Why “walking in the Spirit” works. Three different explanations: Biblical, neurological, and non-technical. Yes, different explanations. But not unrelated. Jesus was already teaching on the need for replacement behaviors nearly 2000 years before the emergence of molecular and cellular neuroscience.
Why does “walking in the Spirit” work? The best and shortest answer? Because it is instruction coming directly from the Word of God (Galatians 5:16).
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).
Of course, “because the Bible says so” is the best answer. But for the benefit of those (author included) that receive a faith boost each time Scripture anticipates a scientific discovery, the question is rephrased (see next section).
From a neurological perspective, why does “walking in the Spirit” work? Let’s first hear noted psychiatrist and “neuroplastician” Dr. Norman Doidge’s take on mind renewal in the related case of persons with obsessive-compulsive brain disorders:
With this treatment we don’t so much “break” bad behaviors as replace bad behaviors with better ones .
Doidge’s take on mind renewal makes perfect brain-plasticity sense. The replacement behavior creates a new (better) brain circuit. In dopamine-related neuroscience discussions, “better” is equivalent to “more pleasurable.” That being said, if the brain’s owner does indeed find the replacement behavior to be more pleasurable, it will be repeated often. And each time it is repeated, the new (better) brain circuit strengthens. This new (better) circuit can now compete with the older (bad) one and eventually replace it.
Neurologically speaking, “walking in the Spirit” works according to these same principles. “Walking in the Spirit” works by replacing bad behaviors with better and more pleasurable ones. The bad experience of viewing porn is replaced with the better and more pleasurable experience of immersing oneself in the Spirit-anointed, flesh-diffusing apps.
Not surprisingly, nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus was already teaching on the need for replacement behaviors. His parable on the need to fill voids left by the departure of unclean spirits still rings true today. The house swept clean and put in order. But if left empty, the voids will eventually be filled by spirits even more wicked than the first (Matthew 12:43-45). An eerily similar description of the porn addict trying to quit his habit cold turkey. Only to find himself caught up in a seemingly endless series of escalating binge-and-purge cycles.
Neuroplasticity, dopamine, and Spirit-anointed apps. Heady stuff indeed. Might there be a simpler, non-technical explanation for why “walking in the Spirit” works?
I become addicted to porn by repeatedly immersing myself in porn.
I become addicted to the Spirit by repeatedly immersing myself in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).
This new (better) circuit that is being created now competes with the older (bad) one. In time it will eventually replace it. For me, it really was that simple. Perhaps for you too, dear reader.
A GAME-CHANGING BOOK HAS ARRIVED
In A Way of Escape, readers learn how to renew their minds by repeatedly immersing themselves in Spirit-saturated replacement behaviors. Readers learn how to step up the degree to which they “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). They learn how to build a library of Spirit-anointed, flesh-diffusing apps. Apps that are uniquely fitted to them, and their unique Spirit-filling triggers (Ephesians 5:18b-19).
The still-struggling now have another option. The still-struggling now have fresh hope for discovering that long-sought-after way of escape from sin and temptation (I Corinthians 10:13). A way that—because it is wholly Spirit-powered—does not require enlisting the aid of an accountability partner or group. Truly, a game-changer!
1. Doidge, N., The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, First Printing, Penguin Books, New York, NY, page 170, 2007