The Mind of Man

Neal A. Maxwell wrote:

The mind is a natural battlefield. Because the word of God is “more powerful” than anything else, it only adds to the fierceness of the fray (Alma 31:5). The requirement inherent in agency remains: “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind: (Romans 14:5).

Some warning signs are posted. People think they are wise when they are learned, so they decide not to heed the counsel of God (2 Nephi 9:28-29). Likewise, a mind can spurn the “plain and precious things” in favor of sophistry, or by favoring complexity (1 Nephi 13:28; Jacob 4:14). King Benjamin was quick to see this and warned that we must realize we cannot comprehend all the things God comprehends (Mosiah 4:9). The mind can otherwise have difficulty getting “outside the box” unless revelation is accepted, as when Moses learned things he “never had supposed” (Moses 1:10).

The mind can become “hardened in pride” (Daniel 5:20; Habakuk 1:11). And it can also engage in self-deception, as Korihor finally acknowledged (Alma 30:48-50). The mind can let itself become defensively compartmentalized, a fortress astride the path to faith.

Insulating part of the mind violates Jesus’ injunction, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37; emphasis added). God is fully aware of our thought processes. “Thus saith the Lord. . . for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them” Ezekiel 11:5).

An active mind can be submissive without being passive: “Be ye transformed by the renewing of you mind, that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2; Alma 32).

Hence the great importance of searching  and receiving God’s word: the scriptures, revelation, and living prophets. If we exclude these superb sources, then our database is dramatically shrunken and we will end up surveying the inside of so many small envelopes. The latter is hardly an adequate response to the Prophet Joseph’s invitation: “The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! If thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. . . . None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. 1  ~Neal A. Maxwell, Whom the Lord Loveth (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003), 145-47

Note  1. Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City; Deseret Book, 1976, 137.

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