Points to Ponder - Christ Presbyterian Church New Haven

Spiritual Depression
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Week 6 – Chastening (Chapter XVII) and Trials (Chapter XVIII)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin
which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder
and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is
seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against
himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to
the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father
does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate
children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall
we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it
seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all
discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who
have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight
paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with
everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:1-14 ESV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing
in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and
blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the
purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we
have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which
he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his
purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven
and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose
of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ
might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your
salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance
until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV)
A most prolific cause of this condition of spiritual depression is the failure to realize that God uses varied
methods in the process of our sanctification…God’s great concern for us primarily is not our happiness but our
holiness. p. 235
“Look at the things you are suffering,” says the writer. “Why are you suffering them?” The answer is that they
are suffering these things because they are children of God. He tells them that God is doing these things to
them for their good – “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” p.
Once God starts working He goes on with that work – “He that hath begun a good work in you will perform it
until the day of Jesus Christ.” …God has an ultimate objective and purpose for them and that is that they might
spend eternity with Him in glory. p. 236
…If therefore, we will not be obedient to the positive lessons and instructions in God’s Word, we must not be
surprised if other things begin to happen to us…We have to examine ourselves to find out whether we are
experiencing this at all, because he says here quite definitely, that if we have no experience of this kind of
treatment, then it is very doubtful whether we are children at all…Far from being annoyed with the process, we
ought to thank God for it for He is giving us proof that we are His children, he is treating us as His children, He
is punishing and chastising us in order to make us conform to the pattern and to be worthy of Him who is our
Father. pp. 236-237
What is chastisement – it means to train…it is the method of training a child…includes correction, but it also
includes instruction; it includes rebuke…may include a good deal punishment, but the essential thing is, to train
and develop the child so as to produce a grown person. p. 238
How does God chastise His children?...largely through circumstances…their purpose is to produce our
sanctification…we should therefore be observant and always watching for lessons, seeking and asking questions.
p. 238
Examples – financial loss, health, persecution, God’s withdrawing His face for a time pp. 238-241
…that all the suffering and the enduring and all the unhappiness is with this great end and object in view,
namely, our preparation and our training…that we might become partakers of His holiness. p. 241
Perhaps I can sum it all up by saying that it is the terrible danger of forgetting God and not seeking Him and His
fellowship.. It is the awful danger of thinking of ourselves in terms of experience, rather than constantly in terms
of our direct immediate knowledge of Him and our relationship to Him. As we go on year by year, in the
Christian life we ought to be able to say that we know God better than we used to, we should be able to say
that we love Him more than we once did. The more you know any good person the more you like such a
person, the more you love such a person. Multiply that by infinity and there is your relationship and mine to
God. pp. 242-243
We all have to be humbled in order to arrive at humility. P. 244
We so cling to the world that God has to do something which shows us very clearly that the things that bind us
to this world are fragile and can be snapped in a second. And so we are suddenly awakened to the fact that we
are only pilgrims in this world, and we are made to think of heaven and of eternity. p. 245
The mere fact that we are chastised does not mean that, of necessity, we are going to benefit by it. The writer’s
argument is that it is only as we understand this teaching concerning chastisement, and apply it to ourselves
properly and truly, that we shall derive any benefit from it. p. 248
The Bible does not teach that everything everyone suffers is sent from God; the teaching is that illness may be
sent by God and that God does chastise us sometimes by means of illness as well as by those various other
circumstances. p. 248
…learn to behave as sons and not as infants…when we are children we always think we are being dealt with
harshly, that it is most unfair of our parent and that we do not deserve it…remember the word of
exhortation…When anything goes wrong in the life of the non-Christian what has he to fall back upon? He has
nothing but worldly wisdom and the way in which the world reacts and that does not help. The Christian,
however is in an entirely different position. He has the Bible, and he should at once take any circumstance and
put it right into this context…we must listen to and follow the arguments of the Word of God…the Word of God
does not merely give us general comfort, what it gives us always is an argument..we must follow the logic of it,
and bring intelligence to the Scriptures…follow the argument; let them reason it out with you…The great
argument is that it is God who is doing this, and God is doing it to you because you are His child… pp. 251-253
We say: “God is in this and God is doing this to me because I am His child, because I do not belong to the
world, because He sent His Son to die for me and has destined me for heaven. God is in this, and it is all being
done for my good. p. 253
The secret is all in this phrase “exercised thereby”. The only people who are going to derive benefit from the
treatment, says this man, are those who carry out the exercise – those who are exercised thereby, those who
submit to God’s treatment. If you shake it off, the treatment will do you no good; if you faint under it, it will do
you no good; if you become bitter, it will do you no good. It only does you good if you submit to the process. p.
God, says this man, by doing the things that He is doing to you, is as it were putting you into that spiritual
gymnasium. He has you stripped, He is examining you, He knows exactly what you need. Now all you have to
do is to submit to Him and do exactly what He tells you. Listen to the Instructor, go through the exercises, and if
you do so it will give you the peaceable fruit of righteousness. p. 255
“And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be
healed…It means that, having done all we have considered, we just say to ourselves: “Yes, I have gone astray, I
must come back to the straight and narrow road.” So we map out again the way of holiness, we come back to
the highway of God, we realize once more, the need of discipline, we decide to stop doing certain things, we
make a straight path for our feet. And then as we walk again along this road of holiness we will find that our
feeble knees are being strengthened and the whole of our system braced up as by a tonic. p. 257
Yearn after holiness with all our might until we have it. p. 257
If we really want to go on to God and heaven we must submit and do exactly what He tells us, because He is
putting us through all this treatment in order to promote our holiness. It is all for our profit and that we may
become sharers and partakers of His own holiness. p. 258
So when you feel that the discipline is too much and that it is very painful…look unto Him, keep looking at
Him and follow Him. And certainly as we do so we shall find that this which for the moment is so painful and
grievous will afterward yield, even in this life and world, and still more in glory, this wonderful fruit of health
and righteousness, of peace and of the enjoyment of God…there is nothing that gives me greater comfort and
greater solace than this, to know that I am in God’s hands, and that He so loves me and is so determined upon
my holiness and upon bringing me to heaven, that if I do not listen to His Word and follow it, He will deal with
me in another way. He is going to bring me there. It is alarming, but it is also glorious. p. 259
Nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Next week: Chapters XIX (The Peace of God), XX (Learning to Be Content) and XXI (The Final Cure)