Dealing with Depression, Part Two
Now let’s talk about dealing with spiritual guilt as a potential cause for depressive feelings. This is another “easy-to-deal with” cause of depression, in that the action needed is direct. One of the purposes of the Holy Spirit in the world is to convict of sin. Both Christians and non-Christians are affected by Him. And when He touches a conscience, we know it! We might try to run, or hide, or rationalize, or sweep under the rug….but we know the truth of His accusation.
And there is only one way to deal with it. Confession. Repentance. Old-fashioned words, but still applicable to today’s world. Admit it! Turn from it!
Simple to do. But for Pride.
The Voice of Pride says “That’s old-fashioned”, “You’re stronger than this!” “Stand on you own 2 feet!” But the Spirit is saying “Bend the knee. Humble yourself. Cry out to God for His forgiveness.”
The wise person who wants Life will bend his knee. He will confess. He will surrender. He will turn, change, repent. But sometimes the sin is so great….adultery, homosexuality, murder, pornography, abuse, whatever…and the Evil One keeps saying in his quiet, wicked voice “You’ll never be forgiven *that* sin!” “You’re doomed forever!” “You can’t escape the consequences!”
The greatest victory of the Evil One is not in causing a person to sin, but in causing a person to keep remembering the sin, to stay under the bondage of that sin, to live as if Christ’s blood wasn’t good enough. The act of sin takes only a short time, but the remembering of the sin takes a lifetime. And in that remembering comes depression, if the remembering ends in itself instead of in the Cross.
So, if your depression is coming from guilt that has been squashed, or forgiveness that has been minimized, then I encourage you to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit: bend the knee, confess the sin, turn from the wickedness. And then accept the cleansing He offers through the blood of Jesus: turn the page, dare to live His life, have courage to accept His reality. Be brave to trust Him. And when the Wicked One comes with his insinuation that God is not faithful to His word, speak boldly to him of the Truth, quoting Scripture & singing songs of redemption.
So far we have discussed what to do with physical, circumstantial, and guilt causes of depression. What about spiritual oppression? Dealing with spiritual oppression by the Evil One is similar to dealing with guilt. It requires taking action on spiritual truth. Ephesians 6 outlines how to defend ourselves against the deceptions of the Evil One.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
Wow! Can you see the battle taking place? Do you see the wrestling, the deception, the intangible & invisible forces? And do you see the seamless union we have with God in this battle….His truth, His righteousness, His peace, faith, salvation, the word of God, prayer? The way to win over oppression is to battle with the Wicked One, not in our own might & self-determination, but in His weaponry, in complete dependence upon Him, disciplining our thoughts. It is work…daily, hourly work…to keep the Evil One at bay.
Depression is a sort of mushy wishy-washy-ness, a drifting of spirit, an emotional whirlpool. But Ephesians 6 makes it clear that the one who battles oppression, using God’s battle plan, will STAND! That means solid-ness, authority, strength, destiny….the opposite of depression.
The last cause of depression is personality. This is a life-long issue. Something we cannot change. And in some ways, it seems the most difficult cause, because personality cannot be changed. But it can be “leveled out”. Did you notice the extremes of the personality types outlined in Part One? A person controlled by the Holy Spirit will have the bent of each personality, but he will also have the power of the Holy Spirit to deal with the weaknesses. So, a Sanguine person will have the power of the Holy Spirit to be faithful to his word; a Choleric person will have the power of the Spirit to not become driven & obsessed by his projects; a Phlegmatic person will have the power of the Spirit to get up & be productive…..and a Melancholic person will have the power of the Spirit to stop always looking at weaknesses, to stop complaining. The indwelling Spirit makes the Melancholic person wear glasses that allow him to see blessings and good things.
But this coping requires a constant surrender & living in the power of the Holy Spirit. And often the person’s worst enemy is himself. He feels too bad to live in the Spirit. He throws the Spirit overboard along with the other areas of his life that seem too much to handle. And pity the poor person who has a Melancholic personality, but does not have the Spirit because he has rejected the Savior. This person will become a failure, no matter what he achieves. But for the person who has embraced Jesus as Savior & Lord, it is a totally different story. Residing in Him is the secret to depression caused by personality; residing in Him is power to look past the gray cloud overhead to see the Son shining brightly & warmly.
Now, my dear friend, if you are struggling with depression, you may be as depressed at the end of this article as you were at the beginning. You are tired. You are worn out. You want to crawl in a cave & let the World go on by.
You were hoping that I had a magic formula so that all you had to do was read it, and your emotions would be changed. But such is not the case.
Dealing with depression requires wisdom (understanding) and also work, work, work! It is a constant battle to keep the body in line, to let go or accept living with circumstances, to accept the forgiveness offered through Christ, to fight the Evil One using God’s battle equipment, and to constantly surrender to the Spirit’s life in us.
Life is never easy. And Depression makes it even more work. But if we are able to identify the source(s) of our depression and focus our energies on the work needed to deal with that source, it makes Life more satisfying & productive. The long & short of dealing with depression is to use common sense regarding physical causes, and then to live the Reality of the Resurrected Christ through the power of the Spirit for the other causes. As we rest daily in His sufficiency, as we listen to the Spirit, as we battle using His weapons & not our own, then He covers our depression with Himself, and the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus is advanced as we go out in strength to serve others.
May God help us to live in a manner that is worthy of His Son, for His glory, for our welfare, and for others’ salvation. Amen.