Is Psychology of the Devil?
"Behold, You [God] desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom."1
In a seminar I was leading on relationships a young man was sharing the problems he was having with interpersonal relationships. After listening to all he had to say, I simply asked, "Please tell me about your father."
His reaction was rather dramatic. He stood directly to his feet and in no uncertain terms angrily replied, "That question is psychology and psychology is of the devil. I refuse to answer you." As he picked up his belongings and stormed out of the room, I said "You just did" (meaning that he just answered me via his actions.)
My question regarding his father obviously triggered a deep issue that he was either afraid to face or refused to deal with. This was obvious by his strong overreaction.
No matter what anyone does or says to me—that may or may not be a problem—to the degree that I overreact, that is always my problem. Always!
Part of what this young man said is true in that that some psychology is bad, but there is good psychology too. This also relates to theology—some is bad and some is good. This could apply to every field. Simply put, while theology is the study and understanding of God, psychology is the study and understanding of people. And if we, as Christians, don't understand people, we can do more harm than good when it comes to trying to help them resolve personal issues. The fact is that Jesus, being the Master Psychologist par Excellence, always understood people2 and understanding them, always knew what was needed to meet their need. Furthermore, only to the degree that you and I understand ourselves are we able of know and understand anyone else.
Remember, God desires truth in our innermost being. This means being honest with ourselves, with at least one other trusted friend or counselor, and honest with God. This includes being honest with our innermost feelings, our motives, and bringing all of our supercharged repressed negative emotions into the light so that they can be confronted, dealt with, and resolved (it's the latter of these that cause us to overreact). Whether we call this personal psychology or simply self-understanding doesn't matter—neither is ever of the devil. If anything is of the devil, it would be living in denial and self-deception, as the devil is the father of lies.3
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please deliver me from the sin of denial and projecting onto others the outcome of my unresolved personal issues by overreacting to what others do or say to me. Please confront me with the truth about myself, help me to see and resolve any unresolved issues, and help me always to walk on the path of truth. So help me God. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Psalm 51:6 (NKJV).
2. See John 2:24-25.
3. See John 8:44.