John 8:31-47 June 2009
DECEPTIVE THINKING IN RELATIONSHIPS
After 59 years of living with myself and others I have observed that the unpleasant and painful experiences of the past have a powerful affect on how we relate to people and situations in the present.
It is not so much what happened to us in the past that affects us, it is how we interpret those experiences and the beliefs we form as a result.
We may be able to remember things that happened to us in the past but we tend to form the wrong conclusions about why they happened.
Example: A friend of mine was telling me that his father was overseas with the army during the war and he wrote a number of letters to his father, but he never got a reply. My friend told me that as time went by he came to the conclusion that his father couldn’t be bothered with him and ever since then he has struggling with a deep feeling of rejection. When his father returned after the war, he asked him why he didn’t answer his letters and his dad told him that because he was a prisoner of war, the Nazis would not allowed him to have any contact with the outside world. In spite of his father’s explanation, those feelings of hurt and rejection didn’t go away and he preferred to believe those, rather than the truth.
Those wrong conclusions form a false belief that affects the way we respond or react to what happens to us now.
In other words what upsets us most in relationships is not what actually happens, or what a person says to us….it is what we believe is happening and what we believe they are really saying. The wrong beliefs we have formed from past painful and unpleasant experiences are so strong that we would rather accept what they tell us than what is actually happening.
Example. Anne grew up in a home where everything she did was criticised and it seemed she couldn’t do anything right. After she was married, one evening she put on a new dress she had bought at Katie’s and came into the lounge to show her husband.
“How do you like my new dress?”
“Where did you get that from?”
“Why, what’s wrong with it?”
“Nothing, I just wondered where you got it from”
“You don’t like it do you?”
“I didn’t say I didn’t like it.”
“You don’t have to. I knew you wouldn’t like it; I should never have bought it. I always do the wrong thing.”
“I never said I didn’t like it. I simply asked where you got it from.”
She wasn’t listening to what he said, she was listening to the messages from her past that spoke louder than her husband.
In John 8:44 Jesus called Satan is the Father of lies.
In Revelation 12:9 he is called the one who has deceived the whole world.
In 2 Cor. 4:4 “Satan, the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers to prevent them from seeing the truth.”
Satan’s main strategy in working against God and people is deception. He works tirelessly feeding our minds with lies – getting us to believe things that are not true. He used this tactic with the very first human beings getting them to believe that what God said was not true. And he has been doing that ever since.
Not only is Satan the master deceiver but this godless system he rules over, is marked by the deception.
The result is that people more readily believe lies than they do the truth. Romans 1:18,25 “By our wickedness we have suppressed the truth and exchanged the truth of God for a lie.”
With all this deception around us and within us it is easy to see why our feelings, behaviour and character are so powerfully influenced by deception or lies.
The power of deception:
As I said, particularly in our younger years we are powerfully affected by negative, hurtful things that people say to us and negative, hurtful things that happen to us.
But the problem is not so much what people say to us or what happens to us it is how we interpret those experiences, what we believe as a result of them.
BELIEVING THE LIES
Because we live in a deceptive environment we misread, misinterpret things that happen to us and form false beliefs that powerfully affect us throughout our lives.
1. Susan was sexually abused when she was younger. From that experience she developed these false beliefs:
She believed that it was her fault because she let it happen. She believed that she must have been a horrible person for someone to do that to. She felt dirty and hated herself for letting it happen. She couldn’t believe that anyone else would like her either.
2. When James was growing up his parents gave him no praise or encouragement. They seemed to find fault in everything he did and it seemed it was never good enough.
He came to believe that he could never meet people’s expectations so he was afraid to attempt anything new. He believed he was never good enough as person and therefore felt inferior.
3. Gary’s father was a very successful businessman. In Gary’s eyes his dad was perfect and he loved him dearly. Although Gary’s dad did not criticise Gary, he would often criticise people who failed or didn’t make it in life. He used to say to Gary, “If you want to be successful in life you have to work hard and be disciplined.” Because Gary so wanted to please his father he developed beliefs that began to shape his life.
Gary believed that he would only be accepted if he worked hard, was self-disciplined and successful. Gary believed that failure was the worst thing that could happen to him.
4. Sharon’s parents divorced when she small. She went to live with an Aunty for a period of time. The feeling of losing her parents was so devastating that she developed these false beliefs from the experience:
It’s fault mum and dad broke up. I’m not a nice person otherwise Dad would contact me more often. Don’t get close to anyone or you will be let down. Losing people close to you is the end of the world
There are heaps of other scenarios that I could bring up this morning, but we don’t have time so we will just look at these ones.
The important thing to note is that when we have negative experiences, particularly in our early years we draw conclusions from them that are not always true, but because of the deception that is all around us, we somehow cling to those false beliefs rather than the truth.
LIVING THE LIE
In the book of Proverbs 23:7 “As a person thinks in their heart, that is what they are.”
What we think, what we believe affects how we feel,
how we feel affects how we act or react, and how we act or react affects what we become.
Let’s go back to these 4 examples:
1. Susan who was abused as a child: Now when people say nice things to Susan, she won’t accept what they say. She has convinced herself because of what happened in the past that she not a nice person. She either puts herself down or thinks they have alternative motives. She pulls back from her husband because she doesn’t believe she is loveable or she thinks he is only interested in sex.
The lies are so deeply entrenched.
When people say harmless things to her, Satan feeds the lies into her mind that that these people are being deliberately nasty, hurtful or pretending. And so she either reacts or withdraws.
2. James who was constantly criticised a s child. Now it doesn’t matter what James does or how much people praise and admire his efforts, he only hears the lies Satan feeds into his mind telling him his efforts will never be good enough.” James therefore either drives Him self or loses all motivation and feels discouraged. Because James cannot accept himself as he is, he is constantly comparing himself with others and criticises them to make himself look better. He is hard on himself and hard on others.
He can’t stand criticism or correction because it reinforces the lies and he feels that he is being personally attacked and put down. Because James expects people and things to function perfectly he is very intolerant when people make mistakes and things don’t work. He is quite an angry man.
3. Gary whose Dad was success driven. Because Gary believes he must succeed at all costs if he is to be accepted, he is constantly striving to attain the standard he believes his father would approve of. Satan feeds these lying thoughts into his mind that if he fails he will become a failure and that’s the worst thing that could happen to him. He is driven by the belief that he has to succeed at all costs. Because of this drivenness he is often tired and drained and as time goes by he runs out of motivation and burns out because he cant keep up the pace.
4. Sharon whose parents broke up. Satan feeds these lying thoughts into her mind because of her past, “Don’t get close to anyone or you will be hurt and disappointed. But then that same time when she does get into a relationship she is so afraid of losing them that she become possessive and controlling and it has the opposite affect. She drives the other person away.
Each of these 4 people had painful experiences in the past and they developed wrong beliefs about themselves because of those experiences. When similar things happen in the present Satan takes those false beliefs and feeds them into their minds. Those lies affect their feelings, the feelings influence their behaviour and their behaviour shapes their character. Many of us are what we are today because we have allowed the lies and wrong beliefs from the past to dominate and control our lives.
DISCERNING THE LIE
How do I know when Satan is feeding the lies from the past into my present situation? The lies of Satan are aimed to deceive, discourage, defeat and destroy us and our relationships. Look at how you react to certain people and situations?
Some one corrects you or points out a fault….you feel discouraged, hurt, rejected. Satan is feeding you a lie. What is the lie…..you’re a failure, you can never get it right, they are attacking you personally, they have got it in for you.
Your spouse begins to caress you and say loving things to you…..you feel yuk about yourself. You resent him because he makes you feel that way.
Satan is feeding you a lie that you are not worth loving, that he just wants to use me.
Someone you love makes a mistake or lets you down …and you feel angry and resentful. Satan is telling you ……Your happiness depends on the people close to you always meeting your expectations.
A piece of machinery I am working with breaks down and I get so angry I end up belting it with a hammer, or a cow I am trying to milk wont keep still and I end up beating her over the head with a baton…I over react. Satan is telling me that my happiness depends on the things around me functioning smoothly, without a hitch.
A close friend tells you that they won’t be able to spend much time with you for a while because they have a lot of commitments at present….You feel hurt, fobbed off, rejected and angry. Satan feeds his lies into your mind. They don’t really care about you, you’re not important to them, your not good enough for them. Notice those lies are aimed to destroy the relationship.
I give into temptation and feel convicted and ask God to forgive me, but I still feel condemned, discouraged. Satan is telling me that I am a failure, there is no hope for me, that I might as well give up.
I am asked to take on some responsibility that will most likely extend me beyond my present experience. I feel fearful and panicky. I want to run in the opposite direction. Satan is telling me the lie that I shouldn’t step out in faith I will only mess it all up and fail and then look stupid in the eyes of everyone.
Where did we first hear those messages?
They are the false beliefs we have developed from painful experiences in the past. This is the material Satan uses to deceive, discourage, defeat and destroy us and our relationships. We are so convinced that they are true that we allow them to influence and affect our feelings, decisions, behaviour more than anything else.
CONFRONTING THE LIES
If we are to see real lasting change in our behaviour we need God’s power and the courage to confront Satan and the lies he feeds us.
Satan knows all about our past and he knows where we are weak and vulnerable and he feeds those lying thoughts into those areas.
This is spiritual warfare and those lying thoughts
have spiritual power to deceive, discourage, defeat and destroy us and our relationships. And that is why we need spiritual power to deal with them.
Those lying thoughts have got to be destroyed.
This is what Paul was talking about in 2 Cor.10:4-5
“The weapons we fight with are not weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension ..lie.. that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obey Christ.” 2 Cor.10:4-5
If you look at the scripture you will see it is speaking about the spiritual battle that goes on in our minds; it speaks of strongholds which are the entrenched ways of thinking. It speaks about arguments and pretensions – lies that oppose the truth of God. It speaks about taking every thought captive to make it obey Christ.
Remember when we accept these lying thoughts in our minds, they trigger off feelings and lead to behaviour. Because they start in our minds we have to come against them relying on the power of God. We cannot deal with them in human strength alone…they have spiritual power and we need God’s power to deal with them. This is not just positive thinking – the negative lying thought has to be destroyed first before we cane receive the truth.
Every time you have a bad reaction towards someone or a situation, what are you thinking? Is Satan feeding you a lie?
You will know because you will feel rejected, or fearful, or hopeless, abandoned, angry, resentful, self-
depreciating, inferior, threatened, jealous, condemned, a failure etc.
It is those lying thoughts that are making you feel that way.
DESTROYING THE LIES
In John 6:63 Jesus said that His words are spiritual and they are life producing.”
The lies of the Devil one are spiritual too, but they produce death and destruction. Whenever we become aware of him feeding them into our minds we need to come against them in the name of Jesus and hand them over to Jesus for destruction. At the cross Jesus destroyed defeated Satan and when we bring the lies of Satan into the presence of Jesus He can destroy them.
REPLACING THE LIES
With the truth.
The word ‘confess’ means to say the same things God says, to agree with God.
Once we have handed over the lie to Jesus for destruction we need to speak Gods truth into our lives.
What is the truth:
No matter what happened in the past – If you belong to Jesus you are not in the past now, you am in Christ. And in Christ you are loved and valued by God and in Christ God sees me as morally pure.
In the past you may have believed you could never measure up to the expectations of those who mattered, but in Christ God has made you acceptable to Him. You don’t have to earn God’s approval – You already have it because when we put our and trust in Jesus you have God’s approval.
In the past you may you may have believed that you had to succeed at all costs and failure was the worst thing that could happen. In Christ success is God’s business not yours, he calls you to be faithful and you may fail at times but you are not a failure in God’s eyes
Anyway failure is not the end of the world, it is an opportunity to learn and grow. In fact if you belong to Jesus you belong to the only cause that will ultimately succeed in this world – the Kingdom of God.
In the past you may have been let down badly by those you loved and trusted and are afraid to get involved now. In Christ you are unconditionally and eternally loved and He has promised never to fail or abandon you.
People will always disappoint you and leave you at some point, that’s life, but you will be able to handle it and keep loving others if you belong to Jesus, if your security is in Him because He will never, ever let you down or leave you.
Ill. Because of my traumatic childhood experiences I formed beliefs about myself that were not true. My mum and dad broke up when I was 4 and I was dumped in a Catholic orphanage where I was badly mistreated. I believed I was unwanted; there must be something very wrong with me for this to happen. I didn’t like myself and couldn’t believe that anyone else would like me. I tried very hard to get people to like me and got so hurt when I wasn’t accepted. Picking teams for sport. The lie was so strongly entrenched. Stronghold of deceit.
When things happened or people responded to me in a cool or indifferent way Satan would feed lies to me and because of my past I readily believed them. “They don’t like you, you’re not nice, people don’t want to be bothered with you.” And then I would feel rejection, hopelessness, discouragement, abandonment.
One day after I became Christian I realised that these lying thoughts dominated, controlled and crushed me long enough. I had been a victim of these false assumptions for years. Allowed the evil one to beat me up with them and knock me around for too long.
I recognised them for what they were. And I knew they were too strong for me to deal with on my own. I needed the power of God to deal with them and I began to challenge the deceiver and hand those lying thoughts over to Jesus for destruction every time I heard him speaking to me.
And I began to do something that was very, foreign to me, I began to speak God’s truth into my life[confess]. In fact I began to agree with what God says about me instead of repeating those lies Satan fed me.
God loves me, He values me, He paid the ultimate price to get me into His family. I am precious, special, treasured. At first speaking like that to myself was so foreign, it felt strange because I had always put myself down. I felt I was being a bit puffed up or proud- “Is it wrong to agree with what God says about you?”
I now recognise whenever Satan is feeding me those old lies and I move in on them immediately and hand them over to Jesus for destruction and replace them with God’s truth.[Spurgeon].Don’t give them an inch.
This is something that has to take place incident by incident, day by day. The father of liars was disarmed at the cross…..I don’t have to be enslaved by his lies any longer and neither do you.
The flow on affects are liberating…..freedom to be yourself and to appreciate the person God created you to be, freedom from the fear of man. It affects your relationships with others and it makes it so much easier for them to live with you and for you to live with yourself. John 8:31
“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
What we allow to dominate our thinking will dominate and control us.
Paul said in Philippians 4:8
“Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, think upon these things.”
Pray with you to break the power of the lies over your mind.
Start right now.
Whenever you find yourself reacting to people or a situation, the lies are speaking to you. Confront them, challenge them, refute them –remember Paul says it is a battle. Be aggressive. Hand them over to Jesus for destruction. And Begin to speak the truth to yourself. Romans 12.