There is, I believe, a process the mind must go through to fully comprehend the Word of God. At some point in our lives – perhaps what we call the age of accountability – every student of God’s Word becomes responsible for navigating this process.

Buy the truth, and do not sell it,
Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.
Proverbs 23:23

Acquiring the truth is a costly proposition – time being the most obvious investment. However, merely showing up for Sunday School, Church Service, or a Bible Study is not enough. Kingdom truth has been given for us to search out (Proverbs 25:2). We are to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God (1Corinthians 4:1-2). These passages suggest activity – activity on the part of the learner.

Indeed, faithfulness to the truth is not the sole responsibility of preachers and teachers. These individuals are responsible for delivery, but learning does not happen without faithful students who will accept their responsibility to acquire what is being offered.

Furthermore, our rebirth did not include a new mind. God determined to leave us with a mind bent on conformity with the world – a mind that must be renewed. At times, I wonder why He did such a thing – our carnal minds have caused so much trouble. Still, we must trust God in His determination and commit ourselves to participating in the renewal effort.

The carnal mind – or the carnal part of our mind (I am not sure which is more accurate) – is at enmity with God (Romans 8:7). The truth that will make us free is a threat to the mind set on earthly things. Consequently, there is at least a portion of our minds that actively resists our procurement of the truth, doing so at nine critical steps in the acquisition process.

Nine Steps for Truth Acquisition

Consider these steps in the context of the next Church Service, Sunday School, or Bible Study meeting you plan to attend. Recognize the manner in which your carnal mind attempts to disrupt your acquisition of the truth, your freedom, and your transformation.

  1. Attention – To acquire the truth, our mind must first give attention to the subject at hand. The carnal portion works hard to keep our attention on the thoughts, concerns, and worries of the world.
  2. Focus – Is the subject of substantial interest? Our carnal mind will attempt to keep the focus on itself – measuring the subject’s value in light of its own pleasure or well-being.
  3. Distraction – Our mind must then block out distractions. For the carnal mind set on protecting itself, any distraction will do (e.g., birds out the window, what the teacher is wearing).
  4. Immediacy – The mind determines whether the subject is immediately important or useful. There is a tendency in all but the most curious to put aside uncomfortable or difficult subjects – particularly the mysteries of God.
  5. Placement – The mind desires to comfortably fit the offered truth in its current mindset (aka, paradigm). If it cannot squeeze or twist the truth to fit, it will attempt to dismiss it as invalid or useless.
  6. Accommodation – If the truth makes it past step five, the mind must adjust its paradigm to accommodate the truth. The carnal mind will attempt to achieve some compromise – to avoid the loss of rigidity or the destruction of a false understanding.
  7. Constancy – Once the truth has found a resting place, the mind must consider it repetitively. The Bible calls this meditating on, or reckoning, the truth. The carnal mind would prefer to ignore it and, believe it or not, works to do so.
  8. Application – Much like faith, the truth requires action to become effectual in the believer. This may be studying further, sharing the truth with someone else, or doing something in response to it. The carnal mind is excuse-ready for any and every opportunity the Lord gives us to apply the truth.
  9. Retention – Because the world is at enmity with God, the application of truth is regularly met with opposition. This gives the carnal mind additional opportunity to suppress – even reject – the truth.

Much of this process occurs so rapidly that it hardly seems like a process. Through it all, our carnal mind is in constant defense mode, protecting the mindset it has so carefully built.

Scientific studies have shown that the mind subconsciously responds to external stimuli more than 95% of the time. Furthermore, our self-talk is over 80% subconscious. There’s a lot going on that we are not consciously aware of. The enemy is in our heads! How do we overcome these odds?

The Word of God is alive and powerful. However, the human mind is capable of blocking, inhibiting, and twisting the truth to fit its own purposes. Acquiring the truth is not a passive exercise.

Taking every thought captive is hard work. It requires discipline, diligence and practice. Practice is best done away from the chaos of the day. It is best done from the peace and quiet of studies and closets, in the presence of God, where the Holy Spirit is waiting to renew your mind.

God bless you with His grace for these things, in Jesus’ name. Let me know how I can help.

Humbly yours and forever His,