Over the last twenty two years working with sufferers with panic attacks and anxiety disorders, I have listened to hundreds struggle with negative, accusing thoughts that assault self worth and undermine faith. Distortions of scripture, and flawed belief’s and half truth’s, often serve to block recovery. When beliefs are held that are abusive, one inevitable result is fear and anxiety.

Some have been so invested in being right and being perfect, that they continually set themselves up for failure, adding to their guilt and anxiety. For these folks, the Word of free Grace must get through if they are to recover. They must give up their perfectionist, self-saving belief’s, and learn to rely on the Grace of God.  

Others distort scripture in ways that blame themselves for their suffering. Some see themselves as not having enough faith, or that their condition is somehow God’s will for them. Many have always felt that they had to do good in order to be loved. For sincere Christians, God’s will is of foremost importance. But discerning God’s will is usually difficult. Some dismiss the attempt with belief’s they have heard such as: “If God wants you to do something He will let you know”. Whatever the truth in that, if it is applied so as to avoid opening oneself for healing and the leading of the Spirit, then spiritual abuse has occurred. Jesus declared that: “Only those who do the will of my Father will enter the Kingdom”. (Matt. 7: 21) But if someone is searching, and this scripture is taken to mean one must do God’s perfect will in everything or else be lost, then spiritual abuse has occurred.  Many know that the Bible says: "perfect love casts out fear". But it is spiritual abuse for a sufferer to conclude from this that they must not be loved and some do.

Neither drug therapy nor tapes can address these issues. Issues of Spiritual abuse call for careful listening and prayerful discernment. We have learned that abusive thoughts and belief’s function in unique ways with each individual. They must be identified, given up, and replaced with truth’s that “set the prisoners free’, if full recovery is to be reached. Thus journeying with our clients through this discovery and healing process is an important part of our program.

Rev. Robert Murphy

BVRM Executive Director

Charter Member American Association of Christian Counselors