It’s recently come to my attention (perhaps again?) that there is a tool the enemy uses that we seldom pay attention to but it could be one of his greatest methods of triumph, if not the greatest: getting us to waste energy trying to get things we already have.
I never noticed it before, partly b/c I was falling for it myself. And also because it was subtle and kind of strange, something that is fairly alien to human deception b/c we so often deal in what is seen. But there’s so much evidence for it that I’m forced to see the pattern.
The other day my mom was telling me about this sermon that she was listening to about the garden, and how the serpent was trying to tell the woman that they would become like God if they ate the fruit. “But they already were like God,” my mom paraphrased. “Huh,” I thought. I thought it was a good point, even if it seemed a little weak. I knew the nature of the devil was to lie but he didn’t seem like the kind to go for technicalities. But what seems like just a technicality is really just a distraction.
And if you haven’t noticed, this world is full of distractions. Mainly of the media persuasion. We all know the media tries to create a void in order to sell you a product, they openly admit this. And we give them a certain amount of respect for it. We see a persuasive technique played out for our benefit and even though we can see the strings, if we end up wanting that thing there’s a little part of even the smartest of us that goes: “well played sir. fetch me my credit card.”
I’ll save the conspiracy theory about that whole system another day. But the point is, if this kingdom belongs to the prince of this world, it would make sense that the highest officers of this kingdom would be so b/c they prescribe closest to its methods. But if you are a Christian, you are of another kingdom, yet the same holds true. Only problem is, we’re taught to believe that we have to contend for this kingdom that we’re already a part of.
I listen to this guy Jon Crowder a lot. Many people take issue with his theology, but I like him b/c he’s always got a Word that’s fresh and stimulates the mind renewal process. And as I was watching him talk about unity the other day I thought, “Where have I heard this before?” Essentially he was talking about how we should stop contending for unity in the body of Christ b/c we already have it. I realized that a lot of his messages are on this theme of “stop asking God for what you already have.” Stop asking God for faith, for a spirit of love, for the Holy Spirit. You already have those things. Know that you have them. Then use them. “The man’s right,” I would think. The Word says we already have access to this b/c of Christ. Let’s think on this everyday and see if it doesn’t change how we behave. And if it works, we should then find out where we got this notion of working hard for something we already have, and beat that person (kidding).
Then, I was watching Bill Johnson. Say what you want about Bill Johnson but you can’t say he isn’t doing his thing. He preaches it, practices it, then teaches others to do the same. And he was talking about the garden as well, only this time he talked about the serpent’s first statement: “Did God really say?” And he talked about how the enemy gets us to question the validity and/or understanding of what God says. He then went on to twist God’s statement but the point was, the seed of doubt is planted that you don’t have all the information.
Here’s God: “Hi. You are like Me. Here’s the information you need.”
Here’s the devil: “That’s not all the information. You aren’t like Him.”
The strange thing about those two statements, just looking at them they both are pretty compelling. Both declaring a way of things. And it is tempting to want all the information, even if it isn’t relevant, who knows where that stems from. I want to engage the latter statement. I want to know why someone would say that so I can use my knowledge to combat it. If I cannot combat it, then I must entertain it. It’s the Western way. Surely the devil knows that, and he uses it. But as I get older I’m getting to the point where the former statement is enough and has proven to be true more and more, and I lose interest in the latter statement, which tends to mislead me and waste my time.
Another thing Bill Johnson brought up was the temptation of Jesus and how Satan opened with, “If you’re the son of God…” I’ll get to the profundity of all that in a minute, the point is that God had just said a chapter before, in front of a buncha people, “Ya’ll, here go my son. Right here, there he is. I’m pleased with him, he’s doin’ good.” Even put a compliment on it. And here comes the devil, just putting a spin on something that’s already been said, b/c he can’t come up with any new statements, “If you are…”
If I am? I am. What are we talking about? God himself told me that I am. In front of witnesses. Not even like… I mean this is crazy. It would be one thing if God said, “You are the son of so-and-so,” and he had to take His word on that. But God says, “You’re my son.” I mean… there’s no higher verifiable source than God on who His own son is. But the devil still goes for it. And you know what? It almost kinda works, obviously, b/c here’s Jesus undergoing one of the craziest spiritual battles of his life, and what’s the root of it? His identity.
So, okay #1: Wait a minute, are you serious?!?! Did he like, not know who he was???? Come on!!!
And #2: Sound familiar?
So with my mom and Jon and Bill all swirling about the same issue without any prompting I had to go, “okay… this is real.” And I started to think about the implications of this type of lie. We’re dealing with invisible things so I can see this getting dicey. If the enemy can get me chasing and questioning something that I already have… then a couple things can happen. I can go to God for something I already have, then think He isn’t giving it to me, then think “well, He must have a reason for not giving this to me,” then go around thinking that God doesn’t answer all prayers but you never know which ones but you gotta trust Him, then go telling other people that.
The other thing that can happen is I start thinking I gotta do something to get it. So I’m trying harder and harder to get something [that I already have], feeling like I’m just not there yet b/c I don’t see it. Then I look around at other people and I start comparing myself. “Well they’re not doing as much as me.” Then I tell other people that they’ve got to do better if they want this thing [that they already have], then I can look at people not doing “good” or doing “bad” and draw conclusions i.e. judge them.
I could undermine the work of the cross. If Jesus paid the debt, the whole debt, of everyone who’s ever been, and we really believed that, what would happen? Are we ready to live in a world where we believed that? Do we even know what that would look like? Do we know how many deceptions and lies, great and small that we’ve been told over the years from this or that, get in the way of that reality and have to be uprooted? Could we us and our doctrines out of the way and let God do His job? Are we ready to offer freedom with no strings? Have we ever even been taught such a thing? But it makes sense, if the gospel means “good news.” And “eternal life through Christ” sounds more like good news than “eternal life with stipulations.” I mean duh, right? That’s what everyone expects. That’s just like, “regular news.”
So my point is, people going around thinking they don’t have what they already have is not only a prevalent deception, it is a primary, fundamental one. Meaning, you ought to always stop and question this type of thinking. Just today I was on YouTube watching this forum for black men and women in relationships, and this guy, bless his heart, got up and eventually said something like, “we as men want more power, more strength, more influence…” Now we could argue about his priorities all day, but when I heard that I just wanted to scream [Negro] YOU ALREADY HAVE THAT!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW WITH THIS!!!
But you know what? If you go around deceived, thinking you don’t have that, then how are you going to behave? Not well. And you might be thinking– supposing you understand exactly what I’m saying with all this– “If this is happening why doesn’t God tell us?”
That’s the thing. He is. He had to tell me three separate times through unrelated, unbiased sources before I would even see it. Before that He would tell me all the time. And guess what? I didn’t believe Him. Because I couldn’t see past the deception. If I complained about me and how deficient I was He would tell me, plainly, “You’re fine. You have everything you need already.” Case closed, right? But I would either think He was doing that rose (blood?) -colored Jesus glasses thing where He just thinks I’m great no matter what, or I’d think it was some hallucination induced by my inner desire to live complacent without challenges, or some theosophist leaning that seeped through my brain after too much Wizard of Oz or something.
Thing is, He wouldn’t stop there. If He knew I wouldn’t trust His voice He’d get me to open up the scripture to Corinthians or something, and have Paul say the same thing He just said. And that would sorta work, but it would just get me praying to Him to get more of this stuff that I already got!!!!
The deception was like a web over my eyes. I wasn’t completely useless while it was there, but it was hindering me. Didn’t help that everywhere I turned were people living in the same deception, reinforcing it.
So this blog is an entreaty to the Christian: please question this idea of trying to plead for, earn, or even claim, that which you already have. Notice how I’m not even saying ENTITLED TO. You are not “entitled to” life and life more abundant, YOU HAVE IT. I promise you, you do. But a great deception can diminish even the most tangible miracle. How much more the invisible kind? Keep watch over what has your attention. “I don’t have” is the silent, swollen chant of this heavy, insatiable country. How much of it is true, and how much is it a spell? If we, who have the power of heaven, can consciously remove ourselves from the clutches of this seduction, it could be our consecration. Faith in the truth, in what God has sent forth through His Word, an agent of eternal, unlimited power and life. It might be the only thing separating us from true holiness.