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Step 4, Bible Studies
"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." Deuteronomy 5:20
The cute social media post thing strikes again. I came across this fluff ball the other day:
"Nope, I haven't seen your lipstick."
Adorable. Humorous. Human.
Indeed, this deceptive attempt at convincing did not start with our adorable pup. Rather, we need to look at history, a little further back. Let's peek in on a power couple.
Once upon a time, there was Ananias and Sapphira...Acts 5:1-11
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.
I recently came across a little gem about the ego and the soul.
It's quite profound. It states things like:
"Ego looks outward. Soul looks inward."
"Ego sees lack. Soul sees abundance."
According to one definition of the word, soul is comprised of the mind, the will and the emotions. So, it stands to reason soul would be quite vulnerable to disease. Indeed, there is a battle going on.
And, let's get real -- a large part of that battle involves the toxic pride factor.
Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:16
And that pride rubs shoulders with rebellious foolishness.
The fool hath said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psalms 14:1
And yes, that goes for even us Christians.
It's not about being a good little boy or girl in the pews on Sunday. Instead, it has everything to do with the very real, very rebellious, prideful and diseased thoughts which have ensnared us in affliction. Saying "no" when we should say "yes."
As is echoed in the "Ego Versus Soul" post...
"Ego rejects God. Soul embraces God."
And, while we may nod our heads in agreement with that statement, do we really examine any rebelliousness lurking in our tricky hearts?
After all, we're not above being deceived...
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
For, once upon a time, there was a certain rebel who let some audacious, prideful attitudes rip.
And he said unto them, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." Luke 10:18
Those with good sense are slow to anger,
and it is their glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
We get angry over a lot of things. To be honest, Americans as a society are pretty angry. Perhaps it stems from our idea of "rights." We believe (and expect) that certain things are due us, that our lives should include the ability to choose and have and do (sometimes even without consequence). When those expectations are denied, we get angry.
It’s also a form of control. Here in America (and in other countries), we have come to believe that we control our own destiny. We choose the vocation or profession or job we will have. We choose where to live, who to marry, how many children we will have (aborting the rest). We choose when we will work and when we will play (and we play a lot!). So when we are denied these things, we get angry.
We often couch our anger in morality, claiming that this or that is unfair or wrong. But if we are honest, many times our protests cover our fear. We cannot control the situation so anger is better than . . . trust. You see, God is in control. All the time, in all things, through all people. And while we all have free will, ultimately His plans will come to effect.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NRSV
This verse doesn’t say that God will only work out the good things or the things we control or when we are obedient (as opposed to sinning). It says that He will work out all things. And often, He works them out with Heaven in mind. That means the story doesn’t end here, on earth, but rather ends There, with Him. Hebrews 11:39-40a tell us that
In the past two weeks, I've become aware of two pastors (same denomination, different churches) who are wallowing in self-pity and self-indulgence. Both claim depression and overwhelming personal pain. One used the term "burned out." A Christian who is "burned out?" Who cannot go on in ministry or service for the Lord? Oh . . . my . . . goodness!
On the one hand, I'm angry at these brothers. How dare they, as servants of the Lord and leaders within the Church, be so self-centered as to put their own desires ahead of the desires of the Lord? And, on the other hand, I'm filled with pity for these men who are so deluded in their beliefs that they can justify "crises of faith," doubt as it were, without feeling the least tinge of remorse or fear of God's judgment. (And if they are fearful, not fearful enough to turn back to the narrow path.)
"Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"--but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13
He who covers his sins will not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Proverbs 28:13
Denial: it's a ridiculous looking thing.
I once saw a photograph of a mouse, looking straight at the camera, cheeks puffed out to a Saltine's square shape. And the tag line attached was "What cracker?"
It made me think of my own erratic disordered eating behaviors, including stealing my roommates' food and dumpster diving.
"...I thought I was hiding my secret well from the outside world. I replenished the food I'd stolen from my roommates. I played ‘beat the clock' before they came home to notice...
...It became a regular hide and steal, hide and eat, hide and deny game... I knew their schedules by heart. I'd wait for them to leave for class. I'd hurry home, skipping my own classes to ensure enough time alone... I had to eat as much as I could before they came home...
... I'd be first to volunteer among my roommates to take out the trash, because I knew what ‘goodies' I'd thrown out...
...Trips to the dumpster at 2:30 a.m. were not unusual... I'd rummage through other people's trash bags...
...I was caught on more than one occasion. I'd try to play it off, pretending everything was normal as people passed by me scrounging in the dumpster. As I became more desperate, however, I began going to the dumpster frequently in broad daylight while other students were coming and going from class... I tried to convince myself I could ‘just act natural' and disguise the truth..."
I was asking, "What Cracker?"
"Actors search for rejection. If they don't get it, they reject themselves."
As someone with a theater background, I've often encountered rejection.
I've endured many auditions and have heard my fair share of no. I didn't look the part, sound the part, I couldn't get a handle on a certain accent or I simply was not "good enough."
Ah, yes, "good enough." For many of us perfectionists and/or recovering addicts, this little phrase cuts right to the core.
In one way or another, we are recovering from something in life. And yes, it's often fueled by rejection.
We must differentiate between true guilt, and false guilt. Listen to how Paul differentiates between the two:
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness; to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.2 Corinthians 7:10-11
Before we investigate these types of guilt, I would like to give you an overview.
1. True guilt. Corinthians calls this Godly sorrow in the NIV, or sorrow that is according to the will of God in the NASB. 2. False guilt. Corinthians calls this worldly sorrow in the NIV, or sorrow of the world in the NASB.
Within false guilt I see two categories:
a. Deliberate pretended guilt.
b. Imposed guilt. This is guilt that we, the world, and other people impose upon ourselves.
A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones. Proverbs 14:30
I love Sophia Loren; I love Jane Mansfield. So, when I saw a photograph of them together, the fan in me squealed. Perhaps you're familiar with the image. It's the two stars, seated together at a table at some Hollywood event. Sophia Loren's eyes look off to the side, staring at Jayne Mansfield's cleavage. Could this be, perhaps, an example of envy being photographed?
We know both women are popular culture and beauty icons; they're sex symbols. Ms. Loren, to this day, is an embodiment of exotic beauty. How many of us have unsuccessfully tried to achieve that dramatic "Sophia look," only to poke ourselves in the pupil with the liquid eye liner?
And, the late Ms. Mansfield's ample bust, supposedly measuring anywhere from 40D to 46 D, is frequently mentioned and even compared to that of Marilyn Monroe's figure. How many of us have stuffed our bras with tissue to look just like her? (Somehow, we never did).
Proverbs 17:17 NRSV
A friend loves at all times,
and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.
Prior to the giving of the Holy Spirit (in the New Testament), those who followed the Lord (predominantly Israelites) had only the capacity for earthly love, not for heavenly or agape love since they loved out of their own ability and not through the spiritual ability of the Spirit. However, there were still higher standards of behavior given. In the Law, the Lord required:
"You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." Leviticus 19:17-18 NRSV
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. It was this law that was discussed by the lawyer and the Lord Jesus in Luke 10:
When I was a little girl, I once went into one of those carnival funhouses with the mirrors. It was the one and only time I did so. I remember I didn't get very far. I took one look at my distorted series of reflected images and high-tailed it out of there so fast, you could probably see my streak marks hang in the air.
Cut to about fourteen years later: I was nineteen or twenty years old when I was, once again, standing in front of multiple mirror images. Only this time, there was no carnival- and certainly, no fun. It was, instead, just me, choosing to stand and scrutinize myself in front of my three-way mirror, picking myself apart, via my disordered eating and body image behaviors.