How to Deal with Depression as a Christian
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~God
See Hebrews 13:5
Bear with me while I quote some terrible teaching:
“You’re depressed?! You just gotta have more faith! The reason why you feel like you do is because of your lack of faith! Name it and claim your healing! Speak to that spirit of depression! Your faith isn’t big enough, that’s why you’ve not received your deliverance!”
“You must have sin in your life! A true man or woman of God would never be depressed because they repent of all their sins daily! Repent and you’d stop feeling like you feel!”
“Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, boy! A strong man of God would never complain about feeling depression! This must be a sign that you’re not saved!”
“Depressed?! You just gotta have the Holy Ghost! If you had the Holy Ghost, He’d never let you feel sad! Speak in tongues so you can get Him!”
“You are depressed because God has left you! You sinned too much! You are living in sin and you’ve missed church for months! READ YOUR BIBLE AND SERVE GOD! No wonder you are depressed, it’s because you are of this world! You are getting what you deserve!”
…Fortunately, I had to stop myself from continuing to write such horrendous statements as these. I could easily continue. Why? Because I’ve heard all of them. This is called religious abuse and it is rampant in our churches. It’s no wonder so many people want nothing to do with church, and why they can’t stand Christians. I don’t blame them.
People are hurting. People are in pain. People are struggling. People are sad and depressed, Christians even. First of all, I want to say that not all churches teach such demonic doctrine. Some actually have the gospel correct and teach both parts:
- Believe Jesus has forgiven you, for free, and He actually does, once. (See John 1:12, Hebrews 10:10, Ephesians 2:8,9).
- When you believe Jesus has forgiven you, your old spirit dies, it is buried with Christ’s Spirit in the supernatural realm, and it is raised with Christ’s Spirit in the supernatural realm, instantly. Your spirit is then perfect just like Him, forever, because it is in Him. (See Romans 6:6, Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 1:22, 3:3, 1 Corinthians 6:19, Hebrews 10:14).
Christians have brand new spirits. That’s the gospel. We aren’t getting brand new spirits, we have brand new spirits while still in these physical bodies. Our flesh is not saved but our spirits are, and we are not of the flesh but of the spirit (see Romans 8:9). Our flesh will soon be discarded because it won’t be needed any longer. The only reason why you have it now is so that you can be a temporary part of this physical universe (see 2 Corinthians 5:1, Galatians 5:16).
Our spirits want what God wants and our flesh couldn’t care less about what He wants. It simply wants to satisfy its own desires which are aroused by the five senses and the power of sin (see Romans 7). Therefore, we must separate our who from our do. We could have really good looking fleshy sin–such as philanthropy and mission trips–and our spirits not be saved. And just the opposite, we could have really bad looking fleshy sin–such as prostitution and alcoholism–and our spirits be spotless. This is why a great divorce must happen in our mindsets before we can truly understand the gospel. Being a Christian is a noun not a verb.
You could have received your new spirit 45 years ago and just not realized it because of trash teaching by aggressive people who act like they have no self-control. Or, you could have received your new spirit yesterday and you don’t have any real education on who you are inside. Don’t worry, the Spirit of God in you will teach you who you are. Jesus explains that it is His Spirit who now guides us, not religious laws, commandments, or rules:
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
The Holy Spirit of Jesus teaches you and reminds you the truth of who you are! This is why gutter teaching will never match up with you. It’s because you don’t live in the gutter in the spiritual realm, so when someone talks to you that way, it will rub you wrong. Some people allow this to happen all their lives and they think it’s okay because it’s coming from a person on stage–IT’S NOT! IT’S NOT OKAY! YOU ARE ROYALTY! Don’t allow yourself to be talked to that way! Paul told the Christians in Ephesus who they have become:
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6)
This verse is past-tense. God is not raising us up, He has raised us up! We, right now, our spirits are sitting with Christ in heaven! And I need to correct myself here, because we are not just sitting with Christ, but in Christ! You’ve been immersed in the Trinity! You are now a part of God! That is, if you believe you are.
“But Matt, I don’t feel like I am.”
I know. I know it doesn’t always feel like it. Most of the time, we feel nothing. Although I do have to say, there are times when I feel God…when I feel heaven. It could be in my darkest hours, or during my most mundane tasks, or singing in worship–but I feel it. I feel my royalty and it is something very special.
But those feelings are few and far between. God didn’t create us to live according to our feelings, but instead, according to our knowing. There is no part in the Bible which speaks about feelings dictating our identity in Christ–but it does say all over the place, “Do you not know?” and “I write this so that you may know.” Feelings are a part of our soul. Our soul is not our spirit. Our spirit is our identity. This we know.
For this reason, depression can hit you at any moment in your soul. Feelings ebb and flow, they come and go like a breeze. Further, depression could also be coming from a physical issue in you, from your flesh. The chemical things happening in your flesh can’t be “faithed away” or “repented of”–IT’S IN YOUR BODY. So you might want to consider seeing a physician if you struggle with consistent depressed feelings, and shockingly, a medication might help you.
“Matt, you’re telling people they can’t be healed by God and that they need to pop pills!”
No, I’m not. God can do anything He wants. He can fix any physical ailment, obviously. He is causing our hearts to beat this very second, so if He wants to tweak the chemical make-up in our body, that is His prerogative. But sometimes He chooses not to fix what’s wrong for a better overall result for mankind. So, in that case, see a doctor. Pray, exercise, eat right, do everything the crisis demands, and see your doctor. There is nothing wrong with that.
“But Matt, I have a relative who is hooked on pills.”
I’m sorry to hear that. We shouldn’t be controlled by anything, this is why we need to listen to the Spirit’s guidance. He will never lead us into addiction, He will lead us into balance (see 1 Peter 5:8). I know all about addiction, it ruined my life as a child, and it almost killed me as an adult. But for those who don’t have a problem, sometimes a glass of red wine is healthy; and sometimes taking medication to balance out something that is off in your brain is wise. It’s not your fault.
Friends, depression is real. Chronic sadness is real. These things are not meant to be covered up with a Christian pep-rally or yelled at by an overbearing person at church–they should be brought to Dad. Talk to Him. Cry. Bawl your eyes out. Yell! FEEL! He wants you to. Don’t be afraid to feel the pain. It’s okay. But when you feel the pain, keep letting God know that you trust Him. Keep letting Him know that you want to understand more about who you are inside. Ignore the enemy when he tempts you to handle your depression in the wrong ways–YOU WEREN’T MADE FOR THAT. You were made for love, joy, and peace, not sin.
Give it time, give it truth, and soon enough you’ll be able to separate your feelings from your knowing. You know that you are more than okay with God, you know that He loves you exactly as you are, and you know that you are already seated in heaven with Him. No matter how you might feel today, this is the truth. Things will get better, but in the meantime, know that God is with you, arms wrapped around tight.
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for helping me with my feelings. Thank you for teaching me that my feelings don’t define me, you do. Thank you for being there for me, and for teaching me the truth about who I am inside. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. God, so many of them are in severe pain. Let them know you are with them. So many have been lied to by religious people who just don’t understand you, so please, reveal the truth. Your Spirit in them will never lead them to angst or stress, so when religion is used to hurt them, make your red flags obvious. Let the buzzer go off on the inside of them when the lies of Satan are coming from the pulpit. Teach them the truth about who they are, which is unconditionally loved, royal children. Even if they don’t feel like it right now, reassure them they are. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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