Tests of Spiritual Mindedness – John Owen

As the nature of earth is judged by the grass which grows on it, so the heart may be judged by the thoughts produced by it. If those thoughts are spiritual, the man is spiritual. If they are worldly, then the man is worldly…so the thoughts of the heart reveal the real truth about a person.

How do we know if we’re spiritually minded?

  • We must call upon God’s help to examine ourselves (Psalm 139:23-24) to ensure that we have true faith, love and delight in God.  When these are sincere, prayer and other spiritual disciplines will arise naturally.  However, we should take care in our examination not rely on our spiritual gifts/eloquence, a sense of duty, wrong motives (James 4:3), to be thought well of by others (Matthew 6) or fervency driven by natural love or fear (Psalm 78:34-35).

Seven tests of spiritual mindedness – frequency, priority, time, satisfaction, disappointment, prompting and zeal

  • Frequency: Are our thoughts about God abundant rather than infrequent?
  • Priority: Are the first thoughts that come to mind when we are free to think, about God, or topics of lesser priority?  When a person is relaxed and free from all cares and worries, and his mind is free to think as it pleases we can see what thoughts are natural to it.  If these are useless, foolish, proud, ambitious, lustful or degrading, then such is the true nature of the heart and the person.  But if they are holy, spiritual, and heavenly, so is the heart and the person.
  • Time: Do we spend a significant amount of time thinking about spiritual things rather than other things (Matthew 6:21)? All our worldly worries mainly revolve around three things: food, drink and clothes. About these things Christ forbids us to take thought. He does not forbid us ever to think about these things, but that we should not allow our minds to be filled with anxiety and worry about them, and that we should not allow our minds to be wholly taken up with them. Worry and anxiety about these things shows lack of faith in our heavenly Father’s care and in the providence of God. Christ teaches us that our chief concern should be to ‘seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.’ (Matthew 6:33)
  • Satisfaction: Do we receive spiritual refreshment, satisfaction and peace in prayer and delight in other spiritual disciplines rather than going through the required motions out of duty?  We pray, not because of duty, but because we cannot live without it; like breathing or eating. That is, we cannot live without drawing near to God as our source and center of spiritual refreshment (Psalm 36:7-9).  We are growing in this area when we find ourselves more holy, humble and watchful over our spiritual condition.  As we pray, we will make every effort to live as we ought.  We cannot pray earnestly and live carelessly (in sin).  If we become careful and watchful to live as we prayed, then prayer is from God rather than duty.  However, if we only pray and don’t act, we should question the value of the prayers (James 1:27, Acts 10:31).
  • Disappointment: Are disappointed if we don’t have time for spiritual meditation?
  • Prompting: Are your thoughts natural and internal rather than prompted externally?  Thoughts which are voluntary, unforced and which arise naturally – because they are delighted in and bring satisfaction to the mind – these are the thoughts which sow us the real truth about ourselves. Jesus describes the regenerate heart as ‘bubbling up’ naturally with holy thoughts from a spiritual spring of living water from the Holy Spirit. (John 4:10,12 – living water).  Spiritual thoughts are steady and constant unless distracted by work or temptation.  They are our spiritual fruit (Matthew 12:33).  They don’t need external forces to temporarily make us think of God such as during a sermon, trial or illness.  These thoughts are soon dried up once the pressure causing them eases.
  • Zeal: Are we becoming more zealous like the saints who hungered after God or remaining remaining stagnant?.  If we do not have the same delight in God as they had, the same spiritual mindedness as they, then we can have no evidence that we please God as they did or shall go to that place where they have gone.  The holy men of God, who obtained this testimony, that they pleased God, did not walk before God in a corrupt, earthly manner.  Their obedience was not half-hearted.  They meditated continually on the law; they thought of God at every moment and their minds were free from other things; they delighted in God and ‘followed hard after Him’.  We cannot make ourselves like these saints, but the Holy Spirit can if we put ourselves under His power and influence

Source: Summary of first four chapters of Spiritual Mindedness by John Owen

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About PS

The mission of James’ Mirror is to guide you to Christian resources such as books, articles and sermons that will enhance your knowledge of God (doctrine) and encourage your obedience to Him (discipleship).
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