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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « 1 Corinthians 27-28: A Thought | Altar Call »

    On Inner Healing

    “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)


    For the purposes of this article, I use the materials of author and inner-healing advocate Rusty Rustenbach of The Navigators (NavPress) however there are a plethora of inner-healing “ministries” out there. 



    A Guide for Listening and Inner Healing Prayer, Leader’s Guide by Rusty Rustenbach, NavPress, http://www.navpress.com/uploadedFiles/Product_Downloads/ GuideforListening_LG.pdf

    A Guide for Listening and Inner Healing Prayer, Excerpt: http://media1.navpress.com/9781612911564.pdf



    Inner healing is the next big resurgence among Christians. The concept goes by many different names; Theophostics, Open-Vision Healing, Restoration Prayer, and Intercessory Prayer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_Healing_Movement).


    Spiritual disciplines such as labyrinth-walking, contemplative prayer, meditation, lectio divina, fasting for healing (not the same as Biblical fasting), and other mystical practices along with more blatant New Age ones like guided meditation and coloring and/or focusing on kaleidoscope-like mandalas, are invoked by a growing number of Christians to achieve inner healing (See: On Contemplative Prayer).


    All aspects of the occult, mysticism, and Eastern/New Age beliefs center around one concept: oneness with the universe/force/Earth/God. It may sound nice, but it is a substitute for the kind of salvation Jesus offers in the Gospels.


    Inner healing is no exception. The goal of inner healing is to have one’s emotions, outlook on life, and memories “healed”. The methods used vary by “ministry” and may include labyrinth-walking, mandala-coloring, meditation, mantra-repeating, special prayer forms, and more to “get in touch” with one’s inner-self (putting oneself into a mind-altering, trance-like state), and have “God” change/heal it.


    It should be noted that most inner healing techniques and ministries are non-Christian, and may invoke other gods, Buddha, or even a celebrity to change/heal their broken past (http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/25-psychology/572-inner-healing-and-visualization). “Christian” inner healing ministries appear to be a cross between Word of Faith and Spiritual Warfare beliefs, and Spiritual Disciplines (think of a Venn Diagram in which all these practices are technically separate but definitely overlap in certain areas).


    All these teachings have their roots in the occult and focus inordinate attention on healing, be it physical, mental, or emotional/spiritual. Mr. Rustenbach's material actually has much in common with the Chinese concepts of chi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qi).


    In order to deceive the elect, if that were possible

    There are some true statements in these various inner-healing ministries' materials, but they are so perfectly mixed in with false teachings, one would literally need to go line by line to untangle it.


    When reading through the literature and websites of “Christian” inner healing ministries, it was interesting to note they relied heavily upon anecdotes—stories and testimonies (which cannot be proven) of people who claim to have been set free using the ministry’s techniques (see Rustenbach's Excerpt and blog for examples of his ministry's claims).


    Adding a smattering of random Bible verses (most of which were merely cited or paraphrased by the ministry, not quoted), gave an air of legitimacy to their various sites. But the reason these “ministries” relied so heavily on anecdotes and twisted one-line verses, is because there are no Bible verses or passages alluding to or advocating the practice of these techniques.


    Mr. Rustenbach's works cited Isaiah 61:1 over and over again,  

    The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners”.


    Mr. Rustenbach claimed this was Christ’s mission (apparently His one and only), but it was curious to me that he quoted this passage and not the one in Luke 4:18-19,  

    “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”


    Here, Jesus is recorded reading Isaiah 61:1 in reference to Himself, but here He leaves out the phrase about binding up the broken-hearted! Not to mention the whole passage is about the Good News that Jesus Christ is Lord, and has come to set us free from the law of sin and death. Not the law of pain and suffering, that Mr. Rustenbach claims (See: On the Word of Faith Movement). Therefore, if we are indeed free from the law of sin and death, we have already had a “heart transplant”. God has exchanged our natural hearts of stone for living ones (Ezekiel 36:26).


    Since God has already set us free and we have a new heart in Christ, our hearts cannot be broken in the way Mr. Rustenbach's and other ministries allege. The kind of broken hearts these ministries describe are the old, sinful, pre-Christian hearts. (See: On Breaking Free?) When the Bible says that God searches our hearts (Psalm 139 and elsewhere), it is not for healing the heart, but determining if the heart of a person is righteous and seeks to follow God and his ways.


    Other random non-Biblical teachings include: "All of us have had our hearts broken; The heart broke in response to something that happened in the past; Our reaction to events, not the events themselves, places us in bondage; Present difficulties often trigger past pain; Life-changing truth can be known and experienced when God communicates it to us in a supernatural way" (Leader's Guide, Study 2).


    The Bible does not put such emphasis on past broken hearts causing present and future suffering. The Bible talks about sin causing suffering, and the Bible also says in Hebrews 4:12,

    "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

    In other words, the Bible is that life-changing truth that can be known and has been communicated to us by God.


    "That we may need to forgive God for allowing bad things to happen to us" (L.G., Study 6). "Healing and hearing from God can be blocked by us; Healing may be tested by God" (L.G., Study 8); "Healing can and should be sealed" (L.G., Study 10). (See: On Spiritual Warfare 1 & 2)


    People are not capable of thwarting God, regardless of whether it is for personal healing or world politics.


    Mr. Rustenbach also emphasizes using or needing a facilitator, which means someone who is specially trained, which means you have to come to the ministry and possibly pay for a weekend or week retreat or conference, workbooks, related books, the facilitator, and any related or recommended resources. The Bible however, says that Jesus is our only facilitator (1 Tim. 2:5). See: On Spiritual Warfare 2).


    Mr. Rustenbach asserts that this book, discussion group, and technique will change your life (L.G., Study 14). There is however, only one Book-the Bible-that can change a person’s life.


    It’s Not about You. Is It?

    On the one hand this ministry stated that all the glory and honor went to Jesus for healing people. They said over and over “this is not about you” (Excerpt). But their emphasis clearly was on the person/client, which they painted a victim (L.G., Study 2 and throughout).


    There are very few victims in Scripture (oppressed widows, orphans, poor and foreigners), and the Bible is clear that no one is innocent,

    "There is no one righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10 and Ecclesiastes 7:20).


    Inner healing statements could be re-worded to “your bad feelings are not your fault, but from a terrible experience in your past which taught you to react a certain way.” Or, “Let us help you understand just how badly you have been hurt by others”, and “Jesus is here, waiting to heal you supernaturally.”


    This is not taught in the Bible, but it was taught by Agnes Sanford*, who in turn was inspired by Carl Jung, a renowned occultist and psychologist. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_G._Jung)



    There is an underlying cultural premise that has flowed over into the church that people should be peaceful and happy all the time. This is an inhuman expectation. There are no such things as “negative” or “positive” emotions, only pleasant and unpleasant ones. All emotions come from God, and we sin in our reactions, not because of the emotions themselves.


    "Jesus wept" in grief (John 11:35). Jesus displayed righteous anger in throwing the money changers out of the temple (Matt. 21:12 & Luke 19:45-46). Jesus was fearful to the point of sweating blood the night of His crucifixion in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44). God describes Himself as jealous (Exodus 20:4-5), angry (Jeremiah 21:5), and mournful (Genesis 6:5-7). Jesus said blessed “are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). Ecclesiastes 3:4 reminds us, “there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance."


    Emotions are part of what makes us human, but we need not over-focus on them, nor do we need to be healed from emotions. We do, however need to learn self-restraint (which is a conscience choice) in displaying them,

    Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. (Titus 2:2-6)


    Inviting the Supernatural

    “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow” (Col. 2:18-19).


    Inner healing ministries claim the only way to be healed of past hurts and bondage is through a supernatural encounter with God.


    I do believe people have had memorable experiences, but not every spirit is God or from God (See: On Spiritual Manifestations and The Still, Small Voice). Not every spirit that feels or seems good is of God or from God (See: Why the Occult is so Dangerous). Any spirit of or from God will ALWAYS point back to and elevate the Bible. This and every other inner healing ministry emphasizes experience over Scripture.


    “5. Life-changing truth can be known and experienced when God communicates it to us in a supernatural way….The fifth principle is the importance of God supernaturally communicating His life-changing truth to us.”  (L.G., Study 2)


    “This chapter explains a number of the common ways God communicates to us (through His written Word, through another person, through thoughts and inner impressions He sends, and through pictures or images He gives).” (L.G., Study 4)


    These can be ways God communicates to us, but we must always test it against Scripture. Sometimes teachings are obviously with or against Scripture, other times we may need to research and study,   

    "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men" (Acts 17:11-12).


    Since these ministries are in fact, practicing Eastern mysticism, it follows that practitioners are inviting and encountering false Christs.


    Many places on the web describe account after account of non-Christians seeing “Jesus”. Sometimes he speaks, sometimes he changes form, sometimes he remains silent. We should remember that the Bible never actually describes Jesus physically (so how do these people know they are seeing Jesus?) until Revelation 1:13-18,

    and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.


    Based on my limited research, that Jesus was never described or encountered. We would do very well to remember Scripture when it warns us:

    "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.

    Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:24-27).


    This is not necessarily referring to physical false Christs. How many books have there been and are now about meeting Jesus in the (spiritual) desert, or the secret chambers (of the heart)? These false Christs will wow and deceive even believers with their supernatural abilities.



    The Bible never describes or alludes to any of these techniques or concepts. If you are hurting, take it to the Lord in prayer. But remember that praying for oneself or each other is simple and (praise God!) doesn’t require special knowledge of techniques, styles, retreats, or lectures, ad nauseum.


    In the Bible, God describes how He feels about and relates to people using emotional terms. Where you won’t find emotive language however, are lessons on right and wrong. “Go and sin no more” (John) 8:11) is what Jesus told the adulterous woman, not "come back to me if you feel tempted and I will heal you of your emotion".


    When you ask for and expect supernatural responses and you use mystic (occult) means, you are not likely to find the real Jesus. He wants us to use His ways, not our ways. These New Age practices are merely quick-fixes that, like an addiction, don’t last and lead to deeper problems. God’s heart replacement does work, but it takes time, patience, and perseverance. Thank goodness the Holy Spirit is at constant work within us, or we would never get anywhere on our own.


    We tread dangerous road anytime we consult human teachers on how to live or interact with God before we go to the Bible, the very revealed word of God Himself! Who will you trust; Subjective experiences and teachings by fallible people (who have been inspired by fallible people before them, who have been inspired by fallible people before them, etc.), or the Source of everything, God? (See: Your Deceitful Heart)


    The Day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:6-22)

    You, Lord, have abandoned your people, the descendants of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and embrace pagan customs.

    7Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots.Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.

    So people will be brought low and everyone humbled—do not forgive them.10 Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from the fearful presence of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty! 11 The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled and human pride brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

    12 The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), 13 for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, 14 for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, 15 for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, 16 for every trading ship and every stately vessel. 17 The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,

    18and the idols will totally disappear. 19 People will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground
    from the fearful presence of the
    Lord and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. 20 In that day people will throw away to the moles and bats their idols of silver and idols of gold,
    which they made to worship. 21 They will flee to caverns in the rocks and to the overhanging crags from the fearful presence of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.

    22 Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem? (My emphasis added)


    Further Reading:

    Agnes Sanford:





    Inner Healing:






    Theophostic Prayer Ministry/Counseling: http://www.inplainsite.org/html/is_theophostics_biblical.html


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