Do you believe that what you believe is really real?
What determines what we believe: Our experiences in life? The experiences and/or words of people around us? What we see, taste, hear or touch? What we feel emotionally? What Satan’s lies are? Or what God’s Word is?
Let’s look at what it means to believe and what is real.
- Believe: To credit upon the authority or testimony of another; to be persuaded of the truth of something upon the declaration of another, or upon evidence furnished by reasons, arguments, and deductions of the mind, or by other circumstances, than personal knowledge. When we believe upon the authority of another, we always put confidence in his veracity. When we believe upon the authority of reasoning, arguments or a concurrence of facts and circumstances, we rest out conclusions upon their strength or probability, their agreement with our own experience. 2. To expect of hope with confidence; to trust. (Noah Webster 1828)
- Real: Actually being or existing; not fictitious or imaginary. 2. True; genuine; not artificial, counterfeit or factitious. (Noah Webster 1828)
Here are some examples of what people believed and the impact it had on the world both negative and then positive:
Adolf Hitler – His aim was to establish a New Order of absolute Nazi German rule in continental Europe. With this belief took the lives of around 7,000,000 Germans, 5,000,000 Jews and this does not include the lives the rest of the European Theater lost.
Joseph Stalin – his rule, the concept of “socialism in one country” became a central tenet of Soviet society. The theory held that given the defeat of all the communist revolueions in Europe in 1917–1921 except Russia’s, the Soviet Union should begin to strengthen itself internally. With this belief even though they lost some of their 26,000,000 military lives due to the war with Hitler a good portion of that and a majority of the 16,000,000 civilians lives were lost at the hands of Stalin.
Osama Bin Laden – was the founder of al-Qaeda, the Sunni militant Islamist organization that claimed responsibility for theSeptember 11 attachs on the United States, along with numerous othermass-caualty attachs against civilian and military targets all because of what he chose to believe.
These men deeply believed but, with the results of what they believed, can we say there was truth behind what they believed? “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12 NIV)
Jonathan Edwards – played a critical role in shaping the First Great Awakening, and oversaw some of the first revivals in 1733–35 at his church in Northampton, Massachusetts. The Great Awakening was a Christian revitalization movement that swept Protestant Europe and British America, and especially the American colonies in the 1730s and 1740s, leaving a permanent impact on American religion.
William Wilberforce – supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery. He underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, which resulted in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform. That campaign led to theSlavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire; Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured.
Mother Teresa – founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congrefation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries. They run hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; children’s and family counseling programs; orphanages; and schools. Members of the order must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and the fourth vow, to give “Wholehearted and Free service to the poorest of the poor”.
These people deeply believed, and with the results of what they believed, can we say there was truth behind what they believed? “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:5)
Scripture says “. . . from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:13 NIV Italicize in mine)
Neil Anderson says that “The truth is, everyone lives by faith, the only difference between Christian faith and non-Christian faith is the object of our faith. The critical issue is what we believe or who we believe in.” Is every thought that comes to our mind from us? How many times has what we thought so true wound up being the furthest thing from the truth? And how many times did we not want to do something or talk to someone but in doing it; it became the greatest joy of our lives? If what we believe does not reflect truth, then what we feel does not reflect reality. It is amazing how quickly a dart of the enemy, thrown into our hearts, can change our perspective. In a matter of seconds our whole view can change for the worse. One of the biggest obstacles is how we can genuinely believe we are right. The devil may be trying to work in your mind and imagination to divide you from people you both love and need. John Eldredge asks “How much of this oppressive stuff do we live under and how much joy do we surrender because we never stop to ask, ‘Where is this crud coming from?’. We are so stubborn in our unbelief because we aren’t at that moment experiencing whatever it is God says is true. We cannot lose our convictions on whether or not we are feeling the truth of what God says.”
John Bevere illustrates an example of the in his book Relentless when he talks about Joseph. Joseph dreams of sheaves, the sun, the moon, and even the stars bowing to him only to have his bothers put him in a pit then sell him to the Ishmaelites as a slave. He then becomes in charge of Potiphar’s house only to be charged of raping Potiphar’s wife and is sent to the dungeon. “Can you imagine the thoughts he had to ward off in that damp, dark dungeon? With all kinds of time on his hands, I’m sure the enemy attacked his mind and imagination without mercy. Can you hear Joseph’s thoughts? I served his family faithfully, with honesty and integrity. I stayed faithful to God and my master fleeing sexual immorality. What is my reward for my obedience? A dungeon! Why didn’t I just behave as any normal red-blooded male and enjoy the pleasure of that woman? If I had just had sex with her when we were alone, nobody would have known and I would not be in this dungeon. If Joseph had bought into these lies, it would have opened the door for his thinking to plunge to even lower levels: So is this how a loving, faithful God cares for those who obey Him? He’s allowed the wicked to prosper and triumph while I am tormented for my obedience. What good is it to obey God? It seems the more I obey, the worse life gets. Serving God is just a mean joke!” Joseph still had the right to choose his response. Would he despise the Word of God or would he steadfastly resist the rush of negative thoughts and emotions that undoubtedly flooded his soul?
Each of us has to decide whether we are going to believe God’s Word or our eyes and emotions. Make no mistake Satan’s specialty is psychological warfare. If he can turn us on God (it’s not fair), turn us on others (it’s their fault), or turn us on ourselves (I’m so stupid), we won’t turn on him. If we keep fighting within ourselves and losing our own inner battles, we’ll never have the strength to stand up and fight our true enemy. Believing God can really be work at times! When external evidences scream to the contrary, we have to exert volitional muscle. Deciding to believe God’s Word over our circumstances can be a tremendous exercise of the will at times. Until we come to terms with war as the context of our days we will not understand life. We will misinterpret 90% of what is happening around us and to us. “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (John 16:13 NIV)
John Eldredge writes that the victory comes when we realize that those awful thoughts are not from us; our hearts are good. The assault comes from the outside, from the enemy. That is the turning point, when we begin to operate as if the heart is good, and we are at war. Jesus then tells us to send it away. We must exercise our authority in Christ. We are to resist the enemy. Final victory will take time. During that period of time, we are not blowing it, nor is God holding out on us. It is training. We are made to rule. Spiritual warfare is a great deal of our training.
So we go back to the question we started with: Do you really believe that what you believe is really real? Does it fit with the Spirit of Truth? Does it follow God’s Word?
“I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayer, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that Father of glory, might give into you the Spirit of wisdom, and revelation through the knowledge of him, that the eyes of your understanding may be lightened, that ye may know what the hope is of his calling, and what the riches of his glorious inheritance is in the Saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us, which believe, according to the working of his mighty power,” (Ephesians 1:16 – 19 The 1599 Geneva Bible)