August 4, 2005

The Substitutes

subgifRather than learning to be content in any situation we find ourselves in as the apostle Paul describes below, we attempt to apply a quick "fix" to escape the unpleasantness that we experience in our lives.

Philippians 4: 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

More often than not, our "fix" tends to push us toward more unpleasantness and emptiness. Have you ever noticed that drug addicts never feel at peace and contented unless they are high or using?

What have they done? They have substituted the drug for the true contentment that God alone offers them. We could say the same about money. People who feel depressed and unhappy when they have no money to spend have substituted money for a relationship with God that would bring lasting contentment. These substitutes will never measure up and they always fall short of the true contentment that is found in Christ. There is one action common to those who substitute other things for true contentment in Christ:
They keep coming back to their substitute hoping to gain contentment from it, only to be discouraged and depressed afterwards because they never get that contentment.

Why? Because they're trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and it isn't working for them.

Their square peg is their substitute, whether it be drugs, money or other addictions and compulsions. Their round hole is that place of spiritual wholeness. The place at the center of their being which God designed when he created mankind and which is reserved strictly for a spiritual relationship with him.

That which is of the spirit can never be satisfied with the things of this world. John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit

That spiritual part of us can never be properly substituted with the things of this world and of the flesh. But oh how we try to gain contentment and satisfaction from those things which will never profit us spiritually such as drugs, jobs, money and material possessions.

Those who do not believe in a creator God and his Son, Jesus Christ, have trouble grasping these truths. In order to understand our use of substitutions I've outlined in this article and the lack they represent in our lives, an individual must first believe that there is a Creator God.

How do we banish these substitutions in our lives? By finally understanding what they are and not being deceived any longer by them. See them for what they truly are - Sorry Substitutions for the true contentment that Christ gives to those who truly desire it. By recognizing the substitutes for the hindrances they are to our own spiritual growth. By knowing that what they offer only leads to more emptiness and depression in our lives. By us taking action now to put them in their proper place in our lives instead of allowing them to be idols in our hearts.


Trying to get lasting contentment out of the things of this world is like pounding your head against a wall and expecting a positive experience with no pain. It just isn't going to happen.

I know people who are still chasing things like money and drugs and they are STILL expecting a good outcome from the emptiness these things repeatedly bring them, some of them have been on this roller-coaster for many years.

These same people wonder why they're often so depressed. They're depressed because trying to gain fulfillment in these things is like trying to handcuff the wind. You can try for the rest of your life but it is not going to happen.

These substitutes will never fill that place God reserved for himself inside of us- his Sprit, they were never meant to. Satan has used them as tools to entice us and to keep us from entering into a true and fulfilling life that only God provides for us in Christ

Satan wants nothing more than for us to keep our focus on and our time wasted on these substitutes *these things of this world*. Satan knows that once our vision is fixed on our creator God and our understanding is enlightened to his (God's) truth, (Satan's) power over us will be broken and his days of deception in our lives are numbered.

We set up idols in our hearts with these substitutes. But we have to wake up out of our sleep. We must take action toward banishing them from our lives while we have the chance. The days of our lives on this earth are but a vapor. One minute we're here, living this life and the next, our lives are over . When your life is over and your eternal life begins, will you find yourselves in heaven or in hell? What are the substitutions you have fallen victim to? What are the things you throw your time and care into on this earth? Do you feel as though you've substituted the things of this world for God?

If you have, please say this prayer with me now and believe it in your heart:

Dear God, I have put things and people in that place that was only meant for you. A relationship with you should have been my number one priority and instead it has not been on my list of things important to me in my life. But I'm trying God, I'm trying to understand that this is not what you want for me because it will leave me empty and cold toward you and your will for my life. I know that your will for my life should be important to me . I pray that you give me ears to hear what your Spirit is trying to tell me. I want lasting peace and contentment that will never be taken away from me and I pray that you would give it to me. I thank you for your mercy that you have given me and everyone else on this earth.
In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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