Sheila Walsh, former co-host of The 700 Club, talks about her battle with depression and suicidal thoughts. She had forgotten her true identity as a daughter of the King of kings. Watch this10 minute video of her testimony of God’s grace in her ongoing battle with depression. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2FWqKuglFs&sns=em
Like Sheila, we must preach the truth of the gospel to ourselves or we will start believing lies about who we are. There are basically four voices trying to “speak” to us at any given time: 1) demonic voices of accusation or temptation to sin; 2) our flesh which condemns us or inflates our egos; 3) the world system (anti-God, lies and self-focus – “have it your way; you deserve a break today,” etc.; 4) God – “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27). God alone speaks the truth to us and is the Master Affirmer and the only One who can give us the Biblical virtue of self-acceptance. So unless we know His Word and listen to it above all the voices (this means to abide in Christ – John 15:5) we cannot experience unconditional love and acceptance and therefore cannot minister unconditional love and acceptance to others. Our emotional life which often operates unconsciously (buried feelings of past wounds and hurts, or present circumstances which anger or disappoint us, etc.) if not regularly processed with God (“cast your cares upon Me” – 1 Peter 5:7) will “speak” lies to us about ourselves and God. Our emotions can serve as good barometers (see Psalm 139:23-24) but are bad interpreters of truth unless we know God’s Word and “speak” it to ourselves. To hear God’s “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12) or still small voice (listening prayer) takes unhurried time alone with Him (solitude and silence) which is a greatly under-valued and under-practiced discipline. To encourage this discipline of listening prayer, I prepared the teaching that follows which is a brief summary from the writings of Leanne Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul, and Tim Keller’s document on Identifying our Idols. (See http://jamedders.com/heart-idols/) I recently added Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and Day by Day by Peter Scazzero. In this document I focus on four areas of Christ-likeness that can motivate us to on-going spiritual growth:
1. I am God’s beloved child in whom He delights. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6 NKJV) Because we are accepted in Christ, God says to us what He says to His Son Jesus. “This is my beloved Son (your name) in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) If and when we don’t believe this in our mind and our emotions, we will in some way try to perform and earn our self-worth or self-acceptance. Paul puts it this way: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)
2. I am God’s beloved child and delight in pleasing my heavenly Father. “For in my inner being (my “spirit-man”) I delight in God’s law.” (Romans 7:22) Jesus often said the same, i.e., that He delighted in obeying God. (Psalm 40:8; also see John 4:34; Hebrews 12:2) Romans 7:14-25 shows Paul having an identity crisis and he realized that going after things that would please the flesh (the un-transformed part of our soul – our mind, emotions and will) no longer pleased him. (See Hebrews 4:12-13 for the tripartite nature of man.) This is where the term Christian hedonism has been expressed in books by John Piper and others. In other words, we don’t just obey God out of duty but because it actually gives us pleasure to obey Him. Since we are in Christ we now have the same feelings that He does and find pleasure in pleasing God. If and when we don’t believe this we will seek worldly, temporal, sinful pleasure. “If we don’t find our joy and delight in knowing, loving, and obeying God, sin will remain powerfully appealing.” (John Piper) (See Romans 1:21-23, 25; 3:23.) Sin brings pleasure is the lie Satan used to deceive Eve. Adam and Eve had nothing but good and pleasure before the Fall but Satan deceived Eve by saying God was withholding greater pleasure. Too often we see God as a cosmic killjoy and grit our teeth and obey Him but deep down we wish we could have the forbidden fruit. But God knows it has poison in it and tells us to trust and obey Him and find the pure pleasure He wants us to have. James 1:14 says our fleshly desires are evil and the beginning point of sin and spiritual warfare. So as we are faced with temptation we must know who we are in Christ and that in our new, true self in Christ we find more pleasure in pleasing God than pleasing our old nature. Godly pleasures are not like the fleeting pleasure of sin that Moses speaks of in Hebrews 11:25 but are deeply satisfying pleasures and lasting pleasure.
3. I am God’s slave by identity and by choice. “Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living…. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God.” (Romans 6:18, 22) “When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10) “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8) Even though Jesus was/is God, in His humanity He never demanded His rights as God the Son. In fact, He did the very opposite and chose to be a slave of God even to the point of the shameful cross for our salvation. Jesus is not just the King of kings, He is the Servant of servants and He is the model for life under the authority of God. “For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” (See 1 Peter 1:19, 21) If and when I don’t believe this I will in some way or another feel “I deserve better” or “I don’t deserve this” etc. (Scripturally speaking the only thing we “deserve” is hell, for “the wages of sin is death,” eternal death. Romans 6:23) God is passionate in His love for us and passionate in His discipline of us so we will become His joyful servants/slaves just like Jesus was when he walked the earth. Jesus “learned (increasing) obedience through the things He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8) and our Father tells us to “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (See Hebrews 12:5-11)
4. As God’s beloved son in Christ “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) In the context here Paul is saying he can be content when he’s doing great exploits for God with great resources or he can be content when he is chained in a dungeon with only bread and water. “I can do all things (God’s will) through Christ (not in my own natural ability) Who gives (continually and as needed in the moment) me (the new me in Christ) the strength.” I can love and serve a difficult person, forgive my worst enemy, faithfully serve others through the gifts God has given me for their spiritual and eternal good. Thus we should never say to God (like Moses did and many others God called to serve Him), “I can’t do this.” God doesn’t want our (natural) ability, He wants our availability to use His supernatural ability through us. If I don’t believe this I will put limitations on what I think I can do and what I am willing to do for God. (Also see 2 Corinthians 12:7–10; 2 Corinthians 1:8–10; Galatians 2:20)
Unless we abide in these truths (John 15:5) we will, by default, begin to believe the lies of the false self promoted by the world, the devil, and our own flesh. We will have to continually fight the good fight of faith against these three strong enemies of our soul in order to grow more and more like Jesus but the good news is that it’s worth it now, it’s worth it for all eternity, it brings glory to God and spiritual blessings to us and to those we love and are called to serve.
God’s beloved children, Len and Kristen 🙂 🙂