Monday, March 19, 2012

The Cure for Spiritual Schizophrenia

7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  9Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection.  10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.  11Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters.  Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.  12There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy.  So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?    James 4:7-12 (NRSV)
Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder that makes it difficult to:
·         Tell the difference between real and unreal experiences
·         Think logically
·         Have normal emotional responses,
·         Behave normally in social situations[1]
Schizophrenia is a disease, and it destroys the ability to lead a normal life. 

Spiritual Schizophrenia

There is a similar malady in the Christian life:  James called it “double-minded”.  Hypocrisy, or spiritual schizophrenia somehow tells a believer it is perfectly fine to judge others, while not acknowledging, or even seeing his own faults. 
Jesus’ sense of humor put it this way; You are some piece of work – hunting specks in your brother’s eye, when you’ve got a telephone pole between your own eyelashes.  (Matthew 7.3 paraphrase).
I broke my own rule again!  For years I have been swearing-off the talk shows, call-in shows, and such.  The problem is you get so mad over the foolishness.  Then, I did it again – I tuned-in while driving; the conversation went something like this:
Caller:  Hi, This is Mike.  Why it is some people can’t keep from sinning?
Host:  Mike, what do you mean some people?
Caller:  Well, I’m a Christian.
Host:  Do you mean, Mike that you don’t sin?
Caller:  I’m not a Christian like most people you find in the world today; I do what the Bible says.
Host:  Mike, when’s the last time you did sin?
Caller:  Nine years ago.
I wanted to leap into the radio and smack Mike around a bit!
James had some strong words for the dear members of the Jerusalem church concerning their actions and attitudes.  He blistered the practice of Christ followers “speaking evil” against one another.  The words sting just as harshly today (and rightfully so). 
Perhaps the most stinging rebuke is what the radio show host finally said to Mike:  Mike, the Bible says that if we say we have no sin, the truth isn’t in is…and we lie[2].  Mike, to say you haven’t sinned makes you a hypocrite. 
(At that point I held off slapping Mike around….he’d gotten what was coming to him.)
Consider the following definition of Mike’s hypocrisy, what James calls double mindedness, or spiritual schizophrenia:
An attempt to follow two opposite and antagonistic
courses of action at the same time.
And there are many spiritual schizophrenics running around today – always have been.  You have heard it before: 
On Sunday, there is the sweet smile, spiritual-sounding talk, and lots of brother and sister talk. 
By Monday morning at rush hour the talk has changed into unrestrained expletives, and the behavior is more like Genghis Khan in an SUV, passing or running over anything in the way. 
By the time the spiritual schizophrenic gets to work he or she is in full worldly mode.  You would never know the Spirit of Christ lives in that body.  What a modulation!  What a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde transformation.  What a shame on the name of Christ! 
James said this “evil-speaking” (reputation-slandering gossip) might as well be directed at God himself; to judge another person is to take God’s place!

what to do

James offered one key piece of advice that will cure spiritual schizophrenia:
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. 
                          Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.
Have you ever considered what happens when you submit yourself in humility to God – to let God have His way?
þ   Humility means you’re doing what Jesus did.  He humbled himself even unto death on the cross (Philippians 2.8).
þ   You’re letting God fight your battles.  The main battle a Christian ever faces is spiritual (against Satan). 
One author[3] suggested that Satan can never coerce man’s will; he is more like a parasite which is dependent on the host being.  When we resist Satan, as antibiotics resist a bug, he must flee.
þ   You’re in the perfect position to see eye to eye with your brother – on your knees before a holy God, with only worship to offer from an emptied heart.
You may not get up from your knees sinless (like Mike the call-in guy), but you will get up ready to live the truth.  And that’s what makes for a whole life, a real life, which is what Jesus said he came to bring for all who will trust in him.  Jesus offered a cure for spiritual schizophrenia!
This practical advice from James tells us how to realize this eternal life.  The format….draw close to God, resist the devil, humble yourself and weep over your sins…..can be expressed in one word:  “repent”!  This is where the deep transformation of our attitude toward God[4] takes place. 
In short, this part of James’ challenge to us is the recipe for genuine revival.  And there’s not a church in the land that couldn’t stand a generous dose of that.
Humility and prayer are what start revivals.
But only when God’s people desire it enough to put away the gossip and worldly living that’s so common today – and get on their knees.  If not, it will be spiritual schizophrenia as usual!

[2] I John 1.8
[3] Richardson, Kurt A., The New American Commentary, Vol 36 James, (Nashville, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 185
[4] Ibid., 187

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