Flesh Patterns

This week I will share some examples of mental strongholds, or flesh patterns. They represent ways that we have learned to cope, succeed, or just plain survive before we came to Christ. They are mental habit patterns of thought, or memory traces, formed in our minds over time as we responded to our environment, or burned into our minds during traumatic experiences. Defense mechanisms are one category of flesh patterns. For instance, if you were physically or emotionally abused for telling the truth, you likely learned to lie, or blame someone else. Now that you are a Christian you don’t need to defend yourself any more. Christ is your defense, but knowing that and changing how you respond to situations where you would have “naturally” lied before is a learning process. Many situations will confront you with the option of lying to protect yourself and your reputation, or walking in the light and speaking the truth in love.

Suppose you lived on a farm with beautiful pastures. You regularly drove your pick-up truck on the same route to deliver hay to your cattle. Every day you followed the same path. Over time your tires would cut deep ruts in the road, because of occasional rains. After a few weeks you wouldn’t even have to steer the truck. It would simply follow the ruts in the road. In fact, any attempt to stir out of the ruts would be met with resistance. Such is the case of neurological pathways in your brain. It is like a knee-jerk response to external stimuli. Some are more deeply ingrained than others.

Take, for example, pathological liars. Most have been deeply wounded for admitting to any failure, and there was no one there to protect them. So lying becomes a way of life in order to avoid rejection or to stop further abuse. Some are just con artists. They have learned how to manipulate others to accomplish their own end. They will tell you what you want to hear without any hint of hypocrisy, and not all are politicians (Sorry! That
was a flesh pattern coming out)!

There are cultural strongholds that have deep historical roots. For instance, in most Asian countries, almost everyone will lie to save face. This could be due to their practice of public shaming, which can be a worse sentence than incarceration. That is why Western politicians have to be careful to give Asian leaders an “honorable’ way out, or the negotiations will shut down immediately. I have found that to be true in Christian circles as well. I caught a Korean student at seminary cheating. His notes were under his final exam, but he kept insisting that he was not cheating, because he was a pastor. Fortunately I caught him after the other students had left. I tore up his exam, docked him a grade, and assigned him a ten-page paper if he wanted to pass. He flooded me with presents for Christmas, because I had not publicly shamed him.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog