6 November 2 - 8
Read For This Week's Study: Matt. 4:24, 25; 17:14-21; Mark 5:1-17; Luke 4:33-37.
Memory Text: "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:7, 8, NKJV).
Key Thought: Whether we damage ourselves, are abused by others, or are attacked by Satan, we must learn how our thoughts and attitudes affect us spiritually and mentally.
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Sabbath Afternoon November 1
SATAN IS A SUBTLE DECEIVER (1 Peter 5:8). He adapts his methods in order to be most effective in the intellectual, philosophical, and political climates of the times. To guard against him, we must avoid three errors.
The first is to spiritualize all our problems, thus neglecting the physical, emotional, and mental causes that may disrupt our ability to think and act clearly. The belief here is that prayer and faith will solve every problem, no matter what its cause.
The second is captured in the phrase "The devil made me do it." This attitude creates a mind-set of victimization and powerlessness to overcome, rather than our accepting responsibility and making the effort to change.
The third is to define reality only by scientifically proven facts, ignoring or denying the spiritual realm. Thus we limit our mental health interventions to biological or psychological causes, forgetting the larger picture of the great controversy and Satan's desire to control our minds.
Casting Out Demons (Luke 4:33-37).
Often Jesus cast out demons from possessed individuals. He was clearly at war with the powers of darkness. His ministry focused on beating back the evil forces in order that we might gain victory over sin.
Take time to read each account listed below, taking note of both the distinctive features of demon possession and Jesus' interventions.
Luke 4:33-37 ________________________________________________
Mark 5:1-17 _________________________________________________
Luke 11:14-26 ________________________________________________
Mark 7:25-30 ________________________________________________
Matt. 17:14-21 ________________________________________________
While specific signs of demonic possession vary from story to story, there are several telltale signs that point toward demonic influence. These signs are:
The Bible does not give specific instructions for how to exorcise demons. What scripture teaches us is how to stop our sinful ways and be filled with Christ's Spirit. This is the sure way to have demons cast out of our lives. When God's Spirit is in charge of a human mind, demons are excluded (Romans 8). Jesus wanted His followers to accept the indwelling Spirit as the source of spiritual power (John 14-16).
What circumstances could make it more than likely for demon possession to take place?
On what basis do some Christians avoid studying this topic, for fear it might open the door to the devil's influence?
Demon Possession (Matt. 17:20).
When the disciples were unable to cast out the demons possessing a young boy, what was lacking? Mutt. 17:20.
"It is faith that connects us with heaven, and brings us strength for coping with the powers of darkness. In Christ, God has provided means for subduing every sinful trait, and resisting every temptation, however strong."--The Desire of Ages, p.429.
Does demon possession occur through personal choice, as a natural consequence of sinful behavior, or because of a curse or influence of another person?
"Giving way willfully to practice sins of the flesh gives occasion for Satan to have his way in a believer's life. Although the legal claim of Satan against us was canceled at the cross, a believer's willful indulgence in fleshly sins gives the enemy a place or a claim against us which he will be quick to exploit."--Mark I. Bubeck, The Adversary (Chicago, Ill.: Moody, 1975), p.34.
Is it possible for Satan to "possess" us in a less dramatic fashion? Luke 22:31-34.
The lesson author testifies: "I was called to assist an individual by 'casting out' the demons from her life. A psychiatrist believed his patient was possessed, or overly influenced by her belief in the devil. She had been abused as a child and had spent her adult life participating in witchcraft. She heard voices and practiced self-mutilation. While these are clear psychiatric symptoms, the overwhelming sense of defeat and control she experienced at the hands of the devil resulted in continued emotional and behavioral disturbances. This, despite the application of appropriate medical treatment.
"When I first met with this young woman, I listened to her story and heard her deep fears of possession. My heart went out to her. I inquired about her desire to be healed. As she began to cry uncontrollably, I asked whether she would like me to pray for her so she could begin to find release from her turmoil. I continued to pray with her over the next two weeks of hospitalization. During that time, she began to experience hope and deliverance from the forces gripping her."
Was this "casting out demons" or "supportive care"?
Is Mental Illness the Same as Demon Possession?
There is a huge painting in the front of the chapel at the old Worcester, Massachusetts, State Mental Hospital. It was painted by one of their former mental-health patients. In it, the demoniac is released from the chains that have bound him for so long. Was the painter depicting release from mental illness or from demon possession?
There are those today who would say there is no such thing as demon possession. They insist that what was described in the Bible as demon possession is better understood as mental illness.
It is easy to understand this confusion, because many of the characteristics appear to be the same for both: bizarre behavior, confused thoughts, and lack of control.
The following list of differences may prove helpful in distinguishing mental illness from demon possession:
While scientific discoveries have made major advances in the understanding and treatment of mental illness, they have not provided all the answers.
"The true principles of psychology are found in the Holy Scriptures. . . . He who comes to Jesus, he who believes on Him and makes Him his Example, realizes the meaning of the words 'To them gave He power to become the sons of God.'
"The advantage he [Satan] takes of the sciences, sciences which pertain to the human mind, is tremendous. Here, serpentlike, he imperceptibly creeps in to corrupt the work of God."--Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. l, pp. 10,19.
Why does demon possession seem to be only in some primitive cultures? Do you think a diagnosis of mental illness or a diagnosis of demon possession is a better explanation of disturbed people today? Why? Are good Christians immune to mental illness?
Instructions for Improved Mental Health (John 8:32).
"You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:32, RSV).
Satan is the author of lies. It is his deceptions that are at the heart of our emotional disturbances. When we believe his lies, our understanding of reality is distorted.
"Some of the lies we tell ourselves we know to be lies. But some we believe have actually become the 'truth' because we have practiced them for so long. These are the most dangerous lies of all because we rarely, if ever, dispute them. We don't dispute what we believe to be true."--Chris Thurman, The Truths We Must Believe (Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson Comm., 1992), p.24.
What are some of the more destructive lies we may come to believe?
What is the source of the lies we choose to believe? John 8:44.
"Nothing is so easy as to deceive one's self; for what we wish, we readily believe."--Demosthenes.
Satan's deceptions create profound mental disturbances. To be effective in our interventions, we must not only address the symptoms, but understand the root causes.
"The emotional complaints of our time, complaints we therapists hear every day in our practice, include emptiness, meaninglessness, vague depression, disillusionment about marriage, family, and relationship, loss of values, yearning for personal fulfillment, a hunger for spirituality."--Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul (New York, N.Y.: Harper Collins, 1992), p. xvi.
If medications and insight alone cannot effectively resolve these issues, what is an effective remedy? John 8:32, 34-36; Phil. 4:8.
When you feel discouraged or overwhelmed, what should you do? What can you do to help a discouraged church member or neighbor?
Mental Health and Improved Physical Health (Prov. 17:22).
What indications do we have in God's Word regarding the relationship between mental health and physical health? Prov. 3:5-8.
This truth is also demonstrated by modern science.
"The relation that exists between the mind and the body is very intimate. When one is affected, the other sympathizes. The condition of the mind affects the health to a far greater degree than many realize. Many of the diseases from which men suffer are the result of mental depression. Grief, anxiety, discontent, remorse, guilt, distrust, all tend to break down the life forces and to invite decay and death."--The Ministry of Healing, p.241.
Jesus did not make a sharp distinction between mental health and physical health. He used the same healing principles in both cases (Matt. 4:23, 24).
"The mechanisms by which personal beliefs, psychosocial factors, and stress affect the development of disease are not as well understood. What we do know, however, is that the mind and body communicate constantly with each other. What the mind thinks, perceives, and experiences is transmitted from our brain to the rest of our bodies. . . . It is possible for thoughts (I can't stand this! how dare that car cut me off!) and emotions (anger, frustration) to be associated with physical changes (increased blood pressure, increased muscle tension) that can be potentially harmful."--Herbert Benson, The Wellness Book, p.13.
There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the positive relationship between religion and health. Those who attend church regularly live longer, have fewer diseases, and are less likely to have mental-health problems. A study completed by Loma Linda University indicates that Seventh-day Adventist men live 6.2 years longer, and Adventist women live 3.7 years longer than the American norm. The cancer rate for American Adventists is only 60 percent of the national norm and coronary heart disease is 66 percent. This evidence is consistent with the benefits of the lifestyle described in the Bible.
Church attendance is associated with lower blood pressure, less substance abuse, and, in senior citizens, with an increased desire to live, according to Elisabeth McSherry in a conference on "Spirituality and Health Care Outcomes" (National Institutes of Health, March 21, 22, 1995), p.3.
Friday November 7
Further Study: Note how Jesus instructed us to help others: Matthew 10:7, 8.
Helping those in trouble is our witness for Christ. Satan is constantly seeking to defeat us. We need to be armed with the armor of God and through supportive concern for each other to defeat him and his desire to control our lives.
"Those wretched beings [the demoniacs of Gergesa], dwelling in the place of graves, possessed by demons, in bondage to uncontrolled passions and loathsome lusts, represent what humanity would become if given up to satanic jurisdiction. Satan's influence is constantly exerted upon men to distract the senses, control the mind for evil, and incite to violence and crime. He weakens the body, darkens the intellect, and debases the soul. Whenever men reject the Saviour's invitation, they are yielding themselves to Satan." --The Desire of Ages, p. 341.
1. When others come to you with their troubles, what is the best way to help? From the following list of answers, discuss what approaches are most likely to achieve success and why. Identify the strengths and limitations of each response. Make this as practical as you can in your ministry to others:
a. Listen to their concerns; then help define more clearly what you heard.
b. Give answers that you have found to be helpful.
c. Refer to someone else for help.
d. Offer a prayer and read a supportive text of Scripture.
2. What practical approaches can you take to defeat Satan's attacks on your minds?
3. What can you do to make people feel more comfortable coming to you with their problems? Some people are sought- after counselors. Why?
Summary: Jesus' ministry involved healing mental illness as well as physical and spiritual illness. Often He released possessed people of the demons who were harassing them. He enabled the spiritually and mentally ill to detect the lies of the evil one and, by God's grace, to accept forgiveness and to live in accordance with divine principles.
The Hidden Book, Part 2
Konde Sered was helping his family hide his uncle's belongings from soldiers during the war in Uganda. He discovered a book hidden among his uncle's belongings. The title intrigued him: The Great Controversy. He took the book home and began reading about Bible truths and the world's last days. Konde told his brother about the book, and the two began reading it together. They compared it with the Bible and found it to be true. They learned that the Sabbath of the Bible was Saturday. They found the Adventist church and eventually were baptized. Although their father was angry with them, they were now young men, and he could not punish them.
Konde shared his new faith with his sister, and she, too, accepted the Adventist message and was baptized. Then two of their father's younger children came to live with Konde's sister while they attended school in town. Konde and his sister took them to Sabbath School and church. When they returned to their father's home, they were Adventists.
Now their father was really angry! But the children stood firm and told their father that if they could not serve God at home, then they would go away and live elsewhere. Their father forbade them to attend church on Sabbath and gave them extra work to keep them too busy to attend church. The next school year he sent the two children to separate schools and arranged for the boy to live with other family members. He hoped that this would cause the two young people to forget their faith in the Sabbath. The boy quit attending church, but his sister, who lives with Konde, has remained firm in her beliefs and continues attending church.
One day a friend stopped Konde in town and said, "I beard that your father is going to become an Adventist!" Konde was shocked!
He went to his father and asked him about it. Imagine his joy when be learned that both his father and his father's wife would soon be baptized. What rejoicing Konde has seen in his family, all because he found a book called The Great Controversy while hiding his uncle's possessions!
Konde Sered attends Bugema Secondary School near Kampala, Uganda. Charlotte lshkanian is editor of Mission.
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