Believing the Lie5
by Kathryn Dyksterhouse
As I am seeing my nine-year old daughter becoming more aware of the way she looks and how her appearance “matches up” to the societal standard for beauty, I am convinced that vanity, idolatry of appearance, and insecurity (among others) are an epidemic in our culture today. As a result, I have been studying books that speak to teenage girls on topics about lies that young women believe, with an emphasis on body image. And while the problem may be glaringly obvious in younger girls, I am convinced that this affects us all – young, old, women and men.
In the book Lies Young Women Believe, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh point out a pattern that was established when Eve listened to the very first lie in the Garden of Eden:
FIRST, Eve cooperated by listening to Satan’s lie. “The progression to spiritual and emotional bondage begins by simply listening to something that’s not true. You don’t have to touch it, do it, agree with it, or even like it. You just have to be close enough to listen to the lie… Eve knew she was not supposed to eat from the tree, so what was she doing hanging around it?” (Lies Young Women Believe)
While there are many examples of different sin patterns that could be used here, let’s stick with the problem of body image. If we know that it’s wrong to idolize our own image, we are placing ourselves in the path of temptation when we pore over magazines with photoshopped pictures of unrealistically flawless models. We need to stop “standing by the tree!”
Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. -1 Timothy 2:22
SECOND, Eve cooperated by dwelling on lies. “Rather than running, she struck up a conversation with the serpent… We begin to dwell on what we cannot have rather than all the abundant gifts He’s lavished on us.” (Lies Young Women Believe)
This is a tough one. It’s like sin has hard-wired us to see the glass as half-empty. I am guilty of looking at my friends and seeing all that they have that I don’t. When I do this, I miss out on a grateful heart that can celebrate my gifts and rejoice for my friends. In her book Body. Beauty. Boys., Sarah Bragg writes, “After playing the comparison game for awhile, I learned that when you compare yourself with others, you lose every time. You lose by either putting yourself down or exalting yourself… Go out of your way to celebrate publicly whatever threatens you privately. If you are jealous of someone, celebrate first with God whatever it is that threatens you, and then celebrate it with that person. The more you celebrate, the more jealousy will be weeded out of your heart. If you celebrate without reserve, your jealousy will be cured.”
At Pillow Academy’s Spring Fling a few weeks ago, Merrick Coleman was running the last leg of a 4x100 relay race. If you have had an opportunity to see Merrick run, then you know that God has gifted him with speed. I like to think of him as our own hometown Eric Liddell. Well, Merrick’s relay team fell behind. By the time that Merrick was handed the baton, the gap was too far and there was no way that Merrick could catch up. He raced to a second-place finish. As soon as Merrick crossed the finish line, he found the boy who came in first and celebrated his victory. He was encouraging and joyful for his competitor. Oh, that we would all have this kind of generous heart!! I like to think that some of Merrick’s attitude comes from his understanding of all that he’s been given. (If you don’t know his story, you can read about it here.) If we truly see that we have been redeemed and that we are children of the King, then we will live in a posture of joy and celebration rather than self-pity and comparison.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. –Philippians 2:3-4
For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. –John 1:16
THIRD, Eve cooperated by believing lies rather than the Truth of God’s Word. “God had said, ‘Do not eat the fruit of the tree.’ However, Eve quoted God as saying, ‘You must not touch it’ (Gen 3:3)… God’s Word is an essential part of our armor against Satan’s subtle attacks… [In] order to hear what God is saying to you and to understand His plan and purpose for your life, you have to be reading and dwelling on His Word.” (Lies Young Women Believe)
At Westminster, we have some great resources in this area. There are daily Bible reading plans on the website and the app. If you aren’t in the habit of reading the Bible every day, I suggest that you start there. (The app even has an audio option – you can listen to God’s Word while you’re in the car!) Our sermon series are almost always through a book of the Bible. Spend some time reading through Matthew as Richard preaches The Beauty of Jesus this summer. Get involved in one of our small group studies throughout the year. These studies usually provide great instruction on dwelling on God’s Word after you’ve read it. They also give accountability as you come together in smaller group discussion!
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. –Psalm 119:11
FINALLY, Eve cooperated by acting on Satan’s lies. “Doesn’t matter how you act out; every sin in our lives begins with a lie. First we listen to the lie. Then we dwell on it. Then we begin to believe it, and before long we’re acting on it. Eventually, those sinful behaviors become a pattern in our lives and we find ourselves in bondage – feeling trapped by things we thought would make us happy and free.” (Lies Young Women Believe)
Psalm 1:1-2 provides a summarization of this sin pattern:
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.
We start out by walking by temptation, then we stand and linger in its presence, and then we sit and give ourselves over to sin. And the weapon that we are to use to fight this battle is God’s Word – filling ourselves up with it to both convict and combat!
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. –Psalm 119:105
Thank you, Westminster, for the encouragement and accountability that you provide to me as we stand together in our fight against the schemes of the devil!