Thursday, January 7, 2016, 3:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Courageous.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 17:14-21 (NASB). Mental Illness (vv. 14-15) When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. A person who is a “lunatic,” is someone who is considered to not be of sound mind, i.e. someone who is not in control or feels he is not in control of his own mental faculties; someone who is not able or feels he is not able to make sound (rational, sensible) judgments. This word translated here as “lunatic” can also be translated as “epileptic,” yet for today, I believe the Lord would have me focus on the idea of not being sound in mind. So, what does the Bible have to say on this subject of not being sound in mind? In other words, how does the Bible address the subject of mental illness? I see two possible explanations in scripture for what we call “mental illness.” One is demon possession and the other is sin, although I must say here that many people today, and in Biblical times, too, refer to people as “mentally ill” who are following the Lord Jesus in obedience. Jesus was called “crazy,” or “out of his mind,” by his own family who, thus, wanted to take charge of him. He was also accused of being possessed by a demon (or by Satan) by the religious leaders of his day. The apostle Paul was also accused of being out of his mind, as probably were many of the prophets of old. So, sometimes people are tagged “mentally ill” just because they are different, not because they are possessed by demons, nor because they are sinning against God, nor because they are “out of their minds.” Yet, for now, I want to discuss the subject of those who truly behave in a manner in which they are not exercising self-control over their own minds and behaviors. I want to look at the subject of the mind and of self-control in scripture to see what the Bible has to say on this subject, because the Word of God is our authority for what we believe as Christians, and God is the one who created us and gave us our minds, so he is the best one to diagnose what ails our minds, hearts and emotions and to prescribe the best remedy. Unbelieving Generation (vv. 16-18) I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. The disciples were not able to cure the young man, yet Jesus did not address them alone. He spoke of a generation of people who were unbelieving, corrupt, and wayward. I believe that is also our generation today, at least here in America, i.e. a generation that is, for the most part, unbelieving and led astray. So, how are we, as this generation of people, being led astray? Those who were born after WWII grew up on television, for the most part, and are very heavily influenced by the media. These influences have also worked their way into the church, sadly enough. Many Christians in America spend much more time watching TV, playing video games, surfing the internet, chatting on social media, and watching movies, etc., than they do spend time with God in prayer and in his Word. So, their minds are influenced and molded by what they take into their minds the most. In our world today, the people who define “mental illness,” either in the medical profession and/or in the legal profession, have given “mental illness” diagnoses for just about everything under the sun. “Sin” is no longer “sin.” It is given a name of some malady, and is explained away as some mental deficiency over which people have absolutely no control. The person with the “illness” is said to not be responsible for his or her own behavior, i.e. he or she can’t help it, and he or she will always be this way, they say. And, so they recommend medicating and/or institutionalizing those who “can’t help the way they are.” Rather than trying to help them find a cure for their “illness,” they just drug them up so that, supposedly, they are not troublesome for themselves or for society as a whole. So, what does the Bible have to say on this subject of the mind and self-control? For one, as already mentioned, and as referred to in this passage, there are those who are possessed by demons and they need deliverance, not drugs. I don’t believe, however, that true followers of Jesus Christ can be possessed by demons, but they can be oppressed by them and strongly influenced (tempted) by them to where they might feel as though they are out of their minds. Satan is a powerful foe, for sure, but he is NOT more powerful than God! Amen! God has provided a way out for us from under such powerful influences coming against our minds, and that was through the cross of Christ when he shed his blood so we could go free from slavery to sin and so we could become slaves of righteousness. There is power in the blood! Amen! God has given us all we need to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to draw near to God. We just daily must put on that spiritual armor so we can fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us (See Eph. 6:10-20). Secondly, when people behave in a manner in which they lack self-control, and they do things they might not otherwise do, i.e. things which are against God’s moral laws, the Bible calls this “sin.” The world calls it an “illness.” Such things as sexual promiscuity, marital unfaithfulness, pornography addiction, alcoholism, spousal or child abuse, incest, thievery, murder, lying, rage, obesity, and the like are often given some “mental illness” tag so that the person sinning feels less guilty about his sin and is convinced he can’t help what he does, and that he will always be this way, and thus he must be medicated for the remainder of his or her life. And, thus we have a corrupt and unbelieving generation which excuses away sinful behavior by calling it something other than sin, and by giving people an “out” from guilt or remorse by excusing their behavior under the guise of “mental illness.” You of Little Faith (vv. 19-21) Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. [But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”] The reason many Christians are going around thinking they have some “illness,” and thus they can’t control their minds or their behaviors, is because they have believed Satan’s lies. They have little faith to believe God’s word and to trust in his promises. Therefore, they lack both hope and healing. So, what is the truth? The truth is that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… and self-control… The truth is that God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. If we lack self-control, it means we are not under the control of the Spirit of God, but we are yielding to our sinful flesh and/or we are giving the devil a foothold in our lives by believing his lies that we can’t help what we do. The truth is that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of self-discipline (of self-control or of a sound mind) (2 Tim. 1:7). We CAN control our minds and actions! Romans 8:5-9 says this: “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.” Romans 12:2 says this: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Philippians 4:6-7 says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” And, Colossians 3:1-7 says: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.” Mountains are often used symbolically in scripture to mean several things, one of which is obstacles which stand in the way of our spiritual progress. They are also symbolic of idolatry (where people worshiped idols). These lies people believe telling them they have a “mental illness” which has no cure and which must be medicated the rest of their lives is a lie of Satan, which serves as an obstacle to spiritual progress and maturity in Christ, as well as it is a hindrance to their healing. So, if we want to have victory in our lives over our minds and emotions and behaviors, then we need to have the faith in God to say to these “mountains” “Get out of the way!” and they will have to move. In other words, if we as the people of God take up the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, and the helmet of salvation, etc., and put on the belt of truth with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, we can gain the victory over these things which are troubling to our minds and which haunt us and which cause people to feel as though they have no control over what they do. We can be whole in Christ Jesus in mind. We can stand against all evil, and fight off all evil attacks against our minds, and we don’t have to accept “mental illness” as a diagnosis or that we can’t help what we do or that we will permanently be this way the rest of our lives. I can attest to God’s power to heal hearts, minds, emotions and bodies. By his stripes we are healed! I once looked to “broken cisterns” to satisfy, but no more! I once trusted in humans and their diagnosis, and took their pills, but no more! My trust is now in God alone and not in their prescribed medications to minister to my hurts. Jesus is my great physician, so I put my life in his hands, and he heals me! Amen! Courageous! / An Original Work / December 24, 2013 Based off Various Scriptures The Word of God throughout taught. Some people heard, but did doubt. Still others had faith in Christ. By grace He purified them. They turned from sin And they obeyed Christ. He opened up their blinded eyesight; Turned them from darkness To the true Light; Forgave their sin by His might. He strengthened them in their faith. He said, “Remain my faithful.” He called them to obedience. By faith, they were so grateful. By faith, they were to follow Jesus; To daily sit and listen to Him; To have such faith That mountains could move; To love those whom He gave them. Be on your guard; courageous. Stand firm in faith. Be thankful. Take up the shield of your faith; Protect against all evil. Do not move from The hope that you have. Your faith in Jesus let it endure. Hold to the truth; Your conscience be clear. Endure with perseverance.