Summary: Does what a person repeatedly think about, and how they think about it, determine who they are becoming?
There has been a growing belief within Christianity that started with the ‘power of positive thinking/word of faith’ movements that what a person repeatedly thinks about, and how they think about it, will determine who they are becoming, and it is quoted as neuroscience fact, which it is not. Neuroscience is a convergence of physics, biology, chemistry, biophysics, biochemistry, pharmacology, and psychology, with the specific focus on the nervous system.
Within Neuroscience is a whole wing that has morphed into neuroscientism, which is a convergence of philosophy and mysticism that makes many claims but it has very little to say scientifically about most aspects of actual human consciousness, nor does it provide empirical data that helps in the clear understanding of the conditions that are sufficient and necessary for behavior and awareness.
Below are a couple of quotes that virtually convey the same belief about thoughts;
“Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think.”
“Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought.”
I can assure you Jesus didn’t say them, nor did any of the writers of the Bible. They were said by the eastern mystic, Gautama Buddha.
The Bible says the complete opposite; the human “heart”.. “is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” it cannot be trusted (Jer 17:9-10 KJV). That is why the Born-Again Christian in implored to bring into captivity every thought to obey Jesus (2 Cor 10:5).
The word “heart” used in Jer 17:9 is the Hebrew word “leb” which is considered the center of everything, including thoughts, and is used figuratively and often for human feelings, the will, and even the intellect. The “heart” of fallen human beings is the place where sin comes from (Matt 15:19-20; 7:21-23).
There is a widely held belief that the following verse “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..” (Prov 23:7 KJV) means that human beings have the power to visualize and shape their reality and then manifest a new creation from the probabilities of their thoughts. Some even believe under the erroneous guise of Quantum Physics, that they can mentally turn thoughts into physical matter in a given place and time, and create their life experience physically, financially, relationally, emotionally and spiritually. However, the Bible says the complete opposite.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8-9 NIV)
In the original Hebrew, Proverbs 23:7-8 is very different. It says “for he is like one who is inwardly calculating." Eat and drink!" he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words.” (ESV)
The verse is actually saying that a mean, cheap and stingy person watches every mouthful of food his guest eats in bitter resentment as he counts what it is costing him. It is very clear that it has nothing to do with thoughts changing or shaping reality.
Jesus taught that the way a person physically treats another is how they will be treated and not how they think about another will determine how they will be thought about (Matt 7:12).
It is true that thoughts are very important because they can INFLUENCE and AFFECT reality, (i.e., one’s health, attitude, behavior, success or failure). They can also create the perceived SUBJECTIVE mental reality by how a person positively or negatively reacts to their surroundings or events, but they cannot create their own OBJECTIVE physical reality and control time and space, or matter or even people. That would make them co-equal with Jesus, which no human being is or ever could be.
As a child, I longed to fly like a bird. I loved the comic character Superman because he could fly and walk through solid walls. One day, in my youthful enthusiasm and expectation, I became absolutely convinced I could fly so I wrapped one of my Moms’ skirts around my neck, climbed up on the roof of our house, and proceeded to “fly” off of it because I truly believed without a shadow of a doubt I could! That did not work out too well as the law of gravity chose a different path for me - straight down onto the ground below!
Undeterred, I then decided to attempt to walk through a wall, just like Superman, by pushing my body against it and focusing my mind on getting me through. To my astonishment that did not work, but I was so certain in my mind that I could, I decided to make another attempt by running full speed down the hall and straight into the wall! Shortly after regaining consciousness I decided that I was not going to try that again!