Common Lies We Believe About God
Nobody talks to you as much as you talk to yourself. Your mind, constantly filled with an internal dialogue, interprets the world around you. What do you think about this? What do you believe about that? With little effort, your mind continuously feeds thought after thought.
As we experience the world around us, we develop interpretations in the form of our beliefs and how we think life works. Whether we are aware of it or not, we develop beliefs about God, family, church, gender, sex, relationships, pleasure, and so on to help us navigate life. The problem is that our interpretations and beliefs are often tainted with perceptions and ideas that aren’t true. The result? Lies bang on the doors of our belief systems and invade our thought lives.
Living with the lies and messages that we believe is like breathing—we don’t even think about it. These automatic tapes in our internal dialogues can get stuck on repeat. As trials and pain seep in through the cracks of our experiences, we grapple to process our realities. Often when we can’t make sense of life, we become aware of how we view God. We begin to take inventory of our experiences. In our thoughts, we tally up the pain of our lingering sexual sin struggles, our deferred hopes, and our life circumstances that aren’t going as planned, and we start to consider what God has—or hasn’t—done for us in these situations. As we look through the lens of our experiences, we question, we doubt, we blame God, and we believe lies.
Here are four common lies we believe about God, as well as truths we can learn to apply.
Lie #1: God is not good, but distant and cruel.
The Lie: We believe that God doesn’t really care about us. If he is good, he would have stopped that unpleasant thing from happening. If he isn’t cruel, he would offer me victory over my out-of-control sexual desires—or allow me to indulge them. He must delight in taking away the things that we love and letting us suffer.
The Truth: Life can seem cruel, especially for those who have experienced sexual abuse or ongoing temptations like lust and same-sex attraction. While we live in this sinful world, we will both sin and be sinned against. Human sin, not God, has caused the pain and suffering that we experience. God cares so much about restoring what sin has broken that he sent Jesus Christ, his only Son, as a sacrifice to make payment for our sins (Romans 5:8). Instead of condemnation, he offers salvation, through the death of Jesus, for all who believe in him (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10).
Lie #2: I will never be able to overcome my patterns of sexual sin.
The Lie: Sexual and emotional desires are out of my control. It is not possible—or desirable—to be free of what is so natural. I engage in sex outside of marriage because I am only responding to my urges and desires. Self-soothing through masturbation is an addiction that won’t ever go away.
The Truth: For some, it may feel this way at times, or even most of the time. However, to believe this is to say that Christ is insufficient. Christ came to bring liberty to the captives (Luke 4:18). These struggles may last a long time, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be overcome or that Jesus withholds his aid. While accepting this lie is to give up in defeat, challenging the lie looks like believing that change is possible and that there is hope as we fight against our sin. Not only is God’s grace sufficient for us, but his power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Lie #3: God helps those who help themselves.
The Lie: God only helps us when we work to help ourselves. Being saved, accepted, and forgiven is dependent upon us. If we continue to fail or don’t do what is right, we are displeasing to God. The burden falls on our best efforts and religious works.
The Truth: Legalism says we can be good enough in and of ourselves, earning God’s favor by constant self-improvement. This denies the gospel and rejects the Bible, which says that God saves us and grows us, by his grace, through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-10). The gospel is a message of radical grace and love: God in his love does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We cannot and are not required to change ourselves to earn his favor. God wants our hearts, not our perfection.
Lie #4: God thinks sinful sexual behavior is the worst; therefore, he sees me as damaged goods and unforgivable.
The Lie: We identify ourselves by our sin. Since we struggle with this sin, God must hate me. Even if God’s love is real, it can’t possibly be strong enough or deep enough to extend to my sexual brokenness. What has happened to me is how God sees me.
The Truth: Please hear me, you are not your sin; your sin does not define you. There is increasing pressure to identify ourselves by our feelings, attractions, and experiences. These things were never meant to carry the weight of a person’s identity. As believers, we are forgiven, gifted with a new heart, no matter what our besetting sins may be (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:9-10) or what sins have been done against us.
We should be looking (and thinking) through the lens of God’s Word, not our experiences. When we do this, we will rightly see who God is, and that will nourish our thoughts. In order to break free from our faulty interpretations about life, we must name the lies and replace the false messages we have believed with the richness of God’s true Word (2 Corinthians 10:5). As we grow in knowing the Lord, lies are dismantled and replaced by faith and obedience.
You can also watch the video, How to Recapture Our Thoughts, which corresponds to this blog.