One bright summer day about 10 years ago I decided to receive a pre-op test to determine whether LASIK eye surgery was right for me. Although I ended up not forking out the $2,000 to go ahead with the surgery to cure my rather severe near-sightedness, I will never forget the horrendous after-effects of the test. I’m sure a LASIK exam is worth the final outcome but…
When I first arrived, they dilated my eyes in order to perform various measurements, including a metal object placed against my cornea to determine the thickness of the corneal tissue. However, my eyes quickly adjusted back to normal before they had time to finish their tests. What did that mean? They dilated my eyes a second time…. and because my eyes seemed to again quickly recover from dilation… they put a third dose of drops into my eyes.
“Ah…we will use a stronger prescription to dilate your eyes this third time.” remarked the doctor, with a professorial tone.
By the time the testing was done I felt like my eyes were spun in 20 circles and spliced into some sort of quad-vision. I stumbled out of the test area and over to the front desk where a 4-headed receptionist happily smiled and handed me goofy paper sunglasses to wear over my glasses.
“Drive slowly and cautiously,” she said with a grin.
“Is this some sort of cruel joke?” I wondered, as I groped my way over to my pick-up truck, narrowly missing the curb. To make matters worse, the doctor’s office was 45 minutes away from home. This was no short “hop, skip, and a jump,” as my grandpa used to say.
My drive back home was the scariest ride I’ve ever experienced. Bar none. It was nuts. The giant paper sunglasses left me with no peripheral vision whatsoever and the vision I did have was still double and blurry. If I turned slightly to the right or left they would pop out of alignment with my regular glasses and I would have no vision at all. In my dilated delirium I could not accurately see the road. Cars seemed closer and farther than they actually were. Everything was wildly distorted… my vision was not reality.
Blurring the Lies
Satan, our real enemy, uses a similar tactic in his attempt to deceive, discourage, and destroy followers of Jesus Christ. The devil drips the dilating drops of diluted teaching, dainty temptations, and discouraging doubts into our vision so that we buy into his lies. This scheming “serpent of old” utilizes lies to distort our view of the truth. He subtly twists what is true to sound like a lie and craftily forms his lies to sound like truth. Pricking at our pride and pain, he entices us to turn our eyes away from the truth that unlocks chains and opens cell doors.
Satan blurs the lies to appear as truth.
Jesus said, “He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44b). As my friend, Pastor Eric Russ, wrote, “Deception is Satan’s favorite tool. He tries to misrepresent who God is by blurring God’s truth and will for us (Gen. 3:1-5; 2 Cor. 11:3, 14; Matt. 4:5ff).” (in Discipleship Defined, pg. 40)
Satan wants to get in your head and convince you that his lies are true. But don’t expect his schemes to be obvious. He is cunning and smart like a snake. He bites into us when we’re exposed to pain, hurt, and abuse. He splits hairs to craft wrong to look almost right. Our enemy camouflages destructive ideas with the appearance of life and light (2 Cor. 11:14b).
The legendary preacher, Charles Spurgeon, echoes this point from the past, “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.”
So how do we discern between truth and lie? How can you and I stand our ground “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12)”?
God’s answer is simple, strong, and secure: We guard against Satan’s lies with God’s truth. We wrap the truth around ourselves like battle gear (Eph. 6:14). We wield the Word in the face of lies (Eph. 6:17). We smash down the destructive ideas of the devil with the dead-blow hammer of faith rooted in the risen Christ.
These thoughts are not at all original to me. Listen to what God spoke through the apostle Paul, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Cor. 10:3-5)
So let’s smash the lies with God’s truth. Right now.
Lies we sometimes believe…
“We’re not really in a spiritual war or facing assaults from Satan or demons.”
- TRUTH: We are in a real war. Our real, ultimate fight is not against persons, people groups, or political parties, but against Satan, sin, and his system.
- “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8; see also Eph. 6:11-13; 2 Cor. 10:3-6)
“My sense of worth and value is in what I do, what I have, and what I look like.”
- TRUTH: For those in Christ, our worth and value is in what God calls us: His children – adopted inheritors with all the saints in light.
- “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Eph. 1:5-6; see also Eph. 1:13-23; Col. 1:12)
“My past will always define me.”
- TRUTH: Your past may explain the way you are, but it need not define what you will become.
- “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17; see also Rom. 12:2)
“If I’m really honest and authentic with my friends, I will be rejected…alone.”
- TRUTH: All who are in Jesus Christ are part of God’s family. He’s holding us together and building us together into a holy temple, with Jesus Christ being the Cornerstone. No matter who rejects you, God accepts you in His Son.
- “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:19-22; see also Gal. 6:2)
“My education and intellect is the measure of my value to my society and family.”
- TRUTH: You’re intrinsic value is in how God defines you, not in how others describe you.
- “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7) “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…” (1 Peter 2:9)
“What other people have but I lack would make me happier or more content in my soul.”
- TRUTH: God grants contentment to His people when their greatest treasure is in Him, not in what they possess on earth.
- “…I have learned to be content in whatsoever circumstances I am in…” (Philippians 4:11-12). “Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; for for your body, as to what you will put on. . . . Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matt. 6:25-34; Luke 12:22)
“An occasional thought of lust for someone other than my spouse will do no harm to my marriage.”
- TRUTH: “…everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her as already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:27-28)
“Spending multiple hours per day viewing social media, TV, or movies yet only 5 minutes per day reading the Bible won’t inhibit my spiritual growth.”
- TRUTH: We will harvest the crop we plant and nurture. What kind of harvest will you reap?
- “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lost heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (Gal. 6:7-9; see also Gal. 5:19-24)
Internalizing Bible verses is impossible for me and not really worth the effort.
- TRUTH: God’s Word is our central weapon against Satan’s attacks. How did Jesus confront the lies of Satan? With the Truth of God’s Word (Luke 4:1-13; Matt. 4) Know the Word and be ready with the Word.
- “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:13; see also 1 Pet. 1:14; John 17:17)
“Small sin decisions won’t have serious consequences.”
- God’s TRUTH: Every decision we make is aligned with the way of sin or the will of the Spirit. Apart from the unmerited kindness of God, we will reap the consequences accordingly.
- “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Gal. 5:16-17; cf. “Be sure your sin will find you out…” (Num. 32:23b)
What lie are you believing… today?
Are your actions or emotions built around a lie you sometimes believe? How would you complete this sentence?
“___________________________ will make me happy or at peace when I’m stressed, depressed, or angry.”
Stand strong in the strength that God provides. Guard against Satan’s lies with the weapons God provides.
Find hope again in the secure and timeless words of Jesus the Christ:
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31b-32)
This article was adapted from my message entitled, “Battle Ready: Faith, Salvation, and the Word” (Eph. 6:16-17) delivered at North Park Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI on Oct. 18th 2015, as a part of the series “WAR: Fighting the Right Fight… God’s Way.” You can listen to the entire message by clicking the play button below or by subscribing to our iTunes podcast.