By D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
from Chs 19-21, Spiritual Depression
The Peace of God (19, p.261); Learning to be Content (20, p.275); The Final Cure (21, p.289)
A very good case can be made out for saying that all the New Testament epistles face this particular problem (the tyranny of circumstances, or the things that happen to us), and were designed to help the first Christians to overcome…p 261
Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus…
…But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me.
Philippians 4:6 &7, 10-13
‘Be anxious for nothing’ or ‘Be anxious about nothing’. ‘Careful’ means ‘full of care’- that means anxiety, harassing care, nervous solicitude, tending to brood or to ponder over things. It is the same word as our Lord used in the Sermon on the Mount – you remember that section in the sixth chapter of Matthew: ‘Take not thought…’ It means do not be over anxious, do not brood and ponder, do not meditate over-much upon, do not have this nervous solicitude about the thing. That is the meaning of the term. p 263
What then does the apostle say? He puts his remedy in the form of a positive injunction. ‘Let your requests be made known unto God.’ That is the answer….it is of vital importance that we should know precisely and in detail how to deal with this…First he tells us to pray. He differentiates between prayer and supplication and thanksgiving. What does he mean by prayer?…it means worship and adoration…Before you make your requests known unto God, pray, worship, adore….Just realize that you are face to face with God…following prayer comes supplication…petition is a legitimate part of prayer….we must approach Him ‘with thanksgiving’. There must be no doubt as to the goodness of God in our heart….We must work out with our mind and with all our energy the reasons for thanking and praising God. We must remind ourselves that He is our Father, that He loves us so much that the very hairs of our head are all numbered. And when we have reminded ourselves of these things we must pour out our heart in thanksgiving. pp 266-268
The glory of the gospel is this, that it is concerned about us and not about our circumstances. The final triumph of the gospel is seen in this, that whatever our circumstances, we ourselves can be put right and maintained. p 269
…that expression ‘keeping’ your hearts and minds. It means garrisoning, guarding… p 270
cf Psalm 3 * Psalm 4 * Romans: 5:10 * Romans 8:28, 32 * Romans 8: 38, 39
The word ‘content’ does not fully explain it; it really means that he is ‘self-sufficient’, independent of circumstances or conditions or surroundings, ‘having sufficiency in one’s self’. That is the real meaning of this word which is translated ‘content’. ‘I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be self-sufficient, independent of circumstances, independent of surroundings, independent of conditions.’ p 277
Which is more difficult, to be abased or to abound without losing the contented mind?…What Paul says is that in either of these positions he is perfectly free. Poverty does not get him down, riches do not carry him away and make him lose his hold. p 281
Paul was not always like this any more than any one of us. He had ‘come to learn’. He has another interesting word also. He says: ‘Everywhere and in all things I am “instructed” both to be full and to be hungry’. …what he really says is, ‘I have been initiated’, ‘let into the secret’, ‘let into the mystery’. p 283
The big principle that emerges clearly is that he had learned to find his pleasure and his satisfaction in Christ and always in Christ….His intimacy with Christ was so deep and so great that he had become independent of everything else. p 285
cf I Timothy 6:6 * Acts 16:25 * II Corinthians 12 (especially 9, 10) * Matthew 6 * John 16:32
But I suggest that a better translation (of Philippians 4:13) would be:
‘I am strong for all things in the One who constantly infuses strength into me’.
…that is his (Paul’s) final explanation…everything always ends in Christ and with Christ. Christ is all-sufficient for every circumstance, for every eventuality and for every possibility….The very essence of the Christian life, according to the New Testament teaching everywhere, is that it is a mighty power that enters into us; it is a life, if you like, that is pulsating in us. It is an activity, and an activity on the part of God. pp 290, 291
Lloyd-Jones, quoting John Wesley, quoting Henry Scougal
…definition of a Christian…’The life of God in the souls of men’
And, then along the same lines….to be a Christian is not only to believe the teaching of Christ and to practice it; it is not only to try to follow the pattern and example of Christ; it is to be so vitally related to Christ that His life and His power are working in us. It is to be ‘in Christ’, it is for Christ to be in us…’Christ in you the hope of glory’. p 292 – 294
The secret of power is to discover and to learn from the New Testament what is possible for us in Christ. What I have to do is to go to Christ. I must spend my time with Him, I must meditate upon Him, I must get to know Him. That was Paul’s ambition – ‘that I might know Him’. I must maintain my contact and communion with Christ and I must concentrate on knowing Him. What else? I must do exactly what He tells me. I must avoid things that would hamper….I must read the Bible, I must exercise, I must practice the Christian life, I must live the Christian life in all its fullness…Abiding is a tremendously active thing. pp 298, 299
That, then, is the prescription. Do not agonize in prayer beseeching Him for Power. Do what He has told you to do. Live the Christian life. Pray, and meditate upon Him. Spend time with Him and ask Him to manifest Himself to you. And as long as you do that you can leave the rest to Him. He will give you strength – ‘as thy days so shall thy strength be’. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and according to our need so will be our supply. Do that and you will be able to say with the apostle: ‘I am able (made strong) for all things through the One who is constantly infusing strength into me’. p 300
cf Deuteronomy 33:25 * Philippians 2:12-13 * Galatians 2:20
I will glory in my Redeemer, my life He bought, my love He owns. I have no longings for another; I’m satisfied in Him alone. I will glory in my Redeemer, His faithfulness my standing place. Though foes are mighty and rush upon me, my feet are firm, held by His grace. My feet are firm, held by His grace. from I will Glory in my Redeemer, by Steve and Vikki Cook.