This happens to me a lot: I read a post or article online and think “wow! That’s great advice!” only to have the Spirit whisper to me “Can you really see Jesus saying or doing that?” In those moments, I realize with startling clarity how deceptive and crafty prince of darkness really is.
Sometimes the enemy manifests his clever falsehoods as justification for greed and materialism. This can be everything from “God wants you to be happy” to “You worked hard and deserve it.” And then it will pop up as a plea to “be who you were born to be” or “follow your heart.” Other times it’s relationship advice that pushes you to cut ties with those who hurt you, or get back at them for the pain they caused. But, though I fully admit that those stories of splendor, individuality, self-preservation, or revenge feel satisfying, is God living in me, or my own flesh, the one gratified.
You see, when I crack open my Bible, I don’t see a God who seeks comfort and wealth, but one who chose torture and death. I don’t see a Savior who acted as He pleased, but one who submitted Himself to the will of God. There is no evidence suggesting that the Lord abandons us when we betray Him again and again. The words of Jesus never include instructions to hold grudges. It’s all too easy to see myself as a good person when my standard of morality originates with internet memes. So where does my standard of morality originate? As a Christian, I believe firmly that God is the one who chooses what is good and just and moral, and He reveals it to us in scripture.
And I fall woefully short of His standard. For my immorality, I have earned condemnation. But despite my sin, God, in His mercy, has sent one to live the moral life I could not and pay my debt for me; to take the punishment I earned, despite not earning it Himself. I could not have earned it, so He gave it freely to me. God’s justice and mercy met inconceivably at the cross, where sin was punished and sinners are saved.
If you sense that you too might be falling for the lies of the world, seeking after wealth, comfort, vengeance, or control, only to be left feeling empty or alone, the solution is easy: Confess to God that you know you sin and cannot save yourself. Ask Him to forgive you and rule over your life. Take joy in the knowledge that as you learn more about Him, He will make you more and more like Christ.
But, even in defeat, Satan seeks to steal, kill and destroy, and one of his best tactics is to dress lies up to look and feel like truth. The most dangerous enemy is one pretending to be a friend.
Daily, then, I must ask God to steel my spirit and sharpen my mind to see through deception and fill me with wisdom and righteousness. I don’t want behavior and philosophy that the world praises, but that God has declared righteous and preserved for me in His word. And the best way to do that? Be a student of His word. Unless you know the truth, you’ll never be able to spot the lies, after all.
“How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.”