Obedience Is Our Part (Bible Study John 5 Part 3)

We’ve been looking at the story of the healing of the paralyzed man in John 5.

Jesus is in Jerusalem and ends up by a pool near the sheep gate.  It was believed that when the waters were stirred (perhaps a spring occasionally bubbled up there) that the first person in the water would be healed.  Because of this there were many lame, blind, and otherwise ill people laying there.  One such man was paralyzed and had been in that condition for 38 years.

Jesus approaches the man and asks him, “Do you want to get well?”  The man answers that he does want to but that he can’t get to the water in time.  In a sense, as we said last time, he is saying that if Jesus would help him with his plan to get well then he could be ok.  He is failing to recognize that Jesus is offering something different, something more.  Jesus is better than the pool.

Jesus of course does not help the man into the pool.  He also doesn’t say, “Man that’s tough.  I hope that works out for you at some point” and move on.  Instead he does something very Jesus like.  He gives him a command.

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We Are All Called To Chastity

A few posts ago I wrote about that the fact that holiness is not THE point of marriage.  Without rehashing all of that here, the main points were:

  • We often act as if there is not joy in marriage and that happiness isn’t even part of it, which is super counter productive to our culture at this time.
  • We’ve sort of created a context in which marriage is the answer to our supposed uncontrollable desire for sex.  In other words we all desire sex, can’t control that desire, and therefore the only “holy” answer to that is marriage.  This is theologically bad and practically creates all kinds of conundrums in our current culture.

But this raises many other questions not least of which is: what then makes you holy?  Or maybe in this context a more exact question would be, when it comes to sexual desire, what is the path to holiness?

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The Bible Won’t Tell You Who To Marry

I sometimes wonder if I could see the whole picture of my walk with God in the area of dating if He would say, “Well Justin I tried to send you Mary but you were too focussed on Sally to hear it.”  Or maybe another time He would say, “Well I tried to send you Jill but she just didn’t listen to me.  That one wasn’t your bad.”

WIthout a doubt one of the most frustrating things about singleness is trying to listen to God in it.

I know that God speaks to us. There are so many times where He has directed me.  Of course we hear first through the Bible.  At the end of the day it’s the baseline.  Everything can be tested against it. And the great news is that the Bible can tell me a lot about marriage, and even some about singleness. But the Bible won’t tell me who to marry.  It’s not in there.  There’s no Book of Justin.  In fact it won’t even tell me if I should get married at all.  Therefore I’m going to have to actually walk with God.

It is dang hard to hear God clearly in this area of our life.

It’s hard for a variety of reasons.  For one thing, we have a lot of different emotions in all sorts of different situations.  If I’m not dating anyone I can feel desperate, discouraged or angry.  That can cause me to shut down or just choose to date whoever.  I could be dating someone and really like them even though I know in my heart it’s not right – but the more attached I am the harder it is to hear it’s not right.  I can make marriage an idol which can cause me to rush into something or to put so much pressure on everything that nothing has a chance to go anywhere.  With all those emotions floating around it’s hard to hear clearly.

We can also fall into sexual sin.  Unrepentant sin always gets in the way of hearing God clearly.  I can also want to hear Him so bad in this area that I lose focus on God altogether. It can become all that I pray about.  There have been times in my life that almost my whole prayer life centered around this stuff.

Or we can go the complete opposite direction.  To be honest I went through a time where I just flat got tired of talking to God about it.  I literally didn’t talk to Him about it at all. Basically it was like, “what’s really the point?  I’ve prayed it already.  Screw it.”

But we can’t afford to do that.  We have to engage God, we have to keep going there.  But we need to learn how to do it as a grown up.  Here are some things I think can help, or at least have helped me or others around me.

Learn to listen to God in other things that are less emotional.  If I’m not praying and listening to God to begin with hearing Him here will be even more difficult.  It’s pretty hard to hear the big stuff if I’m not listening in general

Start by being willing to hear anything.  

You have to be willing to hear the actual answer no matter what it is.  Half the reason we don’t ask God is we are afraid of the answer.  We don’t trust Him.  It’s akin to the person who says, “I don’t say God send me anywhere because I know He will send me to Africa.” The truth is if you aren’t willing to hear any answer it will be tough to hear the answer He does give.

In that way, I think it is good to start with praying about whether God is calling you to be single or married.  Again hard to hear but be willing to hear either.

Next, obey what you do know.

It’s hard to say, “God should I marry this person” and hear the answer clearly if you are sleeping with said person.  It’s like saying, “God I’m going to ignore what you FOR SURE are telling me but then try to discern what I’m not so sure you are telling me.  It will be hard to hear that I’m called to be single if I’m serial dating or looking at porn etc.  Obviously none of us live perfectly but we have to fight to obey what we do know.

Finally we need to invite others to listen with us.  I talked about this last week, but we need people who can see us and others that we date, and affirm or challenge us as need be.

God wants to lead us in this area of our life.  We have to fight to listen.