Monday, June 22, 2009
Talk To Yourself (pt 3): Gospel Change
What does it mean to “believe?” - To understand something, agree with it & put it into action… to trust… to call something truth.
Belief is something that occurs in the heart… the real you…
The Heart is the “Seat of Emotions” in scripture
(Exp: Different cultures use different body parts to describe the same thing… eyes, kidneys, & bowels…)
The Heart includes your mind, will & emotions
(this is why gospelling the heart is so powerful… we generally address people’s orthopraxy & orthodoxy… not their heart-orthopathy)
Rom. 10:10 – Belief is something that occurs within all you are
If I look at some of the things that come out of my heart I must acknowledge that I am (in those things) an unbeliever…
We act upon what we truly believe…
“I believe God is in control!”
Really??? Do you have Fear in your heart? Anxiety? Then do you really believe God is in control?
The process of closing the gap between what you know in your head & believe in your heart is called sanctification… Becoming holistically Christ-centered & gospel-centered
The root of all our behaviour and emotions is the heart – what it trusts and what it treasures.
Humanity’s problem is futile thinking, darkened understanding and ignorant hearts (Ephesians 4:17-19).
People are given over to sinful desires because ‘they exchanged the truth of God for a lie’ (Romans 1:24-25).
We sin because we believe the lie that we are better off without God
- that his rule is oppressive,
- that we will be free without him,
- that sin offers more than God provides.
This is true of every sin and every negative emotion.
Behind every sin is a lie about God
Not many people think of themselves as someone who believes lies!
But every time we do not trust God or his word we are believing something else – and that something is always a lie.
If I get angry when I am stuck in traffic it is because I do not trust God. I believe the lie that God is not in control or that his purposes for me are not good.
If I overwork it is because I don’t trust God, perhaps because I believe the lie that I need to prove or justify myself.
Whenever we are depressed or bitter, it is because we believe God is not being good to us or that he is not in control.
“Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23).
This is a radical view of sin.
It means many of our negative emotions are symptoms of unbelief – the greatest sin and the root sin.
As Christians, many of us don’t think of ourselves as unbelievers…
But when our lives don’t match our beliefs, we are unbelievers in those areas (not in the sense that we are bound for hell, but in the sense that there are areas of our lives that are still being brought under the rule & reign of King Jesus)
The truth shall set you free
Recognizing that behind every sin is a lie not only gives us a radical view of sin, it points us to the road out of sinful behavior and emotions: That road is trust in God.
Behind every negative thing that comes out of your hands & heart is a lie about God you are believing in your heart.
Lust? I believe I’m more important than you…
When we try to stop sinning we aim for working on our behavior… we need to work on our heart beliefs
We try to control sin by controlling behavior
“Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32)
Just as lies about God lead to the slavery of sin, so the truth about God leads to freedom (Galatians 5:1, 13).
The truth that sets us free is the gospel (“if you hold to my teaching”).
Freedom is found in accepting that God is in control of our lives, that he is gracious and that he forgives those who come to him in faith (Titus 2:11-12).
“What evidence is there in my life that I’m not believing this gospel at a heart level?”
We all need to become preachers.
We need to learn to preach to our own hearts.
The Psalmist says: “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
But to whom is he speaking? The answer is to himself.
When we find ourselves tempted to sinful behavior or when we find our emotions are getting the better of us, we need to speak truth to ourselves.
You do not have to be able to analyze your heart in detail.
It’s the truth of the gospel that brings change.
But it helps if you can identify the specific lies behind your sin and the corresponding truths that will set you free
We want to identify four life-changing truths about God:
(-) 4 Liberating Truths about God
God is Great – So we don’t have to be in control. God is Good - So we don’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction. God is Glorious – So we don’t have to fear others. God is Gracious - So we don’t have to prove ourselves.
(There is much more to be said about God than is covered by these four truths, but they address many of the problems, sins and emotions with which we struggle. Think of them as a diagnostic tool.)
1. God is Great. So we don’t have to be in control.
God’s greatness is a central part of what we know to be true about Him
Ps. 145:3 – His greatness is not something you can never measure…
How is God Great?
- Good right & perfect
- God provides for needs before they arise
- He creates all
- He has authority over all
It’s unbelievable how much we know about His greatness, yet how little it takes to freak us out…
If you do not trust God’s sovereign control then you might try to take control yourself in harmful ways through manipulation or domination.
If you are worn out with “busyness” and stress it may well be because you do not trust God’s control.
God’s rule is not good enough or great enough so you are pushing him to one side and taking control yourself… Our security and our wealth will become our priority instead of God’s kingdom.
What areas of your life do you find yourself trying to control?
(Everything? Finances, Future, Relationships, Time, Impressions)
What do you obsess over?
What things do people do that drive you nuts?
What do you fear?
Are you anxious?
Trying to take control produces what?
- Not letting God be King & Reign in our lives
Don’t fall to the temptation of wanting to be God
Think of Genesis: Eve & Serpent… “God knows that when you eat of the fruit, you will be like God, knowing good & evil”
Who was in control in this story?
God was. He set the rules. He is Omnipotent.
Adam & Eve are attempting to be in control of their environment… They are disobedient … They realize they didn’t have control
If you don’t trust God’s control, you will find yourself trying to take control of everything!
“You’re great, but not great enough for this one…you need a little bit of my help God.”
We must learn to rest in God… to rest in the fact that God is good!
To work in the rest of God… what is your heart’s posture… to rest knowing He’s doing the work, and we’re just putting our hands to it…
Jesus modeled this… The perfect example of God’s Greatness
Lk. 12: Who of you, by worrying, can add even 1 hour to his life… Oh you of little faith… Don’t worry
The reason we worry & try to take control is because we do not truly believe (in our heart) that God is Great
Again, we may know it in our head, but not truly believe it in our hearts…
Jesus goes straight to the heart of the problem: our little faith.
“Do not be anxious about anything,” says Paul, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Prayer is a recognition of God’s greatness.
Prayer is directing our dependence and praise to God for what only he can do.
The Bible says, We WALK by FAITH… faith is not mental assent… it is methodical, slow, pacing walk… “God, right now I’m not believing you are great… I’m going to take a step of faith and choose to believe in my heart that you are great!”
(-) 2. God is Good: So we don’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction
Samaritan Woman: John 4
Why did Jesus use the metaphor of water, and thirst?
What was the woman thirsting for?
Was she satisfied?
What did Jesus say the solution was?
The question about the woman’s husband leads straight to her heart. She has been looking for satisfaction in men, in sex, in intimacy. There was pleasure for a while, but it kept leaving her empty, thirsty. Jesus says, “Drink of this water, and you will never thirst again.”
Nothing but God satisfies – not in a true and lasting way. If you look for satisfaction or fulfillment, meaning or identity, anywhere other than in Jesus, you will be left empty. There may be a moment of refreshment or pleasure. But you will soon be thirsty again
Why did God create humans with needs?
- So we would look to Him to fulfill
- So we’d know we’re incomplete without Him or others
- It demonstrates His Goodness
If you look for satisfaction or fulfillment, meaning or identity, anywhere other than in Jesus, you will be left empty.
Whatever sin offers, God offers us himself. God is not just good; he is better – better than everything else and the true source of all joy.
Physical needs are signposts to spiritual needs. They remind us...
When God fulfills our needs the response is thankfulness.
Thankfulness should be our posture in everything! Then our meals & relationships…everything becomes an act of worship!
I Tim. 6:17-19 “God, who richly provides everything for our enjoyment!”
What is the result of believing that God is not good enough to satisfy me?
- Perpetual Emptiness & Dissatisfaction (That’s the curse…)
- Turn a good thing & turned it into an ultimate thing = IDOL
- When we say I must have that thing to be satisfied… that’s idolatry
- Our understanding of needs is distorted
- We take what God has given us & misuse it
- We don’t want to wait for God
What would be the fruit of not looking elsewhere for provision, of believing in the goodness of God?
- No debt
- No materialism
- Put $ to use for the Kingdom & Mission
- Happy marriages
How do we turn the good things into our lives into idols?
We all have needs… it’s not the desires that are the problem… it’s who we look for the satisfaction in.
Idolatry is @ the heart & soul of all the wrong & sin going on in humanity
The problem is fundamentally that we are not satisfied with God
Then we go to other things for satisfaction, what make us more thirsty than we were in the 1st place (Alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships, money, comfort, television, food).
Like the Samaritan woman, what are you looking for satisfaction in? Is there a pattern in your life of people or things that keep failing you?
What is your “if only” statement? If only… I would be satisfied.
If you’re in a situation where you’re looking for satisfaction in something other than Him, what should you do?
Realize & Repent & Proclaim your need for God (Gospel yourself)… that will lead to the right attitude in your heart which will lead to proper actions
Change is about enjoying the freedom from sin and delight in God that God gives to us through Jesus.
3. God is Glorious: So we don’t have to fear others
It’s our belief that needs to change first, not our action
What is Glory?
- The way something or someone truly is
- The source,
- The ultimate reality
- Jesus is the “glory” of God
- To Give glory to God is to say what’s true & ultimate reality about God
- To live for his glory…
- To manifest the hidden nature of something
- In Hebrew = “Weight, heaviness”
We sin because we crave the approval of people or fear their rejection
We see their glory as more glorious than God… they matter more than God does to us
We “Need” the acceptance of others
When we do that, we’re controlled by them… we “fear them”
Proverbs 21:39… the fear of man lays a snare
What does the fear of man look like?
- Make fun of others?
- Working for approval? …or not working…?
- Hiding weaknesses
- Internalizing conflict
- Won’t or will say things for approval
- Build ministries for approval
- Susceptibility to peer pressure
What has the “fear of man” produced in your life?
- Emotional Fluctuation (how they see me affects me & controls me) but our ID is supposed to be rooted in Christ
- Needing More
- Fear of exposure
- Lies & exaggerations to make self look good
- Comparisons to others
- People make us jealous, anxious, angry… control our emotions
- Avoid confrontation
- Craving approval
- Behave differently around certain people
- What you deem to be the most glorious is who or what we will most fear. They are who’s most glorious in our lives.
- When we need approval, we have to keep feeding it…it’s cyclical
- Regardless of how much we do, we’ll still feel unrest
- If we feel accepted or approved, we’ll move on to someone else to get more approval
- Frustration with relationships because they cannot provide what we “need.”
These are ALL results of not TRULY believing in our hearts that God is Glorious!
We try to overcome this by building more self-esteem… but we become dependant on people or things to boost our self-esteem…like a drug
But we need to see the Glorious One as the Glorious One
Everything (including healing) starts with God, not us
We elevate respect, love, acceptance… our true need is to glorify God and love other people.
How do we get free from this?
The answer to the ‘fear of man’ is the Fear of God.
We need to grow our vision & view of God!
Fear of God displaces the fear of man
Isa 40:25 - "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One."
Whoever/ whatever it is that we fear… imagine them, then next to them imagine the Glorious God… how does that compare? Can they lay down their life, pick it up again & hand it to you? Can they form the universe?
Why do we keep putting others before God?
- Our belief has slipped
- We must remember how Glorious our God is!
Do you realize how much of an offense that is to God (to stand next to anyone/anything and say “yeah…that’s more glorious than you God”) we need to start by admitting we realize how off we are, and repent… repent by focusing on God’s glory and asking him to give you a vision of Him that’s greater than anything else.
It’s a form of idolatry…
- I’m only nice to you for your approval… means I’m using you…it’s sick.
- I don’t need their approval, so I treat others like crap…
So we shouldn’t strive in any relationships w/ man or God.
We have our ID through Christ, so we walk in love without need of approval… we don’t work ourselves to death because God has already approved us!
Do you believe that the most glorious being in the universe is pleased w/ you because of what Christ did???
My joy is not affected by people or circumstances, but in Christ…
If this is true, (that God is Ultimate Glory), how would that affect your heart?
- Loving freely
- Stable people…not double-minded or tossed about
- Interested in each other
- Easier to give God glory
How would it affect our community?
How would it affect our city?
4) God is Gracious: So we don’t have to prove ourselves
We work hard to prove ourselves…that’s why we argue.
Why do we defend ourselves & our image?
a) We try to prove ourselves to ourselves so we can feel good about ourselves
When we mess up, we feel shame… so we try to distance ourselves from our sin…
What are some ways we try to distance ourselves from our sin?
It was the other persons fault,
it was my circumstances,
I had a good reason for doing that
I wasn’t in the wrong
Anger, covering up feelings of shame
When we sin, we feel it’s a sin against ourselves & our image
The flip-side is perfectionism. We HAVE to do everything and do it perfectly in order to feel good about ourselves. Otherwise we are overwhelmed by a sense of shame, inadequacy, guilt and fear of being un-loved.
b) We also try to prove ourselves to others
This is similar outcomes to “God is Glorious”
When I try to prove myself to someone in order to feel ok, to feel justified and worthy of salvation, I am essentially trusting in that person for my salvation.
One of the problems in trying to prove ourselves to others, is that they (or we ) set the standard.
We settle for living like we want or like others instead of living like Christ…
“I’m not as bad as that guy.”
c) We try to prove ourselves to God
We have a desire to “Self-Atone”
We try to do something to make God act favorable toward us…
We think God will be more impressed by us or love us more if we are better than we were the day before, if we are really good and are exhausting ourselves with service.
We are hard-wired to prove our worthiness
We are all born legalists
Because we want to take the credit… Y?
Because we are not believing the truth that God is gracious.
It can be a longing for control… we work our hardest to prove ourselves so we feel worthy
God is always saying, “In my love, I’ve given you my son who’s already paved the path of your acceptance.”
We have the freely given unmerited favor of God! (Grace)
What are some personal examples of things in our lives we know we don’t deserve? family, healing, breath, salvation… the only thing we’ve ever earned is death
We don’t earn or deserve anything but wrath… it’s God’s grace that gives us everything…
But I wake up tomorrow & try to prove myself to myself & others & God…
What happens when I try to prove myself? What are some indicators?
- Take criticism & failure badly (defensiveness)
- Hard to relax (workaholic)
- Proud/Judgmental attitude
- Envy of others’ successes
- Want to prove we are right
- Feel pressure to perform
- Serve so we can feel good about ourselves or to impress people.
- Trying to live up to impossible standards set either by yourself or by someone else.
- Enjoyment in hearing of the shortcomings of others rather than grieving
I declare myself to be a better savior than Jesus. Here is the shocking truth: all supposed good works that are done without faith in the grace of God are not good works at all, but acts of God-defying pride. ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God.’ (Hebrews 11:6).
That is why Jesus says: ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’ (John 6:29)
What would be the result of not needing to prove ourselves because we believe in our hearts that God is gracious?
- Spiritual growth
- Correction is welcome
- Mutual admonishing/accountability
- Putting others first
- Ability to show grace to others
- Prayer for each other, because we know we live by His grace
- Rest, joy
- Serving out of freedom instead of obligation
- Ability to say no, because our works do not justify us
- Openness about our sin, because we believe we are forgiven
I guess many of us confidently believe that we will be justified on the last day – acquitted before God through the death of Jesus. But what about justification today and tomorrow? Are you still trying to prove yourself?
What’s the answer?
- By realizing that we are already atoned for!!! I don’t have to self-atone for myself or anyone else. We are already validated. (Horton Plaza. Don’t have to pay anything. Validation is free. Why do you keep trying to pay?)
- Realize that no one else can save you, so you don’t have to impress them or rely on them for your acceptance.
- “We must sit in the reality of our great need, before we can understand the reality of God’s great grace.” Do you understand that your attempts to gain God’s forgiveness and approval through our work are like trash to Him? It is a spit in His face. He gave up His son, and we are saying that is not enough.
- Live in grace & realization that we are nothing without God, & That he’s everything & the very source of our lives
- Think of our failures, then think of all the good we have in our life because of God…that’s a picture of God’s grace and should fuel an attitude of gratitude.
- Do you think you deserve Jesus or are you trying to deserve Jesus?
How do we begin…?
We begin by repenting to the perfect & Holy God who is good, glorious, great & gracious!
We are changed when we look at Jesus, delight in Jesus, commune with Jesus. But no-one can embrace Jesus if they are guilty of sin and no-one will embrace Jesus if they still feel the guilt of sin. So change only begins when come ‘under grace’ with its message of divine pardon and welcome. Only then will we “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”(Hebrews 4:16)
Change takes place through faith in our great and good God. It takes place as we preach truth to our hearts. This does not mean it is easy. We just have to believe – but that is a big ‘just’! Faith is a daily struggle. Lies about God are all around us: the world, the flesh and the devil whisper them constantly to our hearts. It is a struggle. But it is also possible. ‘This is the victory that has overcome the world,’ says the Apostle John, ‘even our faith.’ (1 John 5:4)
First, we need to nurture our delight in God’s goodness, rest in God’s grace, fear of God’s majesty, trust in God’s control, longing for God’s future. We need to do this day by day through the word, prayer and the Christian community (more of this in unit eight).
Second, when we face temptation we need to say not only I should not do this, but also I need not do this.
When tempted to envy another’s possession, we say not only I must not envy, but also I need not envy because I have Christ. When tempted to worry, we say not only I must not worry, but I need not worry because God is in control. Whatever sin offers, God is bigger and better.
To say to temptation ‘I must not do this’ is legalism. To say ‘I need not do this’ is gospel.
Exercise: What truths do you need to turn to?
What thoughts are behind your behaviour or emotions?
∗ Why do you do what you do or feel?
∗ What do you hope to achieve?
∗ What do you think will make you happy in that situation?
∗ What beliefs or thoughts shape your behaviour or emotions?
What do your thoughts show about your trust in God?
Restate your thinking with God included. The following questions may help:
∗ If you want something, do you think it offers more than God offers?
∗ If you fear something, do you think it is more important than God?
Restate your thoughts as beliefs or thoughts about God.
∗ What do your thoughts show about your trust that God is great?
∗ What do your thoughts show about your trust that God is glorious?
∗ What do your thoughts show about your trust that God is good?
∗ What do your thoughts show about your trust that God is gracious?
What is the lie that is behind the area you have chosen in your personal change project?
What truths do you need to turn to?
Turn the answer to the last question the opposite way round. If this is the lie, what is the truth? Which of the following truths particularly apply to these lies?
∗ God is great – so we do not have to be in control ∗ God is glorious – so we do not have to fear others ∗ God is good – so we do not have to look elsewhere ∗ God is gracious – so we do not have to prove ourselves
Say the truth to yourself twenty times: ‘God is all I need.’ Say it slowly. ‘God … is … all … I … need.’ Say it out loud. Say it back to him: ‘You are all I need’.
Write a summary of the truths you need to turn to in faith.