Two paths on a trail

Desire Drives the Direction of Our Lives

In a world full of lies, even Christians can easily be deceived. The truth is, we’re all prone to deception because we often want the lies that we are fed. For example, those regularly giving over to sexual sin will often gravitate to lies which justify their immoral lifestyle. In this interview, Steve Gallagher helps us see what’s going on in our hearts during this process, and helps us see the way to combat the world’s lies.

Nate: In a book that is called Walking in Truth in a World of Lies, I think what most people would expect is that you would deal with very specific lies in every aspect of our culture and then debunk those specific lies. You did do that in the first section, talking about various spheres of culture, but then you spent the next two sections doing something very different. Can you explain what and why?

Pastor Steve: Yeah, I could see why a Christian seeing this book would think that, and like you said, in the first section I do go into some specifics about how we're constantly being lied to. But there is a purpose in that, and it's not to debunk those lies. It is simply to offer examples of how we are constantly being bombarded with falsehood and how that affects us spiritually.
That's the point of the first section. The rest of the book has more to do with the Christian culture and what's going on in the Christian culture. How am I lying to myself? What lies am I believing about myself and my life in God? What is the deception of the End Times? How does that look? What does that look like in our church culture today? So, when I'm talking about walking in truth, it has much more to do with the reality of our life in God. Living and walking with the Lord in truth about myself and truth about Him in the midst of overwhelming deception. That's a better context of the point of the book.

Nate: One of the things that you stressed over and over in this book is the need to take personal responsibility for lies that you believe. And I think that to some people, this doesn't really make logical sense. Here’s an example. Let's say I'm standing on a street corner minding my own business and this guy comes up to me and says, “Hey man, watch my dog. I have to go into the store, and they don't allow pets inside.” So, I say sure, whatever.” Five minutes later the police come and I'm arrested for possession of drugs, because the dog was secretly carrying drugs. Now to me, I was deceived and I'm innocent. So similarly, why is it that to be deceived morally or spiritually is actually my responsibility instead of the person who's deceiving me.

Pastor Steve: As an ex-police officer, I can tell you there has to be criminal intent for there to be a crime. In that situation you described, you had no criminal intent. You were completely deceived by this conman and you are innocent. And we are innocent of many of the lies that have been told to us. For instance, George Bush kind of twisted the truth about the need to attack Iraq, because he said they had “weapons of mass destruction.” And it was all a fabrication or an exaggeration of the actual facts as he knew them. So, he lied to us and we were victimized by that. I sincerely believed him, because I thought him as a man of character.
So there's that. We are victims of many lies. But I opened the first chapter of the book by talking not about deception, but about the inherent desires that drive every human being. We are driven through life by what we want. When it comes to the whole concept of truth and deception, you cannot divorce the reality of what you want in life from how you perceive truth. What we want clouds our ability to discern truth.

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For example, a man who hungers and thirsts for righteousness is going to be open to hearing all the truth that God has to say. But in contrast, a man who's in habitual sexual sin and pornography has had his mind inundated with deception. He has a powerful desire to participate in sexual sin. And as you start feeding him over-exaggerations of doctrine such as the lies of antinomianism, which says that it's okay to sin and that God covers you, he is going to be very susceptible to believing that lie, because he's driven by what he wants. In this case, you are making yourself open to deception and that is on you, because your heart is not right.

Nate: Let's go back to the story about me being deceived by that con man. That was one moment in time. I was deceived and I received some consequences, even though I was acquitted. But for most people it's not that obvious. Take someone for example who grows up believing in hell, but 10 years down the line, they don't believe in hell and now they believe that all religions lead to the same god. During that whole process, they didn’t think they were being deceived. Instead, they believed that they were being enlightened. How does that process happen inside of a person where there could be that dramatic of a shift, where they think that they’re closer to the truth than they have ever been.

Pastor Steve: The Bible uses terms like “walking in” or “living in” frequently. Walking in the truth is a biblical phrase which describes a person's lifestyle. Think of someone who has lived 70 years of life and maybe the last 30 were lived as a Christian. During that 30 years, little things are happening here and there. You're making decisions every day in the things that you do, in what music you listen to, what entertainment that you subject yourself to. All of that is affecting you spiritually. We live in constant flex morally speaking and spiritually speaking. As a human being, you are not a stationary being. You are living in a constant flex determined by your decisions.
We need an anchor of truth, which is the Word of God. So you have to be so tied into that and be determined to obey the Word. That is the anchor, the truth that is immovable. It's a mountain and it is a rock. It is not going anywhere. There is no flex in God's truth whereas we're all over the place because of our emotions and so on. So a person can start in truth and end up way out of whack because they were making many choices along the way that little by little took them off the straight and narrow road. And by the time you get 10 years down the road, you can really be in trouble. And I think that's how it happens.

Nate: The piece of that that's most concerning to me is that in that process it's like there's something happening on the subconscious level that is then revealed in the conscious level. How do you get down to that subconscious level so that you can know what's happening there? So that you don't end up way off track.

Pastor Steve: Well, all I can tell you is that the subconscious level is your will, and we all have a free will. We have the choice to decide to do the right thing or the wrong thing. So, when you want something that is pushing you in a direction, that is also part of your will. In fact, the very word desire and will are the same word in the Greek. They both are describing two sides of the same coin. So, what you desire in life is propelling you forward in life and is causing you to make certain decisions underneath the surface. And up on the conscious level, you can tell yourself all kinds of things, but there be a disconnect between the two.
At the surfacy level, you are flattering yourself and making yourself in your own mind seem way better off than you really are spiritually while what God is seeing in your heart is what is really going on. And that is that you are in lust for whatever form of idolatry you are given over to, and that's what is propelling you in life. That is what is causing you to make the decisions that are you are making. But because you're not being honest with yourself and there's a disconnect, you can lie to yourself and think that you can get away with whatever you want to get away with. And that is happening in the hearts of multitudes of professing Christians.

Nate: I've been here for 12 years and how many times have I heard you emphasize time in the Word and time in prayer that helps develop a real connection with God. Is that what can really stop the process we’ve been talk about, or even reverse it? Does time in the Word and prayer affect your will and bring forth the fruit of a change of desire? Is that's what happening?

Pastor Steve: I've got different kinds of lusts that go on inside me like anyone else. But the primary drive of my life is that I want to obey God. I am hungering and thirsting for right living before the Lord. Because that is the primary drive of my life then when I'm spending time with God and I read a verse that convicts me about an area of lust or sinful desire, I come under conviction and I repent to the Lord. That's what keeps me right inside.
It’s the same in prayer. When I am being propelled primarily towards obeying God in my heart, then when I'm in prayer, my ears will hear the Lord speaking and I will sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit if I'm getting out of whack in one way or another. And that does happen to me, but the Lord is quick, and He helps me to stay on the straight and narrow road. That's my testimony and I think that people who aren't so concerned about right living with God are susceptible to deception.

Nate: Any time a person is confronted with a specific truth, he's going to do one of two things. He will either embrace it or reject it. That rejection happens in a number of different ways. If you could see into a person's heart who is rejecting the truth and obviously thereby being deceived, what would you see inside that person?

Pastor Steve: I get what you're saying, but my problem with that illustration is this: how often are Christians really being confronted with truth? The reality is, most preachers have learned to become very diplomatic, because they are tired of getting emotionally beaten down by angry parishioners. They have softened their message so that people won't get mad at them. So first of all, are they even being confronted with truth?
Secondly, let's say they're reading in the Bible the Sermon on the Mount. There Jesus says, ‘you have heard that it is said, you shall not commit adultery. But I say unto you, if you even look at a woman with lust in your heart, you have committed adultery.’” So, what does a Christian man do with that? Typically, what happens inside of a man who is driven by other desires is that he has already built in place beliefs and doctrinal systems so that he can discount what Jesus is saying. He can also latch on to the message of false teachers to help him believe the lie that Jesus doesn’t really mean what He is saying.  

Nate: The thing that strikes me when you say that is that there's a moment in time where a person is confronted by the truth. But how they respond in that moment could be predicated by what happened yesterday, the day before or 10 years ago. So, it's almost like, where I am now could have required a lot of work previously by the Holy Spirit to get me to the point where I even am confronted by the truth in a meaningful way.

Pastor Steve: Yeah. It's like I was saying. We are a product of our past. If you've been lied to constantly and you bought into those lies long ago, you are putting layer after layer of deception into your heart. And you are creating a receptive environment for falsehood to be accepted and acted upon. That's why it is so important that we get a grasp of truth. Yes, Biblical truth, orthodox beliefs and all that. But more than that is what is the Lord really saying to you as a believer? You must be in complete connection with God's reality of where you are in your walk with Him. That is the important thing.

Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.

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