We’ve been reading Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss in our Sunday night ladies’ group at church, which is on break until January. I have been wanting to blog about it for a while now, but I haven’t gotten it done until now. I must say, I find it challenging and oh, so good. I really, really, really wish every woman I know, or don’t know, could read this with an open heart and glean from the wisdom shared by honestly examining her own patterns of thinking and believing.
In our last section we dealt heavily with different lies surrounding the seriousness of sin – especially the idea that we are very prone to think our sin is not really all that bad. We also looked a good deal at the lies behind the thinking that we can’t help the way we are. Here’s a quote that sent an arrow into my own heart: “We see things about ourselves we wish were different or that we know are not pleasing to the Lord. But rather than accept personal responsibility for our own choices, attitudes, and behavior, we have 101 reasons for why we are the way we are…” and then she lists examples of the kinds of reasons we often give to excuse away our bad choices, attitudes and behavior. Later, Nancy says, “This lie – “I can’t help the way I am” – makes us into helpless victims of other people and outside circumstances……..........The truth is that we do have a choice. We are responsible for our own choices. We can be changed by the power of God’s Spirit. Once we know and embrace the Truth, we can break free from the chains of our past, our circumstances, and even deeply ingrained habit patterns.”
We also dealt with a related lie, “I am not fully responsible for my actions and reactions.” In this lie, we tend to blame circumstances or the actions of others for the reason we are in a predicament rather than owning up to our own part in the problem because of actions and choices we’ve made. In that section, Nancy quotes another author and this quote, again, struck me: “Sin is the best news there is, the best news there could be in our predicament. Because with sin there is a way out. There’s the possibility of repentance. You can’t repent of confusion or psychological flaws inflicted by your parents - you’re stuck with them. But you can repent of sin. Sin and repentance are the only grounds for hope and joy.” Like I said, challenging, convicting and freeing.
I’ve been thinking about what we’re reading a great deal, obviously. For one thing, the world’s way of counseling and analyzing our problems inevitably is feeding into the lies we believe. When counseling isn’t based on a biblical understanding of the human predicament, well-meaning people feed these lies because what we are left with is a kind of psychoanalyzing of why we do what we do and it ends up causing us to put blame on others and on our circumstances rather than getting us to realize that, at the end of the day, though it may be very, very difficult, we are the ones responsible for the choices we make and how we choose to act. I do think there are things in life that influence how we think and how we see things, but, ultimately, we choose how we act and react on a given day, in a given situation. The more we are aware of the things in our past and the things that influence us, as we surrender them to the Lord, we ought to be growing in victory in making the right choices in spite of our past, our circumstances, what others may have said or done to us or how we feel on a given day.
No one is saying this is easy. But if we buy into the victim mentality and the lies that we are constantly bombarded with by the secular way of thinking that says that we are determined by our circumstances, our past, how we feel, etc. then we will not ever learn to take the responsibility for our choices and we will live in defeat and continue in sin. It is only when we surrender our ‘right’ to be hurt, our ‘right’ to be angry, etc., or our belief that we can’t help the way we are, or all the other lies that are feeding our poor choices and bad attitudes that we will begin to have victory over those poor choices and bad attitudes and wrong reactions. I am convinced that a Spirit-filled life is one that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, takes the responsibility and learns to recognize sin for what it is and for how serious it is and does the hard heart work of owning up and confessing that sin and choosing to walk in the Light and stop blaming others or circumstances for why we do what we do. Hard, hard teaching. But what freedom can result!
I confess, I needed, needed, needed the blunt teaching I’ve found so far in this book, and slowly it seems, I’m learning to shed the lies I didn’t even realize I was believing and walk in the truth.
One thing that has struck me in this first part of our reading is how great a disservice we do to the Gospel when we downplay the sinfulness of sin and call it “wrong choices,” “mistakes,” “personality flaws,” or when we focus on “felt needs” at the expense of the real need at the core of all those surface troubles, which is sin. This is one of my biggest concerns with the seeker type movement and the Purpose Driven Life movement. They do not adequately tell the truth. They do not go deep enough. We do not need to add Jesus to our life, we need to surrender our life to Him. Subtle difference, but a vital one.
We are all sinners. We all fall short of the glory of God. We all willfully choose our own way. All we like sheep have gone astray, there is none righteous, no, not one. That is the awful truth. Ultimately, I am not really the way I am because of something that was said or done in my past, but I am what I am because I am a sinner. We need a Savior. Praise God that in Christ my sin is washed clean by His blood, shed for me. Praise God that I can come to Him in repentance when He opens my eyes and my heart to my desperate need for forgiveness and He freely offers that forgiveness to everyone who repents and believes that He is Lord. When we know the Son, we are free, indeed. Free from blaming others for our faults, free from living as a victim to those faults, and free to walk in His light.
I highly recommend this book. Be prepared to have your toes stepped on and to be uncomfortable when you begin to see lies you’ve believed that you maybe didn’t even realize you had been believing. But that’s not a bad thing.