Part 2 – Understand Footholds And Strongholds for VICTORY OVER DEPRESSION
This is how I saw the truth and then permitted Jesus to give me the victory that He had already won through His death and resurrection. It was very painful for me and took a lengthy period of time to learn. But I assure you: it is well worth it.
When one is very depressed, you basically have no mental strength to fight spiritually. The majority of spiritual warfare is fought in the mind. What you permit your mind to focus on and believe will determine the amount of spiritual victory you obtain. Therefore, you must frequently ask yourself the following questions everyday:
• What will you permit your mind to focus on?
• Will you permit the Holy Spirit to direct you to God’s love or will you permit the devil and your flesh to lead you into sin when temptation occurs?
Victory over depression is won in your mind. You either learn to think God’s way (under the influence of the Holy Spirit) or your flesh way (under the influence of Satan). God will never force you to make the choice. He will only gently lead you to His Son Jesus. He respects your free will. It certainly is a daily, spiritual battle in the mind.
Satan had created a stronghold in my family for at least five years. Chaos, destruction, and fear now became the norm in my family. Since I was spiritually and mentally depressed, there was no way I was even close to being ready to deal directly with my family’s problems. I had enough difficulty just dealing with my own. I only retreated within, into very deeper depression. Tears and fears were frequently experienced everyday. I was losing the spiritual battle of the mind because I did not know how to fight spiritually. I made it more of a formula than a relationship. I prayed often. I read the Bible daily and memorized many Scriptures. I confessed my sins everyday. Yet, my life was in turmoil. “What is happening, Lord? Why?” However, I was soon to see the truth of being alive in Christ. God will always answer a sincere prayer from the heart. Luke 11:9-13 “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will be give him a stone? Or if he ask for a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?”
Unfortunately, today many Christians treat spiritual warfare the same way. I certainly did – by making it a formula. They have little or no idea how to live in spiritual victory everyday. They believe it is to stir up emotions and aggressively make commitments to defeat Satan and his strongholds. They get whooped up in a frenzy to do their best for God, basically in their own self-effort. Nothing could be further from the truth. Only with Jesus performing God’s work through the Christian will victory ever be attained.
Romans 5:10 “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
This Bible verse opened my mind to the truth I desperately needed to hear. The word life kept jumping off the page every time I read this verse. The Lord was saying to me, “BOB, YOU ARE SAVED. I RESIDE IN YOU, BUT YOU ARE STILL LIVING AS THOUGH YOU ARE DEAD. In Me you are alive. Let Me live My life through you. I am the only one the Father qualifies to be the Christian in you.”
To summarize, God was showing me I was only living ½ the gospel. My basic understanding of salvation was Jesus died for my sins. Yes, I understood very well that He had a special place reserved for me in heaven. (John 14:1-4 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”) However, I thought that between the time Jesus saved me in 1979 and until He returns (or I physically die), I had to live the Christian life on my own. I had to behave properly (to not sin) in order to please God so He would accept me. (I have since learned that the majority of Christians live the Christian life with this same, erroneous mindset. How about you? How much of your Christian walk and behavior is done to please God so He would accept you?)
This mindset of how to live the Christian life is an exercise in futility. It is all done in self-effort. It is only a satanic trap to sidetrack our intimate love walk with Jesus. You may be victorious in some areas, but, it will be short-lived because it has only very shallow roots in flesh. I knew what it takes to become a Christian. But, I had no idea how to be the Christian I had become. That was all now about to change.
I knew what it takes to become a Christian.
I had no idea how to be the Christian I had become.
Jesus very quickly began to teach me the second ½ of the gospel – His resurrected life as God living through me. Suddenly, I became so aware that I had two natures (one evil and one good) residing in me. Now I realized that a daily choice (in my mind) was to be made as to which nature would control me. I now became more confidently aware that His life was truly my new life. His life and His love were very gently drawing me to Him within me. I was becoming convinced of the reality of my two natures. This knowledge was a core belief and foundation that was essential to having complete victory over my depression.
God began exposing me to excellent Christian literature, teachings, and tapes that clearly expressed the reality of my new identity. As I kept exposing myself to this, Bible verses I knew by memory started making sense. Bible verses about life suddenly connected even more. It was like finally putting the puzzle of my life together. For example, throughout the gospel of John, Jesus speaks repeatedly about life. Why? He wants us to clearly understand that (1) we are born spiritually dead and (2) a spiritually dead person needs spiritual life. It could only be His life spiritually because Jesus is the only man since Adam born with the spiritual life of God in Him. It was the life of God in Him as man. Therefore, since sin could not kill Jesus spiritually, He could lay down His life for us. Reflect often on this Scripture verse from earlier chapters that reflect on this “life and death” scenario. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Now I had a clearer and fuller understanding of salvation. It involves two parts:
1. The death of Jesus to destroy the disease (sin) that killed me.
2. The resurrection of Jesus to restore God’s life back to my spiritually dead body.
(Personal note: do you now see how easy it is to love and praise God when you understand the full gospel of salvation?)
to be continued…Part 3