Friday, June 19, 2020

To Judge or Not to Judge


A casual reading of Matthew 7:1 seems to give a clear answer to this question. "Judge not, that you be not judged" appears to be a blunt command from Jesus that as Christians, we are not to judge others. Or so it seems. These words are often misconstrued to prohibit all forms of judgement. However, in verse 6, Jesus exhorts us to beware of “dogs” and “swine” so that we don’t waste time giving them knowledge of God. Under the Mosaic Law, dogs and swine were unclean animals and here the terms are used as an allusion to depict ungodly or wicked people. And how do we identify a metaphorical “dog” or “swine”? We have to exercise judgement on others!
How do we reconcile this apparent contradiction? Are we to judge or not to judge?

Christians have long been split along lines of those who wish to make judgments and those who say we cannot. One side accuses the other of being legalistic and loveless, while the other side is called liberal and spineless. One of the biggest challenges in the Church is how we arrive at the truth in love. Hence, rooting out the truth on this subject is essential and a thorough study will reveal that there are different kinds of judgment taught in the Scripture. The New Testament has many illustrations of legitimate judgment of the condition, conduct, and teaching of others. One form we are commanded to do, the other we are forbidden to do—and yet, both sides could be right and wrong depending on the issues we are confronting.


Matthew 7:1 taken in its context does not forbid all judging and intolerance, but only hypocritical judging and intolerance. Jesus suggests that it's not the act of judging, but the attitude with which we do it that He is most concerned about—we are not to ignore our own sins while condemning the same sins in others. To do this is to judge with a double standard, to judge hypocritically. He identifies His audience in verse 5 with the words “You hypocrite”. In that way, Jesus is not forbidding Christians to judge (unless He is calling every Christian a hypocrite).

The text in its context of Matthew 7:1-6 reads as follows:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure and use, it will be measure back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck out of your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn and tear you in pieces.”
Notice that in this passage, the person and his brother both had a piece of wood in their eye. The difference between the two faults is only one of size: one is smaller while the other greater. For one in sin to condemn another for the same sin, regardless of size, is hypocritical. So what is clear from the context is that Jesus was talking about people making personal judgments against others, when their own behaviour is much more seriously compromised than the persons they were judging.

In verse 2, Jesus gives the reason why He cautions them not to judge:  “with what judgment you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you”. So, His warning against judging others is primarily aimed at those who think they are superior to others.  In other words, a woman who is aborting a fetus is in no position to rebuke a man who commits murder, and an unfaithful person in a heterosexual marriage is in no position to criticize a homosexual. In doing so, we become a hypocritical judge without credentials.

In Romans 2:1-3, we are again warned: “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things…that you will escape the judgment of God?” Here, Paul's point is also to warn against hypocritical judging and that we can expect God's judgment upon us, if we live in the same sins that we condemn in others! Nevertheless, the text does not forbid us to judge rightly!

The word ‘judge’ has been so perverted that to judge anything is now considered by many to be anti-Christian behaviour, and anyone who does so is likely to be labelled as an “accuser of the brethren.” This has caused much confusion about a Christian’s right or obligation to judge, or if we are to refrain from judging altogether.

Casting the First Stones

In John 8:3-12, we have the story of the woman who was caught in the very act of adultery and was brought to Jesus by the Scribes and Pharisees. In verse 7, Jesus says to the Scribes and Pharisees: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." In verse 11, He speaks to the woman: "Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more." The advocates of tolerance often use this story to argue that one should not condemn others, because he is no better than they, and no one has the right to cast the stones as they too are guilty of other sins.
However, the first thing we should notice is that there are some major problems with this story. Although the Scribes and Pharisees supposedly cite the laws of Moses, they didn't get it quite right. The law states that both the man and the woman are to be executed—so it would seem that they "forgot" to bring the man!
Jesus' answer to the Pharisees exposes their hypocritical judgment in the matter. Their primary purpose, of course, had nothing to do with the woman; it was merely to trap Jesus in His own words. Yet Jesus knew that the Pharisees prided themselves in their self-righteousness, and responded in light of this fact. Jesus reminds them that they were also guilty of sin, and specifically of adultery, whether in the act or in the heart. Because they were also not free from sin, they were as worthy of death as she was. So by wondering what judgment she ought to receive, they revealed their own hypocrisy and wrong motivations.
Jesus handled the situation by writing in the dirt. Although the text does not say what He wrote, it is likely that He was writing down the sins of those who wanted to stone the woman. And probably, the ones who had accumulated the most sins left first. Did Jesus excuse the woman's sin? No! By telling her, "Go, and sin no more," Jesus indicates that she did sin. In itself, the Pharisees' accusation was correct, and Jesus judged sin to be sin. Thus, Jesus did in fact judge this woman, but He did not condemn her.

When one judges, he gives a verdict: guilty or innocent. After one is judged, he is sentenced: the guilty person is condemned (sentenced to punishment) and the innocent is set free. Judging and condemning are two distinct actions, related but not identical. We are called to judge but not to condemn.

If Jesus does not want His people to judge other people's sin, He certainly did not take His own advice and set a good example. Where is the balance and what is our mandate: to judge or not to judge? In this article, we want to examine the Scripture humbly, carefully and diligently to determine what are the things and issues we are supposed to and expected to judge, and what are the things we are not to judge.

God Expects Us to Judge & It is a Christian Duty to Judge

In John 7:24, Jesus says: Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." What is to be deduced from this scripture is that we may judge, but when we do so we must judge righteously. God does not forbid us to judge, but He sets up conditions for us to make judgements. Jesus' major concern is that people do not make snap or undue judgments that are not based on true facts and information.  

If we cannot verify the truth about an accusation, we should withhold judgment. The primary stipulation given for Christians regarding judging is that we are not to proclaim our own judgements (based on our opinions) but to pronounce the judgements of God (based on truth).
Righteous judgment is carried out using the standard of God’s Word as the divine plumb line by which to discern what is right or wrong. As believers, we are called to make moral judgments and to instruct and admonish those who practice sin.  In fact, the Church is directed to condemn and remove sin from among its ranks first and foremost. We must not divorce His love from His justice and holiness.


Things We Are Not Supposed to Judge


1)     We should not judge things that are indifferent.

Romans14:1-13 deals with important principles that guide God’s people in dealing with matters of secondary importance in the faith. These are things that often cause conflict among believers, prompting Paul to say we are not “to dispute over doubtful things”. His point is that we are forbidden to judge others in things that are indifferent, that is, neither good nor bad.  Should someone feel bound by conscience to do something that we would not do, we may not judge him to be wrong, as long as his actions are not clearly contrary to God's Word. Whether or not we eat, drink, or regard a day as holy, our choice must be motivated by faith and love for the Lord, and we must not condemn the actions of others in matters that are indifferent. “Let us not judge one another anymore but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way”. Christians can have good fellowship without agreeing on nonessentials.

Although the Son has made us free, we can only walk in this liberty to the degree that we have faith in God. For that reason, we are told to be “fully persuaded in our own minds” because “whatever is not done in faith is sin.” (Rom.14:5, 23)

If someone—whom the Scripture describes as having weaker faith—chooses to adhere to such ordinances, they are doing so unto the Lord. It could be about a Jew eating non-kosher food or working on Saturday (as some Jewish Christians still look on the Sabbath as a day of obligation, or one with a weak conscience who has qualms eating pork, shrimp, cow, etc. To judge them is to place a stumbling block before them, because we are attempting to get them to commit what in their minds is sin. Those who make judgements in these areas are in fact mistaking matters of faith for matters of doctrine.

Likewise, those who are walking in the liberty of Christ should not be judged by those who choose to adhere to such ordinances as stated in 1Corinthians 10:29-30: "Conscience, I say, not my own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I gave thanks?”  

We must be able to give each one a freedom of choice to decide what is right and wrong in their own lives and to live in the light that they have received and respect one another’s choices. However, we should be clear that such a principle applies only to matters that are morally neutral. When it comes to fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, there is no room for individual opinions.

2) We are not to judge others or even our own fruitfulness in the Lord.

A major requirement in stewardship is to be faithful. However, faithfulness in the ministry, unlike success in the world, is a difficult thing to evaluate. In view of this, we should be extremely careful in our appraisal of Christian service. We tend to exalt the spectacular and sensational, and depreciate the menial and inconspicuous. For that reason, Paul exhorts us not to judge out of season, especially in regards to fruitfulness or success in the ministry:  “It is a very small thing that I should be judged by you…In fact, I do not even judge myself…he who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1Cor.4:2-5)

Reputation and esteem among men is a good measurement for our success and effectiveness in the ministry. However, one who is truly faithful to Christ must learn to disregard and despise the censure of men. Even the best of men are quick to judge rashly, harshly, and unjustly. Like Paul, we must learn to look upon the judgement of men as a very little thing (if his Lord approves him). People may think very meanly or very hardly of us as we serve the Lord but it is not by their judgment that we must stand or fall. To think that way may cause us to fear man more than God.

It is not even judging well of ourselves that is going to make us happy. Thus, as faithful servants, we should well be patient under unjust censures when we know such a day as this is coming, especially when we have our consciences testifying to our integrity.


Things we are Supposed to Judge


1) Judge Doctrine

We are mandated to judge doctrine. However, judging of doctrine is often taken to mean one of two extremes. Many refuse to judge anything for fear of being called divisive, while others cause senseless disputes by making everything a matter of doctrine, judging others in legalistic areas that are not significantly related nor relevant to salvation.

Romans 16:17 makes it clear what constitutes a division and how to treat those who cause them: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them." First, this Scripture does not say to simply mark those who cause divisions or offenses, but instead to mark those who cause divisions or offenses by espousing doctrine that is contrary to Scripture. This is an important distinction because it implies that there are divisions or offenses that are not contrary to Scripture.

In fact, Scripture itself can be a division or offense. Both the written and the incarnate Word of God are referred to as a rock of offense (Rom. 9:33; I Pet.2:7-8). Every Christian needs to settle in their minds that the Word of God will be considered divisive and offensive by those who rebel against God. If we have determined that we will not "judge" so as to avoid these accusations, then we have essentially chosen not to be a witness for Christ.

Why is judging doctrine so important? Because not all doctrines are sound! In fact, we are told specifically that devils also have doctrines: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrine of demons” (I Tim. 4:1). These doctrines can jeopardize our faith and we are exhorted not to have any fellowship with those who teach them: "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God…if anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him” (2Jn.9-11)

1Timothy 4:16 also states that it is not only important to take heed of Christ’s doctrine but to continue in it: “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

This is also what the Apostle Paul was addressing in Galatians 1:6-7: "I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." We are further warned that in the last days these doctrines of devils will be more prevalent and persuasive than ever, even to the point of deceiving the elect of God—if it were possible to do so. (Matt. 24:24)

So it is always right to judge false teachers and false teaching using the Word of God as the standard. Nitpicking is one thing; removing rotten fruit is another.

2) Judge Immorality

In 1 Corinthians 5:1-8, Paul reprimanded the Corinthian Church for not judging the brother who lives in sin. Apparently, it had become widely “reported that there is sexual immorality among you and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles – that a man has his father’s wife”. That means a member of Church in Corinth had committed a very extreme form of sexual sin; he had illicit intercourse with his stepmother.

Instead of deep mourning and taking disciplinary action against the man, they were proud and haughty: “you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you…”  Perhaps there were proud of their “grace” towards their sinning brother.

In contrast to their indifference, Apostle Paul states that even though he was absent, he had “already judged… in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ… with the power (or authority) of our Lord Jesus Christ”. His mandate was to “to deliver such a one to Satan.” Many commenters understand this disciplinary action as the act of ex-communication from the local Church, as outside the Church is the sphere of Satan’s dominion (1Jn.5:19).

It is vitally important for the Church to exercise righteousness and godly judgment to retain and maintain the holy character of the Church so that the Holy Spirit may work ungrieved in the midst.
In 1Cor.5:9-13, Paul further goes on to urge them to exercise judgement on any Christian among them who practices wickedness and “not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person”.  

We are not responsible for the judgement of the unsaved. Wicked men in the world will be bought to judgement by the Lord Himself in the coming day. But we do have a responsibility as far as judging “those who are inside” the Church.

We are not supposed to tolerate impenitent sinners without exposing them. We must judge sin to be sin and separate ourselves from them who refuse to repent: “put away from yourselves that wicked person” (1Cor.5:13).

3) Judge domestic issues

In 1 Corinthians 6:1-7, news had also come to Paul that some Christians in Corinth were going to the court of law to dispute each other. He finds it astounding that those who have known true righteousness and were to be given the authority one day to “judge the world” and even “judge angels” were incapable of judging trivial matters among them and should go before the unrighteous man to settle it.

Frustrated, he rebukes and demands that the Church should exercise judgement on domestic matters pertaining to personal dispute and settle it within the body of Christ rather than bringing it before the law to be judge by the unbelievers.

“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteousness, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judge by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life.”

Paul asked this question to move them to “shame” and to show them that they were entirely wrong in not exercising judgement when they needed to: “Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you…”

4) Judge our own lives


Failure to exercise self-judgment had resulted in God’s disciplined judgment upon some in the Church of Corinth.  In 1Cor.11:27-31, Paul teaches that as we come to the Lord’s Supper, we should do so in an attitude of reverence.

“Let a man who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eat and drink judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason, many are weak and sick among you and many asleep. For if we judge ourselves, we would not be judged” 1Cor.11:28-31

In other words, physical illness had come upon some, and some were even taken home to heaven prematurely because they did not judge sin in their lives. We should realize that the Lord’s body was given in order that our sins might be put away. If we live a sinful lifestyle while at the same time partaking of the Lord’s Supper without a repentant heart, we are taking his sacrifice very lightly, “not discerning His body”.

The author of Hebrews gives us a further warning of people who regard their salvation carelessly for they may face a real danger of falling into apostasy, as they have treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them (Heb. 10:29) and have become enemies of God with raging fire awaiting them (Heb. 10:27). 

“Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received a full knowledge of the truth, there is no other sacrifice that will cover these sins. There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. Anyone who refused to obey the Law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or more witnesses. Think how much more terrible the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God and have treated the blood of the covenant as if it were common and unholy. Such people have insulted and enraged the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to his people (Heb.10: 26-29).

Apostasy is not the same as spiritual backsliding.  Backsliding is where a Christian falls into sin (and continues for a while there) due to a momentary weakness in the flesh.  A true believer may at times wander away from the Lord, get trapped in the pursuit of worldly pleasures, stop attending Church or Christian fellowship and even reach the point where he is no longer recognized as a Christian, but should he repent, God’s forgiveness is never too far to reach him and he can be restored to fellowship again.  That means that anyone who fears that they have fallen so far from Christ that there could be no hope of restoration and redemption for them, is not an apostate.  An apostate is one who is devoid of such godly fear, for his heart is so hardened that he actually brought himself to renounce Christ and walk in unrighteousness.

Apostates are people who choose to live sinful lifestyles.  They willfully disobey the commandments of God; disregard the work of Christ and His sacrificial blood shed for them.  They know the truth, yet choose to rebel against it – sinning with their eyes wide open.  It is a deliberate hardening of their hearts towards a loving and merciful God, who is slow in anger and abounding in mercy.  In so doing, they not only insult the mercy of God but they have also deprived themselves of any atonement for their sins.  In fact, the Bible says that even the sacrifice of Christ will not deliver them from their guilt because they have rejected Him as a sacrifice and shut the door of repentance behind them.  Therefore, nothing awaits them except the wrath of God that comes with His judgment. 

For that reason, the Apostle Paul said: if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." (I Cor.11:31-32) If you are a true Christian, then we are God's child. If we refuse to judge and improve ourselves as a child of God, then God will take it upon Himself to judge us. Many of the troubles that we face in life are nothing more than God's way of judging us since we often neglect to judge ourselves. Not only does judging one's self keep us in a place of being sanctified by God, it is only then that we are made fit for the Master's use. "If a man therefore purges himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." (2 Tim 2:21)

5)       5) Judge False Christs, Teachers & Prophets
Many are deceived to think that to judge another person is unloving and against Scripture. However, throughout Scripture, God continually warns about the presence of false prophets, false teachers and false apostles in the world. "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (I John 4:1). The end times, we are told, will be specifically marked by a great apostasy as people are drawn away after false gospels. If we do not exercise judgment, how then can we sift out the false prophets in our midst? In Revelation 2:2, God commends them for their good judgment: “you have tested those who say they are apostle and are not, and have found them liars”. It is impossible to find someone a "liar" without judging them!

Even more disarming, Scripture also tells us that these deceivers will be mixed in with the church itself. "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

God is telling us that there are ministers of Satan in the church who are actually transformed so that they appear as ministers of righteousness! We are even told that some of these false ministers will have Satanic power to perform supernatural signs, wonders, healings, and other miraculous events (Matt. 24:24; Mk.13:22; 2Thess. 2:9). As a result, God commands us to judge whether they in fact are members of the Body of Christ by discerning the signs, testing the spirits, examining the fruit and thus be purged of them!

As Christians, we are grafted into part of a spiritual family of brothers and sisters, with whom we can fellowship, learn, share, and grow in the faith. We have been birthed into a body of believers who can encourage, strengthen, support, and yes even admonish each other when necessary. "And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another." (Rom. 15:14). (To admonish means "to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner.")

We are also specifically told to admonish and rebuke those brethren who may be in error "But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man does not obey our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." (2 Thess. 3:13-15)

The Bible even shows that it is sometimes necessary to specifically name those who are erring in the faith in order to protect others whom they may influence. "But shun profane and idle babblings: for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who has strayed concerning the truth…” (2Tim. 2:16-18)

When a brother or sister is in error, it is an extension of God's grace and mercy to have another member of the Body provide correction. This gives the one in error an opportunity to repent and it serves as a witness for others in the faith. Letting a brother or sister continue in error is the most unloving and self-righteous act, because it allows them to continue in something that may result in them falling away from the Lord. Our fellowship with each other is but one of the ways in which God helps to steer us in the right direction when we go astray.

According to the Bible, the act of judging righteously is a benefit to the individual Christian and to the body of believers as a whole. Judging protects us from heretical doctrine that jeopardizes our faith.

Conclusion

Some passages of Scripture seem to forbid judging, while others clearly require it. Studying the contexts of those that seem to forbid judging, we find that what is forbidden is not actually judging itself, but a wrong kind of judging. God hates hypocritical judging! But God loves righteous judgment. He commands it, and has given us His standard in the Word by which to do it. It is, therefore, the Christian's duty to judge. To fail to judge sin is to condone sin.

Our prayer for the reader is the same as that of Paul for the Philippians: "this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ…” (Phil.1:90). Yes, may we be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt.10:16), discerning, yet full of grace and truth that we shall be instruments unto His glory and praise. Amen!


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Healing Our Inner Child 1 - Real vs. False Self


Healing our Inner Child


The inner child is a concept that has been explored by psychologist, psychotherapists, spiritual and religious leaders throughout time. The word “Inner” refers to what exists in our internal awareness as opposed to what exists outside the body which others can see. Some refer it to our true self or the real self. 

We are tripartite beings, for God has created us to be spirit, soul and body (1Thess.5:13), hence, what goes on in either the soul, the body or spirit will affect the other two parts. Physical tiredness affects our mental ability to concentrate. Thoughts of anger or depression can affect our appetite for food. The lack of spiritual tranquillity stirs unrest in our souls. Though the spirit realm is the predominant influence of all three, however, the influence of the soul and body must not be neglected. 

Wholesome and emotionally healthy children will grow up into wholesome and emotionally healthy adults.  The state of our childhood will therefore influence who we become as adults.  If our childhood was traumatised and scarred, we will carry those trauma and wounds in our inner child all the way to adulthood. Unless and until we start understanding the cause and effect relationship between what happened to the child that we were (the “cause”), and the impact it had on the adult we are (the “effect”), we will remain victims of our wounded inner child. Many genuinely called and anointed men and women of God started well but yet did not end well or fulfil the fullness of their destiny for the very reason that they were being destroyed by the wounds of their inner child. Our identity can affect our destiny. We hope this article will provoke and awaken us to seek our healing and transformation.

God’s Original Intent

The love of God is perfect, unconditional and pure. God’s original intent was for our parents to demonstrate His love to us and through them that we learn about the Father heart of God, His love, his care, his tenderness, his provision, his compassion, grace, etc.  And being nurtured under our parents’ love, we learn to trust relationships and heathy attachment and grow mature physically, emotionally and spiritually.

A healthy functional family is one which is based on God’s blueprint for marriage and family set out in the word. It is an interactive, supportive and loving atmosphere where each member can be real and accepted with unconditional love.

A strong family is committed to each family member, beginning with the spouse at marriage and extending to every single family member through all stages of family development.  The best way for parent to love their children is to first love their spouse.   A dysfunctional marriage breeds a dysfunctional family, and a dysfunctional family breeds a dysfunctional individual which ultimately breed a dysfunctional society. The late mother Theresa says it well “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family”.

A strong family spends time together. The reality of commitment is the intentional sharing of time with each other and together as a family. Quality without quantity is not sufficient.
A strong family has open and honest communication with all family members and speaks the truth in love. A strong family shows unconditional love.  They may experience crises like any other family but yet have the ability to resolves the problems they encounter due to the strong bond of love. Conflicts are dissolved in a godly and healthy manner.

A strong family regularly affirms each other.  They regularly express appreciation and affection to one another, giving sincere compliments, and building each other up emotionally.

Mankind’s love deficit

Sadly, however, on the day we are born into this world, we do not encounter God’s amazing, wonderful love, but instead we encounter the imperfect conditional love of humanity.

Imperfect human love or especially our parents’ wounding can leave very deep scars in our hearts, for their love is the first love we encounter at birth.  This love deficit leads to rejection.  Rejection produces emotions such as pain, resentment, anger and bitterness. The greater our parents or guardians nurture us away from God’s divine love plumb line, the greater the deficit created in our soul. This in turn creates a greater rejection in our spirit which breeds darkness in our soul. We can internalize or externalize the love deficit we suffered.  Unresolved conflicts in the soul of a child will leave wounds in his inner child which perpetuate all the way to adulthood, locking the adult into immature patterns of behaviour. Thus, many grow up biologically into adulthood but not emotionally.

Internalizing the love deficit - we internalize the abandonment & rejection we feel. Such responses result in insecurity and negative emotions like implosive anger, self-hatred (rejecting oneself after being rejected by others which often leads to self-destructive behaviour), eating disorder, mental disorder, depression, intellectual suicide (refusing to learn and grow) and eventually suicide.  Love deficit is the cause of most neurotic and character disorder behaviour. A healthy human relationship starts from loving ourselves – “love your neighbour as yourself…” (Matt.22:38).

Externalizing the love deficit – we turn our rejection into explosive anger (Rage) which leads to social illnesses, rebellion against authority, sexual immorality (balancing the love debit through lust credit), addiction and compulsive behaviour like drugs, alcoholism, materialism, etc.
To put it simply, a love deficit creates darkness in our soul and gives the enemy ground to traffic easily in our life.

Fuminnori Nakamura, a Japanese author came to international attention in 2012 when his English book “The Thief,” was named among the “Best fiction of the year” by The Wall Street Journal.  In March that year, the book was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize. A crime novelist, Fuminori Nakamura is a self-described pessimist and he thinks that everyone has a dark side trapped by circumstances, by society and its expectations.

His other books include ‘The gun”, “The child in the ground”, “Last winter”, “We parted” and “Evil and the mask”. In all these books, he wrote not just the crime, but also the driving forces behind the act – loneliness, despair, pressure and stress, tension and expectation from people”- all factors which force the inner child to surface. These are people who live a completely normal life, but who suddenly snap to become another person.

In Mark 7:21, we learn that every negative behaviour proceed from the unhealthy heart of man “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man”.

As layer upon layer of denial, emotional dishonesty, buried trauma, unfulfilled needs, etc., continue to build up, our hearts are broken, our spirits wounded and our minds becomes dysfunctionally programmed.  Unfortunately, our choices and behaviour as adults are made in reaction to our childhood wounds and programming, and thus our lives are being dictated by our wounded inner children, if not healed.

Love Deficit leads to Rejection & Identity Issues

Our core or earliest relationship with ourselves was formed when we were young. As a child, words of criticism and rejection from authority over us like parents, guardian, teachers, etc. often stick in our memory and shape our view of ourselves; and we subsequently spend a lifetime trying to validate our self-worth. Sadly, if we grow up in a dysfunctional family, the little child at the core of our being will believe that he/she is unworthy and unlovable. And that often is the foundation on which we build our concept or derived our identity.


We need to learn how to take responsibility without taking the blame. We need to be aware of our feelings without being a victim of them. We need to heal and nurture our inner child and not allow our wounds to control or dictate our lives.  Rejection causes strong emotional pain. 

Functional MRI studies revealed that the same areas of the brain are activated when we experience rejection and when we experience physical pain. In other words, rejections hurt because they literally mimic physical pain in our brain. Rejection is a form of psychological injury, one that can and should be treated.

Rejection destroys our self-esteem, damages our identity and sabotages our purpose in life. It causes emotional wounds, which often leads to withdrawal, apathy, rebellion, hostility, overachieving, compulsive/addictive behaviours or even gender confusion. This is the reason why it is one of the most common tools the devil will use to destroy a person's life. The goal of the enemy is first to get us built up with emotional baggage inside and then negative feelings in our hearts against one another, and eventually God. We tend to treat others the way we feel about ourselves.

Rejection creates a feeling of being excluded or unwanted and it makes us feel unworthy or like we never fit in or measure up.  It leads to self-rejection and we become critical of ourselves and others. People with low self-esteem often try to bring other people down.  If we don’t love ourselves, we are not equipped to love others.  Thus, an attitude of anger permeates our lives and leads us to find fault with others.  An arrogant demeanor is really just a cover-up for feelings of inferiority.   Children growing up in homes where a violent father rules, have the tendency to display aggression and anger as they grow up too, even when the violent father is no longer in their lives.  Such children use violence to mask their insecurity and fear.
Those of us who struggle with feelings of rejection are easily hurt and prone to misinterpreting comments as being unkind as we always don’t feel worthy and have difficulty accepting affection. Some of us become suspicious of anyone who tries to befriend us because we believe they must have an ulterior motive.  To avoid rejection, some of us become loners.  
If we had suffered rejection, we also tend to raise a wall emotionally so that we will not be hurt anymore. We will then unconsciously bury the need we felt for trust and intimacy and begin to isolate from our own feelings as well as the feelings of others. We will grow up not knowing how to meet the needs of others, especially the needs for closeness and intimacy because we are cut off from our own. And, sadly, many of us would never again reach out to anyone for emotional comfort, for the fear of being rejected and hurt. 

We do not want to be too intimate and open with friends, and that is why so many friendships are superficial today. Many are also not truly emotionally intimate with our spouse because there is no complete trust and connection. We tend to get and demand from the relationship rather that give and sacrifice. Our healing can only be complete when we are connected back to, and experience the source of true love.

Rejection can also lead to grandiosity – extreme self-involvement and lack of interest and empathy for others, in spite of the pursuit of others to obtain admiration and approval. People with such personality are often driven to the acquisition of wealth, power and beauty and the need to have others admire their grandiosity. We replace the need for others with the desire for things and we begin to see others as means to an end rather than as ends in themselves. In fact, the genesis of all addiction patterns can be traced back to this process, known as the “replacement defense”. Sadly, underneath this external fa├žade there is an emptiness filled with envy and rage.

Rejection has a lot of fruit which can widely vary from one person to another. Some of the common symptoms of rejection include:
  • Fabricated personalities or false self (being somebody we aren't, in order to be accepted)
  • The tendency to reject others, so that we aren't the first one to be rejected
  • The need to fit in or be accepted by others and be a part of everything
  • Self-pity where we feel bad for ourselves being all alone
  • Inability to be corrected or receive constructive criticism (we view that as rejection). Stubbornness can also be rooted in rejection as well for this same reason. Some develop into opinionated personalities and the need to be right about things all the time or else we feel worthless... that's because "who we are and our significance" (our identity) are based upon us being right.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, insecurity, or hopelessness
  • Seeking a parent's approval in unhealthy ways and basing our identity upon what they think of us
  • Envy, jealousy, and even hate can be rooted in rejection
The root of rejection is actually incredibly simple: love deficit in our growing up years which result in misplaced identity. Due to rejection, many seek our identity in people, especially our parents and people in authority and some even in their life partners? Others may seek it in their work, ministry, achievements and possessions which unfortunately set us up for “Performance Orientation” bondages.

When we begin to serve God for the praise of man or base our identity in what we do, no matter how great the call of God is on our lives, no matter how powerful the gifts or the anointing in our ministry, that underlying attitude of unhealthy self-love which is different from loving our neighbours as loving ourselves can begin to produce a hidden resentment and anger fuelled by a fear of rejection and a fear of failure.  We need to recognize that our ministry unto the Lord is temporal; however, our identity is eternal.

Whenever we feel the hurt and pain from rejection, it's because our identity depends upon what that others think of us. If our identity didn't depend on what others think of us, we would be virtually immune from the damage of rejection. The closer a person is to us; the deeper their rejection can wound us. Authority figures often also have the potential to deeply wound us, because we tend to look up to them and rely on them for our identity.
Whenever we base our identity on somebody or something other than what God's Word has to say about us, it will make us vulnerable to rejection. 

However, when we base our identity upon what the Word of God has to say about us, we will become virtually rejection-proof. We are not going to settle the rejection issues fully until we can get it down into our spirit that we are accepted, loved, and appreciated by God. Yes, we are greatly favoured and deeply loved by God our Father because we are in Jesus Christ. Tearing down the strongholds of rejection is as simple as merely receiving with childlike faith, what God's Word has to say about our identity, who we are as a new creature in Christ, and how we are called to life, purpose, and meaning in Christ. Rising above rejection is all about restoring a healthy identity which is tied to healing our love deficit. 

The key to overcoming rejection is to solve our identity problems.  We need to start seeing ourselves for who we are in Christ, and the person that God has really formed within us. Our identity must come from Him and what His Word says about us. Meditating on bible verses which speak of who we are in Christ are incredible tools to help renew your mind and tear down these strongholds.

In order to truly find one’s identity, we need to remember that “In the beginning God created…” (Gen.1:1). Thus, if we really desire to understand our identity we must first understand who God is. “For in Him we live, move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Truly knowing God produces security, self-worth and significant.

Love Deficit leads to Co-dependence

Love deficit has created two evil – the suppression of our inner child and the birth of false self which infect us with a disease common known as co-dependence.

Co-dependency, originally termed “co-alcoholism” in the 1970 was coined when addiction specialists, who worked with alcoholics and their families, began to notice that each family member actually played a unique role in perpetuating the addiction process. The addict was dependent on alcohol and the family members were dependent on the alcoholic. They had a need to be needed by the addict.

However, by 1980s, the term become more inclusive and has been recognised as a separate disorder on its own. In its broadest sense it underlies all addictions, but yet is an addiction itself – addiction to people.  To put in simply, it means that people reach out to people in an attempt to fill a deep void within and some experts prefer to use the term “unhealthy people dependency”.

The genesis of co-dependence begins with the repression of our own feelings; it is often the product of a dysfunctional family and love deficit. Co-dependence is a disease of lost selfhood.  They are so focused and preoccupied on the needs of others that they neglect their true self to the point of having little self-identity or loss of identity and in a state of identity confusion and crisis.

Co-dependency victims can actually hinder the growth in others yet believing they are unselfishly helping them. They may well be interfering with the basic law of life – the law of cause and effect. By intervening and rescuing, co-dependency takes responsibility from others unto themselves, harming others and themselves. Co-dependence is one of the most common conditions causing confusion and suffering in the world. It may be subtle in its manifestations and therefore difficult to identify.

Co-dependency can be further entrenched in low self-worth. People with poor self-worth don’t believe anyone would want them for who they are or for the value of the relationship. They feel safe in relationship only when they are needed, so they always look for people who need them. As a result, they find themselves drawn to needy people who usually cannot build healthy relationships; and so they are trapped in cycles of rejection and co-dependency again and again.

This is especially true in a marriage relationship. We need to understand that it is not need but desire that makes a relationship strong. To build a healthy marriage relationship, we make ourselves desirable to our spouse and not make them need us which is a very common mistake made by co-dependence victim in marriages.  In their insecurity, their behaviour pushes their spouse away instead of pulling them into intimacy. A healthy marriage relationship should be interdependence, which is mutually reliance and dependence on each rather than co-dependence.

Let’s look at some characteristics of co-dependency:

-        Obsessive and compulsive dependency on another person
-        Control and manipulation of the person they are dependent on
-        A disrespectful love/hate relationship with that person
-        Obscure and blurred boundaries (physical & emotional)
-        Worry and frustration over things that cannot be changed
-        Thinking that happiness depends upon others
-        Excessive responsibility taken for others
-        Neglect of health and wellbeing
-        Low self-esteem
-        High sensitivity to emotional hurt
-        Extreme mood swing
-        Constantly looking for something missing in life
When we live in shame-based and co-dependent stance, focusing inordinately on others, we will always feel something is missing, somehow incomplete. We are unhappy, tense, empty, distressed, feel bad and/or numb.

Co-dependence people thrive on personal attention. They are perpetually very needy, some always seeking out for help & others help others out of their need to be needed. They can never satisfy. It clings like a leech, absorbing everything but never filling. They can attend teaching seminar after seminar and they do not bring about any significant change.

If we continue to value intimacy and love from people more than what God can do for us, we will continue to have a void in our hearts. We need to ultimately comes to term that only God can fill these deep human spiritual needs of security, self-worth and significant, which he demands in every person. Only He alone can fill, satisfy and give us fullness of joy “He satisfied the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Ps.107:9).

Symptoms of False self

Most families across the world are dysfunctional in that they don’t provide and support the healthy needs of their children. Since there are no perfect parents, we all have the disadvantage of inadequate modelling from the past. Hence, it means that everyone has suffered abuse or love deficit to some degree.

What result is an interruption of the healthy growth and development of children. When there is neglect, hurt, pain, rejection, abuse, trauma, etc. in our growing up years, and being a child, we cannot express ourselves, our inner child or true self goes into hiding within the unconscious part of our brain; we learn to suppress all our feelings and emotions. This block the growth of our true self, and thus a false-self emerge as an unconscious defence mechanism to run the show of our life in order to survive. We use our false-self to mask the inner pain, hurt, insecurity, inferiority, resentment, anger, etc. This is a simply the most natural defence mechanism against pain and hurt in our soul.  To be real seems threatening and scary as we will be rejected and shamed.

As we continue to stifle and neglect our own feelings, we become increasingly tolerant of emotional pain and soon can become numb emotionally.  And because we stifle our feelings, we are unable to fully grieve our everyday losses. When we cannot express ourselves and grieve completely, we become emotionally ill as our real-self has an innate desire and energy to express itself or to release the tension build up. Secretly, we want to feel alive. The only way out is through negative compulsive behaviour. Such compulsive actions range across a wide spectrum, ranging from trying to control another person to overeating, over sexing, overworking, overspending or even over attending self-help meetings. We tend to use pain to medicate pain or pleasure to medicate our pain away.  Unable to cope with emotional pain, many have taken to inflicting physical pain on themselves to relieve the emotional pain.  

This helps to give temporary relief from tension, suffering and numbness, even though we might feel some shame about it. This is often called repetition compulsion; it comes from unsolved internal conflict in our subconscious mind. Hence, co-dependent illness is a breeding ground for all kinds of addictions.  Sadly, it doesn’t go away, after applying false medications to relieve the pain, shame and guilt often torment us which cause us to repeat the evil vicious cycle.

Today’s society is highly dysfunctional due to dysfunctional families.  It produces addicts and then condemns them for being sick. This unfortunately is the sad scenario and the plague of our time.  In our frantic pursuit of happiness, we seek instant relief to numb the pain and rejection and trauma. Instead of helping, this behaviour is worsening the situation.

An addiction cycle generally starts with a deficit of love with the addictive agent serving as the anaesthetic. The anaesthetic however wears off and the consequences often are disruption of relationships, guilt and further shame. This in turn produces more pain, which is followed again by the numbing effect of the addictive agent. The cycle continues with increasing momentum until the low self-esteem becomes self-hatred.

We may then feel out of control and thus have the need to control even more, which ends up projecting our hurt to others. Underlying religious legalism and rigidity there is often a serious addiction problem.

Let’s understand the Degenerative stages of co-dependence:


1)     Stifle our own inner Child due to love deficit and rejection
2)     Neglecting our own needs
3)     Increase tolerance or numbness to emotional pain
4)     Inability to grieve losses to completion
5)     Blocking growth (mental-emotional-spiritual)
6)     Addiction or compulsive behavior to medicate pain
7)     Progressive shame and loss of self–esteem
8)     Feeling out of control, need to control more
9)     Projection of pain to others by trying to control them
10)  Stress-related illness develops
11) Progressive deterioration: extreme mood swings, difficulty with intimate relationships, chronic unhappiness.

  
Dysfunctional Family

As early as the first year of life, a child has the ability to express emotion and it is during this critical time in our development that we learn how to relate to ourselves and others.  If we are not nurtured healthily and do not form healthy attachment with our parents, we become ill emotionally. We tend to fight, flight or freeze in our emotion and it causes us difficulty to form attachment to our friends later in lives and especially our future spouse and ultimately God. The foundation of all relationship is trust which we lack if we are growing up in a dysfunctional family.

If we lost the authentic self of Childlikeness, which generally loves to communicate, play and have fun, we will also lose the compassionate and gracious heart towards others as we tend to treat people how we feel about ourselves. Due to the pain and anger in our emotion, we tend to be critical, judgemental, get angry easily, withholding and fearful, plans and plods, pretends always to be strong, controlling, self-righteous, and very plastic and not genuine in our personality.

Thus, dysfunctional families produce dysfunctional individuals which in return produce dysfunctional families. Dysfunctional society encourages dependency but is often views as normal. For example, workaholic is the most common form of addiction. A workaholic and an alcoholic have the same root problem. Ministry is also another common addiction. Some people are so addicted to ministry activities that their spouse and children suffer. In fact, ministry addiction is the main reason why many leaders suffer burn out. It is an unbalanced commitment for the wrong reasons.

The main cause of co-dependence is dysfunctional families; and it will worsen if there is childhood abuse that adds shame to it. The emotional deprivation from the dysfunctional family produces a love deficit and a love hunger deep within the person. However, the exact nature of the “trouble” in family cannot be easily recognised, labelled or identify. 

Nevertheless, let’s look at some of the characteristics of dysfunctional families:

 Rigid

Arbitrary & chaotic - a family where rules are set up for no rhyme or reason.  The parents manage the family in a dictatorship style and the child has no right to be heard and loses trust in the rule setters and in their own self. They are unable to understand the environment. They live in chronic fear, as though “walking on eggshells”.

The children are not allowed to express their feeling, especially painful or negative feeling such as anger. This may develop into anti-social behaviour, and various forms of acute and chronic illness, including stress related illness. What the child sees as reality is denied and a false belief system of reality is assumed. This denial and new belief system stifled and retard the child’s development and growth.

Childhood Abuse

Child abuse is common in dysfunctional families. Childhood abuse is defined as anything less than nurturing. Nurturing is caring, nourishing and helping children develop their own unique individuality. Anything less than nurturing is abuse and it creates adults with dependency problems. While severe physical abuse or sexual abuses are clearly recognizable as traumatic to children, other forms of subtle child abuse may be more difficult to recognize. These may include mild to moderate physical abuse, covert or less obvious sexual abuse, like touching children and adolescents in inappropriate parts of their anatomy, and any unnecessary sexually stimulating behaviour. These forms of abuse usually result in deep-seated feeling of shame and guilt that are unconsciously carried into adulthood.

Shame

Growing up in a troubled or dysfunctional family cause shame and low self-esteem, however, the manifestations of shame vary from individual to individuals. Nevertheless, it plays a major role in stifling our child within. It involves the rejection of self-as fundamentally bad, unworthy, inadequate, defective, and insufficient as a person. It is a deep sense that there is something uniquely wrong with oneself. It is a deep feeling of wrongness of being, a deep feeling of contamination, uncleanness, and of being uniquely flawed.

People often confuse shame and guilt. While we feel both, there is a difference between them. Guilt is the uncomfortable or painful feeling that results from doing something that violates or breaks a personal standard or value or causing hurt to others. Guilt thus, concerns our behaviour, feeling bad about what we have done, or about what we didn’t do that we were supposed to have done.
However, shame makes us see ourselves as a mistake rather than making a mistake. If we make a mistake, we can repent and not repeat the same mistake again, but if we feel that we are a mistake, there is no hope. In contrast to guilt where we feel bad from doing something wrong or bad, guilt seems to be correctable or forgivable, whereas there seems to be no way out of shame. Shame makes us feels hopeless, we feel isolated and lonely as though we are the only one who has the painful feeling. It creates self-rejection and self-hatred. When shame becomes internalised, the self is abandoned and identity is lost. Thus, false self takes over to run the show.

Shame results in elaborate “appearance management” – it creates a false self. When our child within feels the shame and cannot express it in a healthy way to safe and supportive people, our false self emerges and pretends not to have the shame, and would never tell anyone about it. Shame masks us.  We are afraid that if we tell others about our shame, they will think we are bad and look down on us. We don’t like that and thus often block it out or pretend that it is not there.

Shame often breeds hatred and unforgiveness towards ourselves and often results in various addictions and compulsion as the inner man desperately searches for something to alleviate the pain. In 2Cor.4:7, Paul says that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels”, – shame causes us to focus on self (the earthen vessels) rather than the treasure which the glory contains. We must always be mindful that God loves us as much as in our day of disgrace as he did in our day of grace.

Shame primarily comes through flawed identity imposed upon us by important people in our life, especially parents, an influencing adult or figure of authority. Their negative messages, negative affirmations, and beliefs and rules that we hear as we grow up like “shame on you!”, “you’re not good enough”, “I wish I never had you”, “you are stupid, useless, not fit to be in the family” etc. We hear them so often and especially from whom we are so dependent on and to whom we are so vulnerable, that we believe them. Thus, we incorporate or internalize them into our very being. Hence, shame is also a result of rejection, scorn, ridicule and unjust punishment.

To make it worst, the wound is compounded by negative rules that stifle and prohibit the
 otherwise healthy, healing and needed expression of our pain. Some family has unwritten “rules” which unconsciously mould the child’s identity at a very early age. These are often used to cover the shame of the parents and to make sure that their inadequacies are not exposed.

Some of these rules are:

-        Always be in control of all behavior, feelings and circumstance. It is wrong to feel sad, lonely, fearful, angry or whatever.  So, don’t cry, don’t get upset, be nice, don’t ask questions.  Never have the right to show our own feeling even at home.

 -        Always must be right, cannot make mistake, everything must be the best. There is no room for learning process.
 -        Always be self-sufficient, don’t bother anyone with a need.

-         Always hide and maintain secrecy regarding anything wrong, especially things in regard to family.
-         
-        Never acknowledge a mistake or make yourself vulnerable to anyone. Don’t trust anyone. So we learn that we are not to supposedly openly talk about it. And this is often transmitted from one generation to the next.
When everyone in a dysfunctional family lives together and operates primarily from their false self, it may be described as being shame based family. We all have shame. Shame is universal to being human. If we do not work through it and then let go of it, shame tends to accumulate and burden us more and more, until we become its victim.

Shame will cause us to surround ourselves with a wall of fear, as we do not want to be shamed further. Fear is a very powerful motivating factor; it motivates us to protect ourselves at all costs.

Insecurity

Insecurity is a direct result of love deficit and the message of rejection we receive in childhood. In contrast, security is directly related to love. Children raised in environments lacking in love often experience deep-seated sense of insecurity. In fact, researchers have found out that possessiveness is due to reunion attempts & insecurity. Those of us who suffered deep rejection will try to live out our past experience (reunion attempts) in future adult relationships. The fear of losing is very real. 

However, possessiveness always kills relationships as it tends to suffocate the other party.  Some of us bring our competitiveness and aggression into the workforce as we seek success in our careers to counter our insecurity.

Perfectionism

One of most common fruits of dysfunctional families is perfectionism. It is a belief that ‘I must do well at all times’. The difference between perfectionism and the commitment to excellence needs to be understood.

Perfectionism is destructive; while excellence is a worthy thing to seek. The perfectionist among us sets impossible standards and when we cannot reach them, we are filled with guilt and frustration. The perfectionist cannot take defeat. Commitment to excellence, on other hand, sets high but reachable standards, while leaning on the grace of God to reach our full potential what God has created us to be, and we learn from failure.

The only remedy for perfectionism is to understand Grace. Dealing with human weakness and brokenness, grace is the divine acceptance of people where they are. Many know grace cognitively, but do not live in it themselves or in their relationship with others. Grace unlocks people from the prison of self-doubt, inadequacy, shame and bondage, and frees people to live more realistically and authentically.

Depression

Depression can be a very complex mixture of physical and mental factors. However, in its simplest form, depression is a mood message, indicating something needs to be rectified in our lives. Just like fever is a body message and a symptom that something is wrong with our bodies, so depression is a symptom of something dying or missing within. Medicine may help to heal our surface moods by balancing the biochemical in our brain but it cannot touch the spirit. We need to deal and confront our emotions to receive healing.

  
Bondages

There are many sincere God fearing and God loving believers who are yet still drawn towards sin or sinful habits, in bondage and addictive behaviour with no victory. Many ascribe the problem to spiritual immaturity – that as we grow in Christ, all the problems will be solved.

However, the true fact is that many of us mature Christians live in bondages and many continuously fall into sin. In fact, there are many pastors, missionary or church leaders who struggle continually in bondage to habits and attitudes that they tried to overcome: hatred, frequent anger, lust, masturbation, pornography, drinking, eating, spending, gambling, addiction to drugs, etc.

In Rom.7:15, Paul describes his own disillusion “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” Like Paul, most of us indulge in bad habits not because we desire to do them, but because of a compulsion to do so, we are compelled by something deep within us. Then, unable to fight the compulsion, we succumb to the habit. There is an unconscious compulsion that motivates us to do the things we don’t want to do.

In Heb.4:10, we are exalted to “be diligent to enter that rest”. Love deficit leads to a lack of peace/rest in our soul. When there is lack of peace and a lack of rest in our soul, our flesh is compelled to do something to attempt to bring peace and comfort to our soul.

2Cor.5:17 say that we are a “new creation” when we accepted Christ as our saviour and enter the kingdom of God. The question is what has become new - our spirit, our soul, or our body?

The fact is that we still have an old body and old soul. Certain areas of your soul might be instantly renewed (some old habits or broken) but generally, we didn’t get an entirely new soul. Only our spirit is new. Our unhealthy soul has great power to drag our spirit to sin in the flesh.


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