I feel that God has called me and given me a vision to do something a little out of the ordinary, speaking out about a subject that not many people want to address. In doing this I have accepted the fact that not everyone is going to be on board with it. Some won’t understand and some simply won’t care. Some may even go so far as to oppose me and try to dissuade me from fulfilling what God has shown me to do. I have had a few occasions like this where other Christians, although well-meaning, I am sure, have tried to persuade me that mental illness is solely a spiritual issue and that I am in need of deliverance. They advised me that demonic spirits were behind my disorder and all mental illness and suggested that what I was saying was not accurate. So there’s that.
In all truth, it would be easier just to attribute mental illness to demons. This would simply alleviate any need to look into any medical aspect of diagnosis or treatment and greatly simplify the whole thing. However, that just isn’t the case. Medical science, although far from perfect, has shown that these disorders are biological in nature, stemming from malfunctions in the brains of those who suffer with them. While sin definitely plays a role as the original reason for all sickness and death, not everything can be attributed to sin and demons in our lives. Many devout Christians struggle with depression, anxiety and many other mental illnesses. There is no promise in the Bible that we will not deal with these things and to believe that we won’t is like sticking our head in the sand and ignoring the reality all around us.
I do believe that demons exist and deceive people. I believe that demons oppress and possess people at times, causing all sorts of maladies. However, I believe that in the majority of cases, we are dealing with a sickness and not a spiritual issue. To automatically assign every disorder we can’t understand to demons is, in my opinion, jumping the gun. In doing this we ignore the knowledge that God has given men through doctors and science, and take for granted the medication and treatments He has graced us with. Yes, Jesus is the Great Physician and by His stripes we are healed, but ultimate healing will not come until we are with Him in heaven and for now, Jesus sometimes works through doctors. Not all sickness is demonic and not all disorders call for deliverance. Some things are simply physical problems that require physical solutions.
The problem with telling people that demons are behind their maladies is that it is simply not true. Jesus cast out spirits, yes, but he also healed regular sickness. I have used my diabetes as an example before. If you found out I had diabetes would you discourage me from taking my medication and insist that I had a “spirit of diabetes”? Would you counsel me to find a deliverance ministry and have the evil spirit of high blood sugar cast out of me? This sounds like a joke but I am making a genuine point here. We know that diabetes is a physical problem and responds to medication. In the same way, mental illness has been shown to be, at least as far as we can tell, rooted in biological problems. The fact that it responds to medication is another indicator that it is physical and not spiritual in nature.
I do not mean to downplay the involvement of the demonic in our lives. We are in a war every day against the forces of darkness and must be on guard day and night against the attacks of the enemy. Physical and mental illnesses can be signs of demonic attack but should not automatically be dismissed as such. To do so is to do great harm to the individual who is suffering, oftentimes placing the blame on them for whatever they think they have done to open the door to said oppression. This only adds to the person’s anxiety and other problems and does nothing to edify them or ease their burden. I pray for those who are suffering today, that they would find the compassion they need in the church and not judgment and bad advice. I pray that they would find understanding and love, above all, that their needs might be addressed and a proper plan of treatment made available. And I pray that those who do not understand would have their eyes opened and their minds enlightened to the nature of what these people are dealing with today.