Dr Lloyd-Jones on Spiritual Depression

Having thus described [spiritual depression] in general we can now proceed to state some of the general causes of the condition. First and foremost I would hesitate to put – temperament. There are, after all, certain different types of people. I wonder whether anyone i surprised that I put this first? I wonder whether anybody wants to say: When you are talking about Christians you must not introduce temperament or types. Surely Christianity does away with all that, and you must not bring that kind of consideration into a matter like this? Now that is a very important objection and it must be answered. We begin by saying that temperament, psychology and make-up do not make the lightest difference in the matter of our salvation. That is, thank God, the very basis of our position as Christians. It does not matter what we are by temperament; we are all saved in the same way, by the same act of God in and through his Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This is our answer to psychology and to the criticism of Christianity that often results from a study of psychology. Let me make this clear. It does not matter what your background is, it does not matter what temperament you may happen to have been given in this world, all that does not make the slightest difference in the matter of salvation. We do not recognise such a thing as a ‘religious complex’.We glory in the fact that the history of the Church proves abundantly that every conceivable type of temperament has been found, and is still to be found today, in the Church of the living God. But while I emphasise, with all my being, the fact that temperament does not make the slightest different in the matter of our fundamental salvation, I am equally anxious to emphasise the fact that it does make a very great difference in actual experience in the Christian life, and that when you are trying to diagnose a condition such as that of spiritual depression, it is something with which yo should start, it is something to put at the very beginning.

In other words, as I understand Biblical teaching about this matter, there is nothing which is quite so important as that we should without delay, and as quickly as possible, get to know ourselves. For the fact of the matter is that though we are all Christians together, we are all different, and the problems and the difficulties, the perplexities and the trials that we are likely to meet are in a large measure determined by the difference of temperament and of type. We are all in the same fight, of course, as we share the same common salvation, and have the same common central need. But the manifestations of the trouble vary from case to case and from person to person. There is nothing more futile, when dealing with this condition, than to act on the assumption that all Christians are identical in every respect. They are not, and they are not even meant to be.

*****

Here, then, is the point at which we must always start. Do we know ourselves? Do we know our own particular danger? Do we know the thing to which we are particularly subject? The Bible is full of teaching about that. The Bible warns us to be careful about our strength and about our weakness. Take a man like Moses. He was the meekest man, we are told, the world has ever known; and yet his great sin, his great failure was in connection with that very thing. He asserted his own will, he became angry. We have to watch our strength and we have to watch our weakness. The essence of wisdom is to realise this fundamental thing about ourselves. If I am naturally an introvert I must always be careful about it, and I must warn myself against it least unconsciously slip into a condition of morbidity. The extrovert must in the same way know himself and be on his guard against the temptations peculiar to his nature. Some of us by nature, and by the very type to which we belong, are more given to this spiritual disease called spiritual depression than others. We belong to the same company as Jeremiah, and John the Baptist and Paul and Luther and many others. A great company! Yes, but you cannot belong to it without being unusually subject to this particular type of trial.

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