Monday, May 05, 2008

Spiritual Depression

Sunday morning, before the second service let out, I meandered through the hall into the bookstore. I like books, so there is no resisting the urge to just "look" at the titles on the shelf.

Like any prudent person, I look for the clearance books. Ah! $4. That's speaking my language.

Then I moseyed on over to the next shelf and the next, and the next, and so on. My eyes stopped at the Lloyd-Jones literature.

"Spiritual Depression" The title stuck out at me. I remember I had heard of the title, but the cover was unfamiliar. Probably updated. I bought the book because it was $5 cheaper than the Wells book near it. I bought it for reasons other than what it ended up serving.

As I opened the book, the refrain felt all too familiar. Like echoes down the hall of voices that were never quite discernible, but constantly audible, my own soul emerged from behind the eclipse of darkness.

The first chapter dealt with personalities, and said in a rather straightforward manner something like this: "Look. We all have different temperaments. The introverts and the extroverts are all prone to their respective maladies. But the introvert, if he isn't careful, can fall into spiritual depression, while the extrovert may find himself constantly battling the superficial." To be honest, I came to realize that I couldn't be certain which was worse, but that I was certainly the introvert, constantly examining myself and my ways.

Jones assures the reader that this is not a bad thing, self-examination, but that there must be a line drawn. If left looking at ourselves for too long, we can be drawn into a depression that makes us look nothing like the joyful Christians we ought to be.

So many questions and statements in the first chapter alone sounded all too familiar. Where was the joy?

The second chapter starts at the foundation. Salvation and assurance. I again saw the character of myself painted by his pen as one constantly looking to her ways, analyzing her actions, trying to do the right thing. But Jones brings the reader back to Romans chapters 1-4, reminding us that justification is by faith alone, and not by the works of the Law.

This caused me to think for a moment on the fundamentals. The book of Romans, a very thorough letter on doctrine, is in the Bible. It is not meant as an introductory course that one reads once and then moves on to Christianity 201, 301, 401 ad nauseum, never to be returned to again. We do not return to our second grade multiplication tables after we graduate high school. And I think that is how I viewed the fundamentals of the faith. Understand it; move on.

No, I do not think that was a wise view of scripture OR of the fundamentals of the faith. It is wiser to acknowledge my own shortcomings with my memory and my own frailty of soul, and to continue to go back to the fundamentals of Romans, the fundamental doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone. Indeed, I should be ready to lose my own life over that truth, so why was I finding myself personally waging war within my own soul over such a matter?

"Self," I concluded. "It's time to take yourself down a notch and remind yourself of justification by faith alone."


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