April eNews: Believing Lies About God Hinders Real Change
When ensnared in sexual sin, people invariably lie. The obvious reason, of course, is that they don’t want to be caught. If we dig deeper, though, we find that lies are not simply a personal problem, they are an interpersonal problem. The liar is essentially saying, “I am willing to betray the implicit trust you have in me in order to avoid the consequences of my behavior.” Lies are for me and against you. These are motives that can be easily discerned.
Lies also reveal what country we are temporarily calling home. They are the native tongue of the Devil, and they are the natural language of his dark kingdom. In other words, when we lie, we are exposing our spiritual allegiances. We are telling the world who we want as our spiritual father.
Another spiritual fact is that when we tell lies, we also believe lies. Yes, as strange as that can sound, we can believe our own lies. However, there is a deception that is even worse: we actually believe lies about God. A reliable assumption about life is that it is God-ward at all times, whether we are consciously thinking about Him or not. Dig down far enough and you will find that the real root of our behavior revolves around our relationship to and beliefs about God.
One category of lies believed by those in sexual idolatry is that God is like a human being—turbo-charged maybe, like a kind of superman. Look at actual idols (of Far Eastern religions for example) and you will find a few extra hands, suggesting that God can multi-task better than us, or an extra eye or two, suggesting that he sees a little more and is a little smarter than the average human. In order to indulge in sexual sin, we must humanize God. In particular, we have to believe that he can’t see everywhere, everything, at all times.
Think about it. If you searched the internet for pornography, would you do it if you knew that your spouse, pastor, mother and children were looking right over your shoulder? No one would do such a thing. Sin thrives only in the dark. It is amazing the self-control a person suddenly acquires when he is in public. What does that indicate about the reality of God in the life of the sexual idolater?
All authentic heart change depends on knowing God truly. Those stuck in sin must hear the question resounding in their spiritual ears, “‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.” (Isaiah 40:25) In times past their answer to the question was a lie. He could be compared to someone big, someone with highly acute senses, or someone smart—but not Supreme. Change takes root when they say the truth, “There is no one like you. You alone see all your creation.” Then as they put their trust in the Holy One, in that act of faith they are entering, or re-entering, the kingdom of truth and light.
Dr. Ed Welch is a counselor, faculty member and Director of the School of Biblical Counseling at CCEF and Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. He is the author of Depression: A Stubborn Darkness, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, Blame It On The Brain, When People Are Big and God is Small and numerous articles. Ed and his wife, Sheri, have two daughters.