This paper is presented to refute some of the approaches to inner
healing being used today which are based on psychological theory and have no
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of
the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness
of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him. Colossians 2:8-10
THE FULNESS OF THE POWER TO HEAL is found in Jesus Christ alone. Yet
many today are looking elsewhere for inward healing. The basis of most of
these competitors of Christ is psychological theory. A theory is an
underlying principle believed or assumed to be true which forms a basis for
action. Most psychotherapists operate according to a set of theories which
have been assembled over the past 100 years. These theories have a
superficial appearance of legitimacy, but when examined closely, it is easy
to see that they are all flawed and absolutely inadequate. In other words,
they fail to explain why people think and act the way they do and what needs
to be done about it.
Only God knows why people do what they do. Only He sees the heart
perfectly. And only He has the power to heal it. Psychological theories are
actually nothing more than human guessing. This is easily established by the
fact that there is such a vast array of psychological theories, most of
which contradict one another. This being the case, I believe we have a
legitimate basis for questioning, which, if any, are correct to any degree?
Christians should understand that psychology is philosophy. It is
therefore one of the things the Bible says will “cheat” us. In addition,
psychology is “empty deceit,” because it promises what it cannot deliver,
and a “tradition of men” (rather than a revelation of God), because it is
accepted by millions without evaluation. Moreover, it is founded on the
“basic principles of the world,” not the principles of God’s Word.
Christians will never find completeness in a psychotherapist’s office; we
are complete only in Jesus Christ.
Many of the competitors of the biblical approach to inner healing are
cleverly disguised in Christian terminology. Always remember that healing
comes by the touch of Jesus Christ, not by any kind of healing technique.
The issue in ministering to wounded people is purely one of how a person
comes into contact with Jesus. It is not what a person does, or has done to
him, that brings inward healing; it is whether he exposes his wounds to the
There is no shortage of counterfeit approaches to inner healing
circulating today in the form of books, preachers, and seminars. I felt it
necessary to identify several of the most prominent approaches so that the
reader can avoid them. Each one is founded in psychological theories that
contradict the truth of the Bible. The approach I describe in this book is
not related in any way to any of the following. Please avoid these
The Forgive Yourself Approach: Matthew 6:14 says, “For if you
forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
Not one verse in the Word of God instructs us to forgive ourselves. For
forgiveness to take place, there must be an actual trespass. We trespass
against God and other people, and others trespass against us, but we do not
trespass against ourselves. This means that we need God’s forgiveness and
the forgiveness of others, and we need to forgive those who trespass against
us, but we do not need to forgive ourselves. Forgiveness is a relational
dynamic and can only take place within the context of relationship. We not
only do not have the authority to forgive ourselves, but there is no basis
for us forgiving ourselves. In truth, the Forgive Yourself Approach is a
substitute for repentance, forgiving other people, and God removing
The Forgive God Approach: Psalms 18:30 says, “As for God, His way
is perfect.” God has never trespassed against anyone, even though many in
their carnal thinking believe He has. The idea that any man needs to forgive
God is a capitulation to carnal thinking and an insult to the God of all
grace, for it implies that God needs our forgiveness. This approach is
actually a substitute for repentance. It makes man the victim of God and
removes the need to be honest about what is really wrong. It is
rationalizing wrong behavior by blaming God.
The Self-love Approach: Matthew 16:24 says, “If anyone desires to
come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
There is no place in the Word of God where anyone is encouraged to love
himself. Self love is assumed in the Scriptures as the natural condition of
fallen man. This is why the Bible tells us, “You shall love your neighbor as
yourself” (Matthew 22:39). In other words, we are to love others in the same
way we are already loving ourselves. Furthermore, the Bible warns that in
the last days, men will be “lovers of themselves” (2 Timothy 3:2). This
passage is speaking in a disparaging way of the attitudes that will be
prevalent among believers in the last days. It is certainly not encouraging
us to love ourselves. The Self-love Approach is a justification for
continuing in self-centered, self-indulgent behavior and remaining
unconcerned about the needs of those around us. It is a substitute for
facing up to one’s own selfishness and submitting to the cross.
The Self-Esteem Approach: Isaiah 40:17 states that the value of
man is “less than nothing and worthless.” Yet, God says, “If you will indeed
obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure”
(Exodus 19:5). Human value only exists within the context of relationship
with God and obedience to His will. The Self-Esteem Approach to healing
attempts to produce spiritual health by persuading us we have great, if not
eternal, value. Paul admonished believers to “in lowliness of mind...esteem
others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3). The Self-Esteem Approach is
based on the false philosophical idea that the human soul is divine and
therefore inherently immortal and valuable. The fruit of this approach is
pride and selfishness, not lowliness of mind.
The Temperaments Approach: Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by
the renewing of your mind.” Throughout the New Testament, we are continually
admonished that we do not have to remain the way we are. The Temperaments
Approach is a “deterministic philosophy” that enables people to justify and
rationalize their un-Christian attitudes and behaviors. By categorizing
people according to “the four temperaments,” it provides people with the
classic “God made me this way” excuse. Statements such as “I’m bossy because
I’m choleric,” or “I’m withdrawn because I’m melancholy” are nothing but
rationalizations for poor behavior. The truth is, everyone of us can change
into the likeness of Jesus by the power of the Word and Spirit of God.
The Positive Thinking Approach: James 2:20 says, “But do you want
to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” In the Bible
faith is action springing from a faith-filled heart. The Positive Thinking
Approach promotes a false intellectual faith. It is the “mind over matter”approach that deifies the human will and promises that we can think
our way into healing. The roots of this approach are in ancient Gnosticism
and it finds its modern expression in the Christian Science movement.
According to the Bible, healing and growth come to us by the grace of God as
we act in faith, the heart, mind, and body working together to appropriate
the promises of God.
The Visualization Approach: Hebrews 12:2 says that we should be
“looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” It does not say
that we should be looking into our minds to create our own reality by means
of imaging. The Visualization Approach attributes God-like creative power to
the human mind and proposes that rather than learn to live with reality, we
can simply create a new reality. The following quote sums up the
anti-Christian bias of this approach: “Above all visualize what will bring
you joy. Not what another wants you to do, or what you think you should
want” (Arizona Networking News, Spring 1989, p.15). Rather than looking into
our minds for healing, Christians are to look by faith unto Jesus Christ,
the only true Healer.
The “Heal the Inner Child” Approach: 1 Corinthians 13:11 says,
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought
as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”Rather than
healing a supposed “inner child” living within us, what the Bible says is
that we need to grow out of our immature attitudes and behaviors and become
Christ-like in every area of our lives. Ephesians 4:15 says that we should
“grow up in all things into Him who is the head.” The “Heal the Inner Child”
Approach is nothing but an excuse for remaining immature. It promotes
looking within rather than looking toward God.
The Victimization Approach: 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No
temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man.” While no one
could say that all human beings suffer equally, it is nevertheless true that
all suffer. All have sinned and all have been sinned against. The problems
we face are more the result of how we deal with our suffering. We cannot
control what happens to us, but we can control what happens in us. The
Victimization Approach is the glorification of victimization. It is the
classic “blaming someone else” excuse for poor attitudes and behaviors. This
is not to suggest that there are not plenty of true victims around. But this
approach uses victimization as an excuse for not facing up to one’s own
failures and shortcomings.
The “Express Your Anger” Approach: Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool
vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” Anyone who
recommends that you just let your emotions go is not giving your sound
spiritual advice. There are proper godly ways to express anger, but blowing
your top is not one of them. In the extreme, the “Express Your Anger”
Approach includes primal screaming, hitting objects, and yelling profanities
as a means to getting free from inner pain. But these approaches are exactly
the opposite of the self-control, self-denial, and the meek and quiet spirit
commended in the Bible.
The “Self-help Books and Seminars” Approach: Psalms 118:8 says, “It
is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” The Bible
tells us that it is the holy Scriptures that are able to make us wise unto
salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:15). Those who turn to
the profusion of self-help books and seminars are seeking to save themselves
through intellectual stimulation and carnal motivation. All such materials
are merely ineffective substitutes for the Word of Life. They provide
convenient excuses to people who are avoiding relationship with God.
The “Integrating Psychology With the Word” Approach: Psalms 33:4
says, “For the word of the LORD is right, and all His work is done in
truth.” To mix psychology with the Word is to dress the snake up in lamb
skins and welcome him into the garden of Eden. This approach arrogantly
presumes that God’s wisdom is incomplete and needs man’s speculations to
make it effective. It is the Word of God alone, however, that is quick and
powerful, that is spirit and life, that is the power of God unto salvation.
Those who sprinkle psychological theory into the ministry of the Word are
making the Word of no effect by their philosophies and traditions.
The “Psychological Terminology in Preaching and Teaching” Approach:
1 Corinthians 2:2 says, “For I determined not to know anything among you
except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Those preachers who are using
psychological terms in their preaching are giving stark evidence that they
don’t believe God really knows what He’s doing. They are preaching “another
Two other approaches to inner healing are not false in and of
themselves, but they become false when isolated from the larger context of
spiritual growth. The first is the “Instant Holy Ghost Fix-It-All”Approach.
This is the idea that when a person receives the gift of the Holy Ghost,
that’s it, he has been made whole. This idea negates the whole concept of
spiritual growth. Philippians 2:12 says, “Work out your own salvation with
fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do
for His good pleasure.” When a person receives the Holy Ghost, God begins
working in him to produce growth. But we must keep in mind that growth is a
process. It is not instantaneous. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would
guide us “into all truth” (John 16:13). This includes the truth about
ourselves and our need for growth. Some grow faster than others, but all
require time. No one gets all truth overnight.
To promote the idea that perfection is acquired in one experience with
God is likening the Holy Ghost to fairy dust or a magic wand. While it is
true that miraculous steps of growth can take place in a single prayer
meeting or with a single move of God (and I am in no way discounting those
things), it is unbiblical to suggest that this is the only or primary means
by which God operates. Rather than encouraging people to look to the “big
meeting” or the “exceptional event,” they should be taught that healing and
growth generally take place over time.
A second similar approach is the “Just Pray and Fast and Get in the
Word” Approach. This is when people are told that they just need to get
closer to God or study His Word. This is what might be called the “All you
need is God” Approach. Again, I am not intending to discount these prayer
and Bible study, for they are essential elements of every believer’s walk
with God. But when they are isolated from the larger context of
relationships within the body of Christ, this approach often results in
discouragement rather than spiritual progress. The truth is, we all need God
and His body. James 5:16 says, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and
pray for one another, that you may be healed.” It is important that
believers understand the need for body relationships in healing and growth.
Encouraging faithfulness in prayer, fasting, and Bible study is good, but
must be part of the larger process described in God’s plan for our lives.
If you are interested in more detailed information about the biblical
deficiencies of psychological theories and practices, I suggest the follow
The Couch and the Cross by J. R. Ensey. This excellent book can be
obtained from the author at www.AdvanceMinistries.org.
Visit the psychoheresy awareness website at
www.psychoheresy-aware.org. You will find an abundance of books and articles
on this subject.
This paper is excerpted from the book The Sons of Oil by David A.
Huston, available at Rosh Pinnah.
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