Learning Activity # 81 – The Brain VS. The Mind

On this web site I have been making references to the following scripture:

1. “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

For many years I have spent time thinking about the word “mind” that is used in that text and elsewhere in the Scripture. I know that many Christians believe that the mind is another name for the brain, but I have never been satisfied with that belief nor can I find biblical proof that it is so. It also bothered me that the Bible never uses the word brain anywhere in the text nor is there a Koine Greek word for “brain” while there is a number of Greek words that are used for the word “mind.”

The Greek text of Romans 12:2 appears below.

                                               Left click mouse on graphic to enlarge it.

In the verse above the Greek word “noos” #3563 is translated as “mind.” Let’s take a look at what this word has as a meaning.

The concordance definition above is a bit overwhelming, but there is another “mind” verse that tends to give me some direction as to what the meaning may be in the situation we are looking at.

2. “and be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (Ephesians 4:23).

So, a connection surfaces by the use of “spirit” and our “minds” and that very verse appears above under Section b “reason” in the last line of that Section. The spirit, in that same Section states that the spirit is involved in the renewal of our minds. That gives us a reason to believe that this mind being spoken about is NOT a physical biological organ (i.e. like the brain is), but could be a spiritual entity. This makes additional sense when we refer to the graphic that was used in Learning Activity #11 which I have inserted below.

In the illustration above, the outer ring depicts the physical body of an individual. We know that this part of man consists of such things as water, tissue, a framework of bones, and a number of organs along with a supply of blood. The body is often referred to as the flesh. The Bible has a number of things to say about the flesh.

3. I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50, RSV).

The verse above informs us that the body (flesh and blood) is NOT compatible with eternal life! It also states that the body is perishable, which we all know from our basic biology education.

4. “…till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19, RSV).

5. “All go to one place; all are from dust, and all turn to dust again” (Ecclesiastes 3:20, RSV).

Passage 4 and 5 above tell us the ultimate resting place for our human bodies – they turn to dust! End of story.

The soul, however, is a completely different entity and as the illustration shows is made up of mind, emotions and will. Now right off we can see that these are not biological entities so what are they? They are spiritual entities and do not go to dust with the body because they are immaterial in nature. Have you ever heard of someone preserving their emotions in a vial of formaldehyde? No! Because you can’t find any material object in the body that represents the emotions. Since these “items” are spiritual in nature they are eternal if that person has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul does make a connection between the mind and the body.

6. “but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members” (Romans 7:23,NIV).

It looks hopeless for Paul but look at the solution he gives just two verses later!

7. “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25, NIV).

There is Paul’s answer, as well as our answer to the dilemma! By now from studying the material on this web site you already knew it would be, and always is, Christ and Christ alone is the answer!

Luke also gives us some insight:

8. “Then he (Jesus) opened their minds to understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:45).

Luke was a physician (Colossians 4:14) so it would appear logical that Luke was NOT referring to dissecting a physical organ of the body to bring about this event! It makes sense that he is referring to something that is a spiritual part of the person.

I know that for some reading this Learning Activity that this subject is a bit illusive to our understanding. But let me add some additional thoughts here that could be of help.

The Old Testament does shed some light on our topic. The word “mind” is translated from the Hebrew words: “reins,” and “kidneys.”  I kid you not! (Joke).

What do “reins” do for us? Reins control, lead and direct action. Reins guide and make a horse do what the rider wants. Without reins a horse will go where it wants to go and the same is true of our bodies! Our minds are similar to reins because they can guide us and direct our lives in a godly manner (if the mind has been renewed). God is at work in us to lead and guide us through the mind of Christ which the scripture says in within us.

9. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16, RSV).

10. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5, RSV).

We as believers have this mind of Christ revealed to us by His Spirit living within us! We are no longer controlled by the old sinful nature but by walking in the Spirit by the Spirit who lives within us. We must reckon this to be so. Our minds are like the “reins” between our inner man and our physical bodies and what we manifest through our physical bodies is a result of how far along our minds have been renewed. Having the mind renewed means that we look at life through the point of view of God having His values and desires, thinking God’s thoughts and NOT as the world thinks along with humility, compassion and most of all dependence upon God to finish the good work He has begun in us!

The second Old Testament word that may help is the word “kidneys.” The biological kidneys filter out and eliminate wastes and harmful substances from our blood as well as to control and regulate blood flow (life giving) actions of our physical bodies. This is an analogy with the functions of the mind in this case filtering out hurts, resentments, unforgiveness and such while at the same time regulating what is being expressed to the world via our presence here on earth.

Here is an interesting bit of anatomical history. A famous neurosurgeon by the name of Wilder Penfield (1891-1976) made some very interesting discoveries during his career. Here is one of his many writings on the topic of the mind.

“If we believe that our mind exists independently of the brain, then that mind must be viewed as a basic element in itself….that is to say, it has continuing existence.” In other words, “if the mind is to survive death, (then) it must establish a connection with a source of energy other than that of the brain.” In an unbeliever, the mind has no “source of energy” to establish a connection with. In a believer, our regenerated spirit has a connection with another source of energy which is God’s Spirit! Therefore, our mind (reins, kidneys) will survive death just as is taught in the Bible!

Another more contemporary scientific article may also assist you in coming to my same conclusion. Please read the article inserted below by double left clicking your mouse on the link. Allow thirty-five seconds for the article to open. Only read the first two pages.

Scientists say your “mind’ isn’t confined to your brain, or even your body — Quartz

What all of this results in is that our minds are NOT our brains but a entire entity which is in communication with the Spirit that lives in our human spirit and results in life actions that are then produced in our souls and influence our physical body activities! This understanding is what gives us insight into the  1 Corinthians 2:16, “…we have the mind of Christ.” This is all tied into the renewing of our minds to be in agreement with God so that it will be God’s life that is being displayed to the world and NOT our own!

11. “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that ye may prove what is good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).

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