Recovery: The Way Back
The Discovery: The Search for Truth
One of the most painful things for all human beings to do is to look in the mirror. Even more painful than looking in the mirror is the process of looking into our own hearts and character. It is painful primarily for two reasons: One, because of the great shame and guilt we feel about the condition of our heart; and two, because of the lack of understanding concerning the character of God, His great power, mercy and grace.
In the book of I John, the great Apostle, called by scripture the beloved one, describes the character of God as having two primary characteristics: first is that of light; second, that of love.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all,” (1 John 1:5).
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin,” (1 John 4:7).
The God of light exposes the darkness within our lives. All of us have areas of darkness, hidden agendas, misbeliefs, fears and negative attitudes that cause us great dismay and keep us from having a more intimate relationship with God the Father. I call these hidden fortresses.
When light begins to shine, it exposes those things which are in the darkness. Jesus wanted us all to become children of light, not children of darkness. As children of light, we must allow ourselves to be exposed to the light by the Word of God.
That process for many Christians is very difficult. We have been taught to believe that if one is caught doing something wrong, especially if one is caught in sin, rather than being cared for, nurtured, corrected and disciplined appropriately, we will be abused, hurt, shamed and ridiculed.
This was certainly Mary’s experience. As a 10 year old child, her haven of rest had always been school. Her home life would be classified as toxic, filled with verbal abuse, near abject poverty, and a woeful lack of intimacy and love. However, school, up until her 5th grade, had been a true place of safety.
In counseling she related an incident which sent her reeling, and from which she believed she would never recover. It was a normal day in her class, but this day would be different. Mary was a shy young girl, and against her will she was forced to stand up in front of the class and give an oral report. To this day she cannot remember the topic she was to present. Her fear was overwhelming, her shame unbearable, and in total panic she ran from the room. From that day she had hidden her feelings and protected her space with a vengeance. She learned to hide from everyone and everything, even from the light of God’s word and the love of her Savior.
A large majority of the saints of God have learned to hide, to cover and defend against every possibility of coming to the light, even to the light of God. The fear of exposure is intense. There is no darkness in Him, and there is to be no darkness within the child of God.
Mary, like so many of us, expected the light to expose, and then she expected punishment and judgment of God to follow. The judgment we deserve was purchased by Christ on the cross! Jesus Christ took our shame and our guilt. Conditioned by past experience, we avoid the light rather than becoming transformed by God’s love. For Mary, her fear of exposure and ridicule was extremely intense, but the symptoms which brought her to counseling were not just her own. She sought help for herself and her whole family when she observed similar symptoms in her child and grandchild. To her surprise and dismay, these symptoms occurred in the absence of a precipitating even (the generational pattern).
Though we may expect punishment from our exposure to the light, God has another plan. Later in I John, the Apostle reveals the character of God as perfect, eternal, holy, and wholesome with absolute unconditional love. Certainly God sees the sin, the discouragement, the unbelief, the heartache, the pain, the negative “stinkin’ thinkin’” in our lives. Instead of punishing us, hurting us, condemning us, shaming us, He loves and forgives us and wishes to heal us. Jesus has become the recipient of all the punishment that we deserve! However we must be willing to accept His full provision for us.
In this discovery section we are going to look at several models and principles for discovering the truth about our lives, and for receiving the love and nurturing of the Father we so desperately need.
The availability of the love of God for all believers has always been there. His light shows us the dark areas of our heart so we can present them to Him for transformation. Most people raised in dysfunctional families have difficulty receiving this truth because their ability to receive truth has been blurred by the dysfunction within the family. The models presented will assist in freeing us from past patterns of iniquity and prepare us to receive the totality of God’s love.
“Search me O God and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts (or my anxious thoughts) and see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way,” (Psalm 139:23).
Psalm 51 contains David’s famous prayer resulting from his sin with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah, her husband.
David, a man after God’s own heart, recognized that within his heart were issues and agendas that were not pleasing to God. His prayer was that God would search his heart and his thoughts, especially his fearful thoughts, to see if there were any wicked ways, any iniquity within him. His prayer shows his desire to know and understand truth in the inner most part of his life (his self). His desire was to be fully cleansed and be made totally right with God.
David’s prayer is a model for those wanting to overcome dysfunctional life patterns. We first must recognize that we need to have a scathing search of our heart. In the tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-step program, step 4 required fearless moral inventory. Sometimes this step can be most beneficial; at other times it can be diabolical, since we tend to become overwhelmed with the negative aspects of our character.
The Bible doesn’t say for you to do a moral inventory, the Bible says the Holy Spirit does the moral inventory. Part of our recovery process is to discover the truth about ourselves. Not to do it via some invasive, psychological technique, but primarily through the loving process of allowing the Holy Spirit to graciously and gently reveal to us the truth by shining the light of God’s Word in our hearts. If we are willing submit to the process, the issues of our heart that are to be dealt with by the power and love of God will be exposed for the process of transformation.
David’s prayer should be our prayer: “Dear Lord God, search my heart, try my thoughts and show me if there is any wicked way. Lord give me truth in my inner man.”
That is a difficult step to take, but it is one of the first ones that must be done if we are going to see God begin to work transformation for us.
We can see an example of the search for truth in the life of the Apostle Paul. Romans 7, is a scripture reference quoted by almost every believer who suffers from dysfunctional family patterns. Described is the conflict of the two natures.
“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do,” (Romans 7:14-15).
What a beautiful description, in a morbid sense, of the life of one raised in a dysfunctional family.
What a terrible life situation.
“And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good,” (Romans 7:16).
Our spirit has been made alive through Christ and is perfect, whole and complete. But, the spirit must come to the place where it controls the soul and the body.
The old nature is that part of a person which still remains subsequent to salvation. The soul (the mind, the will, and emotions), the conscience, as well as body, in which we still must work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out,” (Romans 7:18-24).
“For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:19-23).
The Apostle Paul recognized there was a struggle that would continue in every believer’s life, a struggle over which kingdom was going to have the preeminence. Would it be the carnal nature, the fleshly kingdom, the kingdom of self, or the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ?
“Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin,” (Romans 7:25).
It becomes necessary for us as individuals to deal with the old nature. It is the flesh, the old man, the old nature that is subject to the curses or consequences from our prior generations.
In the area of the soul, or our thought life, our will, our ability to make decisions and determine our directions, that the adversary will attack and oppress us. The devil knows that in our soul we are vulnerable to demonic influence and environmental impact. Therefore, we must be willing, as King David and the Apostle Paul, to search the inner man. Thus we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the patterns that require transformation so we can walk through the process of change. Once we become aware, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit, we must then submit ourselves to the cross life and learn to render ourselves dead unto the old self and alive unto Christ (Romans 6:11).
In my book, I deal with much more…including demonic influence and how it has access to our thinking…and so I hope you will seriously consider buying the book, or taking the course offer on line or via Vision International University.