The Father's Heart of Love
Overcoming False Images of the Father
This teaching on the our Father's heart of love is just one lesson of our free eCourse for personal transformation, 'Matters of the Heart.' All 24 lessons will be helpful to the person seeking restoration and freedom.
All scripture citations are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.
Jesus, Show Us Your Father
In the previous lesson (Our New Identity) we looked at how Jesus is restoring to us the lost vision of our true humanity. We saw that the image of ourselves we carry in our hearts must match up with who we are as New Creations remade in His Image, or we will unwittingly block our own growth with false understandings of who we are.
Here is another marvel: Jesus, because He is fully human and fully divine, also restores to us a true Image of what our Father is really like. All false images of ourselves and of our God are alike demolished and replaced by looking to Jesus! It is an incredible thing that God can restore these two glorious images, once lost and broken through the Fall, by means of revealing the God-Man, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Distorted Images Can Be Deadly
We have been created in God's Image to be bearers of His Image - not just reflect His Image. Image is everything in the spiritual life. Not the image we can recite, but the image we 'bear' or carry deep within our heart.
The image we hold of God the Father hidden away in our heart of hearts will determine: how we will seek the Father; how we will respond to what He allows in our lives; how we will act towards others. Jesus kept His spiritual eyes constantly upon a true vision of the Father's heart of love for Him and for us. All that He did flowed out of that ongoing faith connection.
This is the all-essential matter of keeping the heart rightly set. Unfortunately, the idea we have of Father God is often misshaped by Adam's nature, earthly fathers and church tradition. It can be a fallen image buried in our heart distorting the true Image.
Consider the powerful influence of these three image shapers:
1) Adam's nature is in us, still seeking to hide from God in guilt and fear of punishment, ashamed of our sinful 'nakedness.'
2) Our birth fathers (and mothers) may have been uncaring, distant, over-bearing, unaffectionate, abusive, threatening, harsh in discipline, angry in punishment, and sinful - creating powerful, but false impressions of what God the Father is like.
3) Our spiritual fathers (and mothers), even beloved pastors and teachers may have planted wrong images of the Father as being different from Jesus in His ways with us - less loving, more judgmental, easily offended, stern and strict.
None of these distorted images reveal the Father's heart of love. They actually resemble the enemy's 'dark heart' instead. These false images must be cast down! We cast them down first by forgiving the ones who sowed distorted images in us, and then by renouncing the lies that were planted and confessing the truth in their place.
Our Birth Family Birthed Powerful Images
Our fathers (and mothers) can contribute to a distorted image of Father God because they are as a god to us when we are little - teaching us right from wrong and exercising power over us. As children we are looking to see God in our fathers - all the more so since our hearts are blocked from knowing the heavenly Father's love and Presence by the sin nature.
No earthly father entirely measures up, but a solid foundation of affection, love and proper discipline makes a huge difference in forming who we will become. The lack of this solid foundation leaves a void, often a hurting wound, which the enemy has many ways of poisoning.
There are crucial things we all needed our fathers to say to us, but which many of us never heard:
- I love you.
- I'm proud of you.
- You're a good child.
- I'm glad you were born.
Every home needs a godly father. Godly order in scripture shows us that the head of the woman is the man; the head of the man is Christ; the head of Christ is the Father. The father sets the emotional tone of a household and provides the moral framework for living in the family. The first word babies often say is 'dada.' Children are left as 'spiritual orphans' when father's are not covering their families with godly love and discipline.
Statistics give us a sense for the emotional and societal damage caused by failed fathering. In the USA over 90% of prisoners are males; 95% of those on death row hated their fathers. Many prisoners don't even know who their fathers were.
The 'father wound' is pervasive and deadly. We all carry the 'first father wound' stemming from Adam's sin. Many of us also bear the 'birth father wound' from our parents, a 'father in God wound' from our religious upbringing and a 'father impostor wound' from the enemy's direct working.
The 'father wound' carries a societal curse - a heavy consequence 'in the land.' Small wonder that so much restoration is needed in our own day.
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse. Malachi 4:5-6 WEB
Be Clear in Your Heart about the Father's Heart
People often think they begin with knowing God the Father. Actually we only know about Him by name as Father God, but relate to Him more as 'the great high God' - distant and unknowable until a living faith through Christ is birthed in us. Jesus came to reveal the Father personally and much more intimately as Abba, just as He also came to baptize us with the Holy Spirit.
The order of the three great pilgrimage festivals that Israel was commanded to observe reveals spiritual realities about our new life in Christ which are very interesting. Passover came first in early spring, prefiguring Jesus the true Passover Lamb. Next came Pentecost in late spring, a celebration of the 'early harvest,' which exactly coincided with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Early Church. Finally, Tabernacles, the great Feast of Harvest, arrived at the end of summer after a long growth period.
Drawing a Trinitarian analogy to the Festivals, Tabernacles, therefore, relates to the Father. An intimate relationship with the Father is not automatic - it often comes only after a long period of growth (if at all), but it is absolutely necessary for establishing our hearts in sufficient grace that we may dwell (tabernacle) with our God.
The revelation of the Father's glorious grace began in the Old Testament. God the Father revealed His glory - the glorious nature of His grace-filled Being - to Moses
The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.' Exodus 34:6
This is what Paul refers to when he tells us that our sins consist in falling short of God's glory. Our selfish and unloving choices in no way reflect our Father's glorious ability to shower love and mercy, grace and goodness, upon the whole of His creation.
So great is His glorious grace that our Father in heaven does not even hold our sins against us. He hates our sins and in His goodness will patiently work to bring us to repentance so that we can be separated from them, all the while maintaining a Spirit of reconciliation towards us in His great Heart.
It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor). 2 Corinthians 5:19 AMP
Our grace-filled Father affirmed His only begotten Son by expressing His love for Jesus in public displays of affection. There are three audible words of God which Jesus heard that are recorded for us in scripture. In all of them the true Father affirmed His Son: at His baptism, on the mount of transfiguration and before the cross.
Astoundingly, the Father has the same love for all who are in Christ by faith. If you are a believer, Father God desires to affirm and express His love to you. There is no one He loves more than you. There is no one He loves less than you - He doesn't play favorites. He loves us all as much as He loves Jesus!
If this scripture fails to move your heart, pray for fresh grace to be amazed by the stunning implications of what Jesus is saying about the Father's love for you...
Don't make Father do all the running - learn to run to Him!
Father, I confess that I have let the enemy and my own life experiences build up false images about You that have kept me from running to You. But those days are ending now! From now on I will fight to believe in the truth about You that Jesus is revealing to me. I will fight to run to You when I am tempted or in need. I will seek Your grace even in my places of deepest disgrace. Let Your perfect love cast out all of my fears!
Next Healing Lesson
Overcoming strongholds of the flesh
Interested in Going Deeper?
Don't just give these truths a 'head bob' - take our free eCourse for Healing. For further study and for help working these truths into your heart and life, see The Spiritual Roots to Disease Part 2 (Head to Heart Guide 1). In all there are 24 Main Healing Lessons and 24 Head to Heart Guides to help you bring your heart to God and receive His Great Heart for you in return!