The Power of the Mind (Exodus 1)

55 Million. 55 million Americans have lost their lives since 1973. 55 million children have been killed through the legal act of abortion. 55 million. That is almost 6 times the number of deaths in the Holocaust. That is an average of 1.2 million children killed every year, which is twice as much as the next leading cause of heart disease. Abortion is the greatest travesty in American History. Over 55 million children have been aborted. 55 million sons and daughters have been killed. The number almost doesn’t seem real. But, beloved, it is very real. It is easy to become numb to a number like that, but we must allow that number to become alive to our hearts. We must know that every one of those 55 million children was fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. Everyone one of those 55 million children has an eternal soul that will never die. Everyone one of those 55 million children were precious in the sight of God. Let the number become real to us, for if the number is not real, we will never be motivated to act.

But no matter what we think of abortion, it is not the unforgivable sin. With the number as high as 55 million, it is safe to say that we or someone we know have been impacted by abortion. The statistics show that one of 3 women in America or 30% have had an abortion before the age of 45. This also means that 30 % of men have had a part of an abortion. Abortion’s reach is vast, so before we even go any further, we need to know that God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. The sin of abortion is not outside the grace of Jesus Christ. For Jesus Christ died to pay for all of your sin; even the sins that you may have a hard time forgiving in yourself or forgiving in others, for even those are forgiven in Christ. Allow the flowing fountain of God’s grace to cover you this morning so you know that all of your past, present, and future sins were paid for in the cross of Calvary. Christian, abortion is not the unforgivable sin for Jesus, himself, asked God to forgive those who crucified and killed him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).” There is room at the cross for you.

Let us look at the power of the mind. It is hard to underestimate the power of our thoughts. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “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.” Where we set our minds is of utmost importance!! Romans 8:5-6, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Gathered here this morning, there is a variety of people on the political spectrum, but this is not primarily a political conversation; it is a biblical and moral one. My prayer this morning is that you would set your mind on the things of God, for if we do not set our minds on the Lord, it will be on the flesh. And the mind set on the flesh is death, which is our first point this morning; the mind set on the flesh is death.

The Mind Set on the Flesh is Death

Exodus 1:8, “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” We remember how God used Joseph to help Egypt during the famine in the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream. Joseph was eventually promoted to run the Egyptian kingdom under Pharaoh. During the famine, Joseph’s family was brought to the land and lived there under Pharaoh’s blessing. But we see here a new King arose over Egypt that did not know Joseph. In not knowing Joseph, he did not know of Joseph’s God. He did not know of Yahweh and how, through Joseph, Yahweh saved the people of Egypt. So we see a ruler who has his mind set, not on the things of God, but on the things of flesh. Watch the result of the mind focused on the flesh.

Verse 9, “And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.”

Pharaoh’s mind was fixed on self-preservation. He wanted to preserve his kingdom and his rule. The people of Israel were growing in number, but they were living peacefully with the Egyptians. Pharaoh saw their numbers not as a blessing to his kingdom, but as a threat. He was worried that as they grew, they would turn from peace to war and fight against them. So in order to preserve his kingdom and the lifestyle of his people, he changed his relationship toward the Israelites. He began to oppress them, but as he oppressed them, the Israelites continued to grow and expand throughout the kingdom. So we see in verse 12, “The Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.” Why were the Egyptians in dread of the people of Israel? They were afraid of the change in their lifestyle. We, also, can relate to that fear. Isn’t our anxiety often brought on by the same concern; that we may lose some comfort or face an unwanted and unexpected change?

We are worried about a doctor’s diagnosis because we are concerned with how it is going to affect our lifestyle and our families. We are worried about a new boss because we are concerned with how it is going to affect our lifestyle with a potential job loss. We are worried about our kids living the house or getting married because we are concerned with how it will affect our relationship. We worry because of the potential change to our lifestyle and comfort. This is natural, but it is a mind that is set on the flesh. The Bible says in Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” We have our agenda and our wants for our life, but God is the sovereign ruler over all history. When our minds are fixated on the changes in our future circumstances, we are not putting our trust in God. The Lord allows trials in our lives, the Lord allows difficult circumstances, and the Lord will protect us during those seasons of trial. Romans 5:3-5, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” The Egyptians were living in dread of the future. We are called to live by faith in our loving and gracious Heavenly Father. God has a purpose in our trials.

So we see that the mind set on the flesh produced a fear in the Egyptians and that fear lead them to deal ruthlessly with the Israelites. The mind set on the flesh is death. Their minds were set on the flesh and their well-being which led them to make others serve them. In their fleshly minds, the seeds of death started to take root: seeds of full of anger and fear which would grow and produce a culture of death.

Pharaoh and the Egyptians grew in fear. Their minds were focused on self-preservation. And as the mind is focused on the flesh, it will only grow to bear the seeds that were planted in the heart. Like a snow ball rolling down a hill, the more the mind focuses on the flesh the larger it will grow. So the seeds of anger and
fear towards the Israelites grew from making them servants with heavy burdens to making them slaves. Their fear changed their relationship with Israelites. So we see that the mind that stays on the flesh will only reap more of the flesh. See the progression in verse 15, “Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiprah and the other Puah, “when you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” The king’s mind was focused on the flesh. He was afraid for the future. He was afraid for the self-preservation of his people. So, he believed, the best way to ensure their safety against future military attack was to kill all the future warriors that could grow up to fight against them. So the King ordered the midwives to kill all the male children in order to preserve the kingdom of Egypt.

The mind that is set on the flesh leads to death. It does not start in death, but grows in the direction. The fleshly mind perverts truth and makes decisions that are not for the good others, but for the good of self. Pharaoh’s fear drove him to enslave the Israelite people and eventually seek their destruction. Fear leads to self-preservation, and a fear-driven self-preservation is one of the leading reasons for abortions. In 2004, researchers at the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion organization, asked 1,209 women why they had obtained abortions. Seventy-four percent of the women responded with “having a baby would dramatically change my life” and seventy –three percent said, “I can’t afford a baby now.” The two most prominent reasons given for having an abortion were to preserve one’s current lifestyle. The fear of a dramatic change in life and the fear of financial difficulty were the two dominant reasons why these women chose to end the lives of their babies. The idea of self-preservation is not only seen in woman, but many men encourage their partners to have an abortion because they do not want to take responsibility for a child. Listen to Phil McCombs, a post-abortive father and a writer for the Washington Post,

I feel like a murderer. I was not by her side to support her. I turned my face away. My behavior was in all respects craven, immoral. The child would have inconvenienced me. I’d had my fun. He didn’t fit into my plans. His name, which is carved on my heart, was Thomas. I still grieve for little Thomas. It is an ocean of grief.

And listen to Jeff Bradford, who didn’t fight to preserve his lifestyle, but his reputation.

I hid and suppressed the realization that the only reason our oldest daughter was not alive today was due to my own cowardice. I went to my wedding, pretending to be an upright, moral young man with my bride dressed all in white. She was beautiful, and we looked great on the outside. No one could see the brokenness we were both hiding so well. We had aborted our first child just a few months before.

The reasons that women have abortions are very complex. It is impossible to know what brings people to make the decision to end a life. The mind is very powerful. And we know that when it is set on the flesh it will produce death. The flesh blinds the truth. This is the testimony of Scripture. Our culture perverts truth because the mind of our culture is set on the flesh. Our culture encourages people to fight and to save their
own lives, but in the end they will only to lose it. For Jesus says, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

This is the lie of our culture. Our culture focuses on our individual needs. The American message encourages us to do whatever we can to fulfill our own individual desires. Watch commercials; listen to politicians, so much of their appeal is how your desires can be met. Fear and self-preservation are very powerful tools, but our greatest desires will never be met when we try to preserve our lives. We only can discover true joy when we delight in the Lord. For those who delight in the Lord will get the desires of their hearts.

Those on the other side of abortion see this reality. They sought to save their own lives, only to lose them. The guilt, shame and regret is crippling to men and women who have had abortions. But by God’s grace, he is continuing to call people to lose their lives, to lose their comfort, to lose their reputations, to gain the true life of peace. To set the mind on the Flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is Life. Second point, The Mind set on the Spirit is Life.

 The Mind Set on the Spirit is Life

The only way to change our culture is to turn people from the fear of suffering and losing their lives, to the fear of the Lord. I believe one of the reasons that women pursue abortion is that they are consumed with fear. Fear of change. Fear of loss. Fear of condemnation. Fear of pain. Fear produces hopelessness, and hopelessness produces awful decisions. We have to help people have the right kind of fear; the fear of the Lord. Let’s look at the courage of two young women who demonstrated the right kind of fear. Exodus 1:16, “When you serve as a midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded, but let the male children live.” The women had a choice. They could choose to save their lives, by obeying the highest authority in the land or they could choose to obey the highest authority in the universe. These women made the right choice. They did not seek to save their own lives, but rather chose to fear the Lord. They knew that it could bring suffering into their lives. They knew that it could have even cost them their lives, but they were willing to lose their lives to save the lives of others.

In this way, the Hebrew midwives lived as an example pointing forward to Jesus Christ. For Jesus Christ laid down his life for his friends. He chose to die that others may live, and because Jesus obeyed the Father, God raised him from the dead. God showed favor to Jesus in the resurrection making him (as it says in Romans 8:29) the first-born of many brothers. God honored Jesus’s willingness to die in that if anyone would call upon the name of Jesus and trust him as Lord then they would be saved. Jesus chose to suffer and die so others could live. This is exactly what the Hebrew midwives did. They knew the cost, but feared God. So they chose obedience even in the face of potential death so that others could live, and God honored them for it.

Listen to verse 18, “So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the
Egyptian woman, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.” The very thing Pharaoh was concerned about was happening. The people multiplied and grew very strong. The actions of two Hebrew midwives helped the people of God grow. God also specifically honored the women by giving them families. They made a decision that should have cost them their lives, but God showed them favor and actually gave them the desires of their hearts.

The arguments put forward from the pro-abortion side are centered on individualism and self-preservation. The world says the decision to keep or take the life of a child belongs to the woman or with the woman and her doctor, but all life belongs to God. “None of us lives to himself or dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, if we die, we die to the Lord. So then whether we live or die, we are the Lords (Rom 14:7-8). The reasons that women have abortions may be complex, but it is always wrong. Choosing to keep a child will change one’s life dramatically, it will bring financial hardships, and it will costs you, it may even bring judgment from others, but choosing life honors God. And God honors those who chooses life, but brings judgment on those who chose murder. This is grounded in our faith in God. Our faith that He exists and rewards those who love him. Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” So we cannot please God, if we do not acknowledge Him. And when we do not acknowledge Him, we are given over to do things that are unspeakably awful, like the killing of unborn children. Romans 1:28, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done…They were are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness.”

The only way to change the direction of the culture is to change their acknowledgement of God, to set the mind on the Spirit of God which brings life. It is not enough to stand on the sidelines. By standing on the sidelines, we are giving approval. Romans 1:32 goes on to say, “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them, but give approval to those who practice them.” There is no middle ground. You either fear God, like the Hebrew midwives, and choose life, or you choose to give approval to what God hates. And if we give approval for what God hates, we are storing up wrath for ourselves on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. We must set our minds on the Spirit and find life. We must help others turn from self-preservation to lose their lives for the sake of God and the sake of the unborn children made in his image, and you cannot help others until you set your mind on the Spirit.

My prayer is that through this message that you would become advocates for life. My prayer is that your
lives are so filled with grace and mercy that when a woman is contemplating this decision that she would be drawn to you because of your grace, and you give her the word of life. I pray that everyone here today would be an advocate for the Spirit. Set your mind on the Spirit, for the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. Help others find life and peace.

For if we do not turn people from a mind set on the flesh it will only continue to escalate to death. Look at verse 22, “Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.” The mind set on the flesh will only produce death. For the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God, but we know there is hope, for the next thing God reveals, after the pronouncement of the killing of children, is the birth of the deliverer, Moses. Let me close by quoting Pastor John Piper who says it so well:

   In the very darkest season of the worst child-killing, Moses was born. Moses,.. the deliverer. Moses, the ,    rescuer, the savior of the people. And then the prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22)—the   Son of God, Jesus Christ, the final decisive Rescuer, Savior, Deliverer—was born, and barely escaped the   slaughter of the babies in Bethlehem. He lived a perfect life and died for sinners and rose again. And here’s   one of the great differences between him and Moses. Moses delivered the people who were being      oppressed. Jesus delivers oppressed and oppressor. Moses delivered the hated race. Jesus delivers the        hated and the hater. Moses couldn't deliver the strangled babies or babies thrown into the Nile, but Jesus    delivers the babies, the mothers, the abortion providers, the irresponsible boyfriends. He loves and saves  every sinner who trusts in him. So let us join hands and say with a clear voice as one in Christ: there is a  better way to freedom than killing the babies. And that way is Jesus Christ.