This post is short and sweet.
Yesterday a client shared a profound statement with me. He tee’d it up with a background story out of acts. Perhaps you’ve heard it?
Some itinerant Jewish exorcists who happened to be in town at the time tried their hand at what they assumed to be Paul’s “game.” They pronounced the name of the Master Jesus over victims of evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus preached by Paul!” The seven sons of a certain Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were trying to do this on a man when the evil spirit talked back: “I know Jesus and I’ve heard of Paul, but who are you?”
After giving the backstory he simply said, “I want to be known. When the evil spirits recount the names of difference makers in the faith, I want to be known”. I was stunned for a second because I felt deeply for him, then it quickly shifted to me.
I want to be known too. Am I living a life worthy of evil spirits knowing who I am. Am I a threat? Am I in the game? Did I even show up to my life today, much less to the redemptive vision of bringing God’s kingdom to the planet?
Remember: your past behavior doesn’t define you, nor does it disqualify you from the work of ushering in the kingdom.
May we live in such a way that evil spirits might tremble with fear saying, “Jesus and Paul I know……and I know who you are too”.
No, this is not a blog post about money. But some of the same principles will apply.
There are two sides to the coin of debt (pun intended). One side is the debtor, where we owe someone something. The other side is the creditor; the one who is due payment. There is much conversation, as well as sermonation, on the perils of being a debtor. Owing someone can make us a slave to that person or entity. However, there seems to be less discussion around being a creditor, even though it can be equally as treacherous. It can, perhaps, be even more detrimental to our well-being when we become a relational creditor.
Being a relational creditor means we are holding onto a belief, position or entitlement that someone owes us something. It could be our abuser or violator who owes us our dignity and security. It could be parents whom we believe owe us a different type of relationship that makes up for shortcomings in our upbringing. It could be the bully who owes us power. Or our spouses who owe us love or respect. Or we may even believe God owes us; happiness, wealth, success, marital fidelity, etc. Unfortunately, when we as relational creditors hold people to the debt they “owe” us, we end up locked in a cell full of disappointment and unmet expectations. That disappointment and discouragement can lead to wanting to medicate.
The bible has a thing or two to say about being a creditor. Even some of the same language is used. God says we should let people off the hook for the debt they owe us; He uses the word forgiveness. The word Greek word FORGIVE (aphiēmi) used in the Lord’s Prayer is in fact rooted in this very meaning: to let go, to give up a debt.
Perpetually being entitled to repayment, followed by disappointment and discouragement when it doesn’t happen, can be a primary driver in acting out behavior. Maybe we need to do some forgiveness work and let some folks off the hook. Biblically, we’re called to be debt free; for our own good.
Deuteronomy 8:6 – Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him.
We are, by nature, disobedient. Our bent is towards independence and individuality. Our brokenness as a result of original sin has created a tendency in us to go our own way and to disobey the authority of God. Think for a moment about raising kids: do we have to teach them to lie or teach them to tell the truth? Do we have to teach them to follow the rules or break them? Our bent is inherently sinful, isn’t it?
In sexual sin, we are allowing ourselves to be controlled by the sin nature. We are outwardly defiant. We are looking our father in the face and saying, ” I know you think you know what is best for my life and my sexuality, but I don’t trust you. I trust ME.” We become very skilled at ignoring God’s commands, rationalizing why we don’t or shouldn’t follow them, then behaving in a way that thumbs our nose at Him. We all know, by experience, that repetitive disobedience makes each subsequent defiance a little easier.
It is important to know that the reverse is true too! The more we choose into obedience and revering God, the easier it becomes to obey His commands. The less you act out sexually the easier it will become to avoid acting out sexually. Obedience, we must remember, is not about avoiding some bad behavior for the sake of good behavior. Obedience is a response to the love of a Father God who deeply cares about his kids. We’ll be more likely to obey when we begin to accept that God’s commands aren’t to kill our fun or simply make us uncomfortable, but are instead to bolster our joy. Obedience isn’t about what we do so much as it’s a response to who God is and how much He loves us.
Specifically, how might God be calling you to obedience with sexual sin? Remember, “just stop it” is not a satisfactory answer. Perhaps He is asking you to filter your internet, delete an app on your phone, tell your wife the truth or call it off with your mistress. I hope you’ll choose into joy and respond to His loving request.