At C.J. Mahaney’s session at TGC he encouraged those of us who find ourselves doubting the love of God to devote ourselves to studying the doctrine of Adoption.
I thought to myself: yup! Pretty sure it wouldn’t hurt me to be more certain of God’s love. So, the day I got back from the Conference I flipped open A Puritan Theology to the chapter on adoption.
I like those crazy puritans. I like the way they talk about God with reverence and awe, and passion and urgency. Their encouragement to me and to you is this:
“resist every hinderance that keeps us from relishing our Father’s adoptive grace”
Let me translate that for all of us out there who don’t speak puritan: there are things we do that can keep us from feeling the love of God.
They list 11 obstacles that stand make it harder to experience the delight of our Sonship.
Here are five of them:
Obstacle#1: a secret murmuring frame of spirit against God’s present dispensations towards thee, (i.e. a whispering inside that God is not being kind toward you).
I hear this inside of me: this dark whispering in deep places, murmuring that God has withheld from me. Unless we wage war on this secret murmuring, how can we expect to stand delighted and relishing and feeling the truth that is unwavering: He is working all things for our good?
Obstacle #2: A kind of delight in complaining against thy self, and taking Satan’s part many times in bearing false witness against thy own soul, (i.e. putting yourself down)
Ugh. I hate this description because it carves right through the deception of self-pity to reveal the inner evil. Self-condemnation offers the delight of believing you’re a victim, when in actuality we are the perpetrators.
We go to God, expecting to feel like He’s our Father, right after we just got done telling Him what a terrible job He did in creating us.
This soul of mine – it is His. His alone. He is the only one who gets to define it and He can speak about it in any way He sees fit and who am I to disagree with Him?
Obstacle #3: An unthankful denial of the word of God’s sanctifying spirit in the heart, (i.e. doubting that God has been working in your heart).
According to the puritans, we cannot expect to experience the great comfort of God’s love to us if we ungratefully deny His work in us.
Every time I look at my journals and feel like nothing has changed, (and honestly, it usually feels like nothing has changed), I don’t display humility. Instead, I am filled with an unthankful heart. I deny the work of His Spirit.
Obstacle #4: An unwarrantable thrusting off of those promise and comfortable truths which God in the Ministry of the Word or otherwise brings home to our condition, (i.e. refusing to be comforted by God’s promises).
Sigh. I do this so often. God gives me promises in His words designed to lift my heart in dark days. And, far too often, I reject them.
Sometimes I literally ask people to be silent and withhold the comforting promises of God. Sometimes I just do it in my own mind. Like the Psalmist, I refuse to let myself be comforted.
Obstacle #5: A groundless surmising of an irrevocableness in our condition from such and such threatenings of scripture as concern us not, (i.e. concluding that you are too far gone for God to help you).
Scripture is filled with warnings, but the only souls who should be terrified by them are those who are not.
For those who are Sons of the Living God, these warnings speak of His love and should fill us with hope, not despair. He disciplines those whom He loves. These warnings are evidence that He’s our dad.
There are 6 more things that get between us and experiencing God as Father, so stay tuned…