Monthly Archives: September 2018

Think – Feel – Do

The pathway of change

Change starts with our thinking, the Bible makes this very clear;

do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind Romans 12v2 (ESV)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians10v5 (NIV)

Many would agree with this but still see little deep and lasting change in their lives. Ironically often the problem is that we are unaware of our misconceptions, our unhelpful thoughts, our misunderstanding of truth and lack of grasp of the gospel. We ‘think’ we believe it all but an inner emptiness and dissatisfaction can suggest otherwise.

Often ‘pretension’ or as the ESV puts it ‘lofty opinion’ is lurking more than we are aware of or would like to admit. If we are (I am) honest so much of our lives is not the real thing but as shell, a shadow, pride, a performance based not on Christ but on self.

It is fairly easy to hide what we really think and how we are really doing behind either our intellect or our behaviour. However, it is much harder to hide behind our emotions.  We may be able to explain great doctrine but if this leaves us unmoved emotionally we can’t have really understood it, or at least how it applies to ourselves. We may perform all sorts of good activities but if we do not feel anything towards God and those the activity is supposedly for, then a performance is exactly all that it is.

It is surely our feelings and desires, or lack of, which reveal what we really think as they flow from our deepest thoughts, perceptions & understanding. And they speak of the authenticity of our behaviour as they are the motive & force behind it. Therefore, the appropriateness of what we feel is a thermometer of how we are spiritually, a gauge of our engagement with reality, an indicator of our grasp of truth, a measure of our appreciation of beauty.

Feelings and thoughts are coupled together so closely they cannot be separated. Wherever there is a feeling there is a thought or perception behind it that has produced it. So the only real way to change how we feel is to change how we think, and then in turn our new feelings empower a change in our behaviour. But it is our feelings, our emotions and desires which highlight our true thinking and understanding, showing us where our mind needs renewing and which thoughts need taking captive.

If we are prepared to be honest with ourselves and God (and each other) about how we feel and the roots of these feelings then we are in a place to start real deep change in our lives. Our thinking flows into our feelings which flow into our doing, so new thinking can transform our lives. However, to accurately and deeply change our thinking or renew our mind we need to be honest about our current feelings, so that our real thoughts, understanding and perceptions can be laid bare. 


The pleasure of salvation

We are called to ‘please God’ (1 Thessalonians 4v1esv) but how are we meant to do this? What is it that God finds pleasing?

Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (Matthew 22v37esv). In other words this is how we are to please God. Loving God with our all, above anything else pleases God, because finding true delight in him, demonstrates him to be of supreme satisfaction and worth. Cherishing and enjoying God, recognises him for whom he is, and is to relate to him as he is. In other words, we please God by taking pleasure in him.

Unfortunately, this is the very thing we don’t do. The essence of our sin is that we prefer to take pleasure in almost anything above God. In so doing declaring it to be of more value and interest than the Almighty and so turning our backs on him.

The good news is that this is why Jesus came. He lived, died, rose again and ascended back to heaven, so that through faith in him we can be totally forgiven of all our sinful displeasure & dishonouring lack of joy in God, and be given Jesus’ righteousness as our own.

not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God’ (Philippians 3v9esv).

To be given Jesus’ righteousness, is to be given his record of rightly relating to, or correctly valuing God. That is, we are given Jesus’ perfect record of total pleasure in God, and so declared 100% pleasing to God 100% of the time, just as Jesus himself is!  Therefore we are brought back to God, enabled to come into his presence and to take pleasure in him, to the honour of his name and delight of his heart. 

This is wonderful news; you will not hear better. But at this point confusion can set in. We can think ‘how do I please him who is already totally pleased with me?’ And in our attempts to do so, fall back into trying to make God pleased with us; trying to win his approval. 

The problem is that often we can confuse ‘God being pleased with us’ and ‘us pleasing God’. They are not the same thing. The first is justification (how God feels towards us; totally pleased, he enjoys our company), the second is sanctification (how we feel towards God; increasingly pleased, we learn to enjoy his company).

Once we put our trust in Jesus we are pleasing to God, how he thinks and feels towards us does not and cannot change, as it is set in Jesus Christ (justification).

Once this is the case, we can please God, day by day, moment by moment, because he is already totally pleased with us. So, we please him by allowing him to have what he finds pleasing; namely, our now God honouring self in Christ & Christ in us. That is, we please God, by being pleased with/enjoying the fact, that he is already pleased with us in Christ! And from this position of total acceptance & access, further enjoying all that He is! (Sanctification).

This is just another way of saying we glorify God by knowing him. Through faith in Jesus, God is totally pleased with us, so we can please him, by taking pleasure in him/being with him! So, salvation is a pleasure for all involved; God and the believer.