A few weeks ago I was sharing with my friend that Jesus told me “worship would be my warfare” as I pursued freedom in certain areas of my life. I confessed to her that I was finding it hard to really love on Jesus and fully give myself to Him in worship. Even though I had some powerful encounters with God and really did enjoy times of worship, I knew fear was holding me back from fully giving myself over to praising Him.
The fear was that if I let go of myself and gave all of my being, emotions, thoughts, etc over to Jesus in worship, then I’d lose something. If I I stopped thinking about myself and my life and honored God instead, I thought, then I’d lose a part of myself. I’d lose love and pleasure, or something. I felt “protected” when I didn’t ascribe the fully glory of God in my spirit. I know it sounds weird, but that’s what I was struggling with. I identified it as “self-love” and pride, although that was just the fruit of wrong thinking and a bit unhelpful to identify.
I knew deep down I was falling short of pure worship:
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
To worship in truth, we must know the truth about God in our hearts, not just our heads.
And to do that, we must be saved through the healing power of Christ alone, saved mostly from wrong thinking, not wrong doing. Behaviors are a result of wrong thinking, so we must renew our minds in order to change our behavior. My behavior during worship, of not really giving myself over to Jesus in worship, showed me that I had some wrong thinking about God.
Up until this point, in my heart, I believed God to be a selfish God, even though in my knowledge of Him I knew this was false. I believed that He only loved me so He can get things from me in return, like worship, good deeds, money, everything that I desired in life, etc. I always thought that when I worshiped, it was almost as if His love for me turned off as He received all this love from me in selfishness. This is why I couldn’t fully give myself over to Him in worship, I had to kind of hang on to myself in a sense so that He couldn’t “hurt” me by taking something away, in His “selfishness.” Crazy right? I bet I’m not the only one who believes this about God.
I didn’t realize that God’s love is never self-seeking. Conditional love belongs to the kingdom of darkness. He paid the price for my sin expecting nothing in return from me, and that is an absolute truth. His love never stops flowing toward me, even when I give my mind and heart over to Him in worship, and that it’s only through His constant giving that I’m able to worship Him in the first place.
God knew this wrong belief (aka sin) was blocking me from pure worship.
This is why He saves us from sin, so that we can worship Him. Throughout the Bible, God promises to “save” (heal, deliver, rescue) His people. And what’s the purpose of saving us? So that we worship. So we realize that God’s love is truly trustworthy and not self-seeking and/or manipulative in any way.
Righteousness (or salvation, deliverance from wrong thinking) comes first, then true worship comes as a result:
For as the earth produces its growth, and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
The verse below is incredible because right there it shows that God wants and promises that He will heal us from soul wounds that occurred in our childhood. Everyone has soul wounds, even people with great families, that will block full intimacy with God and others unless we seek healing from Jesus:
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland….
Unfortunately, we cannot forget the things of the past by pretending nothing affected us and moving on with life. This is because as small children, we soak up everything as truth since we don’t have the ability to distinguish between right and wrong behavior from authority figures in our lives. In order to not “dwell on the past,” we must ask God to reveal the lie we’re believing that we picked up at some point and ask Him to heal us by giving the truth (this is what the Sozo Ministry of Bethel does, along with other counseling methods that acknowledge only God alone can heal and not just good advice and revelation from the counselor). If we don’t confront these lies, the soul wounds from the past will show up in our present and future relationships, including our relationship with God.
And what is the ultimate purpose of this inner healing? The answer comes a few verses later:
…that they may proclaim my praise.
The end result of our sanctification is pure worship! That is what God seeks, because He knows it gives us the fullest satisfaction in life, not because He’s selfish and egotistical! And, we worship not just because we’re thankful, but because we have literally been set free from wrong thinking that enables us to worship from a right heart.
No human love or anything else we aspire toward like achievements and successful living can satisfy us like the pleasures of God in worship! If the Bible talks about the pleasures of God in His presence both here and in heaven, then I want to discover that, not just think it’s a nice theoretical happy thought from the Bible that I can never experience myself.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Probably one of the most famous books on this subject is John Piper’s Desiring God. Piper’s whole thesis says:
God is most glorified when you are most satisfied in Him.
Maybe Christians have missed the mark on what glorifies God the most. Maybe it’s not all about evangelizing, serving the poor, being humble, etc, although these things definitely glorify God and are things He certainly loves.
But if God is mainly concerned about making true worshipers out of us like the Bible says, if He truly is most glorified when His people are most satisfied in Him, then God must love it when people literally thirst for righteousness (salvation, healing). He will answer our thirst, and then we will be filled to the brim, leaving no room for the lust. And not just sexual lust. Trying to “get love” from our relationships is a form of lust. Addiction to substances, busyness, achievements, entertainment, etc is lust.
Instead, these God-given desires for family, achievement, good food, etc will be put in their proper place (below God), allowing us to enjoy them the way they were meant to be enjoyed and evangelism, outreach to the poor and oppressed, humility etc. become the natural fruit of our lives.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be completely satisfied.