Chapter 1: Laying the Foundation
Day 5: Claiming the Truth
What’s your bondage? What’s holding you back? We each have something that keep us from living the abundant life that Jesus has promised us. The trouble is identifying it. And the trouble comes in two ways: 1) we are often blinded by our sin and don’t recognize it, or 2) we know what it is, but are unwilling to forsake it for the Truth. As CS Lewis describes it, our desires are too weak, not too strong.
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Much of the problem with our desires can be narrowed down to the fact that we still want to manage the pain in our lives, the sin in our lives, because we’re afraid of change. We are afraid of the unknown. We’ve never experienced a “holiday at the sea” so we cling to what we do know, even though it only makes us filthy and discontent.
Once again I ask, what’s your bondage? Because if you’re not experiencing freedom, you’re in bondage. Here’s how you get out:
Identify the bondage in your life.
Depending on how long each one of us has walked with Jesus, and depending on what the bondage is, this can be very obvious or it can be a bit of a challenge. Sometimes the lies and bondage are obvious because they have become the biggest thing in our lives. It’s causing us a lot of pain, and not only do we know it, but everyone around us does, too. It’s not so much a question of identifying, but of admitting. However, other times it’s harder. We know there’s a problem but we don’t really know what it is, or where it’s coming from. That’s okay. That’s why we start with the bondage, and not the lie that feeds it. Let’s start with the symptoms so we can find the cause; and let’s remember they’re just symptoms.
For the sake of today’s conversation, we’ll use the symptom of “anger” that expresses itself at home, at work, and on the road. After walking through the process, we’ll do a case study at the end to see how it plays out. Just a reminder, though: not only can the bondage be traced to an action, it could also be something that you’re supposed to do, but don’t. This is called a sin of omission, and the longer you walk with Jesus, the more likely your bondage is in that – things such as not tithing, praying, or spending consistent time in God’s word can lead to just as much bondage as anger.
Next it’s time to Identify the lie at the root.
Remember — the bondage we’re experiencing is simply the result (symptom) of believing a lie. It’s not enough to try to change the fruit of the tree, because the fruit will keep growing. Instead, you must tear out the tree at it’s root and plant something different in it’s place. But wait, there’s more! You can’t. Because it’s something only God can do. Remember when we talked about the difference between transformation and reformation? This is it. And it’s huge. I know that we all would love to think change and freedom is as easy as picking fruit. But it’s not.
Jesus said, in Luke 6:
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized
by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man
brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what
the heart is full of.”
This is why it’s so important for us to take the time to let God reveal what lies we’re believing that have led us into this bondage. Without addressing the root issue, we’ll never be able to find freedom. Once we identify the specific lies, it’s also important that we understand which of the three roots of sin it falls into (1 John 2:6): pride, the lust of the flesh, or the lust of the eyes. While each lie we believe can be countered directly with many scriptures, there’s also a bigger picture here. For each of these greater roots, we have three solutions. For pride, humility (humiliation). For lust of the flesh, it’s self-control. And for the lust of the eyes, it’s about gratitude. We’ll see how this plays out in our case study in a few minutes. For now, let’s look at the next step.
Now that you know the lie, it’s crucial that you Replace the lie with the Truth.
The only thing powerful enough to set you free is the Truth. And not just general truth… specific truth for specific lies. If you have an anger problem, knowing that God created the world isn’t going to cut it. You need to know what God says about anger and how to overcome it. How do you find the truth? God’s word. If you’re not spending consistent time in God’s word, you can’t walk in freedom. The first things God reveals come from that specific quite time we have. From there, make a point to earnestly seek God. Study His word. Find His truth.
If you need help, talk to your pastor or a counselor. In fact, I recommend this anyway for accountability, plus having someone outside the problem can help you to make sure you’re seeing things correctly and making the right changes. It can be awkward, uncomfortable, or embarrassing to have an accountability, I know. But God calls us to walk in the light, and that’s one of the ways we do that. The only question at this point is how badly do you want to be free? Is your desire strong enough?
Are you ready to be fully committed to to the truth? Because it takes practice. After identifying the truth, the replacement process can take some time. That’s okay. It’s supposed to. Remember, you didn’t end up in bondage overnight, either. It can be overwhelming at times to know how to replace the lie with the truth. Here are a few tips:
- Make a commitment to start each day in God’s word.
- Make a specific commitment to accountability.
- Prioritize scripture memory. As God reveals his truth, memorize it throughout the day. Work on a new verse throughout the day, and you’ll discover your mind is so engaged int eh truth, the lie hardly has time to break in.
- Make a commitment to listen to godly music or sermons and to avoid media that would foster the lies.
- Ultimately, it comes down to the same steps we took to believe a lie. We must listen to, dwell on, believe, and act on the truth.
- Finally, you need to have an action plan. When temptation comes, when the lies come back, what will you do? Who will you call? Where will you go? Know it. Write it down. Tell someone. And then leave no other options.
Remember a few minutes ago, I decided to go with anger as our case study today. Let’s follow it through, now.
Someone with an anger problem is going to have a more challenging time identifying the lies than some others because of the passion involved in the moment. I recommend that such a person carries a notebook with them at all times, and when their anger rises, they are to stop and write down everything running through their minds. Then, later, they can see what was really going on.
Usually an anger problem is boiled down to two main lies that come from the same root. The first has to do with our rights being challenged:
“I can’t believe she treated me that way, who does she think she is?” This could happen when someone cuts us off on the road, when people are talking about us behind our backs, or any other situation where we feel violated.
The second happens when we feel there are circumstances beyond our control:
“How am I supposed to fix this? I don’t know what to do. This is all ________’s fault.” Again, this could come from similar circumstances such as traffic or coworkers, but it could also come from being laid off, someone not showing up that you were counting on, etc.
Knowing that the anger stems from believing two things (I have a right to be treated a certain way, and I have to be in control) helps us with the next step of replacing the lie. Remember the three roots? These lies tie into the root of pride. And the antidote for pride is humility – read: humiliation.
Here’s how that plays out:
We discover someone has been gossiping about us. Now we choose how to respond.
If we believe the lies:
- that we have rights
- we have been violated
- we need to set the record straight
…then we’ll become angry and in the process ruin relationships.
However, if we remember the truth:
- that, according to Luke 14:33 and Romans 10:9 we gave up our rights when we surrendered to Christ,
- that anger is a fruit of the flesh, not the Spirit (Ephesians 4:31)
- that anger makes things worse (Proverbs 29:8 – Mockers stir up a city, but the wise turn away anger),
- that we are called to forgive others, and if we don’t God will not forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15),
…then we can make a choice to let go of our offense, humble ourselves, and let God be in control of the situation. This improves our relationships, our health, and our testimony. And in the end, we feel a whole lot better than when we react in anger.
There’s such beautiful, abundant life offered to us. The only thing holding us back is fear – of the unknown, of change. I urge you, don’t give in. Choose faith. Choose freedom. Choose to depend on God’s grace (the power God gives to do what God says) and begin to experience freedom for the first time in your life.
We were made to “run wild, live free, love strong.” Are you ready?
If you have trouble walking through these steps and identifying the lies, let me know. I’d love to help you. You may also find the TEA principle helpful in tracing the symptoms.
Points to remember:
- It’s not enough to pick the fruit, we must tear up the roots.
- The only thing powerful enough to set us free is the Truth.
- We must seek specific truth for specific lies.
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.