The messages of this world and religion have made life with God somehow less, which is a lie. It’s this lie that must be exposed in our soul to enable us come into the fullness of God’s righteous love. As long as we are holding this lie, we won’t let go and embrace all He has for us. We will continue to make decisions against His leading and thus repeat the dynamic of what happened in the Garden of Eden over and over … that somehow we know better.
The ultimate choice we have to make is between following God and following self. Following God leads to eternal life and following self leads to death. To be in unity with God, we have to turn from our self-will (true repentance) and follow God’s will. In following God we seek to do only His will, just as Jesus did. John 5:30 But we don’t know God’s will unless we seek to know – thus why God tells us to seek and live. Amos 5:4 When following self we do what we think is good and right – whatever it is.
To learn about God through the Bible a similar approach must be taken in order to draw near to God in truth and spirit – we have to deny self.
God tells us to believe in Him. The Bible with the instruction of the Holy Spirit is a gateway to deeply knowing God so we can believe in Him as He is. This venue isn’t everyone’s; for we are all unique. But it is a part of my journey, and for you who feel called to this thought-provoking venue will resonate with my journey.
Reading the Bible isn’t about learning “techniques of good living” to then fulfill our own purposes and desires. We have to let go of all our self-will in coming to God in order to really know God and for Him to be our Lord.
There are three areas of denying our self-will when abiding in the Bible in order to learn about God, thus draw near in truth and Spirit.
The first area is in regards to making time to seek God. It’s putting abiding in the Bible to be taught by the Holy Spirit as the priority. Consider all the times you’ve put something above spending time with God, when God has told you to seek Him first. Matthew 6:33 Times you choose to sleep in, attend to another person, do a task, or get consumed in work. At those times, YOU are deciding what is more important versus doing what GOD has told you to do – love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, to put Him first, and to diligently seek Him. This choice to do what you want is following your self-will. When you continue this pattern, deep down you think you know better, otherwise you would do what God says. So who’s will is dominating in you?
The second area is who you focus on when you do abide in the Bible. To get to know God through the Bible, you have to set your needs, wants, and expectations aside and focus on God. If you read the Bible with the mindset and motive that is focused on you, then you aren’t denying self, you are putting self first. You are putting your self-will and what you think the time in the Bible should be about above seeking to know God. Instead of saying, God, what do you want to teach me? What do you want me to know about you? It’s always about fixing you, searching for a certain answer, or preparing for a Bible study. Whose will is in control at this point?
If your interactions with your spouse were always about you, you would learn very little about her/him. There would be no true intimacy or bond. You would do what you thought that person wanted, but you really wouldn’t have a clue. You haven’t sought to know him/her intimately because every interaction has been about you. Therefore you wouldn’t have a real relationship, certainly not a healthy one. With God it’s the same. We have to realize we don’t know God unless we individually seek to know Him. Until we do we have a false image of Him, which means we have a false relationship. It’s necessary to seek Him while putting ourselves aside to know Him as He is. Then we’ll start to develop a real relationship.
The third area has to do with conforming the Bible to your beliefs versus the Bible molding your beliefs. It’s realizing that you have filters and ways of viewing God and the Bible that are wrong. That you hold ideas that you think are “truth” but aren’t. When you come to learn of God, you have come with a humble heart which is willing to receive and hear anything God may teach you instead of trying to fit the Bible to your paradigms. If you think you already know, you don’t really seek. You conform what you read and hear to what you already believe. If you think you already know then who are you following when you abide in the Bible?
In order to know God through the Bible, there is a choice to make, God or self. It’s a prelude to the ultimate choice of choosing Him in everyway over our self-will.
The way to life is choosing God. The only way for the Bible to be unsealed to you so you can draw near to God in truth and spirit is to choose God in these areas. If you don’t deny self when coming to the Bible to be taught by the Holy Spirit, then you are reading for your own purposes and goals based on what you think is good. Your will is in control. This is how the Pharisees could know the scriptures, but be totally off. They used them to fulfill what they determined was right and good.
God has to be first. He is Lord. He can’t be second.
One side note, letting go of self-will isn’t about losing your identity. It’s coming to the understanding that God’s will is good and leads to true life and therefore that is what you want to do. If you were walking through a dense forest and you had a guide with you who knew the best and safest way to get through it, what would you do? You would follow him. Same with God. God knows the path to life. We walk with Him when our will is submitted to Him because then we are walking in His footsteps. The journey leads us to what we’ve always truly and deeply desired, because God is that good.
Tomorrow when you sit down to learn about God through the Bible consider these three areas. Ask the Spirit to examine your heart; are you really making this about God and seeking Him or about you?
2 Chronicles 15:12-13 – and whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
Luke 14:26-27 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
Luke 14:33 “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Some powerful verses, aren’t they?
We have a choice to make; a choice between God’s will and our will. Are we going to follow our way and what we think is best or are we going to follow God? Which we choose will determine if we enter into the kingdom of God.
We can only choose if we know what our choice is. Therefore, we have to learn who God TRULY is and who we TRULY are. Only then can we decide. Otherwise we may be choosing ourselves and not realize it or choosing a false image of God, not God.
This choice is the one Adam had to make. He chose himself when he chose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He decided he could choose what was right, good and best in his life. Like Adam, we all have this choice to make, our way or God’s. But first we have to see God and see ourselves.
Born into Self-Will (sin)
We are born in this world following our self (sin) – like the fallen Adam. Bound to this self will, we learn to trust our pride, strength, intellect, ideas of what good is, and goodness. Our trust is in us. What we trust is our idol/god. We experience life with us at the helm. We see what it manifests. We have no idea that there is another option because it is all we know. We are blinded to God’s way. We haven’t learned of it therefore can’t chose Him or walk in it. We will do what we know. What we know we trust.
Then something in our spirit awakens. We become aware that there is another way; to trust God instead of us. This first awakening is what people acknowledge with the “sinner’s prayer” – it’s simply awareness. This awareness plays out in four ways as in the parable of the sower of the field. Matthew 13 Only the seed, the Word, that falls on good soil continues on and prospers. Good soil is the soul nourished with the spirit and truth. Though many have awareness only a fraction choose God.
Seeking God to Choose Him
Until we seek God grounded in the Bible with the instruction of the Holy Spirit, we don’t have the information to make the choice of truly denying ourselves to follow God. John 6:45 One, we aren’t fully aware of the self that is contrary to God (sin is a symptom of self, it’s self, the source, we are to repent, turn from) second we don’t know God deeply enough to trust Him with our lives. How do you really trust what you don’t know?
At this awakening, we can choose to pursue God or not. Pursuing God means seeking Him with all our hearts to know Him deeply and personally. It isn’t easy. It takes commitment to diligently seek. We need to get to know God amidst all the deception that fills our lives, which keeps us from this very act. Lies like you don’t need to seek, you don’t need to read the Bible, you just need to do be a good person, and you are too busy. There are many counterfeit substitutes within spirituality to keep us from digging deeper so we can truly make a choice for God and believe.
If you believe there is gold in your backyard what will you do? Go dig. If you believe God is your God what will you do? Go dig. If you believe only God is righteous and you aren’t therefore you don’t know what is truly good, then you will seek God and His ways and truth because you are clueless. You’ll desire to draw near and know Him. Faith without works is dead. Faith is believing and trusting in God and His ways. You can’t follow what you don’t know. To truly know God as He is and not some image concocted by you or this world, you have to get to intimately know Him. You have to get to know God and His ways in order to follow them. You don’t choose what you don’t know and trust. Believe is a loaded word.
This need to seek is why the path is narrow to life and few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 It takes commitment and diligence in seeking God. This is why many are called few are chosen. Matthew 22:14 Of the called, few choose to seek out God and get to know Him as He is. For those who truly seek God, they are able to choose between themselves and God because they understand what the choice entails.
Christian Image – False Security
One of the greatest distractions from seeking is buying into the image of a follower of God. Once you think you’ve found, you stop seeking.
This “image of a Christian” keeps people from seeking. (One who lives the manufactured Christian lifestyle) This manufactured image misleads people into thinking they made a choice when they haven’t. This “image” has a fundamental trait – no real necessity to seek God to get to know Him. It deludes people into thinking they have God when they don’t because outwardly they’ve changed their actions. They have only heard the call but they haven’t sought to really be able to make the choice. They are still following self.
In Matthew 7:22-23, people were doing great acts in God’s name. But they were doing what they thought best, thus living by their righteousness and not God’s. They never spent time to really get to know God. They lived the image of a Christian but were far from truly being a Christian.
This is why God says to seek Him. Amos 5:4 In seeking, you get to see who He truly is and who you truly are. In that awareness, you are able to choose between Him and you. Choosing Him is believing in Him. Believing means He is Lord in word and action. This is true faith.