The Gospel and Psychology

Secular psychology presents a skewed worldview thus resulting in a faulty view of man. Psychologists will tell us that man is only an advanced animal but scripture tells us quite the opposite. In Genesis we are told that both man and woman are made in the image of God, an intentional creation by God to bring Him glory. Not only are we made in His image we are also to have dominion over all the land, including the animals (Genesis 1:26-27). With the viewpoint that people are no different than advanced animals psychologists then deny a key difference between humans and animals, humans have a soul and animals do not.

In turn secular psychology does not hold people accountable for their behavior but rather prescribes a selfish goal of, “what do you want?” According to scripture we are accountable to God for each and every action we produce regardless of our mental or physical state (Romans 3:23). God did not put us here to just live and then die. We are here, on this beautiful earth with a purpose, we are not animals that roam freely with only the goal of our next meal motivating our every movement.

Secular psychology will also have us believe that man is born good and does not have a need for help from a higher being such as God for solving our problems. They teach that man becomes bad because of trauma or influences. This is contrary to what scripture tells us. God says that we are all fallen sinners (Romans 3:23-25) and that our sin needs to be addressed, that man cannot solve their problems without Him (2 Timothy 3:2). He is the vine and we are the branches, we are not to trumpet our wise decisions but simply abide in Jesus for apart from him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

God tells us in his word what is right and what is wrong. He does not allow us to shift the blame of our sins away from ourselves and project it onto someone or something else such as society, other people, or our circumstances. He calls us to take responsibility for our sins, to repent of them, and to seek forgiveness from him and those whom we have harmed (1 John 1:8-10). It is the practice of secular psychologists to point you in the direction of blame shifting and a path of self-centeredness touting that it is the way to a healthy mental state. This line of thinking is contrary to scripture, thus incorrect.

We are taught by secular psychologists that sick people are made by a sick culture and are thus damaged by their experience. Scripture tells us that God does not tempt us but that we are lured and enticed by our own desires thus giving birth to sin, ultimately leading to death (James 1:13-15). While psychology will tell us to get in touch with our real selves so that we can then repair damage done to us by events in our life or by society; Psalm 32 paints a beautiful and redemptive picture of forgiveness and grace lavished upon us by our Heavenly Father as he draws us near to him who is the true Healer of all.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! – Psalm 32

Secular psychology leaves no place for God and it is powerless to produce any meaningful change (Romans 8:5-8). The secular root of psychology prohibits God to enter into, let alone be the center of healing. Without a true understanding of who we are psychologists are left unable to facilitate genuine change (Jeremiah 17:9). The change we need is first and foremost spiritual; it is a need for God. Too often people are willing to label their struggle (sin) with the title of an illness that may in fact merely be a result of conviction, though not entirely in all cases.

I am not in any way saying that mental illness isn’t real. I am saying though that some mental illnesses are used to mask where the Holy Spirit has brought conviction. This is something that a secular psychologist would not be able to identify thus incorrectly labeling it as an illness. I am also not suggesting that medication is not needed for true mental illness. Medication certainly has it’s place when properly used. What I am saying is that we all need God and the healing that only He can bring. Scripture doesn’t say that we are only held accountable for our sin if we are in a sound state of mind. We all need Jesus and Jesus needs to be at the center of all.

We all have sin, even those who have mental illness, and we are all held responsible for it regardless of our state of mind or circumstance. If Christ is not present the issue can often appear to be resolved but in reality it is simply replaced with another issue, as the original struggle was not fully cured. The Word of God is what transforms us, not humanistic psychology. Psychology and medicine are useless without God at the center and as the foundation. There is a time for gospel-centered psychology and medication but we must seek God first.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8

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