MENTAL health relates to the nature of man. It has religious implications for the fundamental Christian whose theology explains the nature and condition of man—past, present, and future.
In the context of Holy Scripture mental health may be defined as soundness of all mental faculties resulting from thinking and acting in harmony with God's will. The mentally healthy individual fulfills his responsibility to God, to his fellow men, and to himself. Conversely, mental illness is the result of man's failure to think and act in harmony with God's will, and is characterized by his failure to discharge his responsibility to God, to his fellow men, and to himself.
Regarding man's condition before his fall Ellen G. White wrote:
His nature was in harmony with the will of God. His mind was capable of comprehending divine things. His affections were pure; his appetites and passions were under the control of reason. He was holy and happy in beating the image of God and in perfect obedience to His will?
It should be understood that man cannot of himself bring his mind into harmony with the mind of his Creator. "For without me," says Christ, "ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). The provision made for the attainment and sustenance of man's mental health is the Holy Spirit, called by the apostle John "the Comforter" (verse 26). This provision is a gift of God, made available to those who are willing to walk humbly before Him. Under the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit the individual is drawn to Christ. Attracted by Christ's love and impressed with his inability to attain peace of mind in his own power, he accepts the invitation, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).
The Holy Spirit supplies to the human agent the motivation and the ability to think and act in harmony with God's will. The individual so endowed sees the laws of God, including the laws of health, as expressions of God's love. He considers it his greatest privilege to cooperate with the divine agencies by exercising the ability given to him by the Holy Spirit in response to his readiness to receive. Ellen G. White states:
We are to take upon us His yoke, that we may be co-workers with Him. The yoke that binds to service is the law of God. The great law revealed in Eden. proclaimed upon Sinai, and in the new covenant written in the heart, is that which binds the human worker to the will of God. If we were left to follow our own inclinations, to go just where our will would lead us, we should fall into Satan's ranks and become possessors of his attributes. Therefore God confines us to His will, which is high, and noble, and elevating.
The psalmist declared, "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart" (Ps. 40:8).
Commenting on the effect of the Spirit upon the mind, Ellen G. White wrote:
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the mind that is devoted unreservedly to God, develops harmoniously, and is strengthened to comprehend and fulfil the requirements of God. The weak, vacillating character becomes changed to one of strength and steadfastness. . . .
The Christian becomes like his Master in character. He has clearer, broader views. His discernment is more penetrative, his judgment better balanced.'
According to the apostle Paul, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Gal. 5:22, 23).
When the Holy Spirit is allowed to become the controlling influence in the life, every crisis reveals strength and beauty of character. Ellen G. White comments further:
The Spirit furnishes the strength that sustains striving, wrestling souls in every emergency, amidst the unfriendliness of relatives, the hatred of the world, and the realization of their own imperfections and mistakes."
To be possessed by the Holy Spirit is in Paul's words "to be spiritually minded." He states, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Rom. 8:6). Paul lists the works of the flesh as "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like" (Gal. 5:19-21).
There are these two forces—Christ and Satan—which plead for reception in the human mind. Ellen G. White declares:
Satan takes the control of every mind that is not decidedly under the control of the Spirit of God.'
Consciously or unconsciously every person accepts either Christ or Satan. Sooner or later one power has the controlling influence that determines one's attitudes, behavior, and destiny. This conflict is part of the great controversy between Christ and Satan which began before man's creation and which will end in complete vindication of the high principles for which God stands and with the destruction of everything that is evil. Human beings are the actors in this drama of the ages, demonstrating to the universe the results of responding to the Spirit of Christ and the results of following Satan and his host of evil angels.
It was through disobedience that man severed his original, natural, peaceful relationship with his Maker. Ever since his fall he has had a proclivity to sin, and as a subject of Satan he finds hostility between himself and God while there is harmony between himself and Satan. Into this harmonious relationship with Satan, Christ interposes His saving grace and introduces
His principles, which create conflict where there would otherwise be harmonious coexistence with evil. Mrs. White stated it this way:
It is the grace that Christ implants in the soul which creates in man enmity against Satan. Without this converting grace and renewing power, man would continue the captive of Satan, a servant ever ready to do his bidding. But the new principle in the soul creates conflict where hitherto had been peace.
"The only power that can create or perpetuate true peace," we are told by the same writer, "is the grace of Christ." ' The quieted conscience resulting from long and persistent disregard of the Holy Spirit's promptings may bring to its possessor a sense of relief from guilt feelings, but without this power from above there is no possibility of casting out evil passions which create discord and strife. The person who thinks and acts in harmony with God's will cannot be made miserable. He rises above the trials and disappointments of life, and is at peace even in the midst of the shadow of death.
In times of trial and hardship Christians tend to let go of the arm of the Lord too soon. Elijah, physically exhausted, fled in desperation and fear from the wicked jezebel on the very day that God in a fiery spectacle revealed His mighty power. But God did not therefore reject Elijah. He knows all about human weaknesses and in His love will ever work to strengthen all who place their trust in Him.
From a position of discouragement and despondency Job rose to the heights of implicit trust in God.
When tempted to give way to anxiety and discouragement we may pray and exercise faith in God, who has promised to provide just the help needed for every trial. The apostle Paul has testified: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13).
(To Be Continued)
1 Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45.
2 The Desire of Ages, p. 329.
3 Gospel Workers, pp. 285, 286.
4 Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 22.
5 Testimonies to Ministers. p. 79.
6 The Great Controversy, p. 506.
7 The Desire of Ages, p. 305.