Motivation and Living Defined: Sensual vs. Suprasensual: Part I
John 4:31-34

This series entitled: Motivation and Living Defined: Sensual vs. Suprasensual is designed to help Christians correctly interpret facts, draw godly conclusions and act accordingly. Jesus drew contrasts to push the antithesis between God’s way and man’s way as a means of giving wisdom when considering the phrase: motivation and living defined. Contrasts help to highlight His way vs. Satan’s way. Various contrast include such antithesis as light and dark, wide and narrow road, truth and falsehood; and holy and unholy. Jesus’s purpose was to draw out the proper way to live.

v.31: Meanwhile, the disciples urged him: “Rabbi, eat something”.
v.32: But he said to them: “I have food to eat you know nothing about.”
v.33: Then his disciples said to each other:” Could someone have brought him food?”
v.34: My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

John recorded Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman in the fourth chapter of his gospel. In the previous chapter, John recorded Jesus’s encounter with Nicodemus, a Pharisee, but who was theologically unsound. He recognized Jesus as Rabbi/Teacher, but not as God or the true Messiah. Nicodemus confused spiritual birth (doctrinally known as regeneration) and physical birth. Jesus recoiled at his ignorance (3:10: You are Israel’s teacher, said Jesus, and you do not understand these things.). Later it seems that Nicodemus came to true faith (19:38-42).

In John 4, John recorded Jesus’ face to face meeting with a Gentile woman who was also theologically illiterate. Initially, Jesus presented Himself to her as a tired, thirsty Jewish man who desired water (4:7). Later, and in contrast to Nicodemus, He revealed Himself to her as the Messiah (4:26). The fact that she was a Samaritan and a woman shocked the disciples. However, Jesus clarified God’s universal redemptive message. It has no national, gender, or cultural barriers. The woman seemed to have grasped this truth (v.25, 40-42).

My focus in the first four blogs is verses 31-34 found in John 4. In this short series of passages, Jesus contrasted two ways and two sources of satisfaction and contentment for and in life: His way which I term “suprasensual living “and the culture’s way which I term “sensual living.” Jesus declared His source of contentment: it is pleasing His Father (v.34). He preeminently did this by completing His Messianic mission. The disciples were clueless to His way of thinking and remained clueless until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit previewed in John 20 and fully described in Acts 2.

As are most people, the disciples were unfamiliar with the concept of suprasensual living. By suprasensual I am referring to thinking, desiring, and acting according to biblical truth. Adam and Eve pre-Fall had sensual experiences. Man was created a sensual being. They saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and touched. They acquired information and interpreted facts according to the senses and a right relationship with God. They viewed the Garden and al that was in it. The heard God’s voce and received His instructions. Since there was no sin, they were able to correctly interpreted what they discovered by their senses according to God’s truth. Therefore, they derived pleasure from sensual stimulation such eating, drinking, hearing, and seeing. After sin, they were estranged from God and separated from biblical truth. The desire to please God as Creator and Controller was replaced by the desire to please self. Sensual living had become a curse and not a blessing.

Jesus chose the context of the internationalization of the gospel to draw the contrast between suprasensual and sensual living. Jesus engaged the woman in a dialogue consisting of heart-penetrating questions. Seeing Jesus, hearing His voice, drawing water for healthy living and satisfying the God-given gift of thirst are part of sensual living. After Jesus revealed Himself as the Messiah, the disciples returned (v.26-27). He then engaged the disciples in both sensual and suprasensual living. He introduced them to a radical, anti-cultural concept that I have termed suprasensual living.

The disciples and the woman were faced with the same facts but with a choice: would they interpret them through the grid of saving faith or faith that was based on their reasoning divorced from biblical truth? Jesus the disciples and eventually the woman to suprasensual living. They had physical sight (sensual living) but Jesus was introducing them to a new way of living: suprasensually, interpreting facts from God’s perspective through the eyes of saving faith. Early on in His ministry, Jesus drew a line in the sand in terms of motivation and personal choice: sensual vs. suprasensual motivation and a lifestyle that is characterized by self-pleasing or God-pleasing.

Apparently, the disciples had eaten. Seemingly, they were genuinely concerned about Jesus and His physical health. Accordingly they urged Him to eat (v.31). The verb form of urged indicated that the disciples continually encouraged Jesus to eat.
Jesus’s answer to their urging was parabolic in nature. Jesus told them that He had good eating and good food, the type and source of which they were unfamiliar and ignorant of (v.32). Jesus emphatically drew a contrast between spiritual and physical food and two sources of satisfaction and contentment. In response they were dumbfounded a second time (v.27). They asked themselves the source of Jesus’ apparent physical food (v.33). The disciples continued to think sensually. They thought of spiritual concerns in physical terms. Jesus stated plainly His source of motivation, contentment, and joy. He gave an indication of His Messianic consciousness as He taught the disciples about Himself. His true source of nourishment and contentment was pleasing the Father (5:30; 6:38). His food was pleasing His Father by doing the Father’s will, which was His reason for humbling Himself.

Jesus drew strength and encouragement as He pleased His Father. His motivation was embedded in the Triune relationship. Jesus learned to live out of that relationship as He prepared for the cross (Heb. 5:7-10). His food was His motivation to please the Father which took Him to the cross and beyond (Heb. 12:1-3). The disciples did not understand Jesus. They were clueless much like Nicodemus. Jesus was speaking suprasensually and spiritually, but the disciples were thinking sensually and physically.

The disciples had not heard the conversation between Jesus and the woman (4:8). They were unaware of the results of that encounter (4:25-26). They wanted to know the essence of Jesus’ food and the source of it (v.31-33). They thought in literal, physical, sensual, temporal, and material terms. Their thinking went something like this:
• All people get hungry and seek to satisfy themselves.
• They had been tired and hungry.
• They needed nourishment to keep going.
• They had experienced a sense of satisfaction and refreshment after resting and eating.
• Jesus had been working, and He had not eaten. The disciples thought Jesus was just like them – He needed physical satisfaction.
The disciples failed to grasp the principle that Jesus was teaching: suprasensual living always trumps sensual living. Moreover, Jesus is the Model for suprasensual living.

1. Describe the scene in John 4 and name the people involved.
2. What do you learn about the women, the disciples, and Jesus?
3. What was the disciples’ perspective?
4. What contrast did Jesus draw?

 Sensual vs. Suprasensual: Part II
John 4:31-34

v.31: Meanwhile, the disciples urged him: “Rabbi, eat something”.
v.32: But he said to them: “I have food to eat you know nothing about.”
v.33: Then his disciples said to each other:” Could someone have brought him food?”
v.34: My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

Jesus’ words in John 4:31-34 highlighted His motivation for fulfilling His Father’s program that was ordained in eternity (John 6:37-43), declared in Genesis 3:15, and repeated in John 3:16. For Christ, trustful obedience and obedient trusting brought Him a deep sense of satisfaction and joy such that He embraced and used the shame of the cross for God’s glory and the believer’s good (1 Corinthians 1:20-27; Hebrews 12:1-3). Jesus functioned based on His relationship with the Father. Jesus lived suprasensually!
Jesus knew that physical food can produce satisfaction and good feelings. The Bible teaches that Jesus ate and drank and fed the crowds (feeding of the 5000 and the 4000). Food for the body is a good thing. In John 4, Jesus was weary and thirsty. He asked for water (John 4:6). But there was something far more satisfying to and for Him than the feeling that resulted from a nice drink from Jacob’s well or a good meal and all the trimmings.

In verse 34, Jesus defined the food that He was speaking of and the results of eating it. His food was God Himself and a relationship with Him. What flowed from their relationship was covenantal faithfulness. Therefore, Jesus completed the design established in eternity as part of the Intratrinitarian counsel of redemption (John 6:37-43). Jesus taught from the vantage point of the lesser to the greater. He used a familiar example from everyday life. Everyone has experienced hunger and thirst, the desire to be relieved and satisfied, and the relief that follows eating and drinking. God designed man a sensual being. He functions based on the motivation of receiving certain pleasures in life – a type of pleasure principle. Rightly understood, it is a great thing! The misuse of that principle became part of the curse of sin.

God designed man to be filled and satisfied physically. Filed to the brim does not mean overstuffed misery. Properly used, food nourishes and satisfies. Jesus knew the woman at the well was in trouble. She sought joy and happiness from the world according to its way. By world I mean the system of thinking and wanting which is opposed to or indifferent to Holy-Spirit derived concern for spiritual matters. Her desire for pleasure was self-focused and purely sensual. Her sensuality had not been bathed in saving faith. As a result her pleasure was for the now: temporal, physical, and material. Having six different men in her life was evidence of that fact. Her pleasure was based on what she could enjoy and feel by the senses: taste, touch, see, smell, and hear. She placed herself under the false comfort of sensual living, and she was clueless to her danger. She believed what the physical world offered was the best she could have. She had no knowledge of the joy, blessing, and truth of suprasensual living or the danger of wrongly-motivated sensual living.

Jesus’ definite statement in verse 34 is at its core relational: My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” Jesus and the Father were one (John 10:30). A constant refrain in John’s gospel is the Son’s dependence on the Father and His singular desire to please Him (5:19, 30; 6:38; 8:26; 9:4; 10:37-38; 12:49-50; 14:31; 15:10; 17:4). Jesus’ relationship with the Father controlled Him – His thoughts, desires, and actions. He knew the beginning (His origin) and the end (His destiny which was a return to heaven as the Victor). From start to finish Jesus’s relationship with the Father and His knowledge of His origin and destiny enabled Jesus to stay the course, finish the race, go to and stay on the cross, and return home as the King of kings and Lord of lords (Hebrews 12:1-3). Pleasing the Father enabled Jesus to nourish and revive Himself so he stayed the course. Jesus lived suprasensually all the way to heaven and beyond!

Jesus was not advocating an anorexic lifestyle. As noted previously, Jesus didn’t despise food for Himself or others. He was the great Provider. Moreover, obedience to God does not mean that certain foods and drinks were to be excluded (Acts 11:7-10; 1Timothy 4:1-5). Rather, Jesus is speaking of believers feeding on Him as He did the Father. Jesus was speaking in terms of motivation and priority.

The Intratrinitarian relationship controlled Jesus. The desire to please His Father motivated Jesus to leave heaven; to take on human flesh; to live as one considered to be a sinner; and to be treated as a fraud and loser all the way to and on the cross. In it all, Jesus could not get enough of the Father! Glorifying the Father was foremost in Jesus’ thoughts. He strengthened Himself by pleasing the Father. He was able to pursue and complete His Messianic commission. He pleased His Father as the means of bringing God’s people into His family and kingdom which afformed the Triune God’s covenantal faithfulness. He makes and keeps promises. This underscores suprasensual living. These realities expressed in Jesus’ life underscore the beauty of suprasensual living. Suprasensual living transcends feelings and experiences and most glorifies the Triune God.

1. What truth does Jesus emphasize?
2. How did the disciples respond? How do you respond?
3. Evaluate your relationship with the Triune God in Christ. What is your food and how does it fit with your relationship in Christ?
4. What truths about the Triune God do you need to review and apply when faced with living in a sin-cursed world among sinners including yourself?

Sensual vs. Suprasensual: Part III
John 4:31-34

v.31: Meanwhile, the disciples urged him: “Rabbi, eat something”.
v.32: But he said to them: “I have foot to eat you know nothing about.”
v.33: Then his disciples said to each other:” Could someone have brought him food?”
v.34: My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.

We continue the discussion: Motivation and Living Defined. In this portion of scripture, Jesus taught His disciples an essential and universal life lesson. There is only one mindset and lifestyle that truly pleases the Triune God and brings true contentment and joy. I have termed this mindset and lifestyle suprasensual living. It results from the miraculous intervention of the Holy Spirit in the heart of man. A changed heart enables the believer to approach God, himself, and others in all circumstances from an entirely different perspective than the unbeliever. The unbeliever engages in sensual living. His guide and standard for thoughts, desires, and actions are threefold: knowledge separated from biblical truth, feelings, and experiences, good or bad. The person uses his senses to please Him without any relation to God and truth. In contrast, the believer engages in suprasensual living, imperfectly while on earth. He is motivated by the Father’s relationship with him in Christ by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, feelings and I want are not the controlling forces in his life. Rather feelings flow from thoughts and desires that are steeped in biblical truth (Psalm 119:9-11). God-pleasing actions follow.

Jesus’ teaching in John 4:31-34 and His example throughout His life underscore the call for and the beauty of suprasensual living. Too often a person’s control center is his feelings and the desire to get. The person looks to feelings for direction. He seeks to exchange bad feelings for good ones or to experience more of good ones. The disciples were aware of the bad feeling of hunger and thirst and the sense of satisfaction that comes from relieving them.

Sensual living has it place. Appreciating the senses enables the person to use them in a God-honoring manner. However, Jesus wanted His disciples to move from purely sensual to suprasensual living which is far superior than sensual living. Suprasensual living is motivated away from self and to God. The believer desires to please God as he imitates Christ. In addition, this type of living is associated with a far greater satisfaction than a mere physical sensation.

Suprasensual living characterized Jesus and it is to characterize His people. Jesus walked (conducted Himself) not by physical sight and bodily feelings, but by the Word of God. His thoughts and desires were Holy Spirit-energized and biblically-controlled. If that was not so, He would not have completed His ministry. Jesus thought God’s thoughts and desired God’s desires. Godly actions followed. He interpreted Himself, others, life (God’s providence) through the grid of biblical truth. Jesus epitomized suprasensual living.
Every person including Jesus experiences life through the senses and he interprets the incoming information through one of two grids. One is the grid of feelings –to have them, past or present experience, or reason divorced from biblical truth which results in sensual living. The other gird is biblical truth. Only the believer has biblical truth as his grid for functioning as God’s kind of person – living suprasensually. The person who lives suprasensually is focused on pleasing God in part because God deserves it.

In contrast, the focus of sensual living is on self, relief, and pleasure now. The desire is to have one’s senses filled up – stimulated for his pleasure and glory. When pleasing self in any activity takes center stage God is dishonored. In the area of pleasing God or self, the believer has a choice. He either accepts the Bible’s teaching about satisfaction in this life (suprasensual living) or he accepts and acts on his own idea of how to be satisfied (sensual living).

Jesus was not denying problems including physical ones. Hunger, thirst, and hurting bodies are part of living in a sin-cursed world (Romans 5:12-14). However, bad feelings and experiences can’t be the believer’s interpretative grid and directive for life. The believer’s heart – his motivation center – has been changed. He can think and desire beyond himself for the purpose of honoring God and loving others.
The pleasure of eating and drinking (or any physical, sensual pleasure) is not necessarily wrong. In fact, the desire for pleasure and contentment are part of God’s creational design. Eating and drinking may be evidence of good stewardship of the body which is an expression of suprasensual living. Or they may be self-serving and evidence of sensual living. Motivation is one key. When pleasure is directed toward self, there has been a reversal of the Creator-creature distinction. Sensual living has replaced suprasensual living. God is not honored.

Esau is a prime example of sensual living (Genesis 25:29-34). He demanded a full belly and the sensation that accompanied it. His thoughts were on earthly things and himself. His god was himself and his belly – he was an enemy of the cross (Philippians 3:19-20). He traded his position, privilege, and responsibility of being the oldest son for a short-lived good feeling.
The Bible is replete with examples of people living sensual with a call to suprasensual living. For instance, Thomas asked Jesus to show them the way (John 14:5) and Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father (14:8). Jesus’ answer is reminisced of His answer to Pilate when Pilate asked what truth is (John 18:38). Each man was in the presence of Truth and they failed to recognize Him (John 14:6).

On another occasion, Thomas was faced with the fact of a resurrected Jesus. He chose sensual living (John 20:25). He adamantly refused to believe unless he had a sensual experience. He chose to live by his senses – to see, touch, and feel Jesus and then he would believe. When Jesus returned to the disciples, Jesus gave Thomas the opportunity for a sensual experience when Jesus commanded Thomas to believe and stop doubting (John 20:27). Thomas gave the appropriate response: my Lord and my God (20:28). Jesus’ responded: because you had a sensual experience you believe. But blessed are those who live suprasensually (John 20:29).

Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father (14:8). Jesus’ answer was similar to His answer given to Nicodemus (John 3). Jesus pointed to Himself and asked Philip if he believed (John 14:10). Jesus is the way because He and the Father are one; Jesus revealed the Father (John 10:30; 1:14, 18). Each person (except Pilate!) was instructed to think and desire suprasensually – through the eyes and heart of saving faith and truth (2 Corinthians5:7, 9).

1. Define sensual and suprasensual living (use 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:2, 4, 7, 9 to help you).
2. Genesis 25:29-34: how does the passage help you understand Jesus’ teaching?
3. How is it possible to stay oriented suprasensually when things are unpleasant?

Motivation and Living Defined: Sensual vs. Suprasensual: Part IV
John 4:31-34

v.31: Meanwhile, the disciples urged him: “Rabbi, eat something”.
v.32: But he said to them: “I have food to eat you know nothing about.”
v.33: Then his disciples said to each other:” Could someone have brought him food?”
v.34: My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.

In John 4:31-34, Jesus offered Himself as the main course for feasting (v.34). He invited the disciples to engage in suprasensual living that He modeled. Jesus is the bread and water of life (John 4:13-14; 6:35, 41, 48, 51). He who feeds on and drinks Him will never die (6:35). Jesus focused the disciples on the bad news (living for self – pure sensual living). He motivated the disciples by His teaching and His living example of the source of the greatest satisfaction in life, which is pleasing God for God’s sake and glory (4:34). The bad news should remind all believers that prior to the fall, Adam and Eve were in proper relationship to God and He to them. Satisfaction in life was a result of living out of that proper relationship. After sin, the desire for satisfaction in life remained, but it was impossible because God and man were out of proper relationship. Fallen man began to live purely sensually. He misused God’s original design. He chose self over God.

In John 4:34, Jesus presented an eternal and fundamental truth first codified in the Old Testament: God desires His own pleasure and honor (Exodus 20:4-6). All men, image bearers of God, have been created seekers who desire satisfaction. God created man for Himself. Therefore, seeking satisfaction from any other source is living sensually and idolatrously. It is vanity and meaningless. Misery follows in this life and the next. The idea of Jesus pursuing any other way of satisfaction would be incredible, unbelievable, and impossible. Jesus would not have been God’s kind of Messiah. He would have failed the Triune God.

Jesus is not against good feelings and proper sensual living. However, He provides the only true source of good feelings. However, too often, people use feelings as a standard and barometer for success and pleasure in and with life.
In every aspect of His life Jesus revealed His greatest pleasure and the greatest pleasure for the believer. Motivation for pleasing God flows from a vibrant, growing relationship with God, by God, and for God. In his epistles, Paul referred to this truth by the words in Christ. The believer has a loving relationship with God in Christ by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18; 3:12). Any activity, including eating and drinking are to be for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).

After the fall, mankind misunderstood and misused the God-ordained pleasure principle for self-gain and satisfaction. Sensual living was ushered in and became the modus operandi for fallen man until a heart-change occurred. Until then a person’s thoughts, desires, and actions were reflected in a man-centered, self-centered lifestyle and mindset. Once saved, the motivation and orientation for suprasensual living replaced pure sensual living. However, even believers (see examples in the previous blog) have eyes and don’t see, and ears but don’t hear. The gospel message includes a call to suprasensual living. The truth sets men free to engage in thoughts, desires, and actions that are focused on loving God and neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). In that way, God is honored.

Pleasing God is a duty, pleasure, and blessing (1 John 5:3). The believer may cognitively understand Jesus’ words and even the concept of pleasing God. However Jesus is teaching a truth about Himself that transcends sensual, physical, and intellectual knowledge. Jesus’ teaching penetrates the depths of man’s inner person. Jesus desires His people to follow His pattern of suprasensual living. No matter a believer’s circumstances including the state of his body and physical being and his feelings, the believer is to rely on the truth that suprasensual living and only suprasensual living honors God and is best for the believer. Seeking relief may or may not be God-honoring. Each circumstance must be examined by the believer under the lens of Scripture. Only then will victory come. Victory is not necessarily freedom from whatever is unpleasant. Rather, victory is pleasing God using any and every situation as God’s instrument and tool to think, desire, and act according to biblical truth.

Suprasensual living always trumps pure sensual living. It has its own reward here and eternally. It enables the believer to look eternally as he continues along the path of righteous living. The path may appear too hard, too long, and too dark. But for the believer reality sets in. He refuses to live the lie. Rather, Jesus and the believer are more than conquerors that is mediated through suprasensual living no matter the person’s circumstances (Romans 8:35-39). A suprasensual mindset led Jesus to and carried Him beyond the cross. Suprasensual living as a mindset and a way of life carries the believer along the path and to home as well.
Jesus modeled life in God’s Kingdom. Believers are to imitate Christ. Kingdom life is a foretaste of the heavenly presence of God. God is with His people by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:14-21; 3:14-21). Joy and peace are prominent features of kingdom life. These flow from the fact that God is honored as King, Judge, Savior, and Father. God is glorified and believers are satisfied with who God is.

1. Define suprasensual and sensual living and give examples of both.
2. You have saved from what to what?
3. How do you apply Psalm 34:8 to your life and how does Psalm 119:9-11 aid you in its application?

Motivation and Living Defined: Part V
Matthew 5:16-18, 19-21, 22-24, 25-34

We continue our discussion: Motivation and Living defined. As I demonstrated in earlier blogs, the Bible is replete with examples of the contrast between sensual and suprasensual living. Both focus on motivation and living defined. Jesus’ coming highlighted the contrast and the magnitude of the difference between these two types of living. His presence forced people to make a choice between two mindsets and lifestyles. Jesus called people to suprasensual living. Jesus came to His own who did not understand the Light. They rejected Him and His call because they loved darkness (John 1:4-5, 11; 3:17-21). Motivation and living defined are twin pillars and flow from a heart that is bought with a price or still in Satan’s possession.

The contrast is particularly highlighted in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The Jews were living purely sensually. They were religious and hungry but they were hungry for a physical kingdom, for relief from Roman dominion, and for personal lawkeeping in lieu of the Messiah’s lawkeeping. The Israelites defined true religion on their interpretation of what they could see, feel, and hear. Their interpretative grid of self-righteousness and self sufficiency led them consider physical actions such as fasting, prayers, good deeds, and tithing – the externals – as suitable for God (Matthew 5-6). Motivation and living defined was through their interpretative grid and not God ands His Word.

In contrast, Jesus ushered in a new existence and a new creation (John 1:14, 18; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Proper understanding of this truth required ears to hear and eyes to see – suprasensual living via saving faith as the believer; interpretative grid. Only the Spirit’s work in the heart of the believer produce the capacity and orientation for suprasensual living (John 3:3-8; 2 Corinthians 5:9, 14-15). As a result of the Spirit’s work, the believer, although imperfectly, does think, desire, and act from the interpretative grid of God’s truth and from a Holy Spirit- implanted desire to please and honor God. Only then was motivation and living defined properly.

Jesus condemned hypocrisy in Matthew 5:16-18. Jesus was not a flatterer, a pretender, or a fraud. Neither should be His disciples. Idolatry is hypocrisy because it focuses on self-worship. The hypocrite is a getter and not a giver in contrast to God who is the Giver par excellence. The hypocrite competes with God and worships himself as if he is on the throne.

The rest of the chapter in Matthew focused on three choices and the contrast between sensual and suprasensual living. In verses19-21, Jesus drew attention to the first choice which is between two treasures. Jesus confirmed that everyone is a seeker and a chooser. Everyone trusts in something and someone. These activities are from the heart (v.21). A person puts his trust and effort in obtaining the earthly or heavenly. The former characterizes pure sensual living: for self, to self, by self through the senses.

Jesus does not say it is wrong to have earthly treasures, but it is wrong to be devoted to them simply for the pleasure they bring. Yet, we know that that the senses and riches are not the problem (1Timothy 6:6-10, 17). The person is. He is living a purely sensual lifestyle. Treasures of this earth are temporary and perishable. A person can feel, taste, hear, and see the present, earthly world without saving faith and put his trust in things and getting them for self. In contrast, a person experiences the spiritual and heavenly realm through the “eyes” and ears” of saving faith and true hope. Seeking the things of this earth in lieu of God, the Maker of this earth, is idolatry and sinful sensual living (1 John 2:15-17). The senses must be trained by and with biblical truth. The believer will change his interpretative grid.

Jesus focused on a second choice in verse 22-24. The choice is between two conditions and service to two masters. One condition is defective vision (double) and the other is clear vision (singular). Each type of vision flows from the heart (James 1:8; 4:8). Jesus chose the eye to help illustrate the contrast and choice between sensual and suprasensual living. Double vision reflects a divided heart in which case reality is distorted. Darkness is the result. Self and getting for self has distorted reality. Such is the case with pure sensual living. Good eyesight is a reflection of a heart devoted to pleasing God for His sake. Such is suprasensual living.

In verse 24, Jesus introduced the choice between devotion and service to a master. In the context of the verse Jesus uses material things (mammon) as an example of one’s master and God as the other Master. One master you will love, and the other you will hate. Jesus drew the line between serving God and serving self by serving stuff. Stuff is not the problem. The person is. Those who live purely sensually seek stuff for self. The adage is to self, for self, by self. Self is on the throne. But we know that Jesus will have no competitors (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11).

Jesus moved to the third choice recorded in verses 25-34. The choice is between two mindsets and two philosophies of life with resultant lifestyles. The pagan philosophy of life is characterized by sensual living. At its core is self and dependence on self. This lifestyle is often characterized by worry which Jesus taught is unnecessary (v.25-26), an unproductive (v.27-29) manifestation of unbelief (v.30). At its core, worry is idolatry. Worry is an activity and way of thinking and wanting that focuses on being in control by self for self. Self is on center stage.

After Jesus stated the contrast between sensual, pagan living and suprasensual, Christian living, He gave a simple but powerful imperative – don’t worry (v.31-32). Jesus knew the people may be asking how? Hopefully you are as well! Jesus did not leave His people without directions. In verse 33, Jesus gave the put on: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you. Worry is a reflection of a divided heart over the issue o control. The person must not focus on an aspect of life that is not his – tomorrow (v.34). Tomorrow is in the realm of God’s prerogative. In contrast, today is where the believer is to focus on pleasing God. Worry has no place in the Christian life. The person must focus on pleasing God in the moment day by day and with each passing moment.

Choice is determined by priorities of the heart. Jesus placed the kingdom of God and the righteousness that flows from being in Christ over and above the purely temporal, earthly, physical blessings through the senses. Jesus did not teach that the physical and sensual is not important. He Himself was a sensual Being. He saw, tasted, touched, felt, and smelled. Rather, He taught proper priorities and motivation. Allegiance and devotion begins with God and is always to be for God. There is no other way. All else is self-service and idolatry. In seeking God and pleasing Him, the believer finds true satisfaction and joy. He relies on a good God’s control and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to function as a God-pleaser. Jesus’ message summarized in Matthew 6:33 is the same message given by Jesus found in John 4:34.

1. What are the three choices Jesus presented?
2. Each choice is a reflection of what?
3. Man is what type of person as given above?
4. What is your response to man as seeker and chooser? What is your priority?

 Motivation and Living Defined: Sensual vs. Suprasensual: Part VI
Romans 14:17-18

v.17: for the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit;
v.18: because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing God and is approved by men.

In continuing our theme: motivation and living defined, Paul addressed a serious problem within the church at Rome in chapters 14-15 of his letter to the Romans. Paul focused on the contrast between suprasensual and sensual living. He followed Jesus’ teaching by stating the obvious but only to those with ears to hear and eyes to see: the kingdom of God is more than physical eating and drinking (Romans14:17-18).

Paul wrote to the church at Rome from prison. The Church was predominantly Gentile after many Jews had left in the wake of Roman oppression. Paul was enamored with the gospel in light of his salvation (Romans 1:1, 16-17). He knew the gospel message must go out to all in Rome who had had no privilege of an apostolic visit. Paul gave basic truth regarding salvation and life after salvation which included motivation and living defined.

Paul addressed the issue of motivation and living defined through the agency of decision and disunity. In Romans 14:1-15:6, Paul taught that division had no place in Christ’s church and it has no place in the Trinity. In the Roman congregation, there was a difference of opinion had led to division and disunity. On the surface, the difference of opinion concerned food and eating. The issue was motivation and living defined. Within the congregation, there were weaker (don’t eat) and stronger (do eat) brothers. The brotherhood of believers and God’s honor were at stake. Paul focused on the true source of satisfaction for believers which involved a proper view of God’s kingdom and life in that kingdom. It did not hinge on liberty, the use of that liberty, or being right. Paul’s solution was suprasensual living by everyone.

Paul taught that the kingdom of God is perceived suprasensually – through the grid of saving faith. The kingdom of God in contrast to the kingdom of the world is spiritual and consists of righteousness, peace, and joy through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Anyone who serves others out of love for God is living suprasensually. Paul taught a universal truth for believers: the liberty to eat or not to eat did not give a person the right to force his opinion at the expense of others. The gift and privilege of liberty does not demand its use. In fact, the stronger person is to consider the weaker brother before himself (Philippians 2:3-4). That is an expression of suprasensual living. Paul opened chapter 15 with the call to suprasensual living – pleasing God by pleasing others (15:1, 6). This was Jesus’ way and it is to be the Church’s and the individual believer’s manner of life (15:3). Paul was getting to the heart of the matter: motivation and living defined – in the heart of believers.

Paul had previously taught one basis for proper Christian living. A joyful heart is the result of peace with God through Christ’s righteousness (Romans 5:1-5). The information taken in by the senses and interpreted by the mantra for self, by self, and to self had caused divisions in the Church. Paul taught the saints at Rome that kingdom life is characterized by suprasensual living. Paul was focusing on motivation  and living defined. Kingdom life consists of righteousness, peace, and joy which are usually associated with good feelings. Rightly understood, the satisfaction that flows from a joyful heart is far greater in quality and quantity than that produced by physical eating and drinking. Pleasing God has its own rewards.

Paul brought this teaching to the congregation when addressing church life in chapters 14-15 (14:17-18). Paul was not in the habit of ignoring problems especially those involving trouble and division within the congregation. Differences of opinion are real, but they are not reasons for division. Why? Paul’s answer is Jesus’ answer: Christ is the food that all believers are to taste and experience (Psalm 34:8; John 4:31-34; Philippians 3:7-11).

The kingdom of God is spiritual; it is perceived and enjoyed suprasensually. Feeding on Jesus and not physical food that is or is not sacrificed to idols is the fulcrum for kingdom life. Moreover, being right is not the essence of kingdom living. Rather, it is about being righteousness. Kingdom living does not consists of a person’s wants but about God’s desires and the motivation to please Him, because He deserves it. Division in the church flows from sinful, foolish, sensual living (James 4:1-3). The man of wisdom lives suprasensually. The wise man is not to be self-grasping and self-exalting; he is God and other -oriented (Philippians 2:3-4, 5-8; James 3:13-18).

Again Paul is focusing on our theme: motivation and living defined! Concern for the other person was to grow out of God’s concern for the believer who is in Christ. Sinful sensual living focuses on me: my desires, rights, and demands. The believer and Church who live suprasensually look first to the Triune God and then to brother and neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40). Exercise of rights and liberties become much less an issue when suprasensual living characterized a congregation. .

Paul taught this truth in Romans 13 under the law of love (13:8-10).The believer is always a debtor – the continuing debt to love one another (v.8). It is interesting that here Paul does not emphasize the believer’s indebtedness to God (Matthew 22:37-40). God loved the former rebel into His kingdom and family when the person was an unlovely loser engaging in sinful sensual living (Romans 5:6-10). Paul describes motivation and living defined that results in misery in this life and hell in the next. Moreover, everyone is a lover. Paul calls the Roman congregation to suprasensual loving in place of sinful sensual living. Perfect lawkeeping by Christ received by saving faith is the basis for the believer’s salvation and the basis for living after salvation. As one saved by an everlasting, undeserved love, the believer is to love as he has been loved (Romans 5:6-10). He won’t have time to keep score. The score has been settled once and for all in Christ (Romans 8:1).

Paul adds a further warning and exhortation to live suprasensually. Sinful sensual living is characterized keeping score and therefore they judge their brothers (James 1:8-13; 3:11-12). Those who engage in this type of judgment will be judged by God (Romans 14:10, 12). Kingdom life is characterized by suprasensual living and loving.

1. How does Paul describe sensual and suprasensual living in Romans 14:1-15:6?
2. What problem was Paul addressing?
3. What model did Paul use as a motivator? See Romans 14:15-18; 15:3?
4. What is Paul’s prayer in Romans 15:5-6 and what is the contrast between sensual and suprasensual living?