You Must Go Deeper to Find Living Water
In Ezekiel 47:1-2, the Holy Spirit describes Himself as a life-giving river that flows from the temple, or the presence, of God. Throughout Scripture, water symbolizes the medium of transfer between God and man.
Not all water is alike, however. Water that lies deep below the surface of the earth is pure and drinkable. Surface water that’s exposed to the air and collects mud and decaying animals is impure and therefore less valuable.
So it is in the spiritual realm as well. God’s fountain of life lies in the depths of God. To find it, you must search deeper and deeper, for His depths are as deep as God is. You will never arrive; you can always go still deeper with God. But, the deeper you go, the better the water will be.
The Secret to Going Deep and Living on Spring Creek
Going deeper is the key. But, how do we do that on a practical level? I’ll be covering this vast topic in blogs to come, but let’s start right here, right now with the single most important step we can take as a child of God. To reach the place wherein we say, “Lord, I desire you above all else,” to go deeper with God, we must be cleansed of all selfish motives or ambitions.
Too often Christians build their relationship with God out of a desire for the blessings He can bring and not out of passion for His presence. No matter how spiritual we may appear, if our motive for seeking God is selfish gain or we buy into the “Bless Me Club” attitude, God will judge us.
Self is our greatest obstacle in going deeper with God. Self wants to possess things. Self covets recognition and power. Self finds gratification in fulfilling its desires and passions with no regard for the nature and holiness of God. That’s why self-interest and self-promotion must be cast out.
Jesus gave us a clear demonstration of this principle when he cleansed the temple in Matthew 21:12-13. Before looking at this passage, let’s recreate the scene in Jerusalem that day.
Picture This Scene
The city was in an uproar. It was the middle of the day and the streets and marketplaces were crowded and chaotic. In rides this prophet on the back of a borrowed donkey. A strange hush falls over the street. Carpenters put down their hammers. Merchants lay down their goods. The marketplace empties, as children stop playing and people line the street to see Jesus.
Can you imagine what they were saying?
“Who is this man?”
“Could He be a king?”
“He doesn’t look kingly.”
“Is he a prophet or a teacher? But why isn’t He saying anything?”
“Could He be the Messiah?”
“I don’t think so. He just looks like the carpenter’s son.”
As this strange process makes its way through the heart of Jerusalem, the whispers cease. Sensing the presence of God on the back of a donkey, the crowd breaks out in worship. “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!”(Matthew 21:9)
Their shouts fill the air, but Jesus doesn’t stop to teach, heal or give them a blessing. Eyes fixed on His destination, He approaches the temple, dismounts, and enters the courtyard.
The crowd follows, Hosannas still filling the air. But the King is not listening. As He crosses the courtyard, there is fire in His eyes and a fierce holiness about His presence. Without hesitation, He casts out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturns the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves (Matthew 21:12).
At Issue: Their Motives
What was wrong here? After all, those people were involved in ministry! The moneychangers were exchanging Roman coins for Jewish ones so the adult males could pay their required taxes for temple maintenance. And the merchants were supplying animals for required sacrifices. Those who couldn’t afford larger animals were permitted to offer less expensive doves, hence the need for sellers of doves.
These merchants and moneychangers were helping people to meet the requirements of the law so they could worship. What could be more right than that? But Jesus saw through their pretenses, and He exposed their true motives.
They were doing it for profit. They were using God to achieve financial gain. The evil was not in what they were doing, but in why they were doing it. Hence Jesus’s response: “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den” (Matthew 21:13).
Any time we use the things of God to help us promote our own selfish needs and goals, we are guilty of setting up shop with the temple profiteers.
There’s a warning here for us. Look for it in the contrast Jesus drew between a house of prayer (a cleansed temple) and a den of thieves.
Prayer is the meeting place for God and man. In prayer we build our relationship with the Father and go deeper with Him in intimate communion. In prayer He heals us and deals with our infirmities. As we open up to Him in prayer, He reveals and avails Himself to us.
But this kind of intimate exchange can’t take place when our motives are impure. God has to change them, first.
“You ask and do not receive,” God says, “because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). The last phrase of that verse literally means, “that you may consume it on your own desires.”
Join us next week to learn how to cleanse your temple