Being a born again recovering addict creates all kinds of conflict.
When you think about it though, it really shouldn’t. God’s description of “old things passing away” you’d think would mean that our old natures (addictions, fears, self-worth issues, etc…) would be on the list of old things that died.
But I don’t think I’m alone in saying that once the newness of relationship with Christ wears down (and ideally that should never happen!) then the old emotional baggage of traumas, negative thinking patterns, fears, and resentments seem to bubble back up from someplace long dead and buried.
What I think is happening is that once Jesus’ Spirit joins with our spirit at that beautiful moment of conversion and Justification is 100% complete, then the rest of ourselves (mind, body, and soul) begins the process of believing and obeying in varying degrees.
The process of Sanctification is a different beast than Salvation. It is made up of our intentional acts of the will, acts of faith, acts of mercy, acts of patience, acts of grace and it simply takes time.
Jesus wants to heal every aspect of our body, mind, and soul to match that of our fully redeemed Spirit within us. The question I believe is what parts of me am I willing to give to Him.
I have no idea if any of that will have anything to do with today’s SOAP journey, but it’s where my heart and mind are this morning and I just wanted to share.
John 3:22-36 (ESV)
John the Baptist Exalts Christ
22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).
25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
- v22 – He was baptizing
- v23 – People were coming
- v26 – all are going to him
- v27 – cannot receive one thing unless it is given from heaven
- v29 – rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.
- v29 – This joy of mine is now complete
- v30 – He must increase, I must decrease
- v31 – He who is of the earth.. speaks in an earthly way
- v32 – He [from heaven] bears witness to what he has seen and heard
- v32 – no one receives his testimony
- v33 – Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal that God is true
- v34 – whom God has sent utters the words of God, gives Spirit without measure
- v35 – The Father loves the Son
- v36 – Whoever believes has eternal life
- v36 – -Whoever does not obey shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him
v22 – The works of baptism are important to Jesus. God, Himself is doing hands-on ministry work, not just preaching, teaching and healing. I can’t help but wonder what Jesus said as he baptized people. Do I value the works of ministry and celebrate the baptism ceremonies at church just as Jesus did?
v23 – The imagery of the first revival, the initial gathering of people coming to see Christ, to be baptized, to follow and learn from Abba Father directly. What a time this must have been. Is my life an attraction that draws others around me to want to come to Him?
v26 – All are going to him? My psychology red flags are going off here. John was baptizing also, so clearly not ALL are going to him. And what’s your point, other’s can’t get baptized by someone else, especially Jesus himself? This is clearly an example of extreme thinking and jealousy and it is toxic. Are there any areas in my life where jealousy creeps in and bitters my heart toward the good works of others?
v27 – Cannot receive one thing! I think of Psalm 112 “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord…” God is at the center of everything and so far beyond my understanding. Do I place all my thoughts and actions at the foot of the Cross for His approval and blessing? How often am I serving me and expecting Him to supplement my plans?
v29 – Rejoices greatly at His voice. I feel every ounce of complacency being called out in me. Is not the Bible the Word of God, is it not His Voice? Is not the times when I pray expecting to “hear from God” me waiting on HIS VOICE? Is not the times when I’m in the company of other believers who are praying for me or speaking life into me the very voice of God? Do I rejoice when engaging with God in all forms? And not just rejoice, but rejoice GREATLY? God is not just some dude who helps us out and my pastors and Christians peers are not just “good people”. These are the ministers of God Himself in my life.
v29 – This joy of mine is now complete. Is my joy complete? What is the status of my joy, am I filled with praise and worship more than I am fear and doubt? Am I complete or am I still waiting for something more?
v30 – He must increase, I must decrease. It’s not about me, it’s not about me, it’s not about me, none of it is about me, when will I truly understand that my life, my testimony, my ministry, my dreams, my salvation, … none of it is about me.
v31 – Humans can only speak of earthly things. We will get glimpses of God’s goodness but we can only speak of God in terms that our finite minds can understand. The ways of God are so far beyond my comprehension. How often do I run the risk of believing my thinking and writing adds wisdom to the Gospel instead of always recognizing humbly that I will at best only poorly be describing the Indescribable greatness of God?
v32 – He bears witness to what He has seen. How much more has God seen and heard than we will ever see this side of heaven? How could I come to God’s Word and not be filled with a desperate need to absorb everything He says? This SOAP process is a good step. EVERY WORD MATTERS! Do I believe that with such desperation that it’s like a longing for air when being held underwater?
v33 – WHOEVER. Again, it’s a choice. God’s knowledge, power, mercy, and love is available to EVERYONE, but only those who chose to believe and proclaim receive the promises. Do I count myself among those who have set my seal on the Truth of God?
v34 – Jesus was sent by God and He was given unlimited access to The Spirit. Again, does this message strike deep to my core that there is no one more beautiful, more wonderful, that there is no one like Him? Am I overwhelmed by God?
v35 – The Father loves the Son. I can’t tell you the hundreds of hours I have in counseling in dealing with my earthly father wounds. Have I gotten past my own father’s limitations to come to trust and love my true Father’s heart and love for me? Are we not adopted son’s and daughters and in that not loved by the same measure that God loves His own Son?
v36 – Again! Whoever believes. Depending upon the translation there are more than a dozen passages stating “whoever believes”. The Kingdom of Heaven opens to those who believe. Am I truly among the believers?
v36 – those who don’t obey (by believing) shall not see life but receive wrath. Uh, no thank you!
Wow, Lord, I’m not sure what is stirring in my heart but I feel a big shift this morning. So much of my recovery journey has been about believing that Sanctification is the difficult process of moving from unholiness to holiness and that belief has actually perpetuated my self-condemnation in the areas of my heart and mind that are not fully of You. The beautiful message blossiming within me is the reminder that this is about You and not me. And that the battle is not with my flesh and bones but with believing that everything You say about You and me is true. I have been set free, I am a child of God, I already have everything in me that is needed to live a holy life, I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The old is gone, the new has come. My battle is to believe there is no battle. There will be hardships, but You are bigger than anything this world can throw at me, even unto death. Any old thoughts, feelings or lies about myself or my future or even about You that I may have believed for decades is just that, ghosts of an ignorant past that no longer exist. You are mighty to save, and I have been saved. It is my faith that sets me free, thank You Jesus!
Wow, it may not show up on the pages, but that turned into a couple hours of intense revival in me. During this time I received a phone call from another brother in recovery who was battling temptation and the gospel message that came out of my mouth and heart for him mirrors much of what is shared here today. I saw him as shadow boxing with his old man who is dead. My belief that sanctification is supposed to be really hard was challenged head-on and I saw for the first time that claiming “it is hard” is where the problem begins. If I think this walk with God is hard then it will be hard. But if I believe He has set me free then my battle is with believing “it is done” and not focusing on “what still needs to be done”.
We can do all things through Christ who sets us free. Glory to God!
Blessings in Christ,
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.