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Biblical Wisdom

Doublethink

ChrisJul 05 2021

Two plus two does not equal five. Of course not; two and two make four.

George Orwell’s 1984 was assigned reading when I was a sophomore in high school. Some of you may recall the main character, Winston Smith, writing “2 + 2 = 5” in the dust on the table at the end of the novel. Others of you may not have read it. But don’t worry—I’ll keep you clued in.

I love to read. But when I was sixteen, I didn’t love to read the Bible. God was flexible with me, though, and He spoke to me often through secular books, especially 1984. For those unfamiliar with that work, 1984 is no fairy tale. The main character struggles to maintain safety and sanity in a dystopian society where free thought is outlawed.

Through the book, Orwell coined the term doublethink, which he defines as “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”* Doublethink is very much like double-mindedness. And the “power” it entails is extremely dangerous.

James 1:8 says,

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

And James is right. Sixteen-year-old me roamed the school halls, unstable. I professed Jesus as my Savior, and I believed He was, but somehow, I lived out other “truths,” simultaneously believing that I was alone and hopeless. I lived powerless, bitter, and miserable. I was practicing doublethink, and it was keeping me from living free.

In his Discipleship: The Path to Freedom teaching, Andrew explains the mess that doublethink can lead people into. He says that

“there are reasons why we aren’t experiencing the abundance and the quality of life that God wants us to . . . we cry out, we beg, we plead . . . but we don’t renew our minds. We don’t know the truth. We don’t continue in it until we get free, and we wonder why things aren’t working.”

Andrew goes on to say, “The greatest thing you will ever do is renew your mind by the Word of God, and that’s what the Bible calls being a disciple.” In John 8:31-32, Jesus defines discipleship. He says,

“If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; [32] And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Sixteen-year-old me needed to renew her mind. Instead, I was brimming with anxiety and fear. But while reading 1984, I came across the lines,

“There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”*

When I read those words, Jesus confronted me in my spirit, as if to say, How long will you practice doublethink? You say I am your Savior, but you live like you don’t know Me. There is truth and there is untruth; whatever is separate from the truth must be a lie. Will you defend the Truth with Me?

What was so complicated before became simple. I said yes—a whole-hearted, single-minded yes. I embraced the truth and forsook the lie. I began dismantling the doublethink I had become so familiar with. I began living free. Jesus calls us to discipleship. He calls us to defend the Truth, and that starts with renewing our minds to know the Truth. Andrew says, “It’s not easy to be a disciple. It’s simple, but it’s not easy.” So, how do we do it?

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

-2 Corinthians 10:5, English Standard Version

In other words, we remind ourselves that 2 + 2 ≠ 5.

*Quotes from George Orwell’s 1984 are from www.goodreads.com.


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