By Brian Bettes
How honest are we with ourselves when it comes to our thinking? How many of Satan’s lies, thought systems, and belief systems do we buy into?
Recently I have been going through a period of deep introspection. I have been doing an inventory of the foundational thoughts that have shaped my belief system, analyzing what they are based in. Are my beliefs based in truth or are they based in lies? I have been asking myself whether I take 100 percent responsibility for my thoughts and actions or not.
I would like to challenge us to take a look at how we are doing at using God’s Word to discern between the thoughts and intents of our hearts (Hebrew 4:12)? Are we honest with ourselves, or are we lying to ourselves? Are we taking responsibility for our thoughts and actions?
Satan has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9)! What about us? Has he deceived us, too? Are we letting him deceive us?
As an example of what I mean, let’s take a look at what happened in the Garden of Eden with our first parents. Once God got Adam to “fess up” to what he had done, what was the first thing he did? He blamed “the woman you gave me, Lord” didn’t he (Genesis 3:12)? So you see, it was first the woman’s fault for giving him the fruit, but if you look closely, you will see that it was also God’s fault for giving Adam the woman. My paraphrase of that conversation looks something like this: “You gave me the woman, Lord, so it is your fault, too. It is anybody’s fault but my own. I mean, look at the situation. You gave me this woman and she gave me the fruit. I just did what any normal male would do when this beautiful creature (remember You gave her to me) handed it to me—I ate it. It’s not my fault.”
As with Adam and with Aaron and the golden calf (“Don’t be mad at me Moses. You were gone too long! And besides, you know how these people are; they forced me!”—Exodus 32:22-24), it seems that it is easier to blame someone else for our wrong actions than it is to take responsibility for them.
In the business world, there is a basic formula that is used to talk about this:
First, there is a circumstance that occurs; something happens that applies pressure.
Next, there is the response or action taken as a means to deal with that circumstance.
Lastly, a result or an outcome is produced.
Within this formula, what comes out as a result is completely dependent upon the response. It is how we respond to a situation that counts, not what happened to necessitate a response.
Take note of that. What Satan has tricked people into doing is to focus the blame on the circumstances and not the response (the base word for responsibility). That is classic victimization. When we focus on the circumstances, we are saying, “It isn’t my fault. These circumstances occurred, and therefore I am justified in my action. Don’t you understand that was a bad or painful (or whatever) situation? All I did is what any normal person would do. It isn’t fair to say I should have done differently.” Can we see what is wrong with this statement? Satan wants us to focus on what happened so we can assign blame. God, on the other hand, expects us to focus on our response, obedience to Him, resulting in a good and right outcome. God isn’t looking for excuses as to why we don’t obey Him. Imagine where you and I would be today had Jesus told the Father that the penalty He was paying was harsh, giving Him the excuse that He shouldn’t have to die because He didn’t sin (“It’s the people you gave me, Lord”), instead of obediently dying on the cross (Hebrews 5:8).
Every day we are surrounded by lies, half-truths, a world living in the shadows, and people who live out their lives being deceived. In the movie The Matrix, there was a whole world of people who blindly—and willingly—lived out their lives in a lie. Are we like them? Did we swallow the blue pill and buy what Satan is selling us? When it comes to living God’s way from His Word, do we say, “I am trying,” or are we doing it? The reality is Satan has developed so many lies and shades of the truth that we have to carefully analyze the thoughts that shape our beliefs.
Do we deceive ourselves into thinking that, just because we understand some of God’s truth and therefore apply some of His principles, that we are okay? Is God only allowed into certain parts of our lives, but not others? That would be a shame. Again, how honest are we with ourselves in our thoughts? Are we “bringing into captivity every thought” (2 Corinthians 10:5)? Do we have spiritual integrity, or are we willing to live in the shadows of our own mind? Satan loves it when we do that.
As many of us watched one of our former organizations leave what we understood as the truth, splintering into little tiny shreds, I have seen and heard many people believe lies about fellow brethren in the church. They have also believed lies about themselves. I am ashamed to say that I have done this myself. There seems to be a common theme of victimization running through the stories of hurt and suffering of the “walking wounded” in the church. No doubt we have all experienced very real hurts that have occurred. However, what I have also experienced is a lot of people willing to blame others for the pain they suffered, but the willingness to accept ownership for their response to what happened is nowhere in sight. The truth of the matter is, victimization is a concept that was invented and espoused by Satan the devil.
Is it possible that some of us fell prey to the concept that our response to those events, events outside of our control, was the fault of the organization or the ministry involved? To be clear, there is no doubt that the organizations of men and the ministers who demanded our blind obedience are to be blamed for their part in those circumstances. But as I pondered the events of yesteryear, it dawned on me that nobody was holding a gun to my head all those years. I responded out of blind allegiance (they called it obedience) and fear of rejection/removal from “the herd” just like most did at that time. However that is not their fault. Just because they taught certain “doctrines” doesn’t mean I had to follow them. My response to follow God and His Word above all else was my responsibility!
As we go through our Christian walk, let’s make sure we are taking 100 percent responsibility for our actions. Let’s make sure we focus on God’s righteous response to circumstances instead of focusing on and blaming the circumstances themselves. When bad things happen to good people, and that happens all the time, it is our job to take the situation to our Father and ask for wisdom and strength to form the right response. The purpose for this is to develop His righteous character within us, and to be a light of His righteousness to the world. We are to become His righteous result. So, let’s work on our responses to situations and circumstances so as to exhibit spiritual honesty and integrity.