Guard Your Soul!
By Jed Smock
The word psychology literally means the study of the soul. The soul is made up essentially of the mind and the heart. The heart in the Bible usually represents the will or the faculty with which we choose between right and wrong and good and evil.
What is the difference between psychiatry and psychology? The suffix "-iatry" means healing or medical treatment and "-logy" means study of." So psychiatry is the medical treatment of the psyche (soul-mind), and psychology is the study of the psyche (soul-mind). Psychiatrists have a M.D. and give out drugs. Psychologists usually have a PhD. and they talk to their patients.
Psychology is a legitimate study. What better book to go to in order to study the mind or soul than the Bible, which has so much to say about the mind. Paul wrote in 2 Tim: 1:7: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
So Christians have a sound mind, which is a gift from God.
Paul exhorted in Romans, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”—Romans 12:1-2
On the other hand, from this Scripture, we can conclude that conformity to the world results in the degeneracy of the mind.
Isaiah promised peace of mind in chapter 26:3: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” On the other hand, those who have a troubled mind must NOT BE focused on God or actually putting their faith in him.
Paul wrote in Phil 4 the prescription for good mental health: 6 "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."
We have all seen the defiant grinning face of the Arizona murderer, Jared Loughner, who shot the congresswoman last year. His is a frightening face.
Yet it is a mirror reflecting the soul of every sinner or unbeliever, although most sinners wear a more pleasant mask. The wisest philosopher of the ancient world was Solomon, who said, "The heart of the sons of men is of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live."--Eccles. 9:3.
St. Paul said, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God.”--Romans 8:6. To be carnally minded is to mind the things of the flesh, which are our passions and physical appetites, which results in death. Enmity is hatred. All unbelievers hate God.
The problem of the Arizona shooter was that he was living selfishly; that is, independently of God. All selfish men hate God and are hostile to him and to all righteous authority. If one does not love God, he will hate God’s creative order including his fellow man, whom was made in the image of God.
The murderer was a moral madman. According to the 19th century theologian and revivalist Charles Finney, “Moral insanity is a state in which the intellectual powers are not deranged, but the heart refuses to be controlled by the intelligence and acts unreasonably as if the intellect were deranged.”
Finney continues, “All sinners, without any exception, are and must be mad. Their choice of an end is madness. It is infinitely unreasonable. Their pursuit of it is madness persisted in. Their treatment of everything that opposes their course is madness. All, all is madness infinite. This world is a moral Bedlam, an insane hospital where sinners are under regimen. If they can be cured, well. If not, they must be confined in the mad-house of the universe for eternity.
The only reason why sinners do not perceive their own and each other's madness is that they are all mad together and their madness is all of one type. Hence they imagine that they are sane, and pronounce Christians mad. This is no wonder. What other conclusion can they come to unless they can discover that they are mad?
But let it not be forgotten that their madness is of the heart, and not of the intellect. It is voluntary and not unavoidable. If it were unavoidable it would involve no guilt. But it is a choice made and persisted in the integrity of their intellectual powers, and therefore they are without excuse.
Sinners are generally supposed to act rationally on many subjects. But this is an evident mistake. They do everything for the same ultimate reason and are as wholly irrational in one thing as another. There is nothing in their whole history and life, not an individual being that is not entirely and infinitely unreasonable. The end is mad; the means are mad; all, all is madness and desperation of spirit. They no doubt appear so to angels, and so they do to saints; and were it not so common to see them their conduct would fill the saints and angels with utter amazement.”
On the other hand, saints have been given a “sound mind.”—2 Tim 1:7. We Christians exercise self-discipline, self-control and sound judgment, which is sanity. Indeed, we look hard and long into the face of Jesus Christ. We are to be the mirror reflecting his soul, his innermost being.
Paul taught us that we Christians have “the mind of Christ.”—1 Cor 2:16. Therefore, we follow sound reason and are not under the control of passion and the lusts of the flesh. Our desires and passions are well regulated by conscience, reason and God’s moral law. We mind “the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”—Romans 8:5-6. We have peace of mind. We are not suffering from “mental illnesses.” We are mentally stable.
Paul urged, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”--(Phil 2:5). Jesus humbled himself and willingly made himself of no reputation to serve God and mankind. Men without God are overcome by pride and desire to be served rather than to serve. Consequently, they are living contrary to the way they were intended to live and will have poor mental health, which in fact is a wicked mind.
What often passes as mental illness is usually irresponsible, rebellious and ungodly behavior. Mental disorders are typically the result of sin or wrong choices; that is, selfish choices.
Psychiatrist, Dr William Glasser, wrote a book called, Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health. The forward to the books says, “The medical approach to mental distress is based on unproven hypotheses, in particular the theory that the fundamental cause of mental distress is biological, either a biochemical imbalance, a genetic defect, or both. Psychiatry has convinced itself and the general public that this hypothesis is not a hypothesis but a proven fact.
Decades of intensive psychiatric research have failed to establish a biological cause for any psychiatric condition. The lack of biological evidence is confirmed by the extraordinary fact that not a single psychiatric diagnosis can be confirmed by a biochemical, radiological, or other laboratory test.
William Glasser’s years of inquiry and questioning have culminated in the development of what he calls choice theory. He cogently argues that what medicine has labeled as mental illness is in reality varying degrees and expressions of unhappiness. He points out that medicine’s preoccupation with mental ill-health means that people searching for the opposite-mental health and well-being—receive little meaningful guidance from the medical profession.”
Glasser himself writes, “Happiness or mental health is enjoying the life you are choosing to live, getting along well with the people near and dear to you, doing something with your life you believe is worthwhile, and not doing anything to deprive anyone else of the same chance for happiness you have.”
Just what is normal behavior, anyway? What is the standard of normality? It seems that psychiatrists consider the lowest common denominator amongst human beings at a particular time and place in social history and claim that is normal behavior. For instance, when I studied introduction to psychology as an undergraduate in the early 60’s, there was a unit dealing with abnormal behavior and within the unit was a chapter on homosexuality. I also studied psychology and counseling as a post graduate student in the early 70’s at Indiana State University. Suddenly, in 1973, the APA declared that homosexuality was no longer deviate behavior, not because of any scientific breakthrough, but by giving into political and social pressure from the homosexual community.
The Christian standard for normal behavior is Jesus Christ; he had reason to be clinically depressed throughout most of his ministry, especially in Gethsemane and at Golgotha. He could have given into despair but he refused. On the cross, they attempted to give him a stupefying drink but he received it not.—Mark 15:23. Jesus was the most normal human being that ever walked the earth, who “was tempted in all way like we are.”—Heb 4:15. He showed us how we are all supposed to live and can live through faith and trust in his Holy Spirit.
Paul suffered much for his witness for the Lord, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. . .16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”—2 Cor 4.
There is a lack to teaching today as to who we are and can be in Christ. Hence, we have a lot of weak minded Christians who are tormented by the devil; no one has taught them on how to resist his wiles. We have others in our midst who profess faith in Christ but who are practicing sin, which results in guilt. Too often in our churches we are failing to address the issue of sin and guilt and the result is poor mental health.
In 1973 psychiatrist Karl Menninger penned the following words in his book Whatever Became of Sin?. "The very word, 'sin,' which seems to have disappeared, was once a proud word. It was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word. But the word went away. It has almost disappeared - the word, along with the notion. Why? Doesn't anyone sin anymore? Doesn't anyone believe in sin?"
I am weary of hearing so many people, especially when they are professing Christians, tell me they are bipolar, schizophrenic, and depressed. Then they are always coming up with some new mental disorder. And I am hearing it more and more each year. In my youth, people that the psychiatrists and their disciples like to label today as mentally ill; we considered to be simply strange, odd, eccentric, peculiar, etc. Frankly, I enjoy the company of people who do not fit into the general mold.
In 1973 in my home town, Terre Haute, IN, they built a mental health center, called Hamilton Center. Hamilton now has 650 staff and centers throughout the state. I think that it is significant that 1973 was the time when marijuana and hallucinatory drugs were moving into the mainstream of society, as was the sexual revolution. Sin results in guilt and guilt can weigh so heavily on one’s mind that it can drive him out of his mind. The solution is not more drugs; the solution is the Cross.
Psychiatrist, Dr. Thomas Szasz, in his book Psychiatry: The Science of Lies teaches that “Mental illness is essentially a disease invented by psychiatrists, unless one is using the term in the metaphoric sense. Mental illness is a social or psychological construct; it is something invented; it is not scientifically measurable. A disease is something one catches contrary to his will or it is a malfunction of bodily parts such as the heart, liver, lungs, the colon, the bones, the blood, the brain, etc.”
It is my understanding that what is labeled as mental illness is usually misconduct. Mental illness is to psychiatry what alcoholism is to medicine. Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to physical deterioration of the liver and brain cells. However, what is generally called alcoholism should be called drunkenness, which is a sin, which is misbehavior. Alcoholism is not a disease. The problem is not essentially physical but moral. And so it is with what is called mental illness; it is a moral or spiritual problem, not essentially physical. Of course, immorality can be physically destructive to the brains, heart or liver.
When I took a class in pastoral counseling at the Methodist Theological Seminary in Ohio, the professor invited a mental health professional to speak on situations which we ministers would not be qualified to handle. The woman also advised us of certain people we would not be competent to counsel, whom we should refer to the mental health professionals. I responded that the mind included the soul and that as a minister of the gospel I thought that I could handle any mental problem of my parishioners with Truth and the Power of the Holy Spirit. I suggested that the mental health expert should send her hard clients to the ministers of the gospel, instead of us sending our cases to her. I have not encountered any situation where someone had mental issues that I thought was beyond the power of God.
Now, this is not to say that there could not be such a severe malfunction or deterioration of the brain, which may occasionally be bad enough to make a person not accountable for his actions. If this be the case, I would prefer to say that one has a diseased or ill brain instead of being mentally ill. In cases such as these then a medical doctor might help if prayer fails.
Also, there are situations in which any normal person may become temporarily depressed; the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or some failure in our life, etc. The problem becomes when he cannot function. He cannot work. Some claim to be unable to rise from their bed over a period of weeks when there is nothing physically wrong. One has to wonder if what is often diagnosed as mental illness is in fact not malingering; which is feigning a mental problem in order to avoid work or duty or gain sympathy or drugs.
Jesus was exceeding sorrowful even unto death when he entered Gethsemane. But after agonizing in prayer while his disciples slept he awoke them and said, “Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” He faced his foes and went unto face his trials and carried the weight of the Cross.
From the loneliness of a Roman prison Paul wrote to the Philippians 4:, 4”Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul counseled the Philippians to rejoice as he warned them that the Christian walk was one of suffering. We should be able to rejoice in suffering because suffering for Christ’s sake builds character.
The Roman Catholic Church had wisely trusted in the confessional to keep parishioners mentally stable by freeing them from guilt. But in these days, even within Catholicism, the confessional is usually deserted. John Wesley, founder of Methodism, had his societies in which believers would regularly gather and confess their faults to one another and exhort each other to spiritual growth.
The world may need the psychologists and psychiatrists because carnal men do not think that there is an answer or help for them through Christ and his Church. But a professional counselor and his patient meeting for regular sessions is not going to have the same positive effect which one may have by being an active part of the Body of Christ, meeting corporately and in small groups on a weekly basis or regularly meeting with one’s pastor. Psychiatrists and psychologists have become the priests and pastors of the modern world.
James 1:8 says, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Commentators define double mindedness as having two souls. What James calls double mindedness today is usually classified as some sort of mental disorder or illness.
These days we hear a lot about bipolar or manic-depressive, which is defined by the EMD as a “mood disorder that causes radical emotional changes and mood swings, from manic highs to depressive lows. The majority of bipolar individuals experience alternating episodes of mania (an elevated or euphoric mood or irritable state) and depression.”
If there was ever anyone who could have been diagnosed as bi polar or paranoid schizophrenic, it would be King Saul. He was subject to violent mood swings. Saul started well but his pride became his downfall. He usurped the priestly office by offering up a sacrifice unto God and he disobeyed the Lord in not utterly destroying the Amalekites. He spared King Agag and the best of the livestock. God demanded complete obedience; but Saul believed partial obedience was enough. Regrettably, most teachers instruct that we cannot completely overcome sin in this life. In our churches partial obedience is considered adequate. But our minds tell us differently. Not to listen to the voices of reason and conscience will result in “disorder of thought,” which ends in aberrant behavior, which psychiatrists describe as mental illnesses or mental disorders.
Just after Samuel anoints David to succeed Saul as king, “14The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. 15Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better.”—1 Samuel 16.
Indeed, when the young shepherd boy David played his harp, “Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.” I wonder if the decadent music, such as Rock n’ Roll, has not stirred up evil spirits tormenting many weak minded youth.
Later, Saul becomes so jealous of David’s exploits, that twice while David is playing his harp, the evil spirit from God comes upon Saul and he throws his javelin at David with the intent to kill. Isn’t it odd that neither spiritual men like David nor Samuel could properly diagnose that Saul was mentally ill? Sadly, in the end, Saul falls on his own sword. Does anyone suppose that if Saul had had the myriads of meds available today that his end could have been different? Or if men had been more understanding and caring concerning his paranoid schizophrenia that somehow he would have gotten better? Or if perhaps things would have been different if Saul’s attendants could have referred him to a psychologist instead of an uneducated shepherd boy? Alas, in the end, not even David’s harp could calm Saul’s rebellious soul.
It may be that many professing Christians are suffering today because of lack of discernment in pastors, who have been more influenced by modern psychology than they have the Scriptures or the Spirit of God.
Peter warned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith.”—1 Peter 5:8-9. By being sober (exercising self-control and mental discipline) and staying alert, we can overcome the tormentor of men’s souls. We must with determination stand firm against the devil by exercising all the means of grace.
James teaches us on how to be victorious over the devil, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”—James 4:7-10. Remember, James also taught in chapter 1 that, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
Is not schizophrenia just a new label for double mindedness; fermented wine in new wine skins? When we submit to God, the devil will flee according to the Bible. If we are overcome by Satan, it must be that we have not fully submitted to our Creator.
We need to correctly discern the evils Christians face; the source of which is the world (especially worldly thinking), the flesh (the natural appetites out of control) or the devil. Too bad the Bible did not inform us of all these mental diseases. Did God not know about them or was he waiting for the likes of Sigmund Freud, who was an atheist who denied man’s free will, to come along to deliver us all?
Psychiatrists usually fail to make a proper distinction between the brain and the mind. The mind is to the brain as to what the pianist is to the piano. They are not one and the same. If there is bad music, usually the pianist is the problem, not the piano. Now a piano can be out of tune. But tuning it up is simple enough. Someone could take a sledge hammer to the piano so that even the maestro cannot make it sound beautiful. Some people might have brain damage as a result of a blow to the head, birth defect, the deterioration of old age, too much drugs and alcohol or whatever; but I am convinced that this is not usually the case with most patients under the care of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.
Mental illness is a very timely subject in the wake of the Arizona killer, who is usually spoken of as mentally ill by the media and both liberal and conservative politicians. I do not accept their diagnosis. I believe that he is not sick; he is evil. He is a cold-blooded killer, who should be executed as quickly as possible. Psychological examinations have determined that as of now he is not fit to stand trial. If he is brought to trial, there will likely be some sort of bogus insanity defense, which makes it likely that he will be hospitalized the rest of his life at tax payers’ expense.
With the passage of the heath care bill, we have lost any semblance of separation of state and medicine in this country. The final peg has been hammered in for the establishment of what Dr. Szasz calls “the therapeutic state.” Increasingly we may experience the medicalization of all criminal behavior. Lawbreakers will be considered not as criminals, but as sick. We have been headed in this direction for decades. Dr. Szasz concludes, “The legal system recognizes the elementary distinction between innocence and guilt. The psychiatric system does not: it proudly rejects the concept of personal responsibility. Crime is a well-defined act. Mental illness is an ill-defined mental state.”
A Christian ordered by a court to be psychoanalyzed could be in trouble if he is truly reflecting the character and ministry of Christ. Jesus was considered to have lost his mind by his own family. “Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered. . . When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind (beside himself).”—Mark 3:20-21 Not only did his family think he was ‘out of his mind’, but the doctors of the law said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”—Mark 3:22. This accusation is equivalent to being called mad or mentally ill today.
In many states, family and lawyers could combine forces to have anyone who behaved like Jesus, be forced to submit to a mental health evaluation and be pressured to taking drugs. This has happened to a friend of mine. He considers himself to be mentally healthy but he is under court order as a mental health patient. His dilemma is that if he is compliant to their treatments, he is sick. But if he rejects their diagnosis, he is in denial, which is also a symptom of mental illness.
Dr. Szasz is fond of saying, “If you talk to God, you are praying; if God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.”
Modern psychiatry is attempting to make the human condition a disease. Times of sorrow, frustration, anxiety, desperation, disappointment, failure, sickness, bewilderment, restlessness, and irritability are all a part of life. Giving oneself over to these things, especially when one is physically healthy and has food, clothing and shelter, is not necessary. These conditions can be overcome by sheer will power. The Christian has not only the power of the will but he has the power of God within to make him more than a conqueror.
John 5 says, “2Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porches. 3In these lay a multitude of them that were sick, blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. 4for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the waters stepped in was made whole, with whatsoever disease he was holden. 5And a certain man was there, who had been thirty and eight years in his infirmity. 6When Jesus saw him lying, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case , he saith unto him, Wouldest thou be made whole? 7The sick man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. 8Jesus saith unto him, Arise, take up thy bed, and walk. 9And straightway the man was made whole, and took up his bed and walked.”—John 5:2-9
Jesus’ many physical healings serve as parables to us of how we might be made whole from our spiritual weaknesses, failures, infirmities, and our “mental illnesses,” if you will. Christians are at times weak in the spirit, blinded to truth, crippled by the tests and trials of life, and maybe even at times paralyzed by fears (phobias); as we sometimes face debilitating circumstances. But full provision is made for our healing and victory, if we attend to it. There is a caveat; Paul was not delivered from his thorn in the flesh; but nor was he ever overcome by it. God’s strength was made perfect in Paul’s weakness.
The man at the pool of Bethesda had been an invalid for 38 years. Jesus asks him a revealing question, “Do you want to be healthy?” Evidently, Jesus knew that some people do not have the necessary will to be made whole; they are given over to their infirmities. Their illnesses give them an excuse to stay in bed and not to perform their responsibilities. Was this the case with this man? We are not told. But, unfortunately, often in life’s tests, weaknesses and temptations, there will be no one to comfort or help, especially if we have had a trial that lasts for years. Often the attitude is, “everyman for himself.” Nevertheless, Jesus did not console the man or accept his excuse, whether valid or not. Jesus merely spoke the word, “Rise up, take up your bed and walk.” He did not resort to natural means of medication. He did not even tell him to get into the pool! He commanded him to do three things, “Arise, pick up your mat and walk.” What if the man had responded, but I can’t? Would he have ever walked?
One of the most effective things I know of when we are going through trials is to remember that there are always those who are suffering more than we are. If we will get our attention off our own issues and attend to the business of the Lord by bearing the burdens of others, our own troubles will fade away. We need to get up and carry on with the work of God, even when we think we cannot.
Peter and John healed the man at the temple, lame from birth, by speaking the word to him, “In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk.”—Acts 3. There was man born a cripple at Lystra; Paul healed him, when he perceived that the man had faith to be healed. Paul simply said, “Stand upright on thy feet.” And the man received the strength to leap and walk.—Acts 14.
Taking the many examples of bodily healings of Jesus and the Apostles; the Pentecostals and the Charismatics emphasize physical healing with much more limited results than Jesus and his disciples. Certainly, we do not want to forget any of the benefits of the gospel, whether physical or spiritual.
Isaiah prophesied, “Surely, the Messiah hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”—Isaiah 53. Jesus’ sufferings on Mt. Golgotha were more mental and spiritual than physical. He was subject to rejection, aloneness and abandonment. He may have been tempted with delusions and discouragement. Yet with all the mental anguish, he endured and commended his spirit into the hands of the Father. He was ultimately victorious in overcoming the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil. As we trust in him, we can be more than conquerors of anything God or the devil sends our way.
My message on good mental health is intended to be an encouragement, not an attack on the mental health profession. I want to inspire people to courage and hope. According to Merriam Webster, a synonym for ‘encourage’ is ‘to hearten’ which implies “the lifting of dispiritedness or despondency by an infusion of fresh courage or zeal.”
A second definition Merriam Webster records for encourage is “to spur on.” When the rider spurs his horse, it causes some discomfort to the horse, but it may be the difference needed as to whether or not he wins the race. Mental health professionals engage in virtually endless talk and or medication. Medication does not cure the problem. It merely alleviates certain symptoms but often not with bad side effects either physically or psychologically. God’s way is to set people free and bring deliverance to them.
Often people do not want to be “spurred on”; as they are content to remain where they are, even if is a state of sin or misery. To be “spurred on” DOES require one to leave what has been described as their comfort zone.
In Hebrews chapter 11 Paul sets the stages for looking on to the cross by cataloging the heroes of the faith who prepared the way for Jesus’ suffering by enduring great hardships, trials and difficulties.Paul opens chapter 12 of Hebrews by referring to them: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Paul encourages us to put aside every hindrance and sin and run with endurance until we finish our course. I doubt if any of us are facing any trials comparable to what the ‘hall of famers’ overcame or that any of our family or friends are up against such opposition at they were. One needs to read and reread and ponder on these key chapters of the Bible daily, until one gets the victory.
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
How did Jesus endure such sufferings that none of us have faced? He focused not on his present difficult circumstance, but he looked to his future resurrection and ascension and glory. He scorned the shame of the Cross, the nakedness, the cruel mocking and scourging, the bonds and imprisonment, the temptations, the forsaking of friends, the shame of false witnesses and accusations and on and on it went, not just after his arrest but throughout his whole ministry, beginning with the humiliation of his Incarnation.
“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
So when you are overwhelmed and are faint, consider Jesus and reflect on the great cloud of witnesses who overcame before him. Many of them were even homeless, “wandering about in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” Nevertheless, they maintained a “good report through faith.” Yet they had not “received the promise.” We live under a better covenant with better promises, so we ought to have a more victorious report than they. Murmuring, complaining, malingering and excuse making has become a stench in the nostrils of a Holy God.
Talk about contradictions in the Bible? In Hebrews 12:3 we find the greatest contradiction of them all, in that sinners would oppose the very one that gave his all, including his reputation and his life in order to help them. “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.’ Indeed, you have not, so lay aside your clinical depression, ADHD, psychosis, mania, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or whatever and “man up”. Let the mind of Christ be in you and be obedient even if be unto to death (Phil 2:5-8). Certainly, at the very least, we all must be dead to sin. And who knows, but what some of us will not be called to martyrdom for Christ’s sake?
Psychiatrists, psychologists and sociologists usually argue over nature or nurture. Typically, they claim that man’s behavior is the result of a combination of the two, heredity or environmental factors. Most all of them miss the predominate factor which is choice. Men do what they choose to do. As Dr. Glasser teaches, “Accepting that everything you do is a choice is the cornerstone of mental health. This is teaching; it isn’t therapy.” We all have good and bad genes as well as good and bad environmental influences. It is our choice which we will follow.
Dr. Glasser teaches “nothing changes in your life if you continue to believe you stop at a red light because it’s red instead of because you chose to stop.” Either way you are safe. But it makes a huge difference in your life if you think your behavior or mental condition can be determined by something or someone outside of yourself. An individual who always says that this person made me happy or that individual upset me is denying that he is responsible for his own behavior. Adam, who blamed his wife for his disobedience, is an example of this denial. Of course, Eve blamed the serpent whom she should not have been listening to in the first place.
Most psychiatric disorders gain legitimacy in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). But as Dr. Peter Conrad wrote in The Medicalization of Society, “Despite its claims to psychiatric authority, the DSM is not a scientific document but a ‘mix of social values, political compromise, scientific evidence and material for insurance forms.’”
I reference professionals such as Glasser and Szasz and Conrad to illustrate that not all psychiatrists and social scientists are in agreement with the alleged mental illnesses found in the DSM. These men provide good advice from their stand point as humanists, who believe that that we are responsible for our own mental health and to maintain the right state of mind which can lead to happiness despite adverse circumstances.
However, the Christian must understand that ultimately one cannot be in a right state of mind without a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which fully provides for victory over sin, the torments of a guilty conscience and the wiles of the devil. Only though knowing the Prince of Peace can we have a peace of mind which passes all understanding.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:--Psalm 139:23