Paul's Passing Thoughts

Depression: My Testimony

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 14, 2016

Paul and SusanPart 2 on depression, and program 4 of our sanctification series. Paul will share his own testimony regarding depression as an unbeliever and believer. The testimony segment of the live program is posted below. Call in and comment or ask a question. Here is the live link for tonight’s program: Thursday night, January 14 @ 7pm

My story starts with fear of something that I was terrified of that was out of my control. It is a testimony of choosing death unto death. I was tricked into choosing a major death decision among many other death decisions. It starts with the importance of properly defining words. This is so very ironic that my story starts as an unbeliever 43 years ago with a major theme of this ministry today: the utter importance of properly defining words. Those who define words define reality and how you live in it; let me strongly suggest that you let God define the words that define life. We are talking about the historical grammatical interpretation of reality. Words mean things that determine life and death. No mass grave has ever been filled without the issue of realty present. No adult person laying in a mass grave is guiltless of letting others define reality and the meaning of words for them. It is also a pity that children die with them. If for no other reason, think for yourself because of our children.

This is the beginning of my testimony, and it starts with fear. As a rebellious teen, I chose my life and death carefully. I didn’t want too much death, just enough to have fun and fulfill my lustful desires without ending up dead. Of course, I didn’t have enough information to frame it that way at the time, but that’s how I functioned. Those who want to control you care little about what you understand, how you function is what they are after. That’s why you must define words for yourself. Never let anyone tell you what a word means—you must understand it in your own mind.

So, as far as taking LSD, that was too much death for me. I made sure I stayed with Death Lite. Therefore, I took a drug called “Window Pane” that was a lesser hallucinogen than LSD. I didn’t want to see monsters and stuff like that; too much death. I just wanted to see fluid running through the veins of leaves and wall paint dancing. But herein is the huge problem: Window Pane is LSD—they just changed the name. I chose a death that I would not have ordinarily chosen; I let others define the word for me, and the result was a death that I didn’t see coming.

I had an absolutely horrible “bad trip.” I was riding in a car tripping with friends and was in a trance for an undetermined amount of time. I came out of the trance upon some kind of physiological trauma experienced with vomiting colors out of my mouth. As I yelled while lurching forward, clouds of colors came out of my mouth. I suspect my heart momentarily stopped or something of the sort. My friends were delighted and wanted to know, “What did you see?! What did you see?!”

After that, I went into some sort of anxiety frenzy that had me walking and walking the same day well into the night until the trip ended. I think maybe I knew that I nearly died. Well, my drug days were over at that point and I stuck with safer death like alcohol and marijuana. Then things get even more ironic. I wasn’t aware that LSD use could lead to flashbacks. Someone handed me one of those Jack Chick-like cartoon tracks with the various and sundry narratives (chick.com). This particular one was a story of a girl who used LSD, became a Christian, and later died from an LSD flashback. I wasn’t aware that one could have LSD flashbacks. Funny, the track didn’t have its intended impact, I didn’t think, “Oh, I will become a Christian just in case I have a flashback and die.” No, I focused on the fact that I could possibly re-experience that fateful day without any warning. Of course, like most religious stupidity, the track exaggerated the flashback experience by stating that one could die as a result of a LSD flashback which is highly improbable, but I was focused on the fear of having that horrible experience again. This began my long journey of a life dictated by fear.

Why didn’t I then go to an expert to see if flashbacks could be prevented some how, or at least dealt with some way in case I had one? The answer to this is simple: experts are adults, and I didn’t want to reveal that I had taken LSD. My fear escalated into anxiety attacks and hyper-ventilation which also feel like near death experiences. Add more fear. I ended up being taken to a doctor by my grandmother who diagnosed me with an “anxiety disorder,” which “runs in the family.” Listen, in the vast majority of adolescent severe anxiety problems complete with panic attacks, this is reality: it’s caused from death choices they have made. In this kingdom, anxiety is epidemic because of death choices—period. And you know what, we just might get into the death/life sanctification paradigm in this depression segment of our Christian living series. Sooner or later we are going to do it in this series, and we just might do it in this depression segment of the series.

The doctor prescribed anxiety medication, but I wouldn’t take it because the former bad trip experience was so horrific that I was afraid of any kind of medication. Also, because one of the pranks practiced by my friends was slipping drugs into other people’s drinks, I wouldn’t drink from any container that had escaped my monitoring for any length of time. This is an example of how particular fears can lead to all kinds of paranoid behavior deemed quirky by others: “The guy takes his beverage to the bathroom with him; gee, that’s strange.”

Next I want to talk about my first panic attack. I was riding around with some new friends that had not yet initiated me into their click with their favorite prank. There was a paved road that terminated into a gravel road, but at the point of termination, the gravel road elevated sharply. Driving towards it at night, it looked like you were headed straight into a concrete wall. Of course, they made sure I was riding in the front seat for the event. Well, the joke ended up being on them as I went into severe hyper-ventilation and ended up being taken to the hospital. See how the underlying fear of other things led to this? In addition, panic attacks are also very terrifying, so that was one more thing added to my life that I was afraid of. Add more fear. See how all of this leads to a downward spiral of paralyzing fear? Not only that, I was conditioning myself to react in fearful ways. In other words, we can habituate ourselves with fear to the point where fear becomes a way of life.

So where do we go next with this? As a young man, I continued to make death decisions. Between circa 1976 and 1982, I led a very promiscuous lifestyle. Then came the news that aids had been around since 1969, and could lay dormant for ten years! Nobody knew that during the disco 70’s when one-night “hook ups” where all the rage. Ooops. Again, due to bad information, I thought I was only choosing Death Lite. In my mind, it was likely that I had contracted it when the statistics were considered. Add more fear. See how this works? There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that my lifestyle, decisions, and compounding fear coupled with a guilty conscience to boot led up to my major depression. The anxiety came first, and the experts tell us that anxiety always walks side by side with depression. I could go on and on about how decision after decision led to more and more fear in my life.

However, when I got saved, it was a pretty dramatic transformation. And I will be honest with you, I think if someone could have sat down with me and explained what I know now about justification today, I don’t think fear would have ever crept back into my life. My salvation experience was so dramatic and accompanied by so much joy that I doubt I gave much thought to sin early on. But I began to become very troubled about remaining sin in my life.

I was totally dedicated to the idea that the Bible had all answers to life’s questions, I just couldn’t find the answers. I was really, really serious about being a Christian; that’s why I joined a Southern Baptist church and attended a Southern Baptist seminary. But then orthodoxy happened. There is no doubt in my mind that my conversion was genuine, but I joined up with a religion that keeps one under law; so, in regard to how I eventually began to function, I was no whit better off than my miserable former life. In fact, I might have been worse off.

Certainly, my Christian life had far less “big sin” than before I was a believer, but Protestantism calls for the “believer” to remain under the fear of condemnation—that’s just Protestant orthodoxy plain and simple. It has now become plain to me that fear of condemnation is what led me into depression as a believer. Also, condemnation is what empowers sin. To the degree that there is doubt that you are not under condemnation, the sin within can use that to provoke you to sin; the Bible is VERY clear on this. Then, condemning sin committed just gives more fodder for further condemnation; it’s just another downward spiral of fear and condemnation. Let’s note 1Corinthians 15:56-58 on this:

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God,who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

This passage is soooo major. First, what in the world does “the power of sin is the law” mean? This is the condemnation of the law—this is being under law. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he explains how the sin within uses the law (if it condemns) to provoke us to sin.

Romans7:7 –  What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment,deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

I don’t rightly understand the ins and outs of how this works, but the Bible is clear that the possibility of eternal condemnation empowers sin. Somehow, sin uses the possibility of eternal condemnation to create desires that tempt us to sin. This is why Christ came to end the law (Rom 10:4). And this is why men fear death; the judgment that follows. Hence, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” This is what is so important about a proper understanding of the new birth. The old us that was born under law and its condemnation literally dies with Christ, and we are now free to serve another master, not the Sin master:

Romans 7:4 – Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

This is the “Therefore” in 1Corinthians 15:58; we are now totally free to aggressively love God and others without fear of condemnation. And…

1John 4:18 – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected [or matured] in love.

Fear of condemnation provokes one to sin, leading to sin, and more and more condemnation and fear. Yet, Protestant orthodoxy calls for saints to remain under law and fear of its condemnation. The Protestant formula follows: Christ continues to cover our sin if we live by faith alone in the same gospel that saved us. Sin is not ended, it is only covered. And, don’t miss this…if we are not still under condemnation, well, what do we need Christ for? This very question is posed rhetorically as if you are an idiot if you think we are not still under condemnation. Well, if you no longer “need the gospel,” you have tossed Christ aside and moved on to “something else other than the gospel.” Come now, be honest, we hear this constantly among Churchians.

Hence, we can expect that depression is just as prevalent in the institutional church as it is in the world. We can also expect more sin in the church because of double temptation. The world is only tempted to sin by the law of conscience, Churchians are tempted by both. Moreover, the prescription according to Protestant orthodoxy for condemnation is a “return to the same grace that saved you.” The likes of Jerry Bridges call for a re-contemplation of the gospel rather than a change of behavior to deal with the condemnation that shouldn’t be their in the first place. What will this effect? It will bring about a “searing of the conscience with a hot iron.” True, Christians shouldn’t be under the condemnation of the law to begin with, and true, if you change behavior while under the law, that is works righteousness, or merely lesser wages for death, but this approach is a further regression from the truth and makes Christians just as indifferent to the law as unbelievers—they are not free to love the law and to use it for love—they are still enslaved to its condemnation. LOOK! This is NOT rocket science, this is EXACTLY why the church looks like what it does.

Consider the mentality that I had as a depressed Christian. Sure, I was a huge proponent of obedience, but I had a very uneasy relationship with it. Why? I never knew for certain that my obedience wasn’t for purposes of self-justification because of my Protestant single perspective on the law and sin. And in essence how can you? You can’t. Therefore, there is always going to be some level of condemnation in your life provoking sin and leading to more and more condemnation. And going to church adds to that, no? Sure it does; week after week you go there and hear about how terrible you are, and if you are under law—that’s probably true!

Listen to what I said to the elders who interviewed me because I joined a new church in the midst of my depression: “God is the last person I want to see right now.” What’s that? Right, that’s clearly fear of condemnation! When I began counseling with the pastor of that church, consider what I came to him with in regard to how I was dealing with the problem: “I read my Bible (contemplationism) for two hours today and prayed for three hours!” Note that while I deemed myself a proponent of obedience, in reality I was a functioning Christian mystic. When the pastor started instructing me to think differently and do things differently, I expressed my concern as to whether or not “obedience is curative.” He focused on teaching me to cling to the promises of God, and to obey, but we were both confused about obedience being love and not lesser condemnation. Sure, if you cling to the promises of God, and keep a clear conscience before Him, you are going to eventually come out of the depression, and that’s what happened to me eventually, but that’s just putting a Band-Aid on the symptoms. The real problem is condemnation with fear following. A person can reap the benefits of a clear conscience while still functioning as someone who is under some degree of condemnation, but with a proper understanding of justification, there is NOW…NO condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1).

No condemnation leads to less and less sin and more and more love. Love “covers a multitude of sin” and “fulfills the whole law.”

Protestant orthodoxy calls for the “Christian” to remain under condemnation of the law and its fear of condemnation. Martin Luther believed that all works performed by Christians need to be “attended with fear” [of condemnation]. John Calvin stated the same in no uncertain terms. In Protestantism, the catalyst for sanctification is fear of condemnation and a continued need for the same gospel that saved you. That is a root source of depression. The present-day biblical counseling movement produces mental illness through its own churchianity, and then cures it by teaching people to sear their consciences with a hot iron. Protestantism produces mental illness, and then presents itself as the cure.

Next week, we will examine concrete actions that one needs to take in order to have complete victory over major depression.

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One Response

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  1. Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on January 14, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    “Fear of condemnation provokes one to sin, leading to sin, and more and more condemnation and fear. Yet, Protestant orthodoxy calls for saints to remain under law and fear of its condemnation. The Protestant formula follows: Christ continues to cover our sin if we live by faith alone in the same gospel that saved us. Sin is not ended, it is only covered. And, don’t miss this…if we are not still under condemnation, well, what do we need Christ for? This very question is posed rhetorically as if you are an idiot if you think we are not still under condemnation. Well, if you no longer “need the gospel,” you have tossed Christ aside and moved on to “something else other than the gospel.” Come now, be honest, we hear this constantly among Churchians.”

    The fact of the matter is, that once we are born anew, then no, we in fact don’t need Christ any longer. At least not for the reasons that the “church” propose. If you accept the premise that Christ must keep the law for you, then yes indeed, you still “need” Christ, for it is in Christ that you maintain your salvation. But if you accept the truth – the premise that Christ ended the law – then your only need of Christ is that one time in your life when you believe the truth about who He is and what He did; that He ended the law, and you are justified by virtue of being a born again new creature that is truly righteous because you are now God’s offspring.

    In fact, Jesus Himself stated that he would send “another”, to be our “helper”. The Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that aids us in sanctification, NOT Jesus! Jesus’ role in our salvation ended the moment we believed.

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