Ashok on ~ Healing the Orphan Heart
What is the essence of an adopted heart?
I think the best way to summarize sonship is to say: “Sons are free in grace”. An adopted heart has learned and embraced the richness of the grace found in God’s Father heart and so lives free! Sonship is freedom.
When Jesus was confronted with the man-made legalism of Jewish regulations, he felt no compulsion to submit to it (Mt 17:24-27). His simple response was “I am a son and I need not submit to this law of taxation. Sons are free”. Yet, in order that offense not be given, he freely met the law’s requirements…by God’s gracious provision, not his own “works”. He was free – yet he freely chose (for a higher purpose and from a higher motive) to obey.
Do you see it? Sons are free in grace! Grace frees us from man’s expectations and rule-keeping. An orphan heart is trapped in bondage, but God’s gracious adoption in Jesus sets us free from all forms of bondage to freely serve the living God.
The Striving and Misery of an Orphan Heart
The orphan spirit is characterized by bondage. We can see this clearly in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31). Both sons were “orphans” who did not understand God’s Father heart and so lived in bondage to sin and law.
An orphan spirit tends to mix grace with sin and rule-keeping. Grace cannot be mixed with sin, because sin kills (James 1:14-15). And grace cannot be mixed with Law because it makes grace ineffectual and powerless (Gal 2:21). But pure grace brings fruitful power and joyful purity!
Orphan Hearts Mix Grace with Sin
The younger son exemplifies the orphan spirit in bondage to the seduction of sin. He feels “limited” by the farm and longs for the pleasures outside in the “far country” that the Father is “denying” him. He wants freedom to seek his own satisfaction, but in the end, comes into shame-filled bondage. His pleasure-seeking ended with pig-fodder.
Sin walks hand in hand with misery (Rom 3:13-17). As Bill Johnson says: “When you came to Christ you did not lose your capacity to sin, but you did lose your capacity to enjoy sinning”.
When we did not know God, we sinned without regret and remorse. We sinned quite well and enjoyed every moment of it! But now that we know God, sin cannot satisfy like before. Sin-pleasure now comes with a payload of misery, guilt and conviction that can’t be shaken except through decisive repentance. Grace guarantees forgiveness no matter how badly or how often we sin, but why put yourself through misery?
But there are deeper dangers: Grace cannot be mixed with sin, because sin brings death. Though God’s forgiveness is always guaranteed, your repentance is not (Heb 12:15-17)!
You see, sin subtly hardens your heart over time, so one day you may not find place for repentance in your heart (Heb 3:12-13). One day you may not want to run back to the Father’s arms, because the deception has taken hold of you. Why risk everything for deceitful, passing pleasures? And sin has deadly, miserable consequences, even when we’re forgiven. At worst sin leads to death… at the very least, it results in loss of opportunity and reward. Sons are taught by grace to say “No!” to sin (Tit 2:11-13).
So what is the remedy to this seduction? It’s simple, yet profound – you need to be convinced of the riches of grace that the Father has for your satisfaction.
The younger son one day woke up to the fact that even lowly servants of his Father were well cared for, serving him with dignity. But his expectations were way too low! Upon his return, the Father broke out the best wine, killed the fatted calf and threw a party, with music and dancing. Why endure the misery of sin before coming to this realization? Me, I’d rather skip right to the party please! Do you know he’d love to throw you a party, right now?
Do you see it? His riches are available to satisfy your heart (Is 55:1-2). The Father only denies us deadly pleasures, not the life-giving joy and satisfaction that is at his right hand (Ps 16:11). The holiness that God calls us to is anointed with joy, greater joy than anything sin can offer (Heb 1:9; John 15:11)! Holiness is eternal, God-empowered happiness, the very joy of God himself. “He gives us drink from the rivers of his delight” (Ps 36:8).
God delights to satisfy your heart but the ‘delights’ of sin will only bring you into the misery of bondage.
Orphan Hearts Mix Law with Grace
The older son exemplifies the orphan spirit in bondage to Law or rule-keeping. Rule-keeping deceives us in a different way than sin does (Rom 9:30-32; Gal 3:10). The Law deceives the orphan heart into striving to earn what it already possesses by virtue of grace.
The older son was waiting for his Father to reward his performance, at least in some modest way. What a tragedy! This son could have walked in and taken whatever he wanted and enjoyed it without doing a lick of work. He was working in some ‘far off’ corner of the farm when he could have been with the Father, enjoying the riches that were already his by his sonship.
Though outwardly he was a dutiful son, inwardly he was raging at his Dad. “You don’t love me; You’re unfair; I’ve worked hard for you and you don’t even notice it”. His rule-keeping had no power to transform his heart. Rule-keepers judge others and live with an unfulfilled sense of entitlement. He went insane with envy, jealousy and anger when that “wicked son” came back and Dad threw him a party. He could not handle someone receiving freely what he worked so hard for and still did not get!
Do you see it? There is no transformative power in rule-keeping (Gal 6:14-15). Law works against grace and deprives it of power. Rules look impressive, but are ineffectual (Rom 8:3). The Father cannot and WILL NOT reward your ‘dead works’, because that would mean lessening the worth of Jesus’s living, eternal work already completed on your behalf.
The law will keep you in bondage by constantly reminding you: “You’re not good enough.. no, not yet!”. When you do feel like you’ve met it’s demands, Satan will be right there to remind you that Father God has not taken notice and rewarded your efforts. No wonder legalists are very angry people!
Sons are Free
Our orphan hearts must break free from slavish, rule-keeping mindsets and the seductive lure of sin. The adopted heart knows to find it’s satisfaction in the Father’s intimate embrace and rich provision. Sons do serve the Father, but they serve in the power of grace, at the Father’s side, knowing and enjoying his favor and love (1 Cor 15:10).
Sons are free! Sons are loved! Sons find their hearts satisfied in God! The words of the Father to his sons should ever resound in our hearts: “Sons, you are always with me (intimacy) and all I have is yours (inheritance). Take! Eat! Enjoy! ..And join me in my mission to bring redemption to this broken world!”.