William was facing the most excruciating season of his life.
He and his wife were finalizing a divorce. He'd lost his job. He was potentially going to lose his son in a custody battle. His financial foundation was dissolving. He couldn't sleep. He wouldn't eat. He could barely breathe.
The darkness of William's days turned into the Tempter's paradise. Every waking hour brought with it a call to turn from the Lord. The flaming darts of the evil one sailed in without mercy and his heart became a pincushion for his lies. Everything he believed was being called into question, down to whether God was even there anymore.
William said that one of the things that God used to pull him through the deep valley was a journal that became a lifeline for him. On the left hand side of the journal William wrote down how he was feeling and the lies that he was being called to believe. On the other side of the page he countered the lie with what God said was true. Line after line of lies combated by line after line of truth. William was in a battle for his soul and he learned that his only hope was to fight fire with fire.
As Christians, we all must learn to fight fire with fire. The evil one is relentless with his calls to believe lies and we must be equally relentless to cling to the truths of God's Word. Jesus modeled this perfectly for us when He returned each of the evil one's offers in the wilderness with a bold "it is written" rebuke (Matt. 4:1-11).
What follows are some of the most common lies we face as believers and some helpful truths that expose those lies and put them to death.
The liar says...God isn't there and God doesn't care.
The Lord says..."Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me." Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me" (Isaiah 49:14-16).
The liar says...You have nowhere to turn to, no one loves you.
The Lord says..."Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest....I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" Matthew 11:28-29 (see also: Hebrews 4:16).
The liar says...you are unlovable, unworthy, undesirable, and good for nothing.
The Lord says..."The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing" (Zephaniah 3:17). This amazing love is seen supremely in the fact that "God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses...raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus..." (Ephesians 2:4-6).
The liar says...This sin will satisfy you.
The Lord says..."Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Matthew 5:6).
The liar says...Just give in this time, you can just ask for forgiveness later.
The Lord says..."Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:1–2) which should lead us to pray "keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression" (Psalm 19:13).
The liar says...you've already sinned a little, you might as well sin some more.
The Lord says..."Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 3:15). "Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19-20). Return to Christ quickly because "the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry" (1 Peter 4:3). On top of that, remember this question "what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death" (Romans 6:21). Sin lies and kills. Run home to Christ now!
The liar says...You must give into this temptation, you don't have any other options.
The Lord says..."No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). There's always a way out.
The liar says...God's holding out on you. Fun and freedom and real life are found apart from him.
The Lord says..."You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).
The liar says...if you give up this sin you'll be missing out on real fun. God's ways are boring and unsatisfying.
The Lord says..."These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11). True joy is only found in Jesus.
The liar says...God's never going to give you direction in your life because He doesn't care about you.
The Lord says..."I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you" (Psalm 32:8).
The liar says...God is just toying with your heart, stop trusting Him.
The Lord says..."the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness" (Psalm 33:4).
The liar says...God is not pleased with you and because of that He will never give you your deepest desires.
The Lord says..."Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4).
The liar says...You'll never get married because you are waiting on and trusting the Lord. You look like a fool.
The Lord says... "those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be put to shame" (Psalm 34:5).
The liar says...you must worry, you must be anxious, this situation will consume you!
The Lord says..."do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
The liar says...You will never get any better. You are stuck where you are, you will die in your own failures.
The Lord says..."we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18) and ultimately we know that "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
The liar says...You can't be sad and walk in faith at the same time.
The Lord says..."You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?" (Psalm 56:8)
The liar says...God is not pleased with you, so your life will always be a way of misery.
The Lord says..."The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him" (Psalm 103:8-11)
The liar says...this is who you are, you aren't going to change, all your struggles and trials are in vain.
The Lord says..."we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Romans 5:3-5). God wastes no trial or pain, He sovereignly works them all for our gain.
The liar says...You're not worthy of God's love and no one else will ever love you either.
The Lord says..."For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you..." (Deuteronomy 7:6-8). This love God has for us helps us to "be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6).
The liar says...taking intentional, practical, radical steps to fight sin is just glorified legalism.
The Lord says..."If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell" (Matthew 5:29-30 – see also: 1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Timothy 4:7).
The liar says...waiting on God is a waste of time because He is hardened toward your needs.
The Lord says..."the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him" (Isaiah 30:18).
The liar says...You are not a good parent. You are not a good spouse. You are worthless. You are condemned.
The Lord says..."there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The liar says...you aren't really a Christian, you've lost your salvation.
The Lord says..."I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:28). God loses none who are His. Rest in His sovereign and ever-faithful love.
The liar says...you've messed up too much this time and God's love for you has faded.
The Lord says... "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:31-39).
We will face lies from the evil one every day that we follow Christ. These lies are designed to lure us away from God's care and into the arms of sin. We must not be easily swayed by the tempter's lies. Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." Plead with God to help you detest the liar's voice and to delight in the voice of our Good Shepherd who is leading us home to Him.
Special thanks to John Piper's work in Future Grace and also to the members of Del Ray Baptist who graciously shared their own battles for joy with me as I wrote this post.