This is the most dangerous category of lies, for they are the lies we tell ourselves on purpose. Deep down we know the truth, but choose to push it aside and believe lies instead. The longer we do this, the more we believe the lie, and even promote it to others as truth, taking them with us on the path to destruction.
Why would we believe lies in the first place? I think there are two basic reasons:
· So we can keep doing what we want to do
· So we can feel good about ourselves
During the years I struggled with food addiction I believed lies: I told myself I could control my bingeing; that eating relieved stress; that others were unaware of my secrecy and deceit; that I needed to binge to feel better; that I wasn’t hurting anyone else.
I wanted to believe these lies because I didn’t want to change. I wanted to continue my sinful behavior without experiencing the consequences. Guilt, however, made that impossible. I would beg God’s forgiveness, vow to stop, but then give in to temptation. I rejected His help to say ‘No,’ because I believed the lie that I needed food more than I needed God. I was miserable for years. It wasn’t until I got miserable enough to admit the lie wasn’t working that things changed. When I admitted only God could satisfy the hunger of my soul I was finally able to let go of the lie of addiction.
Another lie I chose to believe was that I have the power to rescue others. In recovery circles this is called Enabling or Codependency. If you asked me, I would have said only God can rescue someone from a sinful, destructive lifestyle. Yet I continued to turn my life inside out to “help” others who were not willing to work on their own recovery.
Why would I do this? It made me feel important, needed. I mistakenly thought this was Christlike love. However, love doesn’t make others comfortable in their sinful behavior. True love, God’s love, allows them to suffer painful consequences to move them toward healthier choices. Then they can reach out for God’s power to change from the inside out.
If we choose to believe our sins are not sin, we end up making a mess of our lives. Galatians 6:7-8 sums it up: “Don’t be misled (or deceived): No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life” (Message).
Satan wants us to believe lies because they keep us from experiencing God, both in this life and the one to come: “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10).
The second reason we choose to believe lies is because we want to feel good about ourselves, so we pretend that God has somehow changed His mind about what’s right and wrong. The pure stream of Christianity has been muddied by lies. This is a frightening indicator. Paul prophesied this would be a sign of the end: “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
God speaks very plainly in His Word that witchcraft, hatred, substance abuse, sex outside of marriage, homosexual relationships, divorce, slander, greed, using God’s name in vain, and other things are sins. If we continue to practice these things and do not turn to God for forgiveness we will miss out on the relationship with Him we were created to enjoy.
And yet our movies, our music, our homes, and our churches flaunt these behaviors and we no longer call them sin. We “not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32). We excuse our behavior with lies:
· It’s okay, we’re in love; we’re going to get married
· This is the way God made me
· This is power for doing good
· Everybody does it
· I can’t help it
· I just want to have fun
· God wants me to be happy
We want to believe God is okay with sin; that His commands were just for the olden days, but now that we’re modern, we don’t need them anymore. And we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings; we want everyone to feel good about himself. The same lies were going around in Jeremiah’s day and he desperately tried to get people’s attention before it was too late, but they wouldn’t listen. “From the least to the greatest…all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush” (Jer. 6:13-15). They comforted each other with false peace, until everything fell apart. By that time it was too late.
There’s another lie being circulated on Facebook, in emails, movies, and almost everywhere you look. I hear the lie spoken by kind, well meaning people. But it is a lie of false comfort. The lie is that everyone goes to heaven; “nice” people go to heaven. But the truth is those who live without Christ - rejecting His forgiveness, His love, His guidance, His people, and His purpose do not go to heaven to live with Him forever when they die.
It’s true that God is love and doesn’t want anyone to go to hell, but we have to choose heaven in order to go there. That means seeing ourselves as sinners in need for forgiveness. That means believing that Jesus, the Son of God, came to sacrifice himself for us. That means asking Him to forgive our sins. That means living the rest of our lives loving and trusting Him, and telling others about Him. If that hasn’t happened, heaven is not their destination. Even free gifts have to be opened to be used.
In Ezekiel’s day, a watchman stood guard on the city wall in case an enemy came to attack. When they did, he was supposed to sound the alarm. God told Ezekiel to do that for his people. “He sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood’” (Ezek. 33:3-6, emphasis mine).
Every person who calls himself a Christian is a watchman. Our enemy is infiltrating our land not with a bold attack, but with lies. If I, as a watchman see them coming and say nothing I will be held accountable for their demise. And if I believe the lies I will go down as well. The only way we can be delivered from lies is by replacing them with God’s truth. The only place to find the truth is in the Bible. “Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32, emphasis mine).