When Grieving Becomes Disloyalty
When I mourn and feel pain for something that I give up for Jesus, that pain reveals a sympathy in my flesh for something that is preventing me from being fully loyal to Him. In effect I am sympathizing with the enemy of my best Friend. But how do I feel when someone who claims to love me still has sympathy for someone who only wants to hurt me and sabotage my relationships with those I love?
That is why God insisted that Aaron not mourn when two of his sons died from their acts of rebellion against God. To mourn is to sympathize and sympathy for an enemy is disloyalty to a friend.
A problem arises in this arena when one is trying to obey the convictions of the Spirit to let go of something that has very strong emotional attachments but has not taken the time to cultivate counteracting replacement attachments with God's heart. They are not using one magnetic attraction as a means of repelling the other magnetic attraction.
If you have played around with magnets you will have noticed that when two magnets are brought into close proximity to each other they will either be strongly attracted to each other or will strongly repel each other, depending on which way they are oriented. I believe there is a very important lesson built into this principle of physics put there by God to teach us a most important concept about spiritual realities.
If I am like a piece of iron with a magnet stuck to me, something that detracts from my pure loyalty to God but does not necessarily appear openly sinful, then it is going to be very hard for me to effectively get that magnet detached from me without a great deal of effort and pain. I might attempt to do it with sheer willpower or maybe use amped up fear to separate that thing from my life, but fear is not a very effective tool to encourage growth in a life of love like God designed for us to share with Him. I might accomplish externally separating myself from that item or activity but it will cause extreme separation pain, confusion and many times second thoughts later on. And I will likely be very vulnerable to having some other “magnet” replace that and take its spot that I will then have to separate myself from later on.
This is a common phenomenon familiar among circles that treat addictions. Many people work very hard to give up some addiction only to replace it with some other addiction, sometimes one that may appear much more socially acceptable. That new addiction however becomes even more difficult to deal with because it appears to not be so harmful. But addictions are like magnets and have a very similar power to stick tenaciously to our lives and resist detachment like magnets are attracted to iron.
But the more I think about it the more sense it makes to use a power outside of and greater than ourselves. Instead of just trying to use methods based on brute force to separate harmful magnets from our emotional lives it would be far more effective and possibly even less painful if we were to introduce the presence of a more powerful magnet to utilize its properties to create a revulsion that would cause us to want to get rid of compromising influences from our hearts. If we were to spend more time and effort on filling our hearts and minds with the magnetic presence of a powerfully attractive God, then to the extent that we were truly filled with that attraction at the heart level would be the extent to which sin and its addictions and attractions would start to feel repulsive to our hearts. Thus we could use the power of one magnet to push away the other instead of trying to do it all ourselves.
But there is a very interesting third factor here that I have not yet considered. Our hearts are not just like a passive piece of iron that has no bias to start with. Each of us is more like a magnet ourselves, albeit much weaker than originally created. But we have the power to turn our hearts in one direction or another which will create either an attraction or a repulsion in the direction we are facing relative to any other magnets around us. This ability to turn our hearts is the most important part of our beings and it is called by some the kingly power of choice. When this factor is entered into the equation then a lot more potential is exposed as to how each one of us can affect the outcome of our battle against the attractions of sin in our lives.
If I continue to observe the analogy of the magnets and their relationships to other magnets I can see even more useful principles that apply very well to my relationship with sin and with God. Magnets display a principle labeled as “attraction of opposites”. The rule of thumb when dealing with physical magnets is that opposites attract and like repels like. Thus the negative side of a magnet has very strong attraction for the positive side of another magnet.
As I think about it that is the same principle that seems to take place between us and God. God is perfectly good and in man can be found no natural goodness – a negative field if ever there was one. Yet God seems overwhelmingly attracted to wanting to be with us and draw us to Himself.
This seems very baffling at first to our logical minds. Why would a perfect, good, loving God be attracted to want the worst of sinners to come close to Him, especially given His intense hatred of sin? It has not only baffled people ever since sin entered this world but it has also contributed to a great deal of false and confusing beliefs about God that keep us afraid of Him. Instead of believing that He really does love us that much we tend to rewrite what He has said about Himself to make it seem that He uses threats and force and intimidation to push us toward lining up with His will instead of using magnetic attraction to draw us to His goodness and grace and love.
Sin also has a similar way of attracting and attaching itself to our lives. While sin at its core is evil and repulsive if it didn't cloak itself behind a very appealing facade, it most often presents itself to our minds and hearts initially as something greatly to be desired, something that will satisfy some craving in our life, something that will make us feel more alive. This external attractiveness that is often so overwhelmingly compelling is what draws us into trouble most of the time because it appears that this thing or activity or relationship is going to meet some emptiness that we are feeling – the negative side of our own magnet. But in embracing the magnets of sin to cover our negative deficiencies we block God from having a place to attach firmly to our hearts. When God comes to us to connect with our heart and mind, the place where He needs to attach is littered with magnets of sin that promise to do for us what only God can effectively accomplish. Thus there is this irreconcilable competition between sin and God for the negative places on our soul.
So why does God hate sin so much?
God hates sin because it is sin that keeps us believing lies about Him. And these lies within us block Him from having full access to our hearts. God created us for the most intimate fellowship with Him, much closer than a man and woman might ever experience in the most fantastical marriage one could ever imagine. But sin has created the diversion of an adulterous mindset and causes us to look to other sources to fulfill our needs for love and fulfillment and satisfaction. So when these things block God's love from ravishing our hearts and connecting us with His heart exclusively, God sees sin as the competition and the worst enemy that has stolen His children from loving allegiance to their true family.
So if I apply this magnet analogy to the principle that I started out with in the beginning about feeling pain while letting go of something God asks me to release, it alerts me to the reality that maybe I am making the wrong choices in how I orient my own magnet in relationship to the ones offered me by sin. I am also failing to allow God's magnetic field to dwell close enough to the center of my heart that could create a repulsive power to push away those sources of evil. Instead I am trying to do it some other way, trying to get rid of sin and get my act together before I allow God full access. But by trying to get rid of sin without allowing the magnetism of God to fill my soul, I am really betraying my own choices that resist His love and the truth about His character and I am sympathizing with at least some of the lies of the enemy that claim that God is not as good as He says He is. When I remain in sympathy with the lies of Satan about God, to that same extent I am choosing to remain in disloyalty to God while at the same time thinking I want to get closer to Him.
The millions of lies about God that infect our hearts and minds and assumptions are like millions of small and large magnets all scattered throughout our internal makeup but all oriented in the same direction – oriented to repel the real truth about how God feels towards sinners. We may be able to fill our minds with factual truths about God and attach truths to certain parts of our brain that can begin to counteract the magnet field created by all of these lies. But as long as those lies remain firmly embedded deep in our thinking and subconsciousness we will feel continued resistance to the things God is trying to reveal to us about Himself. There is going to be continued tension internally between what we are learning about God and what our gut-level beliefs cause us to feel that contradict what we are being shown by His Spirit.
I certainly don't know how all of this works, but I can now begin to see that applying this analogy to my own experience makes it suddenly have much more sense. It helps explain why I have such confusing and conflicting emotions on my journey toward freedom and a true belief in God's goodness and love. I can definitely see where the powers of competing magnets are causing pressure and tension and competing attractions at the heart level. But I also think that if I better understand these principles and learn how to exercise my power of choice to affect the outcome of this internal conflict that it might become easier to know how to make choices that will leverage God's magnetic power to expose and expel sin from my life instead of spending so much wasted effort in trying to do it myself.
This can also come to be a means of measuring the orientation of my own heart in relation to both sin and God by observing which of these has the greater attraction for me. If I sense God is asking me to let go of something so He can replace it with Himself and His provisions for me, and yet I find it very painful to let go of that thing, then that pain in itself can alert me that maybe I am not facing the right direction. I may need to pay more attention to how I might add the effect of my magnet to the power of God's magnet and create a repulsive field toward the elements in my life that are blocking God's presence and power from me. If that is the situation, then I have just uncovered another area of my life where rebellion and disloyalty is still firmly in place.
But instead of attempting to get my own act together in order to comply with God's orientation, I now can see more clearly that it might be more effective to get with God, to draw closer to Him instead of trying to get rid of sin myself. If I submit myself to God and draw closer to Him and allow His attractions and magnetic power to fill my life and orient my heart, then His presence can create a hostile atmosphere against the sins that normally might have great attraction for me.
My choices in these things are going to reveal how much I am still dependent on things of this world to satisfy my heart. But those attractions are going to be exposed as areas of disloyalty to the heart of God just as they would be seen in a marriage relationship. Anything or anyone that detracts from total and pure loyalty to my spouse is something that has inherent power to pull me away from them sooner or later. And likewise, anything that I cling to in resistance to God's Spirit asking me to let it go is really something that betrays the presence of disloyalty to God's claim over my soul. And in the Bible this kind of disloyalty is called adultery.
Yes, there may be many times when I am going to have to pry loose something or even someone from my heart to clear place for God to take that spot and become my source of provision in that area. And I may have to do it very painfully because I can't see God's provision. Maybe I am blinded by the close proximity of that counterfeit provision that is so familiar to me. But somehow I feel that I can at least help to reduce the level of that separation pain if not completely eliminate it soon after the separation by focusing much more on the replacement provision of God's presence and the real truth about His character and His desires for me.