Some years ago I mentioned to a friend that there was a great deal of modern psychology to be found in the Bible. He replied: “Christ was the greatest psychologist that ever lived”. With this in mind, let us see what we can find within the pages of our Bible.
The most outstanding example is to be found in Matt. 9:2. This tells of the man with palsy who was brought to Jesus by his friends. Our Lord made the cryptic statement: “Son, be of good cheer: thy sins be forgiven thee”. Why this statement?
In the light of modern psychology it would seem as if some particular sin was eating at the man’s mind and producing the palsy. A fear or regret of a past misdeed was working upon his mind, not only affecting the health of his mind but producing an actual physical illness – that of palsy.
Our Lord did not beat about the bush but went to the very core of the trouble – a sin. And He gave the assurance of forgiveness: “Thy sins be forgiven thee”. Having said this, and been criticized by His hearers, He continued: “Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thy house”. The man was immediately healed and went his way. His mind, being set at rest, he was instantly healed.
“For Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: Thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise”. Then in Psalm 107: 22 there is further enlightenment. “And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing”. In Hosea we read: “For I desired mercy, not sacrifice and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings”. Hosea 6:6.
Another outstanding use is that in John 5:5-14. Here another man had endured a lengthy illness lasting thirty-eight years. He also, was healed. Following his healing he was warned: “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon thee”. Here our Lord also linked the sin and the sickness.
Another interesting fact that has been brought to light is that Jehovah did not require burnt offerings and sacrifices. At first this came as a surprise to me, for I had always thought that the Old Testament Laws contained very definite instructions. However such is not the case. Psalm 40:6 plainly states: “Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; mine ears hast Thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required”. (Also Ps. 51:16-17 and Jer. 7:22-23.)
This leaves us asking the question: “If sacrifices and burnt offerings were not required, then why all the instructions in the Law”?
The only satisfactory answer seems to be a matter of psychology.
When a person sins, either deliberately or accidently, a feeling of guilt remains. This is known today as a guilt complex. This can develop and grow and eat into the mind. In time, it can effect the body and a very definite sickness develop. This can be a physical illness, a neurosis or an illness of the mind.
How could Jehovah overcome this possibility and keep His people healthy? The answer was in burnt offerings and sacrifices. As an Israelite made his offering, his sense of guilt was removed and his mind set at rest. He could forget his past sin and remain healthy in body and mind. Our God was (and is) a merciful God. Even in those far-off days His love was infinite. No one needs to look to Jesus Christ alone as the God of Love. The Old Testament is also full of this.
The final Sacrifice of our Lord was along similar lines though it covered a wider field. His Blood has washed away all our sins and eased our minds of the feeling of guilt. He, also, requires a contrite spirit and a desire to do better. Thanks to the shedding of this precious Blood, all our misdemeanours are completely erased and no guilt complex need remain. Thus our minds are set at rest and our health can continue insofar as our sins are concerned. Of course other factors enter into the matter of health, such as national sin, contaminated food and polluted water and air.
For those who require comforting and the easing of tensions, we would recommend the Psalms. “The Lord is my Shepherd: I shall not want”. In these few words the Lord has covered all our needs. And in the days of speed and hurly-burly modern life, what could be more peaceful than the “still waters”? “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me”. (Psalm 23.)
Are you all alone in the world? Do you feel desperately lonely at times? You have only to ask and your Friend will be with you. The Bible teaches that you are never alone. “Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”. (Matt. 28:20.) If you really believe this you will never need a psychiatrist to help you.
“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. (Matt. 11:28.)