I find almost invariably when people come to me in a state of spiritual depression, that they are depressed because they do not know the faith as they should. They say: “I am such a miserable sinner, you do not know what I have been or what I have done.” Why do they say that to me? They do so because they have never understood what Jesus meant when He said: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” The very thing they are saying in self-condemnation is the very thing that gives them the right to come to Him and be certain that He will receive them. Where there is a failure to learn and believe these things, faith is weak. So strong faith means to know them.
I am constantly having to say these things. I am constantly having to write them. I had to write a long letter on this very point to a man I had never seen. The poor man was miserable and held in bondage. Why? Because he did not see that Christ is the friend of publicans and sinners and that He came to die for such people. He was not clear about the Person, he was not clear about the work of this blessed Person. His faith was weak and the doubts where there because of that. There are many who go through life miserable and unhappy because thy do not truly understand these things. If only they did understand them they would find that their self-condemnation in itself is an earnest of their repentance and the way to their ultimate release.
In other words, the great antidote to spiritual depression is the knowledge of Biblical doctrine, Christian doctrine. Not having the feelings worked up in meetings, but knowing the principles of the faith, knowing and understanding the doctrines. That is the biblical way, that is Christ’s own way as it is also the way of the apostles.
The antidote to depression is to have a knowledge of him, and you find that in His Word. You must take the trouble to learn it. It is difficult work, but you have to study it and give yourselves to it. The tragedy of the hour, it seems to me, is that people are far too dependent for their happiness upon [experiences]. This has been the trouble for many years in the Christian Church, and that is why so many are miserable.
Their knowledge of the Truth is defective. That, you remember, is what our Lord said to certain people who had suddenly believed on Him. He said: “If you continue in My word then are you My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). Free from doubts or fears, free from depression, free from things that get you down. It is the truth that frees–the truth about Him, in His Person , in His word, in His offices, Christ as he is.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9
Growing weary is something we will all face in the Christian life, especially as we get into our middle years. Martyn Lloyd Jones, in his book, Spiritual Depression, suggests that the middle period of life is the most difficult because there are compensations in youth and compensations in old age that do not exist in the middle years.
When we were young and entered the Christian life and work, there was an excitement, a freshness, that permeated all we did, but as we age, we become accustomed to the Christian life. We also grow accustomed to the work and fall into a routine of doing the same thing day after day. As we do this, the earlier excitements that brought us up to this level of work and energy begin to fade away, and we are simply left with the work. Lloyd Jones goes on to say, “There we are on that level, and the difficulty is to keep going on that level while lacking the stimulus that took us there.”
This leads us to a point where we are not “so much tired of the work as tired in it.” If we find yourself in this situation, Lloyd Jones lays out three distinct temptations that we must resist when we grow weary.
The Temptation to Give Up
When you find yourself growing weary, you will hear the cry coming up from within that this is too much much for you. These voices will tell you it is time for you to give up. They will come to you telling you that perhaps it is now time for you to rest from well-doing and let others take the reins.
Though a sabbatical or a vacation may be appropriate if you have not had one in a while, this is not the time to give up laboring for the Lord. You must resist this temptation to give up. You will reap in due season, so do not let the temptation to quit take that blessing away from you.
The Temptation to Resign Yourself to the Weariness
The second temptation is even more sinister. That is the temptation to press on while assuming that weariness is what is to be expected going forward. Do not resign yourself to the exhaustion.
Lloyd Jones puts it this way, ” The danger at this point is to say something like this: Well, I have lost that something which I had, and obviously I shall not get it back again. But I am going on, and out of loyalty I will go on, as a sheer duty. I have lost the enjoyment I once had, that is gone and undoubtedly gone forever.” People who do this, go on in a “dragging condition.”
Do not give into the spirit of resignation. This is a temptation to sinfulness. Joyless Christian service is not what the Lord has called us to. There is hope, and the Lord can provide the strength we need just like he did for Caleb (Joshua 14:10-11).
The Temptation to Resort to Artificial Stimulants
The third temptation that comes to us is to try to help God along in supplying us the needed energy and relief. We see this regularly in the working world when alcohol and drugs are used to provide strength and to relieve the weight of the burden that is being carried.
This happens spiritually as well. If we are weary in the work of the church or in our Christian life, what we often think we need is some new program or attraction to liven things up. The thought goes like this, “Let’s bring in new entertainment. If our worship is worn and routine, we can add lights and a fog machine or a whole host of other amusements.” All of this is artificial hype. It is a substitution for what we really need; the strength and joy of the Lord.
Among other things, many weary Christians will begin to seek rest by spending hours watching Netflix, others make social media their default retreat whenever the burden of work seems too much. Since none of these substitutes can provide what is truly needed, much like alcohol and drugs, all we are doing is exhausting ourselves further. Lloyd Jones puts it this way, ” As he becomes more exhausted, so he will need to have still more drink and still more drugs; and so the process goes on in a cumulative manner. And it is exactly the same in the spiritual realm.” Do not give in to this temptation, it is a cistern that cannot hold water, and it will only make conditions worse.
How to Fight
Provided that we are not over-working ourselves and we are taking care of our bodies by giving them the needed sabbath rests, to fight all three of these temptations we must do what we are called to do with any temptation. We must resist the devil, and he will flee. The way we do that is by preaching the gospel to ourselves once again, and by remembering what we were saved from and to what we have been called. That is the first gust of wind we need in our sails. “You are set in the midst of the most glorious campaign into which man could ever enter, and you are on the noblest road that the world has ever known.” Do not let that truth slip from your mind.
The second blast of wind we need to move our ships forward is to remember that this life is not our place of rest. Our rest is coming, and it will be glorious. Set your eye on the prize promised by the gospel. Jesus is coming again and his reward is with him. He will give to each person according to what he has done (Rev. 22:12). Cheer your heart with thoughts of the return of your Savior, and let that joy drive you heavenward.
Finally, the third and most consistent wind we need in our sails is the presence of God. God is the gospel, and he is our ultimate reward. Since you have been justified in Christ, he is with you and available to you now. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.– Mat. 5:5
Meekness is one of those qualities we understand, but it can be difficult to articulate. So what does it mean to be meek? In general usage, we relate it to being humble, patient, gentle, and kind, but as with all of the beatitudes, there is a spiritual element that we must not miss or we could go astray. Even the natural man, apart from Christ, can display gentleness and kindness, and they will not inherit the earth. Jesus clearly meant more than that.
In Matthew chapter five, the first four beatitudes focus on our relationship to God and the last four, our relationship to man. We should not forget, however, when we live out the first four in relation to God, it will affect our relationship to man, but the relationship to God must be primary. With this in mind, meekness in the Sermon on the Mount should be understood in light of our relationship to the Lord.
The first beatitude, poor in spirit, means we understand our spiritual poverty apart from God, which leads to the second beatitude which mourns over our sinful condition. Following directly from this comes meekness. In this context, meekness involves a humility before God, a submission to His will, and an end of trying to justify ourselves before Him and submitting to His way of salvation.
As mentioned earlier, the primary focus of the first four beatitudes is our submission to God in our state of spiritual poverty, but if we are meek before God, we will also be meek before men. We see many examples of meekness in the pages of scripture. Abraham was meek in letting Lot have the first choice of land, even though he was the patriarch. Moses lived in Pharaoh’s palace but gave it all up to do the will of the Lord, and David, though he was anointed as king by God, humbled himself before Saul.
We also see meekness in Jesus. In fact, Jesus tells us the reason we should come to Him when we are heavy laden is that He is “gentle and lowly in heart.” It is here we will find our rest (Mat. 11:28-29). The God of all the universe takes on flesh and is meek. There is no greater example for us to follow. We should desire to be conformed to His image.
Are we meek?
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his book on the Sermon on the Mount, gives us some great tests to examine ourselves to see if we are meek. Here are a few of his ideas reformatted to fit this context. Do these describe you?
Meek people do not boast in themselves. They do not find glory in themselves and do not desire that others glory in them either.
Meek people are not sensitive about themselves, and will not always need to defend themselves when people point out their flaws and weaknesses.
Meek people have a teachable spirit. They are not gullible, but they are open to criticism and expect it because they know they have a lot to learn.
Meek people love the word of God and submit to it. They do not chafe against it.
Meek people tend to be satisfied because they do not always believe they are entitled to more.
Meek people are not weak people. A meek person will stand immovable in God’s truth because they submit to God before they will submit to man.
The meek shall inherit the earth
The meek will inherit the earth
even though they are not arrogant nor do they demand it. In one sense, they
already have it because they are satisfied with what they have. They do not
feel that they deserve more and find joy in the world that the Lord has already given them. Ultimately, however, it means,
because they come to Christ on His terms for salvation, by faith alone, they will
reign with Him as co-heirs.