If you are a Christian who struggles with depression and/or anxiety, or if you know someone who does, this is for you. In my last post I wrote about learning to distinguish between God’s voice and those “other voices” we hear in our heads. You know, those accusing voices that taunt us despite our repentance saying, “You claim Christ but look at you . . . you are never going to change . . . you will never measure up to being a REAL Christian.” Sometimes those “other voices” can sound quite reasonable, justifying sin, even as we are inwardly convicted by God’s Spirit. Also, there are those angry, self-righteous voices that declare, “Enough! You don’t deserve to be treated this way!” as they urge us to hold on to bitterness and/or resentment.
To gain insight in discerning the difference between God’s voice and those “other voices”, I included several examples of God’s voice as our Shepherd to compare with those taunting, deceptive voices we hear in our heads. From James we learned that one of the distinguishing marks between God’s voice and those “other voices”, is that God does indeed test our faith (in order to strengthen and mature us), but He never tempts us to sin. When we are tempted, that is completely the voice of evil. (James 1:13,14)
This post will include insights into how to reduce some of the incessant “chatter” of those other voices that can rob us of the freedom won for us in Christ. (Galatians 5:1) They are personal insights, gained in my own battle with depression, that have also been helpful to others.
1. We all have a history of past sin; Christ Jesus is our only hope.
“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned . . . ,
how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace
and of the gift of righteousness reign in life
through the one man, Jesus Christ!
2. God convicts in order to draw us to Himself; He does not torment or abandon His children.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name,
He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
John 14:26, 27
3. So long as we live on this earth, there is an ongoing spiritual battle between God (who is Light) and evil (spiritual darkness). To forget or be naive about this makes us vulnerable. The Apostle Paul warned his friends in Ephesus with this admonition:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God,
so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world
and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
4. God will provide all that we need to do battle as we stay close to Him. It strikes me as ironic that in the battle against terrorism, the term “chatter” is used to refer to listening in on Internet conversations between known terrorist organizations to try to figure out where the next attack will be. In God’s “army”, we are to resist exposing ourselves to the “chatter” of the world as we draw nearer to God:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up
against the knowledge of God, and
WE TAKE CAPTIVE EVERY THOUGHT
TO MAKE IT OBEDIENT TO CHRIST.”
II Corinthians 10:3-5
5. The best way to resist evil, is to persist in offering praises to God. (James 4:7) I learned this years ago when I was tormented by thoughts that seemed to come out of nowhere. Initially I was horrified and embarrassed . . . waves of depression hit me hard. It was as I prayed, asking God to help me in my weakness, that it occurred to me that the last thing the evil one wanted to hear were praises to God–so that is what I started to do: “Thank you God that you love me; thank You that You died so that I might live to your Glory; thank You that my future is secure in Jesus . . . Lord take these unwanted thoughts away from me (clean out any lingering “garbage” that may be hiding)–that I might give You all honor, praise and glory.”
“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.
So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
6. Always assume the best of God, especially when we are hurt and life seems unfair. God’s purposes are always for our ultimate good–that we will be “mature and complete, not lacking in anything” when we meet Him face-to-face. (James 1:2-4) We find encouragement in the call of Jesus in Revelation 3:19-20,
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
The wisdom of John Newton offers blessing as we reflect on God’s voice as our source of light and hope vs the voices of darkness that seek to ensnare us:
“When we burden ourselves with our many sins, we are apt to overlook the very greatest of them–unbelief. For what can be a greater proof of stubbornness and pride than to dare to contradict the express Word of God. To say that He will not pardon when He declares He will; to persist in it that He will make differences when He assures us that He will make none . . . . Be thankful for the past and the present. Trials no less than comforts are the tokens of His love. ALL is regulated by infinite wisdom. You will find cause to praise Him, even for the severe.“* (Emphasis, mine.)
All to His Glory!
*Letters of John Newton, from The Banner of Truth Trust, written to the Rev. William Howell, pgs. 198 & 201.