Battling the Lies by Believing the Truth
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Battling the Lies by Believing the Truth

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By Sarah J. Hauser // Image by Megan Holloway

You’re a failure.
Your family would be better off without you.
You’re a terrible mom.
Everything is your fault.
Look at all the hurt you caused!

Have you heard any of those accusations? In the last year, I’ve felt as though I’ve been trapped in a courtroom listening to an endless list of charges against me. It’s crippling at times. I’ve wept alone in my car and have laid in bed unable to get up. I’ve worked and parented with failure casting a dark shadow over every relationship and interaction. I’ve lived as though sin still weighs heavy on my back even though Christ removed it years ago.

The evil one knows how to speak condemnation to our hearts, and for too long I’ve listened.

In John Bunyan’s allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian travels from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. When he starts out, he carries the burden of sin which he couldn’t remove until he came to the cross. There the burden rolls off, and he rejoices, “He hath given me rest by His sorrow, and life by His death.” [1]

Shortly after that scene, Christian comes across Apollyon, the ruler of the City of Destruction. Apollyon threatens Christian for leaving his kingdom and tries to lure him back. He accuses Christian of faithlessness and recounts every failure along the journey. He fell asleep when he should have kept watch, tried to get rid of his burden apart from the cross, and almost gave up at the threat of lions. Apollyon laid out all the reasons why Christian proved himself unworthy to receive whatever the Ruler of this new kingdom had to offer.

Christian responds to Apollyon. “All this is true, and much more which thou has left out; but the Prince, whom I serve and honor, is merciful, and ready to forgive; but, besides, these infirmities possessed me in thy country, for there I sucked them in; and I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, and have obtained the pardon of my Prince.” [2]

Identifying the Lies

Sometimes there’s enough truth in the lies to make them believable. We have failed. We don’t deserve to live in the presence of God. We sin daily. But the devil, when he reminds us of the lies, leaves out the part about being pardoned.

Eugene Peterson writes, “The lies are impeccably factual. They contain no errors. There are no distortions or falsified data. But they are lies all the same, because they claim to tell us who we are and omit everything about our origin in God and our destiny in God.” [3] Just as he did with Eve, Satan whispers to us enough truth that we start to think there’s reason to doubt. He whispered to Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1), and he whispers to us, “Did God actually say you’re forgiven?” Unless we weed out those seeds of unbelief, doubt takes root in our souls.

For those in Christ who have come to the cross in faith, trusting that Jesus’ death and resurrection atoned for sin and gives them victory over it, we have been forgiven. There is no condemnation (Rom. 8:1). Accusations from the evil one, as true as they are about our failure, leave out the truth of the cross.

And so we can call his taunts what they are: lies from the pit of hell.

Knowing the Truth

Romans 8:3-4 says, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (ESV). Our failure is no secret to God. That’s exactly why he sent Christ—to condemn sin in the flesh so that despite our unrighteousness, the righteous requirement of the law would be fulfilled.

So, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” (Rom. 8:33). The devil doesn’t get the last word about who God is or who I am. Jesus does. And he declared final words of love and grace and redemption and victory. He uttered three wholly true words under the full weight of sin, words that display the character of God and define my life for eternity: “It is finished.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes, “‘I am not good enough.’ It sounds very modest, but it is the lie of the devil, it is a denial of the faith. You think that you are being humble. But you will never be good enough; nobody has ever been good enough. The essence of the Christian salvation is to say that He is good enough and that I am in Him!” [4]

Living With Joy

Grasping the depth of our sin should not leave us burdened by condemnation but rejoicing in the grace of God. In his famous hymn, Horatio Spafford put it this way:

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

I’ve started to jot down the lies when I hear them, and I keep a running list in my journal. Next to the lies, I write truth from Scripture that sets me free from the hands of the evil one trying to pull me into the darkness. It’s a practice helping me renew my mind and live with the freedom and joy that comes from believing God is every bit as good and gracious as he says he is.

As we hold dearly to the truth, we experience the joy of our salvation. It’s a joy that comes not from proving ourselves good enough or sugar-coating our sin, but from knowing that we no longer sit in a courtroom while the evil one hurls accusations at us. Christ has already taken the punishment on our behalf. The Accuser may be right when he recounts to us our failures. But like Christian in the face of Apollyon, we can say with confidence and joy, “I have obtained the pardon of my Prince.”

Satan’s lies hold no power over us when we trust the God who has already triumphed over him (Col. 2:13-15).

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[1] John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress, (Minneapolis, Desiring God, 2014), 39.

[2] Ibid., 64.

[3] Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, (Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press, 2000), 27.

[4] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1965), 34.