Staying aligned with God, being in step with His will, being in unity with the Spirit—what do these terms mean exactly? How do we get aligned with God and if we fall out of alignment with Him, how can we fix it? These are the questions we’ll answer in this post.
Alignment is a very simple concept that has to do with your soul’s attitude towards God. At any moment in time, you either sincerely care about pleasing Him or you do not. If you do, then you are in alignment with Him. Alignment is not about behavior, nor is it undone by sin. You can be aligned with God in your soul and still be sinning with your body. In these cases, you will not enjoy sin—your flesh might enjoy it, but inside your soul will be groaning in repulsion.
THE TEST FOR ALIGNMENT
How can you tell whether you’re aligned with God or not? It’s actually quite simple. Imagine yourself doing an activity you really enjoy. Now imagine the Holy Spirit suddenly asking you to stop doing it. How would you respond? Would you blow Him off, or would you be very distressed to learn He is unhappy with the way things are going? If you’d be very distressed, then you are aligned with God in your soul. Strong interest in God’s feelings is a symptom of alignment, as is a willingness to put His preferences above your own.
Suppose God were to tell you right now that there is some sin in your life that He is unhappy about. What is your first reaction? If you’re aligned with God in your soul, this example will upset you. If you’re not aligned, you’d scoff.
When you really care about God in your soul, the thought of pleasing Him is very important to you. The thought of Him being dissatisfied with you is very upsetting. You take His convictions seriously.
When you’re not aligned with God, you don’t care what He thinks. His convictions are like an annoying background noise that you work hard to tune out. His feelings and preferences mean nothing to you. Instead, you only care about yourself and what you want.
HOW DO WE BECOME UNALIGNED?
Sinning in our flesh is not enough to fall out of alignment with God. We have to be rebelling against Him on a soul level. We fall out of alignment when we turn away from God inside with an attitude of, “I don’t care what You want, I’m doing things my way.” This is spiritual rebellion. Rebellion displeases God. When He sees that we are rebelling against Him, He will call our attention to this fact in a very clear way. This is called conviction. God’s convictions are very clear and specific. He helps us understand what we’re doing that offends Him and He urges us to correct our rebellious attitudes.
Now as long as your soul is groaning over sin and you feel like you’re doing what you don’t want to do, your soul is still on God’s side, regardless of what’s going on with your flesh. Those who teach that all sinful behavior is evidence of a rebellious soul attitude are simply wrong. Your soul’s attitude towards God is not accurately reflected by your behavior, which is why we can’t tell what is really going on in someone’s soul just by observing his actions. Far too often we assume that people are delighting in sin when in reality part of them is repulsed by their own behavior.
As a Christian, you only fall out of alignment with God when you embrace rebellion on a soul level. As long as you hate the idea of disobeying God, your soul is still aligned with Him, regardless of how out of control your flesh is.
Only those who are in a state of rebellion need to repent. Those who are aligned with God in their souls have nothing to repent about because repentance is a soul issue. It’s easy to be confused about repentance. Some say repentance can’t be sincere unless it is accompanied by a drastic change in behavior. However, this rule is much too broad to apply to all situations. Remember that repentance is only for rebels, and rebels are defying God on a soul level. When we repent, we return to desiring His will for our lives and we once again decide that what He wants is more important than what we want.
In some cases, souls repent but they are unable to stop doing the sin that they were engaged in before they repented. Addicts often find themselves in this predicament. Hitting rock bottom under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a soul might sincerely repent and step back into alignment with God, however He does not choose to cure their physiological addiction. Their flesh continues to crave whatever it was they were on, and it’s not long before they stumble into it again. The difference is that this time they feel awful about failing because they want to please God and they that believe their addiction is against His will. Such souls are truly aligned with God even though many would say their repentance wasn’t sincere since they fell back into their old behavior patterns. Because people can’t see into each other’s hearts, they do a terrible job of accurately judging a soul’s standing with God. This is why you mustn’t rely on people to diagnose your position with God—you must rely on Him alone to tell you when there is a problem between the two of you.
HOW QUICKLY CAN WE REALIGN WITH GOD?
God always makes instant realignment an option. Because repentance is simply a matter of changing your soul’s attitude towards God, the very moment you choose to embrace God’s will for your life again, you are back in alignment with Him. Don’t miss this point: no external behavior is required to complete the process of realignment. Like salvation, this is an instantaneous event which happens the moment your soul turns back to God.
Now suppose you purposely did something wrong at work and God convicts you about it when you get home. He says you need to confess what you did to your boss the next day. Maybe you try to pretend you don’t hear Him at first. This is rebellion. Then you decide you’re being foolish and you repent. You are now back in alignment with God, even though you still haven’t done what He wants you to do to make things right. By now it’s too late to call your boss, so you have to wait until the next day. Satan will harass you all night about this—trying to make you feel terrible for rebelling against God and insisting that God is still mad at you. This is condemnation. The moment you repented, God was satisfied. He is not holding a grudge until you talk to your boss. God doesn’t play such games. Behavior does not affect repentance or alignment—both of these are soul issues.
Because God wants you to be in constant alignment with Him, He makes it very simple to get instantly realigned with Him anytime you stray into rebellion. Even if you’ve made a major mess in life and God has a long list of steps He wants you to take to make things right again, He will never block you from getting back in His good graces. As soon as you sincerely desire to please God again, you are back in step with the Spirit. You might be miles away from the circumstances He wants you to be in, but the point is that you are now walking in step with Him and He will guide you back onto the best path for your life.
OBEDIENCE & ALIGNMENT
Suppose God asks you to do something difficult. The moment you decide to obey Him in your soul, He is pleased, even though you haven’t done the thing yet. In some cases, He might even change His mind and tell you that you don’t have to do the thing after all. In these cases, you still get full credit from Him for obeying Him because He judges you by your soul.
When we are aligned with God, we will want to obey Him, even when He asks us to do something difficult. If His request sounds overwhelming, our flesh might panic and we might find ourselves paralyzed and unable to move forward. But if our souls sincerely desire to please God even though we are hiding like cowards in a corner, then God will be pleased. Alignment is what He cares most about. The ability to follow through with obedient behavior is something we can’t come up with unless He empowers us. There are many reasons why God will intentionally withhold the resources we need to obey Him in our flesh, but we always have the option of choosing obedience in our souls. In the end, we are only judged by our souls, because that is all we can really control. God takes all the glory for our behavioral follow through, because we can do nothing apart from His empowerment.
It is very easy to stay in alignment with God because He makes it easy. Alignment has nothing to do with perfect behavior, it is about our soul’s attitude towards God. Whenever we step out of alignment with God by embracing rebellion on a core level, we can instantly become realigned with Him by correcting our soul attitude.
Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t: Finding Peace in the Midst of Moral Dilemmas
Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy
Soul Attitudes That Please God: What They Are & How We Develop Them
Present Convictions vs. Past Commands
Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests
Understanding Conviction: Invitations to Engage