Updated: Mar 20
Sometimes pain can grab hold of our emotions and won’t turn lose, like bubble gum that gets stuck in our hair. In our day, it’s become common for people to be raised in horrid sorts of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Countless soldiers are returning from war with PTSD. These people are broken emotionally, mentally, and need our help to get free.
Thankfully, God does not leave the emotionally wounded and broken without good news. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promise to send the anointed one who would to “bind up the broken hearted” (Is. 61:1). The gospel promise that “by His stripes, we have been healed” (Is. 53:4-5) applies to the whole person, body and soul. The gospel promise, that we can walk in the Kingdom of God, which is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:7), is valid even to those who have been broken emotionally. God’s solution, which is the best and only real solution, is clearly revealed in Jesus Christ and the gift of new life in the Holy Spirit.
The modern “inner healing” movement is popular because God’s people have a great desire to see hurting people made whole by the gospel. However, the “gospel” practiced by the “inner healing” movement is a complex combination of Biblical ideas, Freudian psychology, and “prophetic” visions substituting itself into a vacuum created by a failure of the church to grasp the fullness of God’s provision for us in the gospel. But even though many are receiving some help, like much of our medicine, the side effects of this new mixture can have serious long term side effects. Although it’s not ALL bad, it’s the 1% arsenic that eventually kills the rat.
Because there is great sensitivity to “emotional pain” in the church, the modern inner healing movement has gained significant momentum among charismatic and evangelical circles. we’d do well to remember that although we want to heal the brokenhearted, we are not just looking for “anything that will work”. Drugs and alcohol will take the edge off of emotional pain. False religions “work” to some degree by substituting new and more pleasant lies for the old painful lies. Even witchdoctors get some of their patients well. But we’re not just looking for any `ole way to help the emotionally broken. There is no question that Jesus DOES heal the emotionally broken today. We’re seeking to understand how Jesus Christ heals the emotionally broken through us. So it’s important that we test every spirit by the standard of the Lord Jesus Christ as He’s revealed in Scriptures.
The question we must answer is, “How did Jesus Christ and the apostles deal with mental brokenness and heal emotional pain? What does the gospel offer to those who are badly wounded? What should we do to help them? What did Jesus do?”
Jesus encountered one of the most broken, emotionally tormented people imaginable when He crossed paths with the man possessed by the “legion”. This man was in constant anguish and torment by the demons infesting his soul. It’s difficult to imagine what could bring a person to this state. Whether it was the result of trauma, abuse suffered as the result of religious rituals, or something else, the end result was a man so broken he was now the host of a legion of demons tormenting his inner person. Yet Jesus was able to set him free.
How? Did Jesus spend the next few months in “inner healing sessions”, walking the man through his traumatic experiences and speaking truth into his formative experiences? If the “inner healing” teaching were correct, we’d expect this would be Jesus’ approach. But it was not. Jesus recognized that this man’s current condition was created by demons. So He took authority over the demons that were holding this man’s mind and emotions captive and commanded them to leave. By exercising the authority of the Kingdom in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave the man back his “right mind” and did so without any investigation of past experiences nor speaking any words to bring “light” into the darkness of the man’s past memories. When people were being overrun by demons in their soul, Jesus simply exercised His authority and power over demons to set them free.
Jesus ministered to other people experiencing emotional issues who didn’t need to be set free from demonic oppression. They had their “right mind”, but still needed to be set free from lies and false systems of living in order to enter into the joy and peace of the Kingdom. For example, the lady caught in the act of adultery was publicly humiliated, embarrassed, and ashamed until Jesus restored her heart, removed her shame, and restored her hope, dignity, and destiny by revealing God’s grace. In another instance, Martha was “worried and bothered” as she prepared food for her guests alone, but Jesus showed her that her emotional problems were caused by a worldly understanding of hospitality and not truly understanding the priority He placed on fellowship with His people. Another time, Jesus warned about the negative results of unforgiveness when he told a parable of a man who was “handed over to the torturers” when he adopted a stance of unforgiveness towards a friend who owed him money.
So, when it comes to addressing emotional wounds, Jesus used one resource (the Kingdom of God) with two approaches: casting out demons and revealing the gospel. For those whose minds were oppressed by demons, Jesus exercised Kingdom authority and power to cast out the demons and restore people to their right mind. However, a “right mind” is not the same thing as a “renewed mind”. So to those who were in their “right mind” but experiencing emotional turmoil because of false mindsets, Jesus revealed the Kingdom of God which always required faith and repentance, a change of mindset. Jesus knew that only a Kingdom mindset imparted by the presence of the Holy Spirit can establish God’s order in human emotions.
Many of our emotional difficulties stem from a lack of revelation, faith, and repentance. For example, what if you came home from a trip to find your house being demolished? How would you feel to see your home broken into a thousand pieces? I’d venture to guess that it wouldn’t be a pleasant feeling. Then imagine the change of emotions you’d experience when you saw Ty Pennington and the Extreme Homemakover bus pull around the corner. Your dump was being demolished so that they could build you a mansion… for free. Our emotions follow our mindset. With a new mindset comes new emotional responses.
Jesus Christ knows that our “homes” in this world are sometimes “demolished”. Our bodies can be violated. Our personal value is often assaulted. Our possessions can be stolen and destroyed. Jesus says “in this world you will have trouble.” But He’s come around the corner in his “Extreme Life Makeover” bus to bring us out of this world into a mansion called the Kingdom of God. By the gift of His Spirit, Jesus enables our inner man to dwell inside of God and God Himself to dwell in us. God’s own inner strength and personal presence have move into our inner person, so that we can participate in God’s own emotions, His perspective, His reality. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” “Take heart, for I have overcome the world.” Whatever trouble, pain or difficulties we may experience, Jesus Christ is able enable us to experience His very own peace of mind and heart.
How about the apostles? How did they address emotional brokenness? In the gospels, the disciples followed Jesus’ pattern of exercising authority, not only to heal the sick but also to cast out devils afflicting people’s souls. Jesus indicated that this ministry of casting out demons would continue among all those who believed in the apostles message. (Mark 16:15-18) Unfortunately, western Christians have largely forsaken a Biblical worldview and have a difficult time recognizing demonic oppression or exercising their authority as believers in Christ.
Even though the church was born in a bloodbath of persecution, where followers of Jesus Christ were regularly captured and killed, and many believers experienced the savage death of a loved one at the hands of demonically inspired persecutors, the apostles never advocated modern “inner healing” practices of processing our memories with guided “prophetic revelation”. Instead of attempting to heal emotions, the apostles preached a new heart through Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit which gives us a brand new identity and a new heart. Through the cross, we’re set free from this world, already dead to our time/space life, and alive to God in Christ, partaking of divine life by participating in God’s Spirit living inside of us.
Instead of revisiting the past to heal emotions, the apostles set people free from their past by the work of the cross and brought them into the experience of the Holy Spirit. They revealed the good news that human beings can now experience the reality of heaven by the presence of God and the power of His Spirit, which enables us to overcome all pain and trouble we face on the earth. As people learned to partake of their identity as sons of God, their hearts were renewed by the experience of God’s heart for them. More than that, God gives us the gift of “the Spirit of the Son crying out “Abba Father” in our hearts“(Gal. 4:6) so that we can experience and express the fellowship of the Father and Son in our own hearts. Wow! Talk about emotional wholeness! To the apostles, Christians didn’t need inner healing because Jesus Christ was the life of every Christian… and Jesus Christ doesn’t need inner healing! The apostles taught believers to patiently help one another to discover and live by the life of the Spirit of the Son of God in their hearts. By doing this, they were able to establish every believing heart in “love, joy, peace, etc.” The traumatized, abused, and emotionally damaged are no exception. This works for them too.
When we insist that believers must continually look into their past, even to help people “get inner healing”, we are unwittingly saying that the old is NOT gone, that we are not free, and failing to grasp the significance of the finished work of the cross. “The old is gone” must be established in our lives in order for “the new has come” to be established in our life. So if we see people crippled by their past, we don’t ignore it, or bury our head in wishful thinking. We preach the fullness of Christ, the finished work of the cross, and set the captives free… truly free.
Jesus and the Apostles used the authority of the Kingdom to cast out tormenting devils, proclaiming the truth of the gospel to set people free from lies causing emotional pain, and the power of the Holy Spirit to give people the power to experience God’s heart, resulting in mental and emotional transformation. So, since Jesus Christ didn’t practice modern “inner healing”, nor did Paul, Peter, John or the other apostles, the church should abandon these sorts of non-Biblical “inner healing” practices. But more than that, let’s return to exercising our authority as sons of God to cast out demons from those who are being oppressed and tormented within to restore them to their right minds. And let’s preach the fullness of the good news of Jesus Christ to the “right-minded”, so that they can be “renewed in the spirit of their mind” and learn to live by the life that the Spirit of God supplies within. The good news of the gospel is that the old is gone! Brothers and sisters, because of the power of the cross, you’re no longer in bondage to the power of your past experiences. You are free to walk forward in the power of the Spirit with the mind of Jesus Christ. When it comes to past hurts, we forgive. When it comes to past wrongs we’ve done, we reckon the old man to be dead… so we’re not even the same person that did all those bad things any more. We’ve been made new.
Unlike the modern inner healing movement which is constantly insisting that believers revisit their past to “process their memories”, we should help one another remember that “the old is gone and the new has come!” The gospel is not merely the message of our sins forgiven through Christ. It is the power of God for the salvation (which includes healing of hearts and bodies) of all who believe because it gives us a revelation of our new life in Christ that can be made substantial, tangible, and experiential by the power of the Holy Spirit. But because most believers have not had a sufficient revelation of the reality of Jesus Christ dwelling within them as their new life, they start sorting trying to sort their their past hurts using modern “inner healing” methodologies, “Hello and welcome to Churchbucks! Here’s your Decaf-Neo-Christian-Freud-a-phostics-machiatto. That’ll make you feel better! See you again soon!” Let’s help one another find our true life, healing, and wholeness through the gospel, “Christ in you, the hope of glory”.
And if you find that when you proclaim the gospel, it isn’t truly “binding up the wounds of the brokenhearted” and bringing the wounded into a transformed life through the experience the power of His Spirit as their life by faith, you may need to consider the possibility that you’re not preaching the same gospel that Jesus and the apostles preached… at least not in its fullness. “Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed...“(Rom. 16:25-26)
Written by Andy Hayner of Full Speed Impact Ministries