- Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World – Part 1
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You might have a friend who thinks he's God's gift to women, but you and everyone else know he's an arrogant, womanizing, self-centered jerk. You possibly work for a woman who thinks she's a great leader at the office, but everyone else knows that she is a micromanaging, overbearing, control freak. Why don't these people see it in themselves? Recently at church I asked our congregation, "How many of you battle with self-deception? Then I asked, "How many of you know someone who is very self-deceived? Almost everyone knew someone else who's guilty of self-deception.
Chances are you do too. You probably know someone who thinks more highly of themselves than they should. Or you might have a relative who thinks he's funny, but everyone else thinks he's annoying. You likely know someone who has a problem but will deny it until the cows come home. It's hard to be objective about ourselves. I laughed as I explained to our church that we have a statistical problem.
Almost no one in our church believes that they are self-deceived, and yet almost everyone knows someone who is. Because we have an unlimited capacity to deceive ourselves. As we lie to ourselves "I'm a great singer" , we start to believe our lies. The more we tell the lies, the more we believe they are truth. Before long, we wholeheartedly embrace a distorted reality skillfully created by a willed ignorance.
We deny, suppress, or minimize what is true. By default, we assert, adorn, and elevate what is false.
Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World – Part 1
When we finally see the truth, we think the truth is a lie. We could say it this way: those who don't know, don't know that they don't know. If you are deceived, chances are pretty good you don't know that you believe something untrue—otherwise you wouldn't be deceived. If we never identify the lies and replace them with truth, we'll forever crave a healthy life on a diet of poison and always wonder why we are sick.
So how do we begin identifying our self-told lies and replacing them with truth? Through the process of ruthless self-examination. After my kids spend a long day playing in the woods, I always have them check themselves for ticks. They loathe this somewhat embarrassing self-examination since it requires them to go over every square inch of their bodies slowly and carefully.
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But they know that catching a tick early can keep them from getting seriously ill. Similarly, I'd encourage you to do a thorough internal self-examination. Just as those pesky bloodsuckers jump on you when you enter their environment, spiritual toxins infuse your thinking as you wade through our culture.
Take an honest look at the way you live, how you think, and who or what influences you the most. Work hard to be brutally honest.
Examine your life for toxic behaviors—anything you do that cripples your spiritual effectiveness or distracts you from your eternal mission. Look within for toxic emotions—any deep feelings that lead you away from God's truth. Take an honest look at any unhealthy consumptions—the media you consume, the sites you surf, the people you spend the most time around.
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The first step to defeating an enemy is to recognize your opponent. Though your enemy might be invisible, God can give you eyes to see. Let me warn you, though. The closer you get to uncovering a toxic killer in your life, the harder your enemy will fight to keep his grip. If you are like me, you might even unknowingly betray yourself and fight against the change.
Denial is often our first line of defense. We're skilled at taking responsibility for little and justifying much. Those who are most defensive are often the most unknowingly guilty. It's been said that the more convinced you are that you're right, the more likely you are wrong.
If you fight back against those trying to help you, chances are you are fighting to keep your own lies intact. If someone who loves you tries to show you a dangerous pattern in your life, you might be percent convinced they are wrong when the truth is they are percent correct. Peter, in the New Testament, is a perfect example. When Jesus explained that some of the disciples would fall away and deny him, Peter was convinced that he never would.
With unshakable confidence, Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will " Matt.
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Can you hear his self-deceived confidence? As he flattered himself, Peter was unaware of his toxic self-deception. In the very next verse, we find Jesus explaining that before the rooster crows, Peter will deny Jesus three times. But Peter stood his ground and declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you" Matt. Sure enough, before the day ended, not one, not two, but—count 'em— three different times Peter denied even knowing who Jesus was.
If someone has been trying to show you something about yourself and you continue to fight it, maybe it's time to acknowledge that you might be deceived. Your spouse might be convinced you have a problem with painkillers or alcohol or another drug, but you stand your ground and say that you don't. Someone might have told you that you're addicted to video games or social media, but you don't believe it. Maybe several loved ones have told you that you are a workaholic, but you don't stop working to listen.
If you find yourself resisting or fighting back, be careful.
Those who are most convinced are often the most deceived. Be careful not to flatter yourself so much that you cannot detect or hate your own sin. Since it is hauntingly easy to deceive ourselves, we need outside help to become more objective about our blind spots. And if our shields are up and our defenses are operating at full force, we may not be hearing what those around us are saying.
Sometimes if we really want to change, we must ask God to show us what's true about how we're thinking, talking, and living. In my early years at our church, people complained to me regularly that I was being unnecessarily crude when I preached. To them, some of my illustrations and humor crossed the line of what's appropriate.
I told myself that they were just being prudish and didn't understand my sense of humor and strategy. Though more people complained, I stood my ground.
https://icexarbed.gq After all, if they had known me before I was a Christian, they'd be blown away by how much I'd improved. Besides, my slightly off-color humor was connecting with unchurched people, men and women visiting our church for the first time. I couldn't help it if these other "legalistic" people didn't have the freedom that I enjoyed.
Many of our church's most faithful leaders set up meeting after meeting to talk to me about my "problem. They just weren't as evangelistic as I was and obviously didn't have a good sense of humor. At the end of what seemed like the hundredth meeting about my jokes, an exceptionally wise older gentleman asked me to pray. Not wanting to break my word, a few days later I half-heartedly prayed something like, "God, I know all these people are wrong, but if there is something you need to show me about cleaning up my act, please do. The very next Sunday, my oldest daughter, Catie, who was seven at the time, came to "big church" and sat with my wife, Amy, while I preached.
I glanced at my innocent daughter, smiling attentively and holding her Precious Moments Bible proudly in its pink case. Right as I was about to begin with a colorful joke, I hesitated. I find enjoyment in these books because I am challenged to shift my perspective and way of thinking. This isn't the kind of book that someone would just start reading out of the blue. The last chapter left the impression that the author was not very serious about the book.
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He congratulates the reader for making it through his small book and then accuses them of wasting their time and missing out on great truths if they didn't take the whole book seriously. Call me old fashioned but I don't think that patronizing sarcasm is the best method to get a point across to an audience that feels deeply connected to the subject matter. The statements cast a negative implication on an otherwise heartfelt conclusion to the book. Overall the book wasn't bad and it's content would probably make a good theme for a study group.