A Short Exercise:
If someone were to make a statement to you, for example, about your performance: which of these two statements would you prefer?
- You get it right most of the time
- You mess it up every once in a while.
These two statements are intended for the same purpose, except you think otherwise.
From the statements above, it’s clear that the first one is more positive and emphasizes the achievements of the individual, while the second tends to highlight his/her errors, which only occur once in a while. We would look further into this, later in our study.
What is the Mind?
The mind is not something that the best historians, scientists, or medical doctors of the world could give you the best light on. Only the Bible gives detailed and accurate information on the mind. The reason is that the mind is an intangible and spiritual facet. It can’t be discovered or made known by science, and the best you can get from the world on it would be speculatory. Only the Word of God brings revelation of the spiritual. For example, the Bible says in Hebrews 4:12-13 (English Standard Version)
“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…” The Word of God can distinguish between the soul and the spirit, an attribute, which the ordinary mind cannot give you. It takes the knowledge and revelation of the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit to make such things known. Let’s begin with a simple definition of the mind.
The mind is the faculty of man’s reasoning and thoughts; it holds the power of imagination, recognition and appreciation. It’s responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes.
There are some key words in this definition that we’ll examine, to help us understand the mind. The first one is Thoughts.
‘Thought’ is the creation, recalling, reviewing and processing of images for meaning, reason, language and expression.
This means you create, recall, review and process the images that you get, for meaning, reason, language, and expression.
When you study Scriptures on the mind, you’ll discover that in the Old and New Testament, several words are interchangeably used to refer to the mind or its activities. Examples are the words: thoughts and reason. Sometimes whilst reading one translation the word thought is used, and then you read another translation, and it uses the word reason. Even in the case of the same translation, thoughts may be used in a verse in one section, and then another writer uses reason for what was previously used for or written as thoughts.
In addition, the words mind and heart are sometimes interchangeably used in Scripture, but the mind is not the heart and the heart is not the mind. These are generic expressions, and so you may find them synonymously used at different points.
The words imagination, thinking, reasoning, inclination are also used interchangeably in referring to activities of the mind, as you would find in Bible translations.
This goes to say that there are a broad number of synonyms that are used in expressing the phenomenon of the mind and its activities. Moreover, to better understand the mind, you’ll need to understand the scriptural description of the human person.
The Twofold Nature of Man:
Man primarily has a twofold nature namely: The Outward Man, and The Inward Man.
According to the Bible, God created the inward man first and then formed the outward man. The inward man is the human spirit, and his soul. On the other hand, the outward man is the human body and its senses.
The Bible says Hebrews 11:3b “…that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”. The spiritual realm gave birth to the physical realm; therefore, to understand more clearly our description of the inward man as the human spirit and his soul, look at this: what the nervous system is to the body, the soul is to the Spirit. The soul functions for the human spirit.
If you were to see the human spirit, you’re not going to see the soul standing outside of the spirit. But again in the scriptures, you’ll find generic expressions in which the soul is used in describing the whole human spirit – the inward man. Sometimes, even the word heart is used to describe the inward man. Words and statements like the hidden man of the heart, the human spirit, the soul, are all sometimes used in describing the inward man. However, there is the soul that belongs to the human spirit, and that soul is the seat of the mind, the will and the emotions.
Going further, and it gets a little more complex here, note this: in the central nervous system, what the brain is to the body, the mind is to the Spirit (note that the mind is in the soul). The mind, however, is far more complex than the brain because it has power over the brain. It has more power, more influence than the brain because it’s spiritual; it belongs to the human spirit, which is the core of your nature, the real you. You are not a body; you are a spirit living in a physical body. Your body is your domicile, but the spirit is the real you.
What is the Brain?
Science defines the brain as the primary centre for the regulation and control of bodily activities, receiving and interpreting sensory impulses, and transmitting information to the muscles and body organs.
The brain is not the seat of consciousness, because a man’s brain could be working alright, even when he is not conscious of life or anything around him. The seat of consciousness and emotions don’t reside in the brain. The brain can process and recall information, but true memory is more than recalling information. There is much more to know about interpretation, meaning, language and expression (seen in our definition of thoughts), and these are not in the power of the brain.
In addition, the brain is neither the mind nor the soul. The brain is a physical organ of the body while the mind and soul are spiritual. The brain, however, works with the mind to give the character of a man.
Remember this: The body’s central nervous system works in conjunction with the mind for human consciousness, conception, memory and expression. This statement is very important. These two – the central nervous system and the mind, are ultimately responsible for the character of a man.