Sin and Depression


“Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry?  And why has your countenance fallen?
If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it,”
   Genesis 4:6-7.

For one’s “countenance to fall” is used biblically to describe depression.  Depression is the tendency to see things from a dark or gloomy perspective.  This problem is growing dramatically in our times.  It is consistently found as a root problem of those who commit serious violent crimes and mass murders.  As we will see in this chapter, it also led to Cain killing his brother Abel.

Those who suffer from depression are not all potential murderers.  Most people deal with this problem in a non-aggressive, internal way.  However, for those who turn inward, it leads to the destruction of their own personality, and in the more extreme cases, suicide.

God gives the remedy to depression in the above verses.  It is so simple that most cannot accept it.  Some, including many schools of psychology, would even say that it was the Lord’s rejection of Cain that led to his depression, but that is a superficial understanding of the problem.  If the Lord had accepted Cain’s offering, it would have hardened him in his self-righteousness.  The Lord had to reject his sacrifice to correct Cain’s perspective in a way that could lead to his salvation.

Rejection is always hard to take, but it is good for us and needful if we are doing something wrong.  Rejection is a factor that can lead to the greatest breakthroughs in our lives.  It is hard to find a single person in history who accomplished anything of significance who did not suffer a major rejection or failure in their lives.  Rejection will either make us bitter or better, which is basically what the Lord said to Cain.

As the Lord explained to Cain, the way to be delivered from our depression is not by having someone accept us the way we are, but by someone loving us enough to correct us so that we can do what is right.  With the exception of chemically induced depression, it will almost always be the result of us doing something wrong, or by failing to do what we know is right.  The way out of the depression is what the Lord told Cain — start doing what is right.

Modern psychology and psychoanalysis have tried to relieve people from depression by attacking moral standards which they believe are unrealistic for people to try to live by.  This is a basic attempt to change what we believe to be right and wrong.  In some ways, this is understandable because religious men and women have often added to God’s Word, and imposed a legalism that is destructive to the human personality.  However, sin is sin and we can say that it is not sin, but the Lord placed a conscience in us that knows intuitively that it is.  The more we try to rationalize it, the more depression will take root in our lives, just as Cain was warned.  The only way out of this depression is to repent of the sin and start doing what is right.

It is noteworthy that the Lord did not tell Cain to stop doing what is wrong, but to simply “do right.”  Legalists will focus on getting people to stop doing what is wrong, but the Lord emphasized the positive, doing what is right.  As Jesus taught us, loving God and our neighbors is the fulfillment of the Law.  In this way, the positives that we do through love will automatically keep us from doing what is wrong.  For example, if we love God, we will not worship idols.  If we love our neighbors, we will not steal from them, envy what is theirs, or murder them.  The simple way out of depression is to start doing what is right, in love.

Depression and the resulting suicide and murder is becoming epidemic among today’s youth.  It is interesting that these problems seem to have not even existed before the child labor laws were instituted.  Certainly there was a need to protect children from the abuses some suffered during those times.  However, these laws went to an extreme that actually released even more serious problems upon the youth.  They destroyed the important institutions of apprenticeship that enabled children to learn responsibility and engage in meaningful employment during the years when they most need focus, purpose, and responsibility.

As the proverb states, “Idleness is the devil’s workshop,” and he has certainly used the idleness of youth that was forced upon them with these laws.  Therefore, we must redouble our efforts as parents to give our children meaningful duties and responsibilities, especially during puberty.  What are now their worst years can be their best years if they learn to “do right.”  If they are positively employed, depression will seldom find a door into their lives.


~ Pastor Rick Joyner

Rick JoynerPastor Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church.

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