Walking into the office of one of our prominent surgeons, I found him reading with interest from a large volume. He told me that he had an operation to perform in a few minutes, and while he was waiting he was just reviewing what he would find inside the incision, so that he would be able to work with the greatest efficiency.
There is a lesson here for the surgeon of the soul for us who operate with the sword of the Spirit upon the mind and heart, severing from the soul that which prevents spiritual health. Have we spent all our time studying the sword and failed to study the mind and heart of the one to whom we are to minister? What does the sword of the Word of God do, or better still, what can it do in the skilled hands of the soul surgeon?
Let us look at the mind and give it a little study. We will then know how we might better use the sword of the Spirit.
In our ministry we often speak of "convincing the mind," of "reaching" or "converting" the heart. Yet if we were to define the heart, as used in this sense, or the mind, we would find it a difficult task. This difficulty is shared by the physician also. The physician, and even some laymen, might not hesitate to draw a picture of the brain, but the mind seems a little abstract to put on paper. It seems to be more than merely the brain. It is a combination of the brain plus that spark of life from God that makes it function in thinking, reasoning, remembering. It is more than this too, for the very thoughts, memories, conation (power of the will), and habits of reasoning become part of the mind, as we shall see. It is this intricate, living combination that makes up our individual characters and personalities. It is a mystery of God that He alone can fully understand, but one which we, as His doctors of the soul, would do well to learn something about; for it is the mind, this intricate, living, and delicate combination of thoughts, memories, and reasoning habits, into which we must insert the sword of the Word.
We might do some reasoning here and decide that after all it is the Spirit that does the work; our part is to apply the Word. This is very true, but not all the truth. It is the Spirit that does the healing in a physical operation, but how much greater the success and quicker the healing when the instruments are skillfully applied! Because the Great Physician does the healing, we do not sit back and teach our surgeons only how to sharpen the instruments and polish them.
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Heb. 4:12.
This instrument that God has placed in our hands is a powerful instrument, capable of doing great and marvelous things. The greater the skill and consecration of the user, the more unbounded become the capabilities and power of the Word.
The mind is divided into two main divisions, conscious and subconscious.* The subconscious is usually represented as larger than the conscious, or as one writer has stated, it contains more unexplored territory than the earth's sur face. The conscious mind is that out of which we live day by day. It is here we make our decisions. It is here all impressions are first felt.
Impressions, or stimuli, enter this conscious mind by means of our five senses; that is, through one of these senses (sight, hearing, feel ing, taste, smell) something is registered on our conscious mind. If a stimulus continues long enough and makes a great enough impression, it becomes impressed on the subconscious mind also.
We might illustrate this by baby sister, who toddles over to the big black object in the kitchen (the stove) and places her hand on it, only to pull that hand away and run screaming to mother. Mother in turn cuddles her, kisses it, makes a great ado over it, and places a big bandage on the hand. This bandage is worn for several days. Baby sister receives a tremendous impression. Several weeks later baby sister walks up to a big black object, starts to put her hand out, and suddenly pulls it away, and stands back at a respectful distance, for up from the subconscious has come the thought that big black objects are likely to burn. Baby sister's behavior has become conditioned as the result of the impression made by the big black object in her environment. Thus, to some extent, we as adults have a character, a behavior pattern, a thought pattern, largely determined by those things in our associations, our environments, that made the greatest impressions upon the subconscious mind. That is, our reactions, our acts and behavior, our reasoning patterns, are controlled largely by these impressions that have conditioned the subconscious mind in its reaction to outside stimuli.
Let us pause a moment to consider a question that may have arisen in the reader's mind: "What about the power of choice?" Notice we have used the terms "largely determined" by the things in our environments, and "largely controlled" by these impressions. We have used these terms purposely in order to leave room for the will, which plays the very important part of being the determining factor.
"The tempted one needs to understand the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man." Ministry of Healing, p. 176.
We certainly need to impress parents with the importance of the environment they make for their children. The environment, as it enters into our lives by way of the senses, is a series of stimuli. Each individual chooses his own re action to the stimuli by means of the will as it is exercised in the conscious part of our mind. It is the resultant choice and the aftereffects that make the impression on the subconscious. The conscious mind must also deal with the re actions of the subconscious mind to incoming stimuli.
An illustration will make this clear. An ambassador in a foreign country cables the president about a situation that demands an immediate important decision. (The stimulus.) The president (conscious mind) calls his cabinet (subconscious mind) together. The cabinet be gins to react out of its past experience, tossing up suggestions. The president makes his decision, having considered these suggestions from the cabinet, his own thought, and the need. The decision in turn goes down in history, to become a reacting influence in making future decisions.
If the president in his own personal character growth is a weak individual (because of his choices in the past), he becomes largely controlled by his cabinet. Just so the individual who fails to exercise his will becomes the slave to his subconscious, where Satan takes up his seat in the old nature. He becomes a slave to the fears, the temptations, or whatever the conditioned thought pattern of the subconscious may be.
It is in this intricate array of thought pat terns in the subconscious, the old nature, where Satan takes his seat, and it is into this intricate array that the soul surgeon must insert the sword of the Word to bring about a healing which is a change of that old nature, a renewing in such a way that the thought patterns and reasoning patterns are brought into harmony with the divine. How this can be accomplished we will discuss next month.
(To be continued)
* These terms are used here to designate what we so famil iarly consider as states of awareness and unawareness.