Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity

John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D

Copyright 1996, John H. Stoll

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Chapter 33 - Six Emotional Causes for Disease

In I Thess.5:23 it states that humans are composed of three elements of life: Spirit, Soul, and Body. Our Spirit is the life we have from God, our Soul is our emotions and will, and our body is the flesh. It is well known that all three elements, through transference, either positively or negatively reinforce each other.

When one element is affected, it affects the other two to some degree, for the majority of organic diseases have a psycho/somatic origin. There are six basic causes for these problems, and there are means that the Christian can employ to offset them, in order to achieve wholeness in life, which is what God would have us to enjoy. In John 10:10 Christ said, " - - - I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly". God desires that every child of His have a full life.

I. FEAR - This is basically a healthy element (e.g. fear of fire, etc.), but when out of control (e.g. fear of unknown, future, death, etc.) it becomes a problem. God's antidote to uncontrolled fear is His love in and through us. In I John 4:18 it notes that, "There is no fear in love; but mature love casts out fear".

Again in II Tim. 1:7, it tells us that, "God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind". Therefore, the Christian has no reason to fear the future, or death, etc., because in Heb. 13:5,6 we read, " - - For He has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you, so that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" In a positive manner we are commended to, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need". With these assurances, the Christian is able to overcome, by God's power and grace.

II. ANGER/HATRED - A healthy controlled temper (for God has given us a temper to energize us productively) is quite normal. But uncontrolled, which results in anger and hatred is not normal for the Christian who is supposed to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Only as one submits the self to the Spirit's control is there victory over anger and hatred.

In II Cor. 5:14 we see that it is, "The love of Christ that constrains us", and helps the Christian to handle his temper. It is normal to have a temper which spurs one on constructively, but temper uncontrolled is anger, which is destructive, and may produce hatred as well.

Anger against another is sin, and in the end the angry person really hurts himself, for anger burns within and consumes the individual, so that one is unable to think or act properly. God's remedy for this is found in I 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". Then in I John 4:16-21 we see that the love of God within us helps us control our temper, and allows us to project ourselves in love to others, rather than in anger. The result is a lessening of tension, stress, and strife, with God's replacement of love toward each other.

Some years ago I had a Mother bring her teenage daughter in to me for counseling. They did not agree with each other, and therefore were constantly at odds. The daughter expressed much anger against her Mother. Later, when the school year was over she took her daughter to a mental institution in the city, where she spent the summer. At the end of summer she came back to counseling with me. I asked the girl what went on at the institution, and she told me that they had a large room with pillows and empty garbage cans, and when she got angry at her Mother she was to pound the pillows and kick the garbage cans, and then when her Mother visited her, she was to tell her off. I asked her if it helped, and was their relationship better. She replied that it wasn't, so I asked her if I could offer a fourth alternative, to which she answered that I could.

I turned to I John 4:7:21 and showed her of the love of the Lord, and how our allowing Him to fill our lives, so that instead of anger against one another, His love could flow through us to others. This was new to her, and in succeeding sessions, as a Christian Mother and daughter allowed the love of the Lord to permeate their lives, it brought healing to their relationship.

III. DEPRESSION - In today's world we see much depression, because of the many burdens people are carrying. For the child of God the transforming power and help of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian can overcome this problem. A healthy outlook in life through spiritual exercises (i.e. Bible study, prayer, worship, praising the Lord, etc.) as well as proper food, rest, physical exercise, all are contributing factors to alleviate depression. Chronic depression, which lasts for a period of time, may require professional help and possibly medication for a time.

Psalm 139:14 tells us that we are, "fearfully and wonderfully made", a delicately balanced instrument of God's creation. When one gets out of balance, depression can set in. Balance is the key through caring for our spirit, our soul, and our body. It is important not to neglect any one of the three, but to properly care for each element of life.

In Isa. 61:3 it speaks of, "The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness". Singing melody in our heart, with praise to God, is spiritual medication that can do much. The great hymns of the faith have contributed a great deal to elevating spirits.

Psalm 42:11 provides a therapy that does much to help depression, "Why are you depressed, O my soul? and why are you upset? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance and my God".

One of the best ways to overcome depression is to help someone else. In II Cor. 1:3,4 this is the thought, "Blessed be God - the God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

The Christian ought to be the most optimistic person in the world, since he has the most going for him (i.e. Rom. 8:31 - "If God be for us, who can be against us?"). The resources the Christian has are found in trusting the Lord, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13). As humans we are all prone to sadness periodically, but we need not despair, since the Lord is our helper, why should we fear.

IV. SELF-CENTEREDNESS (Narcissism) - This kind of stress is unbelievable, since it is directed inward and builds up, which creates an ever increasing constriction within the person. The primary sin in the Garden of Eden was Satan's deception of mankind, to get Adam and Eve to turn from being God centered to being self centered. This not only caused a separation between God and mankind, but this sin has been passed down to each of us in a sinful (i.e. self centered) nature.

The result of this turning inward has produced all the problems inherent within mankind. All the wars, oppression, bloodshed, greed and power, stem from the sin of self-centeredness.

God's answer to being centered on one's self is to turn away from this, and turn one's focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, not only as Savior, but also as Lord and master of one's life. God has given us an ego that needs to be satisfied, and God understands this. But, only as we surrender our lives to the Holy Spirit's control, is He able to bring balance and fulfillment to us.

The Apostle John stated in John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decease". This does not mean that God desires to "put us down", but to keep our ego from over exerting itself, and submission to His control, provides the proper balance in life. This is why Rom. 12:3 states, "that everyone should not think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think in a balanced way, according as God has given to each one a measure of ability." Submission to the Holy Spirit's control brings a healthy balanced ego, with security and fullness of life.

V. LONELINESS - It is a well known fact of life that the death rate of lonely people is two to ten times higher and faster from this disease than from other factors. God created us as social beings, and we enjoy the fruits of fellowship with one another. This, among other elements provides the fullness of life we so much desire.

It all began in the Garden of Eden. God and Adam had sweet fellowship together, that met both their needs. So, the qualities of God in mankind extend to a continuing need for friendship with one another. This is why Christian fellowship is both necessary and beneficial; God ordained it. Therefore we have a responsibility to extend ourselves to lonely needy people.

Five times in scripture the word "Paraclete" is used, which means, "called alongside to help". It is primarily used of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16,26;15:26;16:7; I John 2:1). When Christ told His disciples He was returning to heaven, He promised that He would send the Holy Spirit to, "come alongside of them to help". This is part of the Spirit's responsibility to the Christian. Now, in turn the Christian is to be a paraclete to fellow Christians, as well as to others in the world. In Gal. 6:2,10, we are admonished to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of God". As we do this we help overcome the loneliness of life that people experience.

VI. STRESS FACTORS FROM OTHER PEOPLE - As human beings we are very sensitive to other people, and adversity in relationships cause stress. This can be very debilitating to people already weighed down with burdens.

In Rom. 12:9-21 we are commanded to live peaceably with all, and to never allow our differences of opinions to adversely affect our love for one another. In Rom. 12:16 it says we are to be, "of the same mind toward one another". This does not mean that we are to think alike, for God created us all different. It means we are to love each other, even though we think differently. In I John 4:7-21, the Apostle enlightens us as to how we should exercise this love, so that we reduce, not create stress with other people. In this way we are fulfilling the law of God, in ministering to others.

In conclusion there are five means by which we are able to overcome these emotional problems: 1) Recognize the healing process available to each Christian by simply trusting the Lord. 2) Teach, as well as learn from others the healing process for our emotions as seen in God's Word (Eph. 4:23; Phil. 4:6-8). 3) Recognize the sacramental process of healing as seen in James 5:13-16. 4) Learn to care for others by listening to them (II Cor. 1:3,4 and Heb. 10:24). 5) Integrate the time/space world in which we live with the spiritual world, through the wisdom and discernment of the Holy Spirit. This helps to come to totality and wholeness in life (Eph. 6:10-18).

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow,
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest.
Often, when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blest.

Under His wings, who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safetly abide forever.

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