We both love how Matthew has taken the concept of sin and given a breath of fresh air to the topic. You must read this book because in its pages you will finally gain a biblical perspective on sin and what it takes to free yourself from the bonds that so easily entangle!

Gary and Michael Smalley
Smalley Relationship Center
When mental illness afflicts a loved one, how can we understand what is happening and respond appropriately? This biblically-literate and scientifically-informed book offers helpful insight, encouragement, and practical advice. For pastors and for those who hurt for those who hurt, Matthew Stanford offers sensitive and welcome guidance.

David G. Myers, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, Hope College and author of Psychology Through the Eyes of Faith.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Body, Mind and Spirit

You and I are not an accident or a chance biological occurrence (Psalm 139:13). We were created for the sole purpose of glorifying God (Isaiah 43:7), and He has laid out a divine plan for each of our lives (Proverbs 16:9; Jeremiah 10:23; 29:11). The scriptures teach us that we are a complex being having both physical (material) and non-physical (immaterial) natures (1 Thessalonians 5:23). We are the union of a physical body with an immaterial mind and spirit. To be able to fully understand the role that biology plays in sinful behavior, it is necessary that we have a better understanding of the three-part being of man: body, mind and spirit.

We exist in a physical body so that we can interact with the material world around us. Our bodies have been specifically designed to take in information from the environment and relay it to our brains. We see, hear, taste, smell and touch the world around us. The processing of sensory information by our brains produces thoughts, feelings and emotions which then result in some outward behavioral display. Paul refers to the body as an “earthly tent” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2, 4) and makes it clear that we are more than physical (2 Corinthians 5:8). Indeed, we are more than simply a brain riding around in a body. There is an immaterial, nonphysical aspect to our being, what some would call our soul or mind.

Are our thoughts, feelings and emotions merely the product of neurochemical changes and electrical discharges in our brain or is our mind something more, something immaterial, more than the sum of our parts? The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. While the functioning of our brain is integral to the existence of our mind, that alone is not sufficient to explain it. Similarly, to imagine our mind as completely separate and unrelated to the physical does not seem correct either. Mind and body are intimately connected and each affects the other.

It is in our mind that we interact with God through prayer (1 Corinthians 14:15), receive divine revelation (Luke 24:45) and are transformed by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2). It is also in our mind that we choose to sin (Romans 8:6-7; 2 Corinthians 10:5). A physical body formed by the hands of the Maker in union with an immaterial mind which controls and plans our behavior is a truly miraculous and perhaps a difficult idea to grasp. But the scriptures teach us that we also have a third and even more amazing level of being, a spirit.

God created us as a three part being, much like himself. In our inmost being we are spirit, the very breath of God placed into a shell of dust (Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 12:1). As a spirit being, it is possible for us to be in an intimate spiritual union (Proverbs 20:27; Romans 8:16) with our Creator who is also spirit (John 4:24). No other living creature, not even the angels, has been given such an opportunity.

Let’s look at a simple visual representation to better understand the interaction between body, mind and spirit. Figure 1 shows the body, mind and spirit in relation to one another, each separate but interacting with the one above and/or below. The brain, via the body’s sensory systems, is in contact with the earthly environment (outside) and the mind within. The middle ellipse is the mind which is connected to the body through the functions of the brain and nervous system but also in contact with our immaterial spirit (the inner most rectangle). The body senses and reacts to the external environment and the mind uses that information to perceive, understand and interpret our surroundings. The mind also forms our thoughts and plans out our actions. The spirit, when connected to God, works to transform the mind into the very image of Christ which results in an ever increasing display of godly behaviors through the body. We are the masterpiece of creation (Ephesians 2:10)! The physical interacting with the immaterial; the Creator of the universe in communion with His beloved creation.

No comments:

Post a Comment