles.
In Peter’s words, he uses the image of “girding up the loins of your mind” when he says, “Prepare your minds for action.” The image, as most commentaries note, signifies wrapping up the loose thoughts of one’s mind and taking them captive to the cause of Christ.
In the day that Peter wrote, men wore long cloaks that extended from their shoulders to their ankles. When they were enjoying a leisurely walk or the refreshment of their own homes, they would let the cloak rest freely upon their body. However, when they were about to run or work, they would gather up the excess portions of the garment into a belt that would be tied around their waists. They wrapped up the loose clothing so that it would not trip them up as they ran or went about their labors. Peter used this image as an illustration for carefully collecting the thoughts of the mind. Since, the believer is always about the work of the Lord, he/she should endeavor to gather any loose thoughts that may prove sinful or unhelpful to the tasks at hand. He doesn’t want to be hindered from his work or tripped up as a result of temptation or distraction. Our thoughts have the capacity to shape our behavior and lifestyles. In fact, the mind is one of the clearest expressions of our hearts. Thoughtless thinking and mindless activity do nothing for the cause of God. Obviously, they hinder the work that the Lord has given us to do and distract us from our holy calling. Casual, reactive thinking, also serves to trip us up when temptation comes knocking. We’re unprepared to fight and unwilling to sift our thoughts and speak truth into those which are ungodly and unhelpful. We must gather up loose thoughts of doubt, despair, fear, lust, selfishness, and use the word of God to bind them to Christ. It’s not easy to gather them up and rein them in, but it’s necessary for our growth in godliness.
Our minds should be steadfastly focused on the eternal hope that has been given to us through Jesus Christ. It’s hard work guarding our thoughts. Anyone who has tried knows that it takes great diligence to consistently focus on the grace and goodness of God. That is not natural, but it is necessary. By contemplating the gospel throughout the day, we are equipped to grow in grace and fight the temptations that seek to distract us from the calling that we’ve received. Careful thinking enables us to more effectively resist sin as we employ our energies toward the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
As this passage instructs us: We used to be ignorant and follow the sinful passions of our flesh. However, the gospel has informed us about sin and given us deliverance from those futile ways by the grace of God. We have not been left in our wretchedness. We are no longer ignorant and helpless, but instead we have been called to holiness and given the power to display it. Such holiness starts with the purification of our minds. Christ died to give us new hearts and new minds. He died to redeem every part of us from the effects of sin. Through Christ’s work on our behalf, we are able to live in a way that pleases God in both thought and deed. So, let us be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Rom. 12:1-2) as we speak truth into the many lies and emotions that seek to carry us away from Him. What we do with our minds actually matters. God gave them to us in order that we might know, love and serve Him. He desires that we use them to display the grace and knowledge of His love through the way that we live, move, and have our being. So, let us realize that we are not held captive by our thoughts, but that we must take them captive for the glory of God. No matter what wanders through our minds, we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to make every thought captive to Christ. Let us love God will all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.