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Message – The Spirit, the Mind and the brain
The Spirit, the Mind and the brain
Today the focus of our study is to better understand the difference between those who CAN hear the Spirit as opposed to those who CANNOT hear the Spirit.
For weeks now we have been pressing more into our interactive relationship with the Holy Spirit. We have been examining what scripture tells us His role is in our lives as our helper, our Advocate, our Teacher, our Guide, and the One Who reveals the truth WHO IS Jesus to us.
We’ve discovered in teaching and illustrated through parables that the work of the Holy Spirit is the good work of the Kingdom.
He works to establish the rule and reign of the Lord Jesus in our hearts and as the effects of His rule spreads in our hearts, we become more like Him and SO diffuse the fragrance of Christ to others everywhere we go.
“He Who began the good work of salvation in us, is also the One Who will complete it!”
In a very practical and literal way, the Holy Spirit is the ‘He’ in that statement!
We’ve identified three things which best equips us towards compliance with His work in our hearts and those words are:
- Spiritual Attunement.
We have been working through 1 Corinthians 1 & 2 to better understand these three heart attributes.
These three do not necessarily always occur in the human heart in any particular order, but they are ALL 100% necessary for the Spirit to accomplish His work within us.
This is one of the reasons we know that our predestination is only once we are In Christ – that being ‘In Christ’ requires spiritual attunement, humility and receptiveness. Without these three there is no faith and without faith or relational trust our relationship/partnership with the Spirit comes to a complete halt!
There IS a certain amount of desire and seeking involved in hearing from the Holy Spirit.
Even in the natural world, one does not become a student without finding out when and where a class meets and showing up accordingly.
So it is with the Spirit of God.
Last week we foraged into 1 Corinthians 2 which essentially revisited topics from chapter one – but it further defined those thoughts and built upon them.
Those topics deal directly with our three heart attitudes of spiritual attunement, humility and receptiveness.
So far in Corinthians, Paul has told us that the lost are wise in their own eyes. That theirs is a deadly arrogance which spurns humility and disqualifies them from God’s wisdom which comes by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
We are told that their blindness is a spiritual one. It isn’t that they cannot see the truth or hear the message, it is that their filters are set to screen out anything spiritual and so they view the message of the gospel as utter foolishness. The antenna of thier soul, as it were, is tuned into the flesh.
Last week I offered you an example of that in the popular science communicator and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse, but our world is filled with them and one does not have to look far to find one.
This past week I was listening to a Jewish man who was picking apart a statement in this very letter of Paul to the Corinthians in which Paul tells them that the scriptures foretold the Deity, the death and resurrection of Messiah.
This man, coming from the perspective of an uncompleted Jew, claimed that no such claims are made in the Old Testament. Of course this is simply not true, but one needs to have eyes to see it. Statements attesting to the Deity of Christ, His physical death and yet, His continuation in reigning after His death are all clearly represented truths if one only had the writings of Isaiah and Daniel to go by.
BLINDNESS to SCRIPTURE
The blindness of this Jewish man is foretold and explained in the scriptures, even of the Old Testament.
2 Corinthians 3 draws directly from Isaiah and very much applies to this man since it says regarding the Jews,
“We (who are in Christ) have such a hope, (and are therefore) very bold, (13) not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. (14) But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. (15) Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. (16) But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”
John 12:37-50, “(37) Though He had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in Him, (38) so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the Arm of the Lord been revealed?” (39) Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
(40) “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”
(41) Isaiah said these things because he saw His glory and spoke of Him. (42) Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in Him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; (43) for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
(44) And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him Who sent Me. (45) And whoever sees Me sees Him Who sent Me.
(46) I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness.
(47) If anyone hears My words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
(48) The one who rejects Me and does not receive My words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. (49) For I have not spoken on My Own authority, but the Father Who sent Me has Himself given Me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. (50) And I know that His commandment is eternal life.
What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told Me.”
This Jewish man is on social media and draws attention to himself as someone who is wise and who is smarter than all of those poor foolish Gentiles and misled Jews who believe the New Testament writers.
His arrogance and desire to appear wise in the eyes of men have blinded him from the truth. Just like the scriptures say, “…those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (11) Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, (12) in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” – 2Thess. 2:10-12
With these thoughts Jesus also agrees saying in John 5:44,
“How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?”
Now, we left off in 1 Corinthians 2:10 where we learned that the Spirit Himself is the One Who through diligent searching is able to reveal God to us. He explains God the Father’s plans and purposes for us, the things He has made and keeps ready for us which no eye has ever seen nor ear ever heard or has ever occurred to humankind.
No created being has the power to discover these things on their own – it is permanently beyond the authority, scope and power of human intellect or investigative skill.
These things HAVE to be revealed to us by the Spirit.
The Spirit does this for God’s children so that we might KNOW the things which have been freely given to us by God. Things which have been ordained from the creation of the world itself for our glorification into Christ’s image.
Remember the passage I just read to you from 2 Corinthians 3 where it said that the veil is only taken away in Christ?
The VERY next thing it says is,
2Cor. 3:17-18, “(17) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (18) And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord Who is the Spirit.”
The freedom we have received is a freedom from the bondage to darkness!
Colossians 1:12-14 says,
“(12) giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (13) He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, (14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
So now let’s look further into this as we continue in 1 Corinthians 2, where Paul begins to describe those who cannot see and hear the Spirit’s teaching as those who are carnal and those who can as Spiritual.
1Cor. 2:9-16, “(9) But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— (10) these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
(11) For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?
So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
(12) Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
(13) And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
(14) The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
(15) The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.
(16) “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”
Wuest – 1Cor. 2:9-14, “(9-11) But as for us, not the spirit of the world system did we receive but the Spirit who is of God in order that we might come to know the things which by God have been in grace bestowed upon us, which things also we put into words, not in words taught by human philosophy but in words taught by the Spirit, fitly joining together Spirit-revealed truths with Spirit-taught words.
(12) 12, 13 But the unregenerate man of the highest intellectual attainments does not grant access to the things of the Spirit of God, for to him they are folly, and he is not able to come to know them because they are investigated in a spiritual realm.
But the spiritual man investigates indeed all things, but he himself is not being probed by anyone.
For who has come to know experientially the Lord’s mind, he who will instruct Him? But as for us, Christ’s mind we have.”
Now the focus of our study today, as I told you, is to better understand the difference between those who CAN hear the Spirit as opposed to those who CANNOT hear the Spirit.
Paul here uses the general terms – “those who are Spiritual” and “those who are natural or carnal”, but what do those terms really mean?
The Spiritual man and the natural man
The eastern way of thinking is, as I have told you many times, very holistic, so the fact that the scriptures go out of their way sometimes to make a clear cut distinction between the spirit and the soul is very, VERY telling.
Scripture reveals a distinction between soul and spirit though together they represent the two distinct immaterial aspects of humans.
That they cannot mean the same thing is evident from their mention together in 1Thess. 5:23,
“(23) Now may the God of peace Himself make you completely holy and may your spirit AND soul AND body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (24) He Who calls you is trustworthy, and He will in fact do this.” ~ 1Thess. 5:23-24
Wuest who is very particular when it comes to accurately translating grammar, and in particular tenses and he translates the passage like this –
“Now, may the God of peace Himself consecrate you, every part of each one of you, to His worship and service, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved in their entirety blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who gives you the divine summons, who also will do it.”
He deliberately joins all three with a conjunction – spirit AND soul AND body making it clear that these are in fact 3 separate things which while they rely upon each other and function together in concert making a whole, they also exist independent of one another.
The same distinction is clearly seen in Heb. 4:12.
In the same way as thoughts and intentions, joints and marrow are different things so are spirit and soul. The examples offered show both a weak and a strong association between the parts, but the one constant is that the things mentioned are in fact NOT the same parts, but entirely separate and different parts. They have an existence independent of each other, but function within an association with each other.
As such, soul and spirit are very closely related because they are both immaterial and they both contrast with body (sṓma [G4983]) and flesh (sarx [G4561]).
Heb. 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Wuest has it…
“for actively alive is the word of God, and energetic, and sharper than any two-edged sword, going through even to. the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a sifter and analyzer of the reflections and conceptions of the heart. And there is not a thing created which is hidden from His sight. But all things are naked and laid bare to His eyes, to whom we must give account.” – Wuest
The spirit is man’s immaterial nature which enables him to communicate with God, Who is also spirit.
Here in 1Cor. 2:14, it states that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God . . . BECAUSE they are spiritually discerned.”
What is being translated as “natural man” is the Greek word psuchikós (G5591), meaning psychic or soulish thus representing the soul of man.
The soul is that part of the human being’s immaterial nature that makes them aware of their body and natural, physical environment – but it is NOT unaware of the spirit.
The difference between soul and spirit is not one of substance but of operation. One is attuned to the natural world with its appetites and desires and the other to the spiritual world.
Christian thought has morphed over the years regarding this subject but there was no uncertainty in the writers of the Bible – regardless of which testament you consult.
When Christians of subsequent generations begin to drift from things which were once held certain, you can BE certain that this influence came from the soul, rather than the spirit. Or rather that it came from the flesh THROUGH the soul.
The soul consults the natural word through the senses. This has its place, but is it NO substitute for the spirit – either the human spirit and certainly not the Holy Spirit.
I have a friend who had a degree in speech pathology who had also taken minor classes and some extension courses in neuroscience. I very much enjoyed our conversations which tended to vacillate between the spiritual and the cerebral.
One way in which her studies had begun to reshape her biblical understanding of things was the humanistic view that the mind and the brain were the same thing. This of course is falsified in scripture as the mind is set forth as something both immaterial and eternal, whereas the brain is part of this lower creation and will one day return to dust.
I remember challenging her one night by asking her, if she believed that when a person dies they are still self aware and able to think and speak. Being quick minded herself, she immediately saw where I was going with this. I reminded her of the teaching of Jesus where He represented the rich man and the poor beggar after their deaths as being able to think, process information and communicate – yet their bodies were in a grave rotting and decomposing.
With what were they accomplishing the processes of thought and speech, I asked her?
Furthermore, when our Lord became flesh and was crucified, with what did He think and communicate with those in Abraham’s bossom or the Father? His body was still very much in a grave until His resurrection.
Modern science has had proofs of this distinction between the physical brain and the immaterial mind, in that certain parts of the brain can be superficially stimulated to – for example – cause movement in the hand independant of the patients thoughts.
In an article entitled, “FOUR RESEARCHERS WHOSE WORK SHEDS LIGHT ON THE REALITY OF THE MIND” written in 2019, it reports on some early research conducted by Wilder Penfield, a Neurosurgeon of the mid- 20th century.
“Some of the earliest evidence came from neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield, who was the pioneer in epilepsy surgery in the mid 20th century. Penfield operated on over a thousand epilepsy patients while they were awake (under local anesthesia), and he stimulated their brains with electrodes in order to identify epileptic regions for surgical resection. He carefully recorded their responses to stimulation.
In his book Mystery of the Mind, (1975) Penfield noted:
“When I have caused a conscious patient to move his hand by applying an electrode to the motor cortex of one hemisphere, I have often asked him about it.
Invariably his response was: “I didn’t do that. You did”.
When I caused him to vocalize, he said: “I didn’t make that sound. You pulled it out of me.”
When I caused the record of the stream of consciousness to run again and so presented to him the record of his past experience, he marveled that he should be conscious of the past as well as of the present. He was astonished that it should come back to him so completely, with more detail than he could possibly recall voluntarily. He assumed at once that, somehow the surgeon was responsible for the phenomenon.”
Penfield never encountered a patient who, with stimulation of the brain, thought that he (the patient) had willed it. The patient could always distinguish between acts he willed himself and acts imposed on him by the surgeon’s electrode.”
There is much research in this field, some empirical some anecdotal, some supporting free will and some bringing it into question, but it is undeniable that science has on some level identified a part of human beings and their cognition which seems to act independent of the physical brain. Let me be CLEAR, I am NOT saying that science has PROVEN anything here, because examining the evidence I can see a few iterpretations to the data which could go either way. We know as a matter of experience and faith that the mind and the brain are separate, and do not need validation from what passess for science, but what they contribute can often be very valuable or at least intreging.
Follow these links for more inormation:
Why is this important?
Well, it illustrates what scripture affirmed as truth thousands of years ago and when put to the test, it holds up well even under modern scientific research. Denying this has empowered the devil’s work in the hearts even of believers in many ways.
When we begin to adopt materialistic views which run contrary to scripture we open ourselves up to a world of danger.
First and foremost we become double minded in that our faith begins to fall into that part of our lives which is immaterial and unsubstantive which has the effect of slowly eroding away at the value of our faith.
We begin to “believe” in word only, but when it comes time for action – we make what we call “real life” decisions, based upon non-Christian, materialistic beliefs.
This literally moves us from being Christians to practical agnostics.
We are CINOs – Christians in name only.
BE CERTAIN, THAT WHAT WE BELIEVE SHAPES OUR PERCEPTIONS AND CAN EITHER ENHANCE OR NEARLY DEADEN THE VOICE OF GOD’S SPIRIT IN OUR LIVES.
There is an immaterial soul and spirit and there is a physical body. These three are separate and indepentent things and the mind is PART of the physical body.
Romans 7 & 8 says it even clearer –
Romans 7:14-23, “(14) For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. (15) For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (16) Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. (17) So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (18) For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (19) For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (20) Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (21) So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. (22) For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, (23) but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.”
Romans 8:5-13, “(5) 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. (6) For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (7) For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (8) Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (9) You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (10) But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (11) If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (12) So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. (13) For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
So now we have a better understanding of who is spiritual and who is carnal. Though, unfortunately, Christians can be either, but the unbeliever is gridlocked into only being carnal.
This next week we will explore the differences between the spiritual or mature Christian and the carnal Christian.