Before I was born again, I prided myself on being a spiritual seeker. I was hungry for truth and looked for it everywhere: in false religions like buddhism and hinduism, in false doctrines like tao te ching, in false practices like affirmations and meditations, and mindfulness and yoga, even in the seduction of witchcraft, I read horoscopes daily and was attracted to alternative practices like acupuncture and reiki, fortune telling and tarot card reading and more. All of these things were so common in our culture and are even more pervasive in this day and age that it has become acceptable to dabble in and explore these things thinking they are harmless. There are even many well meaning Christians who are engaged in some degree of these practices thinking it is perfectly acceptable in Gods sight.
The notion that these practices are harmless or that it is ok with God couldn't be further from the truth. As I read Isaiah 47 this morning God's Word couldn't be any more clear that the end of all such practices is death and destruction for the people who practice those things and for the practices themselves. I know this story well, the absolute incompatibility of those practices with a peaceful, God fearing life and what it's like to be involved in those things thinking that they were good and beneficial for me.
"There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12). In my mind, in my heart, I thought seeking truth even if it was in those things was good, noble, even set me apart as being sophisticated and modern, elevated me into some kind of esoteric elite - when in reality, when those practices were exposed for what they were, were actually leading me further from a fruitful relationship with God. I will explain.
As Christians we have to consider that God has always made a clear distinction between good and evil, between how the enemy works and how God works. In the beginning, in the creation story, God's work is to separate things, to make distinctions, the heaven from earth, dark from day, the land from the water by speaking, by His Word. He not only separates things, but He declares the inherent value of His work, of His creation as being Good. God has defined the boundaries of existence, the boundaries of creation and His judgement, His estimation of His ways and processes are Good.
The Psalmist writes, "O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and cup; You maintain my lot, The boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Yes, I have a good inheritance" (Psalm 16:5-6). We as His creation are not supreme, not above our creator. We are not able or equipped to judge good and evil, what is good and what is not good, what is right and what is wrong. Instead we are created to rely, depend on, trust, have faith in the Word He has given us and receive the good inheritance we have in relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ.
Our humanity, our intellect, our God given ability to reason has always made us susceptible to be the judge and jury of what is "good" for us and for others. It is our Achille's heel so to speak and was the exact area the enemy exploited in the garden to bait Adam and Eve to begin with. He used the things that looked good, appealed to the appearance of things and to man's ability to discern good and evil apart from God's Word that resulted in the fall of mankind. Ooh, that apple, that carrot, the tarot card looks good, sure tastes good, feels good, is feeding some need in me for goodness that surely God's Word doesn't know better and this thing I'm pursuing must be good for me. WRONG.
It was wrong then and it is wrong now. The wages of sin is death. The wages of disobedience is destruction. The fruit of relying on our understanding of going our own way is for judgement to fall upon our own heads. Every man born after Adam and Eve knows this. The world and its wisdom is messed up and awaiting for its restoration. THANK GOD FOR HIS MERCY IN JESUS CHRIST that we have been redeemed when we believe in Him to blot our record clean. That when we have been redeemed we can walk in the Garden with Him and overcome the wiles of the enemy.
My conversion to Christianity was pretty drastic in some ways. In grad school, depressed, anxious, in a codependent relationship, in constant worry with no way out, with dreams that I was dying, drowning apart from God, drinking myself to sleep, I began crying out to God to help me. At a Barnes & Nobles He led me to His Word, to a 30 day guarantee on the back of a Bible. It went something like this...If you read this Bible for 30 days you will have less anxiety, less depression, more peace, more joy.... SOLD. I prayed, God I've given everything else a try (thinking about all my spiritual seeking) but if your Son Jesus is for real, I will give you 30 days to prove it. My next thought was I don't know how to do do this. You see I had tried to read the Word a few months before my melt down but it didn't make any sense to me.
I looked on another shelf and there was a book How to Read the Bible for Yourself by Tim LaHaye. I grabbed both and LaHaye's book taught me how to cultivate a relationship with God in His Good Book, how to seek out truth in His Word and how to apply it in everyday life. Within 30 days my life was so different that I kept reading and applying His Word. No horoscope, affirmation, meditation, yoga pose, no false transcendental feeling or moment of the ethereal ever had that affect on me or my life. Those things had no benefit to me, had served no purpose other than take me away from Truth. God's Word I know knew was TRUTH and I was confronted with the reality that I didn't know better, the course I was on was wrong, that I was a sinner and needed a Savior and that God provided one in Christ Jesus. Within a few months I dedicated my life to following Him, got baptized, and became a born again believer.
Although my conversion was radical, transformation did not happen all at once. In the beginning I was one of those Christians who brought in the baggage of a mixture of beliefs and practices, but because God is the master gardener, He began pruning my life (John 15). The things that were not helpful or beneficial, the things that were causing harm even though I didn't recognize it or understand it at the time, the things that were opposed to His Ways, He started chopping away in the light of the Word.
It took more than me just reading His Word at times. I thank God for the Christians He put in my path who had the courage, willingness, and even foresight and love to tell me and show me in God's Word that yoga was wrong, that meditation was wrong, that seeking wisdom in worldly things is wrong, and opposed to God's Word and were not beneficial for me.
I had to be willing to let go of those things, just like I had to Let Go and Let God in the beginning I learned that I had to continually be willing to let go of my idea that I know what is best for me and to conform myself to God's Word. At times it was scary, I was so used to meditating for peace even though I knew Jesus was the prince of Peace. He gave me the grace to let go. And for everything I let go of I got so much more in return. More freedom. More joy. More wisdom. More understanding. More peace. Just like the 30-day guarantee promised. I don't know what is best for me and I can trust God. If it is our Achille's heel, it is also our saving grace. For every time we surrender, submit, and yield to the Highest Power, the name above all names, His Kingdom does come! This is how Jesus walked too!
That is what the Garden of Gethsemane was all about. Jesus in his humanity did not want to go to the cross. He understood how humiliating and painful it was going to be, but He also knew that something beautiful was on the other side of it - eternal life for Him and for all of us who believe. Thank God He yielded and made a way for us to follow.
You know, one of the many things I love about following Jesus is that He is not some overlord cracking the whip at me. He calls me friend. Even when I've been confronted with the difficulty realities of His truth, He has never made me feel condemned or less than when He has corrected me. It is His Love that has guided me into all truth. And that's what He does, guides us into all truth. He doesn't hide His wisdom and He doesn't withhold His understanding even when it's packaged in a parable or needs to be sought out. He wants us to find Him, to know Him, to Love Him because when we find Him, we find His Love for us.
Likewise, He also understands how misguided our desire to know and understand truth can be especially when we have an enemy who wants us to get tangled in things that bear no fruit and frustrate our lives and God's purposes for them. That is why these false practices are so pervasive, they appeal to the part of us that is created to seek, know, and understand God. If you ask God for the truth in what I am sharing today and if it is true to Him He will answer. Maybe you did ask and that's why you're reading this today.
If you are entangled in false doctrines, religions, worldly wisdom, and unfruitful practices, if you find yourself practicing a mixture of Christianity + something else to find fulfillment and satisfaction I urge you today to bring the matter before the throne room of Grace and ask God to make known His truth to you. I ask you dear brothers and sisters to be willing to let go of your right to know better and invite you to experience the freedom of living in the Light of God's Love for you.
Much Love today and Always!