Re-scripting Your Life, Part 10
In the last post we left off with the idea of our need to be brainwashed. We are not talking about the process of being captivated by cultish belief systems that take away your ability to think clearly. In fact, biblically, brainwashing is a necessary part of the transformation process. Consider again this verse of scripture from Romans 12:
Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. [Rom 12:1-2 NLT emphasis added]
Is it possible to wash the human brain and reprogram it to work in an entirely new way? In years past, it was thought and taught that the human brain (the container for our thoughts) became stiff, static, and stuck at some point in our development. In other words, at some point, we become who we will always be, no matter how hard we try to change. Religious teaching over the centuries has not helped produce much hope that our existence on this side of eternity will come close to measuring up to looking and living just like Jesus. Believing that we are just lowly sinners in constant need of God’s mercy has fostered a dysfunctional view that Salvation that only fully applies to our spiritual condition.
Our emotional/rational and intellectual self will just have to get used to slugging around like a worm until death frees the caterpillar and we can fly into heaven on butterfly wings. The truth is, we were lowly worm sinners (who did not know that they were really butterflies) who were saved by grace, and became saints who are now being transformed into the image of Jesus and participating in God’s divine nature.
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires. [2 Pe 1:4 NLT emphasis added]
So, what is the current understanding of the ability of our brains to be rewired and reprogrammed after years of thinking and living in ways that do not reflect the nature and glory of our Creator? Can ANY brain change, at any time?
According to the science of Neuroplatiscity, the answer is yes, and yes. Neuroplatiscity, simply defined, is the ability of the brain to change continuously throughout an individual's life. There is so much more packed into this definition that is beyond the scope of these blog posts. If you are interested, a web search on the topic will keep you reading for weeks! This new understanding is abundantly hopeful for anyone who is wanting to change their life by re-scripting their brains.
Engage the Process of Perfection - Becoming a Whole Person
With the history of the Fall and the resulting impact on mankind explained, and the outlining of God’s solution to this cosmic problem laid out, we can now look at the practical side of the process of God’s restoration plan. As we move through this process, it is vitally important that you spend enough time seeking and searching your heart and mind with the guidance of Holy Spirit to come to a full knowledge of the truth that will set you free. Some of the truth that will be presented may not appear to be the truth as far as it relates to experiencing it as truth. In other words, we have to be able to accept that something is true before we can experience the freedom that the truth contains. Here is how Jesus explains this concept: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." [Jhn 8:32 NIV]
There are a few important things to note about this simple and profound statement that Jesus made. The context is framed in Jesus teaching about becoming His disciples. In this process, there will be many new things to learn about God, ourselves, and others.
This learning process will take us on a journey where some of our core beliefs will be challenged and confronted. It is in these moments that decisions about what is truly true come into play. If we want to move on in our growth and maturity as disciples of Jesus, we will have to give up some of our deeply held beliefs and replace them with the absolute truth that comes to us through revelation.
Here is another way to understand what Jesus is telling His disciples: If you want to truly be My disciple you will have to relearn many things about how you see and understand your Heavenly Father. In order for this truth to have a liberating and transforming effect on you, you must first accept the new truth as ultimate truth in order to experience the freedom your Heavenly Father wants for you. Some aspects of this truth exchange process will be easier to accomplish than others. The issues that surround the periphery of our hearts can be easily stripped away but the deep seated belief systems may not give way to new truth except through a persistent focus on uprooting them.
To illustrate this, consider the following: a child is raised in a loving home with loving parents and adults who create an atmosphere of security and significance. One day the parents and the other adults begin to instruct this child about the basics of life and how to believe in a way that will bring success and fulfillment. The child is told over and over again that 2 + 2 = 5, and that this foundational truth will help them figure out all of life’s problems. The child has no reason to think or believe that the adults have wrong information (afterall, they have survived into adulthood), or that they would purposely be deceiving. So, for the first five or six years of life, this core belief is incorporated into the foundation of thinking for this child.
Then comes the day when the child is launched out into the world and enters kindergarten. The days are filled with fun and learning about lots of new things. The fateful day comes when the teacher introduces the class to the basic concepts of mathematics. One of the concepts sounds familiar at first when the teacher talks about addition. The teacher asks the class, “can anyone tell me what 2 + 2 equals?” This child immediately shouts out the answer, of course, which is 5. The teacher praises the child for this valiant attempt but corrects the child and explains how the real answer is 4. This child is now faced with a paradigm contradiction of truth. What is the right answer? Were my parents wrong all this time? Is the teacher trying to control me?
Why should I believe this teacher, who I don’t really even know, as I have loving and caring parents who would never want me to have wrong information? What happens if I hold onto my core belief of 2 + 2 = 5, will that work in the real world? The decisions this child makes regarding what is truly true will affect every aspect of life.
This was the very core of the religious culture that Jesus walked into during His time on this planet. Jesus was truth in the flesh, living among us, and challenging us to give up one belief system for the one that He was presenting (see John 1:1-14). The Jews of His day had centuries of incorporating and passing on belief systems about God that did not represent His true nature or purposes regarding humanity. They were instructed by Moses at the beginning of their journey into the promised land to pound in and pass on the laws, precepts, and principles of the Covenant (contract) to their children, who in turn would pass this truth on to their children.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” [Deut 6:6-9 NIV]
So, where did the Jews of go wrong? Were they not just doing as Moses had instructed? Was there something wrong with the truth presented in the Covenant Moses gave them? The answer to these questions lies not in the absolute nature of truth, but the way they (and we) perceive and process truth. The perfect word of God was given to imperfect people, who in turn did their best to conform this truth into their human experience. Also, if you study the history of the Hebrew people you will find many instances where the people of Israel incorporated or syncretized aspects of the pagan religions that surrounded them. They were being conformed to the belief systems of Almighty God and other gods to create an unworkable system of beliefs that in turn created messed up mindsets that could not sustain absolute truth.
This was part of God’s wise plan to confound the efforts of humanity to be like Him through exercising their ability to know the difference between good and evil (the path of humanity since the Fall). Since humanity chose to reject God and His absolute truth, God allowed humanity to follow the course of their choices right to the point of no return to fully frustrate and exhaust human efforts at righteousness. But God, being rich in love and mercy, at just the right time…sent Jesus!
Jesus made some bold statements that shocked His fellow Jews related to the deeply held beliefs about the Law of God and how to practice it. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes the statement, “you have heard it said… but I say to you…” over and over (see Matthew 5:27-ff). This is much the same as the kindergarten teacher saying to the child in the above illustration, “I know that your parents said that 2 + 2 = 5, but I say to you that 2 + 2 = 4.” With hindsight we know the right answer. But, if we were in the moment with the Jews of Jesus' day how would we respond? Who would we believe, Moses or Jesus? Consider this exchange between Jesus and a religious teacher:
And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?" And he answered, "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE." But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" [Luk 10:25-29 NASB emphasis added]
Jesus’s response to the core question on every Jews mind, how to inherit eternal life, was answered with 2 other questions. Jesus could have just told this man the answer, but Jesus was getting to the real issue of why humanity was so far off the mark. Jesus asks, “what does the scripture say, and how do you read it.” Or, what does the Bible say and how do you interpret it? Can truth be open to individual interpretation? If we want to hold on to a present belief system and the practice of it, then the answer must be yes. The response of the religious teacher exposes the nature and depth of the problem. The scripture reveals that this religious leader wanted to justify himself! Or, this religious leader wanted God’s truth to fit into his present belief system (based on cultural conditioning and and other evil, twisted motivations), rather than go through the process of repenting (changing the way one thinks) and allowing truth to transform him. The Apostle Paul brilliantly identifies the nature of the problem in his second letter to the Corinthians.
But the people's minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses' writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord--who is the Spirit--makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. [2 Co 3:14-18 NLT]
The implication of these verses reveals what can happen to the human heart (the seat of will and emotions) if truth is rejected over and over. A callus (veil) forms over the heart and we become desensitized to the truth and therefore, reject it. This veil is made up of our current belief systems that do not align with God’s belief systems. Paul states that the only way to remove this veil is to turn to the Lord (forgiveness and repentance) and accept God’s truth as our one and only truth and allow this truth to set us free (transformation).
Symbolically, this is exactly what happened at the moment of Jesus’s death on the cross. The massive curtain/veil in the Jewish temple was ripped in two from bottom to top exposing the most sacred of all places, the Holy of Holies, God’s very presence on Earth. Paul is stating that when a person is willing to accept God’s truth, the way into God’s presence is fully open. Exposure to this truth actually begins the process of being transformed to become more and more like Jesus. We become like that which we behold!
In our next post, we will look at how we actually can apply, not just know, the truth that is given to us to set us free. So stay tuned, and tune in!
by Pastor Jim