He Was Beside Himself

February 21, 2011 at 10:49 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Mark | 12 Comments
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And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

Mark 3:21, emphasis added

This is an expression we still use for people today when we are implying that they are not “in their right mind.” Some of the ancients believed that a person’s psyche could actually leave his body and hover next to the person, inducing a state of madness or lunacy. The friends of Jesus who knew Him before He began His public ministry were concerned that He may have lost His mind, going around performing miracles, preaching, and claiming to be the Messiah. After all, He was only a simple carpenter’s son from Nazareth.

C.S. Lewis is known for positing the so-called “Trilemma:” He wrote that the claims of Jesus Himself were such that no one can marginalize or minimize His ministry or Person by referring to Him as simply a “good teacher.” The life of Jesus and His Words leave us with only three alternatives: He was a liar, He was a lunatic, or He was Lord. The overwhelming evidence (and in fact the incontrovertible Truth) is that He was Lord.

Paul and the Apostles later faced this same accusation.

For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

II Corinthians 5:13, emphasis added

If you serve God and proclaim the Gospel in this dark world, where sin and unbelief are the prevailing atmosphere, there are going to be times when your sanity is questioned. This has never stopped the Lord’s true servants. We rest in the knowledge that we are not “beside ourselves.” In fact, we are more sane and in touch with reality when we walk in the Spirit of the Lord than we are at any other time.

And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

Acts 26:24-25, emphasis added

We may not be able to stop people from calling us “mad,” but at least we can make sure that there is “a method to our madness.”

Brain “Washing” Produces “Clean” Living (Part 1)

February 25, 2010 at 10:15 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 15 Comments
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Right thinking produces right living.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9

The mind controls the body. They can’t be separated. The Apostle Paul before King Agrippa:

And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

Acts 26:24-25, emphasis added

In our modern vernacular we say, “He’s beside himself,” when someone has lost his temper. In ancient times many people believed that a person’s mind or consciousness could come out of his body, causing him not to be in control of his tongue anymore. Paul wasn’t “beside himself” – he was “in control of himself.”

The Bible tells us to present our…

… bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice is a process of learning to think the right way: “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Too many Christians today are hoping to be transformed by the removing of their minds. So we have “Christian” relaxation techniques, tantric yoga, the power of positive thinking. Everyone wants to feel fresh and renewed – but the only way for a Christian to “think right” is to think like Christ.

The way to think like Christ is to let Him control your mind. Some will say, “I can’t do that – nobody can know the mind of God…”

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Philippians 2:5

That verse is not just speaking symbolically. Its primary reference is to having the attitude of a servant, but we must not set aside the plain literal truth of the Bible. As Vance Havner used to say, “I hope you’re not up there on Mount Olympus in the stratospheric heights looking down your nose in lofty condescension at us mere mortals who believe it just like it reads in the Book.” You can have the mind of Christ in you when it comes to what kinds of things you’re going to think about.

What are some examples? How do I know what sorts of things will be right to think about?

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:2

We naturally think about what we desire to have. Desire Godly things and your mind will begin to think upon them. Desire worldly things and your mind will begin to devise ways to get them.

Philippians 4:8 tells us exactly what sorts of things are good to think about. We’ll look at those next time, and we will also examine how to keep out thoughts that are not good – the fiery darts of Satan.

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