By Dave Bullock from Derby, UK (Bible Original) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
I have been struck over and over this week with how important it is for us to understand and believe God’s view of us and our lives. What we believe about this one thing has the power to alter the course of our lives. It really does. It will determine how we handle life’s hard, how we handle adversity, how we handle failures, how we handle blessing and how we handle others.
In the Garden of Eden, the enemy went after Eve’s view of God first. In Genesis 2 it says, 16 But the Lord God warned him, “You May FREELY EAT the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
Instead of “Look at all that He has freely provided and given you,” he twisted it to “Look at how He is holding out on you.” In Genesis 3:1 it says, One day he asked the woman, “Did God REALLY say you must not eat the fruit from ANY of the trees in the garden?” Do you see the tone there? Did He really say you couldn’t eat from ANY of the trees?
The enemy twisted Eve’s view of God’s heart. God was no longer Someone Who was safe and could be trusted, but a God to hold at arm’s length and doubt His intentions. “You’re missing out on something, Eve. God is holding out on you because He’s not good. You have to look out for yourself because you may think He’s looking out for you, but He’s not. His motives are selfish. He doesn’t really love you. If He really loved you, you could eat from ALL of the trees. Did He REALLY say that?” – and so the lies go today.
“If God is so good, then why…..?” “God doesn’t care about my situation,” “I have to figure out my own life because God certainly isn’t any help,” “God could never forgive….”, “God wasn’t there when….”, “God didn’t prevent….”, “God never answers my prayer”, and the lies go on and on and on. We let our reality dictate our ‘truth’ rather than let truth dictate our reality.
The enemy knows that if he can lie to us about God, then we will never come near to Him. Never. Adam and Eve believed the lie, sinned and then hid. In shame, they covered themselves in fig leaves. This pattern is the same thing that happens with us. We believe a lie, act accordingly and then hide often covering ourselves with something that was never meant to cover us.
We can tell when we believe a lie by the way we live. We will always live out of what we REALLY believe to be true – not out of what we SAY we believe to be true. When we see a troubling heart attitude or tendency to act or react in a certain way, there is a big chance there is a lie we have believed and are living out of. When we face hard situations and we find ourselves at odds with God, there is a lie at the core. Sometimes the hard situations that we go through are the very things that God uses to reveal and get rid of a lie that we have believedd.
Maybe it’s the lie that God has rejected us or a God Who has accepted us based on our own works and because of believing this lie, we tend to gossip. Instead of being loving and full of grace, we stand in criticism of others and set ourselves up as judge. Most of us would never say it, but a critical heart often shows a heart that is weighted down by perfectionism. If we really can somehow earn grace, then we have a lot resting on our perfection and because we can’t be perfect, it helps us to point out where others fall short. If we are righteous on our own merit (which we can’t do by the way) we are always one step away from falling short (which we have anyway). We then then hide in self-righteousness or self-condemntation. We can hide from intimacy by wearing the leaves of outward righteousness.
Maybe it’s the lie that God is far off. If we believe He is far off, we will live like He is far off. Our relationship with Him may be reduced to church going and some church activities, but as far as a God we interact with on a daily basis – that’s not going to happen. Or maybe we just don’t think about Him at all. If He is far off, why would we bother to come near? This leads to us living according to our own wisdom and our own desires – not His. It’s a pretty boring life really and not anything close to what He intended when He talks about the abundant life that He paid for. In John 10:10 it says that He came that we could have and enjoy life and have it to the full. We can not have an abundant life if at our very core if we believe that God is far off. We can hide from intimacy by remaining distant and detached.
Maybe it’s a lie that God doesn’t really love us. Don’t just bypass this one. We hear that He loves us so much I don’t think that very many people would disagree with this one, but this is a big one that people struggle with. When we don’t really believe this truth, we will be deeply influenced by how others see us. We will always be trying to earn, keep or obtain His love – or maybe we will just give up and reduce it to a Sunday school song or a nice bumper sticker. We will live looking to find fulfillment in what we do and our accomplishments. When He is the final authority on our value, we won’t be easily influenced because HE is the One we find our worth in. We can hide from intimacy by covering who we really are or by ignoring the deeper things of our heart. We can also hide from intimacy with busyness.
Maybe it’s the lie that God has allowed hard things in our lives to ‘teach us a lesson.’ While it is true that our actions do have consequences, God’s intention is always restoration and redemption. He is always trying to move us from a place of brokenness and bondage to a place of freedom. In Deuteronomy, when the Israelites would abandon God, He would allow them to be conquered – not because He hated them but because He loved them. After a time of hardship, Deuteronomy 4:29 says, “But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him…” God knows our lives only work in relationship with Him. That’s how we were intended to live. As Dallas Willard says (paraphrased), “Without Him, we are flying upside down and don’t even know it.” His purpose towards us is always for us to go toward Him.
Maybe the lie you believe about God isn’t listed here, but you know you believe one because it causes you to keep God at arms length, run the other way or refuse to come near. Maybe you’re hiding in relationships, busyness, eating or other addictions or just can’t seem to get free. Maybe you don’t even know the lie or lies you believe because you don’t really ‘go there’ and would rather not think about it. You just know that you aren’t really walking in freedom. Can I encourage you as a fellow sojourner? You don’t have to live that way. Jesus bought your freedom on that Cross. The biggest lie we can ever believe that we can never be free. That is NOT what HE has said. He said in John 8:31-32 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This means that if we really BELIEVE what He says and NOT what we FEEL to be true, we will find freedom. He longs to free us and continue to free us from the lies we believe. I imagine this will be a lifelong process. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us MORE AND MORE LIKE HIM as we are changed into his glorious image.
One of my favorite things about God is that He doesn’t ignore our sin. I heard once that when God looks at us, He doesn’t see our sin. I really don’t think that is true at all. I think He sees us bound by it and in His mercy and grace He forgives us and knows what to do about it. I John 1:9 says 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. It doesn’s say He is blind to it! It’s better than that! He forgives it and cleanses us. He is not baffled about how to free us. We NEED Him to see our sin. We NEED Him to free us and to help us to see HIS truth. We NEED Him. He knows exactly what to do to get us to walk in freedom, but we MUST quit believing the lies that keep us bound. The lies cause us to not see truth clearly. We need to interpret our lives based on His truth and promises rather than the enemy’s lies.
The truth is that NOTHING we can do can earn His grace. He already wants to give it to us when we ask. Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
When we do fall short, He is understanding of our weakness and knows how to help us not to walk that way anymore. Hebrews 4:14-16 14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
He is a God Who is near. There are WAY too many verses to list here, but here is one of my favorites. Psalm 145:18 The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.
He is a God Who desires each one to repent so that their life will be restored and they can live how He created them to live. 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
When we realize that we are living out a lie rather than the truth, it is important for us to ask Him to show us the lie that we have believed and ask Him to trade it for His truth. Let’s look at our lives and see where we’re hiding and see what kinds of fig leaves we’re wearing. Let’s ask Him to show us His heart for us and show us where we have misconceptions about Him. Let’s ask Him to do what only He can do in us and let’s allow Him to change our hearts.
Father, Thank You that You know my heart. Please forgive me for believing lies rather than the truth. Show me those places where I have chosen lies and am living out of those. Please free my heart and help me to see clearly. I want to live according to what You say about me and my life and not according to what I think, what the world says, what the enemy says or what others around me say. Thank You that You are a God who is close when I call and that You are patient towards me. Have your way in my life. Amen.