Because we are God’s children, created in His “image and likeness,” we know our thoughts and choose our intentions. And most of us, deep inside ourselves, have some sense of how this is done. As one neuroscience researcher wrote, “We consider that our minds generate the fundamental choice of action that the circuitry of our brains carry out” (Beauregard and O’Leary 29).
This distinction between brain and consciousness has always been in Christianity. Jesus cautions us about trying to “serve two masters” (Matt. 6:24). Referring to battling wills, Paul wrote: “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. (NIV Rom. 7:21-23).
The challenge for all of us is that the brain’s “circuitry,” the natural impulses and patterns that have evolved over millennia, resists the moral and spiritual choices of consciousness. That’s why Jesus Christ is so important. He is our advocate, standing with us as we battle “a house divided against itself” (Luke 11:17).