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Lesson 1

Wanting what is best for mankind, God designed our minds with the ability to hold conflicting beliefs so that those internal conflicts would spur us towards truth and good behavior. Through the Bible God encourages us to resolve our internal conflicts and not be double minded. Psychologist Leon Festinger described this unresolved mental state as Cognitive dissonance in 1957. He found that behaving in ways that don’t align with our self-image, or holding opinions that oppose our other beliefs produced much of our anxiety and mental distress. Experts suggest people should reduce their dissonance levels before they become problematic by, a) adding new beliefs, b) changing existing beliefs, c) reducing the importance of beliefs, and d) changing your actions or how you perceive them. Studies show that cognitive dissonance engages brain regions of the (DLPFC) dorsolateral prefrontal cortex which is active during cognitive control, as well as the insula, which primarily processes emotions. When our internal beliefs are inconsistent with our actions, it produces mental stress and discomfort which can leave us less capable to deal effectively with life. Listening to our anxiety helps us make better life decisions by spurring us to alter our behavior, or peripheral beliefs, to match our core beliefs. Ignoring cognitive dissonance can destroy a person’s conscience, leading them into behaviors their main core beliefs would not endorse. To relieve their internal dissonance they must justify their actions by rationalizing the decisions that go against those core beliefs, and avoid conversations that highlight their duplicity. Leaving cognitive dissonance unresolved leads to poor decisions and mental disorders such as hypocrisy. To resolve our religious dissonance, we should follow the example of the Bereans who searched the scripture to prove if the new belief Paul was telling them was true. They diligently searched day and night until they proved the truth for themselves from the word of God. Did you verify your beliefs before you accepted them? How did you prove God meant the verses the way you understood them? Do any of your peripheral beliefs conflict with your core beliefs? Did you study all the original scriptures that pertained to the belief, or only some of them? Does your belief alter God’s original words and their meanings? Do you have any religious dissonance and how did you resolve it? How does building Godly wisdom provide people the best rewards?

1 Timothy 4:1- 2…8 Amplified Bible
1 But the [Holy] Spirit explicitly and unmistakably declares that in later times some will turn away from the faith, paying attention instead to deceitful and seductive spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 [misled] by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared as with a branding iron [leaving them incapable of ethical functioning], 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) is of value in everything and in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.

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