This is from Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book Because He Loves Me.
We’ve begun our discussion of gospel obligations, or negative imperatives, by thinking about how unbelief, idolatry, and the sins that flow from them occur in our hearts. What follows now are a few practical steps to take as you fight by faith for real happiness.
Pray that God would reveal your unbelief and idolatry to you. I know that it’s hard to see the sin within our hearts, but the Holy Spirit can bring us conviction and enlightenment. He can reveal the lies we’ve believed: If I don’t have this I’ll never be happy. He can open our eyes to our functional gods and the unbelief at their core.
Prayerfully meditate on Scripture and ask God to apply it to you. Only the Word of God is able to “discern” the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12). As you meditate on his word, ask him to apply it personally to you, to help you discern the very motives that compel your sin.
Confess any unbelief or idolatry that you’re aware of. Instead of trying to hide or deny idolatry or unbelief, flee to the cross! Your Savior has already borne these sins in your place. He has paid the penalty for them and his resurrection breaks their power in your life. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Ask God to make himself your chief joy. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). The more you contemplate him, his love, his mercy and patience, the greater will be your joy in him. You’ll discover true happiness because it’s his delight to give himself to you and end your endless search for satisfaction.
Think back to the last time you know you sinned and ask yourself:
- What did I think would make me happier than what I had?
- Why do I believe that there is happiness in attaining this?
- What makes me most afraid, angry, worried, sad? Why?
- What is the lie that I am believing about God, myself, my happiness?
- What do you boast about?
Consider the topics of the stories you tell about yourself. As you consider your answers to these questions, you’ll begin to see your functional gods, those things that you believe will make you happy.