Chapter 2: Symptoms
In the previous chapter we saw what depression is. In this chapter we see what depression looks like; what its symptoms are.

Someone said that while most of us love ourselves, not many of us like ourselves. This distinction between “like” and “love” is an accurate one. Self-love is not saying “I’m okay … I deserve this … I am nature’s greatest miracle!” Self-love is not self-acceptance; and it is certainly not the greatest love of all. It is, though, easy to achieve. It’s instinctive, in fact.

To love someone means to provide for what they need: food, shelter, and relationships, for example. Love, of self or others, doesn’t depend on how we feel, because love is not a feeling. Love is an action. (On the other hand, being in love is a feeling. [1]) We might know nothing about a person or everything about them. We might like them or be in love with them; we might despise them or have no feelings whatever for them. Whatever our feelings, love will provide what is best for them.

This is all self-love is. We know ourselves, warts and all: we might not like parts of our character, but we still love ourselves when we work to earn money for food and shelter. We love ourselves when we study or exercise, or when we seek to spend time with friends.

To hate ourselves means we don’t do these things: we don’t take care of ourselves. The symptoms below show how the person with depression hates themselves. We can group them in three categories: mental, emotional, and physical.

Mental Symptoms
As we grow up, we learn how other people and the objects around us act. How they behave causes us to form beliefs about life, the universe and everything. These beliefs form a mental pair of spectacles called our worldview. Our worldview affects how we think, act and interpret what we experience. When a person refuses to see anything negative around them, we say they’re seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses. On the other hand, the spectacles of depression are tinted grey: our world is coloured in shades of grey and gloom. We can’t see anything positive; not in our lives anyway.

There are six ways of thinking, six mental symptoms, which indicate a person is wearing the glasses of depression. These six ways are: generalising; labelling; negative self-talk; thinking in absolutes; accentuating the negative and eliminating the positive; and intrusive thoughts.

1. Generalising
“Call this an unfair generalisation if you will, but old people are no good at everything.”
~ Moe Syzlak, The Simpsons.

We generalise when we take an action that is part of a larger event, and make it part of who we are. We apply the cause of that action to ourselves. If I organise an event that turns out not as successful as I had hoped, we might normally say “That event was a failure.” But looking at the situation wearing the glasses of depression, we would think “Everything I do is a failure.”

Everyone makes mistakes. We all have accidents and lapses of concentration. The person with depression knows this too, but for us there is another conviction that attacks us, leaning on us to make the same responses. If we believe that we‘re stupid, we might do what we subconsciously know is stupid. Then, when the result turns out to be a mess, our belief (that we are stupid) is reinforced. This is a type of self-fulfilling prophecy: we predict we’ll fail, and we do. From this, we can believe that we have some control over our lives. We’re afraid that if our worldview (however unpleasant) proves to be wrong, then we can’t be certain about anything and we’ll be powerless, at the mercy of circumstance.

Many motivational sayings revolve around belief in our ability: “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” When we expect to fail, we won’t put in as much effort to what we do, whether it’s a job interview or cleaning the house. And we usually don’t succeed. The more we fail, the more we expect to fail. It is a vicious cycle that is difficult to escape.

2. Labelling
Sticks and stones might break our bones, but names can hurt us. A quote from “The Two Towers”, the second volume of The Lord of the Rings:

‘No food, no rest, nothing for Smeagol,’ said Gollum. ‘He’s a sneak.’ …
‘Don’t take names to yourself, Smeagol,’ said Frodo. ‘It’s unwise, whether they are true or false.’ [2]

Frodo’s advice was wise. Names have meaning: what parent doesn’t have a book of baby names with their meanings? Have you ever wondered what your family name means, and where it came from? In ancient times, your name identified your job or your character. If you worked with metal, you would be surnamed Smith. If you made barrels, you’d be called Cooper. If there were two children named Allan in your village, you’d take the name of your father. If his name was John, you’d be called Allan Johnson. Your name identified who you were or what you did.

Labelling is the second characteristic of Moe’s statement: “Old people are no good.” If a clear-thinking person drops a glass, they might think, “That was clumsy.” They consider the event as an isolated event, as an accident. But if a person with depression drops a glass, they would think “I am clumsy.” They attribute the action — dropping the glass — to something in themselves. The difference between generalisation and labelling is this: a generalisation is “Everything I do is a failure.” Its focus is what we do. A label is “I am a failure.” Its focus is who we are.

Labels reveal what we think of ourselves and others. If we’re told, “you are stupid”, it identifies us, just being told (for example) “You are a writer”, or “You are Nathan.” All three say something important about us; about who we are or what we do. When we’re young, we believe what our parents or teachers tell us: they’re big people, they know what’s true. They couldn’t be wrong. We want them to love us and be proud of us, so we do what they say. If they tell us that we’re clumsy, we might unconsciously become clumsy, to fulfil our assigned role. If that means being clumsy, stupid, selfish or useless, then that’s what we’ll be. At least this way, we belong: we have a sense of being needed. Like generalisations, labels can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

3. Absolutes
Absolutes are a question of degree: it’s all or nothing, black or white; there are no in-betweens, no shades of grey. Depression takes us to only one absolute: the negative. Some key words to identify absolutes are: “always”, “never”, “no-one”, “everyone”; “I never do anything right”; “I always screw things up”; “I’m completely useless.” Absolutes don’t apply just to who we are or what we do: they take a generalisation and apply it to all of life. “There’s no point in doing anything”; “life just sucks”; “men are bastards”; “nobody loves me, everybody hates me.”

Side box. Separating the strands of illogic.
It can be difficult to separate these three kinds of illogic. Taking Moe’s statement, “Old people are no good at everything”, we can identify them by their emphasis:

Generalisation:
“Old people are no good at everything.”
“A is B.”
Label:
“Old people are no good at everything.”
“A is B.”
Absolute:
“Old people are no good at everything.”
“A is always B.”

4. Negative self-talk
I’m just a splatter on the windshield of life.
~ anon.

Negative self-talk is a result of others telling us we’re no good. It’s like labelling, but the focus is different. Labelling looks at who we are (“you are stupid”, “you are useless”), whereas negative self-talk looks at what we do: “you can’t do anything right”, “you’ll never pass that exam.” It also reflects what we believe others think of us: “no-one will ever hire you”; “she’ll never go out with you.”

Negative self-talk can be a defence mechanism: a way to avoid emotional or mental pain [3]. We expect people to reject us, so we act as if we’ve already been rejected. We don’t put ourselves in a place where we might succeed. We put ourselves down, making self-deprecating jokes about our weight or baldness or ineptitude. “I don’t eat fish. It’s brain-food, so it wouldn’t help me.” We figure people are going to despise us anyway, so we get there first. That way, we show them that we’re aware of our flaws, and that they shouldn’t be surprised when we make mistakes. Our negative self-talk becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. Then, when people do reject us, we take comfort that we were right about ourselves.

5. Accentuating the negative, and eliminating the positive
People with depression find anything negative and supersize it. We take a molehill — say, bad weather, or a flat battery — into a mountain of negativity that blocks out the sunlight of anything positive. We take mountains of hope and goodness and pulverise them into molehills. We acknowledge that we have our health, our sight, our ability to move, our friends; but we think that any day we could die, or lose our sight, or become crippled, or our friends turn away from us.

With depression, the glass is always half-empty: and it hasn’t been cleaned properly, and the water is probably loaded with chemicals, and anyway, we ordered a steak. It doesn’t matter how great other people think we are, or what we’ve achieved in the past, or how important our work is now: we’ll minimise those achievements, or focus on how we fall short in other areas that we think are more important.

The most well-known of “Murphy’s Laws” is “if anything can go wrong, it will.” One of the laws of depression says that if we can interpret a statement in a negative way, we will. It used to be that almost every week I drove past a veterinarian’s office. The sign at the front had the words “Animal Surgical Referral Service”. The first time I saw that sign, I read “surgical” as “suicidal”. I read it that way because I most often thought about dark, unhappy topics; so they were uppermost in my mind, just waiting for the opportunity to intrude into my consciousness again [4]. So I (semi-seriously) judged my mental state by that sign: if I read it as “surgical”, I’d be going well. Of course it wasn’t an objective measure: I knew when the sign was coming up and what it actually did say. But when my mood is low, I tended to register the word as “suicidal” anyway.

Another example of accentuating the negative and eliminating the positive is the joke about the golfer who got a hole-in-one. He complained, “Great! Just when I needed the putting practise!”

6. Intrusive thoughts
Sometimes an unexpected visitor can be welcome, but this isn’t the case with intrusive thoughts, which are like telemarketing phone calls at dinner-time: inconvenient and aggravating. These thoughts pop into our minds when we’re stressed or worried. Most often, they’re not only unwelcome, but irrational.

The thoughts themselves are connected to something we highly value, such as a relationship. It’s as if they seek to damage, or even destroy, what we treasure. They say that we don’t really value that relationship, or that a gift someone has given us is stupid or worthless. Thoughts that, if they were spoken, would hurt the other person. They hurt us, because we don’t want to think those vile, hurtful things. But these irrational, intrusive thoughts are the opposite of what we really want: they speak out our deepest fears.

Like the Monty Python song, I only like traffic lights when they’re green. Sometime, when I was approaching a traffic light, the thought would pop into my head, “I’d sell my soul if that light stays (or turns) green.” I didn’t wilfully think this: it was just there. It was rather unnerving if the light did change! But if someone actually asked me (as my psychiatrist did), “Do you really mean that?” I would have said, “No way! Of course not!”

We need to remember that these thoughts are part of the illness, not what we are really thinking or wanting.

7. Doubt and uncertainty
Depression makes us doubt our ability to make decisions [5]. Whatever the topic, we’re not sure if we can make the best choice. Even when we have made a decision, we keep going back to gnaw on it: should I buy this? Do I need it? Should I say this? Or write a letter? Or ..?

Doubt can encourage us to investigate, to find the facts. But depression will never allow us this courtesy. No matter how thoroughly we have reasoned through the issue, depression will find a way to keep us doubting.

The situation is similar with any belief we hold. We doubt that we believe what we do actually believe [6]. If you haven’t experienced this type of corrosive doubt, it seems incredible, nonsensical. It is, because depression is irrational: we give more weight to our feelings than to our thoughts.

8. Difficulty remembering and concentrating [7]
Most of us occasionally forget where we left our keys, or we enter a room but forget what we wanted in there, or forget a close friend’s name, or just can’t focus on what we’re doing. For people with depression, this happens more than occasionally: it happens all too often.

9. Obsessive thoughts
Obsessive thoughts pop unwanted into our minds, with no connection to anything we were thinking about. These obsessions may take the form of ideas, images or impulses [8]. They focus on anything that is precious to us: our family, friends, health or salvation. Specifically, the thoughts might be about being contaminated by dirt or germs, about hurting ourselves or other people [9]. A parent’s obsessions might be about their children dying. For people with a religious faith, their obsessions might feel blasphemous, or be an urge to blaspheme. Whatever obsessive thoughts we may have, they are always unwanted and cause us anxiety.

Emotional Symptoms
1. We are miserable.
This is the symptom that people often mistake for the illness. Remember, depression is the illness: misery is just a symptom. It doesn’t matter how much we used to enjoy life, depression kills that enjoyment. We dislike some activities less than others — watching TV is less of a bother than cooking dinner, and sleeping is easier than either — but we don’t enjoy anything anymore. We may cry; we may not: this is neither good nor bad, it’s just how different people respond.

2. We despair.
If there’s any one experience that will cause us to commit suicide, it’s this: hopelessness. Despair. People learned this truth long ago. In the Greek myth about Pandora, all the blessings for humanity, except for hope, escaped from the box [10]. We could survive without the other blessings, but if hope escaped, humanity would lose its desire to live: there would be no better tomorrow to look forward to.

There is a saying: “where there’s life, there’s hope.” But for our emotional health, it’s true rather that “where there’s hope, there’s life.” Without hope, there is no point in doing anything. If we’re in a situation that we believe we can’t change, we despair. We stop trying to improve our life; and in the end, if our life means nothing, why bother to keep living? We’d normally think that suicide is the ultimate expression of despair. A person commits suicide when they have no hope that their life in this world will improve. But even suicide is an expression of hope: hope that the next world will be better, and bring us relief from our suffering. Without hope, we don’t even pray or wish for death. We only pray or wish when we hope that our situation will get better.

Hope and despair can’t co-exist. If hope exists, despair doesn’t. This is good news, because it means that hope is more powerful than despair. And hope is very difficult to kill. Think of your life as a house, and hope as the residents. Despair can’t move in unless the house is empty. Even if there’s only a newborn infant or a visitor in the house, despair can’t get in. No matter how weak or insensible the residents are, despair can’t enter unless the house is totally deserted. Even if there’s only the tiniest shred of hope that life will get better, we won’t despair.

3. We are apathetic and emotionally unresponsive.
Without hope, we become emotional zombies. If we feel anything, it’s negative emotions such as fear and anger. We feel no positive emotions. To us, the most worrying part (although “worry” is an overstatement) of this apathy is that we don’t feel any natural affection for our family or friends. Certainly we don’t care what happens to us: if depression sinks our emotional ship, we become flotsam, debris floating on the sea, going wherever the wind and the waves take us.

We shut off our emotions to avoid being hurt. We’ve been disappointed in the past; but rather than admit that life isn’t fair, and that our real needs and desires sometimes aren’t met, we try to shut them off. But we can’t switch off only our unmet desires; it’s all or none.

4. We are irritable and restless [11].
While depression makes us feel apathetic, we do feel negative emotions: sadness and, on our good days, anger. We might also feel jittery. We want to go somewhere or do something but we don’t know what. This restlessness isn’t just jiggling your legs under the desk when we bored or cooped up. It’s more like having a ball of energy inside us that we need to channel into some physical activity, otherwise we feel like we might explode, or at least dislocate a limb or two.

5. We are anxious.
We might feel anxious as well, although anxiety doesn’t necessarily occur with depression. We worry about all the bad events that might happen to us. And while we’re at it, we tend to imagine the worst. We tell ourselves that these events probably won’t happen, or even if they do, there’s no point worrying about them. But we’re still fearful. Or perhaps we’re not afraid of any one thing in particular; we’re just anxious and fearful, unable to shake off the nameless dread that shadows us. By itself, this unease is called Generalised Anxiety Disorder (so it isn’t nameless after all).

6. We feel guilty.
We dwell on our past mistakes. We might even feel guilty about experiences and events we could have no control over, or that we are the victim of. If we have a religious faith, we might believe we have committed the unpardonable sin (I’ve talked about this later in this chapter and in Appendix B). We think, “if only”, even if we rationally know that we could not have changed a situation – even if we were the victim of it. Nonetheless, if we could have changed it, the situation is in the past and we can’t do anything about it; we have to deal with life as it is now. Nonetheless, we obsess over the past, over what we should have done, so we don’t do anything to improve our present situation: our feelings of guilt make us believe that we deserve to suffer. We believe we’re this bad because all we see is how we’ve failed, and we inflate our failures out of proportion. There’s nothing as effective as guilt to dump us into the abyss of misery [12].

Physical Symptoms
1. Our diet changes; as does our weight.
We might eat more or less than we used to: which it is depends on how depression affects us individually. And when we eat, we don’t eat healthfully; we go for comfort foods like ice-cream and chocolate. This means our energy will be affected by the level of glucose (basically sugar) in our blood. Without any other food types like protein in our body to slow digestion, and therefore the release of glucose, our glucose level will change quickly. And this will upset our emotional balance.

We eat junk foods not only for the sugar rush, but also because they’re quick. It takes time to prepare a healthy meal, and we couldn’t be bothered to take that time. It’s too much hassle.

2. Our sleep changes.
We might sleep more or less than we used to. Or we can get to sleep easily enough, but we wake up after only a few hours, or at 3am, and can’t get back to sleep. When we wake up, we don’t feel energised. We feel lethargic; we can’t concentrate. We’re tired mentally, not physically. Have you ever studied for exams? A month or so of intense mental exercise; and when it’s over, we’re exhausted. Doing anything is an effort. Over time, we rest and recuperate. But for the person with depression, this weariness, which is more than just tiredness, is a constant weight that drags us down. And we won’t exercise, so we become more tired and out-of-sorts.

3. Our hygiene goes downhill.
Since we don’t care about ourselves, we stop washing and changing our clothes and linen. We stop showering and shaving, and generally don’t keep ourselves groomed. Before long there will be an unpleasant odour.

4. We withdraw from family, friends, and hobbies.
“Stop the world; I want to get off.” Because we don’t enjoy our usual activities, we stop doing them. Talking to other people is too much effort. They’ll just ask stupid (to us) questions, and we have neither the energy nor desire to talk about how we are. We want the world to go away. Or ourselves to go away from the world. Either is acceptable.

5. We self-mutilate.
We saw earlier how we’ll tell ourselves that we’re useless or stupid or that we can’t do anything right. This is mental and emotional self-mutilation. It does the most damage to our psyche, because while we can ignore what other people say, it’s impossible to ignore what we tell ourselves. Blocking our ears won’t stop us hearing what our mind is saying.

While this type of self-torment does damage over time, we’re in more immediate danger when we mutilate our bodies. This could take any form: slapping, punching, burning or cutting. It may be mild, like banging your head repeatedly on a pillow, or it may be more severe, like burning or cutting yourself. I would hit myself on the head and face — which you can do with some force — and on one occasion I head-butted the door frame of my car, leaving a smallish dent in the car, and a me with mild dizziness and a headache.

The ultimate self-mutilation: suicide.

Why do people commit suicide?
Suicide is an expression of any or all of three attitudes: despair, self-hatred, and/ or anger at others.

Despair.
Suicide is an extreme demonstration of despair. By committing suicide, a person shows that they have no hope that their life in this world will improve [13]. This is almost the universal reason why a person kills themself. But suicide is not the ultimate demonstration of despair, because suicide is also an expression of hope, that life after death will be better than life in this world. The ultimate expression of despair is to do nothing; to not try to make your life happier.

But it’s not only our lives we want to make happier, it’s those of other people: our family and friends. If we’re dead, we won’t be a burden to them.

Self-hatred.
Suicide may also be an expression of self-hatred. With depression, we not only despair that our lives will improve, we also despise ourselves: we’re scum; we don’t deserve anything good; we don’t deserve to be happy. If self-love means that we do what’s best for ourselves, self-hatred is the opposite: we do what is bad for us [14]. Generally speaking, people think that killing yourself is a bad thing; however, because we feel that life is an ocean of suffering for us, we see death as an escape, a way to make our lives better — despite believing that we deserve to suffer. This isn’t a paradox: a person who commits a crime may believe they deserve gaol, but they’ll get out of it if they can. It’s the same with depression: we believe we deserve to suffer, but we’ll try to escape it nonetheless.

Anger at others.
While we may want to die to not be a burden to others, suicide may also express our anger at others; those who hurt and belittled us or didn’t protect and encourage us. We think, “They’ll be sorry.” We savour the thought of them suffering: but if they didn’t care about us in the first place, it’s not likely they’ll start when we’re dead. If ever a battle won was a Pyrrhic victory, that battle is suicide [15].

Do people commit suicide because they’re weak?
Some people think suicide is weakness; the easy option; the coward’s way out. For some people it may be: if a person kills themselves for fear of public humiliation (“What will people say?!”), the accusation of cowardice might carry some merit. But all people can’t be tarred with this brush. It depends on the person, their motivations, and the situation. What one person sees as an unbearable heartbreak, another sees as a curse that must be endured.

It might be a surprise that self-pity is a greater demonstration of weakness than suicide. When a person commits suicide, they are taking action to make their life happier. But self-pity is a pig wallowing in the mud of its situation. Self-pity doesn’t seek change or healing; it seeks to pull others down with it, to slop around in the dirt.

What can we do?
What can we do if we think someone is likely to try to suicide? Even if they are a drama queen (or prince) and they’ve threatened suicide before, we need to take them seriously [16].

1. Listen; don’t offer advice unless they ask for it. Let them vent their emotional pressure. Realise that they’re speaking more from their feelings than from their mind, so don’t always expect them to be rational. Once their emotions have exhausted themselves, they will be better able to see their situation more clearly.

2. Don’t leave them until you’re satisfied they’re out of immediate danger. Before you leave, get them to promise not to suicide until a certain time. Choose something positive, like a favourite TV show that will be on in a day or so. Make it a point in time that will soon arrive. Make them agree not to kill themselves before that time. Then contact them before that time is up. If you have to, set another time; keep doing this until they’re out of danger.

The key is small, manageable steps; get them to focus on the immediate future, rather than looking years, or even days, ahead. The person with depression needs to look at their feet, at the next step to take. Looking at the future is too overwhelming.

3. Get them expert help. Most of us don’t have experience with this type of emergency situation: we need help to be able to help them. Call an organisation such as Lifeline. In Appendix A, there are the contact details of several organisations who can help.

Side box. The statistics on suicide. [17]
Of every seven people with depression, about one will commit suicide [18].
Of any suicide attempt:
one in every four to one in every eight is successful [19];
the person is twice as likely to be female.
Of any “successful” suicide:
generally, the person is four times as likely to be male; and this increases to five to seven times as likely between the ages of 15-24 [20];
nearly three in every four are by white males.

Religious bit. Suicide: the unforgivable sin?
Many Christians believe that suicide is an unforgivable sin. They may argue that suicide is unforgivable because forgiveness is dependent on repentance, and you can’t repent of an act until after you’ve done it [21]. I believe this position is wrong, for several reasons.

1. When Jesus mentions the unforgivable sin, it’s in this context: he’s just forgiven a man and healed his paralysis, yet the religious leaders are saying, “He [Jesus] is possessed by Satan.” They put an incredible interpretation on Jesus’ miracles: they called the work of the Holy Spirit (that is, of God) the work of the devil. The work of the Holy Spirit is to reveal who Jesus is and to turn people to Him. If people reject the work — the word — of the Holy Spirit, they do not, and cannot, believe in Jesus. The religious leaders rejected Jesus’ claims about Himself — going to the point of seeking to kill Him.

This, then, is the unforgivable sin: to reject the work of the Holy Spirit, who speaks the words of God, and testifies about Jesus, the Word of God. If Jesus is the only way to God and we reject Him, we will not receive forgiveness. That is why rejection of Jesus is the unforgivable sin. But when we accept Jesus on His terms, we are forgiven [22].

Forgiveness is a gift. Imagine that a friend gives us a new house. It’s our choice whether or not to accept it. They’ve paid for it; it’s in our name; all we have to do is take the keys and move in. But if we don’t believe our friend, the house will gather dust and will get used by squatters. But as soon as we take the keys, the gift is ours.

2. The Bible talks of “the” unforgivable sin; it is singular, not plural. And the unforgivable sin is to reject the work of the Holy Spirit; therefore, suicide cannot be the unforgivable sin.

3. This is also partly an issue of perseverance — can a Christian lose their salvation? For various reasons, I say “No”. But because the issue is too complex to deal with in the main text, I’ve briefly looked at it in Appendix B. (I haven’t posted the appendixes yet).

____________________
Footnotes

[1] It might feel warm and fuzzy or warm and gooey. If it feels warm, fuzzy and gooey, it’s a furrball.
[2] The Lord of the Rings, p.743.
[3] Although many aspects of Sigmund Freud’s psychology are rejected by the psychological fraternity, we can still glean some knowledge from it.
[4] If a thought or mood comes easily and often to mind, it has a “low threshold” in our consciousness.
[5] What’s Good for You.
[6] Christians: for how depressive doubt affects our assurance of salvation, see the section ‘Personal and social effects’ in chapter four.
[7] “Description.”
[8] “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: What It Is and How to Treat It”
[9] “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Introduction”
[10] Another version has it that evils were kept in the box. In this case, it’s strange that hope — clearly a blessing — should be in the box as well. (“Pandora”, EB.)
[11] “What is depression?”
[12] That should is a moral imperative: unless we do what we believe we should, we experience guilt. Feeling guilty isn’t necessarily bad: it prevents us from hurting other people.
[13] The problem with suicide is that people believe their life will be better after death, in whatever form it takes. See Appendix A for a brief examination of this.
[14] See the start of this chapter. The more perceptive readers may have noticed that I’ve pictured “love” and “hatred “as both attitudes and actions.
[15] A Pyrrhic victory is one where the winner loses almost as much the side defeated. (Collins, p.1264.)
[16] Certain people might use the threat of suicide as emotional blackmail; perhaps to keep a partner from leaving them. This shows that they are emotionally immature; but their threat should still be taken seriously.
[17] “Suicide and Depression.”
[18] 15%
[19] 12.5% to 25%
[20] 13% to 20%
[21] This is not because it’s murder, one of the “big” sins.
[22] I know there seem to be huge logical holes in this argument, but there’s not enough space in the book for an extended look at the issue. “Being forgiven” is God’s action, therefore we are forgiven by God. But forgiveness is only a part of salvation. If we don’t believe we need to be saved, or that there is another way apart from Jesus, we won’t believe what the Bible says. So forgiveness isn’t applied to us until we accept it. It’s in that sense — application to us — that we’re forgiven (or not).

copyright 2004 Troy Grisgonelle.

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