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What does God have to say about mental illness?
The wise of this world have devised the so-called sciences of psychology and psychiatry, among others, to treat mental illness. The medical experts have given mental illness theoretical analyses and definitions and developed synthetic medications and therapies such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), formerly known as electroshock therapy, to treat sufferers. Do the practitioners know what they’re doing?
Has it ever occurred to you that nowhere in the Bible, the Authoritative Manual on Human Nature and Behavior, does it speak of or describe mental illness in the way the medical society does? But what does one find in Scripture that can easily explain mental illness? The Scriptures speak of demonic possession. That’s right; the problem is invariably a spiritual one at the core and is made manifest mentally and physically.
What, then, is to be done with people troubled and bound with devils? Can practitioners not knowing the Lord Jesus Christ deal with the spiritual problem? No. It doesn’t matter if they call themselves exorcists or have medical credentials. Oh, they may appear to subdue the manifesting spiritual entities, alter behavior, and somehow mask symptoms, but they have no power over the spiritual realm. Here’s what Jesus said of His followers, those who believe on Him, the only ones with authority over devils:
Mark 16:16-18 MKJV
(16) He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.
(17) And miraculous signs will follow to those believing these things: in My Name they will cast out demons; they will speak new tongues;
(18) they will take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will be well.
Luke 10:17-20 MKJV
(17) And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us through Your Name.”
(18) And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall from Heaven like lightning.
(19) Behold, I give to you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the authority of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you.
(20) Yet do not rejoice in this, that the evil spirits are subject to you, rather rejoice because your names are written in Heaven.”
Devils were common in Jesus’ day, and they are no less common today, perhaps more so, seeing men are mostly of Gentile (unbelieving) nations and have come to the end of their ages of rule. Jesus cast out (exorcised) many devils in many people by the power of His Word and authority:
“And He healed many who were sick of different diseases, and cast out many demons. And He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him” (Mark 1:34 MKJV).
“And He proclaimed in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out demons” (Mark 1:39 MKJV).
“And they cast out many demons, and anointed many with oil who were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6:13 MKJV).
“And it happened afterwards, He traveled in every city and village, proclaiming and announcing the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. And the Twelve were with Him, and also certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven demons” (Luke 8:1-2 MKJV).
“And evening coming on, they brought to Him many who had been possessed with demons. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘He took on Himself our weaknesses and bore our sicknesses’” (Matthew 8:16-17 MKJV).
“And His fame went throughout all Syria. And they brought to Him all those being badly ill suffering various diseases and torments, and those who had been possessed with demons, and those who had been moonstruck, and paralytics. And He healed them” (Matthew 4:24 MKJV).
By that last passage, one could easily argue there’s a difference between demon possession and mental sickness, the illness referred to by Matthew as being “moonstruck” (another term is “lunatic” from the Latin, “lunaticus,” meaning “of the moon”) and there can be a difference. However, here are some other examples in the Gospels of what people today would call mental illness:
Mark 5:1-15 MKJV
(1) And they came over to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes.
(2) And when He had come out of the boat, immediately a man with unclean spirits met Him out of the tombs,
(3) who had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one could bind him, no, not with chains
(4) because he had often been bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him, and the fetters broken in pieces. Nor could anyone subdue him.
(5) And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying and cutting himself with stones.
(6) And when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshiped Him,
(7) and cried with a loud voice, and said, “What is to me and to You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure You by God not to torment me.”
(8) For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!”
(9) And He asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”
(10) And he begged Him very much that He would not send them outside the country.
(11) And a great herd of pigs was feeding near the mountains.
(12) And all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us into the pigs, that we may enter into them.”
(13) And immediately Jesus allowed them. And the unclean spirits went out and entered into the pigs. And the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea (they were about two thousand), and were choked in the sea.
(14) And the ones who fed the pigs fled and told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.
(15) And they came to Jesus and saw him who had been demon-possessed, and had the legion, sitting and clothed and right-minded, the one who had the legion. And they were afraid.
Wouldn’t that man have been more likely referred to today as being out of his mind rather than demon-possessed? Here’s another example:
Matthew 17:14-21 MKJV
(14) And when they came to the crowd, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying,
(15) “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and grievously vexed; for oftentimes he falls into the fire, and often into the water.
(16) And I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.”
(17) Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him here to Me.”
(18) And Jesus rebuked the demon, and he departed out of him. And the child was cured from that very hour.
(19) Then the disciples came to Jesus apart, and said, “Why could we not cast him out?”
(20) And Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief. For truly I say to you, If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Move from here to there. And it shall move. And nothing shall be impossible to you.
(21) However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Some may call it madness, the father of the son called it lunacy, but Jesus and His disciples saw it for what it was – demonic possession. They understood that a devil was tormenting the boy, causing bizarre, destructive behavior, and it had to be cast out of him.
The apostles Paul and Silas encountered a demon-possessed lady bothering them for days with words that might sound agreeable, flattering, and even godly. Here’s how Paul eventually dealt with the problem:
Acts 16:16-18 MKJV
(16) And as we went to prayer, it happened that a certain girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by divining.
(17) The same followed Paul and us and cried, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who are announcing to us the way of salvation.”
(18) And she did this many days. But being distressed, and turning to the demonic spirit, Paul said, “I command you in the Name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out in that hour.
Her handlers were outraged because the apostles suddenly neutralized their lucrative income. The people didn’t realize they were cooperating and dealing with devils (a spirit of divination), and they didn’t care; they just wanted their money.
Acts 16:19-24 MKJV
(19) And when her masters saw that the hope of their gain went out, having seized Paul and Silas, they dragged them to the market before the rulers.
(20) And bringing them near to the judges, they said, “These men, being Jews, are exceedingly troubling our city.
(21) And they teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive or to do, being Romans.”
(22) And the crowd rose up against them. And tearing off their clothes, the judges ordered them to be flogged.
(23) And after laying on them many stripes, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailor to keep them safely;
(24) who, having received such a command, thrust them into the inner prison and made their feet fast in the stocks.
The citizens of the world will hate those who come against Satan, the prince of this world, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You can count on it.
Isn’t it strange that many mentally ill people are religious and have “Jesus” experiences? It’s not because their brains aren’t functioning or because they’ve been indoctrinated in Christianity. It’s because they’re demon-possessed. And devils know Jesus Christ as the Son of God while few people do:
Luke 4:33-37 MKJV
(33) And in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon and cried out with a loud voice,
(34) saying, “Let us alone! What is to us and to You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know You, who You are, the Holy One of God.”
(35) And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him into the midst, he came out of him, not harming him.
(36) And they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, “What a Word is this! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”
(37) And a report about Him went out into every place of the neighborhood.
Devils are of the spiritual realm and see and know things people of the earth don’t. However, being evil, the spirits pervert and distort the reality. They are liars, destructive deceivers. After all, they serve their master Satan, who is a liar and a murderer from his beginning in Eden (Genesis 3:1; see also The Origin and Identity of Satan).
Is it any wonder atheistic medical practitioners in the mental sciences will confuse the false with the true and come to suspect, if not conclude, that normal believers in Christ are mentally deranged? Let’s take it a step further. Many of those practitioners may well have devils, too, and will therefore oppose the work of God and His servants.
(I write this paper because prompted by present circumstances in September/October of 2015 in which we’re opposed by a psychologist who believes and understands nothing of the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ.)
Men speak of schizophrenia, split and multiple personalities. These are invariably manifestations of devils, often several, dwelling in a person. Interestingly, by medicating the vessel, demonic power can be minimized; however, the problem is never solved. The devils continue residence and power over their host.
Where one finds someone changing from one kind of person to another, it is almost always demons at work. Devils also have names, strange names, like Legion, as given in the Gospels. They often identify themselves by the names of the lusts, sins, addictive substances, activities, and gods the possessed victims have willingly given themselves over to. For examples, people can have demons naming themselves as alcohol, theft, fear, suicide, and every other thing imaginable.
By the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, a believer can compel devils to identify themselves; devils – unclean spirits – have no choice but to answer truthfully because they are all subject to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ; they must obey. And if the vessel is repentant, those devils must leave when commanded to do so. The possessed person may need to confess their sins and renounce the demons in order to be freed of them; not always.
Devils also know how to deceive so that they might continue in their “home,” lest someone with the power of the Lord Jesus Christ casts them out by prayer and the power of His Word and perhaps with fasting in more difficult situations.
Can just anyone deal with evil spirits/demons if they use Jesus’ Name? Here’s what devils have to say about that:
Acts 19:13-17 KJV
(13) Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the Name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “We adjure you by Jesus Whom Paul preaches.”
(14) And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
(15) And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”
(16) And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
(17) And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the Name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
No, devils can only be overcome by saints, by disciples of Jesus Christ, in whom is the power of the Holy Spirit. There is no other remedy, except perhaps repentance from sin, which is also the work of the Holy Spirit in the one being delivered.
I’ve witnessed many occasions where nominal Christians, usually so-called ministers or priests, attempt and presume to cast out devils and are deceived into thinking they’re successful. Devils are very deceptive and will do all in their power to remain in their residences. Because most of these ministers aren’t genuine believers (and no priests are), they fail in their attempts, using Bibles and whatever else (crosses or crucifixes for priests), and are deceived into thinking they’ve succeeded.
Meanwhile the victim, the sinner, goes on bound by devils as before and sometimes ends up even worse off.
Why worse off? Because some of these ministers acting as exorcists also have devils that are passed on to those upon whom they lay hands for deliverance. And because these “deliverers” are often found to be living in sin themselves, they are prone to receive devils from those they pray for.
Paul cautioned Timothy: “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22 ESV).
Beware of laying hands on anyone without direction of God, and beware of men or women laying hands on you for prayer for any reason – deliverance, healing, anointing, or anything else. You could fall victim to “mental illness.”
If the one inhabited by an evil spirit is able to repent of sin, which sin or sins occasioned a devil to enter that person, then it can happen that God will automatically free that person from the devil’s power. Confession and repentance are often key to deliverance and may not require prayer. This is only so, however, if the sinner has suffered enough and the time for release has come. It’s much the same as when one has committed a crime, been arrested and incarcerated, and has served his full sentence:
“If someone brings a lawsuit against you and takes you to court, settle the dispute while there is time, before you get to court. Once you are there, you will be turned over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, and you will be put in jail. There you will stay, I tell you, until you pay the last penny of your fine” (Matthew 5:25-26 GNB).
Is “mental illness” or demon possession hereditary? Yes, it is. Devils can be received from parents and even passed down from ancestors. Devils can come from the womb of the mother or the loins of the father. The Law says:
Deuteronomy 5:6-10 MKJV
(6) I am the LORD your God Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
(7) You shall have no other gods besides Me.
(8) You shall not make a graven image for you, any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters beneath the earth.
(9) You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them. For I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me,
(10) and doing mercy to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments.
The Bible says almost nothing of mental illness, but it speaks much of demon possession. Do you realize how little most nominal Christian churches and other religions speak of devils compared to how much devils are mentioned in Scripture, particularly in the New Testament? There’s at least one important reason for that: The people in those churches don’t believe, notwithstanding their profession of faith in Christ.
By some examples given here, you can see how modern man would call demon possession “insanity.”
I’ve dealt with bizarre behavior and habits of addiction in a few people whom concerned people would have referred to a medical doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, hypnotist, or some other practitioner for treatment. Casting the devils out of them, they were mentally recovered, back in control, and fine, unless they once again became ensnared in sin, in which case it would become worse for them than before:
Luke 11:24-26 MKJV
(24) When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he walks through dry places seeking rest. And finding none, he says, “I will return to my house from which I came out.”
(25) And when he comes, he finds it swept and decorated.
(26) And he goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in, they dwell there. And the last state of that man is worse than the first.
That’s no place to be, assuredly. The deeper the pit one digs, the harder to climb out of.
Galatians 6:7-9 MKJV
(7) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he also will reap.
(8) For he sowing to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh. But he sowing to the Spirit will reap life everlasting from the Spirit.
(9) But we should not lose heart in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not faint.
I don’t doubt most people in asylums are demonically troubled. I also don’t doubt there are more people with than without devils in what we might term “normal society.” After all, those of the world and without Christ are captives of the prince of this world, who does pretty much as he pleases with them, having license to do so because of their sin, unbelief, idolatry, fornication, and rebellion towards God.
“He who believes on the Son has everlasting life, and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides upon him” (John 3:36 MKJV).
Some experiences with devils related in Victor’s Theo-autobiography:
Black Angels over the Harris House [read the following two particles, too]