Romans 3: 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. NIV
Now we have to address the root of the problem. What is it that is really to blame here? Is it genetics? Is it a chemical imbalance? Or are those just factors that feed the root cause?
I will be frank: While there is a chemical imbalance, and while there are other factors at work, at the root, this is sin. You are awash in sin. I was sinning too when I allowed fear and anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia, terror and dread to rule my life. You might not understand that you are sinning, in fact, right now tears might be stinging your eyes and you might feel a frustration in your chest “How can you SAY that? I do not want to do this! This is beyond my control! It is a chemical imbalance, it is a hereditary thing. That is UNFAIR! I devote my life to God! I WANT to be better! That is an ignorant thing to say, and I am SEVERELY tempted to shut this book right now….”
Please, please don’t! Just wait. Bear with this for a little while longer. It’s ok, I know exactly how you feel! I cannot tell you how many times I screamed out in frustration to the Lord about this. I mean, why didn’t He just heal me?! What wonderful things I could do for Him if He just took this away! It was UNFAIR. I read my Bible, I hunger for Him. I try to obey Him in everything. I worked hard to be a good Christian. And now I am sinning with this thing that I have no control over?!
Yes, I was, and you are. Remember, we are still human, even though we are saved. We still sin. We are forgiven, but we are still being made holy. Our sins are not overt sins—we are not robbing banks. No, our sins are in our minds. They are subtle and feel so natural because they are our carnal human side. They feed into our sense of self protection. In fact, fear is one of the most natural, carnal drives in a human. Anxiety is just fear looking for something to be afraid of. Panic is fear that found something to be afraid of. And each one of those is about protecting our selves.
This concept of “bad thoughts creating bad hormones” is understood even in mainstream psychology. Cognitive behavioral therapy is specifically designed to address the lack of mental self-control, encouraging good thoughts, while dismissing bad thoughts. The difference is that we, as Christians, know that bad thoughts are sin. The Lord tells us to think on beautiful, lovely, honorable things. So if we think on horrible, violent, or depressing things, then we are in sin—we are disobeying Him. The secular world can still use the Lord’s magnificent natural creations, the way He created us, to create remission from various mental disorders. However, our benefit is that we can find the root of the problem, and can use spiritual truths to overcome our disorder much more quickly and thoroughly. We benefit because we recognize sin, therefore have more tools that we can use, powerful spiritual truths and wisdom from the Lord, that the secular world is lacking.
So yes, it is sin. It is the sin of self. It is focusing on self and the protection of self. I know, that is AWFUL to think about! If I had to wager, I bet you are someone who longs to do good. I bet that your heart hungers for the Lord. I bet that you are conscientious and eager. This is the person who is most susceptible to this type of sin. Sin is insidious and a perversion of the good things the Lord has created. The Lord gave us food to enjoy, but the perversion of that is gluttony. The Lord gave us intimacy with our spouses, but the perversion of that is adultery. The Lord gave us ability to do great work for Him, but the perversion of that is pride and ambition.
The Lord also gave us an imagination, as well as an ability to recognize danger and defend ourselves, but the perversion of that is what you are going through right now. Your eagerness to have or be perfect is what is feeding your sin. Your brilliant, creative imagination has been turned into a tool against you. Instead of pumping out things that glorify the Lord, it is turning out “what if’s” every moment, literally glorifying negative thoughts. Then you have the problem that every other person on earth has: a sense of self. Combining those is a recipe for massive sin based on self protection.
Think about it…what are your fears? Are they fears of contamination? Do you wash your hands a lot because you are afraid of getting sick? Are your fears ones of social nature, being afraid to speak in public, afraid of making a fool of yourself? Are your fears have to do with being hurt or killed? Or maybe it is just a general “something bad could happen” feeling that overwhelms you.
Let me have you reread those fears and think of your fears. Not one of them mentions God. He is not the focus of your life, your fear is. THAT is the sin. It is a turning our energies and focus off of Him and on to us or those around us. You might not have even realized that you were doing that! Your prayers might have been earnest, your intent was to focus on Him, but your actions focus on you and your fears. If you are like me, you even told God “If you take these fears away, I could do great things for You and Your Kingdom!”. And then, sorrowfully, you spent the next day still muddled in the same fear of something bad happening to you or to those you love. I know. I understand. I have been there too.
Everyone sins. There is no human who does not sin. Sin is sneaky. If it hurt and made you smell funny, then no one would do it! But sin feeds into our selves, so that it seems so uncontrollable, as if it came right from our very being (which it did—our flesh is sinful!). Sin feels good and seems right. It is the most natural thing in the world for a human to sin.
Sin seems right. We might not understand someone else’s sins, but we surely embrace our own in some way, or we would not do them. We can rationalize our own sins. In our thoughts, our sins are understandable. Our sins are so natural and automatic that they feel…well, natural and automatic!