Shut the door in ’24: Spirit over mind

Current Events and The Bible, Teaching Resources

A common phrase in western culture is “mind over matter.” Its history originates from evolutionary biology but it has also been used by individuals ranging from the infamous Mao Zedong to many in the modern intellectual establishment.  The purpose for the use of this phrase differs with each source and their respective contexts, but each instance contains a common thread.  Nearly all of these references celebrate the mind as the preeminent characteristic of mankind and its development as the best way to better the human condition.  The Bible takes exception to this philosophy and prescribes a different administration for success in both life on earth and what happens when it ends.

Consider these Scriptures:

Proverbs 3:5-8 NASB95

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. [6] In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. [7] Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. [8] It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.

Isaiah 55:8-9 NASB95

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. [9] “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 NASB95

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [19] For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” [20] Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? [21] For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. [22] For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; [23] but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, [24] but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. [25] Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

It is important to God when a theme is repeated in scripture

Pay attention to the phrases: lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs), My thoughts are not your thoughts (Isaiah), the foolishness of God is wiser than men (1 Corinthians).  Each of these is a slightly different way to convey a similar idea.  Sometimes God’s solution to a situation is very different to what human logic would dictate.  Take for example Judges 7 when Gideon won a resounding victory, being instructed by The Lord to attack a far larger force using only trumpets, lamps and broken pottery as weapons.  No past or present conventional wisdom would have looked at the army that Gideon was facing and dictated such a strategy.  God alone knew that paranoia was rife in the camp of the enemy and that such an unconventional approach would exploit it. In general, His simple instruction is that we consult Him first, ABOVE AND BEYOND our own minds for the way(s) forward.  He is the ultimate tactician, the ONLY one with the answers to our most pressing and perplexing questions.

Consider the world today

Trina and I have spent a fair amount of time in different parts of the world in recent years.  It has been universal in our experience that people are amazed at the extreme nature of both differing viewpoints and the people that hold them.  With violent protests dramatically increasing, it doesn’t matter whether it is a villager in a rural, third world country or a professional in Europe/USA, people are astonished at the inability of mankind to reasonably, much less amicably, problem solve and coexist in the presence of differing opinions.  I am not sure that I’ve met a single person, in any context, from any place on the ideological spectrum, who believes that the current state of division in the world is positive or trending in a civil direction.

For quite some time, much of the world has placed its hope in modern education.  Nelson Mandela called formal education perhaps the “greatest weapon” of mankind for improvement.  Since 1960, the percentage of citizens in The USA with a college degree has increased almost five times (click here to see). A society that is FIVE TIMES MORE EDUCATED should see a notable decrease in problems, conflict & angst IF education alone is the answer.  In the western world it clearly isn’t and it is therefore time for a shift in our source of hope.

Romans 1:28-31 NASB95 explains this from a spiritual perspective,

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, [29] being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, [30] slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, [31] without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;

If people in society rely on their intellect, to the exclusion of God, the results are devastating.  When this occurs people aren’t more enlightened, they become more diabolical.  For example, take the long standing, stated value of integrity in the news reporting of a free press in democratic society.   Do you see more truth or slander in mainstream media today? Because of our hyper reliance on the mind, the spiritual door to darkness described in Romans 1 is WIDE OPEN in many different sectors of our societies. Conventional wisdom would suggest doubling down and reasoning our way out of the present quagmire when the reality is that such an approach is a trap that will certainly cause the situation to go from bad to worse.

The way forward

Taking direction from God’s Spirit first is a MAJOR paradigm shift for anyone heavily influenced by western culture.  As a son of the west, who has been a Christian, seeking to put God first for more than forty years, I can attest that it is a significant challenge.  To pray for direction first simply isn’t the natural thing for people taught to engage their mind in such a singular fashion from such a young age.  But consider  John 16:13 NASB to this end,

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

Deliberately seeking God, from the routine decision to the multifaceted issue, will provide the direction and/or answers that are so elusive in today’s world.  

It is also important to note that taking steps toward a spirit first paradigm isn’t anti-education.  There is considerable thought that the publishing of The Bible has led to great advancements in literacy and education throughout history (click here to read some about this).  Why would God hate learning when His greatest guide has facilitated so much of it?  What does need to change is the paradigm that excludes God from the decision making process.

Leaning not on our own understanding is the duty of Christian believers.  Christ’s followers are the chosen instruments of The Lord to show the world the way.  We simply don’t need to know why in every case just that God is directing us.  Let us invite The Holy Spirit to weigh and measure our hearts’ primary source of guidance and leadership.  Let us repent and become calculated about The Holy Spirit guiding the faculties of our minds.  This is the example that the world needs and that only The Church can model.

Matthew 5:14-16 NASB95

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; [15] nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. [16] Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Isaiah 60:1-3 NASB95

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. [2] “For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. [3] “Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.”

Comments 1

  1. The will and cognition are inextricably twined. Our will, by virtue of being created by the Will of God, belongs to God. Through Grace, persons CHOOSE to give their will to back to God, to use. That means cognition is under God’s fathomless, eternal Will direction…first, and forement….so the our choice, using our ‘free will’ is to ‘give it back to God to do HIS will’….and our cognition is also , then, under God’s direction. I have dedicated my subconscious, actually, to His us…in dreams and power of Thought…
    Excellent focus…May the mind of Christ be in us…transforms the natural human into a powerhouse.

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