Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity

John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D

Copyright 1996, John H. Stoll

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Chapter 30 - The Bible and Psychology

Modern day cognitive (i.e. to know or perceive) psychology says that the important motivating aspect of life is what a person thinks, as well as how one feels. While it is good to think, and everyone should do it, the Bible says, "As a person thinks in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). In other words, what one thinks characterizes the individual, and if one's emphasis is on his feelings, that characterizes one selfishly (Proverbs 3:5,6), because one's thinking is pointed inward toward the fulfillment of the self.

Psychology has certain basic assumptions relative to mankind: 1) that people are both rational and irrational, 2) that people are as likely to believe a lie as well as the truth, 3) that people are predisposed to be creative in their thinking, as well as irrational and destructive in behavior, 4) that people's thinking is affected by external impressions both rational and irrational (e.g. media programs appeal to both right and wrong), 5) that people tend to think, then act, and 6) that behavioral problems can stem from unsubstantiated acts. These basic underlying assumptions color the way psychology impacts individuals, and counseling procedures.

When we turn to the Bible to see what its principles are relative to mankind's basic character and behaviors, we come to a more incisive penetrating foundation from the God who created all mankind, and who knows absolutely and best as to our makeup. Therefore, since He is the creator of our minds and how we think, it is imperative that we consider God's "handbook" of life the Bible, to evaluate how one should both think and feel.

It is not necessarily activating events that produce rational or irrational behavior, for there is an intervening belief about the event that comes in between.

A-----> B----------------------> C
(Event) (Belief about the event) (Behavior or emotions)

The person's "belief" is in control, not the "event" itself; therefore, it isn't the circumstances, but one's belief about the event that produces the behavior or emotion. What one believes, which is typical of one's character, is the dominating factor as to behavior or emotions.

When one studies the principles of the Bible, which are always an accurate barometer of mankind's thinking as well as a true guide to life, it is easy to understand why the Bible places so much emphasis on the "renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).

The Christian is commended to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5); to have a willing mind toward Godly things (II Corinthians 8:12); to be of the same mind in love toward others (Romans 12:16); and to realize that God has given to His children a sound mind to live reasonably (II Timothy 1:7). When one's mind is guided by Biblical principles, then any event in life will be processed through a Biblically principled mind. This will then produce the behavior/emotion that is God desired, as well as bringing maturity to the Christian.

The totality of God's salvation of His children includes a new nature (II Corinthians 5:17), as well as spiritual discernment to understand Biblical principles (especially see: John 16:13; I Corinthians 2:14; Colossians 2:8-10), so that as one goes through life he may experience the wholeness and fullness of cognitive/emotional health.

It is the responsibility of parents, pastors, teachers, counselors, etc., to get people to change their behaviors based on Biblical truth, for submission to the control of the Holy Spirit, who always directs the child of God into all the truth (John 16:13), is the means that God uses to change one's character. In this way individuals will arrive at balance and wholeness that is beneficial to life.

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