When I was in my mid-teens, I was self-conscious about my hair. I inherited some of my dad’s natural curls and I didn’t like locks that stuck out. So, whenever they were out of place, I cut them off. I did this over a period of months. When I looked in the mirror, I thought I looked great, but a school picture from that year told a very different story. (Note: The picture on the left is not of me, but of some other poor soul.) I was still in denial when I went to a new hair stylist. He took one look at me and said, “Son, you have quite a mess here. Have you been cutting your hair?” It was that obvious.
I recall in the midst of my masters’ classes in counseling psychology being exposed for the first time to the reality of eating disorders. I was shocked to learn that a woman in the throes of anorexia could look in the mirror and see a fat woman. A total denial of reality. Almost anyone else could look at her and, at the very least, recognize she was very skinny, but she would only see herself as overweight.
Denial is a common trait among we humans. Alcoholics often deny they have a problem. In the midst of relational difficulties, people often struggle to admit they have made any contribution to the situation. Parents can be loath to admit their child might be guilty of making trouble at school. And sinners can live in denial of their offenses against God, or fail to accept that despite their sin, they are loved deeply by the Offended One.
In the spiritual realm, it is the Word of God that is the counselor of truth. Lies are the devil’s main weapon and he wields them with unequaled skill. Denial is the embrace of a lie. The only counter is truth, as Jesus demonstrated when facing the devil in the desert:
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ (Luke 4:1-12 NIV)
Yet, how many of us know the Scriptures enough to distinguish a lie from the truth? Here are some common lies the devil tells.
- You are a good person.
- You are unlovable.
- You are entitled to be safe.
- Worrying about things is okay.
- There are many ways to find God.
- You have to earn your way to Heaven.
- If you don’t feel forgiven, then you are not.
- You can do great things in life if you just try hard enough.
- Being weak is a weakness
- God is stern and angry
Do you know how to respond to these lies with truth? If not, then you are easy prey for the Enemy. Here are the answers to the lies above and I would encourage you to look at each one of the references:
- Romans 3:23
- Ephesians 3:16-19
- John 16:33
- Matthew 6:34
- John 14:6
- Ephesians 2:8-9
- I John 1:9
- John 15:5
- II Corinthians 12:8-10
- Psalm 103:8
When we worry, we deny the truth of God’s provision. When we believe we are unlovable, we are in denial of God’s immeasurable love for us. When we think our goodness or our own efforts entitle us to eternal life, we deny that we are sinners totally dependent on the Lord’s grace.
What is your skill level with the Word of God? Do you know enough to defend yourself against the devil’s lies? If you are a parent, do you know enough to teach your children? If not, there is a simple, if challenging, remedy. Pick up the Word and start reading it. If you struggle to understand, then get help from others more skilled than you.
Life in this fallen world is a spiritual battleground. Jesus knew that. So should we and act accordingly. It is time for us all to be freed from denial and live our lives in truth.
© Jim Musser 2019