May 18, 2015
Romans 7:14, 15, 17-19
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
I found the following brief description of Bipolar disorder on the website of WebMD:
Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental illness that
brings severe high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy, thinking,
and behavior. People who have bipolar disorder can have periods in which
they feel overly happy and energized and other periods of feeling very sad,
hopeless, and sluggish. In between those periods, they usually feel normal.
You can think of the highs and the lows as two “poles” of mood, which is
why it’s called “bipolar” disorder.
Although I have personally dealt all my adult life with severe clinical depression, I was mis-diagnosed as bipolar and given medication that did more harm than helped. But with faith in my great God, lots of prayer, a wonderful wife, good doctors, proper meds, a compassionate counselor, and an understanding internet support group, I came through the ordeal of dark depression and I am doing much better for several years now.
In the midst of this episode, I became acquainted with several people in my support group who were dealing with bipolar disorder. As an ‘outsider,’ I think I have a pretty good understanding of this disease. And being an American Baptist Churches USA pastor for 43 years, I have also known many people – especially those like me who have/are struggling with compulsive/ addictive personalities – who manifest what I call Spiritual Bipolar Disorder! Saint Paul was one, and he describes his behavior in Romans 7:14, 15 and 17 through 19:
…I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand.
For what I will do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do….But
now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that
in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with
me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will
to do, I do not do; but the evil that I will not to do, that I practice.
Some say this was in Paul’s pre-Christian days. Others say that Paul was a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ at this time, but this describes his early Christian experience – before he came to live consistently in the truth of Romans 7:24, 25 and 8:2:
Who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank God — through
Jesus Christ our Lord!…For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Why do I call this being Spiritually Bipolar? Because Paul is describing great highs and lows in Romans 7. It is that way with a compulsive/addictive nature. The thought of what I might do, if it was available – “…the evil that [under normal circumstances] I will not do…” (Romans 7:19) becomes an obsession that energized me and drives me to the point that I must do it at all costs! This is the manic part of being Spiritually Bipolar! And the costs might be very high – reputation damaged or destroyed, financial ruin (gambling, drugs, alcohol), behavior that puts relationships and health at risk (drugs, alcohol, sexual pursuits such as prostitutes), and a lot of other damaging compulsions. But the drive for the thrill is so strong that it is like you become another person – the one who thrives on the evil!
But then comes the depressive part of being Spiritually Bipolar! The pursuit is over, the deed is done, the thrill has quickly left. In its place come the guilt and shame that brings you down! And I have found that I did not stop falling into that depressive hole until I bounced off the bottom of a deep, deep pit of guilt, shame and feeling useless to God and man! And it seemed to take me a week or more – sometimes a lot more – of confession and repentance to climb out of that pit!
How did I overcome that horrible compulsive/addictive cycle of being Spiritually Bipolar? I did not! God did it in and through me! You see, the problem is also included in our scripture, the first six words above: “…I am carnal, sold under sin.” We are sold as slaves might be – bought and owned by the master – Satan! And the devil’s purpose is to enslave us throughout our life, and all the way into hell! But Jesus came to break the bondage! He said in John 8:32, 34, and 36: “Whoever commits sin is the slave of sin…[but] you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free….Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
Free, but how? I had certainly been struggling with being Spiritually Bipolar! But Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12 and 13, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
So I began to concentrate more and more on just relying on God – in His Word, developing a more intense prayer life, thanking and praising Him for the blessings He has so generously poured out upon me and my family – things spiritually related. And, guess what? My obsessive/compulsive mannerisms began to disappear – without my struggling! And this has continued over the last several years!
Oh, what a blessing it is to live without struggling in so many areas – just resting in my God! I am still learning, but God is working in me “…to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
I hope this personal testimony helps you to overcome being Spiritually Bipolar!