Week 5 Trust and Know
Wait for the New Song
Beware the voice of self-condemnation; it motivates God’s children to efforts not of Him. Self-condemnation spurs you to programs of self-improvement that damage your physical body, threaten relationships, and usurp God’s supremacy as you replace His rule with an authority of your own making.
isobedience is linked to fear, because in order to disobey we have to stop abiding in the Lord. When we are not listening to God, other voices quickly draw our attention, and fear has a very loud voice. Where spiritual sensitivity and fear collide, instability results. Our new song includes freedom from fear, and this freedom constitutes a large measure of our joy in Christ.
The idea that we are in charge of our own destiny never has a firmer grip than when we have separated ourselves from God by going our own way. Hopelessness seeps in, discouragement overwhelms, and the conviction that our salvation depends upon our own obedience takes hold. Fear of the consequences of sin is strong, and we wonder what terrible price we will have to pay if we don’t get our act together. When we disobey, we forget God is sovereign even over our disobedience, and that He does not treat us as our sins deserve.[i]
Sin brings a sense of separation from God. This, along with the Holy Spirit’s conviction, leads wayward Christians to repentance, but self-condemnation can mimic the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Sin causes separation from God as a consequence ordained by Him, but in self-condemnation we turn our faces away from the Lord of our own volition, though He stands with arms open to receive us. We are so prone to judge ourselves based on external measures such as household organization (or lack thereof) that we may confuse the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin with the voice of self-condemnation. We label certain foods, activities, or outward appearances as “good” and others as “bad,” and thus prevent the Lord from providing a season of comfort and ease when He intends restoration rather than discipline, comfort rather than chastisement.
We want visible results ahead of true emotional and spiritual rebuilding, but the foundation must be established ahead of the structure or the building will not stand. Lasting change requires a realignment of our hearts and minds, and outward appearances will be the last to reflect the transformation the Lord brings about within.
A time of no apparent progress may be likened to the pause as one pulls back a slingshot. Perhaps the Lord is stretching the bands tight and taking careful aim. All the while we think, "Nothing much is happening and I may actually be moving in the wrong direction!" It is at this moment we must choose whether we will stay pliable in submission to God’s hand or launch forward in our own will and strength; it is ever a temptation to create an action plan for our own deliverance. If we are able to trust in God’s sovereign power to deliver, in His perfect timing He will shoot us straight along the path of His will into the peace and blessing of the new song He has written just for us.
In-between times can be a blessing, a time to adapt to a new status quo. Remember when Abram’s family left their homeland bound for Canaan, they settled in Harran for a time, and only after the death of Abram’s father, Terah, did Abram move on to the land God had promised.[ii]Perhaps Abram—who was soon to be renamed Abraham, the father of God’s people—needed the transition time of living in an in-between place.
The next time you suffer the conviction that your failures to eat right and exercise enough are going to bring negative consequences upon your head if you don’t do something quickly, prayerfully analyze the voice that is spurring you to action. Rest in trust in the sovereign power and wisdom of the God who has brought you safe thus far, and has promised to deliver you home.
Pray: Lord, forgive me for wallowing in self-condemnation when You have accepted me. Forgive me for planning my own renewal rather than following Your plan. Help me to stay pliable in Your hand. Prevent me from listening to the voice of self-condemnation rather than to the conviction of Your Spirit within. Amen.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”