I’d like to share a little nugget of truth with you, one that comes straight from Scripture. It was given to me several years ago by a dear friend and brother in Christ who also happens to be a life coach and counselor.
I will post passages in the New American Standard translation, because that’s my personal favorite. Regardless, the original Greek doesn’t change, no matter which English translation you use. And the Greek word we’re going to look at today is noema.
Strong’s Gk #3540: noema – thought, purpose; from Strong’s Gk #3539, noeo – to perceive, think
Noema only shows up a few times in Scripture—five times in 2 Corinthians, and once in Philippians. Most frequently, this word is translated “mind,” as in these passages (emphasis/bolding mine):
But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.Okay, so we see from these three passages that Paul, the person who wrote Corinthians, is deeply concerned with the minds of both believers and non-believers—and specifically with the mind’s susceptibility to being hardened, blinded, and deceived.
2 Corinthians 3:14 (NASB)
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NASB)
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
2 Cor 11:3 (NASB)
In Scripture study there is an important principle, called the “Law of First Mention.” This law basically states that the first place a concept/word is introduced becomes the foundation upon which every other place the concept/word mentioned must be built.
Noema appears two other times in 2 Corinthians, the first of which happens to be the very first time the word appears in all of Scripture. So if this next verse is the first time noema appears, and if the first time is the foundation for all other times the word is used, why did I wait so long to show this passage to you? Because you needed to see how deeply this word noema is entwined with the thoughts and the mind.
But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.That word “schemes” is noema. Do you see the connection? Paul is concerned with the mind and the thoughts for a reason: because your mind is where Satan attacks you—relentlessly. He will attack wherever you are weakest, lie and manipulate to convince you of anything other than the truth of who you are in Christ.
2 Cor. 10:3-5 (NASB)
Do you doubt it? How about the last time you wrestled with thoughts of inadequacy in your role as a parent or spouse? Or entertained anger and bitterness toward a co-worker, spouse, or in-law? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and heard that old familiar thought that some feature of yourself is ugly, fat, sagging, or otherwise imperfect? How often have you believed that lie that you can’t overcome an alcohol, drug, cigarette, food, or pornography addiction?
Try some of these lies on for size: It’s just too hard. You’ll never beat it. You’re a terrible mother. You’re not a leader. You suck as a husband. You’re too fat. You’re a failure. Your husband no longer wants you. You’ll never get that promotion. You’re not good enough. Go ahead and eat it. What difference does one more hit make? Or one more lie? She’ll never find out. He’s not as smart as you are. Your parents don’t understand you. Your friends don’t really care about you. She just wants to make your life miserable. Just do it. You’ll never change. This is just who you are, and you’ll never change it. You can’t. It’s impossible.
Do any of those feel familiar? Those are just a sampling from Satan’s arsenal of lies and thoughts. And it’s like a downward spiral. One thought leads to another, then another. You soon feel defeated…or energized to just say “screw it.”
What to do? How do you stop this vicious cycle? Welcome to 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NASB):
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,That word “thought” is the same Greek word noema. Do you take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ? Do you arrest every dark or angry thought, every lie that Satan casts your way? Or do you believe it, listen to it, meditate on it?
Scripture says that we are to renew our minds (Romans 12:2) How do we do this? By washing it daily with the Word of God. Interestingly, in this passage, mind is actually nous (Strong’s Gk #3563): mind, understanding or reason. It’s also translated composure or comprehension. You renew your understanding and your ability to reason every time you delve into God’s Word.
And what happens when you renew your mind? You are better equipped to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. If you dwell on discouraging thoughts, more will come. But if every time Satan and his minions fire one of those flaming missiles (Ephesians 6) your way, you take that thought captive and counter it with God’s truth, you’ll soon find that the mind really is the battlefield.
Here’s the last place in Scripture where you will find the word noema. Be encouraged:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB)