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LOVE THAT PASSES KNOWLEDGE
"To know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" -- Ephesians 3:19
If I could only make men understand the real meaning of the Apostle John's words-"God is love." I would take that single text and go around the world proclaiming this glorious truth. If you can convince a man that you love him, you have won his heart. If we really make people believe that God loves them, we would find them hurrying into the Kingdom of heaven! The trouble is men think God hates them. So, they are continually running away from Him. Some years ago we built a church in Chicago and were very anxious to teach people the love of God. We thought if we could not preach it into their hearts we would and burn it in. So, right over the pulpit in gas jets we put there words- "God is Love." A man walking along the streets one night glanced through the door and saw the text. He was a poor squanderer. As he passed by he thought to himself, "'God is Love!' No! He does not love me because I am a poor, miserable sinner." He tried to forget the words, but they seemed to stand out before him in fiery letters. He went on a little farther, then turned around, went back, and entered the meeting. He did not hear the sermon. But the words of the short text had lodged deeply in his heart. That was enough. What men say is of little importance. It is the Word of God gaining an entrance into the sinner's heart that makes the difference. He stayed after the first meeting was over. I found him there weeping like a baby. I opened the scriptures and told him how God had always loved him even though he had wandered so far away. I told him how God was waiting to receive him and forgive him. The light of the Gospel flooded his mind. He went away rejoicing. There is nothing in this world that men prize so much as love. Show me a person who has no one to care for or love him, and I will show you one of the most wretched human beings on the face of the earth. Why do people commit suicide? Very often it is because the thought that nobody loves them steals in on them. They would rather die than live.
Correct Teaching of God's Love
I know of no truth in the entire Bible that ought to come home to us with such power and tenderness as the love of God. There is no greater truth in the Bible that Satan would like to blot out. For more than six thousand years he has been trying to persuade men that God does not love them. He succeeded in making our first parents believe this lie. Too often, he succeeds with their children. The idea that God does not love us often comes from false teaching. Mothers make the mistake of teaching children that God does not love them when they do wrong, but only when they do right. That is not taught in Scripture. You do not teach your children that when they do wrong you hate them. Their wrongdoing does not change your love to hate. If it did, you would change your love many times. Because your child is restless or has been disobedient, you do not push him out as if he did not belong to you! No! He is still your child, and you love him. If men have moved away from God, it does not follow that He hates them. It is the sin that He hates. I believe the reason why many people think God does not love them is because they are measuring God by their own small rule and from their own standpoint. We love men as long as we consider them worthy of our love. When they are not, we ignore them. God does not act this way. There is a vast difference between human love and divine love. In Ephesians 3:18 we are told of the breadth, length, depth, and height of God's love. Many of us think we know something of God's love, but in the future we will admit we have never found out much about it. Colombus discovered America. But, what did he know about its great lakes, rivers, forests, and the Mississippi Valley? He died without knowing much about what he had discovered. So, many of us have discovered something of the love of God, but there are heights, depths, and lengths of it we do not know. That love is a great ocean. We need to plunge into it before we really know anything about it. It is said that a Roman Catholic Archbishop of Paris was thrown into prison and condemned to be shot. A little while before he was led out to die, he saw a window in his cell in the shape of a cross. On the top of the cross he wrote "height," at the bottom "depth," and at the end of each arm "length." He had experienced the truth conveyed in the hymn
When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of Glory died.
When we want to know the love of God, we should go to Calvary. Can we look at that scene and say God did not love us? That cross speaks of the love of God. Greater love has never been taught than that which the cross teaches. What prompted God to give up Christ? -- what prompted Christ to die? -- if it were not love? "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Christ laid down His life for His enemies. Christ laid down His life for His murderers. He laid down His life for those that hated Him. The spirit of the cross, the spirit of Calvary, is love. When they were mocking and ridiculing Him, what did He say? "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). That is love. He did not call down fire from heaven to consume them. There was nothing but love in His heart.
God's Unchangeable Love
If you study the Bible you will find that the love of God is unchangeable. Many who once loved you have perhaps grown cold in their affections and turned away from you. It may be that their love has changed to hatred. This is not so with God. It is said of Jesus Christ that just when He was about to be separated from His disciples and led away to Calvary, that "having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end" (John 13:1). He knew that one of His disciples would betray Him, yet He loved Judas. He knew that another disciple would deny Him and swear that he never knew Him. Yet, He loved Peter. It was the love which Christ had for Peter that broke his heart. This love brought him back penitent at the feet of his Lord. For three years Jesus had been trying to teach the disciples His love, not only by His life and words but also by His work. On the night of His betrayal, He takes a basin of water, girds Himself with a towel, and, taking the place of a servant, washes their feet. He wanted to convince them of His unchanging love. There is no portion of Scripture I read as often as John 14. There is none that is more beautiful to me. I never tire of reading it. 088368148X|Chapter 1 DELIVERANCE FROM GLUTTONY
I can still remember going to my personal physician some twelve or thirteen years ago. I was deeply involved in compulsive eating, and there was such a feeling of desperation watching my weight go up and up as it had so many times before. I knew that it was out of control, but I didn't know how to get that control back.
I remember explaining to my doctor what I was going through and how frightened I was. After listening to me for a few minutes, he left the room and came back with a 1000 calorie a day diet. How could he have had so little understanding! If I could have stayed on a diet, I wouldn't have bad a weight problem! I knew how many calories there were in everything I ate. But knowing that still didn't stop me from overeating.
Desperate! Once I gained thirty pounds in three months. Food was on my mind constantly. When I woke up in the morning, my first thoughts were about what I would eat that day. I wondered if I would be able to control my eating at all, or if I would succumb to my desire to gorge. Even when I was on one of my frequent diets (periodically I was able to regain my normal weight and keep it for a few months), I was obsessed with thoughts of food. I was also usually depressed.
I read every diet and weight control book I could find. I tried "self-hypnosis." I went to a physician for hypnosis. I went to a psychologist. I even went to a weight doctor. But there was something inside me that continued to drive me to overeat.
Experiencing Sin's Control Paul knew what it was to be under the control of sin. If you substitute the words eating and overeating for sin in Paul's letter to the Romans, you have a good explanation of what it's like to be a compulsive eater. Even more important, you see what it takes to overcome it. "I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do (eat) what is right, but I can't. I do (eat) what I don't want to, what I hate (a person will eat almost anything on a binge). I know perfectly well that what I am doing (eating) is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking (condemnation is a constant companion of a compulsive eater). But I can't help myself, because I'm no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things (this overeating).
"I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn I can't make myself do right (eat right) (psychology, hypnosis, crash diets). I want to but I can't. When I want to do good (try to diet) I don't (eat anyway); and when I try not to do wrong (eat), I do it anyway. Now if I am doing what I don't want to, it is plain where the trouble is: sin still has me in it's evil grasp" (Romans 7:15-20 TLB). "Oh, what a terrible predicament I'm in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly overeating?"
How You Can Be Free "Thank God! Jesus Christ our Lord did it! He has set me free!" "So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit-and this power is mine through Christ Jesus-has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death (overeating and guilt). We aren't saved from sin's grasp by knowing the commandments of God (bow to diet), because we can't and don't keep them, but God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours-except that ours are sinful and destroyed sin's (overeating's) control over us by giving Himself as a sacrifice for our sins (overeating). So now we can obey God's laws (overcome overeating) if we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us.
"Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower natures (overeating, sowing to the flesh) live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God" (Romans 8:1-5 TLB). The victory is there, but we must choose to receive it.
I remember, as a compulsive eater, looking at people who never had a weight problem. I could not even imagine what it felt like to not be concerned with and controlled by food. I remember reading an article about Johnny Carson where he made a statement about not really caring what he ate.
He said he ate because it was something he had to do. It was impossible for me to relate to that statement. I remember thinking what a strange remark that was and wondering if that was how it felt to be in control of your eating.
Living In Control Now after being completely healed for over ten years, I know what control feels like. Sometimes it is hard for me to remember what it was like as a glutton because God put my sins as far "as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12).
Today I can think of hundreds of things I would rather do than eat. I often get busy during the day and realize about 4:00 p.m. that I haven't eaten all day. Then I get a real hunger response from my body. I enjoy food much more now because there is no condemnation when I eat. It is amazing how much better food tastes when you are genuinely hungry.
One thing I really enjoy is throwing out leftover cake or pie. I guess you have to have been a compulsive eater to really appreciate this experience. In the past, these things would have always been eaten, often in one day! Right now we are eating a box of chocolates that was given to us a month ago.
Now that is freedom! Jesus said, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). 1 now have freedom to have one chocolate instead of half a box or two or three chocolate chip cookies instead of a dozen. I am free indeed!
The Source Of My Release Another new and wonderful experience is not changing dress sizes. At every change of season, I had clothes I could not wear. They were either too big or too small because my size was constantly changing. I haven't changed dress sizes in ten years, and I have had two children during those ten years. It will work for you, too, for the rest of your life.
I'll never stop thanking God for sending Jesus to save me from this gluttony and depression. The joy does not subside but "is like the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18). There is no more darkness inside of me, no more hidden part.
I remember, when I had been binging and someone came to the door, the feeling of not wanting to be with other people. I felt as if they somehow knew I had been eating too much. There was always that hidden part of me, that sin and darkness, that only I knew about.
When I was born again, it was as though a light came on inside me. That light was Jesus Christ and He overcame the darkness. The sensation of light is so real inside me now that sometimes I think I could glow in the dark! We do glow in the dark in a sense. Our light shines forth in a dark world. We are the light of the world.
All Things Are New I was born again late one night when I was all alone. In my church we repeated a creed which said in part, "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth ... and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. " When you truly realize who Jesus is and what He did for us, your whole life can be changed. "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Scriptures which I heard almost all of my life became real to me. Jesus became the Lord of my life. His death and resurrection, which saved me from my sins, became exciting to me because it was personal! Jesus died for me! I found a Source for my life, a Teacher, a Word that was Truth itself and would never change or let me down. I found a place to take this sin which had been inside me.
A New Life I am thankful that the weight did not just drop off because someone laid hands on me, although I thank God for the supernatural in our lives. I didn't just lose weight; I found a new way of life! I learned that Jesus is truly "able to keep (me) from falling, and to present (me) faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 24). 1 learned that God's Word is true, and I learned how to apply it to my life and receive healing. Because of this, I have found "exceeding joy that does not diminish."
The Lord is more real to me today than He was that night ten years ago. He continues to be my Savior. As long as we live on this earth, Satan will never stop trying to gain a foothold in our lives, but Jesus will never stop being our Savior from that sin. Salvation never stops being a choice, but as long as we choose Jesus, sin will have no power over us.
Gluttony is a spiritual problem. Until that "spirit of overeating" is gone, you will never live in lasting victory over your weight. Conversely, once it is gone, eating will never again be a problem in your life