If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you must have faced discouragement and disillusionment in your life. Have you become disillusioned with life, with other Christians, with yourself – with God? Do you find it harder than you thought to walk as He walked? Do you agonise over unanswered prayers, harsh or shallow people in your church, a loss of joy, peace or passion? If any of this rings true for you, then praise God!
Jesus had much to say about the kind of people he intended us to be. Among many other things, he told us that the Truth would set us free. The Truth, as distinct from lies, false ideas, false fronts and false foundations. It is so important to understand that we begin life as believers with a great deal of misinformation underlying our ideas about God, life, and ourselves. We have been told in Scripture that unbelievers have minds that are blinded by the Evil One, and that only in Christ is this veil removed.
Paul tells us in Romans 12 that we need to have our minds renewed in order to know and approve God’s perfect will. The world’s way of thinking needs to be rooted out, and that is not easy. As it says in Jeremiah: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”[Jeremiah 17:9] There is so much we don’t know or understand about ourselves, and we can be blind to our true self. Paul said: “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent.” [1 Corinthians 4:4]
And that is where disillusionment comes in. For what is it to be disillusioned, but to have your illusions shattered? And what are illusions, but untrue ideas and beliefs that we have acquired along our way? The Holy Spirit wants to root out your illusions, he wants you, in that sense, disillusioned. At first, this can be a wonderful experience: many of our illusions are ones we are happy to see shattered. But as we grow in Christ, the illusions he wants to challenge are those which are harder to let go. In fact, it is sometimes so hard to have our illusions challenged, that we prefer not to grow any further, and to keep our illusions intact. We don’t want to believe that the world is so opposed to God, and we think we can live like everyone else, while remaining true to our Lord. We want to think that our heavenly Father will always lead us in peace and love and joy, and we will never know doubt, sadness, or any kind of lack. But these illusions can rob us of the fruit which the Holy Spirit wishes to produce in our lives.
Look at Luke 8, where Jesus tells the story of the sower and the seed. Three kinds of people hear the Word of God and respond. One group hears with joy, and believe for a while. But they have no root and when testing comes, they fall away. Another group responds and develops roots, but they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. The third group have ‘good and noble hearts’, they put down roots, retain the word and persevere to fruitfulness. The main point of this parable is developed immediately by the Lord. He says that a lamp that is lit is not hidden, but put on a stand to be seen. Then he sums up thus:
“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.” [Luke 8.17-18] Note that: “…even what he thinks he has”.
This word has to do with seeing, with things being revealed. The testing which caused the first group in the parable to fall away revealed something in them, as did the attraction of life’s worries, riches and pleasures in the second group. It showed that other things mattered more to them than what they had found in the Lord. That is why Jesus says that there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed: the true, deeply-hidden attitudes and motives in each of us cannot remain concealed under the light of the Holy Spirit’s work. The new-born Christian can be completely blind to the true state of his mind and heart, overwhelmed by the joy and peace of salvation. It is easy at such times to imagine that nothing will ever come between you and serving the Lord God. But the Holy Spirit knows better, and sees to the depths of our inner selves. Much pruning is required before any lasting fruit emerges. Old ways need to be changed, old attitudes and ideas shaken and demolished.
In other words, that which is of the Holy Spirit will be built upon and developed. But what is it that we don’t have, but which can be taken away from us? Illusions. What we think we have of God, the spiritual insights, the maturity, the revelations, the understandings that are not true, these have to go, to be replaced by the truth. We must be disillusioned of these things before we will let them go and be free.