Many of us know someone who lives in an ongoing state of emotional trauma, or perhaps even emotionally ill. Statistics in the US state and estimated 26% of adults over age 18 suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder, which is 1 in 4 adults or over 57 million people - so most of us know someone touched by a mental disorder. Yet helping these friends and family become healthy and whole in their emotions and minds is a mystery to most of us. ( http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-America/index.shtml )
Where does the emotional end and the demonic begin? Where do the natural brain processes of chemical and electrical functions end and the demonic begin? What does scripture have to say about the causes and cures of emotional and mental disorders or illness?
That was the diagnosis of an 8 year old boy who compulsively lied and believed his lies, with various behavioral issues related to Conduct Disorder. By the time he turned 18 the diagnosis became "Anti-social Personality Disorder". He was a compulsive liar, believing his own lies and version of reality, a manipulator, thief, and would argue violently if someone presented him with the truth.
In his 20's his condition and behavior became more criminal and complicated. He showed no remorse for any of his actions for in mind his scheme was real and everyone else was wrong. "It was a misunderstanding" became the most common explanation for everything from criminal charges he faced to getting fired from jobs to broken relationships.
He was promiscuous as he presented women intricate stories of supposed trust fund wealth and swept them off their feet, only to steal jewelry, cars, and money along with their hearts in the process. For instance: Several times he went to a high end car dealership, took a Ferrari or other exotic car for a test drive, used it for a quick date, then returned the vehicle, only to explain to the woman on the next date the Ferrari was in the shop or he sold it and was waiting for delivery of his next Ferrari.
He spent most of his 20's and 30's in prison for theft, larceny, fraud, and various other crimes.
Delusional or demonic?
He eventually married and seemed to settle down, children came along and life progressed. But he wasn't healed, delivered, nor was his mind renewed by the Word. Christianity held no power nor hope for him and he became an atheist.
He came from a Christian family but was the child of divorce. Was he simply mentally ill and needed healing, or did he need deliverance? What were the spiritual forces at work that led him into mental illness, and how much was willful indulgence and even enjoyment of the scams and intrigue? Just where do the natural and emotional processes of the brain end, and the demonic start?
Remember this example because next week I'll explain how he became that way, and his case will provide answers for others.
Suicide and Christians?
Mental and emotional illness is seen throughout scripture, though other words are used, and in some cases the situation is presented as having demonic influences as the reason for the illness. In the last 10 years I've seen more Christians than ever before battling emotional and mental illnesses, and about once a month someone will email me asking if a Christian commits suicide are they doomed to hell.
My response is that Christians die of a physical illness and we don't doubt their salvation, so why would we doubt a Christian's salvation when a mental illness results in them killing themselves? Also, how many believers are committing slow suicide through obesity, smoking, or substance abuse? A person can be mentally ill just like they can be physically ill while in their spirit, they are born again.
Mental illness a sign of the end times
In this series I intend to trace the process that starts a person down the road to emotional and mental illness, and how to reverse that process with the Lord. We will look at what opened the door for several people in scripture and look at solutions. I know many people who have triumphed over emotional and mental illness and there are some common elements that were key to their victory, which I'll share in this series.
Jesus and Paul made comments that in the last days people's hearts would fail them for fear, the love of many would turn cold, people would have no conscience, ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth, people would be allowed to believe delusions. Paul also said people would become 'past feeling' or have no conscience (no remorse) and so give themselves over to various sins and evil. (Luke 21:26, Matthew 24:12, I Timothy 4:1-2, II Timothy 3:1-7, Ephesians 4:19)
Mental and emotional illnesses are one of the signs of the end times, yet teachings about this fact are few and far between. Our society is emotionally and mentally ailing and we see the results in the headlines depicting senseless violence on all levels, involving Christians and non-Christians alike.
What solutions are there in Christian culture?
When Jesus said at His return He is looking for a people who gave food & drink to the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick and imprisoned, isn't it likely some of those people came to be in those conditions through emotional or mental illnesses?
In popular charismatic circles teachings about mental illness automatically blame demons without looking at other causes the Bible presents. And there are some ministries that tell people they must trace their family as far back as 10 generations to find what ancestor opened the door to demons that now all these generations later, are causing them misery.
Some ministries consider any negative event in a person's life as needing 'inner' healing, and the person is often led with a 'coach' to visualize the event, visualize Jesus coming into that event, and basically re-writing history to include Jesus standing there with great love and healing while they recall that situation.
The prevailing theme woven throughout these efforts is basically 'It isn't my fault', or 'the devil made me do it' or 'my ancestor is to blame for me being in this condition', or 'I would could gain the victory if I could find the one key that my ancestor used to open the door to the demonic in our family line'.
The other end of the pendulum
If attacking emotional and mental illness as always demonic is on one end of the pendulum's swing, the opposite end is treating it as a strictly clinical 'Christian' issue, which to most charismatic's appears 'non-spiritual'. This is what scares many Charismatic's away from a 'Christian mental hospital' or residency program - fear over the combination of natural and psychological help when the assumption is the issue is demonic. Yet success is often found in these programs when they combine the Biblical and medical, which may include medications, with practical skills for the patient to combat wrong thoughts and emotions.
In between these two seems to be a no man's land of mystery, danger and suspicion. So let us start by looking at some people who suffered emotional disorders, conditions, or mental illnesses in scripture, then we'll peer behind the veil of their minds to discern the difference between the emotional, mental, and demonic, and the healing power of God available to all.
A few examples to consider
King Saul - uncontrolled outburst of rage, paranoia, fear - soothed by worship music.
Nebuchadnezzar - believed he was an animal, in modern terms: Lycanthropy, Boanthropy, Schizophrenia.
David, Job, Elijah - suffered from depression at times in their lives.
Gadarene man with 'Legion' - had an 'unclean' spirit (often means sexually unclean), cut himself, naked.
Judas - committed suicide when his plans to force Jesus to prove Himself failed.
Cain - murdered his brother in a fit of rage, but with a well documented path to his decision to murder.
And with this list of just a few people in the Bible I've run out of room for this week. Next week I'll examine THE root need in our lives as taught by Jesus, and the results of a person not having that need met - which can lead to mental disorders. Until then, blessings,
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