The Lord declared through the prophet Isaiah that His thoughts were not like our thoughts and that God’s thoughts were infinitely higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-9). This tells us two profoundly important things. Firstly, the omniscient (all-knowing) God thinks. He has thoughts. Secondly, even though we are created in the image of God, our ability to think is somewhat impaired. We are unable to think in the way we were all designed to. This is why even really really smart people can end up believing and expounding really really silly things. Our thinking — even from our best thinkers — is impaired by three factors. However, there are two once-well-known, but now-little-known, facts that should give everyone who would like to think more deeply and clearly great insight how to do so.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,
declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
THE IMPAIRMENTS TO THINKING
When the devilish serpent enticed the man and the woman with the lie that no harm would come to them from rebelling against their Creator, the Lord of Love, by eating the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:17) which the Lord of Love had forbidden for them to do, they soon discovered that they had been lied to. Rather than increasing in god-like knowledge as the devilish-serpent had promised, the man and the woman immediately felt duped and ashamed. When the Lord of Love turned up in the Garden of Eden at the usual time to walk with His image bearers (in the cool of the day, Gen. 3:8) the man and the woman hid themselves. This sad episode reveals that mankind’s ability to think was impaired in these three ways: (i) the acquisition of knowledge; (ii) the management of distractions; and, (iii) spiritual blindness.
The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
1. The Acquisition of Knowledge – Pride was at the root of mankind’s Fall from innocence. The stain of sin on the human soul oozes pride into every response we fallen humans make – especially when it comes to being taught (Prov. 15:5). God has ordained that we acquire knowledge by being taught – especially by a teacher – and especially by our parent/s (Prov. 5:13; 7:24). There is a lot of knowledge that can only be delivered by a teacher. But all too often we are impaired from receiving this knowledge because of our pride. Knowledge can also be acquired from experiences – especially learning from our mistakes. Yet too often instead of learning from our mistakes we often look for someone else to blame for them instead. This was immediately obvious when God confronted the two occupants of the Eden and both of them blamed someone else for their mistake (Gen. 3:11-13).
“…Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary. He told us to be not only ‘as harmless as doves.’ but also ‘as wise as serpents’. He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head.”
“Mere Christianity”, C.S. Lewis, 2017:77.
If you want to think more deeply and clearly, you’ll need knowledge. Keep reading to learn how.
2. Distraction Management – The Fall has robbed mankind of the ability to pay attention and focus on what (and who) truly matters. Perhaps today, more than any other time in human history, we are blighted by constant distractions (Jer. 29:19). We rarely welcome quiet and stillness to allow our minds to reflect, ponder, and consider things that matter (Psalm 46:10). Instead, we fill our spaces with activity, noise, visual over-stimulation and amusements. (By the way, to think, means to muse. When an “a” is placed in front of words like muse it negates (makes it opposite) that word. Thus, to be a-mused is to “stop thinking”.)
¶ And now, O sons, listen to me,
and be attentive to the words of my mouth.
If you want to think more deeply and clearly, you’ll need to be able to manage your distractions and train yourself to stay focused. Keep reading to discover how.
¶ Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
First Corinthians 14:20
3. Spiritual Blindness – After the Fall of mankind’s parents from innocence there was an ironic description of what happened to them when the text states, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Gen. 3:7a). Yet, in reality, they became spiritually blind!
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Second Corinthians 4:4
Mankind’s ability to think clearly and deeply about spiritual matters is now impaired due to our spiritual blindness. The apostle Paul in writing to the Romans in the opening chapter of his epistle states even though “what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Rom. 1:19) they refuse to acknowledge or see it even though this “[has] been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world” (Rom. 1:20). This helps us to understand why so many people deny reality and fail to accept the truth about the God of the Bible being the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Judge.
[Jesus said] This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
If anyone wants to think more deeply and clearly, they’ll need to be healed of their spiritual blindness. Keep reading to discover how.
HOW GOD HAS ENABLED US TO ONCE AGAIN BE ABLE TO THINK DEEP AND CLEARLY
I do not want anyone to think that I am suggesting that in order to be a Christian, or even a good person, you have to be a genius thinker. Not at all. But neither do I want people to think that being or becoming a Christian means embracing irrational (silly) thinking. We are meant to love God with all of our hearts and minds (Matt. 22:37). C.S. Lewis went on to say in Mere Christianity that thinking was a ‘cardinal virtue’. “The word ‘cardinal’ has nothing to do with ‘Cardinals’ in the Roman Church. It comes from a Latin word meaning ‘the hinge of a door’. These were called ‘cardinal’ virtues because they are, as we should say, ‘pivotal’” (pg. 76). Lewis calls thinking “prudence”. He echoes the Apostle Paul’s comments in First Corinthians 14:20 when he writes, “He [God] wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim” (pg. 77).
¶ Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
First Corinthians 14:20
The good news is that even if you did not do very well at school, or have always struggled to read a book, or find life too hectic to be able to take time to think clearly and deeply, God has done two great things that can help enable you to improve how you think.
In his outstanding book, Person of Interest, former atheist and cold-case homicide detective, J. Warner Wallace, graphically documents a major turning point in world history when the trickle of philosophy, art, music, literature, and education suddenly became a torrent. His book documents how even world religious thought all point to the same of ‘person of interest’, which the fuse all points to.
The first thing that God has done to begin to reverse the thinking impairment of mankind’s Fall from Innocence was sending and incarnating His Son into our world. Jesus was the most intelligent, wise, insightful person who has ever walked the planet. He was unimpaired by a lack of knowledge. He knew (and knows) everything (John 1:48; 2:24-25; 6:61, 64). He was unimpaired by pride (Matt. 11:29). He was prepared to listen to the teaching of other and engage with them (Luke 2:46). He was unimpaired by any distraction and gave His full attention to what really mattered (eg. John 4:7-26). And He was unimpaired by spiritual blindness because He was “without sin” (John 8:46).
J. Warner Wallace does an outstanding job detailing how that it was only after Jesus came that knowledge exploded wherever the gospel went. The knowledge of Jesus revolutionised the study of science, mathematics, philosophy, literature — and even other world religions (which each modified their beliefs in some ways to accommodate what Jesus taught!). The arrival of Jesus on the scene did one cataclysmic thing: He exposed the lie and revealed the truth. To put that a different way, He shed light where there had only ever been darkness.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it...He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through Him.
John 1:4-5, 7
The “light” that Jesus shed was not just restricted to religious or philosophical ideas. Wallace documents the rate of scientific discoveries and concludes that the light that Christ shed into the enlightened hearts of His followers dramatically led an exponential rise in scientific research and discoveries.
And in case you think that this might just be a coincidence, Wallace asks the same question and states, “But instead, Jesus appeared just before the growth curve began. Was this a coincidence or was Jesus somehow a catalyst? The incremental steps in the curve may provide us with a few clues” (Wallace, J. Warner. Person of Interest (p. 181. Zondervan, Kindle Edition) and goes on to show why this was no mere coincidence. Here’s what we should learn from this: Spend time with Jesus in His Word and in prayer and the light of His truth will shine increasingly brighter in your heart enabling you to ‘see’ things you may not ever seen or understood before. This is how you can begin to think deeper and more clearly.
¶ So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him,
“If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
2. THE HOLY SPIRIT
The second thing that God has done to begin to reverse the thinking impairment of mankind’s Fall from Innocence was the sending of the Holy Spirit into the world from the first day of Pentecost after Jesus physically rose from the dead.
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper,
to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive,
because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.
You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
Jesus said that after He would return to His Father He would send the Holy Spirit who would teach followers “all things” (John 14:26) because the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (John 15:26) who lead Christ’s followers into “all truth” (John 16:13). The very things that impair our ability to think are the very things that the Holy Spirit works into the mind and soul of Christ followers. These include: humility (a readiness to admit and own mistakes and confess them); teachability (the Spirit-filled believer is open to being taught and strives to learn from others – even from the writings of Christ followers who lived long ago); and, prayerfulness (the Spirit will lead the child of God into times of quiet reflection, stillness, and grant him or her an ability to meditate or concentrate well). Here’s what we should learn from this: Spend time with Jesus in His Word and in prayer and the Holy Spirit of truth will increasingly shape and enable you to step away from life distractions and all its noise into a quiet place where things you may not ever seen or understood before now become clearer. This is how you can begin to think deeper and more clearly. I close with the Apostle Paul’s injunction to Timothy-
Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
Second Timothy 2:7
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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