Christianity is more than a belief system or a theological creed. Christianity is not just what happens in church. Christianity is faith in a living Lord and in His indwelling Holy Spirit. Christianity involves the entire life: every day, every action, every decision, every thought, every emotion. One cannot adequately treat a Christian apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ. Nor should anyone segment the mind, will, emotions, or behavior from a person’s belief system. For too long Christians have looked to the church to answer their theological questions, but looked elsewhere for answers to their life problems. Christians who have God’s Holy Spirit living in them are spiritual beings; therefore they need biblical solutions, not merely psychological attempts.
It is understandable that the world would reject the living water in seeking to understand and help individuals suffering from problems of living. However, as the world rejected the biblical answers, the church began to doubt its own doctrine of sin, salvation, and sanctification in the area of mental-emotional suffering and behavioral problems. Many ministers even left their pastorates to become licensed psychotherapists.
During the twentieth century psychotherapy displaced the soul of man with the mind and replaced the cure of souls with the cure of minds. The psychological way has usurped the place of the spiritual; psychological opinions of men have contaminated the Word of God; and even Christians look to psychotherapy rather than to sanctification in dealing with soul problems. It is our position that the Bible provides both a spiritual basis for Christian growth and a spiritual solution for nonorganically caused mental-emotional-behavioral problems.
True mental health involves spiritual and moral health as well as emotional well-being. It is time for Christians to take a fresh look at the Bible and at the provisions which God has available for mental-emotional-behavioral health and healing. The Bible does provide a means of ministry to all who suffer, whether mentally or medically. But, when one suffers problems of living that are not organically related, the cure of souls is truly sufficient for ministering to such a person and psychotherapy has no business there.
Christians are new creatures in Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit. They have been born again to new life and are to walk according to the spirit, not according to the flesh (Romans 6:4; Galatians 5:16). From the moment of salvation, Christians are in the process of sanctification, in which they have many opportunities to grow in faith and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sanctification involves the whole person, through the spirit, which is the deepest and most significant element of one’s existence.
The Word of God applies to every aspect of daily life, including mental attitudes and interpersonal relationships. It is alive and powerful to change people from the inside. In addition to the written Word, Christians have the Living Word, Jesus Christ, who will never leave them destitute of daily provisions for wisdom, guidance, and help (Hebrews 13:5). The apostle John describes Jesus as “the light of men,” the very source of life and love (John 1:4). God’s written Word and Living Word make people whole and holy according to God’s way, rather than according to human machinations.
Psychotherapy can cover up a deep spiritual problem, but it cannot transform one spiritually. Psychological theories and therapies attempt to fix up the unregenerate, non-Christian self and/or the Christian who is living by the self-effort of his carnal nature, because they can only manipulate the flesh. Psychotherapy is limited to dealing with what Scripture calls the “old man,” the very nature that needs to be replaced with what the Bible refers to as “the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
God does not just fix up the “old man.” Instead, He counts the old man dead and buried and gives man a new nature which is spiritual and which is centered in Christ.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. . . .
Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:6,11)
The description of a Christian is thus:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
What psychotherapy attempts to improve or heal, God has already condemned.
(From The End of “Christian Psychology.”)
PAL V8N5 * September-October 2000)