Her second problem is related to the first in a hand in glove manner. And that is that she views God as a wrathful, vengeful, "Father" who is bent on being critical of his creatures and is inclined to punish them as a knee-jerk reaction. She doesn't see (in experience...again; she knows it intellectually) that God IS love; that his first inclination is to love us; that he loved us so much that he went to the preposterous length of coming to earth in the confines of a human body...lived a sinless life....and then voluntarily surrendered himself into the hands of wicked men, who murdered him in a horrific manner.
If God loves us enough to do that...and if he could pray for his murderers while hanging on the cross...and take the time and breath to send a thief on his way to heaven while he hung there...then certainly, he can find a way around our daily sin. And he has...first, it was paid for on the cross with his own blood and secondly, he has given us the wonder of confession, repentance and forgiveness...and these are followed by the most amazing and wonderful thing of all...Forgetfulness. God separates himself from the memory of our sin "as far as the East is from the West..." and "as deep as the deepest ocean"
"But" we insist...:"I keep on sinning. Not only that, I keep on sinning the same sins over and over and over." And as a person who struggles with a mental illness --especially one with a symptom of irritability or irrational anger, and depression--we can feel compelled to sin and it does feel as though we are fighting a losing battle. One that is impossible to win. For me, that battle manifests itself in impatience and bad language. I do not curse at people...but have me drop a bowl of something and look out! And the sicker I am mentally; the worse that behavior is. And it feels completely out of my hands....It feels like I have NO control over it whatsoever, because try as I do, I cannot break myself of it. I've agonized over this sin...feeling like, "If that's what spontaneously comes from my mouth, then it must evidence a really foul, corrupt heart."
And I think it is here that DF's question comes into play. Can a person whose illness causes them to be angry, or inconsiderate...or a host of other possibilities....can they be saved?
I still stick by my initial answer. Yes. Indubitably. However, there are some sins which will take an act of God to overcome. And really ...it takes an act of God to overcome any of our sin.....because sin is not only a behavior or a word...it is a root which is anchored deeply in our souls and only the hands of God can get rid of that root. Self -control is not enough.
For a person with mental illness, there may be more overt sins to overcome. They may be harder than the average sin in the average person to defeat and they may feel completely beyond our control....but "who then can be saved??" and Jesus answered "With God all things are possible." Salvation is GOD:'s work. Sanctification, also , is God's work. However, we can and should place ourselves in a place where holiness is encouraged to grow...And this is by practicing the spiritual disciplines. These will help foster holiness in us...but obviously, we still must rely on God to do the work.
I'd like to give you an example from my own life.
Schizophrenic people almost as a rule, smoke. And for a person with SZ, quitting is close to impossible. It's hard for "normal" people...but because of the way a schizophrenic's brain is wired and because of the physical, self medicating effects of the tobacco.....it is hundreds of times harder for us to quit.
I used to smoke. Two packs a day most of the time...I started in a psych hospital (back when smoking in public places was legal)...and became SO addicted that I literally could not under any circumstances go for more than an hour and a half without a cigarette...and that was even difficult. I tried to quit. I tried every conceivable method to quit..including acupuncture. NOTHING worked...not even for one day. It became a joke amongst my family and friends when I would tell them (once again) that I was quitting.
This was, I felt, a sin because it was harming my body; and it was costing me a LOT of money that I really didn't have to spare. I prayed frantically, desperately, for God to help me to quit.
FINALLY, after at least 12 years of trying to quit: I did. That was back in 1995. Almost 20 years have gone by...and I have not had even one puff of a cigarette since. I know, if I did have even one puff...it would be all over: I would be right back to it. But with God's help, I overcame that sin. The battle was long and really really hard; but the victory was won. Do I believe that that sin was held against me in any way? NO. God knows, it was out of my hands until the time came when HE was ready to release me. And I think, actually, that my persistence and determination to quit even in the face of hundreds of failures...I think that God applauded that.
So DF. Yes, we have challenges and struggles that are above and beyond the ordinary. But if we HATE our sin; if we persist in working with God to be rid of it...one by one, those strongholds will fall...And when they do, the victory will be sweet and complete. God will not wag a finger at you for struggling with a sin. If you take delight in your sin...If you willfully indulge in it...Then yes, God will hold you accountable. But God understands our insides completely. He knows what we are able to do and what our illnesses can compel us to do. Make use of confession. Repent in your heart by acknowledging the wrongness of your behavior...and work with God in prayer to defeat it...And one by one, those battles will be won.
You are a beloved child of God. He made you --illness and all---for his own reasons. And he knows your abilities, strengths and weaknesses....and he loves you ; the sum total of you and will refine you slowly over time. Just remember to persist. And keep that desire to be holy strong...and it will come.