The very power of [textbook writers] depends on the fact that they are dealing with a boy: a boy who thinks he is doing his English prep and has no notion that ethics, theology, and politics are all at stake. It is not a theory they put into his mind, but an assumption, which ten years hence, its origin forgotten and its presence unconscious, will condition him to take one side in a controversy which he has never recognized as a controversy at all.
— CS Lewis (The Abolition of Man)
Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.
— Paul (Romans 12:2)
Last week's blod got me thinking.
How many of the things I believe about life, myself, and reality are really the teaching of idols and not God?
And how many of those things am I entirely unconscious of, as in the kind of scenario described by CS Lewis above?
And even more frightening perhaps, how many things are inside my head that I would strongly deny if asked about openly, but by my words and actions prove daily that I do in fact believe them?
I doubt myself (and I encourage you to doubt yourself too) for several reasons:
1. I've had over 42 years of indoctrination into the faith of the false gods and philosophies, and only about half that much as a Christian learning the truth.
2. As stated last week, our culture is saturated with false and foolish teachings that are laid before us with absolute confidence. If you hear something often enough it begins to sink in, no matter how ridiculous, unlikely, or unreasonable it is.
3. My head is full of ideas, most of which I've never taken out and examined side-by-side with God's truth. There are so many things I take for granted. Although I'd love to wade in and start throwing ideas out like a recovered hoarder getting ready for a yard sale, it may be that the best I can do is root them out one-by-one as they appear.
And so, I decided to do just that - analyze and keep track of the things I discover lurking in my head that smack of false philosophy. When I find them I write them down along with the corresponding truth. Making them conscious and exposing them to the light seems like the only way combat these enemy thoughts.
Here are a few items from my list so far. I'll bet some of them would be on your list too.
Lie #1: I start with a lie that is so cliche and predictable that I almost blush to list it. But, it's become so abrasively prevalent in every facet of our society that I also hate to ignore it. The lie of which I speak is that sex outside of marriage is both fine and unavoidable - and, according to nearly every sitcom in existence, hilarious. The truth, however, runs from Genesis through Revelation. The truth is that this kind of relationship is never acceptable outside of a one-man-one-woman marriage. Saying otherwise has become trendy and the social norm, but it's false nonetheless.
Lie #2: Another lie is the key doctrine of the false god, Fate: Things just happen. If what we mean by "things just happen" is "things happen that we can't explain" or "things happen that are out of our control", then we're still okay. But I suspect that's rarely what we mean. I suspect what we really sincerely believe we mean is, "there's no rhyme, reason, or meaning behind much of what happens to us." And that is false. I posted a blod a while back ("Creator, savior & king" - June 5, 2010) on just this topic. In it I explained the "Trifecta of Faith" - that God is All-Knowing, All-Loving, and All-Powerful. Logically, if God is all three of these things, there is no way anything in His universe could ever be random or meaningless. And if you are in Him, if you love Him, and if you are called according to His purpose, then you can know that "all things work together for good" (Rom 8:28).
Lie #3: The next lie is one that's not quite so obviously dangerous - until you start thinking about where it leads. This lie comes in varying forms, usually couched in terms like, "You've got to follow your gut" or "Do what feels right". On the surface this seems like good advice. But I am personally convinced that much of the nastiness we treat each other with (if you're in customer service, you know what I mean!), the deadly self-indulgence & self-obsession of the "Me Generation", and the epidemic ruin of relationships ("I just don't 'love' her anymore. . . ") comes from making emotion/feeling the guiding force in our lives. In contrast, the Bible commands us to walk by our faith (by what we know to be right & true) instead of by our feelings. And while it's true that feelings were given to us by God to enhance the quality of our lives, it's also true that they are a type of appetite, which like all appetites can become tyrannical and gluttonous if not kept carefully in check. Emotions are meant to supplement, not reign.
Lie #4: "If it's not against the law it's okay." Our civil government has a responsibility to legislate for safety, not morality. Because of this, many things that God forbids to His followers will be allowed by the state. It's simply a matter that 1) God's laws are higher and more inclusive than the state's, and 2) not everyone who is a citizen of a certain government will also be a citizen of the kingdom of God. One example of this is that gossip is forbidden to the follower of Christ. But until it becomes slander, no one will ever be prosecuted for doing it. Here's another very current example: There's a big network-news-inspired debate going on in Iowa now about traffic cameras that automatically ticket speeders and red-light-runners. For the child of God this should be an absolute non-issue. The world may live by the rule that they can speed (i.e., break the law) as long as they don't get caught, but the Christian who is living by God's law of righteousness need not fear any traffic cam. He'll always be doing the right thing whether anyone's watching or not.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to combat false gods and their doctrines is to ask yourself (or someone else) this question of something you assume or believe to be true: Where in the Bible did you learn it? If you have no answer for that question, you'd be wise to reconsider how true it is in light of God's Word.
Remember, the goal of idols/gods/false philosophies is to define us in their terms. They exist to tell us who we are, where we came from, and what we need to do. As Christians, we must not allow them to succeed. The only one who has a right to define us is the One who made us and saved us