When we think of mental illness, many of us are quick to think about individuals in a mental institution under constant supervision and medication. Yet, many times we never give thought that mental illness can exist in less severe forms than those in an institution. Some may find it surprising that many functioning members of society suffer milder forms of mental illness.
In fact, a report from television station KPRC in Houston states that, “One in five people in this country suffer from mental illness.” As a result, a government research effort is under way to understand the human brain better. The reasoning is that by “mapping a live brain down to the tiniest particle might help uncover some key clues.” The hope is that these clues will enable researchers “to find better treatments and even a cure.”
Better treatments and even a cure is certainly the hope of many, including many professing Christians who may be struggling with such issues. Yet, the problem with secular solutions is that many times they concentrate on the symptoms and not the root cause. The beauty to biblical solutions is that they focus on the root cause; thus, when the root cause is taken care off, so are the symptoms.
Why don’t we examine what the Bible teaches about what is a sane mind. Understanding a sane mind will help us in, not only identifying, but also avoiding its contrast. We will begin by looking at Romans 12:2-3. These verses contain a command that is given to all believers in Jesus Christ.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (KJV Rom. 12:2-3)
Romans 12:2 teaches that the believer be not conform to this world, but instead go through a transformation by the renewing of their mind. It is this mental change that gives us the mental capacity to prove what is the good, and the perfect will of God for our lives. To achieve this mental renewal, Romans 12:3 commands us not to think of ourselves more highly than we should think. The purpose of such objective thinking on the part of the believer is that he be sane and rational.
The word “soberly” in Romans 12:3 is a translation from the Greek verb sophronein which has a reference to being in one’s right mind. Therefore, it means to be sane or to think sensibly. The contrast should be quite clear, thinking that is not sane, nor sensible. The command is to think in terms of sanity being rational without any illusions. This is the difference between right thinking and arrogant thinking.
Arrogant thinking is by far the root cause of so many not being able to face the many adversities in life without falling apart. The turbulence of adversities causes many to drift into some form of neurosis or psychosis. Such a subjective unsound mind is the contrast to having the objective sound mind that scripture commands us to have.
Therefore, it is important for believers to renovate their thinking consistently with biblical principles, not thinking more of ourselves than we should. Romans 12:2-3, teaches us to get past the superficial thinking that is so prevalent among many believers in our present day. It is through God’s biblical viewpoint permeating our soul daily that we can have a normal and sane mind without illusions.
Arrogant thinking is a contradiction to the plan of God. By far, arrogant thinking is the primary reason for believers failing to execute God’s plan, will, and purpose for their lives. Many times believers are not even aware that their thinking has a basis on some form of arrogance. Thus, this series of articles will examine the arrogant thinking that prevents so many from having a sane and sensible mindset.
Simply put, arrogant thinking is nothing more than a lofty self-respect that is not in touch with reality. It is a high esteem of oneself from some imagined or real superiority. Such thinking is not only a contrast to the grace of God, but also causes us to be blind to that grace.
Arrogant thinking is the same vanity that the Bible teaches against when it has a basis on empty pride on our person, our attainments, or our possessions. Having a desire for others to notice us, as well as to have their approval and praise is part of such thinking. According to the world’s view point, society places emphasis on these desires to take pride in. However, to the believer the Bible teaches not to conform to these worldly concepts.
The forms of arrogant thinking are many and would include such mental attitudes as being jealous, having bitterness and being spiteful. Such thinking carries over into having motivations of revenge, self-pity, having conceit, slandering, gossiping and maligning. Such mental attitude sins interlock with each other in a progressive manner. Envy is actually synonymous with jealousy and is always an attitude or feeling of discontent. We all have these sin nature tendencies and for someone to say otherwise means they are guilty of the arrogance of self-righteousness (1 John 1:10).
With such thinking permeating our society, it should not be surprising that our featured news story goes on to mention that depression is the “most pressing condition.” In addition, the report also states that it “costs society $83 billion in treatment and lost productivity.”
In the next article in this series we will examine some of the erroneous humanistic concepts of life that allow these negative mental attitudes to flourish. Then, we will compare them with the correct biblical concepts that can be a solution to such conditions as depression and other mental illnesses.