Knowing God’s truth is an absolute necessity in our journey to freedom, but so is our truthfulness. Psalm 51:6 says God desires “truth in the inner parts” (NIV). God’s truth and our truthfulness are both needed in order to gain complete freedom in Christ.
I mention the importance of honesty because I may be about to get more honest than some of you can stand. I ask you to consider what I have to say: Many Christians are not satisfied with Jesus.
Before you call me a heretic, let me set the record straight: Jesus is absolutely satisfying. In fact, He is the only means by which any mortal creature can find true satisfaction.
However, I believe a person can receive Christ as Savior, serve Him for decades and meet Him face to face in glory without ever experiencing satisfaction in Him.
Rather than waste our effort on worthless things, God wants us to find satisfaction in Him. When we look to other sources, we are guilty of idolatry.
The True Source of Satisfaction
In Isaiah 55, the prophet contrasts the world’s attempt to find satisfaction with what God provides. It is one of the most poetic and comely expressions of grace in either the Old or the NewTestament.
“‘Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost’”(v. 1).
On the heels of the invitation, God poses the question that haunts every generation of Adam’s descendants, “‘Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?’” (v. 2). In effect, God is asking, “Why do you work so hard for things that are never enough, can never fill you up and are endlessly insufficient?”
Like a frustrated parent determined to get through to his child, God says, “‘Listen to Me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare’” (v. 2).
Satisfaction in Christ can be a reality. I know from experience, and I want everyone to know how complete He can make us feel.
I believe God’s prescription for those who possess an inner thirst and hunger they cannot fill is implied in Isaiah 55:6: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”
I believe God creates and activates a nagging dissatisfaction in every person for an excellent reason: He doesn’t want anyone to perish (see 2 Pet. 3:9).
God wants everyone to come to repentance. He gave us a will so we could choose whether or not to accept His invitation, but God purposely created us with a need that only He can meet.
Many come to Christ out of their search for something missing; yet after receiving His salvation, they go elsewhere for further satisfaction. Christians can be miserably dissatisfied if they accept Christ’s salvation yet reject the fullness of daily relationship that satisfies.
Dissatisfaction is a “God-thing.” It’s only a terrible thing when it fails to lead us to Christ, because the only thing that will truly satiate our thirst and hunger is Him.
Dismantling the Idols
Realizing that God desires for us to find genuine satisfaction in Him helps us discover a primary obstacle in our journey to freedom in Christ: settling for satisfaction in anything else. God gave this practice a name I was unprepared to hear—idolatry.
After serious meditation, I realized the label made perfect sense no matter how harsh it seemed. Anything we try to put in a place where God belongs is an idol.
To experience real freedom in Christ, we must remove the obstacle of idolatry. We begin by recognizing the obstacle as idol worship, but we may find removing it difficult.
Other obstacles to freedom, such as unbelief and pride, can be removed effectively by an act of the will. But our idols—things or people we have put in God’s place—can take much longer to remove.
Some of them have been in those places for many years, and only the power of God can make them budge. We remove them by acknowledging their existence and admitting their inability to satisfy us fully.
The nation of Israel struggled horribly with the sin of idolatry. We can observe some of the results in the lives of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah.
Isaiah recorded what he saw when he looked at Judah and Jerusalem. The passage sounds hauntingly like prosperous America.
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