Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Preaching to the Mind

This is an excerpt from an email I recently sent a friend of mine.

.....The line in your email where you quoted Joyce Meyers grabbed my attention and I have thought about it quite a bit. What she said about not teaching or speaking to the mind, but to the heart is not Scriptural. It sure sounds good, but it does not hold to Scripture. Unfortunately, much of her teaching is designed to stir the emotion and play to the heart, but that is not what a teacher or preacher of the word is supposed to do. Yes, the heart is affected, and should be, but it is affected by what comes through the mind and what the mind dwells upon. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that as a man thinks within himself, so he is. In fact, it is what we allow our mind to dwell upon that affects how we feel. The Scriptures speak to this quite abundantly and I want to share some examples.

Hosea 4:1-6 details the effect on Israel because there was no knowledge of God in the land, and we see how this culminates in verse six, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being my priest." Additionally, Isaiah 5:13 tells us that the nation of Israel went into exile because of their lack of knowledge of God. It is the lack of knowledge of God and the things of God that brought destruction upon His people. That destruction was a just consequence of them not knowing, therefore not following and abiding by, the will of God. Ephesians 5:17 tells us, "So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." We can not do that without knowledge, without speaking to the mind. This is the plight of the church in America today. Most churches have services designed to appeal to the emotions, to pull on the heartstrings, instead of engaging the mind.

Look at what we are told to concentrate on as believers. II Peter 1:2-3, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." So we see that grace and peace are not just given, but multiplied to the believer in the knowledge of God and Christ, and that everything we need for life (spiritual life) and godliness comes through the knowledge of Him. In 3:18 Peter goes on to finish this letter with the command to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. None of this can happen unless you speak to and teach to the mind; and where ever the mind goes the heart will follow.

We are not to be governed by our emotions, but by our mind, by what we know, especially what we know to be true. Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind, so that we may prove that the will of God is good, acceptable, and perfect. As the mind is engaged by the word of God the person is transformed into the image of Christ as he knows, understands, and conforms to the will of God.

Without knowledge there is no discernment as it is knowledge of the truth that brings discernment, and where is knowledge located, in the mind. Without knowledge and discernment the people can be led where ever the teacher or preacher desires, especially when they are taught to follow their emotions. Hebrews 5:11-6:3 tells us what happens when the people of God become dull of hearing, are not partaking of the solid food of the Word, and how it is that solid food and the practice of what they know that brings discernment. We do not hear with the heart, but with the mind; and the heart is reached, but it must go through the filter of the mind. This is why Paul gives us what to let our mind dwell on in Philippians 4:8, and in 4:6-9 he tells us that our heart and mind will be guarded in Christ by peace; and the heart is guarded by what the mind dwells upon, and the mind dwells upon that which it has been taught, that which it knows.

Finally, in Colossians 2:1-8 Paul talks about the heart and mind connection, and how the heart is encouraged by the full assurance of understanding that comes from the true knowledge of Christ Himself, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In this section he tells us not to be deceived by persuasive argument then goes on the tell us in verse eight not to let our mind be taken captive by the philosophy and empty deception of the traditions of men and the elementary principles of the world. This is what Joyce is doing....appealing to the flesh and emotions, by what sounds good and normal, but is based upon the elementary things of the world.

In Biblical times the heart was considered to be not the center of the emotions, but the seat of the will. The kidneys and viscera were considered the seat of the emotions. The heart and mind were considered as one which we saw in Proverbs 23:7, as a man thinks within himself, so he is. In essence what we are doing when we teach and preach is engaging the mind with the knowledge of the truth. This knowledge of the truth affects the will, the will directs the decisions, the decisions direct the behavior, which many times will be in direct opposition to how people feel at the time. We want people to do what they know to be right in spite of how they feel about the situation or the person. This can only happen by teaching to the mind, giving them the knowledge of the truth.

There is much teaching that sounds good and biblical, but when you dissect it, it does not hold up to the light of the truth. The road that this particular teaching would eventually take someone down is fraught with disaster, and would lead to a faith based on the fickleness and surges of emotion instead of the stability and assurance of faith based on the knowledge of the truth.