Conquer in the mind

Introduction Detlef Stegen
We greet you this morning and wish you God’s blessing. If Jesus is present and He blesses, then our hearts are filled. There can be times of tribulation, difficulty and hardship. Things can seem tough and strenuous and we sometimes do not see a way out, but we thank the Lord that we can serve Him. He revives us and quickens our hope in Him. There is no hope as that which Christ can give. Those who wish to live godly lives will experience opposition, and it will be extreme.

There are so many times when God is blessing abundantly. Are you part of those times? Do you live for the Lord? Do you experience being drawn to Him? He is drawing you to Himself. We trust that the Lord will bless us today as we are gathered to hear His word.

Albu van Eeden
Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. John 2:23 – 25

It is not often that we read ‘many believed’ about Jesus’ ministry. We read much about the opposition. We read about Him addressing groups, but we do not always hear how the groups responded to what He said. In this text many believed in His name - not that they loved Him, appreciated Him, praised Him – but the Bible says they believed in His Name. That is wonderful, at last, it is a great occasion that many believed in His name.

24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

This is an unusual portion conveys a deep truth. Friends, I say this in humility, there is nobody who can stand in Rev Stegen’s pulpit without trembling. There is nobody who can talk about revival without trembling when we see the work of God amongst us. But I cannot help but see the parallel between us and the people in this text. Many, many come here and believe in Him. They leave, believing in Him. But, in spite of their belief, the Lord does not expose, entrust or commit Himself to them because He knows man.

We do not know what He saw in man when this happened, but the Lord Jesus knew man. He sees where we cannot. He met, Nicodemus a Pharisee, an arch enemy, in the middle of the night. He did not treat him as an enemy. He did not say, ‘Oh yes, you come from the brood of vipers to speak to Me.’ They were called this. John the Baptist called them a brood of vipers. But because He saw where we cannot see, He saw the need of this man and helped him in the middle of the night. If there is someone here with a need, realise that the Lord Jesus knows you and can see your need. He is willing to help you if you are willing to obey. A prostitute once walked into a room where the men ate alone, and she washed His feet. Although the Pharisees judged Him, He saw deeper into her heart.

Although people believed in Him, He did not commit Himself to them. I wonder what characteristic of man caused Him not to commit Himself? Was it the characteristic of taking the knowledge of God which is given by God, and using it for man’s own advantage, because we are selfish creatures. Friends, this has became a curse in the church of Christ today. There is no doubt about people believing in Him, but people use their positions in the church to their advantage. This is what happens in the body of Christ. Why? Because “I” has not died.

Possibly Jesus saw that people would use that which He had entrusted to them to live carnal lives. Many people live carnal lives in the church and body of Christ. It is impossible to please God if we do not walk in the Spirit.

Possibly Jesus knew that they would use that which He had entrusted to them to build themselves and their own image. Friends, for the Lord to commit Himself to you, you must be dead and willing to die to self. We do not know what He wanted to share with them. We do not know whether He wanted to reveal future mysteries as He did to Daniel or John. Friends, we have inherited the revival from the ministry of Rev Stegen. People stream here, they are converted, and miracles take place. Is the Lord Jesus able to reveal and commit Himself to us?

It may have been some great prophesy that He did not want to share with them. It may have been that great secret He could not share with them – the cross ahead of Him on which He had to die. This is a tragedy. It breaks my heart. The Son of God, the King of kings, could not find any person to help and support Him when He needed comfort and help. He carried an unbearable burden, but there was no man in the world whom He could ask to pray with Him. He was going to pay the price, once and for all, for the salvation of mankind. He was in a corner, and He could not get out of it. Yes, right at the end, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked a few of His disciples to pray for Him, but what about all the people who believed in Him? Brothers and sisters, friends, can the Lord entrust Himself to us? Can He entrust the pearl of great price, the Gospel, to us or does He know that we will spoil the message of salvation, if He entrusts it to us.

I have seen this happen here so often as people come and go. People arrive. They are saved, but somehow, they manage to twist things to their own advantage and leave. Do you know how precious this pearl of great price is that He wants to entrust to us? This which He could not entrust to anyone on this occasion? The price He paid to save us from our sins.

Allow me to read an excerpt from Fernando Ortego and how he explained this pearl of great price.

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted (when there is disease, it was a curse that afflicted Him)

See Him dying on the tree
'Tis the Christ by man rejected
Yes, my soul, 'tis He, 'tis He
'Tis the long-expected prophet
(No man who was there, knew what His ministry was all about. Has God revealed it to you? Even when He tried to explain it to His own disciples, they did not understand.)
David's Son, yet David's Lord (Jews expected Him to come as a great prophet. Generations looked forward to the coming of this great prophet of Israel who would also be a prophet to the heathen nations)

By His Son, God now has spoken (God could not have spoken more clearly or loudly than through His own Son. This is the ultimate way for God to speak.)
'Tis the true and faithful Word
(We know that the Lord Jesus is the Word. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was of God and the Word was God. As He stood in front of these people, performing the miracles, He was testifying as the Word.)

Tell me, ye who hear him groaning (Have you heard Him groaning? Do you know why He was groaning? He wanted to save you from the lust that rules your life. You look at the women, the girls – lust is much more than what is found in porn nowadays. Lust is not necessarily hard-core porn. Lust is looking at a person, a man, a woman, and thinking - I appreciate this person and this person’s personality, I love this person but I cannot get closer to this person but I can have a lustful relationship with this person.)
Was there ever grief like this? ( How could you expect the Lord Jesus to explain this to the people?)

Friends thro' fear his cause disowning (They were afraid of coining Him in His cause, some ran away, some disowned Him.)
Foes insulting his distress (They insulted Him in His suffering. It is something we have seen in the ministry of Rev Stegen. People did not just hurt him but insulted him. The good that he did for them was made it an evil thing that he was busy with. Do not be surprised if you experience the distress and God allows you to be insulted when you fee the distress is too great to bear.)

Many hands were raised to wound him
None would interpose to save
Yet the deepest stroke that pierced him
Was the stroke that Justice gave
(Of everything that man and demons did to Him, His Father is a righteous God and He had to punish sin. To be righteous, just and able to forgive, He had to strike His own Son.)

Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly
Here its guilt may estimate
Mark the sacrifice appointed
(Take note of. It did not happen accidentally. It was appointed before the foundation of the earth)
See who bears the awful load
'Tis the Word, the Lord's Anointed
Son of Man and Son of God

Here we have a firm foundation
Here the refuge of the lost
Christ's the Rock of our salvation
His, the name of which we boast
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded
Sacrifice to cancel guilt
None shall ever be confounded
Who on him their hope have built

I can understand if this was one of the things He could not commit to His people. But after He died, the price was paid, the sacrifice was made, can He share this with you or have you still not understood it? Sometimes I wonder whether we do not throw our pearls to the swine? Forgive me, I thought again of the founder of this work. The Lord Jesus said, ‘Don’t throw your pearls before the swine, because they will turn around and trample you.’ I remember the excitement with which he testified to this revival and shared it. He was not just throwing his pearls before the swine; he was doing the work everyone could see. Yet, the pigs trampled upon it, turned around and attacked him. Have we not experienced this here?

25 …and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

When will God be willing to share and commit Himself to you and me? We must first allow Him to do His purifying work in our lives. We must first allow Him to deal with the sin in our lives.

Dear friends, if you have sin in your life here, the Lord will never commit Himself to you, and He will never reveal His mysteries and secrets to you. Has God been able to deal with the pride in your life? You are familiar with the Gospel and the revival. You may have even become part of this work, yet has God ever been able to deal with your pride and teach you humility? I say this in fear and trembling. Has God been able to deal with the other sins in your life? What about your anger? Has God been able to deal with that? When Absolom started a revolution against his father, David had to flee Jerusalem. This was an embarrassment and it appeared to be such a defeat. When David and his soldiers were leaving Jerusalem, a man insulted them. He walked alongside David and his men, threw dust into the air and shouted out that David was finally getting what he deserved. Have there not been occasions when you were insulted and in your distress, you became angry and lost your temper? One of David’s soldiers offered to chop off the head of the dead dog for him, but David did not allow him to. He said, ‘Leave him because maybe God called him to do that.’ David remembered his sin with Bathsheba and what God had said would happen to him because of it. Yes, God forgave David, but the consequences thereof were not removed completely. If we bring our sins to God, He forgives us, but God does not always remove the consequences of our sin. There was no anger in David’s life. Are you surprised that the Lord Jesus called him the prophet David? Not king David, soldier David, nor the shepherd of His sheep but the prophet. In Psalm 22 you realise how God entrusted Himself and His secrets to David.

Has God dealt with the jealousy in your life? If someone else is blessed, and in your opinion, he/she does not deserve it, is there jealousy? Look at what happened between Cain and Abel. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice, but He rejected Cain’s. Cain was jealous of his brother Abel and killed him.

Has God revealed this mystery to you already? If God does not accept your sacrifice, it does not mean He is throwing you away. No, something must change in your life before He will accept your sacrifice. To resort to jealousy, will not change it. So many people do not allow God to deal with the sin of jealousy in their lives. It happens daily. It possibly happens at work and in various places. If you realise that God does not accept your sacrifice, ask, ‘Lord, why don’t you accept it? Where must I change?’ God does not refuse your sacrifice because He is throwing you away, wants nothing to do with you, and wants you to go to hell.

Many sacrifice their lives to the Lord. This is part of the character of the revival. They put marriage on the altar. They put their work on the altar, no matter what work it is. But what do you do when God does not accept your sacrifice? Does it lead to factions in the church which the heathen look at and say, ‘We don’t want to be part of it. It is a difficult group to be with. I’d rather go with others but not with them. They way they gossip and have factions - no.’

Where does God have to do the biggest work before He can entrust Himself to us? In our minds. You will be surprised at what is happening in the minds of people while they are in church.

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ… 2 Corinthians 10:4,5

Every thought we think must be brought into submission, into captivity to obey Christ.

I remember reading this verse as a young Christian and I thought, ‘Paul, this is a Gospel of works that you preach. We are saved through our works. We cannot bring thoughts under captivity to Jesus Christ, God must do it for us. I must pray and say, ‘Lord, I can’t do it, You must.’

Pray like it all depends on God, then when you are done, go work like it all depends on you.” Martin Luther.

Paul told the congregation that they must bring every thought into captivity into obedience of Jesus Christ. John Wesley said that we should not do good things because we want to but because we choose to.

I bring everything under submission – I choose to bring every aspect of my life under the Lordship of Jesus whether I want to or not. The thought life is the biggest monster among Christians. Deal with your thoughts. Do not deal only with the consequences of your thoughts - your deeds, because your deeds are the tail of this monster. The head of the monster is in the mind. It goes straight to the thoughts.

and take every thought captive to obey Christ…

There are three examples about sinning with thoughts that men of God have used: One man of God said that there are more thoughts in an hour that slip through our minds than there are hours in a year. We will reign and conquer in the mind, or we will lose.
Another man of God said that thoughts do not come alone but in flocks, like a flock of birds, or in swarms, like a swarm of bees. This is the intensity of the battle in the mind. It is the flock of thoughts that flash through my mind as I listen to a message in church. As powerful as that is, Paul says that every thought must be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Are there some thoughts you allow to continue in your mind?
The last man of God said that we cannot keep thieves from looking into our windows, but if we open our doors to them and receive them joyfully, then we sin. I am reminded of Rev Stegen who often repeated what Martin Luther said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”

Many thieves from hell try to peep into your thought life. Do you go with them? Confess where the bird has made a dropping on your head. Have you allowed the birds from hell to make a nest in your head? Have you opened the doors of your mind for the thieves of hell to sit down and have fellowship? Forgive me if I mention pornography and cell phones again. If people continue doing this sin, it must be spoken about. If you watch these things, you invite thieves into your home to have fellowship with you. It is a different thing to consciously open the doors of your mind to evil. It is amazing how easily people give in to that.

These thought-life sins: pride, lack of humility, lack of gratitude. Gratitude, thankful for all God does for me, is something in the mind. If a person loses thankfulness, he/she seeks a curse from God. You defile the wives and daughters of other men in your mind. Who gave you the right to that?

Friends, I would not have had the courage to stand here and say all this, but it is in God’s word. God’s word says … take every thought captive to obey Christ…

This topic is preached about so rarely because it seems such an impossible thing to do, however, if we allow God to help us and grant this to us, we might grasp the secrets and mysteries of God. This curse that the Lord Jesus went through was to set us free from the rule of sin. May God be merciful to me that I will not allow any pride or jealousy in my life. May God help me to take every thought captive under Christ so that God’s name would be glorified through my life.

When the Lord Jesus saw people getting converted, He did not entrust Himself to them. Why? Because He knew that these things were in the lives of men but after He dealt with those things in His disciples’ lives, He revealed His secrets and mysteries to them. One could scarcely believe that the disciples were the same people. Peter, who denied the Lord Jesus, became a preacher. When he was crucified, he asked to be hanged upside down because he did not deserve to be crucified in the way his Master was. This is what God wants to do in our lives. May God be merciful to us.

Dietmar Joosten
Nothing grinds as finely as the mind. There is no mill that grinds like a person’s mind. It always grinds in the negative sense. Have you noticed? When your mind starts grinding? Is it positive? Is it with love? Is it upbuilding? No. That is why the Lord said, as a human being, I cannot entrust Myself. It is only grace that stops this grinding mill. Let us change our attitudes, our minds, by God’s grace.

Finally, we had Christ in our midst. He walked amongst us. Many accepted this Gospel. Many were blessed through it because they accepted what the Lord Jesus sent to us. I recently said to someone from Europe that in the light of wars and so much happening across the world, it seems as if we are nearing the end. ‘The last few years have been different. It started with COVID. Things began to rumble in the world, Ukraine war, now the Middle East and Israel. The Lord teaches us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.’ His response was, ‘No, Dietmar. It began when they rejected the Gospel God brought to Rev Stegen, things began changing.’ I realised that this man was right. The day they rejected…open your mind for the Lord to speak the truth to you. That is why the Lord said that he could not trust Himself to a human man.

Let Him change us. The day we admit that is the day He can start working. How do you know the truth? What are the signs? May we open our hearts to the spirit of God to be able to use our minds.

When a man of God says something and you start things, it is as if God started it. His mind was filled with the Spirit of God. So let us allow the Lord to captivate our minds and all that is contrary, let us ask the Lord to deal with it. May God cleanse our hearts and purify our minds. I do not want to live where something is always wrong.


Install Kwasizabantu App

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access to sermons.

Just tap Share then "Add to Home Screen"

Install App