In my mind, I am happy with God’s law. But I see another law working in my body, which makes war against the law that my mind accepts. (NCV Rom. 7:22-23)
Christians spend a lot of time struggling with themselves, just as Paul is describing here. He identifies the two opposing sides as the “law working in my body” and “the law that my mind accepts.” Clearly, with what we now know, he was God-inspired to describe this distinction so clearly two thousand years ago.
This leads me to Mario Beauregard’s writing. With a background in psychology and neuroscience, he describes and studies the varying distinctions between our conscious mind and our brain. In one book he reviewed and evaluated research on the treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder, the placebo effect, mystical experiences, and “near death” experiences. One of his conclusions was that human beings have a “moral conscience” that is distinct from the brain’s “innate programming.” This gives human beings “the capacity for rational and ethical behaviors” (Beauregard and O’Leary 152).
And, as a Christian, I agree. It is our consciousness or mind—our human spirit—that encourages us to do the brave thing, even when our brain’s natural instinct is to run in terror. It is this spirit of consciousness that moves us to kindness when the brain’s more natural response might be retaliation. Where Beauregard and I might disagree is on the source of that consciousness. I see consciousness, the spirit of who we are, as our inheritance from God. Consciousness is the Creator’s “breath of life,” as a God-inspired Hebrew writer described it in Genesis (2:7).
Consciousness is the God-created place of our individuality—where we worship, where the Spirit of God speaks to us. Allowing for some well-documented and fairly dramatic exceptions, most of the time our companionship with Christ, the living Saviour, occurs in our conscious mind. That is where we embrace and are “happy with God’s law.”