Bible Doctrine and the Emotional Health of the Believer
I recently did a series in our church on the Shepherd of the Valley in which we taught through the twenty second through the twenty fourth Psalms. After completing the series I sat back and read through those sermons and could not help but feel a sense a peace. Even though I studied earnestly to get the best interpretation I still missed so much. I had deadlines to meet and three other messages to complete those weeks as well as my other pastoral duties. I was refreshed to experience God personally restoring my mind, body and soul. Even in doing the Lord’s work there is plenty of opportunity to get caught up in the habit of poorly monitored thinking. It happens before you know it and your nerves can get on edge. As an old saying goes, “I was as nervous as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”
Improper thinking; or let me just say it, “unsupervised thinking”, leads to a myriad of useless thoughts and wasted emotional energy. It was about this time I purchased a book entitled, Deadly Emotions, written by Don Colbert, M.D. I had read quite a number of books on mental attitude dynamics and of course in earning my doctorate in theology I had studied God’s solutions to improper thinking. And yet with Dr. Colbert’s book I saw a greater threat not just to my health, but to my testimony before the Lord. It wasn’t that I showed to the public any character flaws in my testimony for the Lord, but in my personal life I saw the need to become more disciplined within the chambers of my own soul.
I am not a psychiatrist, a psychologist, nor a medical doctor, and yet as a human being with physical, emotional and spiritual needs, and as a pastor to a people I am keenly aware of the need to let God’s people know his Word has the solutions to unhealthy attitudes and emotions. Unhealthy attitudes left to roam free and populate the soul leads to certain ruin and personal misery.
And so this series of eight lessons was developed and taught as a teaching tool to my congregation. So many said they were helped by it that I decided to publish it in hopes that others would benefit from these findings. May these lessons help you in some way to become a better person and a better servant of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
John W. Reynolds, Th. D
Pastor-teacher, Faith Baptist Church
Isa.33:6 “ And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation; the fear of the Lord is his treasure.”
Lesson 1 Happiness Is A Choice
Healthy Attitudes - I Thess.5:23
Small print is from notes from Don Colbert, M.D. Deadly Emotions
1. What happened to good old fashioned happiness? Does happiness as an emotion only come from outside of us, or is it intrinsic? Is happiness hereditary or is it a life choice? Is +h based on a persons personality profile? Have you ever heard of someone who commits suicide, and others who know him or her say “I can’t believe it, they always seemed so happy and effervescent.” I believe that a person’s happiness is not connected to their personality profile, but to their mental health, a health which is not destroyed by bad emotions.
There is a form of human happiness, and for the believer there is that human happiness and also the sharing in the happiness of God through salvation and the establishment of the completed edification complex, I Jn.1:4.
Jn.13:17 Happiness is experienced by the believer who walks in fellowship with the Lord and gladly serves God as a faithful ambassador.
Jm.1:25 Happy or blessed is the believer who intently looks into the perfect law of liberty, or freedom found in God’s Word, and continues in it, that is the word of God, this believer is spiritually free from sin and cosmic involvement. This believer is not a forgetful hearer.
This believer knows the importance of building a personal walk with the Lord through B.D, and as a result they are a doer of God’s word.
Because these believers have a personal sense of destiny the details of life and the many mental attitude sins do not drag them down into the pits of despair and fear.
Prov.3:13, 18 “ Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding; She is a tree of life to those who lay hold upon her, and happy is every one that retaineth her.”
Getting God’s word brings divine wisdom and divine understanding to life’s trials and circumstances. This produces happiness and peace in the child of God. This believer gets all the word they can and they are humble enough to keep on getting it. Happiness is the result.
Believers who are the happiest are so because their capacity to enjoy God is greater in scope. Their humility produces a sense of urgency in getting the word of God. There seems to be such a lack of urgency these days to get into a good Bible teaching church. Activity seems to draw in the bigger crowds. It would be something if thinking brought in such crowds.
Inner happiness is a choice. It is not something that just happens to you. Whatever fulfills you determines your personal satisfaction and ultimate inner happiness. If what fills you up is sin and guilt then happiness will elude you.
2. Why do we have to start suffering before we seek genuine emotional health and inner peace? Ex. Someone finds out they have cancer and they have little time left with loved ones; they stop focusing on the petty concerns of life and focus more on family and loving others. They seek and give forgiveness. This reduces stress immediately and causes a sense of well being.
There is a connection between unhealthy emotions such as worry and anxiety that leads to stress and physical illness.
Doesn’t this fly in the face of our Lord’s admonition to not worry, to not concern ourselves with tomorrow; doesn’t this fly in the face of our Lord telling us to lay our burdens on him; to cast our cares on him for he cares for us, I Pet.5:6-7.?
Why do we take upon ourselves the burden of making tomorrow secure for ourselves in ways which we have no control, and when we do face certain uncomfortable circumstances why do we not pray for God’s grace to get through those circumstances? Is God not there as well?
As Dr. Colbert says can’t we be happy and have that sense of well being without pills and chemicals, and subsequently alter our physical health to the good for years to come?
Can’t we drastically limit future physical ailments and diseases by having healthy emotions now?
“Emotional feelings become our physical feelings. When in emo. duress such as when a big event is coming up or when a mate has left you or when you lose a loved one or miss out on a good job or promotion your emotions can directly effect your physical health. Self-pity can lead to depression and this will lead to stress on the body. The body cannot tell the difference between physical stress and emotional stress.
Lots of little things build up to create emotional tension which of course builds the level of our stress. Everything from the drive to and from work to getting unwanted mail, to house chores undone staring at you, to your children’s problems, to conflicts with neighbors or coworkers, to hearing nothing but bad news on the television and so on. These all add up and they can cause an overload on the mind which dump this pressure on the emotions . Emotions cannot think so they go to the body through the adrenal system and unhealthy toxins are released into the body and now the body becomes the final dumping ground .
The body reacts with illness and susceptibility to disease.
DC - Between 75 to 90 % of all visits to primary-care physicians result from stress-related disorders. p.6
Doctors most often immediately treat the symptom as this is what the patient wants, but what we really need is to find the problem and eliminate it. He calls this pulling the top off the dandelion instead of rooting out the dandelion. If you simply pull off the top it will soon come back.”
In this method of treatment it’s as if we are attached to a bungee cord, and we bounce between home and the doctor’s office. We keep going back and forth for the same thing. If the problem is stress related we simply need to reduce or eliminate the stress.
This is why I believe an expository ministry is so important. Such teaching goes way beneath the surface and digs out and exposes our deepest fears and troubles. When they are brought to the surface we must give them to God. This transforming process is critical to molding the believer into the image of Christ. God alleviates your cares and subsequent stress this way.
1. Name the two different forms of happiness.
2. How is divine happiness established in the child of God?
3. Why are some believers happier [ content ] than others?
4. What must a believer have in order to develop the capacity to be happier?
5. What forms the link between the body and the soul?
6. Define, anxiety.
7. What must the believer do to alleviate the stress brought on by cares, fears and troubles?
Lesson 2 Handling Unhealthy Anger
Healthy Attitudes - Prov.14:17 ; Prov.19:11
Stress researchers and authors, Doc Childre and Howard Martin, who are experts in the field of stress say that, “Stress is the body and mind’s response to any pressure that disrupts their normal balance. It occurs when our perception of events do not meet our expectations and we do not manage our reaction to the disappointment. Stress, that unmanaged reaction- expresses itself as resistance, tension, strain, or frustration, throwing off our physiological and psychological equilibrium and keeping us out of sync. If our equilibrium is disturbed for long, the stress becomes disabling. We fade from overload, feel emotionally shut down, and eventually get sick.”
Doctors are now accepting the fact that “emotions effect the entire body, not just the mind. That chemical reactions are formed from unhealthy emotions and these chemicals go into the body and the brain. These chemical reactions occur at both the organ level, stomach, heart, large muscles, and so forth, and at the cellular level.”p.9
“ A Harvard Medical School study of 1,623 heart attack survivors concluded that anger brought on by emotional conflicts doubled the risk of subsequent heart attacks compared to those who remained calm.”
The Bible has much to say about anger. In one regard anger is seen as righteous indignation, that is, anger can be caused by seeing an injustice done. Under these circumstances anger is the emotional response to a mental attitude toward a set of circumstances. It is said God’s anger [orge ]or wrath abides on those that do not believe on his Son, Jn.3:36.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was angry with the hard hearts of the Pharisees for not wanting him to heal the sick on the Sabbath Day, Mk.3:5. Jer.15:17-18; Ps.129:2-3.
Paul said there are times believers are to display anger, but not to the point of sinning, Eph.4:26. “ Be angry and do not sin...” How can this be since we have always been told anger is sinful? Well, some types of anger are sinful as we will see, but we cannot be divorced from reality regarding the emotion of anger and why this emotion was put in us by God. Righteous anger abided in God before sin entered the world, however, God’s anger is always associated with his righteousness.
Satan attacked the righteousness of God as noted in Isa.14, and God was angry with him, and cursed him to eventual eternal punishment and banishment in the lake of fire.
Likewise as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we too have a duty to be angry with unrighteousness and to uphold the viewpoint God has set forth in this world. However, two other types of anger also exist. One is called in the Greek; thumos anger.
This is an agitated condition of the feelings with outburst of wrath. This is the quick flash of wrath. This is the missile going off so-to-speak. [ Orge anger as noted in our first definition is less sudden in its rise because true righteous indignation comes from objective thinking, Prov.19:7-11. ]
However, thumos anger on the part of mankind is anger that does not take the time to think. This would be illustrated by Moses killing the Egyptian slave master who was beating the Hebrew slave. He had seen this all of his life, so why did this incident so quickly provoke him.
Moses also demonstrated this type of anger when he stuck the rock at Meribah instead of speaking to the rock for water as God commanded, Num.20:7-11, read..
God also has a thumos anger and it is noted ten times in the Book of Revelation as God’s fierce wrath which is quickly poured out.
The difference between God and man in this type of anger is that God always has the answers to his exercise of anger because God is omniscient, he knows all the facts. We should also note that anger as an emotion of God is actually an anthropopathism, a human term used to express an act of God.
What leads to much of our frustration and irritability and stress? Can it be that when we are aroused by anger we too often jump to conclusions and do not bother to get all of the facts before we take action? Getting the facts is the least we can do. Then after getting the facts we must process them against the back drop of God’s word. Then we must place the judgment if there is any into God’s hands. Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, I will repay.
See Eph.4:30-32. Bad attitudes start the moment you get out of fellowship with the Lord. Moses did this at the rock. He was more resentful and angry with God than he was with the children of Israel, and he acted foolishly and it cost him dearly as God would not permit him to go into the Promised Land. God saw Moses as a stubborn man just like he did the rest of Israel. God loved Moses, but God is no respecter of persons.
[ So what arouses our anger many times is the absence of facts, and the absence of faith. ]
This is due to our own subjective thinking and insecurity, which is a condition brought on by little, to no trust in God. The more trust we have in God the more secure we will be.
Where is our patience?
The absence of the virtue of patience is directly linked to the excessive abuse of anger. The patient believer is never in a hurry to settle a score or get vengeance. The patient believer also does not feel a sense of incrimination just because others accuse him of something. The patient believer is the believer who has learned to wait on the Lord and to rest in the Lord as his defense when wrongly accused. The patient believer knows the trials of life are brought on by the hand of the Lord, and these trials are for working out our Christian experience with God.
Patience in God gives to the believer the one on one personal experience needed to produce confidence in the abilities of God, Rom.5:2-4.[ Until we learn to let God have the battle we will not rest in his grace. This believer will constantly be irritated by the trials and testings of life.] Patience teaches us to respect grace, i.e. respect God’s provisions.
One other type of anger is parorgismos anger and this type of anger is seen as an anger that comes to a full boil after some time. This anger is demonstrated by the believer who holds grudges and never forgives a slight on the part of others.
This believer suffers from a strong sense of self importance,[ ego ]so that they become hypersensitive about anything said to them . They can create the most elaborate fictional scenarios possible, and get angry over their supposed imaginations, and mental aberrations.
Many believers suffer from the delusion that they are actually the center of the universe, and everything is about them. You cannot please these believers.
So much of what you say is taken wrong and only turns up the heat beneath their subjective anger. Paranoia is that sense of persecution or grandeur associated with such delusional thinking. This boiling pot of hostility and anger will look for any and all ingredients to stir in the mix so as to justifying blowing the top off of the place, or for either verbally and or physically attacking the unsuspecting victim of their imagination.
Quite the opposite results are found in those who can control their anger and anxiety.
Our stress is greatly reduced when the mental attitude sin of anger is under God’s control.
1.What three components make up stress?
2. Define stress.
3. Righteous anger always come from _______ _________.
4. When do bad attitudes start with the believer?
5. What two absent things stir improper anger?
6. What happens to the believer who will not rest in God’s grace?
7. When is the stress caused by improper anger greatly reduced?
Lesson 3 The Penalty of Unconfessed Sin
“ A study from the Mayo Clinic has shown that heart disease stemming from psychological stress was the strongest predictor of future cardiac events, including cardiac death, cardiac arrest, and heart attack.” p.10.
“ A study done in Finland showed that hostility is a major risk factor and predictor of coronary artery disease. A nine-year population-based study done as a follow-up to this study revealed that high-hostility scorers were almost three times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than low scorers.” p.39
People who have a strong sense of destiny, especially believers should know that their destiny begins and lies within the providence of the Lord.
Proper mental attitudes minus mental attitude sins leads to a more productive and healthy life. In other words to set this in the context of the effects of Bible doctrine in the souls of God’s people we should be emotionally healthy and likewise relatively physically healthy.
At least we should be only minimally affected by unhealthy emotions as we claim the promises of God by exercising the faith rest technique. That is, we have taken the time to learn God’s word, then apply his word to our circumstances.
When we do not follow the divine prescription for spiritual and psychological health, which comes through the biblical transformation of our lives, then we are left to fend for ourselves.
As sinners, though saved, we can fail.
When we find ourselves under divine discipline, or extreme spiritual under nourishment we may ask, “what happened to me?” Prov.1:20-32 read.
When we are out of fellowship with God our pride pushes us into a state of great destruction. This is one important reason you must use I Jn.1:9 for confession of personal sin as soon as you recognize sin in your life.
When we refuse to believe what is true about ourselves the sin of pride will cast a veil over our eyes, and only repentance can remove it, Jer.49:16.
Prov.8:13 “ The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride , and arrogance, and the evil way, and the perverse mouth, do I hate.”
Pride is an abomination which God hates. It makes us act as a god because we foolishly think ourselves to be above others.
Pride can lead us to believe that since we are better off than others, that we are better than others, and that is not true. Pride is self-flattery.
Pride inflates the ego or self-awareness as soon as sin takes over the life of the believer, and when this happens the believer gains a false sense of importance wherein he almost unconsciously justifies his or her actions.
Prov.11:2 Shame follows pride. Prov.13:2 Contention and controversy comes from pride.
Prov.16:18 Pride opens the door to the destruction of the life.
James 5:13-15 tells of a believer who is under divine discipline. This believer ignores God’s warning given through his pastor-teacher, as a matter of fact this sick believer is sick because he has undermined the teaching of his pastor, Jm.3:1-18.
This sick believer does not have a clear conscience, James 3:13 This believer is bitter, and envious, and has great strife in his heart. There is confusion and every evil work imaginable. James says in 1:8 that “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
The sinning believer in the Book of James gives a fitting description of our very topic on the emotional and spiritual health of a believer. It can be devastating, not only to the individual believer, but to a local-church.
James 5:14-16 becomes the condition of the negative believer described below.
A negative believer under the influence of sin and the cosmic system can be characterized by..
1) 1:6b-8 [double minded means, mental and spiritual instability, irrational thinking, not being dependable; moody, and delusional; two souled, diyucoV.]
2) 1:13-15 blaming God for the bad things that happen to him
3) 1:20 seeks vendettas, that is, getting even with people. They like to be judge, jury and executioner. They are often guilty of character assassination.
4) 1:22b-24 They deceive themselves by way of many blind spots on their souls. When God has reproved them through the teaching of their pastor-teacher, they refuse constantly to change their attitudes and as a result their conscience is cauterized; hardened, with the result being, they are insensitive to their own sinful living.
5) 1:26 They have the self-deception that God is impressed with him. He speaks evil of others while at the same time expects his worship of God to be commendable.
6) Chapter 2 gives the illustration of the negative believer and his self-deception. He treats people badly; says he has great faith, and yet he doesn’t have spiritual fruit borne in his life. Christianity is all theory and no practice to him. Christianity is temporal and not spiritual to him.
7) 3:1-18 The negative believer has a false estimation of his place, even in church, and will often usurp the pastor’s teaching ministry stirring up division and envy. He speaks out of both sides of his mouth.
James says the verbal sins of this callused believer is like a world of iniquity, and it defiles the whole body, both their physical body and also the church congregation.
They can split a church congregation in half and at the same time be completely unaware of what they are doing. Once a believer goes into reversionism,[ a refusal to apply truth once accepted and practiced] , the veil over their spiritual eyes blinds them from their actions. Until they repent of their wicked ways they will continue to mentally distance themselves from their personal actions. As this process is going on they are becoming sicker and sicker, mentally, spiritually and physically. God is not making this person sick, they are by their own negative volition, making themselves sick. The emotional torment casting itself on the body, causing sickness, stems from their maladjustment to the righteousness of God.
Let it be known that the one who has become sick, due to their sinful heart, this is the one who has to call for the pastor [ elder] to come to them, 5:14.
Without humility and repentance this believer will die in shame.
1.Where does the believer’s destiny lie?
2. What is the divine prescription for mental and spiritual health?
3. What happens when the believer does not follow the divine prescription for mental and spiritual health?
4. What does pride do to the believer who will not confess his sins quickly?
5. List several characteristics of the sin of pride.
6. What does it mean in James 1:8 to be double minded?
Lesson 4 The Progression of Divine Discipline
Grieving & Quenching the Holy Spirit
[Violating God’s word through willful disobedience grieves the Holy Spirit, Eph.4:30.]
[Passive indifference to God quenches the Holy Spirit, I Thess.5:19.]
An apathetic attitude toward God demonstrates an unhealthy callused mental attitude. Both of these factors in the believer’s life cause self induced misery, SIM, and affect the entire health of the believer. I Thess.5:23 tells us that this way of living is in violation of how God wants us to live. We do not live in a perfect world, and as believers we do mess up, however, we can greatly reduce the amount of our sorrow and misery by thinking properly and acting properly. Despite what some people say, there is a proper way to live. God calls on his children to reflect his righteousness, and he gives us the power to live a +R life, but it’s a choice.
When the soul is torn between doing right and wrong, between obedience and disobedience the body pays the piper. What happens to the body in this instance according to Dr. Colbert is very interesting.
The brain is constantly giving signals to the body through special cells called neuropeptides. These cells give the answer as to how bad mental attitudes and unhealthy emotions get into our bodies and turn into diseases that effect the body.
We also have a certain class of immune cells called monocytes which have on their surface neuroreceptors. The special cells sent from the brain which we have identified as the neuropeptides , which are chains of amino acids, these cells are sent along the nervous cells throughout the entire body.
These cells are like the keys that fit into the molecular locks of every cell of the human body. It is the brains way of talking to the cells of our bodies.
The brain communicates to the immune cells, the monocytes, and these cells communicate back to the brain sending the message back through the neruopeptides. If the brain interprets physical perceptions such as anger, fear or depression, then every immune cell in your body knows that exact interpretation very quickly.
In short; your body knows what and how you think. Not only do the brain and the cells of the body communicate, but the cells of the body also have a degree of memory.
Fear, for example triggers more than fourteen hundred known physical and chemical stress reactions and activates more than thirty different hormones and neurotransmitters in your body.
When a stressful event occurs the brain perceives the stress and responds by triggering the release of specific hormones from the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal gland.
The adrenal glands release epinephrine called adrenaline. When this happens the sympathetic nervous system sends even more epinephrine throughout the body including these same sympathetic nerves which run through our organs and tissues. Your heart rate increases, your colon is stimulated often causing diarrhea, you sweat, your bronchial tubes dilate allowing more oxygen to enter, and so on.”
God made our hormones so that they will work to produce the precise balance in the body, for a healthy believer. Too much stress though produces too much hormone in the body and the oversupply produces negative results.
Long term emotional stress causes a steady flow of these hormones into the cells of our bodies and they can be very damaging to the body. Increased heart rate due to an over dose of these hormones leads to an increased heartbeat and subsequent high blood pressure.
Certainly we all need a shot of adrenaline from time to time such as protecting ourselves or to run from a dangerous situation. It gives to us a little extra energy or a lot of energy to do what we have to do.
But, if we harbor mental attitude sins with their subsequent bad emotions then prolonged stress takes over the body and this is not good.
“Evidence is mounting dramatically that the quality of a marriage is strongly related to health. We all have a certain amount of stress and in a marriage where their has been slow recovery from wounds or surgery it has been documented that those who recover very slowly from a wound or surgery are those who have high levels of stress, regardless if the stress is physical illness or emotional distress, such as anger and anxiety. The wiring circuits for emotion in the brain turn out to be sitting directly next to, and are deeply connected to - the circuits that control heart rate, blood pressure and how much adrenaline one secretes. These two circuits talk to one another like two people walking down a hall way. A bad emotional state makes needles jump”.. Cardiologist report that if there is an undercurrent of hostility or resentment in a marriage or a suspicion of infidelity, the whole cardiac recovery process slows down. Only secure and happy marriages reap the rewards of better health and longevity. Gail Sheehy- “Why Marriage is Good Medicine for Men” Parade Magazine June 18, 2006 article
Prov.13:12 Rejection of God’s word in the believer leads to a sense of hopelessness and mental sickness.
Ps.51: Sin in the believer causes sadness, v.8, and a sense of isolation, v.11, and guilt, v.14
Ps.32: Sin in the believer causes physical stress and anguish, v.3 David was guilty and because his sins had not been repented of his conscience tore at his entire soul. Until our sins are confessed, guilt hammers away at us.
When all of our sins are confessed, not some, but all, then our conscience is clear and our guilt of sin is removed. I Jn.1:9 says we are cleansed from all unrighteousness. If we have piled up known sins God does not remove any of them until we have come clean on all of them. When we do we are cleansed.
In this manner God is speaking directly to the soul of the believer such as he was with King David. His Spirit is bearing witness with our spirit that we are at peace with him, and the result is joy on our part and relief. This is part of the supernatural life of the believer.
When confession takes place it means we have had a change of mind.
This change of thinking is noted in Prov.13:12b as we repent then we are spiritually revived. [This spiritual revival of the soul turns off the stress factors that were brought on by negative emotions which stemmed from improper negative mental attitude thoughts, Prov.51:14.]
God created our soul to point us in his direction.
When we refuse to repent of our sins our soul suffers psychological and emotional pain. [This pain is demonstrated by continued anxiety and sadness which affects our physical health, Ps.32:3-4.] The disciplinary progression of discipline is .. sadness, anxiety, physical illness, and eventual death. I Cor.11:30-32.
As I have said before, it is not an emptiness we experience when we know we have sinned; it is the absence of the fruits of the Spirit of God we miss. When we are living with unconfessed sin we are not empty, we are full of sin. Sin as well as spirituality are absolutes.
Where is that joy and happiness when we have sinned? That’s right, it is missing. It is missing because we have turned away from God and we have turned unto ourselves. We alone make for a small world.
1. What grieves the Holy Spirit?
2. What quenches the Holy Spirit?
3. What turns off the stress factors brought on my personal sin? Give scripture.
4. What is the progression of divine discipline upon an unrepentant believer? Give scripture.
Lesson 5 Handling Guilt and Guilt Feelings
Many men have stepped out of the ministry due to an overload of dangerous stress. Alternating between too many highs and too many lows without taking time to establish personal strength from private study has lead many men to what is known as burnout.
Emotional stability is critical to longevity in the ministry and only sound Bible truth resident in the preacher’s soul affords this longevity, I Tim.4:13-16; II Tim.1:7; 3:16. Preachers cannot live for the “rush” that comes from speaking to crowds, they must preach for God.
I must note here that it is proven that adrenaline and noradrenalin are addictive. Many athletes, professionals and musicians are addicted to this hormone rush.
Loud music such as is played in the name of God in too many new churches today is dangerous to the health of believers and attendees. Some people can become psychologically addicted to the hormone rush and this will feed disease to their bodies.
As Rick Warren of Saddleback Church says, “we play our music loud, really really, loud and were not going to turn it down. - “Selecting Worship Music” by R. Warren, July 29, 2002.
I believe this is detrimental to the spiritual growth of the believer. See your “Big Sound” article from Northwest Baptist Church newsletter. This article discusses how to get that big stereo sound in your church auditorium and how to get your people to sing louder in order to create an atmosphere of excitement in the worship service.
“Elevated levels of adrenaline over time can also cause blood to clot faster and contributes to plaquing, which causes the thyroid to become overly stimulated and the body has to produce a higher than necessary level of cholesterol. Again, too much stress can kill you.
Another hormone released under stress is cortisol. Cortisol at elevated levels causes blood sugar and insulin levels to rise and remain at high levels. Too much cortisol can make the body gain weight, and retain weight. It can lead to bone loss, increased blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, advanced aging, fat accumulation, and impair memory and learning and destroy brain cells.”
In closing this section of study it must be noted that not only is poor thinking and bad emotions bad for the body, but pleasure seeking can also overwork the bodies adrenaline.
The body does not know the reason it is being overloaded with adrenaline only that it is. The brain may know why you are excited, but the body does not know. The body doesn’t know if you are experiencing anger or a thrill ride at a park or a gruesome movie.
So we must watch how we think, and we must guard what we take into our minds and what we seek in our activities. Phil.4:8 read..
As a man thinks in his heart so it he as King David said. And as Jesus Christ said, it is not what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles him, but what comes out of his inner most being, his soul in other words, and what is in his heart that defiles him.
I Thess.5:22-23 read.. The spirit, and soul, and body are to be preserved blameless. The Greek word, blameless is amemptos, and means without fault. Knowingly treating ourselves wrong is not the will of God. This includes hurting ourselves with bad mental attitudes.
So, how do we control stress, one of the great banes [destructive devices] of our day?
Dr. Colbert says “ a persons stress level has to do with what a person believes.” [It is not necessarily their circumstances that cause stress, but the person’s perception of the circumstances in their life].” p.21-22.
Whatever seemed important to an event, or what the consequences would be of the event, and the amount of effort associated with the event lead to different levels of stress.
It seems the nagging tasks which we are uncomfortable with causes the greatest stress, even if the tasks are as simple as writing out the monthly bills. Playing football or shopping all day was not as stressful as handling unwanted chores.”
I believe unwanted chores in which we chose to procrastinate leads to high levels of stress. This is why we often leave the hardest tasks for last. When we find ourselves doing a simple, perhaps pleasant chore, in the back of our minds is that nagging chore ruining even the easiest of chores.
“There is a connection between these stressful emotions and our bodies because some things wear us out physically when they should not.
Mental habits of going over and over past painful experiences feeds the same stressful hormones into the body and the body has no idea if these hormones are related to an actual present event or something that happened years ago.” p.23
You can wear yourself out today over things God says you need to let go, Phil.3:13-14.
[Guilt, which is a sense of being judged,] often leads to a very stressful experience for the believer, and yet guilt should be absent from the thinking of a believer who correctly and promptly exercises confession, I Jn.1:9.
The Apostle Paul said in Phil.3:13 to .. “ forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before.”
When people bring up your past mistakes they can add stress to your life, but a true friend does not care about your past. God does not care about your past. He cast your sins so far away they will never be brought up again. If God does not bring up your sins of the past then why do some people think they should?
Some people are stress couriers. They like to spread bad news. The things that should be discarded are the very things they want to serve up on a silver platter.
Prov.6:19 mentions sowing discord among the brethren as one of the seven abominations unto God.[ There will always be someone trying to build their righteousness upon the mistakes and sins of others.] God will handle them. The best information I can give you if this happens to you is to ignore them. Do not lower yourself to their level. Recognize God sees this evil for what it is, and he will bring calamity upon that evil person’s life in no time flat.
Another aspect of guilt is when you bring up your past failures.[ Sometimes you can resent yourself just because you did not hold up to what you knew to be right.] You can hate yourself, and incriminate yourself if you’re not careful. God does not want us to get into this destructive mode.
Often times when we mess up we can use our mistakes or even sins, as a cop out for throwing in the towel. We say, “What’s the use”. This is what I am afraid some believers do.
[Resent is a French word made up of sentir, to feel, and the prefix re- meaning again. When a person can’t get over their own past failures they can re-feel the disappointment and anger they first felt when they messed up.] Here again is where the child of God has got to trust in the forgiveness and grace of God. This resentment creates a guilt complex that leads to a spiraling down of unhealthy emotions and eventually a form of depression.
You are not perfect, so get over it. Many times our failure to accept our imperfections and sins, though confessed, these failures show us we are human, and that God is God. [The remedy to getting rid of guilt is confession, and a dose of good old fashioned humility before God.] Get back to B.D and focus on Christ, not yourself. Guilt can be a form of penitence whereby the believer through his own efforts tries to find a way to appease God.
[The concept behind confession is not just saying what you did against God, but it also factors the reality that in telling God what you did wrong, you are also accepting his forgiveness and cleansing. And as a result you do not dig it up again and again and again.]
1. Is it our circumstances that cause stress, or is it our perception of our circumstances that causes stress?
2. Define guilt.
3. Why do some people like to bring up others past mistakes and sins?
4. Why do we hang on to our past mistakes and sins?
5. Define resentment.
6. What is the remedy for getting rid of guilt?
7. What secondary factor is as much a part of confession as telling God what you did wrong?
Lesson 6 Handling God’s Correction
Dr. Colbert says “People who feel guilt and shame often walk with stooped shoulders, their heads hanging. They convey the appearance they want to hide. That it’s our instinctive expression among humans to cower or seek to hide if we find ourselves in a situation that might cause us to be embarrassed, guilty, or ashamed.” p 85
Adam and Eve did this when they hid from God in the Garden of Eden, Gen.3:6-13.
They first sinned, then self-righteousness kicked in and they tried to hide from their conscience by covering their sin with fig leaves, then they hid in the bushes when God came along. They told God they were afraid of what he would think of them being naked, that is they were worried about what God thought, then in v.12 instead of taking full responsibility for their transgression ,each one blamed someone else, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the Devil. They resented being told they were wrong.
Christians today can take the same attitude toward God when he reproves them When shame leads to denial of wrongdoing and it is not confessed, this leads to resentment toward God and themselves.
Let’s close by looking at Heb.12:11-15
v.11 [ When we sin God has the right and responsibility to discipline us. The word chastening is the Greek word paideia, and means discipline. Discipline is meant to guide us in the right path; God’s path of righteousness. This word paideia also means to instruct and to educate.] In other words discipline is a teacher.
II Tim.3:16 says God’s word is taught for many reasons, and one of those reasons mentioned is for instruction. Instruction is the same Greek word for discipline. Believers who avoid Bible class usually do so to avoid instruction.
Discipline can be painful, if not, at least painful to the soul and the emotions and discipline is grievous.[ Yet the purpose of this discipline from our loving heavenly Father is more than just setting us straight, it is intended to bring fruitfulness to our lives. Fruitfulness brings fulfillment and that brings joy. Ps.119:71]
Heb.12:12 Now here is where we have to make the attitude adjustment, and here is where we can either accept our discipline, or refuse to believe we have done anything wrong. Please remember when God’s word says something is wrong then it is wrong regardless of what anyone says. It is always best to go ahead and admit your wrong doing, confess it and go on than linger around looking for someone to justify your blatant act or non-Christ like attitude. If God doesn’t condone your act or words or attitude that should be all that matters.
[ When you confess your sins you are cleansed of all unrighteousness before God, subsequently your attitude and appearance should reflect someone who is not guilty or shameful.] As v.12 says after correction is made to
“ lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.”
The problem stems from us not wanting to admit we were wrong, and our anger toward God for telling us we were wrong.
Often it is the unfortunate task of the preacher to bring these problems to your attention, though most times in preaching he does not know that he is stepping on your toes.
Not admitting we are wrong may lead to us justifying our actions and reliving that scenario over and over in our minds and this is called resentment. [Why do we choose to relive our failures? Why do we choose to relive and stew over forgiven sin? Ans. Our pride makes us think we are better than that, and this is so far from the truth. We are saved by grace, but we are all still rotten to the core. A no good thing lives in us, Rom.7:18. ]
This is self-destructive behavior and it will lead to many physical illnesses.
[ The hanging down of the hands and the feeble knees are symptomatic of someone experiencing shame and guilt. It also connotes one who pouts and sulks when they are corrected.]
v.13 Here we are told to let God square us away, that is, to cause us to follow a straight path. The word picture of making a straight path is from the Greek word, trecho. It pictures a wheel that runs a straight track, and not one that is wobbly and leaves a crooked track. The reference to the word straight is an orthopedic term from the Greek word orthas. We are to be set in a straight path, lest we be like the lame whose joints are out of alignment and they cannot walk straight. Let God straighten you out and you will be healed. But, you will not be healed if you refuse to accept the fact that God has the authority and the responsibility as your heavenly Father to straighten you out.
We all walk a path of our own at times, and we all get out of joint sometimes.[ The key is to walk God’s path and let him straighten us out when we are out of joint with him.]
v.14 God intends that you follow peace with all men, and follow holiness as well. This requires an established edification complex built up under the authority and teaching ministry of a pastor-teacher. This is why so many will not stay in an expository church. You can go to a church that has a lot of entertainment and programs and a twenty or thirty minute topical sermon that will not challenge your beliefs. You won’t hear much that will challenge you to get tough on yourself and so you can get comfortable in such a church, and never grow up. There is no way a preacher is doing his job if his people don’t get mad at him at times regarding the teaching of the word. If you are not being challenged to change the way you think you are not be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. A lot of times the preacher is completely oblivious to this reaction in the souls of God’s people, many who may be sitting quietly and looking spiritual in their Sunday best.
v.15 If you do not accept your discipline and learn from it, you will fail the grace of God, and roots of bitterness will spring up from within your own soul. These roots of bitterness will trouble you and defile others. Bitter fruit is the Greek words, riza pikrias. This bitter fruit is seen by having a confrontational attitude, resentment, anger, uneasiness among people, a sense of being watched and judged by others, a chip on your shoulder, and to be irritable and restless. This poor attitude destroys self worth, and friendships and local churches and God’s work.
This is a perfect example of someone suffering from a guilt complex. This should never be the conduct of a born-again-believer.
How is Your Conduct?
Compare walks in Eph.4-5 Note the two different walks between 4:17, walk not as other Gentiles walk in the vanity of their minds, 4:1 walk worthy of the calling to which you were called, 5:2 .. walk in love, 5:8 ..walk as children of light; 5:15 ,walk upright or circumspectly, not as fools but as wise .
[Walk as used in each instance here is from the Greek word, peripateo. This word should be translated conduct.] Our personal conduct is very important to God. Our quality of character is very important to God. It is more important than our talents, grace gifts, or personality. It is more important than our entertainment.
[ It is more important than our worship to him because if our personal conduct , both hidden and seen conduct is not upright with God he is not glorified in what we do.] I Sam.15:22 tells us obedience to God comes before worship will be accepted by God.
We must come clean with God and stay on track to spiritual maturity and beyond. Keep your sin accounts short.
1. From Hebrews 12:11 define chastening.
2. What is the divine purpose for God’s discipline?
3. What two things should be changed once the believer’s confession is over?
4. What drives us to relive our past failures and stew over forgiven sin?
5. What does the hanging down of the hands and the feeble knees refer to in Heb.12:12?
6. What kind of path does the believer walk who refuses to let God straighten them out?
7. Define the word, walk as noted in Eph.4:17; 5:2.
8. Why is your conduct more important to God than your worship of God? Give scripture.
Lesson 7 Second Hand Stress
Another angle to look at regarding the effects of stress is how it can be developed in us through taking on too much of another’s problems. Some sociologists call this second hand stress. And again, none of us will ever escape 100% of stress, but too often we absorb more than God intends. We are not Jesus Christ and the burdens others bear are not always ours to carry. [You can develop a martyr’s complex, that is, its all up to you mentality, serving others, even in the ministry.]
Moses did this, Num.20:7-11; Elijah, I Kings 19:1-18 , Jonah 4:1-3, and Martha did this also, Lk.10:38-41.
Each example listed above assumed too much upon themselves which lead to tremendous stress and spiritual failure.
Gal.6:1-5 read ..
It is true that God expects us to help others and provide for our families, and yet it is also true that we sometimes try to play the part of God and fix everyone’s problem.
[God never intended for his children to lean more on each other than on him.]
This is where the office and gifts of the pastor-teacher come into play. The pastor is to train his people in the word so that they will turn to God for strength and consolation.
[My desire for you is that you will develop an edification complex wherein God will cause you to stand on your own two feet and bring maximum glory to him by utilizing the doctrine you have received in Bible class.]
Why do you think some folks have so many calamities in life? Well, Ps.119:97-103 along with Prov.1:24-31 tells us why two different lifestyles are perpetuated.
Oh, how I love thy law. It is my meditation all the day.
Often times less meditation leads to more medication.
v.98 Thy commandments make we wise..
v.99-100 I have more understanding than all teachers and philosophers. In other words I have a realistic and balanced take on things because I respect and appropriate God’s Word to my circumstances.
v.101 I keep myself under control so I stay out of trouble. Undisciplined thinking leads to all sorts of sorrows.
v.102 I practice divine principles and use confession and accept the forgiveness of such on a consistent basis.
v.103 Bible doctrine is sweet to me. It is not a burden getting to Bible class. I do not look at church as a duty. I look at it as an opportunity to exploit the grace of God. I do not come for entertainment or a pat on the back. B.D is sweeter than honey to my mouth. It is not a bitter pill to me.
But, for the person who is always in a pickle, always upset, always disturbed by everything and seems never to be at peace we turn to Prov.1:24-32.
v.24 The stressed out believer refuses to listen to God with their heart. They do not process B.D, operation Z.
v.25 They set aside God’s word, and when they are practicing destructive ungodly behavior they will not be corrected.
v.29 They hate God’s wisdom and will not submit to his Sovereign power.
v.30 His counsel is not respected, and his reproof is derided. Reproof means to be corrected when found at fault. Some folks just don’t like to be told they are wrong, even if it as clear as day in God’s word.
The results are found in v.26-27 where calamity, fear, desolation, troubles, anguish and a sense of isolation from recovery or help abides, v.28.
[See the difference between neg. and pos. vol.]
Most of the time you can only help those who want help, and who are willing to listen to God’s advise.
What I am bringing out here is that you cannot fix things only God can fix.
Acknowledge the fact that you can only do so much
1. [all you can do if you are in a family situation or a job situation where you are subject to high levels of stress due to the instability of others is stay in the Word of God yourself.]
This is not running from family or job pressures, this is realizing and honoring God in your circumstances.[ You are always first accountable to God because he is always your primary security and authority,] then others and your circumstances will be manageable. If you do not learn to manage your own life how do you expect to help yourself, much less others?
2. Recognize your stability as a testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and this can lead to the salvation of others. Always remember who you are to God.
On the job your spiritual stability will bring great comfort and blessing to those beneath you and those above you in authority though it will not matter to most of them that God is your stability.
If you feel pressures that lead to stress due to financial problems, physical problems, being someone’s primary caretaker who depends an awful lot on you, then my best advice is, stay in the Word of God.
3.When ever you feel like you can’t take it any more, study harder, and pray longer, eat well and try to get more rest.
Never forget that there is a reason you are in your circumstances as a helper to others.
God will come through for you. You are never alone in your circumstances. God can use circumstantial pressure to launch your spiritual growth to higher levels.
4. Here is something many will not do and that is, [Seek God’s wisdom and ask for help.] Do not let your pride get in the way of getting help if you’re a caretaker.
Go for a walk if you can walk. Talk with God often. Let the Spirit of God spray a little of God’s holy Teflon on your soul so that everything doesn’t stick to you.
Many times others will say. “It all depends on you”, only because they don’t want to help or be responsible. Hold their feet to the fire and make them accountable as well. Sometimes you have to get tough with lazy family members.
God will give you the strength you need. Matt.11:28-30 read.. I Pet.5:6-7; Heb.13:5; Rom.8:35-39.
If you are experiencing a lot of pressure and stress in your life, don’t let it be because you aren’t receiving and hearing and applying God’s word.
Don’t let it be because you’re too proud to ask for help. Don’t let it be because you’re ignoring your health. Again I Thess.5:23 says take care of yourself, mind body and soul. If you do not no one else will.
1. What is a martyr’s complex?
2. God never intended for his children to _________ more on ____________, than on ____________.
3. How does the pastor-teacher assist in getting the saints to lean more on God?
4. What is the most obvious comparison between the believer of Ps.119:97-103 and the believer of Prov.1:24-31?
5. What is your primary course of action for reducing major second hand stress?
6. In the midst of your stressful circumstances who is your first line of security and authority?
Lesson 8 The Power To Change Is Yours
“A man’s weakness and strength, purity and impurity, are his own, and not another man’s; they are brought about by himself, and not by another. His condition is also his own, and not another man’s. His suffering and his happiness are evolved from within. As he thinks, so is he; as he continues to think, so he remains.” James Allen
If you find yourself resenting something someone has done to you in the past, ask yourself, “Why do I keep on re-feeling that pain over and over in my mind.”
Could it be that you can’t bring yourself to forgive them of the injustice they have done to you? Could it be that their disappointment to you is more than you can take? Those we love or have loved the most are the ones whose arrows of pain go down the deepest. When they have not met our expectations we can resent them. They have broken our trust.
Can you imagine how our Lord felt as each one of his disciples betrayed him at his trial and crucifixion, and yet he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
We can hold in our memory bank bad acts or words of those who have hurt us. The following poem describes a place in the mind which serves no one at all.
There is a room,
where thoughts need never go.
A place where sorrows bloom
and flowers cannot grow.
Darkness fill its chambers
and cold is its embrace.
No love can stir its embers,
for hate has filled its place.
No laughter can be heard there;
only sighing’s mournful tone,
while haunting memories of despair
chill me to the bone.
I shall stay away from this room,
so deep within my soul.
It only shuts out happiness
and makes me less than whole. jwr
When we think of that person or see them these feelings will stir. But, the reality is that these feelings are only memories though we can act as if they are our present reality.
Now you’ve have heard this phrase before, “whose got the problem”? You see, there is nothing the other person can do to change what they did or said to you. They are powerless to change the past. They may have apologized in the past, but that hasn’t helped to erase the way you feel.
They may be unaware of the hurt you re-feel or resent when you are around them, or they may. What we need to do is isolate these thoughts and keep them in their perspective or else they will affect our entire mind.
Be objective with regard to those thoughts that come from deep inside your past.
Let God deal with those thoughts until they no longer master your soul. God is at work in your soul in areas which you and I are not aware.
[ II Cor.10:3-5 tells us to cast down imaginations and every high thing that lifts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into bondage or captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.] Have you ever thought of applying this passage to our context of healthy attitudes? I hope you do.
Obviously some relationships should not nor cannot be resumed this side of eternity, but you do not have to let the past hurts haunt your mind.
These resentful feelings stem from fears that the hurt will again be inflicted upon you and thus they become a defense mechanism you have invented to guard your heart. The problem though is that most of these unwarranted hurts now are not coming from that person, they are coming from within your own mind.[Ultimately you are responsible for your resentment, not the other person.] What I am saying is that the enemy is within. Your memories carry your torment, I Jn.4:18 read.
[Resident Bible Doctrine is the solution to eliminating bad memories. It will flush out the sting and anguish of bad memories, I Jn.2:8.] Scars go down deep into the soul, and many of these we tuck away because they hurt so much. Please remember the promise Jesus Christ gave those Jews who believed on him in Jn.8:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” The truth he refers to as seen in Jn.8:31 is his Word. If you continue in my word you will be set free.
[The cure for resentment is forgiveness and then continuance in God’s word.] Not only must we forget our forgiven sins and past mistakes, we must also forgive others.
Ps.119:49-56. tells us the Psalmist found comfort within his own thoughts because his thoughts were of God’s word.
[We must choose to get better in the way we think or we will get worse.]
Too much of what God has for you lies ahead. Make room in your soul for what he has for you.
Work to make room in your soul by displacing unhealthy memories that only stir up unhealthy emotions. Resident Bible doctrine will eventually remove the scars that rob the believer of his or her joy, Ps.41:4,7,9-12.
Dr. Colbert “ Mark Twain once said, “ I have been through some terrible times in my life, some of which actually happened.” Many of us spend too much time worrying about the future or worrying about what happened in the past. We then spend much of our lives allowing failures from the past or fears of the future to dominate our thinking.” Phil.4:6-7. p.115.
What believers are in Jesus Christ is what counts most, not what we are to our families or our bosses or even what we are to our churches. We may be defined in society by our peers, peers in many realms, but what makes us happy is our personal private social life with the Lord Jesus Christ.
[If you will seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, you will find the peace you have been longing for so long. ] Getting even with people does not give you peace .
Choosing to forgive others is a choice you make to take your life back, back from the resentment and anguish and guilt and other toxic feelings you have held on for so long.
The other person may never apologize for the hurt they have caused you, they may even have died years ago and you still resent them for something they did or did not do that you expected of them.
Our Lord said we are to forgive others 70 X 7 times if necessary and we may have to, perhaps even more if painful memories haunt us, Matt.18:21-22.
[Our Lord is telling us that forgiveness is a virtue which stems from our impersonal love of others.] We can forgive others over and over if necessary because God’s power is running through our soul. We forgive them of the hurt. If there is legal recourse pending then that is a different matter. Forgiveness does not mean that you absolve the other person of their responsibilities.
I am not saying here that an abusive or unfaithful spouse is to be put up with, or even keeping the marriage in tact is an option. Many times when you draw the line with regard to other’s behavior you do so at the risk of being alone, but at least you have peace and the peace of God that you are trusting God as your source of security, not your spouse.
Not only does Bible doctrine give you the power to forgive the offenses of others, but it also gives you the courage to stand up to them, and tell them that you are a servant and child of God, and you owe God your heart and mind and body first and foremost.
In closing this study, if we want to honor God as we know we should we all have to make a conscious decision each day, sometimes each moment; to not let our minds give into anything that takes us out of the objective reality that God sees everything. God is with you and me every moment of every day of our lives. This will never change. What we must do is make the effort each day to learn and apply his promises to our circumstances. Life will be over before we know it and we will be standing at our Lord’s side.
I pray that we all will arrive in heaven not only in tact, but also with our honor and integrity standing tall.
We live in a generation where Christian weakness and ambivalence is toxic. Let’s turn the tide toward spiritual strength and mental discipline, and hold the hill until Christ returns.
“ Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
1. Which thoughts are we to bring into captivity to obedience to Jesus Christ? Give scripture.
2. Who bears the responsibility for your resentments?
3. ___________ ________________ _____________
is the solution to eliminating ______ _____________.
4. What is the cure for resentment?
5. What will happen is we do not choose to get better in the way we think?
6. What must the believer seek in order to find peace?
7. Forgiveness is a virtue that stems from what?