(Originally posted 5-11-17)
Do you ever wonder as a Christian, as a believer in Christ…is all of this stuff we believe really real? I mean, do you ever step outside of yourself, your background, your upbringing, your context, etc. and examine, “what if everything I hold to isn’t true? What if it’s all just a made up story?”. I have a sneaking suspicion that no matter how long you have been following Christ, no matter how deep your faith is, there are still times you doubt. There are still moments when you question. And I believe that’s ok. I believe God actually encourages us to seek out truth and dive deeper into the mysteries of life. Because in those depths, He is there and He longs to meet us.
What I have attempted to do over the next few weeks is begin a discussion. Yes this is a blog and it’s a chance to share thoughts and ideas. But beyond that I hope it’s a place where ideas can meet and converge; where we can force ourselves to go deeper in Christ. We all want that; whether you are brand new to following Jesus or you are 80 years running in the faith (and praise God if you are!). We all want to grow and mature in Christ.
What I see as the most troublesome barrier to becoming who we are in the Lord is the issue of lies.
Lies abound all around us. Some of them are so well-promoted and advanced that they even appear as true. Many lies have been readily accepted by the greater culture and as Christians, we almost feel strange and weird if we don’t accept them too. But lies are what can bring us down spiritually. And although lies are promulgated by many around us, they ultimately arise through the Enemy, through Satan himself:
When he [the devil] lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
I’ve decided that in order to tackle this discussion more readily, it would be best not to lump the entire discussion into one week of content. Through this 3-week Lies series, I will be unpacking what I believe are the biggest lies we face lies as Christians: lies about ourselves, lies about God, and lies about the church.
Part 1 - Lies About Ourselves
Our own insecurities as Christians and our own fears coupled with previous disappointments and failures can make us start to believe a false narrative about ourselves. In that warped view, thoughts can lead to behaviors (words and actions) that over time, reinforce a false identity.
Although all of this can vary from individual to individual, it’s my belief that Satan’s playbook is really not that complicated. He plays on the same things and brings up the past over and over again; especially when we least expect it. There may be a sin you thought you overcame a long time ago, but in a moment of weakness, the lie gets whispered and again you fall prey. Lies come in all shapes and sizes but here are some of the most common:
Lie #1. Your sin is too big to overcome
This lie itself has beset many a Christian and caused many to stumble and backslide into patterns of old behavior. What makes it so powerful is that we believe some sins really do not go away; they are always with us and we will always struggle. It’s almost like believing a black cloud follows you wherever you go! But if I read my Bible correctly, I don’t think this is the life God intended: So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 If you are a person who writes in your Bible, go to John 8 right now and circle this verse because it’s a promise. It says “you will be free”. What sin is too big for God to grant freedom from? What sin is not covered under Jesus’ blood? The freedom we experience in Christ is instant and on-going at the same time; meaning we are set free at the moment of salvation all the while we are continuing to be set free each day (the theological term is “sanctification”).
I’ve talked a great deal this year about the need to allow our faith to grow into a place where our trust and reliance upon God is greater. Each faith step comes with new opportunities and new chances to see God at work in our lives. But each step also comes with the reality that Satan will try to beat us back down. When he whispers in your ear the lie that your sin is too big, just ignore it and keep moving. Focus on Christ.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
Lie #2. If God really saved you, you wouldn’t still be struggling
In much anguish and pain, some patterns of sinful behavior stay just as real and as difficult to overcome even when a person gets saved. Addictions (porn, alcohol, gambling, drugs, et al) can reset the brain in a manner that even neural pathways are “programmed” to operate a certain way. But just as the previous lie stated the sin is too big, this lie continues the thought and says God’s work of salvation in you must not be complete. Wrong. Dead wrong. The moment you trust your life to the Savior is the moment His Holy Spirit comes to live inside you. That moment is the start of His work but it doesn’t mean those thoughts and ways of thinking change instantly. You must take active steps to change your way of thinking. Daily prayer and Bible study, being accountable to a fellow believer (a mentor relationship), attending church, and being plugged into a small group are all ways to surround yourself with Godly influences. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2 The mind has to be transformed; washed daily in the Word of God and renewed into something new.
This pattern of replacing the lies of the world with the truth of God cannot be forced or rushed. It takes time and in our “fast food-paced” culture, we often don’t have the time, patience, or discipline to allow God’s grace to transform us. It is a daily process. It doesn’t come naturally. Those facts alone should make us recognize that we will spend the rest of our lives being transformed into God’s image. We’re all in the same boat. None of us are perfect but praise God that we serve a loving, perfect and wonderful Savior!
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12
Lie #3. Your identity is in _____ (fill in the blank)
Whether good or bad, we all wear certain hats that we mistakenly use as our identity. Husband, father, wife, mother, son, granddaughter, aunt, uncle are all labels. Teacher, lawyer, doctor, janitor, mechanic are some as well. Alcoholic, spouse-abuser, gambler, adulterer are some too. The lie here is that any of these labels are what define us; they become our identity and our reality. Good or bad, we find who we are because of what we have done or what we do. The focus is on us. What God has been showing me in regards to this last lie is that when I am in Christ, my identity is no longer in anything else but Him. Stick any other label on me that you’d like, but the label that He sees is the blood of Christ covering me and atoning for my many sins. In that, I am a child of God…a child of the most High King!
I spent a whole blog this year talking specifically about identity (True Identity - Conquering Giants, Part 2). In that blog, I outlined that not only are we not who we once were, but we are adopted into the family of God. When we trust Christ, we get new names and new identities. That’s something worth praising God for everyday as we find our security and rest completely in Him!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:7
Original sin, resulting from the very first lie, has tainted our hearts from the beginning. What we are trying to get back to has been made possible through Christ. On this side of eternity, we will always be in a state of sanctification and renewal. That process is on-going and as our faith grows, we also face Satan’s tactics to keep us stalled. We know his strategy and we know the weaknesses we have. We must pray that God keeps us strong. We must stay in accountability to other Christians. And we must daily be in the word and in prayer.
Today the lies about yourself do not have to define you. If you have trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, He is your identity! If that is a step you have not yet taken or if you are struggling to believe the truth about yourself (and reject these lies), I would love to talk further with you. My hope is that by growing and maturing in Christ, we all can see ourselves more clearly in the image that He sees us…His pure and spotless Bride!
I love you guys! Be encouraged and be blessed.