Mind, Character and Personality/The Influence of Perception
A Law in Intellectual and Spiritual Worlds—It is a law both of the intellectual and the spiritual nature that by beholding we become changed. The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell. It becomes assimilated to that which it is accustomed to love and reverence.—The Great Controversy, 555 (1888).
Beholding Evil Corrupted Antediluvians—By beholding evil, men became changed into its image, until God could bear with their wickedness no longer, and they were swept away by the flood.—Special Testimonies On Education, 43, 44 , May 11, 1896. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 421, 422.)
Changed for the Better—Looking unto Jesus we obtain brighter and more distinct views of God, and by beholding we become changed. Goodness, love for our fellowmen, becomes our natural instinct. We develop a character which is the counterpart of the divine character. Growing into His likeness, we enlarge our capacity for knowing God. More and more we enter into fellowship with the heavenly world, and we have continually increasing power to receive the riches of the knowledge and wisdom of eternity.—Christ’s Object Lessons, 355 (1900). (p.332)
Changed for the Worse—It is by beholding that we become changed. And as those sacred precepts in which God has opened to men the perfection and holiness of His character are neglected and the minds of the people are attracted to human teachings and theories, what marvel that there has followed a decline of living piety in the church. Saith the Lord, “They have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).—The Great Controversy, 478 (1911).
Life Is Changed by Seeing—The Word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11). The heart preoccupied with the Word of God is fortified against Satan. Those who make Christ their daily companion and familiar friend will feel that the powers of an unseen world are all around them, and by looking unto Jesus they will become assimilated to His image. By beholding they become changed to the divine pattern; their character is softened, refined, and ennobled for the heavenly kingdom.—Testimonies for the Church 4:616 (1881).
Selective Perception—God does not wish us to hear all that is to be heard or to see all that is to be seen. It is a great blessing to close the ears that we hear not, and the eyes that we see not. The greatest anxiety should be to have clear eyesight to discern our own shortcomings and a quick ear to catch all needed reproof and instruction, lest by our inattention and carelessness we let them slip and become forgetful hearers and not doers of the work.—Testimonies for the Church 1:707, 708 (1868).
Keeping Powers of Perception Alert—If you are called upon to attend a council meeting, ask yourself whether your perceptive faculties are in a proper condition to weigh evidence. If you are not in a proper condition, if your brain is confused, you have no right to take (p.333) part in the meeting. Are you fractious? Is your temper sweet and fragrant, or is it so disturbed and disagreeable that you will be led to make hasty decisions? Do you feel as though you would like to fight someone? Then do not go to the meeting; for if you go you will surely dishonor God.
Take an ax and chop wood or engage in some physical exercise until your spirit is mild and easy to be entreated. Just as surely as your stomach is creating a disturbance in your brain, your words will create a disturbance in the assembly. More trouble is caused by disturbed digestive organs than many realize.— Manuscript 62, 1900. (.)
Perception Influenced by Physical Habits Controlled by Conscience—Those who would have clear minds to discern Satan’s devices must have their physical appetites under the control of reason and conscience. The moral and vigorous action of the higher powers of the mind are essential to the perfection of Christian character. And the strength or the weakness of the mind has very much to do with our usefulness in this world and with our final salvation.—The Review and Herald, September 8, 1874. (Messages to Young People, 236, 237.)
Exercise Improves Perception—Brain and muscle must be taxed proportionately if health and vigor are to be maintained. The youth can then bring to the study of the Word of God healthy perception and well-balanced nerves. They will have wholesome thoughts and can retain the precious things that are brought from the Word. They will digest its truths and as a result will have brain power to discern what is truth. Then, as occasion demands, they can give to every man that asks a reason of the hope that is in them with meekness and fear.—Testimonies for the Church 6:180 (1900).
Increasing Perfection Increases Perception—The nearer man approaches to moral perfection, the keener (p.334) are his sensibilities, the more acute is his perception of sin, and the deeper his sympathy for the afflicted.—The Great Controversy, 570 (1911). Grief Dimmed Mary’s Perception—Then she turned away, even from the angels, thinking that she must find someone who could tell her what had been done with the body of Jesus. Another voice addressed her, “Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?” Through her tear-dimmed eyes Mary saw the form of a man, and thinking that it was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away.”—The Desire of Ages, 790 (1898).
Perceived Jesus by His Voice—But now in His own familiar voice Jesus said to her, “Mary.” Now she knew that it was not a stranger who was addressing her, and turning she saw before her the living Christ. In her joy she forgot that He had been crucified. Springing toward Him, as if to embrace His feet, she said, “Rabboni.”—The Desire of Ages, 790 (1898).
Appetite Deadens Perceptive Faculties—The world’s Redeemer knew that indulgence of appetite was bringing physical debility and deadening the perceptive faculties so that sacred and eternal things could not be discerned. He knew that self-indulgence was perverting the moral powers and that man’s great need was conversion—in heart and mind and soul, from the life of self-indulgence to one of self-denial and self-sacrifice.— Letter 158, 1909.
Sins Dim Perception—It is sin that darkens our minds and dims our perceptions. As sin is purged from our hearts, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, illuminating His Word and reflected from the face of nature, more and more fully will declare Him “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and (p.335) abundant in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6). In His light shall we see light, until mind and heart and soul are transformed into the image of His holiness.—The Ministry of Healing, 464, 465 (1905).
Perceptive Powers Beclouded—Pride, self-love, selfishness, hatred, envy, and jealousy have beclouded the perceptive powers.—Testimonies for the Church 2:605 (1871).
How Christ Met Perceptions Dulled by Sin—Christ stooped to take upon Himself human nature that He might reach the fallen race and lift them up. But the minds of men had become darkened by sin, their faculties were benumbed and their perceptions dulled, so that they could not discern His divine character beneath the garb of humanity. This lack of appreciation on their part was an obstacle to the work which He desired to accomplish for them; and in order to give force to His teaching He was often under the necessity of defining and defending His position.
By referring to His mysterious and divine character, He sought to lead their minds into a train of thought which would be favorable to the transforming power of truth. Again, He used the things of nature with which they were familiar to illustrate divine truth. The soil of the heart was thus prepared to receive the good seed. He made His hearers feel that His interests were identified with theirs, that His heart beat in sympathy with them in their joys and griefs. At the same time they saw in Him the manifestation of power and excellence far above that possessed by their most-honored rabbis.
The teachings of Christ were marked with a simplicity, dignity, and power heretofore unknown to them, and their involuntary exclamation was, “Never man spake like this man.” The people listened to Him gladly.—Testimonies for the Church 5:746, 747 (1889).
Uncontrolled Passions Injure Perceptive Faculties—The lower passions are to be strictly guarded. The perceptive (p.336) faculties are abused, terribly abused, when the passions are allowed to run riot. When the passions are indulged, the blood, instead of circulating to all parts of the body, thereby relieving the heart and clearing the mind, is called in undue amount to the internal organs. Disease comes as the result. The man cannot be healthy until the evil is seen and remedied.— Letters from Ellen G. White to Sanitarium Workers 15, April 3, 1900, 18. (Counsels on Health, 587.)
The Mind Can Be Educated to Accept Sin—A long preparatory process, unknown to the world, goes on in the heart before the Christian commits open sin. The mind does not come down at once from purity and holiness to depravity, corruption, and crime. It takes time to degrade those formed in the image of God to the brutal or the satanic. By beholding we become changed. By the indulgence of impure thoughts man can so educate his mind that sin which he once loathed will become pleasant to him.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 459 (1890).
Powers Become Playthings of the Enemy—God gives no permission to man to violate the laws of his being. But man, through yielding to Satan’s temptations to indulge intemperance, brings the higher faculties into subjection to the animal appetites and passions. When these gain the ascendency, man, who was created a little lower than the angels, with faculties susceptible of the highest cultivation, surrenders to be controlled by Satan. And he gains easy access to those who are in bondage to appetite. Through intemperance, some sacrifice one half, others two thirds, of their physical, mental, and moral powers and become playthings for the enemy.—The Review and Herald, September 8, 1874. (Messages to Young People, 236.)
Counsel to One Who Imagined Injury When It Did Not Exist—Sister D has been deceived in some things. She has thought that God instructed her in a special sense, and you both have believed and acted accordingly. (p.337) The discernment which she has thought she possessed in a special sense is a deception of the enemy. She is naturally quick to see, quick to understand, quick to anticipate, and is of an extremely sensitive nature. Satan has taken advantage of these traits of character and has led you both astray.
Brother D, you have been a bondman for quite a length of time. Much of that which Sister D has thought was discernment has been jealousy. She has been disposed to regard everything with a jealous eye, to be suspicious, surmising evil, distrustful of almost everything. This causes unhappiness of mind, despondency, and doubt, where faith and confidence should exist. These unhappy traits of character turn her thoughts into a gloomy channel, where she indulges a foreboding of evil, while a highly sensitive temperament leads her to imagine neglect, slight, and injury, when it does not exist....
These unhappy traits of character, with a strong, set will, must be corrected and reformed, or they will eventually cause you both to make shipwreck of your faith.—Testimonies for the Church 1:708, 709 (1868).
Dwell Not on Satan’s Power—It is by beholding that we become changed. By dwelling upon the love of God and our Saviour, by contemplating the perfection of the divine character and claiming the righteousness of Christ as ours by faith, we are to be transformed into the same image. Then let us not gather together all the unpleasant pictures—the iniquities and corruptions and disappointments, the evidences of Satan’s power—to hang in the halls of our memory, to talk over and mourn over until our souls are filled with discouragement. A discouraged soul is a body of darkness, not only failing himself to receive the light of God but shutting it away from others. Satan loves to see the effect of the pictures of his triumphs, making human beings faithless and disheartened.—Testimonies for the Church 5:744, 745 (1889). (p.338)
Environment Influences—The more the patient can be kept out of doors, the less care will he require. The more cheerful his surroundings, the more hopeful will he be. Shut up in the house, be it ever so elegantly furnished, he will grow fretful and gloomy. Surround him with the beautiful things of nature; place him where he can see the flowers growing and hear the birds singing, and his heart will break into song in harmony with the songs of the birds. Relief will come to body and mind. The intellect will be awakened, the imagination quickened, and the mind prepared to appreciate the beauty of God’s Word.—The Ministry of Healing, 265 (1905).
Surroundings Affect Experience—I was then shown a young girl ... who had departed from God and was enshrouded in darkness. Said the angel: “She did run well for a season; what did hinder her?” I was pointed back and saw that it was a change of surroundings. She was associating with youth like herself, who were filled with hilarity and glee, pride, and love of the world. Had she regarded the words of Christ, she need not have yielded to the enemy. “Watch ... and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” Temptation may be all around us, but this does not make it necessary that we should enter into temptation. The truth is worth everything. Its influence tends not to degrade but to elevate, refine, purify, and exalt to immortality and the throne of God. Said the angel, “Will you have Christ, or the world?”
Satan presents the world with its most alluring, flattering charms to poor mortals, and they gaze upon it, and its glitter and tinsel eclipse the glory of heaven and that life which is as enduring as the throne of God. A life of peace, happiness, joy unspeakable, which shall know nothing of sorrow, sadness, pain, or death, is sacrificed for a short lifetime of sin.—Testimonies for the Church 2:100, 101 (1868).
Seeing Molds Personality—The sight of her eyes and the hearing of her ears have perverted her heart.—Testimonies for the Church 4:108 (1876). (p.339)
Perceptions Confused by Choosing Temporal Advantages—Lot chose Sodom as a place of residence because he looked more to the temporal advantages he would gain than to the moral influences that would surround himself and his family. What did he gain so far as the things of this world are concerned? His possessions were destroyed, part of his children perished in the destruction of that wicked city, his wife was turned to a pillar of salt by the way, and he himself was saved “so as by fire.” Nor did the evil results of his selfish choice end here; but the moral corruption of the place was so interwoven with the character of his children that they could not distinguish between good and evil, sin and righteousness.—The Signs of the Times, May 29, 1884. (Messages to Young People, 419.)
Perceptions Dimmed to Eternal Verities—Those who have made a wrong use of means dedicated to God will be required to give an account of their stewardship. Some have selfishly grasped means because of their love of gain. Others have not a tender conscience; it has become seared through long-cherished selfishness....
Their minds have so long run in a low, selfish channel that they cannot appreciate eternal things. They do not value salvation. It seems impossible to elevate their minds to rightly estimate the plan of salvation or the value of the atonement. Selfish interests have engrossed the entire being; like a lodestone they hold the mind and affections, binding them down to a low level. Some of these persons will never attain to perfection of Christian character because they do not see the value and necessity of such a character. Their minds cannot be elevated so that they will be charmed with holiness. Self-love and selfish interests have so warped the character that they cannot be made to distinguish the sacred and eternal from the common.—Testimonies for the Church 2:519, 520 (1870).
That Which Quickens the Perceptions—When hearts are purified from selfishness and egotism, they (p.340) are in harmony with the message God sends them. The perceptions are quickened, the sensibilities refined. Like appreciates like. “He that is of God heareth God’s words” (John 8:47).—Testimonies for the Church 5:696 (1889).