Archived Story

Holy impact of mental parameters

Published 3:55pm Monday, July 11, 2011

By REV. GEORGE HOLLIS / Guest Columnist

Romans 7:15-17, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.”

With more people learning how our brains work, these comments by St. Paul are becoming more understandable. Paul did not have books to read written by brilliant a neurologists like David Eagleman, “Incognito: The Secrete Lives of the Brain” or David Rock, “Your Brain at Work,” but he did have the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to give him this introspection. St. Augustine, author of “Confessions” was another person who had this level of introspection.

The unconscious parts of our brains are putting forward every second thousands of competing choices of behavior. Our consciousness is giving our brains parameters to work within, such as: Do not go to jail; stay within these laws; people must see you as a winner; cheat but do not get caught; and on it goes.

If our unconscious sees that we do not feel strongly about a parameter, it may even put forward a behavior that violates this weak parameter, such as, even if you get caught, the penalty is acceptable.

If you have given the Holy Spirit permission to influence the parameters directing your unconscious, you may experience a change in your behavior. By way of the Holy Spirit, if only behavior that is loving, kind, humble, inclusive and honest is acceptable, then the behavior that comes from your unconscious will meet these parameters.

While evil options are always at hand, praise God, by accepting the Holy Spirit as our guide in life, we can deny the bad and live joyfully as children of God.

The Rev. George Hollis is pastor at Cahaba Valley Church. You may reach him at

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