The Sound Mind

This is the second post in the “Battle for Your Mind” summarized series. Click here to view the previous post.



 “What in the world was I thinking?!”

“I finally got it all together, but I can’t remember where I put it.”

“I’m sorry . . . my brain wasn’t in gear.”

“Now why did I just do that?”

Have you ever said any of those things?

We all have mental slips from time to time. We even have a pet name for them, lovingly referring to them as “senior moments.”

We find that when our mind fails, everything else in our lives seems to fall apart. Would it not stand to reason, then, that we would like to have a reliable mind?

Guess what—you can have one! If you are a Christian, it is already within your grasp.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

While we can expect that we will occasionally (OK, maybe often) have mental slips, God has given us the ability to have a “sound mind.” So, what is a sound mind?

The Greek word used in this verse is sophronismos. That might not mean a lot to you, but the etymology of this word is very interesting. Its root word is a combination of two words; sodzo, which means “save” or “rescue,” and phren, which refers to the mind.

Therefore, the “sound mind” is one that has been brought under control. Some versions of the Bible indicate this by translating the word as “self-control” (ESV) or “self-discipline” (NIV).

A closely related word is found in Titus 2:4, where the older women are to teach the younger women “to be sober.” Their job is to teach the younger women how to control their minds, because the mind is the source of action.

Let’s look at a couple characteristics of a sound (or disciplined, controlled) mind.

The sound mind removes fear

Notice again in II Timothy 1:7 that God has not given us the “spirit of fear.” In this passage, Paul is encouraging his protégé Timothy to not neglect the gift that he had received when Paul laid hands on him. While we are not told what the gift was, it seems that Timothy may have been a little afraid to use it.

Paul, however, reminded him that he need not fear. Why? God has not given us the spirit of fear. Instead, He has provided the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.

In short, fear has become optional.

Do you remember being afraid of the bogeyman? Maybe you were terrified of something in your closet. No one could convince you that bigfoot was not lurking somewhere in your room.

However, as you grew older and your mind became more sound, you realized that there is nothing to fear. Maturity has a way of doing that.

The sound mind changes behavior

If you are a parent, you may have found it difficult at times when your kids just did not do what you instructed them to do. They walk through the house and leave every light on. They leave the refrigerator door open. You try to tell them why not to do it, but they don’t seem to get it. Why? Your rules don’t make any sense. They may stop just because you tell them to, but turn around and do something else just as dumb. The problem is that they have not come to the place where they can use their powers of reason.

As they grow older and become more mature, however, their actions begin to change. The things you have told them begin to make sense and their behavior becomes more acceptable. Their mind is becoming more sound and it changes how they act.

As mature Christians, God has also given us a sound mind. It is more disciplined and controlled than it was in the past. We are able to use it to understand the wisdom in God’s commands.

We have a great example in the demon-possessed man that Jesus healed.

And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. (Mark 5:15)

Previously this man was “out of his mind.” However, after his confrontation with Jesus he was deemed to be “in his right mind,” which in the Greek is basically the same word that appears in II Timothy 1:7.

The people were afraid when they saw him just sitting there, clothed. Why? He was so different. He was now in control of his own mind.

Who is in control of your mind? Are you riddled with fear (as Timothy seemed to be)? Are you unable to comprehend why God has put boundaries on your actions (as the demon-possessed man)?

If you are a believer in Jesus, God has blessed you with a sound mind—one that is disciplined and controlled. If you are using it the way you should, it will be evident in your behavior.

Click here for the next section: Mastering Your Mind – The Problem and the Hope.

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