It is a cold, hard fact that many Christians experience some measure of Spiritual maturity, while remaining emotionally immature their entire lives. I know many people who have their spiritual foundation laid properly with Blood, Fire, and Water, all awesome experiences given to them by the grace of God. They even grow up in the spiritual stature of Jesus Christ, but they never allow the Holy Spirit to go deep into their being to heal their damaged emotions. It is a shame that the Christian world, for the most part, ignores such an important aspect of our lives. I have been studying this subject for some time now, and two books in particular have really shed some light to me on this subject.
In his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, author Peter Scazzero points out that 90% of our being might go unchanged throughout the course of a Christian’s life. We can only see the 10%, or the tip of the Iceberg, but many experts will agree that at least 90% of our being is subconscious or unconscious, and we must allow the Holy Spirit to go deep within our subconscious or unconscious beings in order for Jesus to save us from this undiscovered part of ourselves.
The Bible says that Jesus is able to save us to the uttermost and that He lives to make intercession for us.
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” — Hebrews 7:25
The Bible also says that He wants to sanctify our entire being, body, soul and spirit, wholly or completely.
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” — I Thessalonians 5:23
I don’t find anywhere in my Bible that God wants to stop with the tip of the iceberg. I believe that Jesus died on the cross to fix everything that is wrong with us and make it right.
The Bible tells us to go on unto perfection.
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection;” — Hebrews 6:1
This doesn’t mean that we are to perfect our natural man, as the world attempts to do. They will tell you that education, training, experience, self-effort, self-control, self-discipline will all lead you on a path to perfection. But man, through his own efforts, will never be perfect spiritually or in the sight of God. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and our best shot at being righteous on our own is like filthy rags in the eyes of God.
But the good news of the Gospel is that the Perfect One, Jesus Christ, became sin for us (II Corinthians 5:21). In other words, He took our sins upon Himself as well as our sicknesses and infirmities so that we might be made right with God and so that we might be saved, healed, and delivered from our sinful nature which we inherited from Adam the first. We will never be perfect, but Jesus Christ in us, the Hope of Glory, is perfect, and He desires to grow in our hearts and lives.
The message of growing in God is all about the incorruptible Seed of the Word of God, coming into our heart and growing up or maturing like a mighty tree. The parable of the sower speaks of different maturity levels, saying that some will bear fruit thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some one hundredfold. The message of growing in God also reveals to us that all Christians have a New heart (New Man, Jesus Christ). We also still have an Old heart (Old Man, the flesh), and we are to put off the Old Man and put on the New Man. This means that in order for Jesus to occupy space in our hearts we have to give Him our carnal, sinful nature. And as we do this, the Word of God will grow and flourish in our lives.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” — Psalm 1:1-3
Our problem is not with the Seed, for He is perfect, and the Perfect One wants to grow in our hearts like a mighty tree. Our problem is with the ground of our mind and heart. So we must till the soil in repentance; we must water and fertilize the soil; we must allow the Sun of Righteousness to shine on our earth, and we must be diligent to pluck up all weeds and thorn- bushes. And we shouldn’t stop with the tip of the iceberg. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to clean up our entire being, and that will require us to dig deep within our beings and allow Him to heal our emotional wounds that were made way back in our past.
We are not to be content to stay just the way we are. Instead, we are to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to heal us of our infirmities. In his awesome book, Healing for Damaged Emotions, author David A. Seamands describes infirmities as emotional weaknesses, or crippling wounds from our past. We understand Jesus came to save us from our sins and to heal us of our sickness, but we need to allow Him to deal with our infirmities as well.
“Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” — Romans 8:26 & 27
We cannot possible know how to pray for the parts of our being of which we are not even conscious, but if we give Him permission, by making a choice, the Holy Spirit will come to our rescue or come to our aid and help us to go deep within ourselves, and He will heal our emotional weaknesses. Most Christians will intercede and trust God only to deal with the areas of which they are totally aware, but that is dealing only with the tip of the iceberg. Some teachers will teach that in dealing with your 90% there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, for it is the Father’s responsibility to take care of that. But with a doctrine like that, you will never find healing in the deep wounds and scars of life. I’ll buy the part that it is God Who will do the healing, but I won’t buy into the deception that we have no part in this process. The Bible teaches that we must confess our sins before God will forgive us of our sins.
We are emotional beings, and to deny our emotions would be like denying that some parts of our body exist. You know that you have a head, two arms and two legs. So do you need to be aware that we all have emotions? And we all experience a full range of emotions from joy, anger, fear, sadness, love, surprise, disgust and shame. Then the next part is to identify where our emotions produce sinful behaviors. We know that what we believe will determine what we think, and what we think will determine how we behave, but it also will determine what emotions we experience.
The reason we sometimes fail so miserably in demonstrating Christ-like emotions is because we have been wounded deeply emotionally from our past. For some it may have happened on the playground when we were young children. Someone may have said mean and hurtful words to you when you were just a young child, and you believed and accepted those words into your life. Then their deceitful scorn becomes your reality for the rest of your life. Some people were raised by hateful or ignorant parents who told their children that they were no good, that they were stupid, that they would never amount to anything, and the child believed this to be true. Then they live the rest of their lives within their parents’ ignorant framework, for their hurtful words became the child’s reality. Some people marry young, and the marriage is full of fighting, hating and saying mean, hurtful things that the spouse begins to believe and accept as the truth, and they continue to believe that well into their golden years of life. And some people are damaged emotionally by authority figures, such as a strong, demanding boss at work, or even from a spiritual authority figure who constantly tells them that they don’t measure up, they are no good or they don’t deserve to have God to bless them. So they attempt to earn the favor of God, but always coming up short no matter how hard they try. Some of these spiritual authority figures who are very controlling will even impose their own non-Biblical moral code or their own self-imposed behavioral standards on the people, even the children, further compounding the problem even more. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for doing the same thing to the religious crowd during the days He walked this earth.
Peter Scazzero points out the top ten symptoms of emotional unhealthy spirituality in his book.
- Using God to Run from God
o Doing God’s work to satisfy me instead of God.
o Doing things in His name that He never asked me to do.
o Trying to get Jesus to follow me, instead of following him.
o Trying to get others to think well of me by doing good works.
o Using the Scripture to judge or devalue others.
o Saying the LORD told me, when reality is that I think he did.
- Ignoring Emotions of Anger, Fear, and Sadness
o We know they are sinful, so we try to cover them.
- Dying to the Wrong Things
o Friendships, joy, happiness, music, art, recreation, laughter.
- Denying the Past Impact on the Present
o We must go back and deal with the pains of our past.
- Dividing Our Lives into Sacred and Secular Compartments
- Doing for God Instead of Being with God
- Spiritualizing Away Conflict
o We should face conflict head on and deal with it.
- Covering Over Brokenness, Weakness, Failure
o David wrote a Psalm in the Bible dealing with his failure.
- Living Without Limits
o Learn to say no.
- Judging Other People’s Spiritual Journey
If we have any of these symptoms, there is a good chance that we have some damaged emotions that need healing. David Seamans, in his book, puts the evidence of our damaged emotions or infirmities into four basic or most common categories.
- Low Self Worth - Inferiority
- Crippling Fear
I will save discussing these for another time, but in my studies I see that I personally have battled all four of these at some stage or another in my lifetime. In my childhood I suffered some damage on the playground; in a marriage I suffered some damage, and from the religion with which I used to be associated I suffered some more damage. The point is not to blame the person that the wound came from, but it is to identify the wound so that the Holy Spirit can heal the infirmities. Seamans offers a simple path toward healing our damaged emotions.
- Face your problem—confess it.
- Accept your responsibility in the matter—stop playing the victim.
- Ask yourself if you really want to be healed—maybe you don’t?
- Forgive everyone who is involved in your problem.
- Forgive yourself.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what your real problem is and how you need to pray.
I use the term simple path, just because it is a seemingly short list. However, getting someone to face up to what is wrong with them, and for them to confess it, is as about as hard as trying to wrestle a grizzly bear. Then there is a whole lot of forgiveness that must be released as we have to forgive everyone who has hurt us, even the person who has hurt us the most and the deepest. And then we must learn to forgive ourselves. After we have done everything we possibly know how to do, we must get totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit to help us with this process, because only He even knows how to pray for us and how to take us deep within ourselves.
Scazzero offers a bit different pathway to getting our damaged emotions healed in something he calls the radical antidote: Emotional health coupled with contemplative spirituality. He says the coupling of these two things will bring transformation to the deep places of our soul. He states that bringing these two concepts together bring us three gifts.
- The gift of slowing down.
- The gift of anchoring in God’s love.
- The gift of breaking free from illusions.
What he calls contemplative spirituality will move us along to a more mature relationship with God. We will progress from:
- Talking at God.
- Talking to God.
- Listening to God.
- Being with God.
Scazzero understands that our life is a spiritual journey, and he agrees with Seamans that we must first know ourselves and be willing to go deep within ourselves in order for Jesus to transform us and save us to the uttermost.
I do not attempt to teach such a grand subject within a simple weekly pastor’s blog. But I do want to introduce this subject to our spiritual family, and I want you to begin thinking about this, because it is an area in which I think we all need to experience some healing.
I refuse to believe that Jesus died on the cross to save me from only the tip of the iceberg. Instead, I believe He died to save me to the uttermost. I believe that He wants me to go deep within myself and allow the Holy Spirit to pray for me, on my behalf, and show me the things that He wants to change in my life. I don’t know about you, but I want to be more like Jesus, even if it means going deep into some painful things from my past and dealing with them. I encourage you to give this some serious thought and allow the Holy Spirit to heal you of your emotional infirmities.