You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11, ESV)
God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.- Dwight L. Moody
In society today, more forms of pleasure are accessible to us than ever before. Whether it be food, music, television, film, relationships, cars, physical fitness or any thing else- we all enjoy the things that give us the most pleasure. So, it might seem strange to say one can be, “satisfied” in Jesus, when that word is usually used to describe pleasures we think can only be obtained apart from Him. Notice I said, “we think.” We think God is not a God of joy, or wants us to enjoy the things He has given us. We’ve painted pleasure so often on the canvas of sin, that it is difficult to see God’s design, because we’ve been the one’s holding the brush for so long.
The conscience is distorted and weakened by sin (1 Tim. 1, Rom. 1). For those who have committed sexual immorality in the past, the intimacy of marriage can be a difficult experience (weakened conscience, misplaced source of satisfaction). I have heard Pastors discuss how men and women feel, “dirty” in marriage, even though the true fulfillment of those desires was designed for marriage. It’s horrifying. Even if we deny such a claim (that we see God as anything but a God who satisfies), there must be a reason why we don’t pray as often as we need to (notice I didn’t say, “feel” or, “think”), or study God’s word from an honest heart. It’s because we terminate our pleasures in either the creation, or perverted version, of God’s creation, rather than in the provider of those pleasures.
So, let’s find the solution. I’d like to share with you what being satisfied in Jesus is, and is not.
What being satisfied in Jesus does not mean:
1) It does not mean that you can make excuses for your sin, and say that God will be glorified either way. Yes, God will be glorified in everything (Rom. 11, Hab. 2:14, Rev. 22), but what attributes He demonstrates to the creature determine in which way the creature is used to God’s glory (i.e. Justice towards them directly on their sin, sending them to Hell. Or grace, saving them in Jesus). But by believing the lie that what you do doesn’t matter, you believe you can do what you want and God is still content and unwavering. He seems obligated to help any of His, “children” if they go too far chasing their wants. This is a lie. Paul even tackles this same objection for both the believer and unbeliever in Romans 3 and 6. There were unbelievers who claimed that if God was glorified because He judged their sin, then it doesn’t matter what they do and they did not need to repent.
But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just. (Romans 3:5-8)
On the other hand, the believers would ask, if we sin so that God’s grace can be shown, why not continue in it? God made good out of my sin, so this means He’s always going to get me out eventually, and even though I’ll have done wrong, it was worth it? The ends justify the means?
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4)
This is a serious and deadly error, because living as a Christian doesn’t mean that what you want is the same as when you were an unbeliever. In fact, this might be a sign that you were never a believer to begin with! Therefore, being satisfied in Jesus means that not only are your actions different, but even the very motivation behind those actions is aimed at another target. You don’t want the same things as you did before, as we’ll see in tomorrows post.
2) Being satisfied in Jesus does not mean that you must let go of your personality, job, family, and live in a spiritual monastery. It’s about sanctification: becoming more like Christ.
Jesus was a Jew, a carpenter; he knew how to live a first century lifestyle. So, does becoming more like Jesus mean taking on a lifestyle similar to a first century Jew? Or are we talking about something deeper, intrinsic, and worshipful. If Jesus is your source of identity (Col. 2:10) and satisfaction (Psalm 16:11), then clearly your job, marriage, personality traits and unique qualities are submitting to and flowing from that satisfaction. Jesus doesn’t erase your identity; He redeems it (Eph. 4). The prayer of Jesus in John 17:3 is that we would know eternal life, which is knowing God and Jesus Christ, who was sent by the Father to purchase us. Clearly, we’re not called to model the culture of Jesus, however, according to 1 John 2:4-6, we are to imitate the obedience of Jesus. He lived an example that transcended His culture while on this earth, because His primary goal was rooted in an eternal call to glorify God in every way (John 6).
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:4-6)
In late February of this year, I heard John MacArthur speak, and one of the best lines I heard in one of his sermons was this: “It’s not about perfection; it’s about affection and direction.” Where are you aiming your thoughts, your focus, your strength? And secondly, where do you draw this strength from? Deuteronomy 6:4-9 also instructs us on the mode of worship: it comes from the heart (intentions, decisions), loving God is a priority of the mind (disciplined), and the very person (the soul). In the gospels, we see the word strength is added as well; even when you are weak, frustrated, and ready to collapse, God will use your weaknesses for His recognition and praise (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Don’t give up. Surrender those weak desires. and ask God to strengthen them in Him.
Tomorrow, we will discover what being satisfied in Jesus is.