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Archive for the ‘Spiritual depression’ Category

One of the most interesting and unexpected realities that appear in the Biblical narrative is that God’s will is performed through the rebellion of His enemies.

This unexpected reality becomes even more interesting when we clearly see that God uses the enemies of his children to shape His children and that though we may have enemies who mean us harm they are actually doing us good and can’t help but serve God’s purpose in our lives.

Oh, it is meant as evil from them and it will come as a very painful experience to us (in the short term) but since it is God who is above them, it comes out for our good in the final end.

In the story of Joseph (Gen 37) we find that his brothers were jealous of him because he was favoured and were angry with him because of His dreams which showed his older brothers one day serving him and bowing before him. Out of this jealousy and anger they decide to sell Joseph into slavery and tell his father Jacob, that Joseph had been killed in the field by a wild beast.

Over a period of many years (sold into slavery) and much suffering, Joseph eventually comes to the place where He is placed in a position second only to Pharaoh and basically rules all of Egypt. Joseph, through the providence and leading of God prepares for a coming famine by storing food beforehand. The famine then causes all surrounding regions to come to Egypt for rations of food. Eventually his own brothers come to Egypt (having long forgotten their younger brother), find in the end that their brother is the means of their deliverance.

Though they do not recognise Joseph (as they bow before him) Joseph recognises them. Joseph at one point is so overcome with emotion, and he quickly walks into another room and weeps, (though not in front of his brothers), nor does he let on that he is their brother.

He could take revenge but he longs for them to find blessing and eventually chooses to reveal himself. He forgives them and embraces them. He then provides for them and shows favour to them. When he reveals his identity to them they are stricken with heart pounding fear (Joseph was in the place of judgement and he certainly had not forgotten what his brothers intentions and actions had done to him)

Joseph forgives them and makes this amazing statement not denying their  earlier treachery and the intentions behind it.

 

Gen 50:20

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

 

In this case there was mercy and redemption for even the enemies and many others as well.

 

In my next post I will show how God uses our enemies to deal with our own sin. The same reality applies.

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In chapter V of Spiritual Depression,  D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones presses forward  with The Light of the Gospel and its practical implications for liberating the depressed believer who finds himself in a perpetual state of self loathing over the remembrance of some past sin.

(It is this readers opinion that the anointing of God continues to attend the work of Lloyd-Jones and use what was rendered  by him in service to God and His people.  I find it impossible to read This work  in Spiritual Depression and think of it only as it applied to “The people of Lloyd-Jones day” .  No , there is always that sense of  Lloyd -Jones being a minister grabbing my lapels and bringing me mind to mind with biblical doctrine as though he is saying. “This my friend, is a  doctrinal medicine for you, take it  and you will soon experience it’s healing effects upon your soul”   and I do.)

Lloyd-Jones  does take into consideration the interplay of Satan with regard to the  bringing of such accusing thoughts to the child of God but spends little time on that particular aspect of things. Instead, he delivers  sound doctrine to his primary subject, ( the child of God). It is a fully fleshed out doctrine in this chapter and I will not seek to cover the entire fleshing out in one Post.

A very perceptive Lloyd-Jones,  essentially calls such a spiritually depressed person to a new kind of  “wakefulness” ,to a , “standing at attention position”, and to an  “at  the ready” active participation in taking hold of the doctrine of   “Salvation”. Here Lloyd-Jones seeks to bring death to  any “spiritualized passivity”.

He heartily states:

Let me put this plainly and bluntly in order that I may emphasis it even at the risk of being misunderstood. There is a sense in which the one thing that these people who are in this condition must not do is to pray to be delivered from it!  That is what they always do, and that is what hey have invariably been doing when they come seeking help- indeed, it is what they are generally told they must do….but this is one of those points at which the Christian must stop praying for a moment and  begin to think!

At this point I think it is important to think. To think about what is being said here.  If I understand this correctly and take a look at Christian experience  I  can certainly see a very important truth here.  Lloyd -Jones is rightly stating  that fully actively engaging  our minds is as spiritual an act as prayer.  That though prayer is a wonderful privilege and a mighty tool, it is the wrong tool in this case. That the right tool, the most spiritually appropriate tool, in this case is, the mind fully engaged with the doctrinal truth of the gospel  of Salvation.

I think that this is plenty to chew on for a start.

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The Gospel believed and applied..

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Dr Martin Lloyd Jones, is a master at exposing the very roots of spiritual depression, as we soon find out in Chapter IV of Spiritual Depression.

He is minister/physician who is straightforward in his approach to spiritual matters and like one who with great concern grabs his parishioner/patient  by the collar and speaks steadily and truthfully to him about the seriousness of his  spiritual condition and the application of  a sure remedy.

The Root of spiritual depression in the life of the believer, to summarize Lloyd-Jones,  is essentially a belief in some lie or deception of the enemy of our soul. Lloyd-Jones reminding believers that,

”  We are brought into this marvelous life, this spiritual condition by the grace of God . But we must never forget that over against us is  another power. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God,but the Bible tells us that we are opposed by another kingdom, which is also a spiritual kingdom, and that all along we are being attacked and besieged.”

He also picks up the theme of  the “Subtlety” of our adversary who seeks to destroy the work of God and especially the enjoyment of the knowledge of the goodness of God. Therefore we face opposition in the form of  manifold temptation and discouragement. It is to be somewhat expected and I so heartily agree.

Jones  in speaking of the Remedy  for spiritual depression asserts, that  the reality of  what God has done in Jesus Christ by providing forgiveness for sinners who will believe  in Him ( The Gospel), must be taken into all aspects of our human personality. That the glorious  message of the gospel must permeate —- Our Mind—-Our Heart—Our Will.

That humankind ( Made in His image) has been designed in such a way that our personality, (intellect, emotions, desires) might be  captivated by him in the gospel message.  the message of the gospel must be first believed then applied.

Romans 6:17

” But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”

From this short verse, Lloyd -Jones unpacks that  “…that form of doctrine…” referred to by Paul, is the very Gospel message  which delivers from the power of sin to condemn and to which we were all helpless to escape in our own efforts.

Lloyd-Jones goes on to say that this  Gospel reality ( the complete forgiveness of sins through the completed work of Jesus) must first be accepted and understood with the mind. It is a (doctrine of truth), then it must be applied to the heart (where so many of our troubles arise and the reality of emotional instability, fears and desires compete) finally we are to take the Gospel to our will so that from our heart where our affections are turned from self to the joy of Christ  we willingly obey .

Knowing with our mind the truth of the gospel, believing in our heart his love for us and  willingly choosing those things that glorify Christ and keep us from those thoughts and desires that  bring us down and make us unfruitful, conflicted and discouraged.

Chapter IV has been very good for the soul!!!

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Within the very first pages of  Lloyd -Jones book ,Spiritual depression, the believer is re-acquainted  with the inverted values that exist within the life of faith.   Namely, that there is a stark honesty that must exist in faith and relationship to God. The kind of honesty that leaves one greatly exposed, examined and laid bare.  This is exactly the kind of  stark honesty we see again and again displayed in the lives of  those individual characters found in the bible. These individuals were very imperfect people yet also in every sense “An open book”.

Lloyd -Jones  draws the attention of his readers to this reality within the lives of biblical characters and especially to the deep and revealing nature of the Psalms. He says of the Psalms,

“Here we are able to watch noble souls struggling with their problems and with themselves. They talk to themselves and to their souls, baring their hearts, analyzing their problems, chiding and encouraging themselves. Sometimes they are elated, at other times depressed, but they are always honest with themselves. That is why they are of such value to us if we are also honest with ourselves” P.9

I love the descriptions  Lloyd-Jones uses here. Struggling, baring hearts, analyzing problems, being elated, depressed, honest with themselves.

(It is important to note that the  honesty  referred to here by the very  nature  of its biblical context ,exists in relation to an honesty with oneself before a  loving God who is Holy and perfect in himself.)

Yet this is a very inverted value system when compared to the value system outside of the reality of faith. Whereas faith is the striping down of ones soul before a great and mighty  and merciful God, the  unbelieving world holds all such notions as the worst kind of weakness.  The world’s values are strength, independence, being self-directed and putting on up an outward image that masks any internally recognized weakness. Vulnerabilities  are seen as a great enemy of the self according to the unwritten code of worldly values.

To answer the question, “Do we come across such a condition as spiritual depression in the scriptures?” Lloyd -Jones brings us to    Psalm 42:5,

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”

Ah yes, its all there, in those two questions, the depth of the very soul, the disquieted, restless condition, the self talk and  honesty. This is no doubt a spiritually depressed state. This also is no doubt a person of true faith as well because in his vulnerability  weakness and distress he knows that God is His help. He is not his own Help. God is.

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In the interest of bringing a degree of objectivity I will answer some basic questions as to why I am reading “Spiritual Depression” authored by D. Martin Lloyd Jones.

Why do I want to read this book?

There are a few reasons, but certainly at the outset, the very combination of the first two words in the title of D. Martin Lloyd Jones book “Spiritual Depression” reach out and grab me. The stark honesty of that combination of words placed together speaks to my human soul where two realities often meet in my innermost being, that which is “Spiritual”, and that which is, “Depression”.

The title then actually brings me a small and immediate sense of relief in the fact that it authenticates a condition that is seldom (if ever) shared in conversation between people yet is often part of a person’s experience.  There is something in that alone that brings a breath of reviving.

The second reason, which quickly follows the first, is found in the last part of the title which  is (Its causes and its cure)  which promise insight and hope for the person who will sit down with the good Doctor Martin Lloyd Jones and  undergo a thorough examination and submit to receiving prescribed medicine.  (Lloyd Jones was a medical doctor before becoming a Theologian-Pastor.)

A third reason, which is surely the most objective, is that I have never read this book, though it has been in my personal library for years. I’m not completely sure how I even came to posses it.

Now I come to a few more honest questions.

Why don’t I want to read this book?

(Yes, why haven’t I read this book despite the fact that I have owned it so long?)

The first reason for not wanting to read this book, ironically, comes from the first two words of the title, Spiritual Depression. It seems much like a piercing light that threatens to exposes the rather darkened corners of the inner human experience, and not just any experience but one I know. So there is the relief of exposure on the positive side and the agony of exposure on the other.

Another reason, in the same irony and in a continuation of the same thoughts comes from the second part of the title “its causes and its cure”.  There are really two promises here, one to search for the roots of the problem and the other to remedy the problem but, (and this is the hard part), these promises in order to become effective, require a commitment from the reader; (in this case myself), a commitment to submit to the tools and process of perhaps radical surgery and all without the aid of either local or general anaesthetic.  In the economy of spiritual realities there can be no dulling of either pain or joy.

So I move forward hopeful, committed and with a slight perspiration on my brow as I currently sit in the waiting room of a pastor- theologian- physician, D. Martin Lloyd Jones, who had in his lifetime upon earth, served the Great Physician Jesus Christ in bringing health to people just like you and I for the purposes of God and man.

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I am endeavoring to read through Spiritual Depression by  D. Martin Lloyd Jones.

I plan on reading, learning and then commenting on it.  This is not a review or a critique but an exercise.

Here is a great link with some audio of Lloyd Jones preaching. (I am not selling the book and do not profit from the advertisement of it).

Enjoy-

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