Most of us have heard of the struggles that some people have with self-mutilation or “cutting” as it is commonly known. To many, this is a new phenomenon. I seems as if we didn’t hear much about people cutting themselves until quite recently.
WebMD describes the practice of cutting this way:
Cutting. It’s a practice that is foreign, frightening, to parents. It is not a suicide attempt, though it may look and seem that way. Cutting is a form of self-injury — the person is literally making small cuts on his or her body, usually the arms and legs. It’s difficult for many people to understand. But for kids, cutting helps them control their emotional pain, psychologists say.
Cutting is not simply a “young person’s coping mechanism.” While most “cutters” are young, psychologists also see many people who cut in their adult years.
I do not profess to be an expert on the causes or even the most successful treatment for those suffering with self inflicted injury. Yet, I do know that at the very least, it is caused by intense pain, which is originated by or mixed with levels of self hatred. In these cases, it appears to be some type of “outlet” for the pain or an expression of the self loathing the individual feels.
The Bible relates a fascinating story of a man from a territory in Israel called Gadara. Jesus arrives in the territory and is confronted by a man who is suffering. This man lives in the tombs of the city. He reacts strongly against any attempt to help him or restrain his behavior. At night, people hear the intensity of his suffering. He cries out from the isolated places he stays and cuts himself with stones.
This seems like extreme behavior and in many ways it is. But, how many of us have experienced similar struggles?
Many have thought that death was the only way out. Many still choose to refuse help or believe that no one can help them. Many don’t like who they are. Many cry when they are alone. Many cut themselves due to the intensity of their pain.
I know that most people have not taken up physical residence in the graveyard but some are “visiting” their in their thoughts; thinking that death may bring the relief they are seeking.
How much different are we from this suffering man?
Mark, chapter five gives a detailed account of this man and what happened to him. One of the first things that I noticed about him – other than his symptoms, was his confusion.
When he first encounters Jesus, he runs to Him and worships Him. But, as quickly as that happens, he then turns and says to Jesus,
“What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”
In one moment, he is worshiping Jesus. In practically the same moment, he reveals his belief that Jesus is not willing to help him and, that Jesus presence will actually bring him torture or increased pain.
Now, as we read the rest of the story, we find out that this man was tormented by a demonic presence. This evil spirit didn’t control this man to the point of using him to murder others or some other such atrocity, but…..the evil spirit did bring great pain into this man’s life.
When Jesus spoke to the source of this man’s misery, He said, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!”
Unclean spirit. Why did Jesus call this spirit unclean?
Unclean is defined in the original Greek as:
akáthartos (an adjective, derived from 1 /A “not” and /katharós, “clean, purged”) – properly, not pure (because mixed), i.e. adulterated with “a wrong mix” and hence “unclean” (because tainted by sin).
So, Jesus is saying that this man is suffering from the input of a spirit that sends him mixed messages – truth mixed with lies.
Have you ever been confused about something……wanting to believe one thing while at the same time, struggling with a strong thought that is the complete opposite of what you want to believe?
How about your sexual identity? How about thoughts regarding your self image? How about your thoughts about how important and lovable you are? How about your thoughts as to whether God really cares about you?
These thoughts can become so intense in some folks that they literally make them feel extremely unstable and “feel as if they are going crazy.”
The Bible doesn’t tell us but I would love to know the life story of this man. Was he exposed to verbal abuse or sexual predation or physical abandonment? Was he a young man who was really confused about God’s caring and love for him?
We don’t know the answer to these questions. But, we do know that there were competing beliefs within him about his worth, his future, his stature, and his value before God. If you were in his shoes and you thought that God was your only hope yet you believed that He didn’t want to help you but actually wanted to torment you………where would that leave you?
Jesus spoke to the very thing that was keeping this man from help: the unclean spirit.
Jesus spoke to the source that lied to the man telling him that God was against him and was part of the problem and wanted to make his problem worse.
Jesus cast out the thoughts that were bringing confusion into the man’s life.
I’m not saying that everyone that struggles with cutting or identity confusion or self image issues is in contact with a demonic presence. Don’t believe that for a minute. But, lies are lies and they are very destructive and are used by the devil to torment people. Jesus describes the devil this way:
“When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44
The father of lies. That means that in some form – all lies originate from him!
Are you a “cutter?” Are you suffering from some lingering pain due to an event that happened to you?
We can’t change the events that happened. That is not really what is necessary to heal. We heal by allowing the Holy Spirit to work with us to cast out lies that became a part of our identity due to what happened to us.
I hope this helps today. No matter what you have done or felt or said about God before today, don’t be deceived – He still wants to help you be healed and delivered from the oppression of the enemy!
Ask Jesus to take over your life. Get with another strong believer and command that unclean spirit to stops its operation in your life. Submit to forgiving anyone who has hurt you. Begin to receive the positive truth about yourself. Get around people who affirm those truths. Your healing may be instantaneous or gradual but regardless of how it manifests, it is yours through the shed blood and resurrection of your Lord Jesus Christ!!