THE HEALING JOURNEY
3a. Set free from the darkness - Who is on the throne?
God is the rightful ruler of man. In that right relationship mankind is fully human and fulfilled in the potential and destiny God intended.
The story of mankind’s fall from fellowship with God in chapter 3 of the book of Genesis is the greatest tragedy in history. We have already seen on this website that when Adam and Eve listened to Satan in the Garden of Eden and ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they committed an act of disobedience and rebellion. Before that, their relationship with God was one of total unconditional amazing love but it was also one of submission to God as their creator. Living under his authority they were totally fulfilled and secure.
As Adam and Eve rebelled and rejected God as their Lord and King, their relationship with him and with each other was broken and sin and death entered into their lives, into creation and into all their descendents including you and me. They and every human being who has ever lived came under the rule and domination of Satan.
When God sent Jesus to die on the cross as a perfect sacrifice in our place he was dealing with the issue of sin, providing the way for all who would trust that sacrifice to be forgiven and born again into a loving intimate relationship with their Creator God as Adam and Eve were before they fell. To receive that forgiveness though we must face the issue of who is on the throne of our lives – we must acknowledge that we have sinned and lived life our own way. We must repent, turn our back on our self-centred living without God, and trusting in what Jesus has done on the cross be truly willing with God’s help, to leave that self-centred way of life and to live lives pleasing to him. When the Apostle Peter preached to the crowds on the Day of Pentecost (see chapter 2 of the Book of Acts in the New Testament), he didn’t say ‘Ask Jesus into your life or heart’, he said, ‘Repent and be baptised’.
As we personally respond to that command we are born again and restored to a rightful relationship with God and potentially with our fellow human beings.
All of us want to be healed, we want to have peace, but we can’t know true healing or peace apart from a restored relationship with God and we can’t truly have a relationship with God without crowning him the Lord of our lives. That’s the choice that lies before us – forgiveness, eternal life and healing following Jesus as Lord of our lives or pain and fear in this life and eternity separated from God in hell if we continue to follow our own plans with Satan as our ruler.
It’s a stark choice with no middle ground. Healing and discipleship go hand in hand - if we want to live life our own way with ourselves on the throne, then we are choosing to continue to live in the kingdom of darkness, in rebellion and under the control of Satan. I’m hoping that each person who has read this far on this website has seen and even acknowledged their need to know Jesus as their Saviour – the question we all need to address is whether we have also allowed him to be our Lord. That really is the question that God wants to help us face today.
It's important that we understand that Jesus doesn’t come to override our wills – he calls us to willingly follow him. That doesn’t make us like robots or puppets – Satan is the one who wants to control us like that. Instead, in being given a choice, we find that we are given dignity and honour as we choose to be obedient (and fulfilled) sons and daughters. I must admit there are times that I have found it frightening to be given a choice by God, because it meant that I could choose to disobey him.
I want to show you two short videos from the onetimeblind drama ministry (www.onetimeblind.com) which show two different illustrations of that choice.
(Click on video box to play/pause/replay)
Those videos show us clearly the choice we each have to make – who is on the throne of our lives?
So, to summarise simply, to know and follow Jesus we must be willing to let him be first in every area of our life. To withhold an area is to leave that area open to the control of Satan.
I’d like you to listen to a worship song from Hillsongs Worship that expresses the heart of God towards you. I pray that as you listen to the song your heart will catch a glimpse of his love for you demonstrated in Jesus dying in our place on the cross so that we can live. We can’t fully comprehend the suffering of Jesus as he was beaten, rejected and mocked, separated from his Father so that we could find healing and acceptance. We might want to look away from the cross as we realise that it was our sin that he was dying for but we need to realise that on the cross Jesus isn’t saying, ‘Look you miserable sinners, look how much I’ve had to suffer because of your disobedience and sin!’ No, instead, he’s saying, ‘Look at the depths of love in my heart that I should do this so that you can return to me and know me forever – I did this willingly. The depth of my suffering shows the depth of my love and the value I place on you and your spending eternity with my Father and me.’ Jesus says to each one of us, ‘Come to me just as you are.’ You may say ‘I am too sinful’ – but Jesus didn’t come to call those who think they are good but those who know they are sinners. You may say ‘Surely he can’t include me?’ Jesus saw a despised man, a tax collector called Zaccheus up a tree and called him by name and went to his house for a meal. You can come to him, just as you are today – he’s calling you by name.
After we’ve listened to the song we’ll spend some more time looking at what it means to make Jesus Lord of every part of our lives so that we can come to him in prayer to invite him to take his place on the throne of our hearts.
The Lordship of Jesus
In the book of Revelation in the New Testament we read some words that Jesus spoke to one of his churches:
‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door. I will come in to him and eat with him, and him with me.’ (Revelation 3:20 English Standard Version)
Those words were actually spoken to Christians who had shut him out of their church and their lives but they can also be applied to someone who is becoming a Christian.
Many people have used the illustration of our lives being like a house with many rooms.
In 1853 an artist called William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) painted a famous painting based on the verse from Revelation 3 above called ‘The Light of the World’.
In it Jesus is depicted as standing at the door of a cottage with a lantern in his hand. There is no handle on the outside of the door – depicting perhaps, the artist’s understanding that it is the responsibility of the person in the cottage to open the door to Jesus. Before we allow Jesus into our lives the truth is that every part of us has a No Entry sign up to God. We are very much in control of who has access to who we really are – normally for very good reason because of painful experiences in our lives. At the most extreme we can be like Paul Simon’s famous song ‘I am a rock, I am an Island’, and our lives towards God can be very much like this picture:
Jesus doesn’t force his way into our lives - Satan does. When we hear the Lord knocking on our hearts we need to make the choice to open the door and invite him in.
Perhaps we could imagine Jesus knocking on the door of our lives and we finally open the door. For all of us here who are Christians, that’s something we have already done.
Many houses have an entrance hall of some sort.
Our guests come into that entrance hall into our home. Would we leave them there? Probably not! They wouldn’t feel that welcome would they? It is possible, using our illustration that we can invite Jesus into our lives and leave him standing in the entrance hall, but he hasn’t come just for a visit – he’s come to lovingly take over, to make his home with us but as Lord to make any changes he sees fit to make. The truth is that our lives without God are in desperate need of restoration – every room is a mess.
Hopefully we won’t just leave Jesus, barely in our lives, standing just inside the front door. With guests who come to visit us we would probably at least invite them into our lounge or sitting room. Let’s just imagine that we’ve done that with Jesus. We’ve said to him, ‘Here Jesus, make yourself at home, there’s a comfortable chair for you’.
By asking him into this first room we’ve taken our first step to letting him make his home with us. Perhaps we might even be able to say that in this part of our heart and life ‘Jesus is Lord’.
Although we might say to human guests in our homes, ‘Make yourself at home’, we don’t normally mean, ‘feel free to wander about in any room of our house’. But, as we’re seeing, Jesus has come to make his home in every part of our lives – if we have said to him that we’ve given our lives to him, he takes us at our word and he will want to go into every room of our hearts and lives.
So, he will knock on the doors of the other rooms. He wants to go into them with us to make them places where his presence dwells, places of rest and peace instead of what they might have been – places of fear and pain. He waits for our permission to enter those rooms – how amazing that the God of the universe should treat us with such respect and honour.
So perhaps the next room might be the dining room. That’s probably not too bad as we did ask him in when he offered to come and eat with us. We let him be Lord of the dining room.
Next, he might want to see the kitchen and now it’s another room where he is at home.
A guest might want to use our bathroom and if we were expecting them we probably made sure it wasn’t too untidy before they came. We can probably cope with Jesus seeing that room although I need to say that when Jesus first comes into our lives it usually is unexpected and we don’t have any time to tidy things up to impress him. The good news is that he doesn’t want us to. Anyway, in our imaginary story perhaps we can cope with Jesus seeing the bathroom.
But what now when he says he wants to see our bedroom? Most guests would never ask that would they? Our bedrooms are private, if we’re married they’re places of intimacy. Actually they can also be places of shame that we would want to keep people out of. But Jesus has come as Lord and he hasn’t come to shame us but to bring his light into every place we yield to him so finally, perhaps after a struggle we let him in to our bedroom as well.
But he hasn’t finished! There are places he still wants to see. What about the attic and what about those rooms in the cellar?
If we have an attic it is often a place that we store things that we don’t really need but perhaps can’t bring ourselves to throw away. It’s often dark and dusty up there. If we were looking at a spiritual comparison the attics of our lives could be old hurts that we haven’t forgiven and can be brought up when needed, they could be broken dreams, regrets that have never been resolved, things hidden away but still there in our lives. Jesus really does want to be invited into those places. He’s the only one who can somehow reach back into our past and heal so that the attic places of our lives can also become places of light and life instead of pain and darkness. Perhaps after a struggle we say, ‘Yes, Jesus, even the attic’ and even the attic becomes a place where Jesus lives and is Lord.
But, he’s still not finished! He turns to us and with love in his eyes, he says, ‘What about those rooms in your cellar’? What can the cellar rooms in our lives represent? Perhaps it’s those sins and habits that we wouldn’t want anyone to know about – things that we are so ashamed of that we think that no-one would love us if they knew about them. Perhaps they are sins that we have committed in the past that we have never told anyone about – they are guilty secrets hidden away in darkness, things for which we have never known forgiveness and for which we can’t forgive ourselves. But also, perhaps they are sins that have been committed against us, abuse, neglect, cruelty, abandonment and rejection. No-one has ever really known about those painful places in our lives. Many times it seemed as if no-one even cared so we just got on with our lives as best as we could like everyone else around us. But Jesus isn’t like everyone else. There may have been times when we tried to share those deep and painful places of our lives with another person but found that we were misunderstood or even betrayed and we made a decision, a vow to never trust anyone with our secrets again. Jesus wants to go to those deep and dark places of our lives with us. He holds our hands and says to us,
‘Don’t be afraid, I am with you, I will even turn the most painful and darkest times of your lives into something good and beautiful – only I can do that. Through the ugliness of my suffering on the cross I can transform your suffering because I rose from the dead. I will raise you up too and give you beauty for ashes. Will you trust me?’
As we say yes, perhaps fearfully, he will do as he promises. There is a promise in the Old Testament from God that says that he will give us the treasures of darkness. As we take hold of his hand and his promise, another room, another place is changed by the light of his presence.
Our house and our life that it represents is looking different now isn’t it? In some ways it is a very simple picture of something that takes our whole lives as we walk with Jesus but it is based on our continuing to allow him to take his rightful place as Lord of our lives. He’s a loving Lord, a good, good Father, perfect in all of his ways.
I’ve left a room that’s still closed - all of us will still find that the Lord will reveal hidden places in our lives that he wants to come to. We are fearfully and wonderfully made and he knows the right time to bring those places to our attention so that we can know more of his Lordship in our lives. The more he is Lord, the more we are free to be the people he always made us to be and to walk in his purposes for our lives.
If we are willing to let Jesus be Lord of our lives we are actually asking him to come and ‘stay at our house’ not just be a visitor. As we have just seen He knocks on the door of each part of our lives. If we invite him in he will bring his peace and his presence into that place and any hold that Satan or his demons have had will be broken. It can be a battle to give him that invitation because Satan will try to stir up all kinds of feelings and fears within us to try and stop us – he doesn’t want to lose his hold on our lives. We need to push through all of that because Jesus always comes to do us good and he can always be trusted.
I’d like to pray for you before we go any further:
Thank you Lord that you are here right now, ready to meet with my friend who is reading these words with me. Please help them to be real with you – to lay down their defences and hiding places, to come out of the shadows of shame and guilt and to let you touch them in the depths of their heart. Please keep any fear from them that would hold them back from making you Lord of their whole life today.
If you are ready we can now go on to the next section, '3b. Making Jesus Lord of our life'...