The subconscious beliefs that block childlike faith
Jesus called us to become childlike in order to experience God and His Kingdom. Imagine a child holding its arms up to call for his daddy or running as his father calls. There is such innocence, awe, and expectation in its radiant smile. Is that the kind of faith we have with God?
Matthew 18:2-4 NLT Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
When we feel like we don’t experience God’s unconditional love in a childlike way, it is usually because we have unknowingly and unintentionally collected various ungodly mental, emotional, and spiritual blockages and beliefs over our lifetimes. We might be able to say in our minds that Father is good, but feeling it to be true in our hearts is another matter. What blocks childlike faith in our hearts?
All of us are made in God’s image. When we reject or dislike certain parts of ourselves, we are in essence, rejecting parts of God’s creation. Some of us may even have asked, “Why was I even born?” without realising that when we do so, we accuse our Heavenly Father of being cruel and question His goodness.
This is one of Satan’s deadliest traps. The devil first tempts us to dislike parts of ourselves and slowly resent God and give up hope. When we fall for this sort of demonic trap, we turn ourselves in God’s accusers. We may not even be aware we have been doing this because such lies have been buried deep in our hearts for so long.
Isaiah 45:10-11 NLT How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?’” This is what the Lord says— the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: “Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?
Before we can know God the Father as His children, we need to first invite His Spirit to heal us of our childhood anxieties. The roots of low self-esteem, self-doubt, self-rejection, and self-condemnation often begin early as a result of confusing, hurtful, or frightening experiences with parents or primary caregivers who are a key source of validation for children. Because they have been hurt themselves, for example, some parents can either overtly or subtly push little ones to perform so hard that their children start to doubt their own self-worth. Some familial love can feel very conditional, absent, or just a little bit out of reach. This frustrates and discourages children.
Colossians 3:21 ESV Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Young children will begin to wonder if there is something wrong with them, and feel anxious that they may be unworthy, unwanted, unlovable, or insignificant. Afraid of being rejected, neglected, or abandoned, they turn inward and “hide” or close their hearts off. If driven to despair, they may curse themselves: “I am useless,” “I am unlovely,” or “I am stupid.”
Such thoughts are too common. The more Satan successfully tempts us to attack ourselves, the more power he gains over our lives. As a result of self-judgment or self-condemnation, some may even wish to disappear or fantasise about their funeral. At its most extreme, self-rejection can lead to depression and even suicide. All ideas that devalue human life are not from God.
By agreeing with these false beliefs about their real worth, hurt or wounded children give Satan a foothold to continue tormenting them until they confess and repent of these destructive inner thoughts. Make no mistake, words can have deadly effects on a person’s emotions, inner life, and even physical well-being, and this includes the words we say to ourselves.
James 3:8-10 ESV but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
As we repent of self-rejection and for agreeing with Satan that we are stupid, worthless, meaningless, or ought to die, it is vital we also repent to God for misunderstanding and blaspheming His good and perfect character. Instead of agreeing with Satan, we must now agree with God that we are good because He designed and created us with care. Even if we had a rocky start in life, God is fully capable of making everything about us beautiful once more. He is the Perfect Father who quenches our thirst for unwavering love, acceptance, and approval.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
The world chases after “bigger, better, faster, stronger” and promises us that we will always “enjoy the rewards of our hard work.”
Sadly, we can bring this same performance-based mentality into our relationship with God. Yes, we are to be deliberate and “work out our salvation with fear and trembling,” but we also need to remember that “it is God who works in us.” The Holy Spirit is the One who changes us from the inside out. We can simply rest in God’s presence and know that we are loved. A performance spirit corrupts our hearts to view God as a “heavenly manager,” rather than our Heavenly Father who loves us simply because we are His children.
Philippians 2:12-13 ESV Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
3. Hatred, bitterness, judgments, and unforgiveness
Those of us who have experienced hurt, rejection, or unfair treatment are likely to harbor some hatred, bitterness, judgment or unforgiveness. While these emotions may seem fair and justifiable to us, they actually block us from knowing God because they are against God’s character. He is the very essence of love, grace, and forgiveness. No one with a heart turned in the opposite direction of God’s own heart can hope to see or know Him.
1 John 3:14-15 ESV We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
4. Idolatry of our parents
The Bible makes a distinction in our relationship with our birth-parents and with our eternal Father. We are to honour our parents but to love Father God with all our hearts, souls, and minds.
The Fifth Commandment is to honour our parents. This means we are to respect, edify and provide for our parents. This, however, does not include submitting to their ungodly desires or control because we want to please them. Our first allegiance is always to our Heavenly Father who created us and gives us breath.
Ephesians 6:2 ESV “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),
Matthew 22:37 NIV Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
There are different reasons why people idolise their parents. For some, it is about filial piety (孝), a Confucian doctrine which teaches people that they are eternally bound to their parents and ancestors, and that we owe our very existence to them. It is a teaching that yokes us to other human beings as our “creators” and lords. We end up serving people first, rather than God. Please see Filial piety (孝, xiào), playing by Confucius’ family rules.
1 Corinthians 8:5 NLT There may be so-called gods both in heaven and on earth, and some people actually worship many gods and many lords.
Deuteronomy 18:10-12 ESV There shall not be found among you anyone… or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.
Another reason for parent idolatry is competition for their approval and attention. Where there is abuse, favouritism, or neglect at home, we can end up subconsciously yearning to please our parents so as to win the love we feel we deserve. We long to hear them say something that would make us feel validated as their children, no matter what age we are.
Sometimes, the opposite is true. Our view of our parents’ love can be so dominant in our human eyes that we can’t even see God’s love.
Perhaps we have very controlling parents. Without realizing it, we can automatically do things that we think will ‘keep the peace’ at home. When we do so, we are unconsciously seeking emotional and moral support or approval from our parents. In the process, our One True Eternal Father becomes an after-thought.
Luke 14:26 NLT “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
5. Bitterness with our parents
Children will find ways to protect their hearts if their parents are unpredictable, frightening or unloving. They learn not to trust people or place too much hope in love. This in turn, cripples their ability to trust God or believe that He loves them.
Matthew 15:4 ESV For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’
In bitter grief, we can call out, “Why was I born to such bad parents?” or make inner vows that “I will never be like them!” We live our lives according to how they would not do things. They are our benchmark, rather than God Himself.
Slowly, we can begin to subconsciously view God the Father through the same lens that we judge or despise our parents with. We believe Satan’s lies, such as “Father God cannot be good or trustworthy,” “He wasn’t with me,” or “He abandoned me.” Many people unknowingly re-model Father God’s image according to their earthly parents’ and never depart from those blasphemous images, until they repent in Jesus’ name and can see more clearly.
Psalm 146:8 ESV The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.
6. Inner vows
We seldom think twice about why we do the things we do. Many of our inner vows, thought patterns, and self-beliefs are such deeply-imprinted “personal commandments” that they rule our lives on auto-pilot. As a result, we struggle to have childlike faith in Father God. We resist having another Master of our hearts – until we renounce our personal commandments and replace them with God’s truth.
For instance, we can declare “My heart belongs to Father God and I will give it to Him for comfort, healing, restoration, and guidance” and renounce the inner vow, “I will protect my heart”. Or we can proclaim that “I will depend fully on Father God who provides me with His perfect wisdom, humility, and strength,” instead of “I will always be independent.” See Inner vows must be revoked.
Psalm 37:4-5 ESV Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
7. Rebelling against love
No believer wants to be called a child of the devil, but this is what the Bible says we are if we continue to willfully sin in spite of knowing that we are rebelling against Father’s heart for us. The Bible says that we will be blocked from experiencing God if we willfully choose to commit sexual sin or adultery, or continue to be greedy, jealous, abusive, divisive, thieves, drunkards, murderers, cheats or male prostitutes (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Revelation 22:15, Galatians 5:19–21).
Father God does not condemn anyone who runs to Him for help to overcome sin through repentance and deliverance, but He does judge those that don’t. No “child of the devil” can truly love or know God, their True Father.
1 John 3:10 ESV By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.
7. Idol worship, witchcraft, and occult practices
God doesn’t mince His Words when it comes to occult practices such as idol worship, ancestor worship, fortune telling, mediums, horoscopes, lucky charms etc. He tells us that we insult Him to His Face and our names become like a curse word to Him. Many families in Asia consider such practices a way of life. Father God has a very different view. He considers such practices repulsive and finds them to be a personal affront.
Isaiah 65:3-4,15 NLT All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars. At night they go out among the graves, worshiping the dead. They eat the flesh of pigs and make stews with other forbidden foods… Your name will be a curse word among my people, for the Sovereign Lord will destroy you and will call his true servants by another name.
Revelation 21:8 NLT “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
One dangerous effect of idol worship is that it teaches us to see Father God as just another idol whom we pray to for good luck and blessings, but with whom we have no real relationship. When we approach God with such an attitude, we already block ourselves from seeing God as our Heavenly Father.
8. Equating our circumstances with Father God’s character
Many people have fallen for the prosperity gospel message that propagates the false belief that because God is good, He will make our lives blessed and easy. In essence, we reduce our sovereign mighty Father who created all the planets into our servant! We have no fear of the Almighty nor an accurate grasp of His holiness.
If God’s only begotten Son endured great suffering on earth, so will we. Our Heavenly Father allows us to undergo hardship so that we learn how to thrive, stand strong, and remain faithful to Him even under fire, just as Jesus did, and hence, get to share Jesus’ glory and heavenly inheritance one day. This is the Father’s loving discipline.
1 Peter 2:21 NLT For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
When long lost children have reunited with their biological parents after many years apart, they may still feel a bit alien and need to re-learn their family ways. Similarly, the process of having a fully restored relationship with Father God takes some intentionality and time, but the more we pursue purity and holiness and ask God to remove our ungodly mental, emotional, and spiritual blockages, the more we will find our hearts are renewed and softened into a childlike state.
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 ESV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
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