by Steven Gledhill for FREEdom from MEdom Project
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
What is it about relationship with God that is most satisfying?
What is it about relationship with God that is most challenging?
I believe in God! I have a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. So, why is my spirit so unsettled? Why don’t I experience the contentment that can be experienced in this relationship? Why do I not experience the kind of joy that is so fulfilling that, though I try, I can hardly describe it? What hinders my peace… my joy… in relationship with God?
Why do I struggle so with temptation? If in relationship with God, delivered from the power of sin, having been crucified with and raised with Jesus Christ, why does sin seem to still have so much power in my daily life? Why am I so drawn to it? Why are ugly things that disgust me still so alluring? Why do I do what I do, even when I fully comprehend the risk, and fully understand the harm that is connected to those things I do? How is it that I give in to the seduction of the temptress that I know is trying to kill me?
As someone in relationship with God, I thought that God is supposed to keep me from temptation that I am not able to handle, and provide a way of escape and all that. I seem to be confronted with all kinds of temptation that I cannot on my own elude. Right after praying, “deliver me from temptation”, I am neck deep in temptation. Why is that?
On the other hand, what are the keys to unlocking the bounty of the resources of the living God who loves me so much that He cannot wait to bless me; like a giddy father wanting to shower blessing on his sons and daughters? Where must I be positionally to receive the protection and provision of my compassionate, gracious, generous Father?
The scripture above, written through the prophet Isaiah, has been quoted so often that its context might be lost. Have you read the 55th chapter of Isaiah? You might be interested to see how the context applies to our modern civilization, today. We invest so much of ourselves in what is aesthetically pleasing and entertaining. While, according to the apostle Paul, all things are lawful (permissible, proper, valid, justifiable, legal) by way of grace through our Lord Jesus, not all things are edifying (constructive, productive) in that they tear us down, rather than build us up; they discourage us, rather than encourage us; they promote failure and destruction, rather than success and glory. What is unfortunate is the way the matter of grace is taken for granted, and for that matter, abused.
Paul’s “all things are lawful” passage is packaged right in there with God “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able” and “flee from idolatry.” I will get into that in a bit. But for now, take a minute to read parts of the 55th chapter of Isaiah (below) so that we can study it and see where it goes.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you…
Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
“For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace.” Isaiah 55 (NKJV)
Please allow me to summarize:
Why do we invest in that which does not satisfy?
Instead, invest in the One source that always satisfies!
Come and see if I don’t fill you beyond measure!
My promise lasts forever! I guarantee it… and you can bet that I am good for it.
This is indeed your chance; your golden opportunity… don’t let it slip away!
I know you have messed up… badly at times… forsaken me… been hostile against me in some things… you know… those certain areas of your life you keep secret from everyone else.
You anguish in your guilt… I understand your pain… I have compassion for you… I am merciful; I forgive you… I have let it go… It is no longer a problem for Me, so you can lay your burden down.
You don’t need to comprehend my sense of justice. It is beyond your reasoning; higher than what you’re even capable of understanding. There is so much more at stake than you know. Because I love you so much, I must make a way for you, so I have.
So as I nourish and bless all of my creation, let me nourish you with blessing that keeps on blessing; giving that keeps on giving. (Even God might say, “Pardon the cliche.”)
Once I have said it, IT’S DONE! You have My word on it! What’s anyone going to do about it? Who and what else in the universe can get in the way of My Word made complete?
What (who) I send to you is bigger than anything you can imagine… It (he) shall prosper you forever and ever, and then ever after that.
You won’t be able to help yourself when you go with all of the joy overflowing your soul!
You will experience peace that IS contentment… freedom that IS satisfying!
Do you still have any interest in going elsewhere?
Do you not believe me?
Do you not trust me?
Are you sure about that?
The theme that runs within and throughout FREEdom from MEdom Project is that the worship of self that breeds selfish entitlement—the belief that one deserves what one wants (needs?)—is what Jesus and others referred to as slavery to sin (John 8:34).
Entitlement manifests itself in many forms: lust, greed, selfish pride, sloth (laziness), gluttony, covetous, jealousy, revenge, etc. While it may not be as obvious, any pursuit of a remedy is rooted in entitlement. To be entitled is to have obtained the right—laid claim—to something. Therefore, addictive and even self-loathing behaviors are rooted in entitlement. Entitlement means that if I want it, I must need it, and if I need it, I must deserve it. Entitlement is the core belief embedded by sin into every man, woman and child from birth.
I am entitled to feel better than I do. The situation must be better than it is. Something is missing. There is a void, an emptiness that needs to be filled. If I am not satisfied, then I need and want better and more. When satisfaction is not entirely possible, well, I am entitled to instant gratification since in that, it is better than it was, and I am better than I was.
So what is this endless and tireless search for satisfaction; and since satisfaction in a flawed existence really is not possible, what of this relentless pursuit of gratification? How do we so passionately seek it? How do we even know when we have attained what we’ve wanted so?
“I was so obsessed with me and the reasons that I might be dissatisfied that I couldn’t focus on other people… What I trace this to is a certain selfishness on my part.” —Barack Obama
So, what about this self-obsession? Barack Obama actually said that about himself August 16, 2008 at the Saddleback Church in California when he was asked by Rick Warren about his greatest moral failure. While Mr. Obama was speaking of a time in his past, he addressed the fallen nature of man; the condition of the sinful flesh.
Here is how Jesus said it:
Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
“But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. John 8:32-34 (NLT)
Here is what the apostle Paul said about it:
The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin… I don’t really understand myself… I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature… I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong… there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. (from Romans 7, NLT)
What are they talking about, Jesus and Paul?
What has the power to enslave us against our will? It is the power within that captures our will and takes captive our desire and motivation. For the sake of this discussion, worship here is defined as extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem (Merriam-Webster). So what is it then that we worship that has the power to own us?
While we typically label idolatry as the worship of things like carved and sculpted images and the stars and nature, kings and animals, we in modern civilizations generally recognize material wealth and celebrity as idolatrous. We understand that technology and people can be seen as kinds of idols.
What Barack Obama and Jesus said about it is that self, and one’s obsession with satisfying self is just as idolatrous. Let us consider the definition of the word idol and idolatry. As you consider these descriptions of idolatry, examine your intellectual (thinking and reasoning) and emotional (feeling) process and how it might be at times a form of self-worship.
Idol as defined by Merriam-Webster:
- a representation or symbol of an object of worship; broadly : a false god
- a likeness of something
- a form or appearance visible but without substance
- an object of extreme devotion
- a false conception : fallacy
- the worship of a physical object as a god
- immoderate attachment or devotion to something
You worship your idols with great passion. They, not I, are your inheritance. Do you think all this makes me happy? You have committed adultery on every high mountain. There you have worshiped idols and have been unfaithful to me. You have put pagan symbols on your doorposts and behind your doors. You have left me and climbed into bed with these detestable gods. You have committed yourselves to them. You love to look at their naked bodies. You grew weary in your search, but you never gave up. Desire gave you renewed strength, and you did not grow weary. “Are you afraid of these idols? Do they terrify you? Is that why you have lied to me and forgotten me and my words? (from Isaiah 57, NLT)
The lengths we will go for better. The risks we will take for a little better; then a little more better after that once better isn’t enough. Better than what? Better than it was; whatever it was.
Our endless search for and pursuit of satisfaction, until we finally realize true contentment may not be possible, leads us to settle for better than it was. So satisfaction is reduced to gratification, even when we acknowledge to ourselves that gratification is as good as it’s gonna get, no matter how fleeting or temporary it is. We may even realize that gratification is no more than a remedy for what ails us; filling in the spaces that are empty. We may know the remedy was make us whole, or complete, but a little of something is better than nothing, so we settle for it.
Where it gets especially harmful and ugly is when we settle into behaviors we have grown to loathe in relationship with God, but cannot seem to escape.
Why do I give into temptation? What is at the center of what tempts me? What is at the root of my thinking that leads to regrettable behavior that is so seldom without consequence? If I know that God loves me and is for me, and if I know that God is the sovereign giver of all life and breath, and if I desire to be in right favor in relationship with Him, how is it even possible that I make behavioral choices so contrary—even blatantly hostile—to His perfect plan and purpose to generously bless my life? How does that make any sense at all?
You will read in the passage below that there is indeed severe consequence for behavior outside of the will of sovereign God. It might be that it has to do with God’s chastening of the children He so dearly loves, or perhaps it is God allowing us to run away like spoiled rebellious brats (think prodigal son) who will learn lessons the hard way when we split from His provision and protection by our own accord.
Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. I Corinthians 10:1-17 (NKJV)
Did you catch it? Do you see it?
There are provisional promises in this letter from apostle Paul… conditions, if you will.
Time to break down the truth of yet another one of those often quoted pieces of scripture that on it’s own isn’t entirely understood. And honestly, it has been bit of a mystery to me. Can you guess what it is?
Once again, please allow me to summarize:
Your ancestors believed in relationship with God… They experienced the goodness of God, eating and drinking of the Spirit of God in relationship with the foundation of their faith, Jesus Christ.
But they had a problem. They turned there back on their relationship with God because of their idolatrous behavior. They walked away from the favor of the Lord and went their own way. In going their own way, your ancestors in the faith needlessly surrendered to the fate of walking in their own strength, in the faith they had in themselves.
They gave in to the lure of sexual immorality and other forms of immoral living. Their temptation took them to places outside of God’s providence and protection. They became vulnerable to the attack of their enemy and engaged with their adversary through licentious behavior that was hostile against the goodness of God.
In the midst of their consequence they cried out, “My God where are you? Where did you go? Your word says that you are faithful, and will not allow your children to be tempted beyond what they can bear, and when temptation comes, you will make a way of escape.
Your word also says to flee from idols; those false gods to be worshipped anything but spiritually viable or credible. Should I commit to daily fellowship with you, the cup of your generous favor is passed to me. It is there in the favor of your blessing that I am protected in my spirit from temptation to worship anything other than Jesus Christ. It is then in the loving arms of my Savior that I drink from the cup of communion and sweet fellowship with Christ.
Should I wander from You God, and wander into the arms of another kind of god, I risk surrender to temptation in ways that will cost me… perhaps my very life… or at least the best of what you have to offer.
So you see, it’s like this. To be protected from temptation that is more than we can handle, we must choose to be surrendered to the will of God. Surrender is an action word, just as submission is an action word. To submit to God is to flee from idolatry.
Flee from idolatry!
You don’t think that’s a problem for you?
Are you sure about that?
From Self-Examination to Confession
Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Romans 12:3 (NLT)
In the recovery community, we call this a fourth step, making an honest, fearless, moral inventory of ourselves. Measure yourself. On a blank page, down the left side of the page, list a column of what you would consider generally to be character defects and shortcomings of a person. Down the right side of the page, list a column of the positive character attributes that are the opposite of the defects you listed.
Now attempt to honestly evaluate yourself. Do you tend to be more of a giver or more of a taker? Do you tend to hold onto to resentment, or is it easy for you to forgive? (Do they have to be repentant for you to forgive, or are you free to extend mercy whether they are sorry or not?) Are you more patient than you are impatient? Do you tend to extend empathy (considering the needs and feelings of others) rather easily or might you be more apathetic in situations that don’t directly affect you? Are you more likely to trust or distrust? Do you have self-control or do you tend to be rather impulsive? (Are you mindful in your response to a situation, or do you tend to react before thinking about it?) Do you tend to be anxious and stressed, or are you generally relaxed and at peace in your life? Do you need control or can you let go?
You get the idea.
Of the examples I listed, the two that stand out for me are the first one and the last one. Because I tend to need control, in other words, my levels of anxiety and stress increase when things seem to be slipping from my grasp, it suggests that I need to take more than I am willing to give. I do not enjoy applying this area of study to my own life. It unveils some things in me that are antagonistic toward the best parts of the surrendered life in Christ. I don’t mind that the horses can get a bit wild and out of control so long as I am still holding the reins.
When I do my self-assessment it comes down to this. On one side of the list is my quest for freedom: freedom from anything dissatisfying; freedom from pain and heartache; freedom from weakness; freedom from illness; freedom from relationship stress; freedom from financial stress; freedom from physical stress; freedom from emotional stress; freedom from deficiency; freedom from loss; freedom from evil in the world and catastrophe on the earth; freedom from spiritual adversaries, and so on.
It is freedom that satisfies. Opposite from freedom is… are you ready for it?
Entitlement is the enemy of freedom. Entitlement is the enemy of satisfaction. Entitlement is the slavery to sin. Entitlement is what compels me to do what I don’t want to do.
Entitlement is the best friend of instant gratification as the remedy to what is missing and lacking. Entitlement craves entertainment and gossip. Entitlement craves vindication and validation. Entitlement craves what tastes good. Entitlement seeks revenge (gets even). Entitlement holds onto anger and resentment and jealousy. Entitlement blames others and denies responsibility. Entitlement wants justice. Entitlement is impatient and impulsive. Entitlement breeds selfish ambition and greed. Entitlement lusts and covets. Entitlement is lazy. Entitlement is gluttonous. Entitlement can be self-deprecating and self-loathing.
Entitlement seeks the remedy.
Entitlement declares that it is all about me. It is at the very core of my nature. The fifth step addresses “the exact nature of my wrong”; the burden that needs to be nailed to the cross. If you don’t mind me speaking for every man, woman, and child on the planet, as well as anyone that has ever walked this planet, the exact nature of what is wrong with us is this problem with entitlement.
Entitlement takes what it wants. If I want a thing, I must need it. And if I need it, I believe I deserve it.
Entitlement is needy. Entitlement is selfish.
Entitlement is the idol, if I am entirely honest, that I worship.
When I write about worship of self as I often as I do in various forms, I am addressing this ultimately fatal problem of entitlement. Entitlement is the word for having it my way. The essence of what fuels my will—my desires, my intentions, my motivations, my values—is rooted in the sin problem that is found in entitlement. When I googled the word ‘entitlement’, here is what showed up first in defining the word: the fact of having a right to something.
If I think I have a right to it, it’s mine and that all there is to it.
When does this begin in the life of a person? What is one of the first words that real little children learn?
Does it ever really change?
Isn’t it time finally to grow up?
I realize that reading this it all sounds so awful. Perhaps you will shrug this off since, after all, it’s not like you’re some selfish, get what you want regardless of the cost, kind of person. You’re generally good… decent, at least.
Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Romans 12:3 (NLT)
We need to be honest and fearless in how we examine ourselves. Imagine you’re feeling some discomfort and going to the doctor. The doctor prescribes a remedy for the discomfort. It should work. It works all the time. But it doesn’t work. You go back to the doctor and he says it’s gotten worse. The doctor runs some tests; gets the results; then tells the you it’s time to call a specialist. “A specialist! I’m healthy! I exercise! I eat right!” The specialist tells you that you are sick. I mean, really sick! She gives you a specific regimen to treat your illness.
You can insist that you are healthy and in too good of shape to be sick. After all, you don’t feel sick; just some discomfort that should eventually go away.
The specialist told you one more thing; that if you do not treat the illness, it WILL (not might) kill you, or at the very least, bring harm and injury to your quality of life.
Think about it.
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)
The apostle Paul asks the question?
Don’t you know who you are in Christ? I don’t see this as a salvation question, so much as I see it as a “quality of life in relationship with Christ” question. Jesus would ask his disciples… his best friends in the world… “How long have I been with you and you still struggle to fully believe?”
If I claim to not doubt what God can do, why do I agonize so over what God will do?
I cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 (NLT)
Thy Will be Done?
If I trusted in my relationship with God, there would be no need for a remedy outside of what is clear to my rational mind to be the will of God. If I trusted God’s way, why would I so desperately pursue my way. The Bible says that God’s thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways higher than my ways.
So the choice is clear and, while it might sound a bit dramatic, could be a matter of life or death. It is in fact my ways or the High’s way; my way or God’s way.
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” —C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
So how do I stick to the plan without wandering off into the woods?
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NKJV)
We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT)
Remember, that Paul wrote that there is a power at war with our minds that defies reason, betraying even our deepest sensibilities; literally forcing us to do the things we hate, contrary to the will of God, which Paul writes, that we know to be good and best.
When you read that there is a power at war with your mind, what power might Paul be referring to? His he talking about the devil? What if Satan and his minions, as powerful as they are, are not the power Paul is talking about? What if Paul is speaking of another spiritual enemy; the spiritual force that even over-powered Satan himself? What if that power is free will… a power that when not in line with the will of God is in fact entitlement?
To combat this idol we must fight with God’s mighty weapons. It is only with the force of these spiritual—divinely spiritual—weapons that we can bring down the stronghold that is entitlement; destroying the false argument this idol is constantly speaking into our thoughts and emotions. That’s right this idol—false god—speaks. Sometimes it screams and makes a ruckus, and sometimes it whispers subtly. It is evil. And it will deceive you and lie to you in your own voice without a second thought.
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:14-15 (NLT)
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:14-5 (NKJV)
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15 (NIV)
I am not always a fan of the NIV translation, and hadn’t been a fan of it’s use of the word evil in this particular passage that speaks to the matter of human desire and its influence on succumbing to temptation. But having done this particular study has given me an appreciation for describing human desire as evil. The portrayal of desire here as evil does not reflect on God’s creation of humanity so much as it speaks to the fallen nature within our humanity that has rendered our desire carnal and, in that sense, evil. This is especially true considering the ultimate impact of fallen desire: death.
Check out The Message’s take on the same verses from James:
The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer. James 1:14-15 (The Message)
Is there really any talk of the devil in any of this scripture dealing with the problem of temptation to sin?
Don’t get me wrong, the devil is a powerful adversary, but has already been defeated when we were altogether crucified and resurrected with Christ. But we remain in a world where entitlement is encouraged on every level. Entitlement is the idol of the masses. Entitlement performs on the world’s stage and loves every second of it. It has no intention of letting up any time soon. No need for an encore. It’s still in the middle of it’s set.
“No matter how many sins I commit, it is always the one sin principle that leads to them. I need forgiveness for my sins, but I need also deliverance from the power of sin. The former touches my conscience, the latter my life. I may receive forgiveness for all my sins, but because of my sin I have, even then, no abiding peace of mind.” —Watchman Nee
I will be honest with you. The word ‘obedience’ is a bit of a dirty to me. I just don’t like it. It is a word that is discomforting in an unsettling sort of way. I appreciate the word ‘surrender’ so much more in my recovery from entitlement. It sounds so much more noble and forgiving. The word ‘obedience’ or ‘obedient’ sounds harsh and judgmental; legalistic.
Unfortunately, surrender and obedience are the same word to describe what is at the heart of authentic recovery and deliverance from the power of sin. The reality for me (and anyone else living in relationship with God), trusting God and believing for what He wants and will do for my life mandates that I must let go of the reigns and trust God to tame and direct the horses. Letting go of the reigns in relationship with God is the matter of fleeing idolatry; no longer bowing at the feet of entitlement.
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24 (NKJV)
When I googled the word mammon, the following description showed up on my screen: Wealth regarded as an evil influence or false object of worship and devotion. It was taken by medieval writers as the name of the devil of covetousness. The word ‘mammon’ in the context of this description sounds idol-like.
I don’t know who or what to credit that description to but should you do your own research the word, you will find the above description as appropriate an useful. Mammon is more than money and material wealth. It speaks to the matter of entitlement that drives selfish thinking and behavior.
To truly worship God in how I think and behave and altogether live my life means that I do not worship me. Who is the master here? Is it Jesus or is it me? Do I humbly submit to His will, or do I rely on my own?
Listen to how Jesus considered the matter of submission and obedience when he walked the earth with human thoughts and feelings that shaped what he wanted and needed.
As you read these three translations of what Jesus himself said about his need to turn over control, when he says judge, the original Greek translation means to decide.
“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” John 5:30 (NKJV)
“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just,for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me.” John 5:30 (NIV)
“I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 5:30 (NASB)
Wow! That is Jesus, the Son of God, modeling for us the need to surrender his will entirely unto obedience before the Father. He is telling us that to carry out the mission of a sinless life of flesh, to be the innocent sacrifice for the sin of all people, he needed to bring every thought into captivity so that his focus was not on himself but on you and me and the love required to go through with the plan. Even at the end, when under immense stress for the task at hand, Jesus was heard praying, “Not my will but your will be done.”
Remember that even Jesus would persevere through a time of extreme testing and endure real temptation, challenging the very essence of what he was made of in preparation for what was to come. Even Jesus, having laid down divine privilege, fully human, fought through human weakness and flawed flesh to be ready for the battle that lied ahead.
If that is what Jesus had to do, and did, why would I do it any different and still believe I can obtain satisfaction… secure my freedom?
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT)
Be encouraged today that you have an advocate who is eager to help you to fight through the lure of temptation, which flows out of our deeply embedded human character defect that is entitlement. It is the Spirit of our Savior who empowers us to live in the freedom from the consequence of sin, and deliverance from the power of sin.
Go to God with confidence… with boldness… before His throne… like a small child running into the loving arms of his daddy, sitting on his lap and telling him what you’re afraid of, and what makes you happy. Cry with Him. Laugh with Him. Enjoy Him!
While we may have this issue of idolatry when we are undisciplined in our recovery, our Lord is compassionate and merciful. He is quick to forget as we confess our unrighteousness and allow Him to clothe us in His. He is redemptive and restores us into right relationship with the Father, having adorned us in the robe of His righteousness. He restores us fully into the favor of all that is of Him and in Him.
Jesus said to,
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)
Flee from the idolatry of entitlement and embrace the righteousness of God, which is the best of all He is. Soak yourself in the pool of His grace, washed clean into restored innocence. That is the miracle of salvation.
We are in want for nothing when we know, truly and fully know, who we really are in relationship with Christ, in the kingdom… that’s right, KINGDOM (think about what that means)… the kingdom of God. (We’re talking about the king that rules over the universe and everything in it. Really try wrapping your mind around that.)
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)
“I do believe but Jesus please, help me with my unbelief. Help me to trust with confidence in what I say I believe.”