Spiritual Depression

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Introduction

While it is incorrect as believers to say that we are only human, because we have a spiritual nature too, God understands and provides for the weakness of our humanity. “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). Psalm 6 tells us about ourselves and our reactions.

The emotion

“O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure” (:1).

We should feel guilt when we have sinned against the Lord. This is part of the continual ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. “When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). We see then that the Lord works on our emotions too when we grieve Him, for if He is grieved by our sin, then surely we ought to be also.

David realised that sin required chastisement. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:5-7). We recognise that God chastises us in His love rather than in wrath. In reality we deserve His wrath, but because we are His children He deals with us with mercy. “In wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).

The effect

“Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?” (:2-3).

Guilt affects every part of our lives, body, mind and spirit. It can undermine our spiritual, psychological and physical health. Many are in bondage because they are unable to come to terms with guilt, but in fact the guilt has been transformed by Satan into condemnation. The longer a person remains in this rut, the more difficult it is for them to be freed from it. Yet deliverance is at hand as soon as they deal with the sin that caused the guilt in the first place. “Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me” (Psalm 119:133). They must begin to walk in accordance with God’s word again or else condemnation will take root. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). Living Biblically is the best possible way to live.

The example

“Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies” (:4-7).

David was deeply affected by worry, guilt and depression, for he feels that God has forsaken him. This is one of the major comments made by those who are burdened by guilt and condemnation. They worry about dying and being eternally lost, and so they are continually in a state of grief and sadness. It affects their health until they feel that life is not worth living.

Depression knocks our lives off centre and closes the door to God’s blessings. There may be many reasons why we get depressed. Usually depression is caused by outside circumstances that we have no control over, but we recover from it after rest or logical thinking. David had spiritual depression that no pep talk could solve. This kind of depression can only be remedied by confession and faith. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). There is no need for a Christian to be swallowed up by spiritual depression.

The encouragement

“Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping. The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly” (:8-10).

We can take all of our problems to the Lord, but we must have the faith to leave them there. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). This is not to suggest that we ignore our weaknesses, for if we do we will never be able to avoid the sins that got us into condemnation at the first. We have a God who is abundantly merciful beyond our feeble understanding. “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness … But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies” (Lamentations 3:22-23,32). Our deliverance is only ever a prayer away.

From the moment we turn our faces away from ourselves to Him, God changes our viewpoint from gloom to gladness. “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness” (Psalm 30:11). He replaces our anxiety with assurance. He strengthens us so that we can stand strong against temptation and trial. “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19). He will deliver us from all our troubles.

Conclusion

Being human we are prone to trouble. “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). But when troubles come we must turn to the one who can help us. Many of our problems are caused by not following Christ the way we should, and as a result guilt and condemnation ensue. A proper relationship with the Lord will correct this and will strengthen us throughout life.

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