The Secret to Happiness (Re-Print)

[Note from Jess: I am reprinting this post, from April 2007, as it's something I needed to re-read and take to heart. I hope it will be a blessing to you as well.]

"Nothing betrays our deepest theories more eloquently than our practice.
-R.C. Sproul,
Knowing Scripture

There are many Christians who make comments like, "I don't need to know doctrine, I just want to know the practical stuff." The problem with this is that when we don't have a solid foundation, the walls we build aren't sturdy. These "practical" walls are walls that buckle when the winds of opinion shift. When someone else comes along selling a different version of common sense, built not on the Word of God, but on men's opinions, we'll fall for that, because we don't know our faith well enough to tell what's from God and what's not.

This kind of Christian inwardly groans when challenged to begin diligent, intentional study of the Word of God. Sproul called this person a sensuous Christian,
"one who lives by his feelings rather than through his understanding of the Word of God. [This Christian] cannot be moved to service, prayer, or study unless he 'feels like it.' His Christian life is only as effective as the intensity of present feelings. ... He constantly seeks new and fresh spiritual experiences and uses them to determine the Word of God. His 'inner feelings' become the ultimate test of truth."
While Christianity is not merely an intellectual and thinking faith, it is that. We are not meant to enter into faith solely through emotions and strong feeling. We are to approach faith in Christ with our hearts AND brains fully engaged. Sproul puts it this way:
"The Christian life is not to be a life of bare conjecture or cold rationalism; it is to be a life of vibrant passion. Strong feelings of joy, love, and exaltation are called for again and again. But those passionate feelings are a response to what we understand with our minds to be true."
Recently, Oprah and others have lauded a book called "The Secret," which is really no more than an overhaul of age-old New Age and Pagan beliefs. But the Bible identifies something other than following human feelings as the key for happiness. {Edited to add: Check out this clip of Oprah sharing her beliefs about Jesus.}

Sadly, among Christians, and even pastors, we will find advice dispensed that is people-pleasing, but entirely contrary to the Word of God... "Yes, Mrs. Jones, go ahead and divorce your husband despite the fact that you are without biblical warrant, for I am sure you will never find happiness married to a man like that."
"If there is a secret, a carefully guarded secret, to human happiness, it is that one expressed in a seventeenth-century catechism that says, 'Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.' The secret to happiness is found in obedience to God. ...How can we be obedient if we do not know what it is we are to obey? Thus, the top and the tail of it is that happiness cannot be fully discovered as long as we remain ignorant of God's Word."
Our happiness rests on our knowledge of and obedience to the Word of God. The more we stray from it, the more our lives will be in disarray; and the more we cling to it, the more our lives, even if full of challenge and suffering, will be characterized by a contented happiness that only God can give.

Most Holy God, give us a desire for your Word. Help us to make it a priority today and every day. Let us hear it and learn it ourselves so that we can teach our children and encourage others with it. Give us a passion to know and obey Your Word.


jcurtis said...

Amen... thank you so much for addressing this issue about The Secret.

In my opinion, The Secret is the latest and by far the worst example of a HIGHLY profitable trend where self-help gurus with fabricated new age titles and little relevant education, credentials or legitimate expertise brainwash us into believing that they know what is best for us, our marriages and our families.

Often their only contribution to society is introducing some exotic sounding, new age philosophy. However, they often cleverly form an incestuous group of like-minded “experts” who cross-promote each other by swearing their success is due to following the beliefs of another member of their “cult!” All the while, they ply the airwaves jockeying for an ever-larger audience by appearing in the national media to garner third-party endorsements.

The Self-Help Movement has become the Self-Destruct Movement by diminishing or destroying our critical thinking skills to choose and evolve on our own. We have given up the freedom to build healthy lives, marriages and families based on our unique history and life experience. Instead many victims, blinded to the value of their own life experiences, are attracted to the latest secret in self-help, in an attempt to find out what they should think, feel and how they should act... this is the definition of a cult.

The solution is a return to our (common) senses! The best way out of this learned “self-helplessness” is to go cold turkey. Stop following ALL self-help gurus now. Begin, instead, to reclaim your natural, God-given ability to think for yourself. The common sense that was once readily available to all of us is still there free of charge and waiting to be applied to just about any challenge we might face in life… all you have to do is use it.

Please, let's all work together to stop the flock of "sheepeople" who blindly move from one UNPROVEN concept to the next, looking for the answers to life's challenges that you already possess and that is the OBVIOUS!

Amanda said...

Wonderful post! Thank you!

The clip of Oprah you included was really frustrating for me, especially given her influence in our country.

Nevertheless, women like you are chipping away at the lies so prevalent in our society. Thank you!

Lady-in-the-Making said...

Oh Lord - this is so true.

I have recently found this truth and all I can say is that: God's Way Works! That's what my entire blog is about. Finding happiness through obedience to God. It sounds contrary, but it is true. Thanks for posting this, Jess. God bless you.

Aubs said...

Oh how I just can't be reminded of this truth enough! I am new in my self-decided walk with the Lord and I am so thirsty to learn's God's word! The more I learn the more peace I have in my heart and the more understanding I have of just how AMAZING our God is! What an exhilirating feeling to be so loved and can you not want to do everything in your power to please Him??? I just wish every person in the world could feel the way I do as I continue to learn the word of God! Thank you Jess, for your continued encouragement through your blog. I love clicking on your blog and finding a new post!

And a quick sidenote......that clip of Oprah was indeed very frustrating but praise be to the women who were standing up for their beliefs instead of just letting Oprah carry on that way!

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LisaM said...

Being a thinking person is difficult when it seems everyone else is doing so well just following what someone else said so smoothly. Thank you for standing firm in desiring Truth.

:..Rebekah..: said...

This is a great post. Isn't it interesting how hard it can be to find balance in this area? I've experienced both extremes, and thankfully God has been faithful by protecting me from the dangers on both sides. After experiencing a time in my life of a flighty feeling-led faith, I quickly saw the dangers, but unfortunately for a time I went to far with an extreme thinking faith that left me dry and weak. God has taught me through the Word and balanced me out. If it weren't for him, there's no telling where I'd be!
Thanks for reprinting this post Jess. God bless!