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The Lies We Tell Ourselves
by Karen Burkhart
There is so much in today's Scripture, but I just couldn't get past the significance of the first line:
"Philip said, 'Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.'”
Clearly, Philip had seen the Father and clearly, it wasn't enough! Philip's spiritual blindness had led to a case of self-deception. Oh, how like Philip we can be. Instead of addressing our REAL issues, we lie to ourselves. See if you recognize any of these:
Lie #1: “I’m a good person.”
We humans have a remarkable ability to see ourselves through rose-colored lenses, don’t we? We like to think of ourselves as ahead of the curve, particularly when it comes to our moral goodness. Let’s face it, it’s not hard to find examples of the morally depraved so even a quick glance at the day’s headlines can leave us feeling pretty good. If we’re going to play the comparison game, though, we need to finish it—we need to compare ourselves to a perfect, holy, God. When we do that, we will see that the chasm between ourselves and God is so vast that the stone’s throw to the murderer is inconsequential. It’s that humbling realization that will cause us to see our desperate need for a Savior. The salvation of our souls depends on us telling ourselves the truth about our own goodness.
“The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalms 14:2-3)
“'Why do you call me good?' Jesus answered. 'No one is good—except God alone.'”
“All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:12)
Lie #2: “If God would just write on the wall what He wants me to do, I would do it.”
Let’s be honest—not knowing God’s will for our lives isn’t really our problem. The Bible is chock-full of prescriptions for holy living; there’s no need to guess what pleases our heavenly Father. Our problem is obeying it. If we won’t obey what’s written in our Bibles, why would we expect ourselves to obey what’s written on a wall? When we wrongly believe that all that stands between us and obedience is knowledge, we will be unprepared for the spiritual battle that rages on the inside. Soldiers that are unprepared for battle rarely win and will inevitably lose heart and give up the fight. Telling ourselves the truth about our sinful nature and inability to carry out good keeps us dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us.
“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Lie #3: “If I could just witness a miracle, I would believe in Him.”
This is the heart of Philip's faulty claim as recorded in today's passage. If this were true, everyone in the world would believe in God. After all, there are no shortages of miracles—look no further than the rising and setting of the sun, the birth of a baby, or the complexity of a single cell. All creation points to its Creator. Unfortunately, we humans have an amazing capacity to obscure the obvious. If our hearts are set on not believing, everything will support that--even God in the flesh walking among us. To quote Judy from the movie, The Santa Clause, “Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.” Jesus put it another way when speaking to Martha after the death of Lazarus:
“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
Getting honest about the hardness of our hearts that, for a variety of reasons, just doesn’t want to believe in God, allows us to address our core spiritual need for faith that He alone provides.
Lord, help me to love truth more than the fleeting comfort that lies may provide. Remove the scales from my eyes that prevent me from seeing truth that may be right in front of me. Give me courage to confront and repent from my own self-deception. May YOU always be enough for me. Amen.