Originally published April 27
The last few weeks have been heavy. Really heavy. And when things get heavy… I still put one foot in front of the other. I still work, serve, smile, persist, but I feel… all the things. If you have ever done your Myers-Briggs, I’m an ENTJ…. probably the most emotional ENTJ you’ve ever known. (If you aren’t familiar, here’s a few famous ENTJ’s: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, Alexander Hamilton, and Julius Caesar) When the pressure is on, you can count on me. I will handle it. I will get it done.
But when I get alone, or when I pause, the weight of it all hits. The last few weeks have had a lot of alone… a lot of pause… a lot of heavy, heavy feelings.
And with those feelings come the lies that Satan whispers.
You aren’t good enough.
You aren’t strong enough.
No one likes you.
You are a failure.
You can’t get it right.
You can’t fix it.
They are laughing at you.
They are talking about you.
Oh he is so good at whispering in the quiet. He is so good at finding that opening. He always has been. Think back to Genesis when he first spoke. He starts very simply, interjecting doubt with a question, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'” (Genisis 3:1b NIV) After Eve responds, he first contradicts God and then mixes the lie with truth: “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3: 4-5 NIV)
Let’s start at the beginning. Satan comes when Eve is alone, if not physically, at least with her thoughts. Sound Familiar? (If not, reread the first few paragraphs of this blog) You, like me, know what it is like to hear his whispers in the quiet of your mind when you get alone.
When you look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see.
When you see that friend’s post about the fun she had with all your other friends but didn’t include you.
When you lay in bed remembering how you lost your temper with your spouse or child.
This list goes on and on.
This would have been a good time for Eve to run away, but she instead, takes the bait. This, too, is our first line of defense. Don’t underestimate the power of filling your mind with something other than his lies. Don’t let Satan lead you. Pick up your Bible, a Bible Study, or scripture memory card. Turn on a radio preacher in the car (Note: In my experience radio preachers are generally more theologically sound than TV preachers) or download an audiobook from a Christian author (I’ve been soaking up Lysa TerKeurst lately). There are free apps through your local library that don’t require a subscription. Check out audio Bible apps like Dwell.
Now, I’m not naïve enough to think that you can drown out the whisper lies by constantly filling the void. So, what happens when you can’t get out of your own head? What happens when the lie takes root. Keep going in this passage. When Satan whispers something that contradicts God’s word, you MUST identify it as such IMMEDIATELY. Look at what Albert Barnes had to say about this passage in his “Notes on the Whole Bible” (I started to edit it down but it is too GOOD not to share with you! It’s wordy so you may have to take a few passes at it):
“Let us remember that this was the first falsehood the woman ever heard. Her mind was also infantile as yet, so far as experience was concerned. The opening mind is naturally inclined to believe the truth of every assertion, until it has learned by experience the falsehood of some. There was also in this falsehood what gives the power to deceive, a great deal of truth combined with the element of untruth. The tree was not physically fatal to life, and the eating of it really issued in a knowledge of good and evil. Nevertheless, the partaking of what was forbidden issued in the legal and actual privation of life. And it did not make them know good and evil altogether, as God knows it, but in an experimental sense, as the devil knows it. In point of knowledge, they became like God; in point of morality, like the tempter.”
We have an advantage that Eve did not: we know that Satan lies. When you hear the whisper of shame, defeat, and self-loathing creeping in, don’t shy away from calling it what it is. Harken back to a sermon you heard in childhood from a Baptist preacher with a deep southern drawl as he gets fired up two-thirds of the way into his sermon and shouts, “That is a lie from the pit of Hell!” Okay, admittedly, that’s a little dramatic, but isn’t it accurate? Sure, God will not spare us from remorse, but do not mistake His corrections for Satan’s whisper lies. God asks us to repent from our choices and actions when sin. Satan attacks our identity. Our identity is found in Christ – God will affirm it, not attack it. When those voices in your mind tear at the fabric of who you are, stop, identify the lie, and then find the truth from God’s word that affirms what Satan is seeking to contradict.
Now, let’s not ignore that Satan is a tricky dude, and even in the beginning, he played dirty. He mixed lies and truth for a dizzying cocktail that Eve drank right up. We mess up. We make mistakes. We make the wrong choices – and sometimes the whisper lies start with the truth that we sinned. Satan wants us to wallow in our sin.
When Satan hands you a mixed drink, you have to be on your guard, ready to turn it down. There is a reason that when we are told to put on the whole armor of God, the first step is the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14a). The mixture of truth and lies is disorienting. The only way to fight lies is with truth – and the only way to have truth at your disposal is to know it—and the only way to learn it is to be in God’s word regularly. Ask any Olympian, professor, or tradesman if training for a few hours on Sunday is independently sufficient to learn or hone their skill set. I don’t have to tell you the answer: you know it. God has instructed us that truth is the most basic component of a Christians’s attire – it’s part of dressing and preparation for each day.
As you read your Bible, make notes about your identity in Christ. We often rush to disciple new Christians what to DO rather than who to BE. Actions will follow identity. Learn who you are in Christ, so that when Satan whispers lies, you can shout back truth.