These days it’s easy to see life the way we want to. We can filter our images, pick the news we want to hear, and listen only to the viewpoints that agree with us. When we do that, we start to distort our view of the world.
The same thing can happen to our view of God. We reshape our perception of Him into what we want to believe, or what we want to think.
Jesus came to bring us the truth about God and His plan for us, and it rarely agrees with what culture is telling you. And what Jesus said often disagrees with what you want to hear.
So through this series, we are revealing popular misconceptions and bringing clear truth. We can learn about the ways of Jesus by looking at what He did say in the Bible as well as what He didn’t say.
Last week, Chris Rose from Don’t Look Back prison ministry brought us Part 1 of this series. Something you will hear often is that, yes you need to forgive most people. But if it was really bad, or if they knew better, or if this is the hundredth time they’ve done it, you don’t need to forgive them.
Well, Chris blew that idea to smithereens. Something Jesus NEVER said was, “You don’t need to forgive them.” No, Jesus instructed us to forgive everyone of everything, just like He forgave us of everything.
And today we’re going to look at what Jesus didn’t say about happiness. The reason this is important is because we are all on a quest to experience happiness. I mean, none of us want to be miserable.
So, let’s start by looking at some things Jesus didn’t say about happiness.
- “Go into all the world and preach whatever makes people happy.” -Not Jesus
- “Whoever wants to be my disciple must avoid being uncomfortable and follow their heart.” -Not Jesus
- “Ask and it will be given to you, because God is your Heavenly Sugar Daddy.” -Not Jesus
Yeah, Jesus never said those things. Although, if we’re honest, sometimes we wish that He did.
Now, let’s take a look at a story in John chapter 8. You might have heard this story before and learned some stuff based on what Jesus said. But, let’s see if we can learn something new based on what He didn’t say.
John 8:2-11 NLT – Early the next morning Jesus was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.
Alright, let’s paint a picture of what’s really going on here. Jesus was at church teaching a group of people who wanted to be there. In the middle of His teaching, He’s rudely interrupted by the “religious” people.
Somehow, they had caught this women in the act of adultery. Like, they caught her in the act. Question is, where’s the guy? If they caught her in the act, he was there too. And, how did they even “stumble” upon this anyways?
That’s another issue for another time. But since they found this woman in the middle of an intimate moment with someone who wasn’t her spouse, I imagine that she was barely dressed.
So, this had to be one of the most humiliating moments of her life. Being drug into the church where a group of people were meeting, she’s barely dressed, and her dirty laundry is being aired out in front of everyone.
John 8:2-11 NLT – They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
Okay, it kind of makes since that the religious leaders of the time wanted this woman to pay for her sin. I mean, even today, most people think that pastors exist to get onto us for what we’re doing wrong.
Hopefully you guys know that I will never air your dirty laundry in front of the church. Nor, will I try to have you killed for your sin.
But when you come to church, you’ll probably discover some things in your life that need to change. I’m only telling you because I love you though.
Back to the story, though. I can’t really relate to these religious leaders because they had an entirely different motive. Take a look:
John 8:2-11 NLT – They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him,
In other words, they used this woman as a tool to trap Jesus. They hated Jesus. They couldn’t find anything He was doing wrong. So they went out of their way to find someone committing adultery and then tried to use them against Jesus.
They were right though. The law at the time commanded that anyone caught in adultery should be stoned. And we’re not talking about cannabis. We’re talking about rocks.
Okay, not those kinds of rocks. But like real rocks being thrown at you until you die a miserable, painful death. That’s what they were supposed to do to this woman according to the law.
So, it seems as if Jesus is caught in a catch twenty two. If He agrees to stone this woman, He’ll lose His reputation of unconditional love. If He lets the woman go, then it looks like He’s saying adultery is okay, no big deal.
What is Jesus going to do? Well, He starts with something quite unexpected:
John 8:2-11 NLT – but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.
If y’all asked me a question like that and I squatted down and started writing in the dust on the floor, I don’t even know if you’d stick around. You’d probably walk away slowly and never come back.
Even though this is a bit strange, everyone wants to know what Jesus was writing. The answer is, we won’t know for sure until we can ask Him in Heaven, but we do have some ideas.
There are manuscripts out there they say Jesus just started listing the sins of those accusing the woman. “Pharisee Joe. Let me just list out your search history from last night…”
Although it is likely that this is what Jesus was writing, we don’t know for sure. Can you imagine though? These guys were supposed to be the most religious people around and to have Jesus writing their sins for all to see…
John 8:2-11 NLT – They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
What’s interesting about this is if you look at the Greek word translated to “never sinned”, it doesn’t just mean that you never committed sins. It even means that you never wanted to commit sin.
I don’t know about you, but there’s been times that I didn’t do it, but there was a part of me that wanted to. I’m also really good at finding your sins while being blind to my own.
It’s amazing how it is so easy to point the finger at others when you do the exact same thing. I mean, we all get mad when someone cuts us off in traffic. But at some point, we’ve all cut someone off in traffic.
Or, how about several weeks ago when I preached about choosing joy. On the same day I went to Sam’s to pick up some groceries and there was a part of me that didn’t want to choose joy while I was there.
So, all those who have never sinned and never even wanted to sin, go ahead and throw the first rock.
John 8:2-11 NLT – Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Notice Jesus didn’t say, “Go do what makes you happy. It doesn’t matter what you do. You do you.”
No, Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.”
It was urgent. Go. Don’t wait. Don’t finish your little fling. Don’t wait until you feel like it. Do it now. Go and sin no more. Leave the life you were living and go live in freedom. Go live your best life.
Why do we give in to temptation so often?
Sin is fun for a little while.
Sex outside of marriage is fun at first. Then the fun ends when your partner decides to pursue someone else. Because after all, a commitment was never made. This was just for fun.
So yes, sin is fun. I mean, if you didn’t have fun when you were sinning, you probably weren’t doing it right. Problem is, the fun eventually ends.
Sin is pleasurable for the moment.
It feels good to eat things that I shouldn’t eat and to keep eating when I know I’ve had enough. Overeating and eating junk food brings a lot of pleasure.
It doesn’t take long before the pleasure turns into a headache, irritability, or overwhelming tiredness. I mean, eliminate sugar for a few weeks and then go eat a big piece of cake and let me know how you feel afterwards.
Sin does feel good. The problem is, it doesn’t last.
Sin is acceptable in our culture.
We all want to fit in. We all want to be accepted. So, when our culture tells us that we have to do things their way to be accepted, we join in. We have sex outside of marriage, drink too much alcohol, gossip about others.
We start to believe that abortion is okay. It’s okay to back out on my commitments. It’s okay to buy the car I can’t afford.
Culture welcomes us when we sin. And it feels nice. Only problem is, their acceptance doesn’t mean much. You’ll find out they weren’t your friends after all. They just wanted to feel better about themselves.
Sin promises satisfaction but eventually delivers pain.
Have you ever wondered what kind of woman this was that was caught in adultery? Maybe she was an evil woman out to wreck people’s marriages by having sex with as many men as she could.
Although that’s possible, odds are, she was a decent woman. Maybe she had a marriage that started off great but then went flat.
Maybe her husband wasn’t giving enough attention to her, or was taking her for granted, or was verbally abusive. Maybe he was gone at work all the time and didn’t seem to care about her and the kids anymore.
So, she decided to get a job to feel better about herself. At work, she makes some new friends. One of them is a really nice guy who appreciates the good job she’s doing and asks how her kids are doing. Just an innocent, friendly relationship.
And then he followers her on Instagram. He likes AND comments on her posts. And she finds herself liking this attention and starts looking forward to seeing him at work every day.
Then they stay late one day after work, he opens up about his marriage struggles, she opens up about hers and the make a deep emotional connection. He looks at her and says, “I wish I would have married someone like you.”
Then, the next day at work, he “accidentally” brushes up against her shoulder when they pass each other in the hall. She reads into it, “Could it be? Does he want to be with me?”
So she talks to her friend. She knows it’s wrong, but it feels so right. They begin to talk about how happy she would be if she was with this guy instead of her husband.
And then her friend starts saying things like, “You gotta do what makes you happy. Follow your heart. You do you, boo!”
We don’t know how it went down for this woman in the Bible, but I wanted to show you how it would probably happen today to give you a wider perspective of the story we just read in the Bible.
One seemingly innocent step after another. One seemingly insignificant step after another, this woman found herself barely dressed and humiliated in front of a crowd of people. How did she get there?
Sin promises satisfaction but eventually delivers pain.
So, how do we find ourselves caught up in this same problem? We live in a culture that believes there is no absolute truth. Everything is relative. “That may be true to you, but it isn’t true to me.”
But here’s the problem. Without a belief in absolute truth, truth is defined by whatever makes me happy. When the goal is my happiness, happiness becomes the standard by which I judge my actions.
I know the Bible tells me it’s wrong, but it feels so right. Why would God want to keep something from me that feels so good?
Do I have to trade happiness for holiness?
This leads us to believe that happiness and holiness are at odds. In other words, if I am going to live my life for God, then I have to sacrifice happiness. I either have to live a holy and miserable life, or I can do what makes me happy.
I’ve never read the scripture that says, “God so loved the world that He wanted His children to be holy and miserable.” I don’t know, maybe you can find that one for me, but that’s not the vibe I get from God when I read His Word.
Take a look at this:
Matthew 7:11 NLT – So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
It sure doesn’t sound like God wants me to be miserable. So, if you feel like happiness and holiness are at odds, it’s because you are looking for happiness in the wrong place.
Let me ask you a question. If you take a fish out of the water and put it on the beach, will the fish ever be happy? Before you answer, let me give you some more detail.
We’re going to give the fish some things from this world to make him happy. We’ll give him a pile of cash, a beach chair, a nice pair of sunglasses, a margarita. We’ll give him a phone to take a selfie so he can get all kinds of comments about how hot he looks in his speedo on the beach.
We give him all this stuff and all he does is flop around on the sand like he isn’t happy and then he lays there like he’s dead. Oh wait, he is dead. The fish could never be happy on the beach because he wasn’t designed for the beach.
If you’re wondering why you’re never happy with what this world has to offer, it’s because you were not designed for this world. You were designed by God, for God, to live for things that aren’t of this world.
That’s why sin promises so much but never delivers. You’ll never be satisfied with the things that were never designed for you in the first place.
The new car ain’t gonna do it. The new boyfriend ain’t going to do it. Vacation, money, botox, more likes on Instagram, another pair of shoes, none of this is going to give you the joy your heart craves. Because, here’s the truth:
Holiness is the pathway to true happiness and joy.
We’ve believed the lie that to live holy, to live according to the Word of God, you have to give up fun and happiness. But can I ask, how is that going for you?
When you’re off doing the things that you know you shouldn’t be doing, does it really bring you lasting happiness and joy? Or is it just giving you moments of escape from the pain that comes as a result of living this kind of life?
The world is not capable of making you happy. Holiness is the pathway to true happiness and joy. Let me show it to you in Psalms:
Psalms 16:11 NASB – You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
This does not sound like a lame life at all. This sounds amazing. All this time, we’ve been trying to find joy and pleasure in what the world has to offer, but God has been offering us something so much better.
Fullness of joy. There’s no gaps, no emptiness. God fills you up to the point of overflowing with a joy you can’t even explain.
Pleasures forever. We’re talking about a life where you’re satisfied and grateful and in awe of what God is doing all around you.
When you choose the path of holiness by living your life in obedience with the Bible, people are going to look at you and wish they could have what you have. And the cool thing is, you’ll be able to show them how to get there.
But first, you’ve got to get there. Maybe you feel trapped. Like, you’ve tried to get out of sin but you just keep going back. You promised you’d never do it again, but then you did it again.
I get it. I’ve been there and it feels like you’ll never get out. But I stand before you right now in freedom. I found the way out and you can too.
Daily Choices that Lead to Happiness
So, what do we do to get out of sin and live in freedom?
It all starts with one word. And this word I am about to show you in the Bible has a lot of negative connotations. It’s been used a lot by Christians to make people feel bad who aren’t living their lives for God.
This word can even make you feel like it’s not even possible to please God. Whether you’ve been in church for long or this is your first time, you’ve probably heard this word before:
Acts 3:19-20 NLT – Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.
The way we normally hear this word is, “Repent or you’re going to hell. Turn or burn!” But you know what the word really means?
“Hey, you’re headed in the wrong direction. Turn around! God is this way.” It’s kind of like when you’re going the wrong way and the maps app on your phone says, “Please make a U-turn”.
It’s as simple as that. This scripture is simply saying, “Instead of heading towards sin, turn around and head towards God. Then your sins are going to be wiped away.” And in the very next scripture is the benefit of doing this:
Acts 3:19-20 NLT – Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord.
We tend to think that repenting of our sins is going to weigh us down, but it actually frees us. It brings times of refreshment that washes away all the guilt, all the regret, and all the shame.
This is what it feels like to repent of your sins:
Psalm 32:1-2 TLB – What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record.
Happiness… Joy… Relief… All of this can be yours if you simply learn the art of repenting instead of hiding.
I want to break this down into a few things you can do every day. Because I don’t know about you, but I need some practical steps. “How do I apply this to my life?” Here’s the first one:
1. Daily pursue God’s plan for my life.
If you wake up in the morning and your first thought is, “God, today I choose to follow your plan for my life. I don’t want what the world has to offer. I’m not going to live how other people think I should. I’m going to pursue your plan for my life.”
This is like the ultimate decision of repentance. You’re starting your day by turning towards God.
Here’s how the Bible explains it:
Romans 12:2 NLT – Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
If you’re sitting there wondering, “I’d love to pursue God’s plan for my life. I just don’t know what it is.” Well, in this scripture is your answer.
It starts by saying no to the world and its way of doing things. You do a complete 180 and say yes to God and in this process God is going to change the way you think. When He does this, He will reveal His good and pleasing and perfect plan for your life.
Living your life for God is not boring. It’s not a substandard life. You’re not missing out on anything. No, God’s plan for your life is good. You get to live with joy and peace even when the things outside aren’t perfect.
Because the work that God does inside of you is perfect. He knows exactly what He’s doing and exactly what you need. You just have to trust that the instruction He gives us in the Bible is right even when the world says their way is more fun.
Here’s the next one:
2. Daily release my past.
So, after you start your day by turning towards God and His plan for your life, take time to ask, “Is there anything in me that shouldn’t be there?”
In these moments, the Holy Spirit may reveal some unforgiveness you’ve been holding onto, or that mean thing you said to your coworker yesterday.
And when these things come to mind, you simply say, “God, thank you for revealing this to me so I can bring it out in the open and receive forgiveness. I thank you for your forgiveness.”
You see, what you did is not who you are. So, every day, take a moment to release those things that you did that you know you shouldn’t have done so they don’t become your identity.
So, the first two things you do every day are between you and God. And your daily time with God is so important – don’t ever neglect it. Don’t overcomplicate it. You can do those two things while you are still laying in bed.
But there’s another important step in your journey to freedom. This one might throw you for a loop:
James 5:16 MSG – Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.
We live in a culture that values individuality. “You do you. I’ll do me.” On top of this, we have our devices that give us a false sense of connection with those around us. Everything is surface. Meaningful conversation is rare.
Yet, the Bible tells us to be so real with each other that I confess my sins to someone else on a regular basis. And this is what brings healing.
So, confessing my sin to God brings forgiveness. And then confessing my sin to another believer brings healing. The two go hand-in-hand.
That’s why this last one is so important:
3. Daily invest in godly relationships.
If you are not spending time building relationships with others who are pursuing God’s plan for their life, you’re not going to have anyone you feel comfortable getting real with.
I don’t know if you realized this, but you don’t go share your deepest secrets with those who you only see for an hour on Sunday. You ain’t that tight!
You’re not sure if you can trust them to encourage you instead of bash you when you tell them that you’re struggling with pornography, or over-eating, or whatever it is.
You have to build that relationship first before you get to a point where you can confess your sins to each other and find healing. That’s why you have to daily invest in these godly relationships, because you’re going to need them.
This is why small groups exist here at NoLimits. So every week you can get together with about 6-8 people and build these relationships.
Then, you’re going to have people looking out for you. They’ll notice when you’re headed in the wrong direction and they’ll bring you back in so you can confess in a safe place and receive healing.
You need these relationships. I need these relationships. We can’t do this on our own. God designed us to need each other.
Seriously, if you want to find and walk in freedom, you can’t opt out of this one. You have to be intentional about building these relationships. And the best way for you to do that is to show up to your small group every week.
Let me show you it to you in scripture:
Hebrews 3:13 NIV – But encourage one another daily … so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Daily pursue God’s plan for my life. Daily release my past. Daily invest in godly relationships. Do these three things, make them a habit, and you’ll find yourself walking in freedom and experiencing true happiness and joy.
Here’s the deal. God sent His son Jesus as a sacrifice to pay for everything you’ve done wrong. It’s already been paid for. There’s nothing you have to do to make it right.
All you have to do is believe that Jesus did what needed to be done so you could have a relationship with God.
You’ve already made the decision in your heart, so let’s seal the deal with a simple prayer:
Jesus, I surrender my life to you. It’s obvious my way isn’t working. I want you to live on the inside of me. Transform me. Make me who you want me to be. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for clearing away my sin. Thank you for repairing my life. I confess you as Lord of my life. I give you my life.
If you just prayed that prayer, we want to support you along the journey that’s ahead. But we can’t support you if we don’t know. So we set up an easy way for you to tell us. Simply text the word Jesus to 918-373-9883.
We’re not going to bug you. We’re not going to spam you. We are just going to help guide you through your next step. We’re here for you. So please, go ahead and send that text.