If someone has been used to reading through the Bible by distinguishing between commandments and promises, he will surely feel crushed, time and again, especially when he comes across a commandment which appears an impossible thing to be obeyed by us. Here are some examples.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 Jn 2:15-17 ESV)
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Mt 10:37 ESV)
“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Col 3:8-10 ESV)
Have you ever tried to not love the world, or to love Jesus more than your family, or to kill the flesh which seems to be indestructible? Or have you ever felt jealous or angry but you didn’t want to feel those feelings any longer? And you prayed to God about it – a thousand times, and more – but He seemingly didn’t hear you?
You are not alone in this. And the solution for the impossible things lies – as always – in God’s spiritual power which He gives to us at an increasing rate the more the sanctification process advances. He does not give us all spiritual power at one go; instead, He often lets us wait many years, even decades, until He suddenly begins to pour out His Spirit into our very hearts (Rom 5:5).
If God finally does so, what might be the consequences for our life, then?
Some years ago I read an article by Charles Grandison Finney in which he described the features, or rather the lack of features, regarding people who are filled with the Holy Spirit. To put it briefly, he said that they appear to be extremely one-sided to “the world” since they are no longer interested in this-worldly things. Their only interest is the Lord and His Kingdom. Period. Boring people – really (wink wink).
For my own part, as soon as I realized that God made me lose any interest in my multitude of hobbies, in long conversations with friends or relatives, and some other things ( 😉 ), I wondered about it, and to be honest, I reacted with blaming myself for it. Again and again. I couldn’t believe that the same things I loved before had become even repulsive to me. In the beginning I was embarrassed – sometimes even bugged, because I couldn’t explain it – as soon as I heard some of the following constantly recurring questions:
“What??? Not running/swimming, no aerobics/badminton/Yoga/Qi Gong any more? What happened? Depressed?”
“Not reading books/watching TV/going to the movies/going on vacation any more? Unimaginable!!!”
Or the worst of it 🙂
“You are a woman!!!? Don’t you love cooking/baking/cultivating/shopping/going for a walk in God’s wonderful creation?”
No. It’s over. Completely. And I admit that it is not always that easy for me to live in this world surrounded by people who do and love to do what I loved to do as well, yet not belonging to them any more. As for the things I don’t love any more, I do what I ought, and that’s it. Honestly, it makes me feel like an alien here, and I do understand what John may have meant by writing, “for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Rev 12:11 ESV).
Without God’s peace and comfort, I could never imagine how to psych myself up daily in order to live in a world which, though created by God and wonderful to look at, is not at all interesting to me.
When I feel joy, it comes ALWAYS from the inside, not simply from watching an impressive sunset, walking a wonderful beach, or even looking at God’s beautifully created men and women. The last thing is the strangest of all, that is, to see beautiful bodies and less beautiful ones side by side without feeling attracted by some or repelled by others.
The only thing I sense when looking at people is their spirit, and the mental state they are in. When they are sad, struggling with life, or need help in any way, my heart is always brim-full with (Spirit-given) empathy. I can’t help feeling this way, and I still wonder how I lost any “feeling” for physical bodies, and why I merely perceive them as “flesh” without any “magnetic effects”.
Referring to the last point I made, I believe that the problems the Church has regarding pornography, sexual immorality, adultery, and homosexuality etc. – ergo everything concerning human sexuality – cannot be solved but by Christ’s Spirit alone. Every struggle of a homosexual, a bisexual, or a transsexual to become “normal” [whatever this may be] is doomed to failure right from the beginning.
If there is one thing I would tell anyone struggling with his or her sexuality, I would like to point out that God loves us really unconditionally. It is never “God loves you BUT…”!!!
God would never, I repeat it, never, and I keep repeating it (!) 🙂 , God would never demand anything from us we cannot do, or rather we don’t love to do. God will give us time and lead for it’s a long way…
Only (outwardly) religious people usually urge others to do what they can’t do, as Jesus said,
“Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” (Lk 11:46 ESV)
In my experience, it is more a hindrance than a help to burden people with trying to change what they cannot change at all. In fact, I fear that such self-liberation efforts might poison our relationship with God, since – who would willingly put their trust in someone who continually forces them to try the impossible? Would we really call it God’s L-O-V-E?