‘Mindfulness’ - A Dangerous Deceit of the Devil (Parts 1, 2 & 3)
Part 1: What is Mindfulness & Should Christians Practice it?
Mindfulness is a relatively new therapeutic meditative relaxation technique that has been popularised at an extremely rapid pace since its inception in the 1970’s. It is now being promoted just about everywhere, in fact it is probably more difficult to find somewhere where Mindfulness isn’t being endorsed! Schools and universities, health and social care settings, law enforcement and defence settings, movies and television programmes; alarmingly, it is also being recommended by ministers and pastors within evangelical and reformed churches as a means of relief for the members of their flock who are experiencing stress, anxiety and low moods due to their trials, losses or other adverse circumstances.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is the American founder of a contemporary meditative technique called ‘Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction’ (MBSR); Kabat-Zinn states that whilst MBSR is based on Zen Buddhism, he is not a practicing Buddhist and he is extremely keen to stress the secular (non-religious) aspect of Mindfulness in order to widen its appeal to everyone regardless of their beliefs; however, this explanation is disingenuous and superfluous because Zen Buddhism already promotes itself, not as a religion, but as a way of life that can be undertaken by anyone; Kabat-Zinn freely admits that he regularly practices Zen and he is also a founding member of the Cambridge Zen Centre in North America so there can be absolutely no doubt that Mindfulness in all of its forms, is very closely associated with Eastern mysticism/occultism.
MBSR has an equivalent technique within the United Kingdom and is unashamedly based on Kabat-Zinn’s Zen Buddhist Mindfulness. This is called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and has been developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale. MBCT is currently promoted enthusiastically throughout the Health and Social Care sectors of the UK as a remedy for the increasing number people presenting with stress, anxiety and deep melancholy.
Although Mindfulness is a contemporary form of meditation, it is by no means a new concept as there is historical evidence that meditation was practised in 1500BC by Hindus, Indian Buddhists and Chinese Taoists.
The following are just a few false religions and practices that have developed their own mystical meditative techniques: -
Islam: Sufism- a belief and practice in which Muslims seek to find divine love and knowledge via a mystical meditative experience of God.
Judaism: Kabbalah- It is generally believed that Judaism was infiltrated by Gnosticism and this led to Kabbalah, a mystical form of Judaism that seeks to explain the nature of God and existence through a mixture of meditative techniques and theological knowledge.
Shamanism: This is blatant witchcraft developed in Siberia, North Asia and these early Shamanists are known to have practised meditation since the 3rd Century AD; their meditation was often accompanied by hallucinatory drugs in an attempt to induce a higher state of spiritual self-awareness and to improve their capacity to connect with nature and the spirit world. Regional forms of Shamanism continue to be practised within the indigenous tribal communities throughout the world and the Hippy Movement of the 1960’s has a very close correlation with this pagan religion. Shamanistic techniques and theories have also been employed within alternative medicine for many years now and have also made their way into contemporary medicine, with Shamanistic meditative techniques frequently being recommended for reduction of stress and anxiety. “The influence of Shamanism in New Age medicine is significant… The burgeoning field of holistic medicine shows a tremendous amount of experimentation involving the reinvention of many techniques long practised in shamanism such as visualisation, altered states of consciousness, aspects of psychoanalysis hypnotherapy, meditation… Not surprisingly then shamanistic techniques are now increasingly used at modern medical health centres… Introducing shamanism into modern medicine is ironic because of its essentially antiscientific nature such as its occultism and irrationalism.” (emphasis ours) https://www.takeheed.info/pdf/January-2014/Shamanism-Northern-Ireland.pdf
Hinduism: Dhyana- employed in yoga as a means to self-knowledge. Transcendental Meditation – this was developed by Hindu Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and popularised by The Beatles and other celebrities in the 1960’s
Roman Catholicism: Lectio Divina means Sacred Reading- meditation is just one of four stages within Lectio Divina and it is undertaken by intensely focusing on a single word/phrase of Scripture or an icon in an effort to promote knowledge and bring about communion with God; this is nothing like meditative Bible study, which involves, with the help of the Holy Spirit, a thoughtful and prayerful consideration of God’s Word in order to learn more about the Lord Jesus Christ and to receive grace to live a holy life in obedience to God’s Word.
Roman Catholic mystics such as Benedict, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Thérèse of Lisieux, Ignatius Loyola, Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton all practised Lectio Divina but Origen of Alexandria in the 3rd Century AD is thought to have introduced a similar mystical meditation upon the Scriptures; this may have resulted as a consequence of Origen's view that the written Word of God was a sacrament and equivalent to Christ incarnate; Origen was also adversely influenced by Greek philosophy and the Jewish philosopher Philo. During Origen’s lifetime the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria in Egypt was a great melting pot of diverse cultures and pagan beliefs including Hinduism, Buddhism and Gnosticism; these influences, combined with Origen’s eclectic beliefs, may help to explain why some early Christians departed from the faith and entered into a monastic lifestyle in a desert place in order to practice spiritual disciplines including mystical meditation; this retreat ultimately led to the formation of Roman Catholicism.
Spiritual Formation: This is a ‘spiritual’ practice that encourages the undertaking of a set of Spiritual Disciplines designed to aid a Christian’s progression in holiness; it has recently enjoyed a renaissance and is being enthusiastically embraced by many so called evangelical and reformed churches. Centring Prayer, also known as Contemplative Prayer, is a mystical meditative practice closely associated with Spiritual Formation; it is similar to Lectio Divina but rather than focusing on words, emphasis is placed on emptying the mind through solitude, stillness and silence, although a ‘sacred’ word may be used to assist in dispensing of the thoughts because these are viewed as hindrances to a realisation of a mystical trance, a state which supposedly equates to a union with God.
Buddhism: Bhavana- meaning ‘becoming’ or the process of arousing mental states of self-awareness. Zen-Buddhism- Zen is derived from the Chinese word ‘Ch’an’ which means emptiness/void or meditation; this concept was initially introduced into China by Bodhi dharma, an Indian monk who lived during 6th Century AD. Most Buddhist scholars reject the existence of an eternal, creator God so hence, Buddhism rejects the Scriptural doctrine of accountability and judgement; it is therefore a logical conclusion for Buddhism to draw that heaven or hell do not exist. It also bizarrely denies the real existence of anything within the past or in the future, which is very similar to the Gnostic teaching that creation, including the human body, should be regarded as meaningless because it was created by the bad god of the Old Testament, Demiurge, who is responsible for all human suffering. (Source: The Christian Institute).
Zen Buddhism teaches that the only meaningful reality is the present moment and by focusing solely on the ‘here and now’ a mystical connection with one’s ‘innate divinity’ can be achieved through meditation. Once again this is in keeping with the Gnostic teaching that the supreme, good god is only interested in the reality of the ‘divine spark’ that he has planted within every human being. (Source: The Christian Institute.) In Zen Buddhism, this connection with one’s inner divinity will supposedly provide a person with meaning for their existence and bring about a change in a person’s behaviour, resulting in the person becoming more virtuous in their works, less self-centred, more serene and less aggressive, more compassionate towards their fellow man, and kinder to the natural environment. This change is known as ‘enlightenment’ or ‘oneness’ and when a practitioner attains this high spiritual level, they’re said to have experienced ‘Nirvana’ (quenching/blowing out), thus guaranteeing them of annihilation upon their death and this will save them from further human suffering within future life cycles (i.e. reincarnations). It is difficult to think of a sadder and more hopeless false belief system because Nirvana will not bring about any person’s annihilation upon death, but a tragic realisation that their disbelief in the Creator God of heaven and earth has brought about a very real existence in hell for all eternity!
Zen Buddhism, is distinct from most other false religious because it is non-theistic and promotes Zen, not as a religion, but as a ‘way of life’ that can be adopted by people of any faith or of none. It is generally practised in a sitting position with the practitioner focusing on a single object and breathing in a specific way; all thoughts outside of the present moment must be dispensed with in order to achieve connection with the ‘divine within’ or oneness. Unlike most other meditative techniques, Zen aims to achieve and maintain this ‘oneness’ state of mind throughout every aspect of an individual’s daily life.
In June 2020 the BBC undertook an interview with the Dalai Lama, the highly influential leader of Tibetan Buddhists and he revealed his hope for world unity through the acceptance of ‘oneness’ as this would lead to resolution of climate change: "In the past there was too much emphasis on my continent, my nation, my religion. Now that thinking is out of date. Now we really need a sense of oneness of seven billion human beings, that they may yet unite to solve the problem of climate change.” (emphasis ours).
Shockingly, the Dalai Lama also indicated that his preferred means of disseminating the Zen ‘oneness’ message was through the minds of children and young people: "The whole world should pay more attention to how to transform our emotions…..It should be part of education not religion. Education about peace of mind and how to develop peace of mind. That is very important."
It should be a cause great consternation to every Christian parent that this is currently happening in schools throughout the world and within the United Kingdom as many have now integrated the Zen Buddhist meditative practice of Mindfulness into their curricula. Christians also need to be alerted to the fact that mysticism is also rapidly spreading throughout professing Christendom and secular society.
Gnosticism: Gnosticism, in common with all false religions, denies the all sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on behalf of His people. Another common teaching of false religions, including apostate Protestantism, is that salvation can be achieved by good works or, as taught by Zen Buddhists and Gnostics, by making a connection with one’s 'inner divinity'. There is no new thing under the sun and attempting to find salvation by works was first mentioned in the Scriptures when Cain sought to find acceptance with God through his innate righteousness; this is evidenced by his rejection of God's way of salvation through vicarious atonement and instead, Cain offered the works of his own hands.
Gnosticism is a very ancient belief system that has its roots firmly embedded in the occult and some scholars believe that it influenced the building of the Tower of Babel. The Rev Alexander Hislop wrote a book entitled ‘The Two Babylons’ in which he skilfully links most of the rituals within Roman Catholicism to the pagan practices of Babylonian mysticism. However, these links cannot be restricted to Catholicism because they are also found in abundance within most, if not all false religions.
Gnosticism infiltrated the New Testament Church within a short time of its inception; the Apostles wrote epistles to warn the infant churches about errors that were creeping in and it is generally agreed that Gnosticism was one of those heresies. Some commentators believe that Simon the Sorcerer introduced Gnostic mysticism into the early New Testament church (Acts 8:9-24).
Gnostics claim that their superior knowledge of God uniquely enables them to achieve a connection with their inherent divinity through mystical meditation and this is precisely what Zen Buddhism teaches. Gnostic mysticism is evidently enjoying a huge renaissance at this present time through Zen Buddhism, Mindfulness and mystical prayer techniques. This should not take the discerning Christian by surprise because it is in keeping with end time prophecy, which predicts the rising again of pagan Babylonian religion along with its mystical meditative practices and self-sufficient way of salvation/enlightenment.
Carl Jung, the father of analytical psychology, became convinced through the study of Gnosticism and other Eastern mystical religions that people had a spiritual dimension that could only be fulfilled by what he called ‘individuation’. Other psychological theorists espouse to the same principle calling it self-realisation, self-actualisation, self-fulfilment or enlightenment. Jung described this process as a journey to meet the self and in doing so, one meets with the divine. John Lennon, one of the Beatles said something similar: “It seems to me that the only true Christians were the Gnostics…..i.e. becoming Christ themselves, reaching the Christ within…” Such teaching is not found in the Bible nor within true Christianity.
The heretical teachings of Gnosticism have an extremely close correlation with the teachings of Zen Buddhism and its contemporary counterpart, Mindfulness. Gnosticism can also be identified as the theoretical foundation for the vast majority of modern psychological interventions and the ‘talking therapies’, including so called Christian counselling!
Another commonality found among some of the beliefs and practices outlined above, apart from Buddhism & some groups within Hinduism, is the philosophy of pantheism, which denies any separation between creatures, creation and God; hence, 'divinity' is in everything and everyone. Interestingly, this same concept underpins most Eastern religions, Quakerism, New Ageism and Humanism. Mindfulness, along with all types of mystical Gnostic mystical meditative practices will undoubtedly help to bring about the end time unification of false religions referred to in the Book of Revelation as 'Mystery Babylon’!
The meditative practices associated with the above mentioned false religions and practices reveal that they have some common objectives:
1. To learn more about or merge with the divine without:
The desire to connect with the divine is a pantheistic concept that can be traced back much earlier than the date where earliest meditation is known to have taken place (1500BC). Lucifer, the son of the morning, puffed up with pride and ambition was the first to attempt a ‘merging with the divine’, that is his Creator, Almighty God. “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Isaiah 14:12-14. (emphasis ours).
Merging with the Divine is utterly impossible because mortals and angels are finite, created beings and as thus, they do not and cannot possess the essence of God who is eternal, immortal and infinite. The only merging of the immortal with the mortal that has ever occurred was when God the Son became flesh and dwelt among us but at all times, the Lord Jesus Christ maintained His deity and eternal attributes; Christ humbled himself and became obedient unto His Father with Whom He had covenanted in eternity past that He would suffer and die on behalf of a people given unto Him by His Father. Whilst Christ was greatly humiliated and marred physically at the hands of men, He suffered incomprehensibly at the Hands of His Father when His people’s sins were imputed to His account; Christ bore the full and just weight of God’s wrath upon our sin in His body, shed His precious blood and willingly gave up His life; Christ’s human body was never subjected to the corruption of death that mortals experience upon death because He, being eternally existent, was made in the power of an endless life. (Hebrews 7:16)
When Peter states that God’s people are partakers of the Divine nature in 1st Peter 1:4, his meaning is that when Christians walk in obedience to the Word of God, by grace they can know the infilling of the Holy Spirit Who enables them to display His fruit within their lives. (Galatians 5:22-23); this doesn’t make their nature Divine but it does give God’s people a resemblance to their Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Christians will someday be made in a more perfect likeness to their Saviour when their body of sin is cast off in death or when it is changed at His second coming; however, they will never be equal in essence to God because glorified saints remain finite and subservient creatures evidenced by their continued worship, adoration and service unto the Lord in heaven. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1st John 3:2.
2. To learn about or merge with the divine within oneself:
There is no innate divinity within mortal man because the Scriptures make it clear that everyone is conceived in sin and after their birth they remain spiritually dead in trespasses and sin until born again of the Spirit of God. "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Psalm 51:5;
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10-12;
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;....Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” Ephesians 2:1 & 5.
Even after the new birth there is no inherent good within any saved sinner apart from the work wrought within their heart and lives by the Holy Spirit. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. Romans 8:1.
The sinner only finds acceptance with God, on the basis of the Lord Jesus Christ’s atonement for their sin and the imputation of His righteousness to their account. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2nd Corinthians 5:21.
The theoretical basis for humanistic and client-centred psychological counselling is the assumption that everyone has inherent strengths and abilities (i.e. the divine within) to resolve their own problems and to achieve the ultimate goal of self-actualisation/realisation or personal fulfilment, all closely affiliated to the enlightenment and oneness concepts of Gnosticism and Zen Buddhism.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one such intervention that has been integrated within Mindfulness meditation to produce MCBT. The psychoanalytical therapies that originated from the very twisted minds of Sigmund Freud and other Psychologists, focus on the causation of emotional problems but CBT seeks to change negative emotional responses, supposedly formed by bad habits in response to adverse circumstances and experiences. This method of intervention is based on Skinner’s theory of ‘operant conditioning’ or ‘learnt behaviour’, which effectively likens man to a dog that can be trained to behave in a certain way.
CBT, in keeping with its humanistic roots and with meditative methods, encourages individuals to rely on their inherent ability (i.e. the divine within) to work out a ‘cure’ for their habitual emotional responses; CBT then encourages the individual to identify the changes that are required to reduce the undesirable responses to difficulties arising within their lives.
Negative emotions are not a consequence of habitual behaviour but a natural response to adversity and a Christian should not give credence to such autonomous notions as they are an affront to the all-sufficiency of God in matters pertaining to the souls of men; because they do not have an innate divinity, a Christian's dependency must always be firmly placed upon Him.
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;” 2nd Corinthians 3:5;
“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” Matthew 6:27;
“….for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5;
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Romans 7:18.
Furthermore, employment of humanistic interventions will be of absolutely no benefit in addressing a Christian’s emotional difficulties; conversely, they will cause much harm because they direct a Christian away from the Fountain of Living Waters unto broken cisterns that can hold no water. “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13.
3. Abandonment of thoughts:
Most mystical meditative practices require a complete emptying of the mind from all thought processes but Mindfulness, in keeping with Zen Buddhism, does not require a termination of one’s thoughts, but this does not make it any less precarious. The following statement from a NHS website highlights that the Zen ‘here and now’ state of mind is exactly the same as required for Mindfulness: "An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of a banister as we walk upstairs. Another important part of mindfulness is an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen moment to moment. It's about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives.” (emphasis ours) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/
Focusing on the ‘here and now’ may make Mindfulness appear more acceptable to Christians because it does not demand a total abandonment of thoughts; however, Mindfulness is in fact a more perilous meditative practice for a Christian to engage in because practitioners are not only advised to meditate 1-2 times a day, but in line with Zen Buddhism, it is recommended as a way of living on a continuous basis! If a Christian practised Mindfulness on a perpetual basis then their contemplation on God’s Word would be greatly reduced or even set aside; this would not only exacerbate any emotional problems they were experiencing but this distraction would also render the Christian backslidden and very susceptible to deception, which is the chief aim of Satan, the arch-deceiver!
For all intents and purposes, Mindfulness is not only similar to Zen Buddhism but it is in fact an exact replica; combined with its very close likeness to the heretical teachings of Gnosticism, Mindfulness and all similar mystical practices should sound very loud alarm bells in the hearts and minds of every genuine Christian!!!
Subsequent to Satan’s failure in achieving his ambition to be as God, he then proceeded to deceive Eve into being consumed with the very same unachievable ambition, that is, to be made a partaker in her Creator’s divinity and to gain infinite knowledge. (Genesis 2:17 & 3:4-6). The serpent succeeded in diverting Eve’s thoughts away from God’s Word by focusing her attention on the forbidden fruit and the supposed benefits to be gained from partaking of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden; this distraction was evidently so successful that Eve forgot about God’s Word and the terrible consequences that would ensue for Adam and Eve if they breached His command. Contemplation of God’s Word at the time of her temptation would have alerted Eve to the deceitfulness of the serpent’s words when he said, “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 2:4-5.
When Eve succumbed to Satan’s deception it occurred within a sinless environment; subsequent to the Fall, the world has become an increasingly dark and sinful place where Satan stalks as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour so Christians need to be doubly on their guard against subtle distractions and deceits like Mindfulness and other mystical/occult meditative practices.
God has provided Christians with a means to resist Satan’s tactics, which requires them to hide God’s Word in their heart through study, hearing and memorisation of Scripture; the Scriptures are then brought to mind by the Holy Spirit when the world, flesh or the devil attempt to distract and deceive the Christian into disobeying the Lord. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11.
The Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated that the ‘Sword of the Spirit’ is the most powerful means for rebuffing Satan when He resisted the tempter in the wilderness and rendered his distracting and deceitful strategies ineffective by skilful wielding of God’s Word. (Matthew 4:1-11).
Part 2: Possible Causes for Emotional Difficulties experienced by Christians & Scriptural Responses.
Subsequent to the Fall of man and the entrance of sin into the world, life became more burdensome in many ways as physical suffering and adverse human emotions followed in its wake. Emotional suffering, unlike physical illness, is essentially a soul sickness that can occur for many reasons including a wide range of physical diseases, dysfunctions or deficiencies; injuries to the body or brain; pain, losses or grief and even physical/mental fatigue. Therefore, stress, anxiety and low moods are a very natural response within the context of a fallen world to loss, pain, disease and adverse circumstances.
Most, if not all Christians, suffer emotional difficulties to a greater or a lesser degree at some point within their lives but these can only occur with the Lord’s express permission; regardless of why God permits His children to suffer emotional afflictions, they, along with every other infirmity they experience, are ultimately for their good. (Romans 8:28). There are numerous reasons for the Lord permitting Christians to bear emotional afflictions but the following are just a few possible causes: -
Physical Disease, Deficiencies or Exhaustion: Illness and diseases have contributed to human suffering since the fall and diseases like dementia, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, epilepsy and hormone or blood deficiencies are renowned for having a negative effect on human emotions. Consequently, it is always wise to consult with a medical doctor for diagnostic testing to rule out underlying health issues as the causation of emotional difficulties.
Physical exhaustion can also have a devastating impact upon a Christians emotional well-being and it is incredibly easy to become overloaded to the point of being stressed, which can then lead to anxiety and even deep melancholy; very often Christians can experience emotional and physical burnout due to adverse circumstances, unbalanced lifestyles, work overload and even from undertaking legitimate activities within employment, in the home/family or even within the Lords work. As Christians we are commanded to glorify God in our bodies (1st Corinthians 5:15-20), therefore, if overloaded, a Christian must make a determined effort to slow down or stop activity to accommodate adequate rest and sleep in order to aid recovery. “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Mark 6:32.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10, is a verse that is widely misused by proponents of mystical prayer to promote its requirement for the solitude and silence required to bring about an emptying of the mind from thoughts that are perceived as a hindrance to experiencing a mystical ‘divine presence’; a more accurate interpretation for this phrase in Psalm 46:10 is that God is commanding His people not to fret, worry or be anxious but rather, to settle themselves and gain knowledge of the Lord as revealed in His Word because this will restore a calm to their troubled souls. The commentator John Gill gives an analysis of Psalm 46:10 that should bring much comfort to Christians recovering from emotional turmoil: “they [God’s People] should not be fearful, nor fretful and impatient, or restless and tumultuous; but be quiet and easy, resigned to the will of God, and live in an assured expectation of the appearance of divine Providence in their layout. And "know"; own and acknowledge that he is God, a sovereign Being that does whatsoever he pleases; that he is unchangeable in his nature, purposes, promises, and covenant; that he is omnipotent, able to help them and deliver them at the last extremity; that he is omniscient, knows their persons, cases, and troubles, and how and where to hide them till the storm is over; that he is the all wise God, and does all things after the counsel of his own will, and makes all things work together for good to them; and that he is faithful to his word and promise, and will not suffer them to be over pressed and bore down with troubles. https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/psalms-46-10.html
The Christian may experience extreme tiredness during times of emotional turmoil and may not able to cope with prolonged periods of study but their ‘time apart’ will be most profitable if time is spent meditating upon the Word and in prayer, so perhaps shorter, more frequent times of devotion would be more manageable.
Whilst physical rest is a very important aid for recovery from anxiety and melancholy, there is often a tendency to avoid contact with others but continued attendance at the Lord’s house is vitally important for the beleaguered Christian as there is always great benefit to be gained from the ministry of God’s Word, the times of prayer, the Lord’s Supper and from fellowship with other Christians.
Christians are commanded to bear one another’s burdens and being able to confide in another Christian who can be trusted to keep a confidence and faithfully pray for their downcast brother or sister in Christ is a great blessing. However, care must be taken not to do this at the expense of being less dependent upon the Lord; divulging of every sordid detail of one’s difficulties or emotional problems should be strenuously avoided as this is unnecessary, unwise and could to do much harm to the hearer or to other people.
Excessive Care: Care or anxiety is often the cause of deep melancholy and the Lord has commanded His people to be careful (anxious) for nothing but to cast all of their cares upon Him. It was part of the Saviour’s redemptive work to enable His people to cast their cares and burdens upon Him and in so doing be sustained by the Lord; Christians overcome by care insult the Lord’s great provision if they turn to Mindfulness and other unscriptural interventions because they are bypassing mercies purchased on their behalf by Christ at an enormous cost:
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you”. 1st Peter 5:7.
“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19.
To increase humility and dependency upon the Lord: Charles Haddon Spurgeon, like the Apostle Paul and many others godly men, was academically very capable and this can be a particular danger for Christian’s, especially ministers as there is always a tendency to resort to human ingenuity rather than seeking the Lord and depending upon Him for His guidance and power; 1st Corinthians 8:8 states that “…knowledge puffeth up…” and many erroneous teachings have originated from within the puffed up, vain imaginations of men who possessed high academic ability, (eg Origen, Clement, Arius and more recently within our own province (N.I.), Professor J.E. Davey in the 20th Century, who introduced Rationalism into the Presbyterian Church of Ireland).
Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s frequent bouts of melancholy and physical maladies brought him to realise that without the Lord he could do nothing (John 15:5) yet, through Christ He could do all things! (Philippians 4:13). His personal weaknesses were made a blessing unto the often sickly CH Spurgeon and resulted in him being a great contender for the Faith and one of the most powerful preachers this nation has ever known. Likewise, the Apostle Paul, who was academically brilliant and additionally privileged to receive special revelations from the Lord, was physically afflicted with a thorn in the flesh; this weakened him so much that he had no alternative other than to be totally dependent on the Lord; but by God’s grace, he was enabled to glory and even take pleasure in those things that made him weak because these frailties enabled him to experience the mighty strengthening power of Christ in His life. "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10.
Consideration of the blessed outcome due to the emotional sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ and His children should not only discourage Christians from seeking to abolish their emotional afflictions, but should encourage them to realise that “Their strength is to sit still” Isaiah 20:7. and to place their hope upon the Lord because He will give a song in the night and will bring about the needed deliverance when His sovereign purpose for the suffering is fulfilled.
“Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life….. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." Psalm 40:8&11.
To correct disobedience: Emotional difficulties can be experienced by Christians when the Lord withdraws a sense of his peace and joy because His rod is being applied to correct the disobedience of His wayward child. (Hebrews 12:6). Soul malady is a difficult affliction for any Christian to bear but when it is sent as a chastisement it too can be accepted as a blessing with thankfulness because it is tangible evidence of a Fathers love who longs for his dear child to be restored and conformed more and more to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:6–13.
Self-examination should be a part of every Christian’s life as they are commanded to do this before coming to the Lord’s table, (1st Corinthians 11:28–30), but in times of adversity the Christian should make a special effort to find out if there is anything within their lives that is displeasing to Lord. Given the deceptive nature of the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9) and its tendency to overlook ‘the little foxes’, combined with its inability to detect sins of ignorance, the Christian should ask the Lord to search out the inner recesses of their hearts and thoughts when afflictions ensue. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139: 23-24. If sin is uncovered, it must be confessed and repented of and even if the adversity persists, the restored fellowship will be accompanied by such a peace and joy that any yoke will seem easy and any burden will feel light. (Matthew 11:29-30).
To increase faith and patience: Christians must suffer tribulations because the Lord has ordained them to be their lot in this life. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.
A Christian’s troubles are a means used of God for their growth in grace and to increase their patience. “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” 1st Peter 5:10.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1: 2-4.
Job could not be swayed from his resolute faith in the Lord despite great pressure from his wife to curse God and die (Job 2:9); Although deprived of a palpable sense of the Lord’s presence during his sufferings and tortured by the cruel accusations courtesy of his miserable comforters, Job did not waver; this was because His faith in God was not dependent on favourable circumstances or upon his feelings but on knowing and believing that God was providentially permitting his afflictions for his good and whether he lived or died, he would be changed for the better as a consequence of his tribulations and trials. “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:8-10.
To be made a partaker of Christ’s sufferings: The Lord Jesus Christ suffered incomprehensible physical pain and emotional turmoil and He has ordained that His children should be partakers in His sufferings; this should to be viewed as a great privilege and cause for the Christian to rejoice when faced with trials. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1st Peter 4:12-13.
When enduring trials of any kind, a Christian should ponder much upon Christ’s suffering on their behalf as this will not only provide great comfort but it will make their sufferings seem minuscule in comparison to what Christ endured on their behalf. Samuel Rutherford aptly describes the scale of a Christian’s sufferings compared to those endured by Christ on behalf of His people: "Ye would not go to heaven but with company, and ye may perceive that the way of those who went before you was through blood, suffering, and many afflictions; nay, Christ the Captain, went in over the threshold of paradise, bleeding to death….Christ hath borne the whole complete cross, and his saints bear but chips; as the Apostle saith, ‘the remnants or leavings of the cross’". 'The Loveliness of Christ', p.82; The Banner of Truth Trust.
Christ was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3) throughout all of His earthly sojourn but His experience of emotional melancholy during His sufferings on the cross, is simply unfathomable. Christ’s emotional sufferings provide Scriptural evidence that depression is not like a physical illness but is in fact an affliction pertaining to the soul; Christ could not have been afflicted with a physical disease as this would have defiled Him as the spotless Lamb of God and rendered His suffering on behalf of sinners ineffective; even more ludicrously, a diseased body or soul would have resulted in Christ ceasing to be God! How sad it is therefore, to hear professing Christians or Ministers of the Gospel confidently asserting that depression is just like a physical illness or injury and then, in the very same breath, say that Christ experienced depression!
To gain a Christian’s attention: The Lord may use emotional maladies to slow down a Christian’s pace of life so that He is afforded their full attention; the malady may be used to call the Christian into full time service for the Lord or to bring about a change of direction within some area of their lives, possibly in respect of relationships, employment etc.
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Psalm 32:8.
“In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6.
For the help of others: The Lord at times permits His children to suffer emotional and physical afflictions because this is God’s way of equipping them to provide comfort to others within the Body of Christ who are going through similar trials. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2nd Corinthians 1:3-4.
Although it is impossible to know exactly what another person is going through during their times of fiery trial because we all differ in so many ways and only the Lord knows everything about a person; nevertheless, knowing what it feels like to endure similar afflictions makes it easier to obey God’s command for Christians to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2); this can be done by praying for the afflicted Christian or by offering practical help and kindness and in doing so the law of love is displayed.
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:34-35.
“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17.
Cause unknown: In many cases the causation of a Christians emotional problems may never be revealed unto them. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was greatly afflicted by what he called ‘causeless depression’ although, given that he had several chronic and painful diseases, it is highly possible these were the source of his low moods. CH Spurgeon was enabled by God’s grace to accept and deal with his low moods, openly acknowledging God’s sovereign appointment for every trial. “It would be a very sharp and trying experience for me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by his hand, that my trials were never measured out by him, nor sent to me by his arrangement of their weight and quantity” https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/anguish-and-agonies-of-charles-spurgeon
Regardless of why a Christian experiences emotional difficulties or any other afflictions, the best response for them is to humbly accept them as sent by a loving Father and believing His promises that He is working all things together for their good, even though it may not feel good at the time. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1st Peter 4:12-13.
Part 3: Why Christians should never practice Mindfulness or access any interventions that contravene the Scriptures:
God has the power to miraculously heal as evidenced many times throughout the Old Testament and New Testament, especially when Christ was on earth and during the establishment of the early New Testament church; ultimately, all healing is from the Lord but more often than not, God is pleased to employ means so it would be extremely foolish for a Christian not to avail of medical interventions based on scientific research as a cure for their physical maladies without very good reason. Having said this, God will never use means that contradict His Word because this would result in Him denying Himself and that would be utterly impossible. (2nd Timothy 2:13). Therefore, the employment of therapeutic psychological interventions or counselling that are based upon godless humanistic theories or Gnostic/mystical meditative practices as a means to treat emotional problems are totally out of bounds for Christians because they are contrary to God’s Word.
The Word of God is the Christians greatest Counsellor and another of the Lord’s appointed means for soothing His people’s troubled souls. The promotion and practice of Mindfulness within Christianity is tantamount to mixing Gnosticism, mysticism and human philosophy with Divine truth and such a mixture is abhorrent to the Lord.
“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13.
"And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter; should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the Law and to the Testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because the Truth is not in them" Isaiah 8:19-20.
Part of Christ’s condescension was to share in His peoples experience of fatigue, sorrow and pain, thus enabling Him to be touched by the feelings of our infirmities and qualifying Him to be our faithful High Priest (Hebrews 4:15); The Lord experienced what it was like to be plunged into the depths of deepest melancholy and despair during the three hours of darkness at Calvary, during which time He was brought to feel what it was like to be separated from His Father for the very first time in His eternal existence, although being the all-knowing God, He knew full well that this could never actually happen.
The Lord Jesus Christ, being deeply touched by the feelings of our infirmities, combined with His ability to know everything about us, is singularly qualified to minister to the malady of His people’s souls through His appointed means, which is God’s Word.
The Scriptures have the answer for every eventuality arising within a Christian’s life and with an infinite supply of God’s grace available, they are a most efficient means to help Christians cope with any stress, anxiety or low moods that may arise as a consequence of afflictions that the Lord may providentially permit within their lives.
There is little doubt that emotional problems are becoming more prevalent in society and among Christians. There may be a correlation with the sad fact that many professing Christians are neglecting the means of grace whereby they are enabled to grow in grace and in the knowledge of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: The means of grace includes attending a place of worship where the Word is faithfully preached, Baptism, attendance at the Lord’s Supper and personal devotions that include reading, studying, meditating upon the Scriptures and prayer.
Neglect of the means of grace as ordained by the Lord will render a Christian vulnerable to being overwhelmed by the cares of this life and this will distract them from the Lord and His Word; this in turn, will deprive them of a sense of the Lord’s presence and the supply of God’s grace and peace within their lives that is brought to them through the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2nd Peter 1:2-4.
Knowing that he cannot prevent a saved sinner from getting to heaven, Satan puts all of his energies into destroying a Christian’s testimony by distracting their thoughts away from the Lord, His Word and the means of grace, all of which are used by the Lord to help the Christian live a holy life, thus enabling them to shine before men and glorify Hi