Sunday, September 24, 2006

Errant Intentions

We talked a lot about “mindset’ last night. I’m trying to think about how the Bible talks of this subject.

Simon the sorcerer, in Acts 8, was an apparent convert. He seems to accept the message, and then wants to manipulate the means. Peter rebukes him and says:
“May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! “You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right (straight) before God. “Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.” (Acts 8:20-22 NAS95S)

“Hearts not right” require repentance, repent being a common command in Acts. I also found interesting the phrase “the intention of your heart.” It contains a word that is rare:

e¶nnoia, f; e˙pi÷noia, f: that which is intended or purposed as the result of thinking — ‘intention, purpose.’
e¶nnoiaÚ ‘it judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart’ He 4:12.
e˙pi÷noiaÚ ‘perhaps he will forgive you for having such a purpose in your heart’ Ac 8:22.

The word is used in apocryphal literature – not inspired; but convicting.
For the thoughts of mortal men are miserable, and our devices are but uncertain. Wis. 9:14

The cross-reference of a related word with Heb 4:12 is familiar, and important.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ”

And then there is this positive reference:
“Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,” (1Pet 4:1 NAS95S)

The dictionary article on this word collects some related words together, but gives some good things to think about:
nouvßb, noo/ß, noiŒ, nouvn m; dia¿noiab, aß f; e¶nnoiaa, aß f: a particular manner or way of thinking — ‘way of thinking, disposition, manner of thought, attitude.’
‘(such a person is) puffed up, for no reason at all, by his human way of thinking’ Col 2:18.
‘at that time you were strangers and enemies because of the manner in which you thought and the evil things you did’ Col 1:21.
‘you too must strengthen yourselves with the same way of thinking’ 1Pe 4:1.
In a number of languages it may be necessary to render ‘way of thinking’ by a clause, for example, ‘how people think.’ In the case of 1Pe 4:1, it may be necessary to translate ‘you too must strengthen yourselves by thinking just like Christ thought.’

So I’m thinking about errant intentions, which Peter calls “wickedness,” and associates with “gall” and “bond” (‘for I see that you are full of bitter envy (or ‘are bitterly envious’) and are a prisoner of sin’) I’m thinking about the need for repentance, and what is wrong, and what needs to change in my heart. I’m thinking about the Gospel, and it’s ability to cut to the quick. And I’m thinking about Christ, and his way of thinking [Phil 2 will have to be a stop on this journey (“Let this mind be in you”)]. I’m thinking about a world that is filled to the brim with wrong thinking, and the unlikelyhood of 4 guys sitting at a table conquering the problem, but that, if we submit to Christ’s Lordship, it just may happen.

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