Spiritual Depression Chs 15-16 (Quotes)

By D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
from Chs 15-16, Spiritual Depression

Discipline (15, p.205) and Trials (16, p.219)

 

            His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  2 Peter 1:3-7

 

He (Paul) writes to encourage people who had been discouraged, and discouraged to such a degree that they seem to have been doubting the Faith which they had believed and accepted.  That is something that may arise as a very real danger in this state of spiritual depression; if the condition persists and continues, it invariably leads to doubts and uncertainty, and to a proneness to look back to the old life from which we have been delivered.  p. 205

 

            For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:8-11

 

…there is only one ultimate cause for all the manifestions of this depression, and that is a lack of discipline…They seem to have had a kind of magical view of faith; the idea, in other words, that as long as you have faith all is well, that your faith will work automatically in your life, and that all you need to do as Christian is just to believe the truth…such people do not realize that faith needs to be supplemented by virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity…  There is a kind of general indolence or laziness which afflicts us all and is undoubtedly produced by the devil himself.  Have we not all noticed that when it comes to things in the spiritual life, we do not seem to have the same zeal and enthusiasm, nor do we apply the same energy as we do with our secular calling or vocation, our profession or business, our pleasure, or something we happen to be interested in? …It is beyond dispute that most of us are living lives which are seriously lacking in discipline and in order and in arrangement…The fact is that every one of us is fighting for his life at the present time, fighting to possess and master and live our own life.  p. 209

 

It simply comes back to this, and there is no need to argue about it – we all have time!  If we have time to do these other things, we do have the time, and the whole secret of success in this respect is to take the time and insist that it is given to this matter of the soul instead of to these other things. p. 210

 

The error of justification by works is in trusting to the discipline of your own soul to save your soul; but the opposite to trusting to your works is not to do nothing, it is to do everything but not to put your turst in any of it.  It is not the works that are wrong, it’s the faith in your works, trusting in your works.  But what a subtle danger this is.  It seems to me that one of the chief dangers in Protestantism today, and especially in evangelical circles is that, in our fear of the error of justification by works, we have been saying that works do not matter at all.  We argue that faith alone counts, and because I am a man of faith, it does not matter what I do and my life can be thoroughly lacking in discipline…The opposite to a false trust in works is not indolence, lack of discipline and doing nothing, it is to be diligent and more diligent, to be zealous, and to add to your faith.  But all the time you must realize that your action alone will never be enough, but that God is certainly a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. p. 211

 

If we agree about the importance of claiming time and of ordering our daily lives we must insist at all costs that certain things must be done.  In other words if I really believe that the Bible is more important to me than the daily newspaper, I must read my Bible before I read the newspaper.  Whatever I may leave undone, I must see to it that this is done.  My prayer time must be insisted upon, I must have my time for meditation; whatever else is not done, I must do these things…So many people fail and become miserable because they have not taken themselves in hand. pp. 211-212

 

In other words, “if you do these things,” says Peter, “if you discipline your life, if you order your life and furnish out your faith in this way and with these various other qualities,” he says “you will never fall” in the present, you will have great joy and happiness resulting from your assurance, and when the end comes you will go out of this life into the next with your sails filled with the glorious breezes of Heaven.  p. 216

 

Let us therefore be up and doing, and giving all diligence, let us supplement our faith and not be afraid.  Let us get our ideas clear and then put them into practice, and supplement our faith with this strength and vigour, with this knowledge, with this temperance, with this patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.  Let us begin to enjoy our Christian life and to be useful and helpful to others.  Let us grow in grace and knowledge and so be an attraction to all who know us to come and join with us in the like precious faith, and to experience the blessedness of these exceeding great and precious promises which never fail.  p. 216

 

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:6-7

 

He is describing people who at one and the same time are greatly rejoicing and yet are in heaviness…You may if you like call it paradoxical, but it is not contradictory. Indeed the condition of the Christian as described in the New Testament seems always to include these two elements at one and the same time…p. 219

 

            We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  2 Corinthians 4:8-10

 

The problem lies here, that we fail to maintain the balance and that we tend to allow this heaviness, this grief to overwhelm us and really cast us down.  The danger is not merely that we are temporarily upset by it, but that it really may become a prevailing mood which we can never get rid of, and that, as a result, people looking at us are more conscious of this “grievous heaviness” than they are of the “great rejoicing”. p. 220

 

…the Christian must never regard himself as one who is exempt from natural feelings.  He has something that enables him to rise above these things, but the glory of the Christian life is that you rise above them though you feel them.  It is not an absence of feeling.  This is a most important dividing line.  p.  221

 

If we are to go on rejoicing in spite of the things that grieve us, we must approach them and face them all in the way in which the apostle is teaching us…first… we must understand why these things happen to us…These things happen says the apostle, because they are good for us, because they are part of our discipline in this life and in this world, because – let me put it quite plainly – because God has appointed it…We are walking through this world under the eye of our Heavenly Father.  That is the fundamental thing, the Christian must think of himself as in a pecular relationship to God.  p. 224

 

The doctrine of the Scriptures is, at the very lowest, that God permits these things to happen to us.  I go further, God at times orders these things to happen to us for our good…He may do it to chastise us…to prepare us for something…He prepares him for a great trial by giving him some lesser trials.  It is there that I see the love of God shining out so gloriously.  There are certain great trials that come in life, and it would be a terrible thing for people suddenly to be plunged into a great trial from the undisturbed and even tenor of their ways.  So God sometimes, in His tenderness and love, sends lesser trials to prepare us for the greater ones…He tests us by trials as if by fire in order that the things which do not belong to the essence of faith may fall off…Faith is this extraordinary principle which links man to God; faith is this thing that keeps a man from hell and puts him in heaven; it is the connection between this world and the word to come; faith is this mystic astounding thing that can take a man dead in trespasses and sins and make him live as a new man in Christ Jesus.  That is why it is so precious.  It is so precious that God wants it to be absolutely perfect.  pp. 225-227

 

The more we experience these things, the more we learn to trust God.  We naturally trust Him when He is smiling on us, but a day comes when the clouds are blackening the heavens and we begin to wonder whether God loves us any longer and whether the Christian life is what we thought it to be.  Ah, our faith had not developed the element of trust, and God so deals with us in this life as to bring us to trust Him in the dark when we can see no light at all, and to bring us to the point where we can confidently say:

When all things seem against us,

to drive us to despair,

we know one gate is open,

one ear will hear our prayer. p. 228

 

When the great day comes, the genuineness of your faith will be made manifest.  There will be praise and honour and glory.  Your little faith, the faith you think is so little, will stand out as something tremendous.

 

We may be in heaviness through many temptations and trials at this present time, and we may be weeping as we go along.  It does not matter.  We are promised that the day will come when “the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne…shall lead us unto living fountains of water” and that God himself “shall wipe away all tears from our eyes”, and we shall be with Him in glory everlasting.

 

That is the Christian way of facing trials. Thank God we are in His hands.  It is His way of salvation and not ours.  Let us submit ourselves to God, let us be content to be in His hands, and let us say to Him:  Send what Thou wilt, our only concern is that we may ever be well-pleasing in Thy sight. p. 232