Season: 4 Episode: 040
Shanda shares a message she preached about the victim mentality. What does it mean to be a victor as a Christian and why is it necessary that we answer the question Jesus poses when it comes to being victorious over our circumstances?
“God is not as concerned with our physical position as He is our spiritual position.”
“God never sees you as a victim. He always provides the opportunity to become a victor.”
“When God gave His only Son on the cross, He provided a way for you to become a victor.”
“When we remain in the victim mentality, the problems carry us; we don’t carry the problem.”
“You are not whole if you are only whole physically but not mentally or spiritually.”
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Many people thought Albert Einstein was the one who said it. Some argue that it was the infamous words of Benjamin Franklin. Either way, the words ring true when it says: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results (or change).”
The Socratic Greek Philosopher, Heraclitus, said, “Change is the only constant in life.”
Both sayings are correct. Life is always changing.
But what happens when we want change and it never comes?
There are times when the circumstances of life remain the same.
There’s nothing worse than wanting change but nothing changes. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in the circumstances of life and feeling like there’s no way out.
We live in times where the poorest in America are better off than those in third world countries.
We live in times where people can be anything they want to be and identify with anything they want to identify with.
Yet, people aren’t happy.
One out of every three adults in this country say they are not living life to their fullest potential.
Overall, 70 million Americans (31% of adults) feel “held back or defined by something in their past.”
And what I’ve noticed is that people feel stuck in their circumstances. And the hard part is the longer we stay in the state of unchange … the more hopeless the situation seems.
It starts to do something to our way of thinking. It starts to influence how we see ourselves.
There’s really only two ways to see ourselves when we face difficult circumstances: Victims of the circumstance or Victors over our circumstance.
Do you know what to be stuck means?
To be stuck is the past participle of the word stick. It means something is stuck in a particular position. It is fixed tightly in this position and is unable to move.
There is no possibility for change.
But what we have to understand is that being stuck doesn’t only relate to physical things. We can be spiritually and mentally stuck too. And I’d dare say that being stuck mentally and spiritually is much worse than being stuck physically.
Today, we’re going to read from John 5:1-16. I know God gave me this passage of scripture because I wouldn’t have chosen it.
In this passage of Scripture, we meet a man who was stuck in the circumstances of life. He could not move forward from the position he was in. He wanted change, but he didn’t know how to change it.
Read John 5:1-16
Here we have a man who has been doing the same thing over and over for 38 years with no results.
The Bible tells us multitudes were doing the same thing day after day with no results.
The first thing we notice is that they had a physical affliction. They were sick, blind, lame and withered.
We know he is either lame, too weak to walk … some physical condition that keeps him from being able to help himself.
What was he doing day after day … year after year … to try and find relief, healing and change from his current situation?
He visited the Pool of Bethesda.
The history of these pools is that many believed it had magical powers once being stirred by an angel of the Lord.
He was sitting at the Pool of Bethesda because he believed in the pool’s magical healing powers.
What you may not know is that an angel didn’t actually come down and stir the waters so that only one person could make their way into the pool.
In all of the early manuscripts, verse 4 is completely omitted. So if you have a Bible that doesn’t mention this part, it is just reflecting what was written in the early manuscripts.
Later manuscripts added it to explain the man’s thinking … and perhaps the thinking of the multitude of the sick who lay at the side of the pool waiting for the waters to be stirred.
They did the same thing day after day, expecting change. They trusted in man-made theories and magical pools to relieve them of their current situation.
Some scholars believe the pool was a natural spring that released certain minerals for healing.
The idea that the pool had magic to heal their afflictions showed the mental state of the sick, as well as their desperation for a cure.
But the Pool of Bethesda is no different than the things we hope in every day as we desire change for our own circumstances. The things we believe will bring healing to our physical situation.
The Pool of Bethesda, on the best day, could only bring healing for the physical hardship. But that was the BEST it could do.
At first glance we might come to the conclusion that his problem of being stuck was because of his physical affliction. But once we hear his thinking, we have to wonder if there’s more to his problem than just a physical affliction.
We may think the fact that his legs don’t work is what keeps him stuck in the circumstance he’s in. But being stuck in his circumstance has much more to do with what we can’t see than what is obvious.
Do You Wish To Be Made Well?
And then one day Jesus comes by to stir things up, but it’s not going to be the water in the Pool of Bethesda.
Jesus does what He does best, and He gets to the heart of the matter with a question.
And I love when God asks questions.
His questions always have a purpose. They are always to get us to reveal our POSITION.
When God asks you a question, get ready for a life-changing experience.
His questions always hold the opportunity for change … depending on how we answer.
Remember, this man’s physical position is the one he’s been stuck in for 38 years.
But God isn’t as concerned with our physical position as He is with our spiritual position.
Jesus’ questions are always obvious aren’t they?
And in verse 6 He says, “Do you wish to get well?”
Just think about this for a moment: the man has been a victim of his circumstance for 38 years. He cannot walk himself to the pool. He has to have help getting up which causes everyone else to get to the pool before him.
That’s his daily living. He’s stuck in the position he is in … on his mat at the side of the pool. When the waters are stirred, healing is just a few feet from where he sits.
He’s not just a victim of the present, but this affliction has robbed him of his past 38 years. His whole way of life has been built around this single need … to be made well.
He is alone, he has no one. No one can help him. And he has to be first in the pool in order to be made well. But he’s stuck.
He wants change. He needs change. And he does the same thing every day hoping to get it.
“Do you wish to get well?”
This is a yes or no question. It requires a yes or no answer.
It seems so obvious.
But instead of saying, “Yes!” The man begins to explain why he can’t get well. He begins to explain why he’s stuck.
And I want you to take note of his answer. The way he answers shows how he sees himself. At the beginning of the message I told you the longer we are stuck in our circumstances effects how we see ourselves.
He saw himself as a victim of his circumstance. So he answered like a victim.
There are two indicators of someone who sees themselves as a victim:
He did both. He blamed others for why he couldn’t get into the water and made an excuse for the position he has been in for 38 years with no change.
But that’s not what Jesus asked.
Victim or Victor?
You see, we have to be careful when Jesus looks at us and asks, “Do you wish to get well?”
How we answer that question reveals the mental and spiritual state we’re in.
It reveals our thinking about the power of God to heal in our lives. The power of God to transform our circumstance and help us move forward from the position we’re stuck in.
I said before that this man’s affliction wasn’t only physical. It was much more than that.
He thought the answer was in being able to get up and get to the water. But Jesus knew he needed more than just a change in physical circumstances because that wouldn’t change his thinking. It wouldn’t change his spiritual position.
And as irritating as the man is, he did something many of us do when Jesus comes and asks, “Do you wish to get well?”
It is embedded in each of our fallen nature to respond in the same way to getting well, giving an answer, owning up to the responsibility and revealing our position with God.
If you go back to Genesis 3:9-13, we see God asks another question that causes man to reveal his position with Him.
Read Gen 3:9-13
Adam and Eve are now stuck. They just ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They are now hiding in some bushes because their position with God has caused them to become stuck where they don’t belong.
And then God comes and asks the question: “Where are you?”
“Adam, state your position!”
Adam replied, “Stuck behind this bush. I can’t come out. I’m naked.”
Then God asks another question, “Who told you that you were naked?”
There’s only one reason Adam knows why he’s naked … he is experiencing the consequence of his own actions. He sinned.
Adam’s sin caused him to become stuck. He is a victim of his own doing.
But here’s what I want you to notice. God asks Adam a yes or no question in verse 11.
He asks, “Did you eat from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Can Adam answer with a simple yes or no?
Adam’s reply to this yes or no question reveals his position with God. Not his physical position of being stuck behind a bush, but his spiritual position as to why he can’t help himself.
What Adam says next shows he now sees himself … as the victim.
Adam says, “The woman whom You gave me to be with, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”
Notice that Adam did two things that we all fight the urge to do when we sin or have to own up to our circumstances and position in life:
1) He made an excuse
2) He blamed someone else
Do you wish to get well?
Saying yes to that question requires some responsibility. It requires a new way of living. It brings about change in the physical but also the spiritual.
Saying no means nothing ever changes. We’ll keep believing in magical man-made theories about our healing, but we’ll wake up tomorrow and find ourselves in the same situation as today.
The Man’s Responsibility
In reality, he had every right to make an excuse. He really had no way to get into the pool. He was stuck and he needed help, but there was no one. Although he needed assistance, he had none.
But something was different today. He was looking at the one who could change it all …. But he couldn’t say yes.
Do you know why? The excuses and the blame reveal the reason. This man thought of himself as a victim.
Adam and Eve saw themselves as victims. How do we know? Because when we make excuses and we blame others for the condition we’re in when the Lord is standing in front of us asking, “Do you wish to get well” we can’t answer the question.
God never sees us as victims
Here’s the heart of the message this morning …..
God will never accept our excuses for one reason alone … we know Him.
Don’t get me wrong, God understands our circumstances. He wants us to be made well. But more than that, He wants to transform our thinking and make sure our spiritual position is aligned to a solid relationship with Him.
But He will not accept our reasons for why we choose to remain the victim of our circumstances.
How do we know this?
God didn’t allow Adam and Eve to become the victims.
He provided a way out. A way for them to move beyond their current circumstance of nakedness and position themselves in a right relationship with Him once again.
But God knew they couldn’t do it. Like the man at Bethesda, they were helpless in their circumstance.
We have example after example of people God called who saw themselves as victims of their circumstances, yet God wouldn’t allow them to stay the victim.
In Exodus, the Lord called Moses and told him he was going to deliver the Hebrew children from bondage to the Egyptians.
Moses said, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”
But the Lord did not accept Moses’ excuse of being a victim of his own twisted tongue, and not accepting the call. And He said, “Who has made man’s mouth? Now go, and I will be with your mouth, and teach you what to say.”
The Lord said, “You have no excuse, Moses. Because you have Me.”
In Judges, the Lord comes to a man named Gideon. Gideon was a victim of the Midianites. They were stealing from the Israelites and Gideon was hiding from them.
And then God has the nerve to call him to deliver His people from the victimizers.
And Gideon says, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.”
And the Lord said, “You have me, Gideon. I will be with you, and you will defeat the Midian as one man.”
The Lord did not accept Gideon’s excuse of being a victim of his circumstance, and not accepting the call.
In Jeremiah chapter 1, God calls Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations. And Jeremiah uses this excuse, “I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.”
And God said, “No excuses, Jeremiah! Do not be afraid of them. I am with you to deliver you.”
God will never see us as victims because He provides the opportunity to become a victor.
Get Up and Walk
John 5:8. Jesus looks at the man and says, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.”
These are all action words because they are a call to action. But notice who has to do the action. It’s not Jesus.
Jesus gives us the power to change our circumstances, but we have to rise up, pick up our beds, and walk in that power.
To rise up: means to move from a lower position to a higher one. How do we rise above our circumstances? Well, it doesn’t start in the physical. Col 3:1-2 says, “Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
Pick up: The man had to pick up the bed that carried him for 38 years. You’ve heard the saying, “You made your bed, now lie in it.” Jesus says, “Carry the bed.”
When we remain in the victim mentality, the problems carry us. We don’t carry the problem.
To Walk: means to make one’s way; to make progress. It means to no longer be stuck in our current position.
What do you need to rise above today?
What problems seem to carry you through life and cause you to be stuck with no hope of change?
Jesus shows He has power to heal us of our physical afflictions and circumstances, but that’s not His goal.
If you follow the rest of the story, you will see the man’s life was changed, but only physically.
This is the part I want us to pay close attention to. This is the reason I don’t like the man.
He still saw himself as a victim. How do we know?
In verses 11-15, the man is confronted by the Jews because he was carrying his bed on the Sabbath, and he’s still making excuses and this time he blames Jesus for why he is carrying his bed.
He is still stuck in his victim mentality.
“Do you want to be made well?”
The word “well” actually means to be made whole. You cannot be whole if you’re only whole physically but not spiritually or mentally.
Here’s how we know:
Jesus goes back to the paralytic after He heals him, and Jesus says this to him, “Behold, you have been made well. Do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”
Jesus addressed his physical problem, but now He found him again so He could address his sin problem.
Because Jesus knows you can’t be made whole in your physical circumstances alone. Our spiritual state must change or we will go back to worse conditions.
This story doesn’t end well. After Jesus’ conversation with the man, he goes to the Jews and tells them it was Jesus who healed him. Verse 16 says, “For this reason, the Jews persecuted Jesus.”
Just because Jesus offers the question, “Do you wish to be made well” doesn’t mean everyone will answer that question with a yes. It only means they have the opportunity to answer with a yes.
I was inspired to speak on this topic today because over the past few months people have come to me with difficult circumstances: depression, marital problems, financial instability, health issues. They think that if they find relief from their problems then they’ll be at peace.
That’s just not true.
As I began to pray and study for this message, the Lord spoke to me about his passage of Scripture. So, I am confident that He is sending a message of opportunity today.
Think about your physical circumstances this morning. What in your life do you wish would change? What do you feel like you’re a victim of and can’t seem to get victory over?
I know God is asking us, “Do you wish to be made well?”
I know some of you have difficult circumstances that you deal with and you want God to change it. But God wants to do more than heal you physically. He wants to make you whole.
Do you want change?