We don’t usually think about how often we lie to ourselves but we do it all the time, even as disciples. As you traverse the challenges of life, and your ego feels threatened or overwhelmed, it spins the facts, as needed, to soothe your mind. When conflict arises your ego sees it coming and protects you from it, frequently inventing what some have called, alternative facts.
A defense mechanism is an unconscious psychological mechanism that reduces anxiety arising from unacceptable or potentially harmful stimuli. In other words, we lie to ourselves.
Our egos protect us with lies expressed as defense mechanisms, and these are particularly prevalent for Christ followers. For example, what are your first thoughts when you read this imperative statement from Jesus? “Go, make disciples of all nations. . .” (Matthew 29:19)
When I was young I used to think, “Jesus isn’t talking to me. He is saying this to his disciples.” I felt uncomfortable when I thought that this could be a directive for me so, before that unpleasant thought could take hold, my ego told me that this verse was nothing that I need think about (denial), rather Jesus was saying it to someone else (projection). Or, some people think, “If everyone were to go out as a missionary there wouldn’t be any Christians left to evangelize people here” (rationalization).
This blog posting isn’t specifically about missions, but in this example, if one looks at the verse above objectively, we can see that the Great Commission was obviously given to everyone, because it was impossible in 30 A.D. for twelve guys to go to all nations (the word “nations,” here, means ethnic groups and there are more than 10,000 of them on six continents.) Also, it isn’t our job to worry about what will happen to those left behind when we go. It is just our job to obey.
The gospel reached North and South America 1462 years after Jesus gave the Great Commission.
When a disciple reads something in the Bible, or hears a personal message from the Holy Spirit, he often becomes afraid because obeying could result in loss of finances, or relationships, and certainly of control. The ego is that voice that we hear that tells us to play it safe, to take no chances, and to not get involved. It is his voice that tells us that the challenging verses of the Bible are no longer relevant or have another, non-challenging, meaning.
Main point: The problem with the ego is that he is a part of our flesh and, because of that, he has no idea about the power that you will receive from God when you obey.
So what: Be aware that the lies of life are not just coming from the outside, from a lost world and from Satan. They are also coming from inside of you.
Good stuff! I get a lot of questions as to what is “sin nature” versus what is “Satan’s work”. Care to comment?
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Here is a verse from Jesus that we did just yesterday in our house church: “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7:21-23.
I also keep this verse from Genesis 6 in mind. When God was going to destroy the earth with a flood He said it was because: “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” That is really bad. See where it says, every, only, all the time.
But, a major purpose of this blog is to point out that the devil is the current custodian of this earth, influencing all of us: We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. (1 John 5:19.
So, it looks like both our sin nature and the external influence of Satan work together to keep God’s purposes all tangled up.
There so many things that “ring true.” Half truths. Maybe we’d like to be true. Maybe it’s true until something bad happens and in a dark moment we discover that we trusted was actually not true.
All us have heard cliches and sayings that Christians use to avoid dealing with reality. We use them to comfort us in a difficult moment or season, but don’t realize how harmful they can be when they don’t line up with the scriptures. The common lies we tell ourselves is my prayers aren’t effective, Christians should be happy all the time, you can do whatever you want with your body, God helps those who help themselves, forgive but don’t forget, God won’t give you more than you can handle, you get what you deserve and “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.”