“Spiritual Depression” By Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Summaries to Encourage, Edify, and Bless
Chapter 2 The True Foundation
Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law”
Before continuing his second sermon/chapter on spiritual depression, MLJ reiterates the commonness of the condition (spiritual depression) and the reasons for addressing the condition: helping Christians to enjoy their Christian life and helping Christians be good witnesses for Christ. He also stresses the importance of talking to ourselves rather than listening to ourselves (see prior chapter summary for explanation).
In Psalm 42, the Psalmist argues himself back to a position of faith. For one who is suffering from depression, if he or she is to restore spiritual health, he or she must be clear on certain fundamentals. Nothing can be taken for granted in this area. Many who were raised in Christian homes struggle at this stage for they never feel themselves to have the joy they see in other Christians. They often have a misunderstanding of basic Christian principles which underlie their condition which contribute or cause their depression.
One example is John Wesley, the famous evangelist. Prior to interacting with Moravian brethren in 1738, John was already evangelizing and subscribed to Bible doctrine. However, it was not until this interaction that he understood the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. He was trying to live by works, and did not find peace until he understood this fundamental doctrine. He could not be right about sanctification until he was right on justification.
The Jews also misunderstood how one was to be made right with God. Prior to salvation, one must be convicted by sin. The Jews did not and many today do not see their sin and therefore don’t see their need. But we must look beyond particular sins to see our need as John Wesley did. He saw his need for Christ when he watched the Moravian brethren weather storms on the sea voyage with peace rather than his own fear. Then we should avoid comparing our sin to others around us and instead place them before God’s face. Put simply, if we are not loving God with all our being, we are sinning. The good news is that Jesus came to save the sick, not the ones who were righteous in their own eyes.
Having settled the need for conviction of sin, the next principle which requires acceptance is God’s way of salvation in Christ. Christ satisfied the Law fully. God does not need our satisfaction of the Law when Christ has done it. This fundamental understanding that we will never be good enough is critical. This allows us to look only to Christ for salvation and not to the apparent absence of a particular sin in our lives.
Built on these principles of convicting sin and looking entirely to Christ for righteousness, we can put our past behind us forever. Our sins are covered by His blood. We don’t need to make resolutions of doing better. We just rest on Him. We find joy in that salvation.
MLJ’s underlying assertion from another perspective is that unless we have put our faith in Christ, we cannot expect release from depression. Not only that, but Christians who are saved must learn to trust fully in Christ rather than leaning upon their works. He assumes that his audience is Christian so he may focus more on the second aspect of learning to fully trust, but this can also remind us that true wholistic health begins with a right relationship with Christ. What we do with that relationship determines our productivity of fruit, 30, 60, or 100 fold, but the relationship makes us whole.
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