Summary: This message discusses the medical phenomenon call the Placebo Effect which in reality is proof positive of the power of faith.
Placebo Faith – The Real Thing!
In Matthew 18:3 Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.”
Hebrews 11:1,6 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
As most of you know, I have been in the medical field for over 36 years. During this time I have been on both sides of the aisles in that I have dispensed medicine as a medic in the Air Force and I have marketed medicines in my current job role. From these experiences I have learned that there are times when a patient really does need medicine in order to be healed of an illness and there are times when they do not. It is the responsibility of the treating physician to determine if the patient needs medication to treat their illness or if they just need to change how they think about their “supposed” illness. In other words the physician must determine if the illness is “medically” verifiable or if it exists solely in the mind of the patient. When a physician determines that an illness exists in the mind of the patient and the patient truly believes that they are ill, the physician will attempt to treat the patient’s illness with treatments that have no real medical value except than to the patient. In other words, the physician is not treating the patient’s illness, but the patient’s thinking. The physician gives the patient what is called a placebo pill/treatment which oftentimes heals the patient. I want you to know this morning that this method of treatment confirms what the Bible says about faith and the power of our minds. The title of my message this morning is “Placebo Faith – The Real Thing!”
I have shared with you before that the human mind is a powerful thing that affects every aspect of our life. People get confused when you talk about the human mind versus the human brain. Some people think they are the same, but that is not the case. The mind is not the brain (organ); the mind is spiritual and the brain (organ) is flesh. So when you hear me speak of the mind in this series understand that I am not talking about your brain but that part of you that is spiritual. With that understanding, consider the fact that the mind has the ability to heal afflictions as well as cause them. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Remember, the tongue speaks what is in a person’s mind (heart). The tongue speaks what the mind believes! So if you listen to a person talking they will tell you what they believe and thus what is in their heart. Proverbs 23:7a says, “For as he thinks within himself, so is he.” In other words a man becomes how he thinks! Let me give you an example.
How many of you have ever heard of the condition called pseudocyesis? Pseudocyesis is normally referred to as “false pregnancy” and can happen when a woman believes so strongly that she is expecting a baby when in reality she is not. I need you to hear me out because this will show you how our minds influence the world around us. A woman with this condition will have many, if not all, symptoms of pregnancy - with the exception of an actual fetus. Some men experience a related phenomenon known as couvade, or sympathetic pregnancy. They will develop many of the same symptoms as their pregnant partners, including weight gain, nausea, and backache. Only recently have doctors begun to understand the psychological and physical issues that are at the root of pseudocyesis. Although the exact causes still aren't known, doctors suspect that psychological factors may trick the body into "thinking" that it's pregnant. When a woman feels an intense desire to get pregnant, which may be because of infertility, repeat miscarriages, impending menopause, or a desire to get married, her body may produce some pregnancy signs (such as a swollen belly, enlarged breasts, and even the sensation of fetal movement). The woman's brain (organ) then misinterprets those signals as pregnancy, and triggers the release of hormones (such as estrogen and prolactin) that lead to actual pregnancy symptoms. These symptoms can last for just a few weeks, for nine months, or even for several years. A very small percentage of patients with false pregnancy will arrive at the doctor's office or hospital with what feels like labor pains. This is an example of how powerful our minds are when it comes to our health. In this case the mind (spiritual) caused the brain (flesh) to act upon the body as if the woman was pregnant. When our beliefs and faith are aligned, the body will respond because the mind is now controlling the brain.