This is the third installment in our series on depression. In the previous two articles, I looked at biblical examples of mild, moderate, and severe depression. Now, we will examine the first of three reasons why people get depressed.
The first cause of depression is unconfessed sin. What is sin? The Apostle John writes, “sin is lawlessness” (1 Jn 3:4). God has a perfect holy standard. It is summarized in The Ten Commandments. When we break one of the commandments—lying for example—then we are lawbreakers. We have sinned. When a person does not confess the sin, despite the guilt on their conscience, it can lead to more sinful responses which results in depression.
Here are two examples from the Bible. First, King David—the man after God’s own heart—committed a trifecta of sins. He had an affair with Bathsheba, had her husband killed in battle, and covered it up from the nation. For several months, David lived without confessing his evil deeds. God eventually used the prophet Nathan to expose David’s iniquity. The king wrote Psalm 32 in the aftermath. Verses 3 and 4 describe his depression: “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” David felt the burden of his unconfessed sin. Instead of responding with repentance, he continued to have a hard heart and lived in a depressed state.
Our second example comes from the book of Jonah. God commanded Jonah to go preach a message of judgment to Nineveh. Jonah rebelled by fleeing on a ship in the opposite direction. God shook the ship with a storm, so the sailors threw Jonah overboard. God rescued him through the belly of a big fish. Jonah repented and preached a message of judgment if the people did not repent. The people responded with revival and begged for God’s mercy. How did Jonah respond? He became angry and asked God to kill him. Why? He did not want God to show mercy and forgiveness to the Assyrians. He, therefore, reacted to God’s free grace by choosing to become depressed.
What unconfessed sins do people commit today? A man commits adultery while on a business trip and does not tell his wife. A woman embezzles money from her employer. A young man becomes addicted to pornography. A young woman joins the sex industry to make more money. A middle-age, able-bodied man chooses to stay at home and not work and defaults on his child care payments. A family skips church Sunday after Sunday to worship Jr’s baseball career. Another family has thousands of dollars of credit card debt and car payments, because they worship material possessions and their peers’ approval. The recipe for unconfessed sin is never ending.
How should a person respond? The depressed person must repent of his sin and seek forgiveness in Jesus Christ. After Nathan confronted the king, David confessed his sins. He wrote, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (Ps. 51:3). He acknowledged his sin before God. David had transgressed God’s law and had hurt Bathsheba, her husband, and the nation. He then believed the promises of God for forgiveness. He said, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Ps. 51:7). In Psalm 103:12, David taught about God’s abundant forgiveness, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”
Final and complete forgiveness can only be found in Christ. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Only through confessing Christ as Savior and Lord can you find complete cleansing. Many people try to earn salvation through faith and religious deeds. However, this will lead to a greater burden and no salvation. Jesus died on the cross and said, “It is finished.” If you confess your sins to Him, you will have eternal life and be cleansed.
After being reconciled to God through the Son, a person must replace his sinful habits with godly ones. Ephesians 4:22-24 gives three action steps. First, put off the old self. If you are a habitual liar, then stop lying. Second, renew your mind according to God’s Word. Study what God has to say about liars, their punishment, and his hatred for it. Third, put on the new self. Replace the sinful habit of lying by telling the truth.
Friend, if you are depressed, there is still hope. Paul wrote in Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Hope is found in the Word of God. Changing your circumstances, a magic pill, or death will not bring relief. If you are still breathing, then you have hope today. It is found in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became flesh, so that we who are sinners could have eternal, unfading hope.
Next week, we will examine the second cause of depression.
Brandon was born and raised near Springfield, IL. He graduated from Illinois College in 2007 with a B.A. in History and from Moody Theological Seminary in 2010 with a Master of Divinity. He is a PhD student in Historical Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City and an ACBC certified Biblical counselor. In April 2016 Brandon accepted the call to pastor at Faith Baptist. He loves history and reading and has a heart for street preaching and evangelism.