Cynicism: A Spiritual Danger for the Modern Christian
We all know that we’re being lied to on a daily basis. From news outlets, to advertisements, to social media we’re surrounded by it. And with such an onslaught, it’s easy to allow cynicism to grow in our hearts. But this can lead us into a dangerous spiritual condition, as Pastor Steve discusses in this interview from our archives.
Nate: You wrote in the introduction to the first part of your book, Walking In Truth In A World Of Lies, that there is an unexpected danger that threatens a person who's constantly being barraged with lies. The danger is that a person can start to think that it's impossible to know what's true and what's a lie. And this can give way either to despair or to cynicism. And to me that came out of left field. I would never even have thought of that as a danger in our day and age. So why do you believe that is such a danger?
Pastor Steve: Well, the entire Christian faith is built on trust. It’s built on the fact that we believe in the Lord, we believe in His character and we believe in what He tells us. And when you become so disaffected by constant lies and you’re being lied to everywhere you turn, I think for most people it becomes an unconscious feeling. It's not that we sit and think it through, it's just that we know we're being lied to constantly. And then that crosses over unconsciously into our minds regarding our relationship with the Word of God and with the Lord Himself.
And like I just said, everything in Christianity is built on our trust in the Lord and our belief in who He is, who He says He is and what He says He is going to do. We can't afford to allow cynicism to creep into our attitudes about life. We should be skeptical when we know we're being lied to, but we don't want to cross the line into cynicism about everything and everyone. That's the danger.
<pull-quote>We should be skeptical when we know we're being lied to, but we don't want to cross the line into cynicism about everything and everyone.<pull-quote><tweet-link>TweetThis<tweet-link>
Nate: I actually remember being confronted by the Lord on this issue in my own life. I had crossed that line into cynicism about everything just like you were saying. The ongoing thoughts I had were, “Why even try to find out the truth if you know that you're just constantly being lied to.” How would a person know if they have crossed the line from skepticism into cynicism?
Pastor Steve: Well, it takes self-awareness. You have to really be in touch with what's happening inside of you and what's going on in your relationship with the Lord. There has to be some degree of a sensitivity and a conscientiousness about it and living in the reality of the spiritual life. Those kinds of things give you discernment as to what's true and what's false. Then you’ll know if you're crossing into becoming cynical about everything.
Truthfully, cynicism is a form of pride. And if you have been broken by the Lord repeatedly in different areas of your life, you get broken down from that high place of pride where you are the judge of everything, including God. You'd be shocked at how many Christians subconsciously think that way. If you're talking about being cynical towards God and God's Word - if that isn't pride, I don’t know what is. So, that's really what's underlying that: the need for brokenness. We need to allow God to break us of our pride and to humble us. And then you take on a completely different mindset and attitude toward the Lord.
Nate: Pure Life Ministries is dedicated to helping Christian men and women overcome sexual sin and its consequences. Cynicism seems to be totally unrelated, and I think a lot of people would think that way. So why spend so much time on a subject that seems to not even really fit directly with the mission of Pure Life?
Pastor Steve: The primary mission of Pure Life Ministries is to help men who are dealing with habitual sexual sin. The Bible talks about the deception of sin. Sin is very deceptive, and you can't be practicing sin in an ongoing manner without also allowing deception to take root in your heart. Meaning that your perspectives have become so skewed by sin and the film of sin over your spiritual eyes, that you can't get a grasp on what truth really is. So, this topic is very relevant to a person who has been involved in habitual sexual sin.
<pull-quote>Sin is very deceptive, and you can't be practicing sin in an ongoing manner without also allowing deception to take root in your heart.<pull-quote><tweet-link>TweetThis<tweet-link>
Nate: I don't think there's anyone who would be reading this who could say I walk in truth in every area of my life. And you said in the epilogue to your book that your constant prayer through writing this was that you would be able to present the many ways that Satan, who is the master deceiver, is deceiving people so that men and women can learn to walk in truth. We're going to get into some specific ways in regard to how to walk in truth in later interviews. But for this first interview, what's one way that a person could avoid being deceived?
Pastor Steve: Well, I would say that inundating yourself with Scripture is part of the process. Just building a biblical framework in your daily thinking. Because when you are consistently immersed in Scripture, it creates a new way of looking at life. Also, it is equally as important to be very honest with yourself about your inner world. Do your utmost not to get into a mindset of looking to create an image to present to others, that isn’t consistent with who you really are as a person. I would say, those two things kind of go hand in hand and both are vital to being able to walk in truth.
Nate: Okay, great. Thanks. You've given us a lot to think about, and even some ways to begin responding. I look forward to the rest of this series. Thanks for doing it.
Pastor Steve: Amen, it’s great.