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The Spirit of a Sound Mind

I believe that Dr. E. James Wilder (a neurotheologian), Dr. Karl Lehman (a psychiatrist) and some of our friends who are at the center of Life Model Works and their body of work are making a very significant contribution to our understanding of a particular aspect of the ministry of the Holy Spirit and how He works in our lives.
Dr. James and I share a long-time mutual friend, Dallas Willard, who has now gone to his reward with Christ. Dallas always spoke about the need for a “psychologically sound” model of sanctification. Again, I believe that this is what LMW’s is onto in a big way. For years I have been sharing this very intriguing passage with the Body of Christ in my messages on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7  

Sound Mind

It fascinates me that Paul included “sound mind” in addition to “power” and “love” in this three-fold description of what the Holy Spirit wants to work into our lives. We often hear that He is a Spirit of power and love. But…the Spirit of a “sound mind”? What does this rather strange wording actually imply? It turns out that this is the only time that this form of the Greek word is used in the New Testament…”soophronismou”. It doesn’t actually have a worthy English equivalent! Here’s what the Adam Clarke Commentary says about it. (My elaborations are in parentheses.)

“Of a sound mind”, soophronismou  (grk 4995), of self-possession and government, according to some. But a sound mind implies much more; it means a clear understanding, a sound judgment, a rectified will, holy passions, heavenly tempers (thoughts and feelings); in a word, the whole soul harmonized in all its powers and faculties; and completely regulated and influenced, so as to think, speak, and act aright in all things. The apostle says, God hath given the spirit of these things; they are not factitious (bogus, fake, specious, false, counterfeit, fraudulent, spurious, sham, mock, feigned, affected, pretended, contrived, engineered, inauthentic); they are not assumed for times and circumstances; they are radical powers and tempers (internal abiding realities); each produced by its proper principle (expressed from the inside/out).

Now because of amazing advances in brain science, we are able to confidently promote what, more specifically, builds a “sound mind” into our souls as we mature.  Our brains have been designed to thrive on the experience of joy. Moreover, this joy is rooted in a personal relationship in which a more mature person who is present to us, delights to be with us (healthy attachment). It shouldn’t surprise us that these scientific breakthroughs simply confirm what apostles, prophets, saints and sages have intuitively known through the centuries…God, our Heavenly Father, His Son, Jesus Christ – our Immanuel and the Holy Spirit…designed us for joy and for an intimate and personal connection with the Divine.

Science Confirming Faith

This is indeed what the genuine Gospel delivers to the human being. (Still, I do marvel whenever we see science confirming faith!) And additionally…this loving presence, delight and peace is very often mediated by God through mothers, fathers, caregivers, friends, spiritual leaders, other members of the Body of Christ and others who are God’s loving representatives to us and ambassadors of His joy. And thus…the vitality of the new commandment of Jesus…”Love one another.” We need God and we need one another too. This is God’s design and this dual provision causes our human lives to flourish and be resilient in the face of adversities in this world.
The Holy Spirit will certainly move in even greater ways as we set our hearts to more authentically engage and welcome God’s presence in our lives and relationships, be with one another as we open up more vulnerably to share our joys and sorrows of life with one another and more intentionally be aware of and cooperate with the way our human brains absorb and process joy. Let’s become a part of inaugurating a second great reformation…a reformation of hope and joy in Jesus Christ!
This is a poem I recently penned about how joy flows in our brains.

Brain Joy-Flow

The flow begins at bottom right
For a caring one who’s full of light
Delights to be with me.
Next the hub for my alarm
Alerting me to cause for harm
But all is quiet now.
I ask then “Am I understood?”
By others who will do me good
I feel assured I am.
So joy is really firing now
Just behind my right eyebrow
I delight in who I am.
My left brain signaled by my right
Has clearer views of truth in sight
I choose and speak wisely now.
This post originally published here.

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