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Mental health and belief

 

 

 

 

Foreword

 

Many people have a negative attitude towards Christian belief. They believe that believers of the Bible and its announcement cannot be entirely sane. They think that people trusting in God and Jesus walk around blindfolded with an old-fashioned and small-minded view. This kind of an attitude towards faith is especially common in atheistic circles.

The same atheistic circles also think that belief is detrimental to one’s mental health, or that it takes away any joy from people’s lives. Certain advertisements on the side of buses can be seen as an example of this preconception. Local buses in Great Britain, e.g., have been plastered with an atheistic message: "There's probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." These atheistic groups are convinced that their atheistic understanding of the world is true, and that atheism will lead society to happiness. However, they admit, as proven by the word probably, that they cannot be one hundred percent sure that God does not exist. They see the likelihood of God existing extremely faint, however.

This text addresses mental health and the Christian faith. We discuss it through the following aspects, e.g.:

 

1. Is Christian belief detrimental?
2. Worldly therapies and Christian soul care
3. Influence of evil spirits
4. Special groups
 

 

1. Is Christian belief detrimental?

 

EVERYONE HAS A BELIEF. Since the topic of this text is mental health and belief, it is noteworthy to mention that belief is not only limited to the Christian God belief, since everyone has some kind of belief. For instance, atheist scientists believe in the self-caused existence of the universe, earth and life, although they are unable to prove any of these assumptions. Thus, making it blind faith and having trust in things with no actual proof. Moreover, we all have certain faith, which shows in the following everyday situations, e.g.:

 

• We believe in advertisements that tell us about reduced prices of products.

• A girl has faith; she trusts that her mother will buy her the new dress.

• We believe that weather forecasts are nearly accurate.

• We believe that the Antarctic exists, even though we have never been there.

 

How does the Christian faith differ from naturalism, atheism and from other religions? The following points are noteworthy. They hold some of the main features of Christian belief:

 

• Faith in the existence of God

• Faith in creation by God

• Faith in life after death

• Faith that Jesus, the Son of God, has prepared the way for everyone to be with God. By having faith in Him, we can inherit an eternal life. We can see this in multiple passages in the Bible:

 

- (Acts 16:30,31) And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.

 

- (John 3:16,17) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

 

- (John 8:23,24) And he said to them, You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world.

24 I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins.

 

- (John 14:6) Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.

 

Is Christian faith detrimental? As previously noted, atheists and unbelievers often possess a negative image about believing in God. They see it as detrimental and think that it takes away enjoyment from life. This became apparent in the formerly mentioned bus campaign, where the buses were decorated with a text that said "There's probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." The text does not tell what kind of God they are talking about but leaves an impression that atheism and unbelief in God are the bringers of joy that drives away worries. They probably struggle with similar issues, like other people. We cannot be entirely sheltered from grief and sorrow in this lifetime.

Is Christian faith detrimental then? Those who reject God and Jesus Christ think so obviously, but have they thought it through? In this matter the following aspects are important:

 

Countries with Christian faith. Those countries, whose history is based on Christian faith, have constantly been at the top of well-being and happiness indexes. These countries include, e.g., the Northern countries, USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Switzerland. This cannot be a mere coincidence.

 

• Research. Those who reject God and the Christian faith have not paid attention to the numerous studies that have centered around Christian belief and its effect on mental health. There is ample research on this area. One of the most significant pieces of research includes the book Is Faith Delusional (1) by Professor Andrew Sims, a former executive of the Royal Collage of Psychiatric organization. Sims has researched this for many years and has come to the following conclusion:

 

The benefits of religious faith and spirituality to mental health and to physical well-being are one of the most guarded sectrets of psychiatry and generally of the whole mediacal science.  If another study on the matter would have suggested the opposite, that is that religion is harmful to mental health, it would have been on the front pages of every newspaper in every country.

 

Sims uses the huge meta-analysis of American Journal of Public Health magazine as one proof, and the analysis has been compiled on the basis of other relating studies:

 

Majority of the research suggests that religious involvement correlates well with happiness and the joy of living, having hope and being optimistic, having better self-esteem, having better coping mechanisms for big losses, having more social support and being less alone, lower suicide -and suicide positive attitude rates, feeling less anxious, lower tendency for psychosis and psychotics, using less alcohol and drugs and not misusing them, doing less crime, having longer lasting marriages and being satisfied with the marriage. We concluded that for majority of the people it is likely that the benefits of having dedicated religious faith and practicing religion are bigger than the risks. (2)

 

Nicholas Beale and John Polkinghorne have studied the same phenomenon from the perspective of evolutionary view. In their opinion, the results support the benefits of having Christian faith:

 

Claim, religious belief is detrimental from an evolutionary standpoint, simply isn’t true. Whether (for example) the Christian doctrines were true or not, we have insurmountable evidence that Christians have on average more children than atheists (surviving fertile grandchildren pose the real criterion, but I have no knowledge of the data concerning this phenomenon). They also live longer, are healthier, and so on. The fact that there are singular counter examples is irrelevant; evolution affects the population, not the individual. These kinds of practical effects of practicing Christian faith provide weak evidence, at best, to the accuracy of Christian belief. But it is unfair for evolutionist biologists to claim that Christian faith would be detrimental, unless they make it crystal clear that they meant to say: Christian faith is beneficial from an evolutionary standpoint, but I consider it detrimental because of other reasons. (3)

 

In his book Living Water, Brother Yun, known for revival in China, gives a practical example of the positive impact of the Christian faith on people's lives. It is a question of physical illness and mental health problems. Jesus can touch both areas of life, both body and mind.

 

I have witnessed many people to be healed suddenly of diseases, including cancer and leprosy. After the power of God had descended on an occasion, a dozen patients were brought from a nearby mental hospital. They all recovered perfectly after coming into contact with Jesus Christ. Their mental health returned, and they were soon released from the hospital.

 

What is the teaching of Jesus and the disciples? When claiming that Christianity is detrimental, the problem is often that people are unable to make a distinction between what it entails and what it does not entail. The mistake that many unbelievers, atheists and unprofessional reporters keep making is that they mix the wrongdoings of apostate Christendom with the teachings of Jesus. They do not know the history of the first century and the teachings of Jesus and the disciples. They do not understand that violence and wrongdoings against other people reveal that these are not the actions of real followers of the Christ, as can be seen in the following verses. One can fall in numerous different ways, but repeated purposeful wrongdoing is a sign that they are not a follower of Jesus:

 

- (Matt 7:16-23) You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19 Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20 Why by their fruits you shall know them.

21 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

 

- (Acts 17:30) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent:

 

- (1 Cor 6:9) Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived…

 

- (Tit 1:16) They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate.

 

Other verses also talk about loving your neighbor. It was not only emphasized by Jesus, but by the disciples also:

 

Jesus: (Matt 22:35-40) Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

 

- (Matt 26:52) Then said Jesus to him, Put up again your sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

 

Apostle Paul: (Room 12:14,17-21) Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

18 If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men.

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord.

20 Therefore if your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head.

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

Apostle Peter: (1 Peter 3:9,17) Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that you are thereunto called, that you should inherit a blessing.

17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that you suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

 

Apostle John: (1 John 4:18-21) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love him, because he first loved us.

20 If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loves God love his brother also.

 

James: (James 2:8,9) If you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you do well:

9 But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

 

What about religious exploitation and the controlling of others? Here, Jesus and the disciples share a unified teaching. Real leadership is following the Christ, and it does not entail oppressing and manipulating other people. Of course, there are no perfect leaders, but we must respect them, however, the right model can be found in the following verses, e.g. Jesus’ own life here on earth is also a good model to have:

 

- (Luke 22:25-27) And he said to them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority on them are called benefactors.

26 But you shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that does serve.

27 For whether is greater, he that sits at meat, or he that serves?  is not he that sits at meat? but I am among you as he that serves.

 

- (2 Cor 1:23,24) Moreover I call God for a record on my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet to Corinth.

24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith you stand.

 

- (1 Cor 3:5-8) Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

7 So then neither is he that plants any thing, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase.

8 Now he that plants and he that waters are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.

 

- (1 Peter 5:1-3) The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

 

- (1 Tim 4:12) Let no man despise your youth; but be you an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

 

- (Phil 3:17,18) Brothers, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as you have us for an ensample.

18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ

 

What about greediness, which can often be seen in the media? Jesus and the disciples offer a lot of teachings about this. It is true that some Christians can fall for greediness, but that is when they stop following the Bible’s clear teaching. For instance, Paul wrote that the shepherd of the congregation should not be greedy. Similarly, there are other verses talking about the same issue:

 

- (1 Tim 3:1-3) This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.

2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous

 

- (Luke 16:11-14) If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?

13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

 

- (Luke 12:15) And he said to them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.

 

CHRISTIAN FAITH IS POSITIVE. As mentioned, atheists often see Christian faith in a negative light. They see it as detrimental to mental health and think that it takes away any enjoyment in life. These views are attested by their bus campaign.

What is the truth? These people might have not realized what Christianity is about. Because Christianity should have a positive effect on mental health and overall quality of life if understood correctly. This is because of the following reasons:

 

• Experiencing the love of God. The first reason is because God is love, and once we understand that, it should have a positive impact on our life and mental health. Most mental problems are often caused by the lack of love at some point in one’s life, but when a person receives love from both, God and people, they will become complete. They can accept themselves and gradually be more accepting of other people. For example, a well-known psychiatrist, Karl Meninger, has stated relating to this topic that people end up in psychiatric hospitals mainly due to these two reasons: They have not experienced love, or they have not been able to love. God’s love is a remedy to both problems:

 

- (1 John 4:8-10) He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.

9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

- (John 3:16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

- (Rom 5:8) But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

Here is a small quotation about the same issue. It shows that when a person, e.g., an alcoholic or a drug addict, comes across God’s love, it will help them to regain a new identity and to have control over their own life. On the long run, drug addiction and alcoholism will become enslaving oppressors. They take the joy out of life. The love of God and experiencing it will bring relief to such problems:

 

Sometimes the effect of conversion is so vast that it is like giving a person a new identity. Jorma Niemelä describes how the self-image of a drug addict is partly constructed on thoughts of greatness caused by the alcohol, and partly on characteristics, such as unemployed, divorced, failure, and one living on the margin of society. Becoming a believer will replace this identity with that of a regular human, who is still loved and accepted by God. Salvation is not only salvation of the soul, as there will be visible changes in the everyday life. Giving one’s life to God means, in terms of consequences, a radical increase in having control over one’s own life. (4)

 

• Jesus is a good shepherd. Another important reason why Christianity has a positive impact on mental health, is faith in Jesus, the Son of God, our sinless and good Savior. He said He is a good shepherd, and when we convert to Him, we can be a part of God’s good promises. One of those include His promise to grant peace to our soul:

 

- (John 10:10,11) The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.

 

- (Matt 11:28-30) Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

 

- (John 14:27) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

 

Love for one’s neighbors and living in it is a third reason why Christianity should have a positive effect on mental health. As you read the teachings of Jesus and the disciples, we do not only see God’s love for people, but that everyone should love their neighbor. This is good advice, not only for the neighbor, but for the individual as well. That is, who could be happy if they hated their neighbor and held grudges? Hardly anyone. Negative emotions take away our peace.

Another good reason to not hate and hold grudges is that negative emotions contribute to poor health. Doctors have estimated that the majority of physical illnesses are caused by negative emotions, but if we find a way to free ourselves from those emotions, we should experience an improvement on our health.

 

- (Matt 22:36-40) Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

 

- (Rom 13:8-10) Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law.

9 For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

10 Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

 

- (1 John 3:11) For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

 

- (Eph 4:32) And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.

 

- (2 Cor 8:7) Therefore, as you abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that you abound in this grace also.

 

- (2 Cor 12:14,15) Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not your's but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

 

• Fullness of the Holy Spirit. The fourth reason why Christianity should have a positive effect on mental health is the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the joy it brings. However, it must be noted that current Western congregation is far from the fullness and richness of life that the apostles had. We have not been able to inherit the inheritance and the promises of God that the Scriptures promised for this lifetime as well.

Despite everything, change should follow from converting to God. Paul is an example of this, however, a rare one. When he had the fullness of the Spirit, he was able to be happy during struggles and hardships. He also urged other people to be happy and thankful. It is a great miracle of God when a person can be positive, happy and thankful even in some tougher conditions.

 

- (Rom 14:17) For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

 

- (Rom 15:13) Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

 

- (2 Cor 7:4) Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.

 

- (Phil 3:1) Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

 

- (Gal 5:22,23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

 

- (Phil 4:4) Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

 

A few examples from the lives of spiritual influencers, Dwight L. Moody (he lived during the 19th century) and Pentecostal apostle T.B. Barratt, show how God can implement change. Both went through a visible change on the inside. They gained a new kind of love towards people, but they also gained new strength to serve God, and more people started receiving salvation than before. Love and strength to serve God were both present, as they were in the lives of Jesus and the disciples. We need this today as well, since many people suffer from addiction, depression, and fears that trouble them. Fullness of the Holy Spirit is something that we need more of.

 

Moody: The blessing came over me like a lighting strike. I remember, how I walked the streets of New York and right there on the street the power of God seemed to come over me in such a miraculous way that I had to pray for God to hold back his hand. I was filled with the feeling of God’s goodness, and I felt as if I could have taken the whole world to my heart. (5)

 

Barratt: It took place yesterday, Sunday, October the 7th, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., and now I will tell you all how it happened. My soul is burning! I feel as if I was the happiest man in the world. Everything has become new. I am full of joy, peace, and love towards God and all people! Through the days he has led me, my heart continually shouting, “Forward! Forward!” Since my difficult illness over 20 years ago, there have always been forces, good forces, which have driven me forward. The question of sanctification has been my dearest subject; I have fought for it, even though I have not experienced it. (…)

   But how wretched I felt in my own eyes before the purity and holiness of God! I saw my own ambition, selfishness, stubbornness, and carnality. Oh, my God, I saw so much, so much that would grieve the Holy Spirit! I was broken and bent to the ground over and over again. (6)

 

Our third example is related to the life of a well-known 19th century preacher, Charles G. Finney. God reformed his life too, and he got to experience the help of God in his life. Up until that point, he had already been a preacher for several years and large groups of people had already converted to God.

 

Once the fussiness in my mind during this period settled and my heart calmed, I saw the different levels of my Christian experience clearer, and I realized the internal link of the matter, as they were all the work of God from start to finish. But from that moment on, I haven’t had those tough battles and painful periods of long prayer that I used to have so often. Based on my experience, it is completely different to “bend God” with my prayer. I can go before God more lacking, because my trust is fuller. He lets me rest now in Him and I can let everything fall into His perfect will with a much more open mind than ever before my experiences this winter.

From that moment on I have felt such spiritual open bravery, wholesomeness, and joy in God and in His word, such strength in faith, Christian freedom, and overflowing love, which I had only temporarily felt before. I don’t mean that it used to be rare for me, since I had experienced quite a lot and in a renewing way, but never as deeply. It felt like my chains broke and from that moment on I have been free like a child with a loving parent. I feel like I meet God in my own essence, in the sense that I can rest in Him and be calm, lay my heart in His hands and find my sanctuary in His perfect will, without worries and despair.

   I mentioned how these experiences were commonplace in my life from that on; however, I cannot say they have lasted the whole time without interruption, as I lived through a great depression and a period of strange humiliation during my illness in 1806. But My Lord lifted me up from it and rebuilt my peace and rest on a strong foundation. (7)

 

 

 

2. Worldy therapies and Christian soul care

 

This chapter looks at Christian soul care, which deviates quite noticeably from worldly therapies.

Worldly therapies are usually based on examination and discussion of the past to release a person from their anxieties. That is how they try to free people from their difficult experiences and painful memories. Through therapy people are taught to accept their past and move forward in life. This is often a process that can last up to months or even years, and the results might still be uncertain. However, it might help people in some sense, as there is someone who is listening to them and who understands them.

What about biblical support? As stated, it differs from worldly therapies. In soul care it is also helpful if the supporter is experienced and understands the hardships the supported might have endured, but there are also aspects that are not present, or emphasized, in worldly therapies. Two of the most important aspects of soul care include confession of sins and understanding the truth.

 

1. Confessing sins. As noted, the majority of mental health problems are caused by disappointing relationships and rejection from others. It might have led to hate, bitterness, desire for revenge, and negative feelings towards oneself: self-pity, self-judgement, and suicidal thoughts.

Similarly, we mentioned that worldly therapies often examine and discuss the past, so that the person would accept it and move forward in life. These kinds of therapies can take long discussions and the results might still be uncertain.

Whereas, in soul care an essential part is that we are also guilty, not only the people who hurt us. Basically, in terms of the person who has been hurt, it means two things which are recognizing their sins and confessing them to God.

 

• They must recognize their bitterness, hate, desire for revenge, and accusations towards others as sin. After which they should confess those sins to God and let go of them:

 

- (Matt 6:12,14,15) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For your is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

15 But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

 

• They must recognize their self-pity, self-judgement and suicidal thoughts as sin. After which they should confess those sins to God and let go of them.

 

- (1 John 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

What happens when we follow the principles of God? It can lead us to freedom from bitterness and depression, and it can also heal our physical state, because negative emotions are a burden to our health. Sven Reichmann explains further. He has conducted a lot of soul care:

 

A compliant, patient heart is free from all bitterness, and such a heart is, according to Salomon, the life of the whole body. Because bitterness sprouts from our lives, an incredible amount of illnesses, suffering, and misery have subsequently resulted. When the sprout is torn away, man will be freed from many sins, all those for which he has lost hope a long time ago.

...We must become aware of the sprout and we must bring it to light. Only then can we forgive and be free. That is, freedom happens only by forgiving the person we are bitter towards. One can become unbelievably free from a considerable amount of burden. One can realize things that they did not know to associate with the risen conflicts before. But once we have dug up the sprout of the bitterness, the real reasons behind the problems have been revealed. (8)

 

People feel the most resistance in soul care towards the teaching about them having to let go of their accusations and bitterness. They might explain that others do not deserve their forgiveness and that they have a right to be bitter. This is, however, an act that will bind us. We lock ourselves in a prison from the inside. It will make us unhappy for as long as we consider it our right to be bitter.

What about freedom from bitterness? No one can become free of it by themselves, of course, especially if it has been a binding force for years. However, we can receive the help of God’s grace. If you have seen your own powerlessness to free yourself from bitterness, give way to the grace of God. Tell God: “I cannot overcome this issue but thank You for the fact that You can overcome it!” Have faith in that He will do, what is impossible for you to do!

Our next quotation offers a frightening depiction of what bitterness can cause. The woman had been bound due to her unforgiveness (Eph 4:26,27: Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath: Neither give place to the devil..), but when she finally accepted to forgive, she became free. She followed this Bible teaching: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (John 1:9):

 

   A forty-year old woman was sitting at the front of the gathering hall and began acting strange. The beadsmen tried to take her to another room to pray for her, but when they entered the hallway, she started to act like an animal. She began to bite, claw and bang her head against the wall while growling at people. The beadsmen gathered around her and began shouting at the spirits and telling them to leave her alone, but nothing happened.

…I stepped beside them and placed my arms around the woman to prevent her from hitting her head against the wall. I asked her in whisper if she had anyone she needed to forgive.

“No”, she screamed. Then God showed me a vision of her father raping her, so I asked her if she should forgive her father. She started to shriek: “I hate him! I cannot stand him! He can rot in hell!”

I said: “If you don’t want to forgive him, I cannot help you. Demons have the right to torment you.” I stood up and started to walk off.

Once I reached the door, she screamed loudly (and still rampaging around): “Alright, I forgive him! I’ll do anything! Help me!” A moment later I guided her in prayer to forgive her father and a few other people that she could think of. Then we told the demons to leave. They left and she got up laughing! (9)

 

Confessing sins is not only limited to confessing bitterness, accusations towards others and self-hate to God. Although bitterness and self-blame are common issues in soul care, there are other sins as well that can bind people. For instance, getting affiliated with occultism (spiritism, faith healing, seeing a psychic, passive meditation…) might be a problem in some people’s lives. If they do not confess their sins to God and immediately let go of all the wrong connections to the spirit world, they cannot experience freedom. They must understand that repenting and confessing sins that go with it are keys to receiving God’s help. They also function as the second key pillars in Christian soul care.

   Corrie ten Boom explains the importance of confessing sins. She wrote that when people understand the message of Deut 18:10-13 -- that they have acted against God -- and when they confess their sins, they are immediately freed:

 

In the same way as Elisha sent 'the son of the prophet' back to the place where he had lost the axe and where the miracle took place (2 King 6:5,6), I too send people back to the place where they have, being guilty of sin, opened their hearts to the devil. I ask Jesus our Savior to close the door where they have opened it. Firstly, it is necessary to convince people that they really have sinned! Deut 18:10-13 proves this. Confession is necessary, and after it we can claim that the precious promises of purifying belong also to us (John 1:7-9). How many people I saw freed when they acted obediently according to this word! (10)

 

2. Understanding the truth. The first phase of soul care contained confessing improper attitudes towards others and oneself: hate, bitterness, accusations, and self-pity, self-judgement and suicidal thoughts. Similarly, one must confess any other sins that they are aware of. Otherwise, one cannot except to be free.

Another important factor in soul care is the truth, especially that through Jesus Christ we can be loved, accepted, and have our sins forgiven. Those with difficult relationship experiences might have a hard time believing this. In addition to having difficult relationships with others and themselves, they might see God in a negative light. They might think that God is judging them, is against them or does not even care about them. They place doubts on salvation and believe things about themselves and God that are not true.

How can one get rid of these false beliefs? Understanding the truth and replacing lies with the truth will help. When one welcomes Jesus Christ into their life and turns to God, they will no longer be a product of their past and negative experiences, since they have received a new position in the eyes of God through Jesus Christ. Our value is not dependent on our material goods, achievements, our career, ourselves, or how much others value us, as God has already determined our value. Our value is foremost dependent on the fact that through Christ we can be accepted, pardoned, loved, redeemed, and justified. It is all about our eternal state, whereas worldly things are only temporary.

When helping people, it is important to understand what we have through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, some people have it the wrong way around. That is, they try to change their behavior before they have even understood the position and identity, which we can have through Jesus Christ. Understanding our identity is the key to freedom, however. We must understand what Jesus has done for us and believe in it. Mark Driscoll mentioned about this in one of his books. It took a long time for him to understand this fundamental aspect.

 

I offered people soul care and guided them for years when they struggled with various problems, for example, with alcoholism, sexual perversion, pride, depression, hate, and with bitterness. It often felt like I was talking to a wall; even though I gave biblical advice, many seemed to not listen or care about what I was saying, and they kept living in their doomed lifestyle. It was frustrating and heart breaking.

I finally understood – largely thanks to smart advice from older and more experienced people – that the reason for struggles in life can be found in questions of the identity...

You are not what has been done to you, but what Jesus has done for you. You are not what you are doing, but what Jesus has done. What you do, does not define you. No, but rather who you are in the Christ, determines what you do. These are some of the fundamental truths that we study in more detail in this book. (11)

 

The comment below will elaborate further. It addresses grace, which we receive after welcoming Jesus Christ into our lives. Joseph Prince tells in his interesting book Destined to Reign about this. He used to preach about the mixture of law and grace, but it left people uncertain about the acceptance of God. Another impact it had was that people did not have strength to make a change in their life. Once he changed his preaching and began teaching about grace in the correct biblical way, people’s lives started to change:

 

It all started on a holiday in 1977 with my wife Wendy… God told me clearly: “Son, you do not preach about grace.”

I answered: “What do you mean, my Lord? I don’t believe that. That is not fair.” I continued: “But I am a preacher of grace. I have preached about it for years, and I say it like the others that we are saved through grace.”

The Lord answered: “When you preach about grace, you always talk about a mixture of law and grace. Like the others, you try to find a balance between law and grace. You make grace redundant, however, if you balance it with the law. You cannot put new wine in old bottles. There is no way you can combine grace with the law.” The Lord continued by saying: “The majority of preachers do not proclaim grace, like the apostle Paul did.” He ended the conversation that changed my ministerial work with these words: “If you do not preach grace radically, people will never experience a radical blessing and change in their life.”

…The number of members in our congregation had just increased to around 2000 members. After my encounter with the Lord in Switzerland it began to grow exponentially. On the first Sunday of the year 2007, ten years after I stared preaching about grace, over 15 000 people took part in our events. The Lord confirmed His word through both, the increase in the number of members of our congregation and the radical change in the lives of many precious people. The change resulted from preaching the real grace. Over the years, I have had the privilege to witness marriages being fixed, deliverance from supernatural debts, miraculous healings. I have also been happy to see children of God become free of their destructive addictions. (12)

 

Missing grace? As stated, misunderstanding grace can chip away at one’s piece of mind. Someone, especially with difficult relationships in the past, might reflect them on their relationship with God. They might think: “If people have not loved and accepted me, how could God accept me?” Their spiritual life and image of God are based on their past experiences. Grace and the love of God might not be fully realized.

As we begin to study this subject, it is good to understand that salvation is a gift. It will always be a gift, as can be seen in the following passages. If you had to pay for it with acts later, or if you had to achieve the acceptance of God by acts, it would no longer be an act of mercy or a gift. It would be a religion that is based on acts. We are either saved by grace or by actions, but not by both. If we have grace, there is no room for acts. Or if we try to affect our salvation with acts, there is no need for grace anymore. Acts can be good and worthwhile, but they should not be confused with the gift of salvation.

 

- (Eph 2:8-9) For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

 

- (Rom 3:24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

 

- (Rev 21:6) And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.

 

- (Rom 6:14,15) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

 

- (1 Peter 5:12) By Silvanus, a faithful brother to you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein you stand.

 

In this area you will find good teaching, e.g., in the Galatians and in the 15th chapter of the Acts. Those segments tell us how there were wrong teachers who added requirements to salvation, such as circumcision and other acts. However, the clear message of the apostles was that the grace we have through Jesus Christ is enough for salvation, and nothing else is needed (Acts 15:11: But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.). Moreover, Paul wrote in the Galatians as follows. He reprimanded the Galatians about converting to another gospel, where the Christ and His grace were not the main focus of the faith, as it was replaced by acts, or rather by attempt to gain God’s acceptance through acts:

 

- (Gal 1:6) I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel:

 

- (Gal 3:1-3) O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

2 This only would I learn of you, Received you the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

3 Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?

 

- (Gal 5:4) Christ is become of no effect to you, whoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.

 

Therefore, we must put our faith in Jesus Christ and in His atonement, and not in ourselves. We can have a restful soul only through His work. Trying to find assurance in ourselves is like throwing an anchor into the boat. It is clear that it would not work, and the boat would soon drift away. That is why we always throw the anchor off the boat, so that it will keep the boat still.

This was the problem Galatians had: they did not “throw their anchor” off to the Christ, because they were too focused on themselves and their own acts. Paul reprimanded them for that, and the same reprimand might be in place today if we find ourselves acting in the same way as the Galatians:

 

- (Gal 3:1) O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

 

- (Hebr 12:2) Looking to 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.

 

- (John 1:29) The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.

 

False teaching. As mentioned, one can easily be taught the wrong way about God and how to gain His acceptance. This is not new, as it was a problem in the Galatian society, when false teachers appeared. By false teachings we mean overemphasis on acts and duties without any mention of the position we can have through Jesus Christ. It is typical for this kind of false emphasis to center around sin, almost like a glooming judgement, and to see God as nothing else but a judge. In the same way, there is a lot of faultfinding, nagging, criticism, and self-control involved. This kind of teaching often leaves people spiritually in bondage and prevents them from progressing in their faith. It is not understood that it is, precisely, the lack of grace that leads to chained life filled with sin, whereas understanding it leads to growth and reform, as we have seen happen in practice multiple times. We should have the right order of going about things, in order to change. Meddling with the order will just take us out of the frying pan, into the fire.

What about law-mindedness in the congregation? It entails many of the same commonalities and properties as mentioned above. It means that grace and the atonement of Christ are hardly visible, whereas Christian acts, duties, rules and functions are the main focus. Functions, like evangelizing, is still important, but spiritual work should only be done because of our love for God and people. It should not be something that we are simply told to do by others, or because it is something that must be done. Especially, if a person is carrying out duties they have no natural skills for, it can lead to depression and burnout. It is difficult to do spiritual work for longer periods of time if one does not find it meaningful.

One can best unlearn law-mindedness and wrongful understanding of grace by understanding God’s grace, His love, and that He is a loving Father. Jack Frost tells his own fascinating experience about this in one of his books. He had a difficult childhood, and as a result he had a hard time understanding the love of God. His children had closed themselves from any affection and advice that he tried to offer them. His children rebelled and began to look for acceptance from the wrong crowd. They also did not want anything to do with an angry and law-minded God, as it was what they saw their father to represent. However, when Jack encountered the love of God in a new way in 1995 and was also healed from his abandonment experiences, it started a change, not only in him but in his children too. This example shows that many might have understood grace and the love of God in theory, but that it has not impacted their inner life:

 

It felt like God had taken me back in time to a time when I was ten. Suddenly, I saw very vividly situations from my childhood, when I used to hide in my closet at night, because I was afraid of my parents shouting and screaming at each other, which I could hear coming from their bedroom. I remembered the feeling of fear, loneliness, and abandonment. I felt a deep, painful longing into my father’s arms – an embrace that he could not give me during my childhood.

Suddenly, I realized that now, 34 years later, my heavenly Father answered my heart’s deepest longing to experience natural affectionate love from my father. I encountered God’s agape love. As I laid on the floor crying, Father God stepped into the dark closet of my childhood and held me in His arms. For three quarters the Holy Spirit poured the love that the apostle Paul talks about in the Romans in 5:5 into my mind, will, and feelings, and washed away a lot of my guilt, shame, fear of failing and being abandoned, and my fear of closeness and love. My breakthrough had finally arrived…

…My children’s hearts had been closed from me for years. Now the brokenness that I experienced began to open their spirits. Father’s affectionate agape love began to restore their father’s heart for his children, and it started to take down the curse in our life (See Malachi 4:6) Four months after I had received the special baptism of Father’s love, my daughter Sarah gave me an essay that she had written for her English class in school. The title read “What impacts my life the most…” my eyes started to tear up as I read her words:

 

What impacts my life the most is my dad! Through him I have seen the eyes of Jesus and felt His never-ending love! At some point, not so long ago, my dad was a scary man. He was like the captain Blight of H.M.S Bounty. Now he is gentle as a lamb, and as loving. As I have seen my father change from a tough man to an affectionate dad, it has made me change as well. His new patience has helped me through a very difficult year. As I have seen my dad love and cherish God more than ever before, miraculous things have happened to me. Instead of talking about God as a Holy Being, he talks about Him as Father… (13)

 

Unforgivable sin. Fear of committing an unforgivable sin or mockery of the Holy Spirit, is one motive behind people becoming depressed and desperate. (This is basically continuation for the former subject.) It is difficult to attain peace of mind if one does not have assurance of God’s acceptance. John Fletcher, contemporaneous with John Wesley, has written how people suffer in this state for nothing:

 

Some people themselves take heavy burdens to carry, and when they are unable to carry those burdens, their conscience is reproached by fictitious guilt. Some people go crazy because of groundless fears, thinking that they have committed an unforgivable sin. Do we not quite literally see hundreds of people who think that they do not have any hope whatsoever, even though they have full reason to be content with their state? (14)

 

When a person turns to Jesus and feels contrition, they have done quite the opposite to an unforgiving sin. Jesus showed that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to make people see their sins. That is why contrition and turning to Jesus Christ is the best testimony that one is a believer, saved, and that the Holy Spirit has made them sure of their state:

 

- (John 16:7,8) Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you.

8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

 

A believer can make the Holy Spirit mournful with their actions (Eph 4:30) and they can extinguish the Spirit (1 Thess 5:19), but neither of those are unforgivable actions. Whereas, Paul showed that when someone confesses Jesus as their Lord, it is an act of the Holy Spirit. Thus, a person who does that, cannot commit mockery of the Holy Spirit. God rejecting us is not an unforgivable sin, but us rejecting God is. Only a person who keeps living with a hardened heart and does not want salvation for their soul, can commit this sin. Sin against the Holy Spirit is more than just saying certain words. It is the complete refusal to turn to God, and never caring about Him.

 

- (1 Cor 12:3) Why I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

 

What causes people to end up in this state where they think they have committed an unforgivable sin? The biggest contributors are the lies of Satan. If we believe them, we are going to end up in despair. That is why we need to replace these lies with the truth. We must understand the truth about how we are forgiven for everything when we turn to God. That is, Jesus said, once we come to know the truth, it will set us free:

 

- (John 8:31,32) Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed;

32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

 

We are going to look at a quotation which tells us how the truth can set a person free. A well-known preacher from the 19th century, Charles G. Finney, tells how a woman became mentally ill and desperate in her relationship with God. She believed Satan’s lies about her not having forgiveness. Yet, when Finney brought up the truth in his preach, she became free.

 

There were quite a few interesting conversions, and a few in which a mental illness got better in just a blink of an eye. Once attending a Sunday afternoon gathering, I saw a few ladies sitting in the pew next to a woman dressed in black who seemed very uneasy. The others held her down and prevented her from leaving. After stepping in, one of the ladies came to me and told me that the woman was mentally ill. She thought she had been casted away from grace; it had led to despair and eventually to a mental illness.

…For some time, I heard her trying to leave, but before I stopped, she became calm and the whole audience was silent. The Lord gave me the spirit of prayer and the text, as I had not chosen it beforehand. My text was from the Hebrews: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

My aim was to strengthen our faith, ours as well as hers, and our faith for her. When I began to pray, she tried to leave at first. But the ladies gently held her down, and eventually she sat silently, but held her head down and seemed to have decided not to heed my words. But as I continued, her head began slowly raising up and she glanced at me under her black hat. Her gaze was more directed towards me, until she was sitting straight and looking into my eyes devoutly serious. I urged people to stay strong in their faith, rely on God, and to give themselves completely to Him through our Highest Priest’s atonement. Then she all of a sudden frightened the whole congregation by letting out a loud scream. She almost threw herself out of the pew, lowered her head down, and I saw her shivering. The women who were with her in the pew practically held her and they seemed to follow her with compassion and prayer. As I continued my speech, she began to raise her gaze again. Soon, she was sitting straight again, her face miraculously changed with a triumphant joy and peace on her face. I have rarely seen such glow in someone’s face. Her joy was so immense that she could barely control herself until the gathering was over. Then she announced her liberation to everyone. She praised God and rejoiced with miraculous glee. About two years later I met her, and her heart was still filled with that same joy and peace.  (15)

 

Distorted image of God. Previously, we discussed how difficult relationship experiences can distort one’s perception of God. If someone has experienced rejection from others, or they have had parents who have been too focused on his or her mistakes, they might often take their difficult experiences to their relationship with God. They might think that if the people closest to them have not accepted them as they are, how could God accept and appreciate them.

Because of their past, many might consider God a task leader who constantly keeps an eye on them to find faults and then punish them. They think God is angry, distant, impatient, and constantly disappointed in them, even when they try to do their best. On the other hand, some can believe that Jesus loves them, but do not see the loving nature of the Father.

What can one do about this distorted image of God? The answer is understanding the truth about the nature of God “For God is love” (1 John 4:8) and that a part of His essence is that He loves everyone despite what anyone might be feeling inside. It has been written, hasn’t it: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Moreover, we must understand that Jesus is the perfect image of our heavenly Father. When we read about Jesus who showed His love for people, we also read about our loving heavenly Father. Jesus Himself referred to this connection, which is why we should take it to heart:

 

- (John 14:8-10) Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it suffises us.

9 Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father?

10 Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?  the words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works.

 

- (Col 1:14,15) In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

 

- (Hebr 1:2,3) Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

 

Jesus’ parable about the prodigal son also brings up the nature of our loving Father. As the father of the prodigal son welcomed the boy with open arms, our heavenly Father does the same. We should have faith in these words, instead of relying on our feelings, which might come from disappointments in our past relationships:

 

- (Luke 15:17-24) And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you,

19 And am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants.

20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

21 And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, and am no more worthy to be called your son.

22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

23 And bring here the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

 

The following quotation illustrates how one can reform and heal from the inside, once they internalize God as this loving Father. A flawed worldly father or disappointing relationships should not define anyone’s value. Our value is found in our privilege to be the object of our heavenly Father’s love. The problem is that we are not able recognize our identity in Jesus Christ and our identity through Him. We receive it immediately in conversion. We are pardoned, accepted, and our sins have been forgiven through Christ. This is what is offered to anyone who turns to God and welcomes His Son, Jesus Christ, into their life.

 

In 2005 God touched my need for a father. My own father had been away from home quite a lot, and was not around to give shelter, guiding me into the real world, and encouraging me to express what I was feeling on the inside. I got my hands on a book about fatherhood, which set in motion a process of healing. God started to show me that He was the Father that I had always yearned and looked for. It was good to finally have those emotional needs met. Suddenly, it was like God came through, and for the first time in my life, I started seeing Him on my side. I heard Him say encouraging words about my personality. He defended me and told me that I was good. I also heard that He was over the moon when I was born! And that He is excited and proud of me as a personality. I had never heard that before, because in my own view everyone saw me as an unwanted and, especially, as nothing to be excited about. God began to feel like a Father to me that I had never seen or known before. It started a small rebellion inside me. I realized the truth (which the devil had hidden from me for years) that I am accepted, wanted, and welcome. God believes and has faith in me. I enjoy these truths and understand now that God has positive thoughts about my personality and sees a harmonious picture of me! Glory to Him for that! (16)

 

UDERSTANDING THE TRUTH. As previously mentioned, understanding the truth is the other key pillar in Christian soul care. If we understand our position through Jesus Christ, meaning that we are pardoned, justified, loved, accepted, and forgiven for our sins through Christ, it will change our inner life as well. It will give us strength to go through that change.

That is why we are going to look at a few passages that bring up our position through Jesus Christ. This is true in your life also if you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life and turned to God:

 

You have been saved by grace:

 

- (Eph 2:8,9) For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

 

- (Eph 2:4,5) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us,

5 Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;)

 

- (Acts 15:11) But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

 

In addition to your having been saved by grace, you are also now – all the time – under grace. This means that you are fully acceptable when you pray eight hours a day as when you have fallen. Neither your devoted service nor your human mistakes can change this in any way:

 

- (Rom 5:1,2) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 

- (Rom 6:14,15) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

 

- (Phil 1:7) Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace.

 

- (1 Peter 2:10) Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

 

- (1 Peter 5:12) By Silvanus, a faithful brother to you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein you stand.

 

You have been redeemed:

 

- (1 Cor 6:20) For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

 

- (Gal 3:13) Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree:

 

You are as righteous as Jesus, because you are in Him. Therefore, there is no need for you to try to be righteous by yourself:

 

- (1 Cor 1:30) But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

 

God is your father just like He is the father of Jesus:

 

- (Mark 14:36) And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what you will.

 

- (Rom 8:15) For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

 

- (Gal 4:6) And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

 

You are a child of God, because you have received Jesus into your life. At the same time, you are a joint-heir with Christ:

 

- (John 1:12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

 

- (Gal 4:5-7) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

7 Why you are no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

 

- (Rom 8:15-17) For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

 

- (1 John 3:1,2) Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.

2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

 

Jesus is your brother:

 

- (John 20:17) Jesus said to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brothers, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

 

God has loved you:

 

- (Eph 2:4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us,

 

- (John 3:16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

- (Rom 5:8) But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

- (1 John 4:10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

God has chosen you:

 

- (Eph 1:4) According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

 

- (1 Cor 1:28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are:

 

God wanted you to be born:

 

- (Rev 4:11) You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.

 

You are a friend of God:

 

- (John 15:15) From now on I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you.

 

Nothing can separate you from the love of God:

 

- (Rom 8:38,39) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

God is with you:

 

- (Ps 23:1-4) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters.

3 He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.

 

- (Hebr 13:5) Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.

 

You will spend the eternity with God, who loves you:

 

- (Rev 21:3,4) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

 

The following quotation is yet another reference to how God can make a change happen. It tells about a person who had suffered from depression for many years but began to liberate when she met the love and forgiveness of God. Furthermore, she gained strength to overcome her wrong thoughts, which included bitterness towards others and self-pity. These three things (understanding the love of God, freedom from bitterness and from self-pity) also function as cornerstones in soul care:

 

When I looked at the face of this attractive young woman, I could not help but think how common her case was. Firstly, by nature she was undeniably melancholic, which is why she was negative, sensitive, and overly prone to self-contemplate. Moreover, she had lost all her hope for the future. As someone coming from a broken home, she was literally unwanted by her parents and by her siblings.

The first step in Beth’s extraordinary recovery was her accepting Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. That is when she found love and forgiveness, both of which she had longed for. She also gained strength to overcome her thoughts that were full of revenge and self-pity. When she received the strength from Jesus Christ to forgive her parents, Jesus removed the roots of bitterness that had paralyzed her for years. (17)

 

DIFFICULTIES OF LIFE. As for the Christian life, it can sometimes be misrepresented. It may be taught that all our problems become solved and that life will be full of sunshine after conversion. This can easily be what is conveyed to people, although it does not corroborate with the truth at all. Some might have even rushed to quit their medication (even psychotic drugs) before being completely ready for it. Such mistakes are easily made.

Despite everything, there will be problems in life, and they might be depressing to some. Some are quicker to become depressed. Especially, people with melancholic tempers are often the ones driven to depression and hopelessness. They have a natural “gift” to find themselves in negative thoughts.

How can we combat depression and hopelessness then? We can never escape it completely, but at least the following tips might help a little.

 

Thinking makes one unhappy. Firstly, it is important to note that circumstances themselves do not cause depression. (How hate is not dependent on what others do. Hate is a product of our own thinking.) Instead, depression is dependent on how we react to our circumstances. We make ourselves unhappy with our negative thoughts. We are afraid of losing others’ approval and we keep thinking about it. We are afraid that our money problems will never be solved, and we keep dwelling on it. Or we think and worry about things that cannot be changed. We do not take into consideration the Bible teaching that we are told not to worry and that we should be happy and thankful:

 

- (Matt 6:25-27) Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?

 

- (Phil 4:6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

 

- (1 Thess 5:18) In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

 

- (Phil 4:4) Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

 

Adjusting our thinking patterns seems to have an important role in treating depression. If we do not realize that it is our own way of thinking that is making us unhappy, and not our circumstances, we fail to see the bigger picture. We blame our surroundings and difficult people, but forget that negative thinking will drain any happiness from life, not circumstances per se.

What about the supernatural side of depression? It is true that depression is often caused by natural causes, such as family issues, traumatic experiences, feelings of inadequacy, and money troubles, as well as negative way of thinking towards any worries. Can depression be caused by a spirit of depression? We cannot entirely exclude this option, because any number of sins or wrongful thinking can lead to pressure from the devil sooner or later. It can torment us with things caused by difficulties in our life.

How can one recover from these problems? We can, of course, resist the evil forces causing depression by telling them to leave in the name of Jesus Christ, which should make them leave. Yet, our own thoughts remain. Can we think positively, or are we still harboring negative thoughts? We should also reform our way of thinking, which can be a long process. Well-known teacher, Derek Prince, tells about his own experiences with these issues. He talks about his liberation from the spirit of depression, but also about how he had to reshape the way he thinks:

 

Had come a crucial moment in my life. I had always considered my depression and negative attitude to be an expression of my own character, something I had been born with. I had felt guilty for not being a “better” Christian. Now it became clear to me that my struggle was not against any part of my personality at all.

   Immediately the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the promise in Joel 2:32, “that whoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered.” I decided to accept the promise and act on it. I said a simple prayer that went something like this: “Lord, you have shown me that the spirit of depression has diminished me, but you have promised in your word that those who cry out for your name will be saved. So I ask you to release me in the name of Jesus! ”

   The answer came immediately. It was as if a huge celestial vacuum cleaner came upon me and sucked away the gray mist that had surrounded my head and shoulders. At the same time, the pressure on my chest greatly eased and I gasped.

   God had answered my prayer. Suddenly everything around me seemed brighter. It felt like a big burden had been taken off my shoulders. I was free! All my life I had been anxious. It felt strange to be free. However, it quickly became clear to me that it was normal to be free and the anxiety was abnormal.

   My old enemy didn't give up on me. I still had to fight depression. But the big difference was that now the attacks came from outside and not from inside. Little by little I learned to resist them.

   The main target of the attacks was to make me act and be pessimistic. When everything seemed to go wrong, I began to incubate negative thoughts about what was going to happen. Very soon I felt again all too familiar the fog begin to descend around my head and shoulders.

   At that point, God taught me another important lesson: He would do for me what I can't do for myself, but He wouldn't do what He wants me to do. God had answered my request and set me free from the spirit of depression, but after that he placed it under my responsibility to exercise biblical discipline over my thoughts. (18)

 

Are we accepting experiences as coming from the hand of God? Another reason why people might be depressed is that they do not see the hand of God that is behind everything, because we are too focused on our surroundings and other people. He has allowed all daily events to happen in our lives. We often have a hard time seeing that He does His good work through the things that happen to us, instead, we complain about it and get depressed. This is the general reaction when facing problems in our life.

What if we accepted those challenging aspects of our lives and accepted them as coming from God? It will not take away those problems, but it will make life a little easier. Our burden will be lighter if we accept those challenges, instead of trying to get rid of them. Madame Guyon has taught about this particularly important topic, which often reveals our incomplete nature:

 

How should you react when the Lord does His work in your life through some cross? When something comes into your life that your flesh, your own self, dislikes, immediately surrender to God. Accept that thing. At that moment, give yourself as a sacrifice to Him.

   By doing this, you will eventually make a huge discovery: when the cross comes into your life, it will be nowhere near as heavy as you first feared. Receive it from God's hand, whatever it may be. The burden is much lighter in this way. The burden is reduced because you are happy to accept it.

   Do not misunderstand these words. I have not described to you how to get rid of carrying a risk. Even if you left yourself completely to God and loved your cross, it will not stop you from feeling the pain it produces. Feeling pain is one of the most essential aspects of suffering. Suffering is intertwined with the essence of the cross. Remember that your Lord took to bear the extreme suffering of the cross. (19)

 

Watchman Nee elaborates further. He says how we might look at other people but fail to see God behind the challenges we face. Difficult people and difficult circumstances can be a blessing from God in disguise, which we might not fully understand. They are gestures of God’s love for us. We need His revelation to fully comprehend it. He allows difficult thing to happen, in order to make us understand that He is with us even during the hard times. We should start to thank God, instead of worrying too much and complaining about other people’s mistakes.

 

Firstly, many live in darkness and are blind to the hand of God. When God acts and breaks something down, people do not realize that all that destruction comes from Him. They have no light and think that everyone is against them. They think their circumstances are too difficult and find it best to complain about it. And so, they will keep wandering in the dark and hopelessness.

May God give us a revelation to let us see what comes from His hand, and we could kneel before Him and say: “It is You, and because it is You, I accept.” We should at least feel the hand that is shaping us. It is not a human hand, not a hand of a family member, not one from our congregation; it is the hand of God. We need to learn to kneel, kiss and love the hand that is shaping us. We need to enter the light, which allows us to accept and believe everything that our Lord has ever done. The Lord makes no mistakes. (20)

 

 

 

 

3. Influence of evil spirits

 

- (Mark 5:14-16) And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.

15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

16 And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.

 

- (Acts 8:5-8) Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ to them.

6 And the people with one accord gave heed to those things which Philip spoke, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.

8 And there was great joy in that city.

 

While studying depression, doctors have tried to figure out what causes it. They often talk about an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that should be balanced with medication. Indeed, many have received a momentary relief with medication. But if someone does not seem to get better after a while, there is reason to consider other underlying factors; such that cannot be solved with traditional medicine.

One inexplicable reason behind mental suffering can be the influence or oppression from evil spirits. A lot of what Jesus and the disciples did were focused on these issues. Not only did they preach the gospel and heal the sick, but they also freed people from duress of evil spirits.

The following example is related to the matter. The writer tells that even though he was a Christian, he was under duress from evil spirits. He went through a mild mental breakdown, but once people prayed for him, he experienced freedom from the evil spirits that had caused him anxiety:

 

In 1984 I faced a great challenge …I was taken over by fear and weakness for a whole year. My life was fluctuating; I was under confusion, darkness, panic and in a constant state of waiting, because I thought I would have a heart attack, or be told by doctors that I have cancer. I fought to stay alive, but I had no strength to make a change. I was floating like a beachball in the waves.

One day, when I was supposed to lead our gathering, I experienced a mild breakdown of the nerves…

In one gathering I fell from the force of God. While laying on the floor, God gave me for the first time the vision I told you about in the beginning. Afterwards I felt like I needed to have the staff pray for my freedom from evil spirits. They prayed a simple prayer without any formalities. But inside me, everything changed! I was convinced that I had finally understood the reason behind my year-long suffering. Through the revelation I felt assured that I had been tormented by evil spirits. You do understand that assuming the truth, or even believing in it, is not enough – one must commit to the truth, because faith without actions is dead.

I have never experienced such a truth that would have helped as much – I got to go from a state full of suffering, to a state of peace, freedom, strength and certainty! I have now lived in this revelation for years and used it in my prayers to help myself, my family, and countless of other people from different nations. (21)

 

Two extremes. When it comes to the influence of evil spirits, one can go to two extreme approaches in that area. Both can be harmful in their own right. The first wrong approach results in unnecessary fears. The latter leaves people suffering with their problems and struggles.

 

The first wrongful approach is explaining all problems as coming from evil spirits and trying to banish non-existent demons. Some people can also be afraid that they have been possessed by evil spirits, even when it is not be the case. This is the other extreme people can fall for in this area. We do not realize that the causation of our problems can be completely natural. If someone suffers, e.g., because of their extremely difficult father-in-law, it does not mean that he would be possessed.

 

The second wrongful approach is to completely deny the existence and influence of evil spirits. This is common, especially in the Western countries, where people generally do not believe in anything supernatural. Whereas, in rest of the world people know them to be real and are aware of them. The major reason for such a contrast is probably due to the fact that witchcraft and idolatry has been practiced for centuries in other parts of the world. That is why people in those areas are aware of the spirit world, but they do not have solutions as to how to free themselves from the influence of evil spirits.

This small real-life example shows how missionaries have to face these issues on the daily. The answer to solving these problems is to turn to Jesus Christ, confess one’s sins and resist evil spirits in the name of Jesus Christ. Social work alone, no matter how good, is never enough:

 

Doctor Charles Kraft, my colleague from Fuller’s theological seminary, tells what happened to him in Nigeria. He tried to teach, what the Letter to the Romans has to say, to a small tribe. After a few months the same people came to him and explained very politely that his teachings are good, but did not cater to their needs at all. They needed wisdom for their nightly battles with bad spirits that were tormenting them. Doctor Kraft had to admit that, unfortunately, he never received training to act against bad spirits. (22)

 

Despite everything, if we take the Bible teaching and our everyday life experiences as they are, we cannot put aside this possibility. Many inexplicable problems can be caused by evil spirits, which is when psychiatry and traditional medicine cannot do much to help. The more we see occultism (spiritism, psychic healing, passive meditation, witchcraft, etc.) spread in the Western world, the more we see similar issues that have plagued the rest of the world for centuries.

The following quotation relates to the matter. It is an article from a magazine called Ultra, where the author explains how many have began to suffer from mental disorders as a result of practicing occultism. We are dealing with such matters, which in biblical terms would be called false spirits (evil spirits). Those involved with occultism often do not realize this, because they do not believe in the Bible teaching about evil spirits and how they deceive people.

 

Need for Crisis Service in the Area of Paranormal Information

 

What is really happening in paranormal information? Have people been too quick to get involved with something that they cannot get out of without any help? The much talked-about enlightenment of the age of Aquarius is seemingly happening way too fast, chakras are being opened too early on. People should let them open in their own time, when they are ready to withstand the heightening of their physical capabilities.

Many of us are so eager to see, hear and experience what our poor physical senses are not able to achieve, that people will do almost anything to speed up the process of unlocking astral vision and hearing. Unfortunately, people are not fully aware of the consequences.

Unlocking astral vision before building up defense mechanisms is frightening. On top of shapes, some people can see distorted, taunting faces, some of which might even move, which is a truly unpleasant experience in a dark room.

Unlocking astral hearing will result in losing one’s sanctity in the home. They will never be alone. Sometimes there is only one eager heckler, who has a comment for everything our victim does. This urges people to do all kind of crazy and dangerous acts; walking to a cliff edge, driving their car into a ditch. The victim is being frightened and threatened with all kinds of accidents. Sometimes the heckler might reveal their name, which can be the same as the name of the lord of darkness… (23)

 

Here are a few other comments on the same subject. They discuss UFO sightings, which have resulted in negative aftermath. Some might experience a physical healing, but in the long run their happiness in life will diminish. Consequences from UFO-experiences can be similar to what people have to endure after partaking in occultism (spiritism, witchcraft…). The first comment comes from a well-known UFO expert, John Keel. He mentions the following in one of his books:

 

Working with UFOs can be just as dangerous as black magic (…) the consequences range from paranoid schizophrenia and demonic mania to suicide.  (24)

 

John Keel continues his account of what usually happens to the lives of the people who have been in contact with UFOs:

 

I have helplessly watched these people fall into a hopeless decay of personality and become insane or even commit suicide.

 

Bob Larson continues along the same lines in his book UFO. He describes problems of people who have been in contact with UFOs and says that he has not yet met anyone who has in the long run considered their UFO experiences positive. The humanoids did not offer them any peace of mind. This is all understandable in the light of the fact that the so-called aliens are not aliens from other planets, as they are false spirits (evil spirits) deceiving people:

 

In hundreds of accounts and personal interviews that I have examined, not a single victim has expressed his encounter with the humanoids being comforting. Humanoids do not offer peace of mind. Instead, those psychiatrists who have examined kidnapped people say that most of these encounters lead to serious traumas followed by distressing nightmares and fearsome memories. This initial fearful reaction generally gives way to resignation when you submit to the idea that you are a mediator through whom supernatural information is transferred. These people feel like manipulated robots who do not have any other possibility than to obey these more developed beings.

   Because these people are completely under the influence of these beings, they feel that they are controlled by them so much that they no longer have any life of their own. Every decision in their life is controlled by these higher beings. If these bearers of messages really mean well and are mentally more developed, as they generally claim, why do their appearances not offer any comfort?

 

What is the solution Christianity has to offer to those who suffer from the influence of evil spirits? Can Jesus help people who seem to suffer from mental disorders which seem to not have a specific cause? This will be our next topic of investigation.

 

Freedom through Jesus. Firstly, we must understand that Jesus does not only hold salvation and eternal life. He also holds freedom from evil spirits. We will find freedom through Him, as His name has the power over dark spirits. That is why you should turn to Jesus Christ with your whole heart and give your life to Him. You can pray a salvation prayer like so, for example: Lord, Jesus, I turn to You. I confess that I have sinned against You and have not lived according to Your will. However, I want to turn away from my sins and follow You with all my heart. I also believe that my sins have been forgiven through Your atonement and I have received eternal life through You. I thank You for the salvation that You have given me. Amen.

 

- (John 5:39,40) Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

40 And you will not come to me, that you might have life.

 

- (Luke 10:17-20) And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us through your name.

18 And he said to them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

19 Behold, I give to you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject to you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

 

After conversion to God and Jesus Christ, one can still experience difficult spiritual battles. Why is that, and why do some people wind up in bondage in the first place? The following reasons might apply, e.g.:

 

1. Committing sin. The first causal factor is one’s own sin, which has made them prone to the influence of evil spirits. Occultism, especially, is such a sin that seems to have an extreme binding force on people. If a person has visited a psychic healer, been involved with UFOs, practiced passive meditation, or has otherwise gotten themself mixed up with paranormal information, it could leave them in bondage.

However, the most common sin is bitterness, unforgiveness, and placing judgement on others. If someone is unwilling to forgive, they can stay in bondage and will not be forgiven by God (Matt 6:15: But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.). That is why forgiveness is so imperative when seeking freedom.

 

2. Influence of the family. Another reason behind someone’s bondage can be occultism practiced by their family, e.g., they might have recited oaths, or committed other serious sins. Demonic fortresses can move down from one generation to another. An example of this is clairvoyance, which can be passed down from parents to children. Some people talk about special generations of seers. When a person finally turns to God, they might not even be aware of these bondages, but those hidden bondages might still restrict their spiritual life and take away their happiness in life. It can also be what causes depression, and as a result, one might have to go through difficult spiritual battles.

How can one become free of such bondages? It is possible if the sins of parents and ancestors are confessed and let go of. This is not way to affect the fate of one’s ancestors, but it takes away the devil’s right to influence that person’s life. Prayer and commands can be executed in the following way, e.g.:

 

Oh Lord, Father, I confess to You all the sins of my ancestors and parents such as witchcraft, spiritualism, spirit healing, immorality, false oaths, etc. and I break away from them. Thank You that I may be free from the effect of these sins and from all the evil spirits through the atoning work of Jesus. Thank You that my spiritual inheritance comes from Christ and not from the sins of my ancestors. Amen

 

"Satan and you evil spirits, I have confessed to God the sins of my ancestors and parents and the false oaths and broken away from them. Now you no longer have any legal right in this regard, because through the blood of Jesus these matters have been forgiven and their effect has been broken. Therefore, I command you now in the name of Jesus Christ to leave me and my surroundings, and never to return!

 

3. Traumatic experiences are the third reason why people have these problems. If someone has been in an accident, or they have had traumatic relationships, those things can be the cause of their suffering. Satan is an accuser (Rev 12:10) and a tempter (Matt 4:3) and he will remind people of their unpleasant memories. We might even harbor wrongful thoughts ourselves and think about other people’s wrongdoings. This will give the devil more opportunities to influence our lives.

 

- (Eph 4:26,27) Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath:

27 Neither give place to the devil.

 

- (2 Cor 2:10,11) To whom you forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

 

Those with a background of difficult relationships and those who have been hurt, should keep these two things in mind: bitterness and accusations against others, as well as accusations towards oneself. Firstly, one must confess their hate, bitterness and accusations as sin. In other words, we must let go of that role of an accuser and forgive. If we stick with the role of an accuser and refuse to forgive, we only cooperate with Satan, who is an accuser (Rev 12:10). That is why you should forgive, in order to be free! If you feel like you have a hard time forgetting wrongdoings that have been done against you, ask God for a forgiving mind!

Self-hate, suicidal thoughts, and accusations against oneself should also be confessed as sin. If you have suicidal thoughts, or you blame yourself, you are just as wrong as those who blame others. Therefore, you must confess to God any wrong thoughts or blames you have towards yourself! You must also accept the Bible teaching according to which God has always loved you, and always will.

 

- (1 John 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

- (1 John 4:9,10) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

If you have traumatic experiences, it is likely they trouble you in your sleep and your memories. However, we can let God and Jesus Christ deal with these kinds of problems. It can be difficult to become free of the burdens of the past on your own, but God can help you. After all, it has been written: "Casting all your care on him; for he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). Likewise, Jesus gave the following promises:

 

- (Matt 11:28-30) Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

 

- (John 14:27) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

 

Confess your sins and resist the devil! When you have turned to Jesus, you now must close the portals through which the devil has had the opportunity to impact your life. It is simply done by confessing all your sins you can think of and resisting the powers of evil that have had their way in your life. You can tell the accuser and tempter to leave from your life (James 4:7: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.) Confessing sins and resisting can be handled, e.g., with the following example phrases:

 

Oh Lord, Father, forgive me for taking part in spiritualism, spirit healing, etc. Thank You that You forgive me and cleanse me of all unrighteousness through the blood of Your Son Jesus.

 

Satan and you demons, I have confessed to God that I have taken part in séances, spirit healing, etc. Now you have no more legal right in these areas, because through the blood of Jesus I have been forgiven. Therefore, I command you now in the name of Jesus Christ to leave me and my surroundings, and never to return!

_________

 

Oh Lord, Father, forgive me for emptying my mind and making it passive for it is not Your will. Thank You that You forgive me and cleanse me of all unrighteousness through the blood of Your Son Jesus.

 

Satan and you demons, I have confessed to God that I have emptied my mind and made it passive. Now you have no more legal right in this area, because through the blood of Jesus I have received forgiveness from God. Therefore, I command you now in the name of Jesus Christ to leave me and my surroundings, and never to return!

__________

 

Oh Lord, Father, forgive me for my wrong connections to the spirit world! I ask You to take away those supernatural gifts and abilities that are not from You and also all such connection with the spirit world that is not from You. Thank You that You cleanse my body, soul and spirit of all unrighteousness through the blood of Jesus. In the name of Jesus, amen

 

Now, in the name of Jesus Christ, I command all evil spirits who gave me the ability to be in connection with the spirit world to leave my life immediately and never to return!

__________

 

Oh Lord, Father, forgive me for interfering with relationships outside marriage, pornography, and other such sins! Thank You that You forgive me and cleanse me of all unrighteousness through the blood of your Son Jesus.

 

Satan and you demons, I have confessed to God that I have interfered with wrong relations and pornography that are not the will of God. Now you no longer have a legal right in this respect, because through the blood of Jesus I have received forgiveness from God. Therefore, I command you now in the name of Jesus Christ to leave me and my surroundings, and never to return!

__________

 

Oh Lord, Father, forgive me for my bitterness and my accusations towards... Thank you that You forgive me and You cleanse me of all unrighteousness through the blood of Your Son Jesus.

 

Satan and you demons, I have confessed to God that I have been bitter towards...  Now you no longer have a legal right in this regard, because through the blood of Jesus I have received forgiveness from God. Therefore, I command you now in the name of Jesus Christ to leave me and my surroundings, and never to return!

__________

 

Oh Lord, Father, forgive me for my self-hatred, my suicidal thoughts, and my self-pity! Thank You that You forgive me and cleanse me of all unrighteousness through the blood of Your Son Jesus.

 

Satan and you demons, I have confessed to God my self-hatred, suicidal thoughts and self-pity. Now you no longer have a legal right in this regard, because through the blood of Jesus I have received forgiveness from God. Therefore, I command you now in the name of Jesus Christ to leave me and my surroundings, and never to return!

__________

 

" Oh Lord, Father, forgive me my pride and envy towards others. Forgive me my rebelliousness and forgive me for not having respected those who You have placed above me. Thank You that You forgive me and cleanse me of all unrighteousness through the blood of Your Son Jesus.

 

" Satan and you demons, I have confessed to God my pride, my envy and my rebelliousness. Now you no longer have a legal right in this regard, because through the blood of Jesus I have received forgiveness from God. Therefore, I command you now in the name of Jesus Christ to leave me and my surroundings, and never to return!

__________

 

"Lord, Father, I bring before You all the fears, shame and feelings of inferiority that have come to me after traumatic events. Thank You for letting me be free through Your Son Jesus Christ, as He said: “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt 11:28-30)

 

" Satan and you demons, I have confessed to God all the fears, shame and feelings of inferiority that were caused by traumatic events in school, at home, or in an accident. Now you no longer have a legal right in this regard, because through the blood of Jesus these things have been forgiven and their influence on me has ended.. Therefore, I command you now in the name of Jesus Christ to leave me and my surroundings, and never to return!

__________

 

"Oh Lord, Father, I confess to You that it is wrong to worry about things that cannot be changed. Thank You that I can bring all my worries to You and have faith that You will take care of me, and I do not need to worry about and be depressed about the future.

 

"Satan and you demons, I have confessed to God my unnecessary worrying and depression and I have let go of them. Now you have no legal right in this area, because I have been forgiven for these things through the blood of Jesus and their effect on me has ended. Therefore, I command you now in the name of Jesus Christ, all spirits of depression and despair to leave me and to never return."

__________

In the name of Jesus Christ, I break all curses that have been uttered against me. At the same time, I command all demonic powers and illnesses in the name of Jesus Christ to leave me and my surroundings and my family, and never to return.

   And Oh Lord, beloved Heavenly Father, I ask that You would give me protection against hatred and that You break all ties between me and the attacks of the spirit world. In addition, I want to bless those who have spoken ill about me and cursed me. In the name of Jesus, amen.

 

 

 

 

4. Special groups

 

HOW TO HELP THOSE WITH HOMOSEXUAL TENDENCIES? When people attack against Cristian belief, one specific target for attack is sexuality. People explain that Christianity represents negativity towards different sexualities and is overall a negative philosophy of life. In this context people often bring up homosexuality, and how Christianity in their opinion stands for a close-minded and old-fashioned view of the world, which has no place in the modern world. Similarly, they might think that the biblical God hates homosexuals, especially.

How to help people with homosexual tendencies? How should we approach them and help them in the congregation? We are going to discuss these topics next.

 

God has loved people. Looking at this topic, the first misconception is that God has some kind of special hatred towards certain groups of people, like the homosexuals, e.g. But on the contrary, God has loved all people and wants to connect with them. That is the reason why Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth. Through Him anyone can inherit the kingdom of God, no matter their background. There is no person too sinful for God not to forgive them if they turned to Him.

 

- (Rom 5:6,8) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

8 But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

- (1 John 4:9,10) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

Is everything morally okay? Secondly, we must ask; can any behavior be morally okay and is any sexual behavior correct? Here is where people’s opinions divide, and that is because some people do not consider sex outside of marriage and homosexuality as anything wrong, whereas others do. According to the Bible, sexuality in itself is not a bad thing if it is something between a husband and a wife who are married to each other. Other sexual relations are wrong, however.

Another important factor is the truth. If we presume that Jesus and the disciples’ teaching is an announcement from God, we must realize that purposeful homosexuality is a sin that will lead to damnation. It is not the only sin leading to damnation but one amongst many. Those who support this lifestyle and other improper lifestyles in the eyes of God, are leading other people to hell. These people do not help anyone, as they give people false assurance about their eternity.

We can also ask how would the supporters of these sins know better than Jesus and the disciples that God will be tolerant towards adultery, purposeful homosexual affairs, or other wrongdoings? Isn’t their understanding based on imagination, since they do not have any personal knowledge about what is on the other side?

 

- (1 Cor 6:9,10) Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Understanding different backgrounds. Thirdly, it is important to understand people’s backgrounds. Those with homosexual tendencies often have similar underlying factors which have impacted their lives. Men might have had a difficult father relationship, rejection from school peers, and other traumatic experiences, including sexual abuse. Similarly, women might have had similar experiences with people of their own gender. Some women might have had an abusive and diminishing father or some other male figure in their life.

Those who become homosexuals are often driven to it by natural causes. They have a normal and natural need to feel accepted by their gender peers, which may not have happened in their youth. It will manifest itself in the wrong way, which is through their sexuality. They will fill that void with their sexuality instead of friendships. The following honest comments will shed more light into the matter. The comments come from two men who have had homosexual tendencies and background, and they tell how their difficult relationships with the same gender, especially with their father, impacted their lives:

 

There was a visible alienation from my masculinity in many parts of my early sexual development. I felt like I was not enough and not suited to be a man. It was greatly due to the emotional distance I built between me and my father, which was equally caused by my own expectations and false perceptions, as well as my father’s flaws. My separation from my father was reinforced by my peers’ constant rejection, which had begun in elementary school and continued throughout my puberty. Because I had distanced myself from my father and male peers, I began to feel a strong inclination towards homosexuality. I did not understand the hurtful and judgmental mind that I had towards men. I also did not understand how hard it was for me to cope with my masculinity. (25)

 

I had many broken relationships, but one was especially painful – my relationship with my father. The hurt I felt through him was so vast that I saw him as this gloomy entity watching my every move, even though we lived thousands of miles from each other...

Unlike other children, I never wanted to be like my father, because I didn’t see any admirable qualities in him. Not only did he not give me confidence to be a man, but he also disrespected and mocked my masculinity. As a result, I drowned out all my masculinity and made myself stand out from anything that my father represented. I also remember an inner oath swearing that I would never become like him...

The looks my father gave me never expressed love or support; they were often filled with cruel insults. One of my father’s workers once told me: “Mario, your father is the only man I know who can neuter another man with just one nasty look.” (26)

 

Our third comment addresses a woman’s sexuality. Homosexuality in women often has an underlying factor of a difficult mother relationship. It is the most common factor:

 

Like Bette, Bonita was also left without shelter from a mother. Although she had become a devoted Christian, memories of an early abandonment were still painful and shaped her life. Her history included her mother trying to have an abortion, although an earlier pregnancy had also been aborted; these were the things Bonita’s mother was not afraid to tell her daughter, when she was still very young. A mother who had failed in her attempt to destroy her even before her birth, had always rejected her, because she had intruded her life and the mother actively hated her if she received any kind of love from her father.

... I also told these two stories briefly to highlight what I already talked about Lisa. Quite often those who fall for a lesbian relationship, are in the same situation as Lisa, Bette and Bonita – it is a careless moment and relates to the fact that the woman has not received any affection from their mother. Bette and Bonita got better, like Lisa, when they let the Christ fill their inner void and heal their past losses and abandonments. (27)

 

Remaining temptations.

 

- (Matt 16:25,26) For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

 

It should also be kept in mind that people struggling with homosexual feelings, are in the same position as people who struggle with other temptations. Some might be inclined to watch heterosexual pornography, others are addicted to alcohol, extramarital affairs, bitterness, temper tantrums, as there are all kinds of sins. Everyone has their own tendencies and temptations that they struggle with.

Those who struggle with homosexual feelings and want to be free of them, can often become disappointed by the fact that they are still tempted by homosexuality. However, God rarely takes away all temptations from people. He could do it, and some have experienced it, but we often have to learn how to resist those temptations – not in our own strength but to have faith that God will give us willpower and strength to resist. The only person who never fell for temptation was Jesus. Through Him imperfect people can get closer to God; whatever their background may be.

 

- (Hebr 4:14,15) Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

 

Friendships. Important channels in healing can be people that are close. When a person expects abandonment, but instead feels acceptance from others, it will help them accept themselves in a new way. This is a normal for healing.

Those with homosexual tendencies and backgrounds are no exception. We are not often well prepared to help such people in congregations, and we should work on that. Normal friendships with the same gender can be a real beneficial factor. A person who has been in homosexual relationships has this to say:

 

I finally agreed to contemplate my way of being. What was keeping my homosexual desires alive? I noticed this coldness towards my own father that felt unnatural. When I inspected more closely, I became aware of the deep feelings of hate and spite that I had for him, which I had pushed down for years... I cried, because my need for male friends was so great. Something inside me cried for such a strengthening and affectionate partner, who still would not bind me. I did not need sex or romance from men – I simply wanted friends! For years I had felt a lack in positive sources of male acceptance, and my soul had suffered from my attempts to fill that need with homoeroticism. God put me through this deeper level of healing, in order to make me distinguish genuine from ingenuine. (28)

 

HOW TO HELP CHILDREN?

                                                             

When Jesus was here on earth, we are told how He embraced children in His arms and blessed them. He who was and is the perfect image of God and one with God, loved children and only wanted good things for them. He also stated how the kingdom of God is for those who are like children. Similarly, He also stated how those who misguide children from believing in Him would have a bad fate:

 

- (Mark 10:14-16) But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said to them, Suffer the little children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

15 Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them.

 

- (Matt 18:1-7) At the same time came the disciples to Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

2 And Jesus called a little child to him, and set him in the middle of them,

3 And said, Truly I say to you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

4 Whoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5 And whoever shall receive one such little child in my name receives me.

6 But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

7 Woe to the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!

 

How can we help children in terms of mental health? As we are discussing mental health, it is important to realize that most mental disorders are caused by difficult experiences in childhood and youth. It is often caused by feelings of not being important to one’s parents or being rejected by their peers in school. We are only going to briefly look at the first reason and how to fix it. There are three important cornerstones. Those include relationship between parents, relationship between parents and children, and the child’s relationship with God. If all these aspects are in balance, a child should have a safe foundation set for life:

 

Stay together with your spouse! One of the best ways to help children mentally is simply to offer them a home where the parents are together, forgive each other and love each other. A warm relationship between the parents is a key factor in making children feel safe. The relationship does not need to be perfect, but if the child has basic confidence that his or her parents will stay together despite possible difficulties, it will offer them a good base for their mental health. This small example illustrates what it means for a child that his or her parents stay together and what it means if they do not. Growing up without a father is a modern problem, particularly:

 

When I was speaking at a certain men's camp in Hume Lake in California, I mentioned that the average father spends only three minutes of quality time with his child a day. After the meeting, one man questioned my information.

    He scolded, "You preachers only say things. According to the latest research, the average father doesn't spend even three minutes daily with his children, but 35 seconds."

   I believe him because he worked as a school inspector in central California. Actually, he gave me another startling statistic.

   In a certain school district in California there were 483 students in special education. None of those students had a father at home.

   In a certain area on the outskirts of Seattle, 61% of children live without a father.

   The absence of a father is a curse nowadays. (29)

 

Respect your children!

 

- (1 Thess 2:7,11 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children:

11 As you know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father does his children,

 

Peter wrote in his time (1 Peter 2:17): ”Honor all men”. It is also a good piece of advice on how to treat children. If we appreciate their achievements, regardless of their appearance and outer aspects, it will be beneficial for their mental health. It can also mean having a listening attitude and speaking to children with a normal voice even when tempted to shout (James 1:19: Why, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath). Moreover, it is important to give time. It can be in the form of playing games, or that the parent involves the child in what they are doing. There are, of course, other ways of expressing appreciation towards children. The fundamental premise is the parents’ positive attitude towards their child.

 

Tell them about the love of God! Above, we brought up two basic aspects in children’s well-being: relationship between the parents and the parents’ positive attitude towards their children. Those are some key aspects in the well-being of children. However, it is also important to tell them about our loving God to whom a child can tell all their worries. The modern world is very unsafe in many aspects, and children are prone to experiencing disappointment and fear, but knowledge about a caring God can be extremely helpful at times of disappointment. The child can on their own turn to the good shepherd, Jesus Christ, and His Father.

 

- (John 10:10,11) The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.

 

- (Matt 11:28-30) Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

  

1. Andrew Sims: Is Faith Delusional? Why Religion is Good For Your Health, London, Continuum, 2009

2. Sama, p. 100

3. Nicholas Beale / sir John Polkinghorne: Questions of Truth, Westminster, John Knox Press, 2009

4. Saara Karppinen: Ahtaasta uskosta avarammalle, p. 17

5. Dwight L. Moody – elämäkerta

6. Martin Ski: T.B. Barratt - Helluntaiapostoli, p. 108-110

7. Charles G. Finney: Ihmeellisiä herätyksiä, p. 309,310

8. Sven Reichmann: Vapauteen kutsutut (Kallad till frihet), p.64,69

9. Kris Vallotton & Bill Johnson: Elämä kuninkaan perheessä (Supernatural Ways of Royalty), p. 42,43

10. Corrie Ten Boom: Lyöty vihollinen, p. 11,12

11. Mark Driscoll: Kuka ajattelet olevasi (Who do you think you are?), p.  16,17

12. Joseph Prince: Anna armolle mahdollisuus, (Destined To Reign), p. 9,10

13. Jack Frost: Tie Isän syliin (Experiencing Father’s Embrace), p. 31-33

14. David A. Seamands: Kristitty ja tunteet, s, 112

15. Charles G. Finney: Ihmeelisiä herätyksiä, p. 89-91

16. Ritva ja Kristian Sand: Isän sylissä, p. 85

17. Tim LaHaye: Vapaaksi masennuksesta (How to win over depression), p. 162,163

18. Derek Prince: He karkottavat demoneja (They Shall Expel Demons), p. 32,33

19. Madame Guyon: Syvempään Jumalan tuntemiseen (Moyen court et tres-facile de faire oraison), p. 63,64

20. Watchman Nee: Hengen vapautus (The Release of the Spirit), p. 22,23

21. Ritva ja Kristian Sand: Isän sylissä, p. 29,30

22. John Wimber, Kevin Springer: Ihmeet ja merkit (Power Evangelism), p. 60

23. Ultra 12/93, Rita Castren

24. John R. Keel: "UFOs: operation Trojan horse", p. 220. Sit. kuitenkin kirjasta "Rajan taakse ja takaisin", Maurice Rawlings, p. 203

25. Andrew Comiskey: Täyteen miehuuteen ja koko naiseksi, p. 131

26. Mario Berger: Rakkauden uusi suunta (Setting Love in Order), p. 25,59,100

27. Leanne Payne: Särkynyt minäkuva (The Broken Image), p. 111,112

28. Andrew Comiskey: Täyteen miehuuteen ja koko naiseksi, p. 132

29. Edwin Louis Cole: Miehuuden haaste, p. 104

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life

 

 

  

 

Grap to eternal life!