Author: Ron Graham
The Influence of Intellect
—God expects us to reason with him
The third influence that motivates us to obey God is intellect. God says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts... As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are... my thoughts higher than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Yet we also read, "Come, let us reason together says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). God has given us intellect. We are capable of considering his thoughts, so our faith and obedience to him is an intelligent choice.
God does not want mindless faith and obedience. He expects us to reason with him, to think things through, to apply our intellect to his word, that we might reach the personal conviction that his ways are right.
1 Intellect Can Lead Us to Obey God
Paul used reason to persuade...
- He appealed to the intellectuals of Athens (Acts 17:26-29).
- He was also "reasoning" in order to persuade both Jews and Greeks in Corinth (Acts 18:4).
- In Paphos, Paul was summoned to preach the gospel to Sergius Paulus "a man of intelligence" (Acts 13:6-8). One would expect Sergius Paulus to use that intelligence in listening to Paul, not to suspend his intelligence.
Those passages show that God intends that people hear his word with their intellect and reasoning powers fully functioning, examining everything carefully (1Thessalonians 5:21, Acts 17:11).
God's revelation is addressed to a man or woman's mind. God has given each human being extraordinary ability to think. Even before hearing God's revelation in the gospel, one can acquire through intellect a basic belief in God and some understanding of his nature (Romans 1:16-22). The gospel gives us much more to think about, so as to achieve a complete faith and a much fuller understanding (Ephesians 1:15-19).
2 Intellect May Fail
We have noticed in other lessons that good influences can fail. Intellect is no exception. Intellect will fail if the owner of an intellect allows it to become darkened...
1. Intellect can become foolish. "Professing to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:22)
2. Intellect can become prejudiced and ignore evidence. "When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, they sneered" (Acts 17:32)
3. Intellect can become conceited. See Paul’s discourse on this (1Corinthians 1:26-29)
3 Building a Wise Intellect
How can we ensure that our intellects are leading us to faith and obedience toward God? How can we prevent our intellects from becoming darkened and foolish? There are at least three measures...
1. Prayer. Pray for wisdom from above (James 1:5-8, James 3:13-17).
2. Meditation. Let your mind dwell on good things (Philippians 4:8, 2Thessalonians 2:10-11).
3. Bible Study. Enlighten the intellect and convince it with the revealed word of the scriptures (2Timothy 3:14-17, John 1:1-4,9).