In the previous blog post, I discussed the inner conflict of embracing change for the purpose of personal development and spiritual growth. Without a true desire for inner change at the heart level, all the knowledge in the world is of no value and has very limited capacity to make a substantial difference in a person's 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). The "if" condition sets up the remainder of what is meant here. He is saying that if a person is willing to re-align his or her core belief system to Christ's teaching, he or she can truly be called a follower of Christ. A path to true freedom is conditional upon a transformed heart to receive truth not just for the purpose of knowing, but for the purpose of applying. Christian discipleship is more than a mental exercise, religious practice, or change in behavior. It is a change of heart.
A commonly accepted principle "a man reaps what he sows," and one that is mentioned in the Bible in Galations 6:7, confirms that our actions are determined by patterns of thinking and feeling. If a person allows himself to focus on (sow) false beliefs, he will become (reap) the results of false beliefs. If a person thinks of herself as a "failure," "good for nothing," "worthless," "incompetent," "shameful," ... person, then she will fulfill her expectation of herself by repeatedly failing etc.. On the other hand, if a person chooses positive thoughts about him/ herself, "good fruit" will be harvested.
Sometimes the bad patterns develop into things called sins of choice, empty wells, false refuges, counterfeit comforts, or idols of the heart, people may develop addictive tendencies that can range from strong cravings to controlling behaviors. Addictions occur when we take common life experiences to the extreme. These include food (eating disorders), job (work-o-holism), drugs and alcohol (excessive use), sex, money, appearance, relationships (codependency), and even ministry (service to others). Whenever we are seeking comfort or fulfillment in a relationship or activity outside the boundaries set by our loving Creator, we are demonstrating our lack of trust in God to provide value and purpose in our lives. Not only is it necessary to deal with the immediate surface issues of addiction, but we must also identify and abandon false refuges in the heart where soulish attachment is sought in an ungodly manner. If a person is honestly willing to recognize this condition with his mind, then the work of changing the heart can begin.
In summary, most people follow one of two remedies to deal with disappointment, discouragement, or hurt from life circumstances or relationships. People try their best to pretend things are better than they really are (denial), or they live to relieve it at all cost (addictive behaviors). Whether people deny or over-gratify, at some point, they become more painfully aware of their desperate state of human weakness and inability to effect lasting change without the supernatural presence of God working in their hearts.
For people to let go of denial or false refuge to face the truth about themselves is sometimes a fearful step. The tension between the Holy Spirit pushing truth up and a fearful mind pushing the truth down is known as anxiety. It is the fear of the unknown. Part of a person is wise and wants to know the truth. Part of the person is foolish and fears the truth. The Holy Spirit reveals the difference, and will only bring healing to those who humble themselves and are willing to cooperate with the condition of discipleship mentioned above. As people give up their fear of the truth and trust God to forgive them just as they are, then they can begin to surrender themselves and learn to rest in the salvation of God’s grace.
Are you trusting in knowledge or truth? Are you believing too many non-truths (trapped in lie-based thinking), or allowing God to transform your mind and heart to receive the lasting truth to change bad consequences into peace and rest in the Refuge of Christ? Whereever you are in the journey, I pray you can find deeper heart-level freedom in this Refuge.
Note: The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with offense and finding freedom in forgiveness. This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith) to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: More About the Book . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at http://bluerockbnb.com
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry