SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #6
February 5, 2011
Thinking is the highest mental activity present in man. All human achievements and progress are products of thought. Culture, art, literature, science and technology are all results of thinking.
Thought and action are inseparable – they are two sides of the same coin. All deliberate action starts with deliberate thinking. In order to do something, people should first see it in the mind's eye – imagine it, think about it first, then do it. All artistic and scientific creations first occur in the mind before being given existence in the tangible world. There is need for good thinking and correspondingly good mental health.
Upon being asked to put together a collegiate class on mental health, I pondered awhile on what the study of the human mind is. The unconverted mind is “enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). To study this mind is to study enmity and evil thinking. Turning from psychology which deals primarily with mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders of the carnal mind, I decided to put together a course designed for college students based on the scientific study of the nervous system, especially with respect to its structure and function in the brain.
What, then, is good mental health? This question led me into a study of the mind of Christ. He is our example in all things. He demonstrated the best mental health which follows good thinking.
The study of Christ’s mind is the study, not merely of intellectual elements, but also of spiritual dimensions. As we study His mind we are to “let” that mind be in us as it was in Him (Philippians 2:5). The context of Philippians 2:5-8 reveals what the mind of Christ is.
“The Bible teaches us about the connection between thoughts and actions” (Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, January – March 2011, page 46). Thoughts are “the root of behavior” (Ibidpage 47). This is seen to be true of Christ. His thought processes led Him to go into conference with the Father about the needs of fallen mankind. After considering our plight, Christ’s compassionate thoughts towards us turned into definite action. He chose to step down from His exalted position, give up His form as God and exchange all this for the form, nature and position of fallen man. His downward path did not stop with His incarnation. From birth He continued downward even to the death of the cross. He took our nature in order to die.
In verse six Paul wrote that Jesus “did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” Jesus laid aside the independent use of His own attributes as God. Remaining equal with God was not something He clutched as a “right.” He willingly gave up equality with God and entered the human race in order to save us. This was in sharp contrast with another mind grasping for equality with God. Lucifer exalted himself in his thoughts and consequent behavior. He rejected the idea that he was a mere light bearer and not the Light of the universe.
Unlike Lucifer who said in his mind “I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14), Jesus, being God, relinquished his rightful position. In Isaiah 53:12 Jesus is portrayed as being “poured out.” Later Paul wrote that He “emptied” Himself (Philippians 2:7 NRSV).
Jesus is the God-Man. He is forever God, but He joined Himself to humanity. He permanently became human, and took human nature to the shameful death of the cross. We must always remember that crucifixion was the most degrading form of execution. It was reserved for non-Roman criminals who were either slaves or persons free, but of the lowest status. The journey of the Son of God from heaven to the cross is a demonstration of His self-sacrificing mind.
Christ voluntarily stepped down to the likeness of man in order to be the Representative and Savior of the fallen race. Thousands of years preceding the Incarnation the rebellious mind of Lucifer started a war in heaven. These two minds faced each other, first in heaven, then on earth.
In heaven Lucifer exalted himself, in his carnal mind, to the likeness of God, even boasting in his thinking: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13–14). He had “I” problems.
Somewhere along the way, I learned that personal pronouns such as “I”, “my” and “me” used once in 26 words is normal. If used once in 12 words, the mind is abnormal. The Lord, through Isaiah, reveals that Lucifer used personal pronouns once in 7 or 8 words, revealing that he has severe mental problems. This is the carnal mind.
This is the mind Satan passed on to Eve, then through her influence to Adam. This couple, originally created in God’s image, was given power akin to their Creator – “individuality, power to think and to do” (Ellen White, Education, page 17). This ability was corrupted through Satan’s instrumentality. Instead of thinkers, Satan’s design was, and is, to make men and women reflectors of other person’s thoughts.
God’s plan for man’s redemption is simply the restoration of God’s original plan in our creation – that we should be in the image of God, with individuality and unique but Christ-like thinking and doing. This new creation is brought about through the power of God’s word, which produces good thinking. A word is simply a thought made audible. When studying and receiving the Word of God, the renewed mind will reflect His mind both intellectually and spiritually. As the mind of man is brought into contact and connection with the thoughts of God as revealed in His word the human mind will be strengthened and expanded. This produces thoughts of truth, nobility, righteousness, purity, agape and excellence as depicted in Philippians 4:8. This is good thinking.
And so, of the two minds which shall we choose to “let” in – Christ’s or Satan’s? One is good thinking; the other evil thinking. One is life eternal; the other is eternal death (Romans 8:6). “Choose you this day” which mind will be in you!