still rejoicing Philippians 4:4

June 8, 2017

if you struggle with frequent depression, you should get a medical checkup, since it can be due to physiological causes. Also, you may need personal counsel from a mature Christian who can help you apply Scripture to your situation. Avoid anyone who mingles the Bible with psychology. The joy Paul is exhorting us to is decidedly not the kind of joy the world offers through psychological insights. Over 50 years ago, Martyn Lloyd-Jones commented on this verse, (Philippians 4:4)“… there is perhaps no greater travesty of the gospel of Jesus Christ than psychological teaching which presents itself in Christian terms” (The Life of Peace [Baker], p. 146). It is joy in the Lord, joy that comes from the very life and power of God operating in the believer, not through some supposed insights into your unconscious mind or how your parents treated you.

Every believer must learn to apply the biblical principles I am going to enumerate.

  1. MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE IN A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THROUGH SAVING FAITH IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.

As we saw in chapter 3, where Paul first exhorts us to rejoice in the Lord (3:1), many who claim to be Christians are not relying only upon Christ and His shed blood for salvation, but rather are trusting in themselves (3:2, 4-6). Paul explains how he had to come to the point of counting everything of himself to be a total loss so that he could be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of his own derived from keeping the Law, but rather that which comes from God through faith in Christ. Martyn Lloyd-Jones observed, “There are many people who never know the joy of the Lord because they have failed to see themselves as miserable sinners. The only way to be happy in Christ is to be desperately unhappy without him” (ibid., p. 148).

  1. WALK IN SUBMISSION TO THE SOVEREIGN SPIRIT OF GOD.

In Galatians 5:16 Paul says, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” He goes on to catalog some sins that characterize the flesh. There is a direct correlation between many of those sins and depression. Then Paul lists the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). To walk by the Spirit means to live in moment-by-moment submission to the indwelling Holy Spirit, saying no to self and yes to the Lord. It means to trust in the sufficiency and power of the Spirit because you distrust your own ability (see Prov. 3:5). As we learn to walk by the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, including joy, will grow in our lives.

The words “walk” and “fruit” imply a process, not something instantaneous. If you have spent your life walking in the flesh, it may take some time before you experience steady joy in the Lord. Also, walking in the Spirit is a deliberate process that involves putting self to death and submitting to the sovereign God. This means confronting your anger, because anger usually stems from not submitting to God’s sovereign dealings in your life. A crucified self doesn’t shake its fist in God’s face, saying, “I don’t like what You did to me when I was a child (or, what You’re doing to me right now)!” Anger and depression often go together (Gen. 4:6-7; Jonah 4:1-4). So if you want God’s abiding joy, you’ve got to walk in submission to His sovereign Spirit.

  1. VIEW YOUR TRIALS THROUGH THE LENS OF SCRIPTURE.

Paul was going through some pretty intense trials and could easily have become depressed. Instead, he had abundant joy because he viewed his trials in light of God’s Word. He submitted to God’s sovereignty over his imprisonment (1:12-14), over the preachers who were trying to cause him distress in his imprisonment (1:17), and even over his possible impending execution (1:20). He was living for the gospel, to proclaim Christ in every way (Phil. 1:18). He knew that when he died, he would be with Christ for eternity, so he could write, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (1:21).

Many Christians get depressed because they do not understand God’s purpose in trials or they do not mentally deal with their trials in the light of God’s Word. Often it can start with a simple disappointment–something you hoped would happen didn’t happen. Someone you were counting on let you down. A situation you were hoping and praying for did not come about. If you don’t consciously yield your disappointment to the Lord and thank Him by faith, trusting in His sovereign love, you can slip into depression. Satan often comes to you in a moment of disappointment and tempts you to doubt God’s loving care. Peter tells us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, casting our cares on Him, and to resist the devil, firm in our faith, in such times of trial (1 Pet. 5:5-11).

  1. DEAL PROPERLY WITH RELATIONAL CONFLICTS.

The verses before and after verse 4 deal with proper relationships. If we have wronged others and have not done all we can to make it right, we will not have joy in the Lord. If we humble ourselves and go to our brother or sister and ask their forgiveness, we will be flooded with God’s joy. It’s no accident that love precedes joy in the list of the fruit of the Spirit.

  1. SING PRAISES TO GOD.

I have not validated it, but I’ve heard that the most frequent command in the Bible is, “Sing!” You may be thinking, “Singing is the last thing I feel like doing when I’m depressed.” Well, where did you ever get the idea that the Christian life is living by our feelings? God doesn’t need to command us to do what we already feel like doing. It’s no accident that the longest book in the Bible is a hymn book. When you’ve feeling down, turn to the Psalms and create your own tunes to the words. Put on some praise music, or get out a hymnal and get alone and begin to sing to the Lord. Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn (Ps. 118) as they went out to Gethsemane (Matt. 26:30). Paul and Silas sang in the Philippian jail (Acts 16:25). “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).

  1. SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS.

(See Ps. 100:2.) Quite often people who lack joy are not involved in serving Christ. As we’ve seen in Philippians, Paul had great joy even in facing execution because he was living for the gospel (1:12-20). Get your focus off yourself and your problems and on to what God wants you to do for the furtherance of the gospel. There is great joy in seeing others trust Christ as Savior (Luke 15:5-7, 9-10, 32; Acts 8:8; 15:3); and, in seeing them stand firm in the Lord (Phil. 2:2; 1 Thess. 2:19-20; 3:9; 3 John 4). A Christian woman once told me that she had been depressed every day of her life. She had been going to psychologists for years, to no avail. I finally asked her, “What’s your ministry? God has gifted you to serve Him. How are you doing that?” She was dumbfounded. She said, “I’ve never thought about that.” She was consumed with self. If you want joy, get your eyes off yourself and on to how God wants you to serve Him.

  1. FOCUS YOUR MIND DAILY ON THE LORD AND THE THINGS HE HAS PROMISED US IN CHRIST.

This joy is in the Lord and we are in Christ! Daily meditate on the cross of Christ and all the riches that are ours through His death. Think on the fact that you are risen with Him, seated in the heavenlies, with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3; Col. 3:1-4). Revel in His abundant grace that is greater than all our sins. Marvel at His sovereign grace that chose you before the foundation of the world in Him, that predestined you to adoption as His son or daughter (Eph. 1:4, 5) and that will “keep you from stumbling” and will “make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24). The Philippian jailer went from being suicidal to rejoicing greatly because of his salvation (Acts 16:27, 34). How can you be depressed if you are focusing daily on the marvelous grace shown to you in Christ?

  1. LIVE BY FAITH, NOT BY FEELINGS.

The Christian life is a walk of faith, of trusting in things not seen, not of “getting in touch with your feelings.” Peter wrote to Christians going through intense trials, “… though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:8). Or, as Paul wrote, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

  1. each morning start the day with your grateful list, this is the real appreciation of the basics; “I’m grateful I have a roof over my head,” and “I’m grateful that I can see and hear, taste and touch,” “I’m grateful Lord for my spouse.” You will find this list will grow longer and longer as you change your focus.

  2. get the bible on cd or on your phone, and stop listening to secular music and stop watching tv shows that glorify living in sin.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

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