Joel Osteen - Don't Believe The Lies
I want to talk to you today about Don't Believe The Lies. We're living in a time when there's more deception than ever. Americans lost $30 billion last year in scans. Practically every day on our phone, email, social media someone's trying to deceive us, and trick us into giving our personal information. There are financial scams, relationship scams, property scams. And these schemers are skilled, they're professional, they know human nature. I'm always telling my children "Be aware, don't take the clickbait, recognize what's happening".
We had having lunch at home with my family and a few friends not long ago, and my phone started buzzing. And I didn't recognize the number, and normally I would ignore it, but for some reason I stepped away and I answered it. This very official voice said, "This is Verizon, your phone has been compromised, it's going to be deactivated in 15 minutes. Give us the last four digits of your social security number". I didn't think twice, I was distracted, I need my phone, I typed the numbers in. I sat back down at the table, my children said, "Dad, did you just give your information"? I said, "Yes, they were going to turn my phone off". They said, "You did what you tell us not to do. You just got scammed". But it happened so fast, they were so convincing, so persuasive.
Can I tell you who the biggest scammer is? Jesus said in John 8:44, "Satan is a liar, and the father of all lies. There is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language". When we get scammed by people, it can cost us money, time, effort. But if you let the enemy scam you it can cost you your destiny. Identity theft is a major problem, but the a biggest identity thief is the enemy. He knows who you are: a child of the Most High God, fearfully and wonderfully made. He can see your crown of favor, your robe of righteousness and royal blood flowing through your veins. He'll go to work to try to deceive you into believing a lie. He'll whisper, "You're not valuable, you're not attractive, nobody cares about you" or "You've made too many mistakes. Look at all your flaws and weaknesses". If you believe those lies, he'll steal your identity, he'll talk you out of who you are.
You're not in a power struggle with the enemy, he's already defeated. You're in a truth struggle. The only power he has over you is the power you give him by believing his lies. And the scripture says to recognize the enemy's schemes, and strategies. He has two main weapons: deception and lies. He's very clever, very subtle. He doesn't come up with this big thought, "Hey, go run around on your spouse, steal that money, see yourself as unworthy", that's too obvious. It starts as a little thought, a seed of doubt, "Your spouse doesn't really love you. It's okay to fudge a little on your taxes. It's not going to hurt to party this one time", it's just a suggestion, seems harmless, no big deal, but it's like clickbait. If you dwell on that thought, if you click on it, it's going to open up all kinds of detrimental things.
The enemy never shows where it's leading you, where you'll end up: broken, lonely, addicted. He's a schemer, seems enticing, and so appealing. You've seen clickbait, "You just won $1,000, just click here". "You were selected for an all expense two week vacation, click here". It's never what it looks like, it's just the bate, trying to lure you into something that's harmful, something you'll regret later on.
Well, this goes way back to the Garden of Eden. The enemy hasn't changed his schemes, he's not creative, he has no new strategies. If you can become skilled at recognizing his lies, and not giving into deception, you'll not only save yourself so much heartache and pain, but you'll go so much further. Adam and Eve had the perfect life. They were in this magnificent garden, beautiful, incredibly peaceful with these streams flowing, all kinds of delicious food to eat, fruit and vegetables. They had conversations with God every day. There was no sickness, no strife, no humidity, no mosquitoes. It was everything they could ever dream of. There was one tree out of thousands that God told them they could not eat the fruit from that tree. No big deal, they had acres of other trees.
But here comes the serpent. He said to Eve, "How come you can't eat from that tree? That fruit seems so good". It's just like the enemy to try to deceive you into focusing on one thing you don't have, while overlooking all the great things that you do have. Your spouse is an amazing person, but he'll try to get you focused on the one thing you don't like. Or you have a great job, but he'll point out how that other coworker has a more benefits than you. He's trying to plant seeds of discontentment, seeds of doubt, compromise, hoping he can deceive you into getting off track, wasting time and making decisions that cause you heartache and pain.
Eve was strong at first, she said "No, no, we can't eat that. God said if we do, we would surely die". The serpent answered back, "You will not surely die. God knows, when you eat that fruit you'll become just like him". The mistake Eve made is: instead of dismissing it, not giving it the time of day, she started dwelling on it, reasoning it out. "Well, the fruit does look kind of good, and I don't think it hurt anything. Maybe it will make us smarter". If you believe that lie, if you let that thought take root, you're giving the enemy permission to come in and manipulate, deceive and take advantage. Just like you're opening the door. That's why that's why the scripture tells us to guard our mind. Don't let just any thought in, you have to be selective. Recognize the enemy's schemes. One of his main tactics is to contradict what God promised you.
He said to Eve, "Did God really say you can't eat that fruit"? It's the same today, you'll hear thoughts whispering, "Has God really said you're going to get well? Look at the medical report. Has God really said your children will be my in the land? They're sure not making good decisions. Has God really said you'll meet the right person, that'll give you the desires of your heart? Surely it would have happened by now". Don't fall for the scam. The enemy cannot speak the truth, he's trying to plant doubt, get you discouraged where you quit believing.
Verse 5 says "Eve was convinced. The fruit looked so fresh and delicious. She knew it would make her smarter, so she ate the fruit and gave it to her husband Adam". Immediately their eyes were open, they knew they were naked, they felt sham, they went out and made fig leaves and hid in the garden. What happened? They got scammed. Just a few minutes earlier the serpent said when they ate the fruit they'd be happier, wiser, more fulfilled, but it was all a lie. They were afraid, ashamed, discouraged. The clickbait is always enticing. "The fruit looks so fresh, surely this is going to be something great". It's not what it looks like. Don't take the bait. This all starts in our mind. That's the enemy's main area to work in. The scripture (John 8:32) says, "You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free". The truth on its own won't make you free, it's the truth you know that will make you free.
When the enemy tries to plant thoughts of doubt, fear, compromise, you have to go back to the truth found in God's word. Answer the doubt with faith. Answer the lies with what God says. "You'll never get well, what have happened by now" - "No, God is restoring health back unto me. I will live and not die". "Well, you'll never get ahead, everyone in your family struggles" - "No, I will lend and not borrow. I will prosper and succeed". The enemy is a schemer. He can be convincing, but you have an advantage: you have the Spirit of God on the inside of you. You have the mind of Christ. You are full of wisdom and discernment. It's good to pray, "God, I thank you that I'm aware of the enemy's schemes, that the Holy Spirit quickens every lie. That every strategy that would try to stop my destiny, every thought that is against your will I will dismiss, I will cast down, I will guard my mind".
Every morning I pray for with the spirit of wisdom and discernment. Wisdom to make good decisions, decisions that honor God, that move me toward my destiny. Discernment has to do with seeing the intent, the motives, recognizing where the thought is coming from. When you ask God, he'll help you discern what's right and what's not. The still small voice on the inside will alert you to things that are deceptive. May look fine, the fruit looks good, it makes sense, but the Spirit of God will rise up in you: you'll feel a check, an uneasiness, something says "It's not right, it's not what it's look like". When you're sensitive to what you're feeling, you listen to that inward witness, that's God keeping you from getting scammed. That's the spirit of truth revealing the lies. And God will always give you a warning before you make a mistake. He'll always speak to your spirit, there will be an unrest, an uneasiness. If you'll be aware and act on it, it will keep you from heartache.
I can look back in my life at things that didn't work out, business ventures that weren't what I thought, and taking advantage of. People who weren't who they said they were. I can see how God tried to warn me, how I felt this alarm going off. I knew something wasn't right, but I overrode it. Like Eve, I reasoned it out: this seems good, these people seem honest, looks like a great opportunity. But it wasn't what it looked like. Pay attention to what you're feeling: everything that looks enticing is not what it appears. Deception is all the enemy has. He can't overpower you, all he can do is try to scam, you deceive you, steal your identity, talk you out of your dreams, convince you to compromise. "It's okay to party, just run around. Just eat the fruit, it's not going to hurt". Recognize his strategies. His ways always end in heartache, struggle and pain. This can be avoided if we'll guard our mind, and not believe the lies.
These days we hear a lot about fact-checking: we're going to fact check what this politician said, or fact check this statement. You need to fact check the thoughts that come into your mind against what God says. "You're not valuable, you're not attractive" - compare that to the truth - "You are a masterpiece, made in the image of God". I'm getting rid of that lie, I'm not falling for that scam. Thoughts whisper, "Nothing good is in your future. You've been through so many disappointments, just accept it". Let me fact check that, "The path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter. God has taken me from glory to glory. I haven't seen, heard or imagined what he has in store". You need to stamp that that lie "False. Deceptive. Don't give it the time of day".
In Greek mythology there was a war that had been going on for 10 years between the people of Troy, they were called Trojans, and the people of Greece. Troy was a walled off city, so secure, had powerful warriors, the latest equipment. The Greeks couldn't penetrate it, they didn't have the manpower. So they came up with a plan, a scheme: they con constructed this huge head of a horse that stood dozens of feet tall. The Trojans thought horses were sacred. The Greeks told them that they were ending the war, the conflict was over, they were returning to their city. As a goodwill gesture, they made the people of Troy this beautiful Trojan horse. They were so flattered by it, so in awe. Was made out of expensive wood, made it more valuable, more revered.
They opened the gates and brought this huge horse into their city. The Greeks waved goodbye, and went toward their boats to depart. The Trojans begin to celebrate, had this big party until late in the night. What they didn't realize is that huge horse was hollow. On the inside there were hundreds of Greek warriors. When the Trojans were all tired, and had too much to drink, the Greeks came bursting out of that horse, went in and conquered the city. The Trojans seemed like an invincible foe. They were bigger, stronger, in this walled off city. For 10 years the Greeks couldn't phase them, but when they turned to deception, when they tricked them with what they thought was a gift, when in reality it was a scheme to get in their city. That's when the city of Troy was taken.
It's the same principle with us: you are an invincible foe, the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives is on the inside of you. The enemy can't defeat you, he can't stop your purpose, but if you allow him to deceive you, if you open up your gates and let him in your head, you start believing the lies, dwelling on the negative, doubt, compromise, can't-do-it, never-going-to-work-out. Like that Trojan horse, once you give in, all kinds of discouragement and turmoil will be released. He can't beat you from the outside, he has to get in your thoughts, he has to deceive you into dwelling on things you had no business letting in.
If the Greeks would have told the people of Troy the truth, if they said, "Hey, look, this huge Trojan horse looks like a gift, but it's hollow, it's full of our warriors, they're going to come in and defeat you, take your city", they would say, "I don't think so. You are not bringing that into our city". That's what deception is. You have to recognize the enemy's schemes. Can't be naive, and passive, and believe every thought that comes to your mind. Sometimes the enemy will try to make it feel like he's doing you a favor, like he's helping you out, giving you a gift.
When my father passed, thoughts told me, "Joel, you can't get up there and minister, you're going to look like a fool. Nobody's going to believe you, you don't have the training, the experience". My first thought was, "You're right. That's good advice. That's going to save me embarrassment". But if I had believed that lie, like that Trojan horse, it would have opened up all kinds of defeat, insecurity, not qualified, I would have missed my destiny. The enemy is clever. He's trying to get in your head. The good news is: he can't fool you, you have the mind of Christ. You have a spirit of discernment. It may look flattering, but you recognize his strategies. You know he's a schemer, so you don't open up your gates, you guard your mind.
Even Jesus had to do this. After he was baptized in the Jordan river, he was led out into the wilderness to be tempted by the enemy. Satan took him to a high place. He said, "If you'll bow down before me, I'll give you all these kingdoms, all this power". Like he was giving Jesus this big gift, seemed like something great, but it was a scam. Jesus already had all power, he already ruled every kingdom. Jesus said in effect, "I'm not bowing down to you, I know who I am". Don't be fooled by these subtle lies. There may be a little truth to it, can seem reasonable, but it's rooted in deception.
When the Compaq Center became available, I knew in my spirit we were supposed to pursue it. I felt faith rising up, there was this anticipation that God was going to do something amazing. Then here came the deceiver, "Yes, Joel, it's exciting, but it's going to be a lot of money, where will you get the funds? The opposition is so much bigger, maybe it'd be better to just pass, I'm sure something else will come along". Don't let him in your head. He's trying to get you to water down your dreams, settle for mediocrity. Seemed reasonable, but you have to be aware of his strategies. He's a deceiver. If you accept that one thought, then here comes another and another. You don't get defeated from the outside, but from the inside.
Proverbs 4:23 says, "Be careful how you think, because your thoughts run your life". One of the enemy's favorite lies is, "You don't have what it takes. You're not smart enough, talented enough, pretty enough, popular enough". If you make the mistake of dwelling on it, "Well, I'm not as smart as my brother, he's a surgeon, I made one year in college" or "I'm not as tall as my cousin, not as beautiful as my coworker", these little lies, little suggestions can do great damage. It's all about hidden agendas.
The enemy will never tell you "If you believe this small lie, I'm going to cause it to grow to where you end up missing your destiny, giving up on your dreams, living insecure". If we could see the truth, if the intent were obvious, we would reject it. That's why he has to use deception and hidden motives. He'll start with small lies to see if you'll take the bait. "Your business is never going to increase. That pain in your chest, that's serious. That child is off course, he'll never make anything of his life" - seeds of doubt, seeds of compromise, seeds of discouragement. He love for you to take that bait and quit believing, quit hoping, and quit dreaming. Tune all that out. That scam is gone on long enough, get him out of your head. You have a destiny to fulfill, you have an assignment to accomplish.
Friend of mine was raised in a home with two older brothers. Her father was very involved with the children, but as a young girl he spent more time with her brothers. They were always playing sports together, he was at their games, and taking them to practice. They seemed to be having so much fun, but she felt left out. One day they were all going to a ball game, and she was at home kind of disappointed. The thought came to her saying, "The reason your father doesn't spend as much time with you is because he never wanted a daughter, he wanted all sons". She was just 10 years old. She didn't know any better, she believed that lie. She began to feel insecure, and unworthy, not valuable. Her personality didn't come out, she's much more reserved and introverted. All because of this one thought.
She and her father grew apart, there was conflict and strife. For years she lived with this nagging feeling that something was wrong, that she wasn't good enough. Well, in her 40s her father was tragically killed in an automobile accident. After the funeral she was at her grandmother's house, this was her father's mother. She gave this granddaughter a box of memorabilia from her father, different things from growing up.
She found a letter inside that he had written to his parents when he was in the army years before. He said, "Mom and dad, I'm hoping to find a good wife one day, because I can't wait to have a little girl. Even if I don't get married, I'm going to adopt a daughter, that's what I want more than anything else". When she read that she began to weep. All those years she felt like she wasn't wanted, that her father was disappointed in her, that she was a mistake, when in fact she was her father's dream. He loved her more than she could imagine.
Look at how the enemy works. She said, "I still remember the place I was standing as a little girl, when that thought said 'he wanted a boy, not a girl'". She went on to say, "I'm not telling my story so people will feel sorry for me, but so they will recognize how the enemy can plant seeds of doubt in our mind". If we don't learn to cast down those lies, not give them the time of day, they can take root and keep us from our destiny. Are there lies that you believed that are now limiting your life? "You're not good enough. You can't break the addiction. You never get well, nothing good is in your future" - that's the enemy doing what he does best, trying to deceive you, plant seeds of doubt, hoping you'll believe it to be the truth. Don't fall into that trap. You need to do some fact checking. How does that compare to what God says about you? If it doesn't line out, clear out all those lies, go back to who God says you are.
This is what Gideon had to do in the scripture. He was hiding in the wine press, afraid of the enemy army. An angel appeared and said (judges 6:12), "Mighty hero, the Lord is with you. You are to deliver the people of Israel from the Midianites". Imagine an angel showing up and telling you that God says, "You're a mighty hero", what an incredible moment. You would think Gideon would be fired up, full of faith, ready to do great things. But he said to the angel (judges 6:15), "How can I lead the people? I come from the poorest family. I'm the least one in my father's house". Here God called him mighty, but he's believed this lie that he's weak, unqualified, not able.
That didn't happen overnight. Those were seeds the enemy planted years before. "Gideon, you're poor. Your family is limited. You're not that talented, you'll never do anything significant". The truth is, he was a mighty hero, he was a world changer, but he got scammed. He suffered from identity theft. He didn't recognize the enemy schemes. He took that bait, and believed all the lies. The good news is: you can get your identity back. You can clear out all the wrong mindsets, and start believing what God says about you.
Like Gideon, like my friend in her father, you may have some strongholds that are keeping you back. God sent me across your path to tell you who you really are: a mighty hero, a history maker, strong, talented, favored, valuable, worthy, healthy, qualified, well able, victorious. Sometimes I'll see a report where a scammer gets caught. This person that deceived, tricked, stolen, they get exposed for who they really are, and justice is served. Can I tell you? I know who the scammer is. I'm exposing his tricks, his lies, his deception. Now, that you recognize his schemes, next time he whispers doubt, compromise, fear, you need to say, "No, thanks, I know who you are: a liar and the father of lies".
When the doubt comes, you can turn it around and take just the opposite of what he told you. "You'll never get well" - "Thank you, now I know: healing is coming". "The opposition's too big, Joel, you'll never get the Compaq Center" - "Thank you, now I know the Compaq Center is ours". "Well, Gideon, you're too poor, you're had a disadvantage" - "Thank you, now I know I'm a mighty hero". No more believe in the lies, come over into the truth. Don't let the enemy get in your head, guard your mind. Keep it filled with faith, with hope, with victory. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: every stronghold is coming down, every wrong mindset is being broken. You have the spirit of wisdom, and discernment. You will rise higher, accomplish dreams, and become all you were created to be, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen?