WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM? – A STUDY OF THE LIFE OF JESUS (40)

CORRECTING OUR WRONG IMAGE OF THE FATHER – JOHN 14:6-11

This week we will take an even closer look at "knowing the Father"
for only as we know Him truly and rightly can we respond to Him rightly. Jesus
is not only the way to the Father (John 14:6) He models the way to relate to
the Father and His life is a revelation of the Father. "Jesus said to him,
"Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He
who has seen Me has seen the Father." (John 14:9) Knowing Jesus is knowing
the Father as He is the exact representation of the Father. (Heb. 1:3) And knowing
God is the greatest good in all of life.

The world, the devil and the flesh are filled with lies and one of the greatest
deceptions is to distort the true image of God. (2 Cor. 10:3-5) Our earthly
fathers (and mothers too) are very significant in our early formation of trust,
our sense of feeling loved and secure, and our sense of value and significance.
Since all fathers "fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23 – ourselves
included) and thus wrongly model the image of God the Father, we all have to
have our minds renewed with the truth of Who God is. For God’s truth sets us
free. "Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in
My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the
truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32) We must let God’s Word set us
free from the bondage of a wrong image of the Father so like Jesus as His Son,
we as sons will trust the Father implicitly and follow Him in loving obedience
knowing His will for our life is perfect. "For you did not receive the
spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption ("sonship"
– NIV) by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." (Rom. 8:15) The Holy Spirit
ministers the truth of God’s Word to our spirits and we come to know the intimate
love of the Father. My friend Ralph Hale, a missionary in Russia, and a teaching/exercise
from Dr. Neil Anderson can help us renew our minds and be set free to trust,
love, obey and enjoy Father God. (I have added some of my own thoughts to these
teachings.)

"In talking with people about their childhood, you find that most have
experienced at least one of the following types of fathers, and that experience
has either bolstered or distorted their view of God as Father.
1. GOOD FATHERS – There are some fortunate people who have grown up under the
care of men who were skilled in the role of father– men who provided for the
needs of their families and men who could relate to their children and demonstrate
their love. And for people who grew up in families like that, the transition
from Lord to Father is not as difficult: "I see- God loves me like Dad
loves me."
2. ANGRY FATHERS – Men with a frightening temper that boiled just beneath the
surface. The lesson you learned was: "Be careful what you say around father.
Keep very quiet when Daddy’s home, children." For you never knew just what
might cause that anger to boil over! That kind of childhood experience colors
the way we see our heavenly Father. God is seen as unpredictable and frightening.
You feel that you have to be very guarded in how you pray to Him.
3. ABSENT OR DISTANT FATHERS – Fathers who were physically absent or distant,
not in miles, but in their emotions. There was always an emotional distance
between you and Dad. And after becoming a Christian, you find you have the same
mental image of God. He is seen as an abstract, unknowable authority figure.
The idea of God loving you and weeping with you and shouting the victory along
with you is a very foreign concept indeed! (See Zeph. 3:17)
4. WEAK FATHERS – Fathers with character flaws or certain deficiencies in their
lives. They may have been passive and abdicated the leadership of the family
to mom. You could never really count on Dad for he would let you down if you
trusted him too much. And after coming to our heavenly Father we find that this
lack of trust has come over too! You have a tendency to make back-up plans just
in case God doesn’t come through. There is a reluctance to make yourself vulnerable
by completely trusting the Lord." (Ralph Hale)
5. NIT-PICKING AND PERFECTIONISTIC FATHERS – Performance based acceptance is
the opposite of the gospel. A Christian who is under this never feels "sonship"
(unconditional acceptance) but only "earnship". This kind of father
values productivity more than the person and performance more than character.
God values us because of His love and Christ’s performance (the cross) Our works
are done out of love and gratitude and only in His power so there is no room
for pride. (Eph. 2:8-10; 1 Cor. 4:7)

What can be done for those of us with a poor image of what God is like? Allow
the Holy Spirit to cleanse those things that color how we see Father God and
receive a fresh revelation of what our Father is really like by renouncing the
lies and affirming the truth of God’s Word. This process takes time. As we memorize
and meditate on God’s Word it goes deep into our spirit and begins to break
the power of the lies we have believed and sets our hearts free to know, love,
trust and obey our perfect heavenly Father.

Use the exercise below to renounce the lies and affirm the truth of Who our
Father really is.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

What are your thoughts on the need to correct our image of Father God?

Which "lies" about Him (see below) do you think have hindered your
love, trust and obedience to Him?

Scripture calls us to forgive others "from our heart" (Matt. 18:35).
I have heard it said, "you can’t leave it unless you grieve it." So
we must feel the pain of our fathers (and others too) sins against us, cast
these cares upon the Lord (1 Peter 5:8) (versus just excuse them) to forgive
from the heart. I suggest that you write a letter to your father that you
will not mail
telling him how he hurt you both from what he did do and what
he didn’t do. Ask the Lord to help you remember specific incidents that were
hurtful. Share your pain with the Lord and maybe a close friend or your spouse
and forgive him. Burn the letter as a sign of forgiveness and repent of rehearsing
those thoughts against him. And if you have never told him how grateful you
are for what he did that was good and helpful (even a bad father does some good)
call or write him and do so. If he is deceased, thank the Lord for these good
things and maybe tell a friend or two.

 

 

CORRECTING OUR WRONG IMAGE OF THE FATHER*

I renounce the lie that I joyfully accept the truth that
my Father God is …….. my Father God is……….
1. distant and disinterested 1. intimate and involved (Ps. 139:1-18)
2. insensitive and uncaring 2. kind and compassionate (Ps. 103:8-14)
3. stern and demanding 3. accepting and filled with joy and love
(Rom. 15:7; Zeph. 3:17)
4. passive and cold 4. warm and affectionate
(Isa. 40:11; Hos. 11:3-4)
5. absent and too busy for me 5. always with me and eager to be with me
(Heb. 13:5; Jer. 31:20; Ezek. 34:6)
6. never satisfied with what I do, impatient and angry 6. patient and slow to anger (Ex. 34:6; 2 Pet. 3:9)
7. mean, cruel or abusive 7. loving, gentle and protective of me
(Jer. 31:3; Isa. 42:3; Ps. 18:2)
8. trying to take all the fun out of life 8. wants to give me a full life. His will for me is good,
perfect and acceptable for me (Lam. 3:22-23; John 10:10; Rom. 12:1-2)
9. controlling and unforgiving 9. full of mercy and grace, forgives me when I fall (Heb.
4:15-16; Luke 15:11-24)
10. nit-picking and perfectionistic 10. committed to my growth and lovingly disciplines and prunes
me for my good and His glory (Rom. 8:28-29; Heb. 12:5-11; John 15:1)

* Based on Freedom in Christ by Dr. Neil Anderson

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