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Mind of Christ
What can we do, and what must we do for mental illness?
by Ken Raggio
Written in 1996
The human brain is the control room of thought.
Every action ever committed by a human is either originated in or monitored by the brain. In an overly simplistic explanation, the brain consists of meat and chemicals. The cells within the brain are called neurons, and the chemicals that flow between the cells are called neurotransmitters. The activity that results from neurons and neurotransmitters interacting is called thought.
The Bible accurately identifies the operation of the brain as the "CARNAL" mind. The Greek root, "carne" simply means flesh, or meat. The carnal mind is the fruit of a biological organ.
More specifically, human thought is a chemical reaction.
For example, the chemical LSD has been used by thousands of people in the drug culture to induce bizarre thought patterns known as hallucinations. Mental images of abstract and grossly distorted figures are common occurrences when LSD is present in the brain. In many cases, the normal brain functions have been permanently altered or damaged as a consequence of various drugs being used. Amphetamines, alcohol, marijuana and many other drugs have been shown to cause permanent and irreparable brain damage, producing a variety of neurological disorders such as psychosis (disordered thought), mania (extreme mood elevations and depressions), schizophrenia (manifestations of social withdrawal and eccentric behavior).
Many mental illnesses are now medically treatable, (not usually curable) with varying degrees of success, ranging from complete recovery to requiring ongoing treatments. The causes of mental disorders are not fully understood, and often times the treatments treat only the symptoms and not the basic problems.
How much of our human behavior is affected solely by the carnal mind, and how much of the carnal mind is affected by outside factors? In other words...
What is the spiritual factor in thought and behavior?
It would seem significant to establish how much of our thinking and behavior simply cannot be controlled by outside forces, and how much CAN be.
If depression, psychosis, and schizophrenia are only biological disorders as we are told, then we would quickly come to conclusions similar to Sigmund Freud's, that there is no such thing as transgression. He proposed that all behavior is natural and essentially inherent to the human biological function.
If that is altogether the case, then the manifestations of hate, jealousy, love, lust, lying and murder would all be strictly pathological and thus uninfluenced by external factors.
We have all noticed the mood swings we experience whenever our physical health changes. Normally, we feel happy and vigorous whenever our bodies are well. We feel emotionally depressed and unenthused whenever sickness is present. Who could argue against the notion that bodily illness usually causes at least a degree of mental illness? The reasons are obvious.
The brain is just another vital organ of the body.
If the stomach, or heart, or lungs, or intestines experience chemical imbalances, or disease, or infections, the rest of the body shares in the suffering. And the brain does not escape the suffering.
Virtually ANY physical ailment can cause a temporary brain disorder that can be observed in seemingly unrelated symptoms, such as vision abnormalities and hearing disorders (i.e., hypersensitivity and phantom noises). Since the brain is also the center for sleep control, whenever illness strikes the body, and the brain experiences a temporary disorder, the sleep patterns are often effected. Lesser manifestations of the same problem could be seen as general malaise or lethargy.
It can be demonstrated that a healthy overall physical condition can and usually will result in a healthier mental condition, whereas a prevalence of sickness or pain normally has an adverse effect on the mental health. Along the same line of thought, we should also indicate that hereditary biological factors can also strongly affect mental health - i.e., minimal brain dysfunction, including attention deficit disorders, anxiety disorders, etc.
Many serious diseases such as cancer and diabetes are often accompanied by a string of highly predictable neurological disorders. Even milder illnesses such as hypoglycemia and anemia can induce several brain-centered behavior modifications. When you factor in the many drugs (i.e., pain-killers and anti-nausea drugs, whose side-effects are mind-altering) that are often administered to such patients, you will see the problem compounded exponentially.
There is a definite association between mental health and spiritual welfare. The scientific community categorically dismisses the potential of the human spirit, except when they begin to acknowledge the positive effects of generic "spiritual" factors like optimism and hope. But the Christian community must reckon with the redemptive role of the Holy Spirit upon the Carnal Mind.
Can there be a definite effect of Spirit upon the Carnal Mind?
Can the poor children who are locked away in detention centers, and the seemingly helpless victims in sanitariums and psychiatric wards actually find help and deliverance from their insanity and delirium?
First, we must formulate a set of criteria for identifying the potential effect.
I propose that the entire gamut of carnal thought could be categorized as: 1. Normal 2. Paranormal 3. Abnormal
1. A Normal Mind, for the purposes of this discussion, would be one that can function effectively with common sense, logic, and reason. It would therefore be able to embrace the concepts of God, Spirit, and Free Will and Choice.
2. A Paranormal mind, for the purposes of this discussion, would be a mind that can, in at least a measurable number of circumstances, be able to function as a normal mind, but would also have the handicap of being limited at times by certain identifiable neurological disorders.
3. An Abnormal mind, for the purposes of this discussion, would be one that under no circumstances would be able to apply the facilities of a normal mind in common sense, logic and reason, thereby making it totally impossible to voluntarily be influenced by spiritual factors.
Behavior is still a matter of choices.
The bulk of Christian teaching deals with behavioral modifications to some degree or the other. Thou shalt; thou shalt not. When the options are laid out, there must be a conscious referral to certain values, and a definite choice made prior to behavior.
Successful Christian living requires the ability to make right choices. If a biological malfunction results in the reduction of the ability to recall certain teachings, and apply moral values, then the ability to successfully perform as a Christian is seriously impaired, and the results may vary from the total abandonment of Christian thought, to inconsistent Christian living, to conscious hypocritical behavior.
Under these assumptions, we might conclude that only the biologically advantaged could ever hope to abide by Christian teachings. If one is incapable of making consistent right choices, his entire purpose in subscribing to Christianity would become moot. The only way an exception to that conclusion could be made is if Christianity concurrently provided relief for those whose capacities were impeded.
Is this the case? Let us seek out an answer.
Christian teaching presumes upon certain absolutes that are not accepted in scientific thought. The first is that there are definite EXTERNAL causative factors in mental illness. Jesus Christ repeatedly dealt with men and women who had unstable minds, not the least of which was the man of the Gadarenes.
Modern science would probably have classified him as a schizophrenic, because of his anti-social and eccentric behavior. They would have had good cause for associating his mental illness with hereditary factors. His ancestors were the Gaddites - one of the twelve tribes of Israel. A close inspection of the Gadarene man's behavior revealed a common thread between his behavior and his ancestor's. The Gaddites had been instructed by their leader, Joshua, to cross over the Jordan River into a land that had been prophesied by God, through Moses, to be their promised land. They refused to go through the river, and insisted in settling just below it.
Interestingly, the Gadarene man, when confronted by Jesus Christ, IMMEDIATELY manifested a fear of being cast into the deep (the waters of the nearby sea). Modern psychiatry calls the fear of water hydrophobia. But Jesus did not identify his behavior in psychiatric terms - not as a biological disorder - but as a spiritual affliction.
Jesus treated the problem as demon oppression. Unclean spirits from ancient origins caused this man's schizophrenia!
How did those spirits get there? Were they acquired in adulthood? childhood? Or was the man BORN with the spirits residing in him? Did the spirits actually pass to him in his mother's womb?
These propositions are certainly in conflict with popular science, even though Jesus Christ Himself was the chief proponent of these concepts. So we have the entire medical establishment fundamentally denouncing Jesus Christ’s ministry in principle.
I believe I will take sides with Jesus Christ.
I refuse to believe that man has no spirit. And I also refuse to believe that all mental disorder is purely physiological. I will accept the fact that there are many purely physical disorders, but I will not ignore the truth that there are also demons and spiritual disorders that torment the minds of men.
Bind the devil and watch healing follow. Cast out the unclean spirits in the name of Jesus Christ and watch the entire condition begin to improve.
As in every other area of life, we must exercise both physical and spiritual balance. Most problems are a COMBINATION of physical and spiritual complexity.
Spiritual oppression and possession generally follow physical abuse and misuse. Often, the person who is in spiritual bondage is the same person who entertained or experienced physically abnormal events: i.e., sexual abuse, mental abuse, verbal abuse, poor diet, bodily injuries, etc.
Those who have been physically oppressed or abused become candidates for Satanic oppression. Unclean spirits take advantage of a person who is discouraged, depressed, angry, bitter, hateful, or in other negative states. That is the reason that the Apostle Paul instructed us not to "give place" to the devil. People do not realize that by allowing themselves to drift into unwholesome mental and physical states, they are giving place to spiritual oppression and possible demon possession.
We must remember that demons are merely the sinful angels who were cast down from heaven. They are brilliant creatures who strongly desire to penetrate the material world by taking residence in human hosts. They cannot penetrate a human who has a strong defensive guard against them. So they look for men and women who are vulnerable.
People who are physically and mentally weakened by sickness, disease, abuse, etc, are the very targets that unclean spirits most want to find. Then, in short order, the victim has double trouble.
Not only must he or she combat the physical problems, but now they must recognize the works of Satan as well, and resist that too.
Jesus said, "resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Spiritual oppression can be unbelievably horrific. Demon oppression and demon possession can wreak havoc in a person’s life.
The cure, however, begins with acknowledging the problem in both arenas – the spiritual and the physical. Both needs must be addressed.
If there is a physical weakness or ailment, that must be addressed. If there is an addiction, that addiction must be broken. Substance abuse must be terminated. Whether it is alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription abuse, deliverance begins with the cessation of the physical abuse.
If there is sexual abuse, or verbal abuse, or assault and battery, etc, these abuses must be terminated.
If there is sickness or disease, these things should be treated properly, and in the best available manner. In health situations, every effort should be made to treat the physical causes.
But the spiritual component of the problem must not be ignored. There must be a spiritual sanctifying of the victim. There must be full repentance of any and all ungodly practices, and a cessation of ungodly activities. Physically, the person should break off any practices that injure or weaken the natural condition. Genuine efforts should be made to nurture the natural man back to physical and mental health.
At the same time, God must be brought into the picture, and prayer and supplication should be made before God for His Divine intervention. So...
There is a balance. It is the same premise that says, "Trust God, but lock your doors." There is a spiritual expectation that is accompanied by an expectation of prudence. We must trust God, and we must make every effort on our own part to make things better.
The old timers used to say, "The Lord helps them who help themselves." We can argue the theological accuracy of that statement, but in general, it is a valid claim. Why should we expect God to heal us of something that we have a great deal of control over ourselves? We must first do what we are capable of and responsible for. Then we have every reason to believe that God will provide the MIRACULOUS component of healing and delivering the believer.
In the case of severe mental illnesses, we should acknowledge that physical and medical treatments can be a valid and valuable supplement to the spiritual remedy. If medical examination determines that there are legitimate physiological problems, such as chemical imbalances, brain damage, or psychological injuries from abuse, then those disorders should be treated accordingly.
Nevertheless, we should remember that our God is Jehovah Rapha - the Lord that healeth. While we are applying whatever medical treatments that might be prescribed, we should take great care to remember that perfect healing only comes from God. And He is perfectly able to do any miracle we can dare to believe Him for.
Therefore, we should diligently pray and believe God for the healing and full recovery of the patient. "He that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
We should pursue every avenue of remedy, physical and spiritual.
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