Christianity and Mental Health

Often there seems to be a conflict between the subject of Christianity and mental health. One of my good friends who is a very committed believer and also who holds a doctorate in Psychology told me that the Christians don’t like him because he is a psychologist, and the psychologists don’t like him because he is a Christian. However, when we truly understand what the Bible says about mental health, we shouldn’t have this dilemma.

In I Thessalonians 5:23 Paul declares, I pray to God that your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Psychology is simply defined as the study of the soul. If we are going to prosper as believers, we must understand the principle of the soul.

The soul has been defined by a number of Christian leaders, including Dr. Lester Sumrall and Dr. Oral Roberts, as the mind, the will and the emotions. When we really understand the teaching of spirit, soul and body, we will come to the realization that Christian faith supports mental health.

Jesus not only died for our spirit (sins); He was chastised for our peace and took stripes on His back for our physical as well as emotional healing. There are many Bible verses that support mental strength and health: including, Isaiah 53:4-5 and I Peter 2:24-25. When we truly understand what the Bible teaches about salvation, we will understand that a healthy soul is necessary for a healthy life as a believer. In other words, to be truly healthy as believers we must have a sound mind as well as to be forgiven for our sins.

In III John 2 the apostle John wrote “Beloved, I wish above all things that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers.” Biblical teaching supports the truth that our spirit is healthy when we receive Jesus as our Lord. Romans 8:9-11 reveals that the Spirit of Christ lives in us as believers.

Our spirit is healthy the moment that we believe in Jesus. However, for us to realize that blessing in the physical realm, we must renew our minds to the truths of the Bible. It is possible for a person to know Christ as their Savior and yet be struggling in the realm of the soul: the mind, will and emotions. In other words, you can be a Christian and not have good mental health.

The subject of mind renewal is taught in both Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:22-24. Romans 12:2 says that we as believers are not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. The Greek word for renewal means renovation or a complete change for the better. In other words, not only do we need to receive Christ, but we need to change the way we think to begin to see the good, acceptable and perfect plans of God come to pass in our life.

In Ephesians 4:22-24 Paul says that we are to put off the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, to be renewed in the spirit of our mind, and to put on the new person which was created in the likeness of God in righteousness and true holiness. The step between putting off the old sinful way of living and putting on the new person, who we really are in Christ, is renewing the mind.

The word for spirit in Ephesians 4:23 is actually talking about our attitude; like school spirit. If we don’t adjust our way of thinking we will never experience much of what Christ died for us to possess in the physical realm. In other words, good mental health is necessary for walking in God’s promises and living in victory as believers. The Greek word for renewed in Ephesians 4:23 means to renovate or take on a new mind.

A good example is just like we renovate a house if we buy a fixer upper to be able to truly enjoy the good things that it may offer, we must renovate it. In the same way, we must renovate our minds to experience the good promises of God in the physical realm. Barbara and I bought a fixer upper when we first moved to Colorado Springs in 2001. It was built in 1972, it had blue, red and gold shag carpet that was full of pet hair and whatever else. Even though the walls were originally painted white, they were stained brown and black with smoke. We took one picture off of the wall and it was white behind it, but stained dingy brown all around it. It had green countertops and yellow and orange wallpaper in the kitchen. The cabinets were black with grease all over them. The windows were single pane aluminum, with signs of leaking water. The outside was black stain with yellow trim, in places the sun had destroyed the first layer of the wood.

Woman renewing home

But we renovated it: we put gallons of stain blocking primer on the inside and then painted. It took 28 gallons of paint on the inside and 27 gallons of oil stain on the outside. We changed the outside to grey with white trim and painted the inside bright white. We put all new tile and carpet floors in the whole house, mostly beige natural colors. We replaced all the windows and doors. Eventually we put an entire new kitchen with stone counters and renovated the bathrooms. We turned it from a bombshell to a showplace. But it took work.

If we renew our mind, it’s going to take some work. Even though our spirit changes immediately, our soul takes time. Our mental health needs work to move into what God wants for us. Receiving the blessing of God is not automatic. Walking in the goodness of God is a process.

This is how the process takes place. Our spirit is made new, the moment that we believe in Jesus. Our soul, mind, will and emotions (Christian mental health) is renewed as we realize who God made us to be in Christ. Our body receives the blessings, as we surrender to the life of Christ inside of us.

So, what does it mean to have a renewed mind? Years ago, it seemed like people just thought that if you memorized enough scripture that’s all it took. However, I believe that a believer who has a truly renewed mind sees God for who He says that He is; we see ourselves as God sees us, and we see the world from the perspective of the possibility of the promises instead of being overwhelmed by problems.

We need to see that God is ultimately good. He is our Father and He is for us (Romans 8:31-32, John 10:10, James 1:17). We need to see ourselves for who God says we are (forgiven, accepted, and blessed Ephesians 1:3-7). We also need to see the world from a possibility perspective rather than a problem perspective.

There are difficulties in the world because of sin and satan. Yet we, as believers, should not let the problems of the world overwhelm us. Jesus said, In the world you shall have tribulation (trouble), but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world (John 16:33). James says that we can count it all joy when we fall into different kinds of trouble (James 1:2). We are not immune to trouble and problems as believers, but we can overcome them by faith.

I John 4:4 says that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. I John 5:4 says that whosoever is born of God overcomes the world and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. As we renew our minds with the Word of God and begin to see from the aspect of the promise rather than being overwhelmed by the problems, we can live in the victory that God promises.

This is a process. As part of the process of living out the victory that Jesus promises we need to fix our mind on God and who He is. Isaiah 26:3 says that God will keep us in perfect peace when our minds are fixed on Him. This does not mean that there are no problems; but it does indicate that God’s promises give us the ability to overcome the problems as we believe in Him.

Jesus said, “In your patience, possess your souls” (Luke 21:19). As believers we need to possess our souls. We need to take authority in the realm of our thought life and our emotions. We need to let our spirit and the promises of God determine the outcome of things rather than letting our emotions run wild. When we believe God’s promises, we can receive what He said, rather than letting the enemy have a heyday in our life.

Paul gave some great instruction in I Thessalonians 5:16-18. He said, Rejoice evermore; Pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. It is always God’s will for us to be rejoicing, to continue trusting Him and asking Him for the victory and to be giving thanks for every good thing that He has given us in Christ.

True Christian mental health is having our minds restored through the Word of God where we understand that God is who He says He is; He is truly good. We are who He says we are: Blessed, accepted and forgiven. Finally, that we are victors and not victims, because we believe God’s promises and overcome the problems of the world. We must realize that we have a choice to make in the matter and believe God for His very best; rather than to accept the problems of the world as finality.


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