How about the brain? Where does it fit into the scheme of things. The brain is an organ of the mind. It is the organ which integrates soul and body and the external world. The brain as the most complex part of the body allows the body to adapt to its environment and to interact with it.
It supports the survival of the physical body. It has very powerful functions that must be controlled by the heart and mind. The brain has the capacity to take input from all the senses and creates an integrated but simplified view of the world. It contains an incredibly complex network of physical connections that allow us to respond to the ever changing environment almost automatically. It is where the instincts necessary for our survival are stored. It contains the means for regulation all the bodily functions. You can think of it as the manager of the body and its functions. Its focus is on the body and its needs and desires (passions). Without the higher mind humans would be no different than other animals only acting out of instinct. With the grace of God through the heart, the mind points the body towards God and His commandment of love. This is our purpose, to seek union with God so we can orient our whole being to God and carry out His will.
The spiritual path involves keeping things in their proper order: God, soul, mind, heart and then body. Our human struggle involves the condition where the body has taken priority an
d the depth of the heart is unknown and ignored. The body pursues its pleasures, which become passions, blocking us from a life of love as Jesus taught. This separation from God is what is called our sinful state.
The basic problem
Paul says in his letter to the Romans,
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (Rom 7:18 -23)
So why are we stuck to do that which we do not want to do? How has evil captured our bodies and dominated our soul? We can find some clues in recent studies of the brain and what we know about how it functions.
In its many connections of neurons through trillions of synapses the brain has etched in it patterns that allow us to respond quickly to our environment. In these connections are captured responses that you need to change if you are going to be able to follow the
commands of the Lord. The devil knows your weaknesses and continually temps you based on these almost automatic responses.
Homer Simpson’s brain shown here characterizes the problem. Encoded in the array of connections are all of our desires along with our responses if we are denied them. You simply can’t let the brain as a part of your body to dominate your actions. You need to modify some of the brain’s programming to be able to overcome your sinfulness. You have to struggle to put the soul in charge.
You can look at your sinful tendency in two ways. First, it is the devil who tempts you. Second, it is your mental programming that produces automatic responses which are called your passions.
Next: The Passions