The Gods of Pleasure, Performance, and Pain - Jeff and Alyssa

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love  he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 1:3-5

Think for a second of all the different hats you wear on a consistent basis. What roles define you? For me, I am Jeff the employee, Jeff the athlete, Jeff the roommate, Jeff the son, Jeff the brother, etc. Now think out of all the ones you thought of, which one if taken from you would hurt you the most? Which one would affect you if changed? If it’s not the fact that we are children of the King, then we are probably not living how God intended us to live. Because, truthfully speaking, being a child of God is the only one that can’t be taken from you. If we put our identity in anything but Christ we are putting our identity in something broken. If  I lose my job, or my family, or my ability to throw a baseball it would hurt, but God calls us to put our identity in Christ because we can never lose our spot as a son or daughter of the King! 

The truth is though we all in one way or another have put our hope in something other than Christ. We have done what Romans 1:25 states by “exchanging the truth about God for a lie, and worship and serving the created over the Creator.” The base fundamental issue with society is in this verse. The reason we struggle, or have sin in our lives is because we have exchanged the truth about God for a lie and put our identity in created things. This problem lies at the root of all sin. So, ultimately you don’t just have a lust problem, or a alcohol problem, or a pride problem, but most fundamentally you have an identity problem. You don’t know who you really are. Who you really are has nothing to do with you. Its all about His performance, not yours; His victory, not yours; His efforts, not yours.

 Who you really are has nothing to do with you. Its all about His performance, not yours; His victory, not yours; His efforts, not yours. 

In the Bible, identity is defined as anything we ultimately live for, put our trust in, or get utmost satisfaction and joy from. Whatever that object is, that is where we are putting our identity. Below are three common areas we place our identity, rather than Jesus.


1) Pleasures/Posessions

What feels good. We are slaves to fleeting, quick, cheap pleasure. Rather than defining ourselves as royalty and children of the king, we demote ourselves to slaves. We are simply a slave to our fleshly desires and can’t help but be ruled by them. The Bible states the opposite though. Because we are prince and princesses we are lord’s over our flesh, not the other way around. Instead of trusting in this truth though we place our identity in how many girls we can sleep with, how many beers we can drink, or how many cool gadgets we can own more than our friend. For example, ladies, could you go out in public in sweats and no makeup and still feel beautiful and loved by God? If not, you probably have made an idol of appearance.

Ladies, could you go out in public in sweats and no makeup every once in awhile and still feel beautiful and loved by God? If not, you have probably made an idol of appearance.

Here’s the thing though, do any of these things or ways of live ever satisfy? Never. Worldly pleasures always over promise, and under deliver. They never work. Human history is the miserable conveyor belt of humans getting exactly what they desire and going “What?! Is this it?!” and then repeating that cycle until death hoping the next thing will finally bring rest. Like the verse in the beginning states though, we have every spiritual blessing in Christ in the heavenly places. You already have everything you will ever need and want! We have all the life, all the blessing, all the riches, all the love we can ever ask for and that is more than enough to satisfy. Wordly things are like toilet water. If we were slaves and had nothing better to drink, I think we would actually enjoy and crave toilet water. Because we are parched and thirsty, we are willing to drink it because it will satisfy for a moment but make us sick after the fact. So it is with sin. But, we are children of the king that get free living water (Jesus) that satisfies for eternity. When you have fresh living water, toilet water becomes less attractive. Let us see Jesus in this way also. Let Him become so glorious and attractive to us that sin starts to become less desirable.


2) Performance

This one is an epidemic in America. Rather than demoting ourselves to slaves, we promote ourselves to the place of God. We are king, we make the rules, and what we do is what defines us. Ask yourself, especially if you’re a Christian, do you gain worth from your quiet time, your singing at church, and your moral effort? What is it like when you don’t do these things? Is your joy gone? Do you feel grumpy? If so, you’ve probably made an idol out of your performance.

This has been exceedingly true in my life, especially as of recent. God has graciously been dealing with me and my addiction to the approval of others. I’ve noticed that I perform, or speak, or write articles, not just for the approval of God, but for the approval of man. I get my worth more from what people say about my content, rather than what God says about me. Its intoxicating. But it’s death. True satisfaction only comes from resting in what God thinks of me because of Jesus.

“that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ…” (Eph. 1:4)

Like that verse says though, He has presented us holy and blameless. He performs, not us. We have been adopted into the royal family, solely because of what he has done. We don’t need to earn anything. Think about a royal family for a second, and the benefits the children receive. Do they not have access to everything the King has access to? Yes. Whatever their Father owns is theirs’ free of charge, simply because they are children of the King. So it is with Christ! We earn nothing, but inherit everything.

We earn nothing, but inherit everything. 

3) Past/Pain

This one can usually be because of a failure in the first two. Instead of defining ourselves by what we own, or what feels good, we define ourselves by our mistakes and our past. We are merely a sum of that adultery we had, that abusive relationship we were in, that abortion years ago, or that shame and guilt of an incident that still haunts us. We are no different than Adam and Eve who after falling into temptation felt “naked and ashamed” and tried to clothe their nakedness with fig leaves. Aren’t we the same? We might not use fig leaves, but we try to clothe nakedness and shame with the newest shoes, the newest girlfriend, or the newest smartphone.

It’s in those moments though where Christ just softly whispers, “I..Love..You.” My question is, have you ever let Him graciously say that to your soul? Have you lingered in it? 1st John 2:1 suggests that right in the moment of your sin, your filth, and your shame God whispers “I Love You, I am your Advocate.” Because we are in Jesus, even in the moment of our sinning God doesn’t see us in our sin but rather sees us holy and blameless in Christ! That is scandalous grace! And we wonder why Christ was hated and murdered by the religious leaders, that is why. Grace is dangerous, but beautiful. He sees us as if we have already lived a perfect and obedient life. God loves us with the same love He loved His son.

Jesus absorbed all your shame, guilt, and sin on the cross 2000 years ago, so stop trying to pay for it yourself. He looks down and says “Its paid for, you are mine, you are a child of the King.” Nothing can change that because sonship has nothing to do with activity it has everything to do with identity. If we were an employee, God could fire us when we mess up. But, when we are a child of Him, He doesn’t fire us when we mess up He actually gets more intimately involved with our situation like every good father does!

Because we are in Jesus, even in the moment of our sinning God doesn’t see us in our sin but rather sees us holy and blameless in Christ!

So, whoever you are, please rest in the fact that you are His beautiful and holy child. You have freedom to struggle because Jesus bought it for you on the cross. He took your sin, and gives you His righteousness. You are in Jesus, and He is in heaven, which means you are secure. You are His.