I love this statement Nancy makes in Chapter One: "What we believe will be seen in the way we live." I like this because it gives a very practical diagnostic tool for analyzing and understanding what I believe. Sure, I say that I believe in the God of Scripture - but do I ignore or dismiss His commands or His claims on my life? Sure, I say that I love Jesus - but do I consistently spend time in Scripture and in prayer, earnestly desiring to be with Him and to know Him better? Do I love His Bride, the Church?
What do I really, truly believe? And, am I believing the truth, or am I believing a lie? All of my actions - my attitude cooking breakfast this morning, my promptness in paying my bills, how I talk to the cat, how I spend my leisure time - all of these flow from what I believe. To know what I truly believe, I have only to stop and examine my actions. They are like public signposts pointing to the darlings in my heart.
Now, I very much want to think that my beliefs line up with the truths of Scripture. Sadly, this is often not the case. I give lip service to God, but my actions reveal that my heart is far from Him. What's to be done then? Clearly, I think at times when my "practice" testifies to "false doctrine", I must first admit the lie I have been cherishing, then repent - trusting in Christ's righteousness to cover yet another sin - and pray earnestly for God to change my heart. Thankfully - hallelujah! - God promises to forgive repentant sinners and He is eager to transform us into true and faithful image bearers of His truth and glory. "God, change my heart" is a prayer we can pray with utmost confidence, knowing He will indeed do just that!
A few other thoughts triggered by my current read of this book: First, I cannot know truth apart from the Word of God. Scripture - read, preached, sung, prayed - is God's chosen means of revealing Himself to His people. If I long neglect Scripture, I can be fairly certain that I am setting myself up to believe the lies which the world so convincingly, so winsomely, so persistently preaches to me every day.
Second, there are no harmless lies. As Nancy states, "As an adult, I still find it is crucial to guard my mind - to carefully choose the input I allow into my life and to reject that which promotes ungodly thinking. The world's deceptive way of thinking comes to us through so many avenues. . . A steady diet of these worldly influences will shape our view of what is valuable, what is beautiful, and what is important in life."
I know I am very susceptible to buying into the world's lies, maybe moreso than most folks, so I often seem overly guarded to people who are less easily influenced. My kids have fussed, "Mom, why can't you just listen to this song without having to stop and analyze it?" Why? Because I know that, without stopping to critically consider what I'm listening to (even singing along with!), I am prone to unwittingly tuck away in my mind and in my heart a lie. A pretty little lie, no doubt, but a lie nonetheless. I have to pause and ask myself, "Does the message in this song line up with the truth of Scripture, or is it contrary to God's truth?"
A friend commented recently that because she's an adult, she's free now to watch whatever movies she wants. She doesn't understand why I feel so compelled to limit what I watch. No, I don't believe that this movie or that will condemn me to hell - Jesus is so much bigger than that! - but I do believe that my heart is easily influenced for evil. While some would say that I should "toughen up," "get over it," or try to become a bit desensitized, I appreciate Nancy's encouragement that, on the contrary, our hearts should be sensitized to sin - that our hearts should be quickly pricked and grieved by what offends God. If I am going to watch or read or listen to something that promotes a lie, then I need to do so with my eyes wide open and my mind fully engaged, as if I'm walking into a mine field, not as if I'm disengaging the brain gears for a bit of harmless entertainment.
I have lived in bondage to so many lies over the years. Lies are the tools of Satan, the father of lies, and lies lead to bondage and death. I am in Christ now, and God is my Father. I want to know - and live - more and more of His truth. With God's truth comes freedom, and life!
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. -Psalm 25:5
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. - Jesus, in John 8:31