Questions:

Hello,

I was flipping through the pages of a small book filled with handwritten verses loved ones made for me when I was in the psychiatric hospital. I still read through it from time to time, and tonight I found a small piece of paper tucked in a hard-to-notice spot. It's in my mom's handwriting, and it has your website listed on it along with a note that says "Any advice on how to handle..." And that's all that was written. It intrigued me, so I went to your website and read what your church is about. I also read that you are willing to answer biblical questions.

I will give you a little background info before I ask my questions. I am in my late thirties and have struggled with mental illness for about 20 years now. I was diagnosed with BiPolar One when I was 20 years old and Generalized Anxiety Disorder several years ago. I've struggled immensely with spiritual warfare, and have been hospitalized numerous times. I am a Christian and Jesus lives in my heart. I have been saved since I was 5, although I have backslid many times.

Currently, I have been on the right path for the last few years, but I still deal with anxiety often and hellish panic attacks very sporadically. I do struggle with hearing "voices" sometimes, which I recognize as the enemy trying to get in my head. I was wondering, I've heard people say that Satan can't hear your private thoughts, but I've very strongly been convinced otherwise. I think it's because I opened the door to the enemy in my past through drugs and alcohol and evil things like seances and trances I knew I shouldn't have done. Does it say in the Bible that the enemy can't hear our thoughts? I've been told that by a couple of Christians, but they didn't have the scripture to back it up.

Also, I know that I can't be possessed, because I'm a Christian and my body houses the Holy Spirit, but sometimes I get an attack that comes over me and I feel like I'm in hell. Can you please guide me biblically on how this can be and how I can escape it? It does help to call on Jesus' name and listen to worship music, but it is very scary.

I would really appreciate it if you could prayerfully consider these things and follow up with me. I long for Jesus to heal me of these things! I know He is able.

Thank you so much.

Answers:

To grasp what is going on, we start with the facts that God has given us and not our personal experience. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones" (Proverbs 3:5-8).

The Bible is clear that God alone has the ability to know what is in the minds of men; thus, Satan is unable to read minds because he is not God. See Can Satan hear our internal prayers?

While God permitted demons to possess people for a period of time, the prophet Zechariah foretold that the unclean spirits would be driven out; thus, demon possession has come to an end. See What About Demon Possession Today?

People commonly look for mystical, spiritual answers for matters they can't explain. Perhaps they are right at times but too often they overlook the simple explanations. You have been involved in drugs and alcohol. The reason drugs are illegal is that they are known to damage the brain and cause various forms of mental illness. Sadly, rather than running from the drugs too many people try to use them to escape the craziness that those same drugs cause and they spiral out of control. They never stay sober long enough for their brains to heal.

The "voices" in your head are you "overhearing" the communication going on between various parts of your mind due to short-circuits caused by your drug usage. They are particularly disturbing because these are your thoughts so it is hard to separate out what is real and what is coming from a miscommunication.

Prayer and listening to familiar and calming music help because they are directing your mind back to God's truths and helping you focus on what is real. However, be careful not to make them into rituals. A ritual becomes a "lucky charm," much like having a lucky hat to wear at a baseball game. A ritual doesn't solve the problem. Listening to music will calm your mind, but you will still have to deal with sorting out your thoughts from the pop-up thoughts.

Just realize that a thought that you don't like doesn't mean you are a bad person. You are being tempted and we deal with temptation by overcoming them. You know which thoughts are wrong, so leave them in the discard pile of useless thoughts. Don't go digging through the trash to scold yourself for ever having the thought in the first place.

Response:

Thank you, Jeffrey,

I truly appreciate your biblical and thoughtful responses. You have been a blessing to me.
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