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Aug 6 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

August 4, 2019


(I’m going to play a mean trick on you by quoting this particular passage from the King James Version of the Bible.)
Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. Romans 7:13-20 (KJV)

Intro: I wonder if Paul intended this passage to frustrate its readers

Paul describes a frustrating struggle, a losing battle with himself
– suppose he wanted his readers to feel that frustration for themselves
• if so, Dr. Seuss could not have done a better job of creating confusion
• however, my guess is that Paul wrote it in a state of frustration
– early on, he had put every effort into living a sinless life
• but every time he thought he had achieved it,
◦ a new sin sprouted in some area of his life
• if he spent his entire time with nothing other than God’s law,
◦ even the law introduced him to sins he had not known existed

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. (vv. 7-8)
. . . through the law comes knowledge of sin (Ro. 3:20)

• my guess is that when Paul brought this old struggle back to mind,
◦ he re-lived the experience of frustration it created for him
◦ then he wrote in the intensity of that frustration

If we were to put a modern label on Paul’s struggle,
– we might say he was conflicted – at war with himself
• other terms come to mind, such as:
◦ fragmented, compartmentalized, “dis-integrated,” dis-connected
– “the flesh” Paul refers to is another term for the old self (Ro. 6:6)
• or the brain’s old owner’s manual
(last week, Steve Pereira said “operation manual,” which I think I prefer)
• the flesh cannot be integrated with our spirit
◦ therefore, its old neural circuits must be pruned

Every significant problem is the result of a broken connection

We’ll track this statement for next two or three weeks
– but today, we’ll stick with the brain
• Paul’s conflicted state indicates a internal disconnection
(between spirit and flesh)

Joseph LeDoux explains how the brain “holds the self together.” He says, “The bottom line is simple: Functions depend on connections; break the connections and you lose the functions.”
He mentions a term coined by Norman Geshwind, “disconnection syndromes”–that is, disorders that result from a break in communication between different structures in the brain.

◦ there are many reasons we split-off parts of ourselves
◦ our past, or emotions, or why we repress certain needs or feelings
• these internal contradictions diminish and interfere with life

Abraham Maslow wrote, “Isolating two interrelated parts of a whole from each other, parts that need each other, parts that are truly ‘parts’ and not wholes, distorts them both, sickens and contaminates them.”

◦ we need all parts working together to be ourselves
◦ otherwise, as James said,
a double-minded person is unstable in all his or her ways (Jas. 1:8)

Maslow asks, “If ‘heaven’ is always available, ready to step into . . . is always a possibility for any serious and thoughtful person . . . . What prevents this from happening?.” He answers that it is “a state in which we are not ‘fully functioning,’ not at our best, not fully human, not sufficiently integrated.”

A key function of the brain’s new operation manual is integration

Previously I have quoted from Johann Hari’s book Lost Connections
– he suggests that lost connections are the primary causes of anxiety and depressive disorders
• in his chapter on the brain, he describes how it is changed by broken connections
• but he adds “reconnection can change it back”
– according to Daniel Siegel, the key to mental health is integration
• he lists “eight domains of integration”
◦ the first six have to do with brain’s operation manual
(we’ll get to the other two next week

  1. The integration of consciousness
    • this is the opposite of being scatter-brained
    ◦ distracted by too many competing thoughts
    • integration occurs when we can focus our attention on one thing
    Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary (Lk. 10:41-42)
  2. Horizontal integration
    • by this, he is referring to the brain’s two hemispheres
    • the right hemisphere:
    ▫ is more directly connected to the limbic system, brain stem, and body
    ▫ it is less concerned with rules and more concerned with feelings
    ▫ the right hemisphere is the artist, the poet, the dreamer
    • the left hemisphere:
    ▫ has less direct communication with what goes on happening below it
    ▫ its functions are logical, sequential, it is “a list maker,” and looks for cause and effect
    ▫ the left hemisphere is the scientist, the engineer, the thinker
  3. Vertical integration
    • connecting everything below the neck to everything above
    ◦ skin, muscles, bones, organs send signals upward
    ◦ trauma can block those signals
    ▫ but we can also repress those signals by self-discipline
    ▫ we can refuse to listen to what our body is trying to tell us
  4. Memory integration
    • explicit memory – what we can bring into awareness
    • implicit – what is buried in the unconscious
    ◦ the brain’s automatic, habitual reactions
    ◦ sometimes healing requires some of the hidden stuff to be brought to surface
    • the integration of explicit and implicit memory relates to next domain
  5. Narrative memory
    • normal memory consists of stories
    (that have a beginning, a middle, and an end)
    ◦ this is how we make sense of our lives, past and present
    • my mother’s childhood made no sense, and she kept much of it from us
    ◦ it wasn’t until she was in her fifties that her older sister told her,
    “Well, you know, Mom was schizophrenic”
    ◦ that’s when her childhood and teenage years began to make sense
    ▫ until then, an important and necessary piece was missing
  6. State integration
    • two mood states can occur at the same time
    ◦ then they tend to compete or conflict
    ◦ for instance, I may need solitude, but at same time I’m lonely

I am convinced that integration is a key theme in the Scriptures
– what was one of Jesus’ main concerns regarding his disciples?
you must not be like the hypocrites (Mt. 6:5)
• we’ll take a closer look at the biblical role of in integration later on
• for now we’ll merely note:
Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name
(Ps. 86:11)
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Mt. 5:8)
◦ the pure heart is a single heart, an integrated heart

Conclusion: How do we begin to move toward integration?

We have already begun moving that direction

Daniel Siegel, “How we focus our attention is the key to promoting integrative changes in the brain. With the integration of consciousness, we actually build the skills to stabilize attention so that we can harness the power of awareness to create choice and change.”

You integrate both hemispheres of brain when you
confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead . . . . For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved (Ro. 10:9-10)
– speech is mainly a left hemisphere function
– belief is mainly right hemisphere

Jesus Christ holds us together

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col. 1:16-17)

In Jesus, everything is redeemed, reconciled, healed, made whole
We spend time in silence with him,
our total attention focused on him
Then he takes the “many things” of our anxious hearts
and directs us to the one, necessary thing
that puts us back together

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