Broken Cisterns

Richard W. O'Ffill

This sermon is one of the most difficult that I have preached in a long time. It is difficult because it is not my purpose to be disrespectful to anyone or any profession. However, as a minister of the gospel, I have been ordained by God and by His church to preach the Word in season and out of season. That means when it is politically correct and when it isn't.

As a minister, I have also been charged with the care of souls. Just as a doctor takes his Hippocratic oath to work for the health of his or her patients in a manner that is ethical and above reproach, so ministers of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ are to minister the Word of the Lord to the people.

I personally believe that my task as a shepherd is to lead the flock of God in such a way that they will have had the maximum opportunity through the blood of Jesus and the ministration of the Holy Spirit to be in the resurrection of the righteousness, or among those who are alive and remain and are caught up together with the resurrected ones to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

This means that we must not only feed the flock, we must protect it from that which would endanger it. In the context of the last days that means we must warn the faithful of the dangers of error that are pressing around us, and that has in some instances, breached the walls of the fold.

I am going to touch on the subject of psychology. First, I will to talk about the beginnings of what is called modern psychology and psychotherapy, and highlight the people who have been primarily responsible for its development. When I am through I will draw some conclusions, but most of all, I hope that you will draw your own conclusions.

You are probably aware that the father of modern psychology is Sigmund Freud. Freud was born in 1856 and died in 1939. Freud believed that religious doctrines are illusions and that religion is the universal obsessional neurosis of humanity. He believed that a person who is religious must be sick. He argued that religions are delusionary, and therefore, evil; yet he was personally involved in idolatry and the occult. Sigmund Freud is the most prominent name in psychotherapy. He was personally preoccupied with sex and projected his own experiences into his teachings.

One of his most notable teachings in this respect is known as the Oedipus Complex. In this, he taught that every girl is at war with her mother and every son at war with his father. Though many of Freud's theories are today out of favor, there are still two that are shared by many psychotherapists:

  • Our behavior, thoughts, and emotions stem from unconscious fears and desires, which are often rooted in childhood experiences.
  • With the help of trained therapists, we can understand the source of our troubles and obtain some relief.

Another founder of modern psychotherapy was a contemporary of Freud. His name was Carl Jung (1875-1961). Freud was a Jew. Jung was a Protestant. Jung viewed all religions as collective mythologies. He believed that religion was real only in its effect on the human personality. For Freud, religion was the source of mental problems; for Jung, religion was a solution to mental emotional problems even though it was a myth. So to Jung, religion was an indispensable spiritual support; to Freud, religion was an illusory crutch. In the end, Jung repudiated Christianity and became involved in idolatry and the occult.

Carl Jung once wrote a letter to Sigmund Freud in which he said, "I imagine a far finer and more comprehensive task for psychoanalysis than alliance with an ethical fraternity. I think we must give it time to infiltrate into people from many centers, to revivify among intellectuals a feeling for symbol and myth, ever so gently to transform Christ back into the soothsaying god of the vine, which he was, and in this way absorb those ecstatic instinctual forces of Christianity for the one purpose of making the cult and the sacred myth what they once were, a drunken feast of joy where man regained the ethos and holiness of an animal." (The End of Christian Psychology, page 162.)

Jung even claimed to talk with the dead. Once he wrote, "These conversations with the dead formed a kind of prelude to what I had to communicate to the world about the unconscious; a kind of pattern of order and interpretation of its general content." (The End of Christian Psychology, page 157.)

The teachings of Carl Jung continue to make an impact. His influence is still felt in matters having to do with inner healing, dream analysis, and personality types and tests.

Another contemporary of Freud was Alfred Adler (1870-1937). Adler rejected the fact that God created man in His own image. Both Adler and Freud believed in what is called "determinism." Freud's concept of determinism has to do with what happens to a person during the first five years of life. Adler's emphasis depends on what the child makes of his circumstances during the first five years of life. He taught that we are not determined by our experiences but are self-determined by the meaning that we give to them. He believed a person could gain insights into their unconscious and so could overcome mistakes that were made in the early development of their lifestyle.

Adler believed in memories whether true or not. He felt that dreams offer important insights into the problems of the emotional life, and he believed that people will never change their actions until they change their interpretation. He also believed that it is the responsibility of human beings to change themselves by changing their goals and their way of interpreting them.

Another man who helped form modern psychology is Erick Fromm. It was from Fromm that we got the phrase "unconditional love." He rejected all forms of authoritarian government including God's. He portrayed the God of the Old Testament as a self-seeking authoritarian. He was an atheist and argued against the fundamentals of the Christian faith. He believed that man is the measure of all things. He did not oppose religion as long as it was subjective. He taught that a person must love himself, accept himself, and esteem himself in order to reach his highest potential. He did not see love as coming from outside himself. He said, "I am loved because I love."

Fromm describes a truly religious person as one who does not pray for anything and does not expect anything from God. He says that a truly religious person does not love God as a child loves his father or his mother. And so from Fromm's point of view, faith in God is replaced by faith in self, and love for God is replaced by love for self.

You may have heard of Abraham Maslow (1908-1970). Maslow believed that the contemporary religions of his day, including Judaism and Christianity, had proven to be failures--nothing worth dying for. Yet he was convinced that a human being needs a set of values, a philosophy of life, a religion, or religious surrogate to live by and understand by. To accomplish this, he presented his own philosophy of life and his own framework of values and humanistic religion.

Maslow believed in the fundamental goodness of man. He contended that when a child develops normally, he will choose what is good for his growth. He believed that a child knows better than anyone else what is good for him.

Maslow refused to recognize the Creator. He believed that all the resources for need gratification and self-actualization are within a person. According to Maslow, evil is the result of ignorance and weakness. His solution to overcoming evil was giving knowledge to help people gain ego-strength. He wrote, "Self-knowledge seems to be the major path of self-improvement," and although "Self-knowledge and self-improvement are very difficult for most people, . . . the help of a skilled professional therapist makes this process much easier."

Another of the best known and most admired humanistic psychologists of the 20th Century is a man named Carl Rogers. He died in 1987. He is remembered for his development of the technique of treatment called non-directive or client-centered therapy. Rogers developed a theory of personality called the "Self Theory." This theory assumes that everyone has the power to change and that everyone has a measure of freedom for self-direction and growth.

Roger's theory emphasizes the innate goodness of man. He saw self as central in that each person forms his own judgments and values. He taught that these values should be based upon internal individual decisions rather than blind acceptance of values in one's environment. In Self Theory all experience is evaluated in relation to the individual's self-concept. He taught that each person is the final authority. He believed in freedom of choice based on one's own value system.

Of course, Rogers rejected Christianity. He said that he could not work in a field where he would be required to believe in some specified religious doctrine. He eventually become involved in spiritism, consulted the Ouija Board, and even became involved in necromancy.

Another psychologist is Albert Ellis. Ellis introduced the Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. Atheism is his personal preference. He insists that faith in God is an irrational belief. Ellis doesn't like using words like "sin" and "sinner." He wrote, "You preferably should not use words like 'sin' and 'sinner' because they imply absolute God-given or devil-given standards that help to condemn yourself, your entire being, for some of your mistaken acts."

Another important psychotherapist is Thomas Harris. At times he may sound like he is friendly to Christianity or even seem to believe in it. But he, like those around him, is absorbed with self. He is quoted as saying that, "There are no doctrinal absolutes." He has said that, "The truth is not something which has been brought to finality at an ecclesiastical summit meeting or bound in a black book." He teaches that the truth is a growing body of data of what we observe to be true. He believes that grace is simply a way of saying, "I'm OK, you're OK."

Arthur Janov is another name in psychotherapy. He has developed what is called "Primal Therapy." It is about the past and is based on what may be called the "primal pain." I will not go into what it is all about.

Friends, these are just some of the names which in the past and the present have made a large impact on psychology and psychotherapy. I recognize that some could argue that to a great extent modern psychology and psychotherapy have largely moved on from its founders. But sad to say, many psychotherapists have not moved far enough away from the basic positions.

You notice, I hope, that Freud, Jung, and other theorists were not believers. It is no wonder then that they led their followers in the search to find answers to life's problems within the framework of the limited ideas and standards of men. They developed a philosophy, a psychology, and psychotherapy that amounts to self-deification. That means that to them we are the gods.

Modern psychotherapy arose out of the vision that man must change himself and that we must not depend for help from an imaginary God. Largely through the insights of Freud and the energies of those he influenced, the human psyche was taken away from the hands of organized religion and has been placed in the world of nature and become a subject for scientific study.

Though there may be many people who would disagree, psychotherapeutic interventions are not medical nor even scientific. They are moral and are based on the moral standards that are found within the psychotherapeutic framework. By and large, these standards are from man and the Devil and not from God.

I say that psychotherapy is moral because how we relate to God, to others, and to ourselves is basically a moral issue. It is not accurate to say that the study of human behavior is a science, because human behavior is not predictable. I was surprised to learn that there are some 400 different psychotherapeutic systems. These systems disenfranchise each other to at least some extent, and there are more than 10,000 techniques, many of which contradict each other to at least some extent. This again demonstrates that psychotherapy can hardly be called a science.

Through the years, four major models or streams of psychotherapy have developed. The first is known as the Psychoanalytic Stream. This model is largely based on the teaching of Freud. It emphasizes human behavior and portrays the individual as being dominated by instinctual biological drives and by unconscious desires and motives. This stream is based on the belief that our behavior is determined at a very early age. The idea is known as "Psychic Determinism."

A second model is called the "Behavioristic Stream." It is based on the teachings of John Watson and B.F. Skinner. This model also stresses determinism. But it rejects the introspective study of man and stresses external and observable behavior. Instead of studying the inner psychic phenomena to try to find out what is causing the problems, this stream focuses on the outer behavioristic results.

The third stream is the "Humanistic Stream." This stream is best represented by Gordon Allport, Abraham Maslow, and Carl Rogers. This model considers people to be free and self-directed rather than determined. The underlying theme of this model is the self. This involves self-concept individuality, the search for values, personal fulfillment, and potential for personal growth.

Finally, the fourth stream is called the "Transpersonal" or "Existential Stream." It considers a person to be a free agent who is responsible for his life. It places faith in the inner experience of the individual for dealing with his deepest problems. The existential model presents a religious view of man, but it encourages the individual to break away from old patterns and create one's own values, one's own religion, and one's own god. Existential psychotherapists are critical of anyone who is dependent upon a religious creed or an authority outside of themselves.

These then are the four models of psychotherapy. In our lifetime we have seen psychotherapy move from a dependency on the natural world as being the sole reality in life to include spirituality as a necessity. But the fourth stream has no doctrine. It has faith, but mainly in a god of your own choosing. It stresses the innate goodness of every person.

When we see the direction in which psychotherapy has gone, it is no surprise to read what Dr. Maureen O'Hara has written in the book, A New Age Reflection in the Magic Mirror of Science, and I quote: "It is significant to remember that the present New Age movement has its origins in the counterculture of the Sixties and early Seventies. Early inspiration came from the writings of Abraham Maslow, Eric Fromm, Rollo May, Carl Rogers and others."

It is also not surprising that a growing number of psychotherapists now believe that Eastern religions offer an understanding of the mind, which is far more complete than anything that has yet been imagined by Western science. At the same time, the leaders of the Eastern religions themselves--the gurus and spiritual teachers now teaching in the West--are reformulating and adapting the traditional systems using the language and frames of reference of modern psychology. As a result, Asian religions seem to be making gradual headway in this country as psychologies, not as religions.

This should come to us as no surprise, because psychology grew out of philosophy. The theory behind each therapy is a philosophy of life and a theology of man--why we are the way we are and how we change. Psychotherapy is more like religion than the practice of medicine. Don't forget, the word psychology comes from two words, which together mean the study of the soul.

It is almost unbelievable to realize that during the past fifty years, the church has moved from an almost complete rejection of psychology to a wholehearted acceptance of it.

Friends, as I studied these things, I was amazed at how far the philosophies of man and Satan have gone in invading popular Christian thinking. When I ask people about this they say that it makes no difference where truth comes from. They say that all truth is God's truth. To my mind, this point of view is dangerous. I personally cannot see how we can learn from men who are enemies of God at worst or consider Him unnecessary at best. Experience has taught us that it is almost impossible to consider them our teachers without adopting their error.

Some years ago, I decided I would get an advanced degree in Theology and enrolled in the Bachelor of Divinity program at the University of London.

In the British system, a person has only to pass a final exam to be awarded a degree. In order to prepare for the final exam, I enrolled in a study program that would prepare me for that exam. When the books and other materials arrived, I immediately recognized that they would lead me to study the Scripture from a perspective that was 100% contrary to the faith that I hold dear.

At first I thought it wouldn't matter. After all, I knew the truth, and I would easily be able to separate truth from error. Then as I thought more about it, I realized that it is difficult to work in a coal mine without getting dirty, or in the words of Scripture from Prov. 6:27, "Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?"

I am amazed how this godless psychology has in so many ways been allowed to set the Christian agenda. Many of the emphases we hear so much about today, such as the matter of suppressed memories, the terms "unconditional love," "self-esteem," and "felt needs" are terms that come to us from the leaders of psychotherapy.

I have never felt comfortable with these words, but I did not always understand why. Now that I know where these words come from and what they meant to their inventors, I know why I have not been comfortable with the concepts.

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that after all is done and said the fundamental issue is one, and that is, can we save ourselves or must it be God who saves us. The foundation of modern psychology is built on self and not on God. We must not forget that the foundation of modern psychotherapy is a rejection of God as Creator and of His Word as authority.

You may be thinking, "But I have read books on Christian Psychology that give a proof text for all of the points they make." That is not surprising. Modern psychology is increasingly being what we might call "Biblized." That means that we take a concept and see if we can find a text that will support it. I'm sure you realize there is a text somewhere for just about any point of view you may have. This is why we must not try to use the Scripture to prove our own ideas; rather we must begin with Scripture first.

Let us now review some of the concepts that have come into wide usage in the church from those men who say there is no God and who reject His Word. The first is the term "unconditional love." Unconditional love is spoken of widely these days. We are taught that God loves us unconditionally. Please listen carefully to what I am about to say. It was Erich Fromm who coined the words "unconditional love." He was an atheist who believed that man is the measure of all things and that man is the source of love. Fromm taught that a person must love himself, accept himself, and esteem himself to reach his highest potential. We should have been immediately suspicious of the term. How can one get clean water from a dirty bucket?

Think of the term "unconditional love" for a moment, and let's walk through the concept. In the first place, God is love. To that extent God's love is unconditional because He was love before there was anyone to love. God's love is one of His attributes.

Is it true that God loves us unconditionally? The answer is Yes and No depending on our circumstances. We have said that God is love and, therefore, it would stand to reason that He loves us unconditionally. But this would not be because of who we are, rather who He is. Did you follow that? He does not love us unconditionally because we are such loving and lovable creatures but because He is all loving.

On the other hand, God's unconditional love is not expressed to us unconditionally, or else He would not have had to send His Son to die for us. That created a tremendously costly condition. So that I could understand this better, I took another look at the most important text of all, which is John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." This text spotlights the love of God, but seen up close, it is hardly what could be called unconditional love. The conditional aspects of the text are first, that Jesus would have to die, and second, that we would have to believe on Him.

The bottom line of the philosophies that are being tossed around these days even in the church is that God accepts us the way we are. The word "acceptance" then is connected with the term "unconditional love."

The impression is given that when you come to Christ you do not have to change. To be sure, we can't change until we do come to Him, but I greatly fear that the hidden agenda of the false gospel that is being preached in many places might be expressed in the words, "Keep the world, but give me Jesus."

We often hear the story of the Prodigal Son as an example of God's unconditional love. The point is made that the father accepted the boy just as he was. The truth is that he did not. He received the boy just as he was, but then he was quick to give him a bath and put clean clothes on him.

Though the love of God is unconditional because it is what He is, His love doesn't manifest itself to us without condition. We must understand this or we will miss the point of what the gospel is about. The fact is the love of God is unconditional, but it causes change in all who come to Him. If it does not, it is not the gospel but something like what Fromm taught.

Another concept that has crept into the church has to do with our relationship to our past. Freud and Jung gave us the concept of what is called "Determinism." The point in Determinism is that what we are now was fixed in the past, mostly before we reached the age of five. There is no doubt that the early years are the formative years. Mrs. White speaks about the character being set during the first seven years of a person's life.

However, the way this is playing out in the present generation is that the concept of Determinism is being used to advocate that we are not responsible for what we are, and so we are not to be held accountable for what we do.

We often hear excuses that a person was "born that way" or that they are "sick." Both these concepts tend to remove a person from the responsibility for their behavior. The Bible is clear that we all come into this world infected by the virus of sin. Yet the Word of God is also clear that God holds each person accountable for the choices they make. Otherwise, there could be no judgment. A just and loving God would not hold people accountable if they are not in fact responsible.

Another disturbing concept is the emphasis these days on suppressed memories and on the supposed necessity of going back into the past in order to cure the present. This philosophy also came from the founders of modern psychotherapy.

We may choose to believe it or not, but the gospel of Jesus Christ is not about the past. It cannot be. The gospel of Jesus is about the present. You have heard the expression that this or that person is living in the past. This is actually impossible. It is only a figure of speech. We can only live now. People who are supposedly living in the past are doing one of two things: Either they are bitter in the present for what has happened to them in the past, or they simply refuse to accept what is going on in their current life. Some people like to say they have not been able to forgive themselves for something they did in the past. I have heard people say, "I know God has forgiven me, but I have not been able to forgive myself." A question that immediately comes to mind is, if God has forgiven us what else matters? A person who says God has forgiven them, but they have not been able to forgive themselves is probably saying that they have not been able to accept the consequences of something they have done. Somehow they may have thought that if God forgave them, they would not have to live with the consequences. Of course, we know that whatever we have sown in the past, we will have to reap the results of sooner or later. We cannot be like the teenager who had a car accident one day because of careless driving. That night he knelt down and prayed, "Lord, help that wreak not to have happened."

Our problems are not in the past but in the present. We cannot come to Jesus in the past but only in the present. We must come to Him not as we were or on the basis of what a parent did to us, but we must come to Him as we are, in our present condition. I think it would be fair to say that we are not what we were; we are always what we are.

This is the only way we can get the gospel to work. We come to Jesus as we are for the simple reason that there is no other way to come. But if we think that when we come to Him we can stay the way we are, we are sadly mistaken. It must be some other Jesus we are coming to.

We will never understand what we are and what we may become until we go to the Word of God. For this reason, we can never understand true psychology until we have a correct understanding of theology.

Psychology must begin with theology. This is why modern psychology is so badly flawed. Men who were atheist and non-believers developed it. We must wake up and see that we will never understand who we are unless we accept that we were originally created in the image of God. Because this is true, those who reject God have rejected the truth, and we cannot look to them to lead us into a correct understanding of truth.

Listen to these words from Scripture: 1 Tim. 6:20, 21, "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen."

1 Cor 1:19-31, "For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom.

"But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

"But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."

1 Cor 2:14-16, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ."

Fifty years ago, the church knew where modern psychology and psychotherapy had come from, and so it was rejected. Over the years, as is so typical of evil, these philosophies began to assume another form until today they are transformed into, as it were, an angel of light.

Even so-called Christian psychologies largely contain the ideals of sinful humans. Some even contain a form of godliness, but they lack the power and reality of true Godliness. They may seem Christian, but that is because they have given Christian words to their personal philosophies.

Psychology and psychotherapy appeal to Christians because of their emphasis on self-improvement, on growth, and change. On the surface, they may sound good; but at the center, they all involve self. Self is elevated, and a new prescription for cure is preached that is based on me, myself, and I. This should come as no surprise, because the Scripture teaches that in the last days "Men shall be lovers of themselves."

The psychotherapies that many Christians dispense and use were not invented by Christians but by those who denied the God of the Bible. Eph 4:18, "Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart."

The growth of so-called Christian psychology in the church is dangerous because it takes our eyes off Christ and focuses them on self. It substitutes the Word of God with the wisdom of men, and it replaces the work of the Holy Spirit with human ingenuity. It feeds the flesh and hinders spiritual growth.

There is a text that says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." Many Christians are into self-help seminars and programs these days. I am convinced that any teaching that does not require dependence upon Jesus and the Holy Spirit is false doctrine.

If our preaching and seminars are such that an atheist could go home and put the principles to work in his life, then we have taught a doctrine of human devising. The Apostle Paul said he was determined to preach only Christ and Him crucified.

This means that he knew our only hope is to put our faith and trust in Him who gave Himself for us. It seems to me that a psychology that calls itself Christian yet doesn't call for repentance and surrender to Jesus as the Lord of the life is not Christian.

If we are preaching a message that seems to be saying, "You can do it," it is a false gospel. A message that puts self at the center is also a false gospel. The Scripture is clear that our existence is in Him, by Him, and for Him. That which puts self and inner resources at the center must be error.

Those who would take us back into the past to cure us in the present are misrepresenting what the gospel is about. The call of the gospel is to forget those things which are in the past and having been resurrected to a new life in Christ press on to the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

The day was when people would get a new start at the altar. Now it seems the call is that we can best solve our problems through counseling. This does not say there could be no place for counseling under any circumstances. Christian counseling has its place. But it appears that counseling is more and more becoming a substitute for repentance and receiving the gift of forgiveness, which allows us to break with the past and go forward in Christ in a newness of life.

The Reformation message was built on the truth that we do not have to confess our sins to man but to God. We must be careful that we have not without realizing it built another confessional system and called it Christian counseling.

Mankind is in huge problems. Many of these problems exist because we have become self-centered and proud. We refuse to admit we have done wrong and would rather place the blame on others. Granted others may have wronged us, but that is in the past. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, and He calls on us to forgive our enemies as He has forgiven us. He gives us the grace to do that.

To a large degree, the gospel is not working in our daily lives because we have contaminated it with the doctrines of men and of devils. Our only hope is to return to the Word. It is our lamp in these dark days. It is our only light as darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people. No matter what others may say, only Jesus can save us. There is no other mixture. There is no other way.


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