10 For to us God revealed them (mysteries) through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. – 1 Corinthians 2:10-15 NASB
The human brain is an amazing organ capable of multiple functions. You would do well to understand how to use and care for your brain. The brain is more than a storehouse of data, it is also a processor. It can generate, synthesize, organize and assign meaning to thoughts.
The ways of thinking in our brain lead to all manner of thoughts.
Jesus said, “Think in a whole new way, because God’s Present Activity is among men.” We read it in this language, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” The word “repent” literally means, “ think differently afterward” so it is reasonable to understand that Jesus is not simply telling us to have better or more accurate thoughts, rather, He is telling us to process thought in a different way, or to take in reality in a whole new way
The word, “repent” is an English translation of the Greek word, “Metanoeo,” a compound word telling us to take in the realities in front of us on a different channel. It is from this word I derive the title of this current series. “Meta” cognition or, “step back and look from a higher perspective”, allows us to consider how we consider. To think about how we think. So know how you know. Think about how you think. Understand the various lenses and filters through which all of reality enters and sticks in your brain.
This series will examine a variety of lenses and filters. Most of them will have some kind of polarity. Spirit versus flesh, concrete versus abstract, and so on. I hope to allow us all to have a chance to know our own thought processes better. I hope you will have a chance to “meta-know-yourself”.
The first of these lenses, I think, is the grand-daddy of them all; in one sense a meta-meta-cognition, or a way of thinking that informs and guides all other ways of thinking. Way back in the garden, at the fall, when man consumed the fruit of that darn tree, we see a shift in the human condition, and therefore the human process. We switched sources. One moment our source was God-in-and-through-us, a moment later our source was simply…us. The knowledge of good and evil, as a way of knowing, can be reduced to one word, knowledge.
We see here a shift that is described above in the 1 Corinthians passage. Paul is not referencing good thinking and bad thinking. Paul is referencing two different “ways of thinking” He specifically says that certain thoughts cannot be processed through certain thought processes. Specifically, spiritual thoughts cannot be really understood, received, comprehended, through natural thought processes.
Spiritual versus natural. These are two very different ways of thinking. And it is the failure to recognize this distinction that I believe leads to confusion ad conflict among believers. The same topic, the same words, the same ideas can mean something completely different processed through the spirit, or processed through the brain.
Don’t get me wrong, the brain is always involved in the process, but in one case (natural thinking) the brain is the source, and in the other (spiritual thinking) the spirit is the source, and the brain is merely the recipient and language translator.
Natural thinking will turn this very conversation into a conversation about doctrine or religious positioning. Processing a conversation about spirit versus natural thinking through natural lenses always reduces the conversation to “right and wrong “. Spiritual thinking is more like turning on a light in a dark room; this way of thinking allows everything to be seen more clearly. The key to natural versus spiritual thinking is not to discern whether or not the brain is involved, but rather, to discern whether the spirit or the brain is the source of the thoughts.
Anyone see the trap? The trap in this conversation will be echoed in several of the following posts.
Spiritual thinking can recognize natural thinking.
Natural thinking cannot recognize spiritual thinking.
What a set up. Because natural thinking cannot recognize spiritual thinking, it cannot recognize itself as not-spiritual. This is why the people Jesus ministered to were all blind. They thought they saw, but they could not see, and they could not see that they could not see. You see?
Have you ever thought you knew or understood something and later, a “light goes on in your mind”? Suddenly you see it differently, realizing that you had completely misunderstood. Assume that more light is always available.
So much of the struggle we have truly hearing the teaching of Jesus is that we apply the wrong process to His words, and we do not know that we do this.
“Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees,” He said.
They wondered if He was referencing their failure to provide bread.
“You must be born again,” He said.
Nicodemus asked if a man could enter his mother’s womb a second time.
If we are not careful, we smugly look at those examples and are certain that we understand everything Jesus said. Even more we convince ourselves we understand all that He meant. We must know that spiritual truth spoken in spiritual words is like rivers of living water, a never-ending always-renewing fountain of Truth.
Spiritual truths are only understood by spiritual minds. How would I know if my thoughts have spirit as source and not brain? One way would be to see whether or not these thoughts produce, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, meekness, mercy and self-control. Another way would be to see if the words spoken produce life or death in you and others.
Jesus’ goal as a teacher was not simply to fill the human mind with accurate thoughts. Jesus’ goal was to give people a new source. Jesus’ goal was to give people a new Way.