What is God's Work? - What is Mine?
By Joanne Highley
In the process of gaining freedom from the bondage and deception of homosexuality, there can be serious confusion over what are the means to this freedom. Is it all up to God and we wait for Him to set us free. Or is it a matter of work on the part of the person trapped in this addictive sin? Could it be that somehow the two must work together to gain the freedom that God desires for anyone in bondage? In Philippians 2:12-13 we see the truth set forth plainly that this is a covenant relationship---a two-party agreement and a working together of God and man. "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed---not only in my presence, but now in my absence---continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." There are pitfalls of possible misunderstanding of this text for the person in homosexuality. Because the great cry of your heart is for someone to care for you and "make everything all right" and because of the lack or perceived lack of support in the home,you may want God to do it all. But the meaning here is that the power to will and to act comes from God , but the act of willing and of working must come from man. We cannot do God's work. We cannot produce in ourselves a power to will and to do. He has already done that. And God will not do our work; He will not work out our salvation with fear and trembling. The very words "fear and trembling" can trip us up if we are working to be set free. You may feel fearful and trembling, but it is that you feel God is angry at you because you've done something wrong or you fear His punishment. So "fear and trembling" can lead you to a "fix" rather than to God to work this out with Him. In this passage of Scripture these words mean "do this work with great care, doing all that is to be done with diligence and watchfulness, persevering to the end. " Our will does nothing thereunto without grace, but grace is inactive without our will.:(St. Bernard)
The person who has had ill-treatment and abuse from a father will read into God the same qualities: harsh, punishing, cold, uncaring. Whatever the earthly father displayed is seen in the heavenly Father. This is not mentally processed, but rather is an emotional reading in regard to God's character. So a desire comes forth for God to help when a temptation arises, but also a hopeless feeling that He will not help. This keeps the person angry, hopeless and addicted.
On the other side of the coin, we see people who are trapped in addiction feeling so terrible about themselves that they feel God is disgusted by their presence and would not possibly help them until they "get their act together". When you think of the horrible name-calling and put-downs, you can understand this warped view of yourself, believing lies and the curse of words to be your identity.
Another variant is the feeling that you must be perfect before God will listen to your prayers. Many of us have felt we were too dirty to pray or our prayers are phony and hypocritical. Many feel the church is judging them and the pastor is disgusted with them. An encouraging scripture for this problem is Psalm 66:16-20.
Come and listen, all you who fear God;
Let me tell you what He has done for me.
I cried out to Him with my mouth and His praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.
Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer
Or withheld His love from me!
Some people have asked for specific acts of healing or have sought God to spare a loved one from death and when the loved one died, they turned against God. This is a problem of raising our way up over God's way and our view of things over His.
The list of problems with God can go to a great length and must be dealt with if we are to reach a place where freedom can be attained.
This, of course, comes down to addressing the problem of pain and ungodly reactions to pain in childhood. We have for years made solving this problem of pain and the ungodly reaction to it the focus of our ministry. We see clearly that two foundational planks must be in place before a person can be set free. The first is the foundational truth that God is good, He does not make mistakes and He has provided all we need to have an abundant life in this world and the next. The second is who we are in Christ. We are His treasured possession, His masterpiece, His precious child who He rejoices over with singing. He sent His Son to die for you so you could live with Him eternally. Only from the strong undergirding of these two truths can we do what is necessary to uproot old ungodly reactions to pain that have separated us from having intimacy with God, which is the answer to all addiction.
In this article we want to address the first foundational truth. God is good, He does not make mistakes and He has provided all we need to have an abundant life. If this is true, why do so many people get stuck in their work to be set free? We start this emotional work with hope and enthusiasm, but come to a place of hopeless disappointment, frustration and/or depression as the temptations arise and we continue to give in. We begin to see what the problem is, as we try again. When we cry out to God for help (if we have gotten past qur feeling that we are not worthy to approach God or we have a case against God) we get angry at God for not helping, for allowing the pain in the first place and for our having to do all this work on top of what we have suffered in our childhoods. So the outcome of this anger is hopelessness, lust, jealousy and rebellion against God and His truth. Depending on the twisted form of our gifting, whether given to fighting or to passive self-pity and victim mentality, there will be various reactions of rebellion against God There will be also various levels of being in touch with the rebellion because some of us don't want to think we are rebelling against God. (There can be rebellion underneath a passive reaction which the person does not want to face.) At this point of rebellion against God, we have cut ourselves off from our only source of power over the addiction.
The question then arises in the person who wants to be set free: Is God not doing what He should? Or am I not doing what I should? What is God's part in this and what is mine? Before we can look at that question to gain a true answer, we must deal with the false perceptions we have held about God and His character. Is He a God that does not care about your pain? Does He turn a deaf ear when you cry for help? Does He just do what He wants because He is all-powerful, and leave you in the dust? The answer is No, Never! It is our old lying emotional reactions from childhood that misperceive God as the cause and perpetuator of our pain and feeling we have no way out. The misperception of God is what perpetuates the pain.
Listen to this statement from Hebrews about God's plan in sending Jesus to us: "For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and the He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted." (Hebrews 2:17- 18) Listen to the Amplified version of this last verse: "For because He Himself (in His humanity) has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able (immediately) to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried (and who therefore are being exposed to suffering).
Alexander Maclaren writes: "This the great lesson and blessed thought of our text that no suffering soul, no harassed heart, no lonely life has ever been able to say,"Ah, I have to bear this all by myself, for Jesus Christ never knew anything like this." All the pain and sorrow of adverse circumstances that try some of us, He knows who had "not where to lay His head."; who was a poor man all His days; to whom the women had to minister of their charity and who depended on others for His sustenance in life. The sorrows that belong to a physical frame overwrought and crushed by excessive toil; the sorrows of weakness, of sickness, the pains of death---He understands them all." (Expositions of Holy Scripture)
Hebrews 4:15 says, "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are---yet was without sin. Let us approach the Throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
Obviously, by the testimony of these scriptures, the character of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, is that of mercy, faithfulness and the desire to help us in temptation and our time of need. It is our old emotions that have lied to us about God. This is not a rational response.
Now let us consider the misperception of God that is so inherent in the feelings of a wounded and alienated child. The child thinks when hurt, why did God let this happen to me? This is reasonable for a child who feels so alone, hurt and does not understand that God's ways are not our ways and does not understand that God is not
fallible like man and God does not ever do anything wrong. This is the truth that we must work to accept. Otherwise we are held in the lies of our childhood misperceptions of God.
In looking at the story of Cain and Abel, we see that Cain judged God and became angry and his face was downcast when God did not accept his offering, but accepted his brother's offering. God obviously wanted an offering that included a blood sacrifice to foreshadow and teach the coming blood sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus. If Cain had been able to draw near to God and believe He is always right, he could have asked God and gotten the answer he needed. If he had not gone into his lying emotions of anger, judgment of God, a downcast face and jealousy---these emotional reactions which eclipsed the truth about God, he could have avoided the final justification of his sin that led to the murder of his brother. May we all learn to believe always that God is righteous in all His ways. May we draw near to Him instead of living by our ungodly emotions. Then from that place of openness and intimacy and trust of God, we can do the work to be set free. This is the work we do at L.I.F.E. To train people through writing in a journal and counseling and prayer and deliverance to forsake the idol of old emotions and the fix of sex and go to God because He is the truth and will set us free from lies and sinful irrational reactions to pain.
Isaiah 55:7 is a great encouragement in the understanding of God's work and our work:
Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call on Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
And the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the Lord and He will have mercy on him.
And to our God, for He will freely pardon.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Neither are your ways my ways." declares the Lord.
Our work is to remove any blockage or lying emotions and seek the Lord, call on Him while He is near. Forsake your wicked ways and evil thoughts and turn to the Lord. His work that is unfailing love, mercy and pardon is already waiting for you, perfectly worked on Calvary and given freely to all who turn to God. (See the enclosed sheet of other aspects of our work and His work.) His thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways. He perfectly forgives us and forgets our sins.
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time," declares the Lord.
"I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying,'Know the Lord",
because they will all know Me,
from the least of them to the greatest," declares the Lord.
"For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."