Things That Keep Us from Living a Fervent Life Part 5: Lies
Updated: Feb 8, 2022
If you know me personally, then you know I’m extremely passionate about exposing lies and diffusing them with God's truth. And—if you know me personally—then you know I can react strongly if I suspect a brother or a sister is walking down a path riddled with lies. Sometimes my reaction is good. Sometimes it's not (and please forgive me if this is the case). Sometimes its' misplaced. But whether it's good, bad, or misplaced, I assure you it comes from genuine concern.
Because you see, years ago God revealed to my heart the deadly effect of believing lies. And I use the word deadly quite literally. Because of my dads' suicide I will never be able to unsee the gravity of lies. And because Satan tried for years to take my own life the same way, I will never stop being passionate about exposing lies (though Lord willing I will continue to grow in grace and wisdom in how I handle and communicate this passion).
The first part of John 10:10 says "The thief [Satan] comes only to steal, and kill and destroy..." (NIV). I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the purpose of the enemy's lies is always the death of something.
The death of relationships.
The death of community.
The death of joy.
The death of peace.
The death of fervent faith.
The death of freedom.
The death of victory.
The death of righteousness.
The death of progress.
The death of growth.
The death of justice.
The death of confidence.
The death of courage.
The death of hope.
· And finally, the death of our own bodies. And anyone who's ever struggled with depression or suicide knows this is accurate.
My dad's continual belief of lies over time—and his choice to neglect God’s love and truth—led to his physical death. So when I look at the issue of lies verses truth I see the highest stakes one can ever risk. I see life… and stone cold death.
I’m passionate about exposing lies because I’ve seen the gravity of the destruction they can cause. But I’m also passionate about speaking and believing Gods truth, because Gods' truth saved me from the lies that almost took my own life years ago. I believe the darkness is real. But I also know that hope is just as real. "The light [Christ] shines in the darkness, and darkness can never extinguish it." (John 1:5 NLT).
If we’ve accepted God’s gift of salvation and placed our trust in Jesus, then we have been reconciled to God. Our sins have been washed away. The Holy Spirit has filled us with His power. We have victory. We have the ability to overcome. But lies act like a hallucinogenic drug that keep us from seeing this reality.
When we allow a lie to settle into our hearts, our perception becomes skewed. We start to believe we’re still under God’s condemnation. We start to believe that our identity is not rooted in Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross. We start to believe we are defeated. We start to believe we are powerless. We start to believe we are only victims. We start to doubt God’s love. We get scared. We become paralyzed.
This is exactly what the enemy wants. If Satan can get us to believe a lie then he doesn’t even have to get his hands dirty. What better way to destroy the enemy than to get them to destroy themselves?
I remember one night I was submersed in a thick, black cloud of depression, I was huddled on the floor in the dark. I was paralyzed and terrified to move because I was afraid if I did I would grab the gun out of my desk drawer and do exactly what my father did. The enemy was in the room with me; whispering lies. “You’re your father’s daughter…” he said, “You’re going to kill yourself exactly like he did. You’re going to follow in his footsteps.”
But then another voice spoke. It was calm. It had authority. And it spoke with tenderness. That voice was God. And He said, “The enemy cannot make you do anything. He is completely powerless. You have been ransomed from the kingdom of darkness by the blood of my Son, and you are sealed with my Holy Spirit. He has no power over you. All he has are lies. He cannot make you move an inch. He cannot make you do what your dad did. Because of my Son you can choose. You can choose Me. You can choose life.”
That day I took my gun out of my desk drawer. I brought it downstairs. I gave it to my mom. And I accepted her advice to start seeing a counselor. And God used that decision to save my life.
That day was the catalyst of a long journey of healing. All the things I’ve mentioned in this current Fervent Life series were born out of that journey.
I came face to face with unhealed wounds and my eyes were opened to the destruction they could cause. I came face to face with unresolved sin, and that the answer was not to bury myself in the law but to open my heart to the beautiful fury of God’s indescribable grace. I had to wrestle with community and what that meant. I had to let God teach my heart how to live in community; how to love the body of Christ and let them love me—without becoming co-dependent on that love or placing them above Christ in my heart.
And throughout every step there was a common thread. Victory in each of those areas required one thing: Believing God’s truth over lies. Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, my brokenness began with believing a lie. Eventually my flesh became entangled in a host of lies. They spread through my heart, mind, and soul like a deadly disease. And my victory required the extraction of those lies by the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of the Word of God given to me through the blood of Jesus Christ.
I mentioned John 10:10 earlier in this post. Now I'd like to focus the last part of that verse. After exposing the intentions of the enemy, Jesus reveals HIS intentions. He says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (ESV).
Only as I began to walk with the Holy Spirit and learn how to choose truth over lies did I finally come to understand what Jesus meant.
God’s truth is the antidote to lies. But we have to go beyond simply numbing our symptoms. We have to uproot them at the source. We have to choose to go all the way.
Ephesians 6:17 says, “… and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (NLT). Finding victory through God’s Word is less like chanting a magical spell in a time of crisis and more like learning how to wield a sword. Although speaking truth in a moment of urgency can absolutely bring victory and relief, it’s only by investing in a life style of wielding God’s truth that we experience consistent, lasting victory.
Imagine a suit of medieval armor. Formed out of materials like solid iron and steel it is extremely heavy. And the weight of the sword adds to the strain. It took rigorous training and the building up of muscles over time to become fit enough to wear a suit of armor and still remain functional. It took more training to be able to add the weight and movement of the sword. And it took even MORE training to learn how to use it with skill and accuracy.
This in-between stage—this training period—is the part we all hate the most. When we’re holding onto hope but we can’t see the happy ending yet. When we have to act in faith and choose to believe our Savior even though our circumstances seem to scream the opposite of what He’s promised us.
But there is a reason for this phase. It is perhaps the most important season because God is using it to not only deepen our relationship with Him, but to strengthen us into warriors capable of the calling He’s given us. In this season our Heavenly Father helps us learn what His voice sounds like, even when we can’t see His face. He shows us how to depend on Him and walk in HIS strength. And in the end, He shows Himself to be the God of the impossible.
So how do we wield the sword of the Spirit? How do we go about uprooting the lies and cultivating a lifestyle of victory?
Four things come to mind when I think about rooting out the lies.
1. Ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes. Sometimes—especially in the early stages—the Holy Spirit opened my eyes before I even thought to ask. I would get lost in a cycle of lies. I felt like I was suffocating. I could barely function. But then one day the Holy Spirit alerted me to the schemes of the enemy; and I heard His voice say with concern and urgency: “He’s trying to kill you…”
Things change when you realize it’s not about you and your emotions anymore. It’s not about you assessing the facts and coming to an informed decision. Things change when you realize that the things your feelings are based on aren’t real. And everything changes when you realize someone is trying to kill you…
My survival instincts kicked in. Holy Indignation rose up. It felt like ice cold water being thrown on the face of a drunk person. The icy realization shocked me to my senses. I saw the lies for what they were. I saw the motives behind them, and I chose the truth.
Occasionally the Holy Spirit will alert me without any action on my part. But more and more as I mature in the faith He waits until I ask Him. When I hear the first few sinister whispers, when the heavy emotions first begin to descend on my heart, I cry out to the Holy Spirit and I ask Him to open my eyes. To help me see the lies for what they really are. And to reveal the truth.
Matthew 13:12 says, “To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge” (NLT). I believe God pursues each and every one of us. I have witnessed the grace upon grace of God’s pursuit in both my life and the lives of so many who are dear to me. But our relationship with God will never stop being just that: a relationship.
And you cannot have a relationship without two active participants. When God waits for us to cry out for wisdom He is strengthening our faith muscles. He is growing us into the fierce, confident children of God He longs for us to be. We are His dearly beloved children, and He is the perfect parent. And as the perfect parent, He wants us to grow. He wants us to become strong in Him so that we may enjoy all that He has for us, instead of wasting our lives in fear and hiding.
This is a hard thing to grapple with. And at the end of the day all I can say is this: for a long time I couldn’t understand why God didn’t just magically change me or skip the growing process and make me spiritually mature in an instant.
For a season that question filled me with discouragement and doubt. But now I look back on that time and I see it as a great gift. I look at the things I’ve been able to do and the places I’ve been able to go since then, and I am filled with joy. Though I may never understand every aspect of that growing season or why God took His time, I can honestly say I am so grateful for it, and He has brought me to a place of indescribable abundance and joy because of it.
2. Get outside help. The Holy Spirit spoke first. And it wasn’t long before He said, “Go and receive help from others.” God created the community of believers for a reason. Through the body of Christ He chooses to use our loving support for each other not only to enrich and encourage our own lives, but also to stand as a witness to the world of His love, grace, and tender care.
God emphasizes the importance of getting counsel from other believers over and over again in the Scriptures. Proverbs 11:14, one of my personal favorites, says “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (ESV).
Talking to someone outside of my situation—someone who was not overwhelmed by the same emotions as I or lost in the same chaos—helped my life in so many ways.
When a person is outside of our situation they're able to see the lies more clearly, and point us to the truth.
I am so grateful for the counselor I met with for almost two years. And I am so grateful for the counsel of many in my home church who spoke life and truth to my heart in the midst of the battle.
It can be terrifying. It can be awkward. It can be a huge leap of faith. But God wants us to seek help. And He uses the loving support of Gospel-rooted believers to bring healing to our hearts and show us His love and truth in beautiful ways.
3. Acknowledge that it often takes time. The number one killer of resolve, in my opinion, is failed expectations. I expect to lose a certain amount of weight by a certain time but I don’t, so my resolve to work out and eat healthy diminishes. I expect a person to change now but they don’t so I lose the motivation to pray for them. And perhaps most discouraging of all: I expect to heal and be free from a certain struggle by now but I’m not so I want to give up.
Like building the muscles required to carry armor and wield a sword. Like bandaging a bleeding wound and giving it time to heal. Spiritual growth requires time. But if we go into it knowing that (and if we keeping reminding ourselves of it) we are less likely to give up in the process.
We’re more likely to give ourselves grace to heal. We’re more likely to rest in God’s arms and acknowledge that He is in control, and He’s working even if we can’t see it. We are more likely to keep going. And we are more likely to find the victory we crave in the end.
4. Confront the lies with God’s truth and choose to act on them. I mentioned earlier that God’s truth is the antidote for lies. But an antidote does a patient no good unless they use it. It cannot stop the poison from spreading unless it is injected into the patient’s own body; unless it's administered directly into their own veins. And sometimes patients have to undergo multiple treatments before a disease dissolves completely.
The same is true with God’s Word. We can stare at it all we want but it will not help us unless we choose to believe it. It will never have it’s full effect on our lives unless we surrender to it. And our lives will never ever change unless we choose to ACT on it—despite the emotions and doubts that seem to be overwhelming us.
But over time as we take step after timid step, our legs become stronger. Our sense of balance becomes more stable. We grow faster. We grow confident. We walk in freedom.
JESUS WALKS WITH US
In every aspect of the Christian life we find one person who has walked the path before us, and His name is Jesus. He did this first and foremost at the cross when He allowed the weight of the sins of the world—in all their putrid sorrow—to be placed on His own body, on His own conscience, to obtain our salvation.
We’re good at remembering the cross. But I think we can easily forget the thirty-three years Jesus spent walking on this earth alongside us, and the experiences He endured for our sake. Hebrews 4:15 assures us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (NIV).
I think of the temptation of Jesus in Luke chapter four. After fasting in the wilderness for forty days, as His physical state was deteriorating and He was growing weak and fatigued, Satan himself came to harass Him with lies. As he does with us (see Psalm 18) Satan took advantage of Jesus’ weakened state, and he used even God’s own Word to try and mess with Jesus’ mind.
Not only can we be comforted on our journey because we have a Savior who knows the pain, frustration, and fatigue of our spiritual warfare, but we also find an example to follow as we study Jesus’ response.
For every lie, every twisted, misused Scripture Satan threw at Jesus, Jesus responded with God’s truth. He called to mind the character of God and the context of His Word. He relied on the authority of the Word of God to refute the lies.
We are not alone in this fight. We have a Savior who has gone before us. We have a Savior who has tasted every type of frustration and fatigue. He tasted the bitter effects of sin—both our sins and the effects of sin against us—on the cross, and He rose again to bring us victory.
When you feel lost on the battle field of life remember: your Savior stands with you. And He understands every aching emotion in your heart. And He grieves with you. And then He fights with you. And He gives you His strength to overcome.
I love the tender words our Savior speaks in John 16:33. He says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (NLT).
Take heart Beloved. Satan is a defeated foe. His end is near. And the victory is already ours because of Christ. We don't have to be afraid.