The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Use Your Mind to Change Your Brain

Posted on: October 13, 2015

Mind over Brain.001


In her book, Switch on Your Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist who is also a Christian, makes the case that your mind and your brain are two different things. Your brain is three pounds of meat that was corrupted by the fall and is not born again when a person accepts Christ. Your mind is non-physical, and if you’ve become a Christian, is born again.

Your brain will die. Your mind will not. After your body is dead, you will not stop thinking. So, that part of you that is still thinking after your body is dead is your mind. Your brain is an earth-tool that the mind must use to interact with the world. You can use your mind to train your brain to do what your mind wants it to.

In 1 Corinthians 2:16, the apostle Paul says, “We have the mind of Christ.” Now, by God’s Spirit within us, this new mind is what enables us to “know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12), and understand spiritually appraised things (2 Corinthians 2:15). Neurologically speaking, the process of sanctification might be described as using the (born-again) mind to train the (unredeemed) brain so that the (unredeemed) brain will begin to do, more consistently, what the (born-again) mind wants it to.

For example, the Bible tells us that we should love our neighbor as our self. Our mind knows that and understands that. But our brain, having been affected by the Fall, does not cooperate. Values and thinking patterns are deeply ingrained in the brain, and often take our attitudes, values and behavior in the opposite direction of Scripture. As a result, we may treat our neighbor with disrespect, or take financial advantage of them, or be calloused toward their needs, even though we understand that we should do unto others as we would have others do unto us.

The Holy Spirit will convict us of the sin of failing to love our neighbor, and call us to change. However, in Romans 7:20, the apostle Paul steadfastly refuses to assign that sin to our born-again inner man, and places the culpability squarely with the outer man, or flesh, as he calls it.

Charged by God and the truth of Scripture with the responsibility to change, we can use our mind to change the brain by a conditioning program, much like physical fitness. So the mind chooses disciplines that we can use to train the brain to leave behind sinful attitudes values and behavior, and adopt righteous ones.

These disciplines include:

  1. Guarding the Brain
    1. Keeping sinful/harmful things out of the brain. We must be careful not to be careless in exposing our minds, unnecessarily, to such thoughts, often through indiscriminate involvement with electronic media.
    2. Not allowing the brain to create sinful/harmful thoughts. We are all capable of creating negative and/or sinful thoughts in our own brains. We must not use our creative ability for these purposes.
    3. Not allowing the brain to dwell on sinful/harmful thoughts.   Regardless of whether sinful/harmful thoughts came in from the outside, or whether we created them in our own brain, we are not to dwell on them. We catch them in mid-air and kick them out.
  1. Feeding the brain
    1. Inputting good/helpful things into the brain. This can involve memorizing Scripture, reading good books, listening to good music, having good conversations, exposing our minds to anything good.
    2. Creating good/helpful thoughts. Just as we are capable of creating negative and/or sinful thoughts in our own brains, we can create good/helpful thoughts in our brains, such as helpful affirmations, good deeds to carry out, etc.
    3. Dwelling on good/helpful thoughts. This could include meditating on the Scriptures we’ve memorized, regularly repeating our helpful affirmations, pondering prior good conversation and the good deeds of others for inspiration, etc.

Neuroscience tells us that as we carefully discipline the brain with positive thoughts, the brain actually changes, physiologically. And the new physiological changes make it easier for the brain to process additional new positive thoughts.   So, the more we discipline our brain, the more the brain changes in a positive way. 

Modern neuroscience shows us how we can change by disciplining our brains with proper spiritual exercises. Science is beginning to catch up with the Bible.


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