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January - Mysticism - Satan's Lie to find God in your heart,

Mysticism – Satan’s lie to find God in your heart, the worship of emotions

Last month I began a series of articles looking at Pastor Jonathan Fisk's book  Broken - 7 "Christian" Rules That Every Christian Ought to Break As Often As Possible .  I mentioned that, from that book, we would look at seven counterfeit "Christian" rules that satan presents as Christian doctrine and teachings, but in fact are false teachings and lies designed to take your eyes off of Christ and His Word, and thus damage or even destroy faith.

                I mentioned that the first lie satan told to Adam and Eve was to trust in their own judgment, what their heart was telling them rather than God’s Word.  This is what Fisk defines as Mysticism: The belief that direct knowledge of God can be attained through your subjective experiences of God, which in turn is really the worship of (trusting in) your emotions.

Fisk writes: Mysticism has found many ready listeners in American culture because American culture is a melting pot of trying to feel good. Humans have always made feeling good a high priority, but in our age we have made it an art form. Both Christians and non-Christians alike spend most of the waking day trying to feel good. When we feel bad (which happens a lot), we begin casting around the market for something new to consume in order to buy and feel better. Once we find an answer, we remain as diligent in trying to make the feeling better (and) last as long as possible. This is our way of life. It is our economy, our national pastime, and our greatest export. We believe, teach, and confess that the key to happiness is managing discomfort by increasing good feelings instead, and we are so successful at it that we've also come to assume God approaches religion the very same way. Wouldn’t God want me to be happy? Wouldn’t God want to meet my needs, take away my cares and worries, and lift me up?  Why wouldn't a truly good God want me to find Him by learning to feel the goodness of His presence? It only makes perfect, heartfelt sense.      For this reason, all over America, every week, a vast number of the most well-meaning of us congregate in special houses that we have built for the sole purpose of trying to feel God together. By combining applied motivational speeches and creative musical arrangement with the latest and best gimmicks of technology, we listen to the promise that we can and will feel good by finding God (and find God by feeling good). We consume these carefully manufactured divine experiences like any other product, expecting them to be over on the hour so that we still have plenty of time to trot back to our lives of buying, selling, and trying to feel even more good in all the ways we possibly can. Fresh off the assembly line, we don't mind applying whatever bits of personal skill development the preacher told us was this week's key to directly enhancing our experience of God. None of us feel manipulated. We would be angry if you told us we were just consumers being sold a fast-food religion. "Mysticism" is just a big word without any meaning to us. But every week we buy it anyway. We go to our churches in search of a better feeling, and when we find it, we believe we have found the real presence of God.

                Fisk continues: There are two main problems with this mystic pursuit of God through feelings. The first (and the biggest for Christians) is that Jesus never a taught it. The Bible never tells you that the path to finding God lies hidden within positive experiences. It's not that Jesus has a problem with hearts or emotions in general; after all, He created them. But He didn't create them in order to speak to us through them. That was why He created words.   

                God speaks to us in His concrete, powerful, living Word.  It is objective and truly speaks to us without changing.  From Eden on, we are simply to trust in His Word, in Him.

             The second problem with believing that we can find God in our hearts that human emotions always have an unintended side effect: they wear off. Feelings can come with extraordinary strength. They can be as real and potent as the sun warming your face. They can fill you with confidence, conviction, and daring. They can motivate you, get you to turn your life around, and press you to achieve things you never thought possible. But they inevitably also do what emotions always do—change.

                True, it is a dangerous lie to trust in your feelings and emotions for certainly with God.  In fact, to do so is to trust in another god, ourselves.  And we do not make very good gods.

                Fisk adds: So when we put it all together, we find that St. Paul and Dr. Luther agree: Holy Scripture is God's own Spirited words, given for the purpose of establishing doctrine (eternal truth) that rebukes our natural sinful thoughts and corrects our ignorance of what God thinks about us by training us to believe we are justified for Christ's sake. This Christianity is entirely outside of us, promised to us, a gift you are free to believe by faith.     

When the devil, or our own heart/understanding asks “Did God really say…”,  we turn to scripture and say “Yes, He did!”  He has spoken objective truths about our nature (rebellious and dead in our sinful flesh) and His view of us in Christ (that we are declared absolutely forgiven, clean and holy for the sake of the work of Jesus Christ at the Cross and empty tomb).   Those are unchangeable truths that do not depend upon our feelings, for they are God’s view of us, the Truth that sets us free – free from the lies of satan and our flesh!  You can’t find God in your heart, He has revealed Himself alone in His Word.

Pastor

 

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