journey to freedom, but so is our truthfulness. Psalm 51:6 says God
desires “truth in the inner parts” (NIV). God’s truth and our
truthfulness are both needed in order to gain complete freedom in
I mention the importance of honesty because I may be
about to get more honest than some of you can stand. I ask you to
consider what I have to say: Many Christians are not satisfied with
Before you call me a heretic, let me set the record
straight: Jesus is absolutely satisfying. In fact, He is the only means
by which any mortal creature can find true satisfaction.
However, I believe a person can receive Christ as Savior,
serve Him for decades and meet Him face to face in glory without ever
experiencing satisfaction in Him.
Rather than waste our effort on worthless things, God
wants us to find satisfaction in Him. When we look to other sources, we
are guilty of idolatry.
The True Source of Satisfaction
In Isaiah 55, the prophet contrasts the world’s attempt
to find satisfaction with what God provides. It is one of the most
poetic and comely expressions of grace in either the Old or the
“‘Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and
you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost’”(v. 1).
On the heels of the invitation, God poses the question
that haunts every generation of Adam’s descendants, “‘Why spend money
on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?’” (v.
2). In effect, God is asking, “Why do you work so hard for things that
are never enough, can never fill you up and are endlessly insufficient?”
Like a frustrated parent determined to get through to his
child, God says, “‘Listen to Me, and eat what is good, and your soul
will delight in the richest of fare’” (v. 2).
Satisfaction in Christ can be a reality. I know from experience, and I want everyone to know how complete He can make us feel.
I believe God’s prescription for those who possess an
inner thirst and hunger they cannot fill is implied in Isaiah 55:6:
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”
I believe God creates and activates a nagging
dissatisfaction in every person for an excellent reason: He doesn’t
want anyone to perish (see 2 Pet. 3:9).
God wants everyone to come to repentance. He gave us a
will so we could choose whether or not to accept His invitation, but
God purposely created us with a need that only He can meet.
Many come to Christ out of their search for something
missing; yet after receiving His salvation, they go elsewhere for
further satisfaction. Christians can be miserably dissatisfied if they
accept Christ’s salvation yet reject the fullness of daily relationship
Dissatisfaction is a “God-thing.” It’s only a terrible
thing when it fails to lead us to Christ, because the only thing that
will truly satiate our thirst and hunger is Him.
Dismantling the Idols
Realizing that God desires for us to find genuine
satisfaction in Him helps us discover a primary obstacle in our journey
to freedom in Christ: settling for satisfaction in anything else. God
gave this practice a name I was unprepared to hear—idolatry.
After serious meditation, I realized the label made
perfect sense no matter how harsh it seemed. Anything we try to put in
a place where God belongs is an idol.
To experience real freedom in Christ, we must remove the
obstacle of idolatry. We begin by recognizing the obstacle as idol
worship, but we may find removing it difficult.
Other obstacles to freedom, such as unbelief and pride,
can be removed effectively by an act of the will. But our idols—things
or people we have put in God’s place—can take much longer to remove.
Some of them have been in those places for many years,
and only the power of God can make them budge. We remove them by
acknowledging their existence and admitting their inability to satisfy
The nation of Israel struggled horribly with the sin of
idolatry. We can observe some of the results in the lives of Uzziah,
Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah.
Isaiah recorded what he saw when he looked at Judah and Jerusalem. The passage sounds hauntingly like prosperous America.