It began with a lie, as these things often do.
Paul talks about it in Galatians chapter 5 verse 7. He says, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” Paul goes on to say in verse 8, “that kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.”
I, like the Ephesians, was running well, but lies cut into my life. I obeyed these lies. Meaning that I listened to them and I lived out my life as if they were true.
I’m sure you’ve heard them before too.
You are too young, too old, too skinny, too fat, too short, too tall, too much. Yet, at the same time, we feel we aren’t enough-not enough for our husbands, not enough for our children, not enough for our jobs. We find ourselves in this constant state of striving. It becomes a tug of war. We can’t find balance, so we seek insight. If we are too much, we tone it down. If we are not enough, we try harder. In spite of our efforts, many of us find ourselves still feeling as though we don’t measure up. Confidence turns to striving, and we lose sight of our purpose.
This “persuasion” that Paul is talking about is no new concept. No, this masterful persuader has been around since the beginning.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin cloths. ~Genesis 3:1-7
When you hear the lie initially, it almost makes sense. It’s such a sly twist to the truth that you may get the impression that God was somehow being unkind to Eve. But if you look back over the creation account, God made the whole world, He created mankind and gave them the garden to live in. They were in His presence unashamed. He gave them food to eat. He only asked one thing of them and the enemy used that to deceive mankind into thinking that God was somehow keeping something from them, but as we see in scripture, God was so generous to Adam and Eve.
Eve fell for the lie that it was not enough, and that singular lie has been the downfall of humanity for centuries since.
But there is redemption in this story. God redeemed who we are. In Psalm 103, God says," “I know you are only dust…” He knows how weak and frail mankind is. He knew we could never hope to save ourselves. Our life is not a trudgery of penance; a never ending to do list. It’s about having a daily living breathing authentic relationship with God.
A guy I dated before meeting Michael admitted to me that he had a very serious struggle with an addiction to pornography. He had since turned away from his addiction, put filters on his computer, and had a community of men around him keeping him accountable for his actions. I asked him at which point did he see things in his life start to change. He said that things really turned around when he allowed God shed His light on the darkest places in his life.
Ephesians 2 verses 1-10 tells us:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
It starts with a death…A death to the old self and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, putting off our weights and the sins that so easily entangle us and running the race, that is, a life walking with God.
We need God’s light to shine on our sin and shame. We need His light to shine on our weaknesses. We need His light to shine on the lies so we can see the truth.
This is where changes starts.
This place of brokenness is where we begin to see the truth of who we are in Christ unveiled before us.
What was the lie you believed that caused you to stop running the race well?
Mankind once hid from God because of their sin and shame, but when we apply the gospel to this situation, God turns around and says (and I paraphrase), "don't be hidden in your sin and shame, be hidden in ME. Abide in MY love. Be empowered to live a holy life through My spirit!”