Knowing how to handle yourself is the key to spiritual living

One week ago I started reading a book I’ve owned for several years now, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, and my previous blog post was about that event.  I tend to occasionally start reading a book somewhere in the middle, and then if I feel like the book is worth the time and effort, I go back to the beginning and read the whole thing.  Such is the case with this book.

Spiritual Depression is actually a series of twenty-one sermons that Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached in the early 1960s on the subject, and I’d wager that almost anyone could benefit from reading through these sermons.  Lloyd-Jones was one of the best, and I’ve rarely been unchanged from reading his words or hearing him preach.  Not only for that reason, but this is a topic that any honest person will admit that they wrestle with: after all, life is not a constant bed of roses for anyone.

So this morning I returned to the beginning of the book and read through the first chapter/sermon, and thought that I should reproduce one of the final paragraphs from this chapter.  Lloyd-Jones used the King James (or Authorized Version, as he called it, though he wasn’t happy with that fact – that’s what he had to work with at the time), and I’m going to substitute the ESV for the KJV in this quote.  This particular sermon is an exposition of Psalm 42, and when he says “this man” in the following paragraph, he’s referring to the author of this Psalm.

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself.  You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself.  You must say to your soul: “Why are you cast down” — what business have you to be disquieted?  You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope in God” — instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way.  And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.  Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.”

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