Steven Furtick - Have You Been Lying To Yourself?
We always assume the Enemy comes to us with lies, and then we quote the Word of God, which is the truth, and then the lies go away. Okay, fine. Whatever. But many of us love God too much to just believe a lie if we see it as a lie. So then what the Enemy does is he presents you not with a lie but with the truth. The next thing the Enemy does to Jesus… Remember, he's hungry. He's in a weakened physical state. He's on the verge of three years of ministry that will shake the world and overturn the Roman empire. He's in a period of preparation. He knows who he is. He not only knows truth but he is truth. So the Enemy knows the only way he can fight truth is with truth. I promise you I'm not just trying to be confusing. A lot of times what the Enemy will attack you with is a truth.
In this particular instance… Verse 5: "Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 'If you are the Son of God…throw yourself down. For it is written…'" The Enemy doesn't attack Jesus with a lie; he attacks him with a Bible verse. He quotes to Jesus Psalm 91:11-12. He quotes the Word of God to the Word of God. "For it is written: 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" That's true. That's actually true. This is not made up. This is not imaginary. It is the Word of God. It is the truth. So, here's what I'm realizing in my life. A lot of times I'm not deciding between a lie and the truth. A lot of times I'm stuck between two truths. One is the truth of my situation, and one is the truth of my revelation. One is the truth of what I'm going through, and the other is the truth of who's standing with me in the fire as I go through it.
I have two truths. What Jesus said was so powerful. When the Enemy tried to get him to turn the stones into bread, he said, "It is written…" because he knew the temptation to turn something into something it's not. A lot of times we try to do this with relationships. We try to turn them into something they're not. We turn people into our god, and we need their approval more than we need God's approval. Then when they disappoint us we lose our hope because we tried to turn stones into bread. Some of us try to turn money into security, but your trust was never supposed to be in resources. Your trust was supposed to be in the one your help comes from: the Source. You were supposed to lift your eyes to him. Your trust was never supposed to be in the stuff; your trust was supposed to be in the source. But when you don't know the truth of who you are you will try to turn stones into bread. You will try to live off of people's compliments, so you die by their criticism, because you tried to turn it into what it was not. You trade the truth for a lie. You trade the truth of God's assessment of you for someone else's opinion of you, serving created things rather than the Creator, who is forever blessed. Amen. (Romans 1:25.)
I love what Jesus said. I never saw it before. Did you ever see this before I preached it? I never saw it. The first time he said, "It is written…" but this time he said something different. He said (verse 7), "It is also written…" "What you just said is true, but I know something truer". It's true I made some mistakes in my life, but it's also true that my greatest mistake has the potential to become my greatest miracle. It's true, but it's also true. Paul said, "I'm pressed, it's true, but I'm not crushed". I know how to stand between two truths. One is what I'm thinking, one is what I'm feeling, one is what the doctor said, one is what I'm experiencing, but it is also true I'm not crushed. I'm persecuted, it's true, but I'm not abandoned. It's also true. I'm struck down for a minute, but it's also true I'm not destroyed. I'm lonely, but I'm not alone. I'm weak, but he's strong. I'm poor, but he's rich. It is also written… I have a better word on the situation. I did it, but I'm not it. I have a new truth. That means I know the difference between my truth and my story.
When Jesus was confronted by the Jews, he had a conversation with them about truth. It says many of the Jews had believed in him because of what he did, but they didn't fully understand who he was. They were putting their faith in him, but they were still attached to the old story. You know, the old story, the one you tell yourself about why people reject you. You did it as a means of survival, because it's sometimes easier for you to reject yourself in advance than to put yourself out there and risk rejection again. When you can't touch the bottom, you tell yourself a story for survival. It's called "prejection". It's when instead of dealing with the reality of rejection and healing from it you begin to tell yourself a story about how worthless you are, and now you stay alone, because to really be loved requires vulnerability for the sake of connection. You would rather stay stuck in an old story than embrace a new truth.
Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him… Watch this in John 8:32. He said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free". The second part of that does not work without the first. "You will know the truth…" This is not a propositional statement. This doesn't mean you will be able to quote the truth. To know the truth is not to quote the truth; it's to trust in it. It's to trust in the truth, and what you trust in is what is true to you. What you trust in is what is true to you. That's why he wouldn't turn the stone to bread. It wouldn't have been a sin for him to do it; it would have been a substitute. I don't live by that. I don't trust in that. That's not my truth. When you know the truth… A lot of times, we think we know the truth better than we do. We think we know what other people are like, because we've never traded truth with them. We think we know what we would do if we were them. Sit down with a single mom.
Do you know what you would do if you were them? You would have a pill addiction. You wouldn't make it out of bed in the morning. You wouldn't be strong enough to do it. "Well, if I were them…" "I'll tell you what right now. If I was running that Elevation Church, I'd do a few things differently. I sure will say that right now". Jesus is trading truth. "Oh, it is written? It is also written…" "Okay. I'm accepting it, but it's not my truth; it's just my story". Sometimes you can live in a story so long you become a slave to it. Have you become a slave to your own story to the extent that you now think it's the truth? The Jews had. Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free". The response they had to that shows us just how embedded their identity had become in their story. You have to remember these are people who had spent 430 years in Egypt as slaves making bricks without straw under Pharaoh. They had been taken captive by the Babylonians, the Assyrians, multiple times before Jesus came onto the scene.
When he said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free," it offended them. So they looked back at him in verse 33 and said, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone". The same people who had spent centuries as slaves had told themselves a story that had become so true to them they no longer knew the difference. A lot of times in my life I've lied to myself so much my lies became truer than my truth. I don't willingly exchange the truth for a lie; it's just that certain lies I tell myself I've learned to love. I like self-pity. It's comfortable. It's my Snuggie for my soul to feel sorry for myself. "No one is checking on me. No one cares about me". Do you know why? Because I don't want to check on anybody, so rather than face the fact of the truth that I'm not checking on anybody, I would rather tell myself the story that nobody is checking on me. I've never seen every collective head nod in the church like it just happened at Ballantyne. When you become a slave to your story, you die a death between two truths.
I'm preaching to somebody today who's standing between two truths. One is the old story, the way you always saw yourself. If David had stayed stuck in his old story, he never would have thrown that stone at Goliath's forehead, because the way his brothers saw him was "You're just down here to make trouble, and you didn't even get anybody to keep the sheep". There comes a time when you have to challenge your old story so the truth can set you free. They used to train us in evangelism that we would ask people, "How do you know if you're going to heaven when you die"? and when they said their answer, you were to ask them the follow-up question, "If you were wrong, would you want to know"? What a powerful question. If the story you've been telling yourself about where you are and why you are and what you can and what you can't…
Remember, the Israelites stayed stuck in the wilderness not for 40 days, like Jesus was tempted for 40 days; they were there 40 years, all because of the story they told themselves. "They're bigger than us. They're stronger than us. They're greater than us". None of it was true, but when it becomes true to you it will keep you stuck. You are not stuck in your reality; you're stuck in your story. But if the Son sets you free, if you get this truth, you will be free indeed. I want you to stand up on your feet right now, because the Spirit of the Lord is in this place, and where the Spirit is there is freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. The Spirit of the Lord is leading you today into the wilderness to set you free from the story you've been telling yourself perhaps your whole life long.
I realize sometimes it's easier to tell yourself a story of why you fail and tell yourself a story that you're a disappointment, because then you don't have to actually step out and try because you've already told yourself a story that "I'm a disappointment," but that's why Jesus went into the wilderness: not only to be tempted by the Devil but to rewrite a story. What Moses couldn't do in 40 years Jesus did in 40 days. He wasn't just fasting; he was directing a new story. The gospel is a new story. The cross is a new ending. You don't have to turn stones into bread, and you don't have to trade truth for lies. You don't have to own the story you were handed if it does not match the reality of what God has spoken. Not another day. We say things that locate us and let us know we've embraced our story and turned it into truth. Something bad happens and we say, "Oh, it's the story of my life".
You need a new editor. You've been letting the Enemy edit the story of your life, but it is also written… This tension between two truths, what I feel and what I know, what I was and what I'm becoming… This tension between two truths is exactly how faith grows. I've been waiting to preach this message for a year and a half, and today was the day God wanted me to preach it, perhaps so you could hear and be set free from your old story. Are you trapped in an old truth when God has given you a new one, a higher one, a greater one? The law was true. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". But in Jesus was given grace and truth. Both are true. I don't deserve the blessings of God. Nothing I could do could earn it, but it is also written that I am the righteousness of God in Christ through faith in him. God brought you here today to give you a new truth, and to receive your new truth you're going to have to let go of your old story. When you let go of that old story, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.