Mar 062014 18 Responses

Three Lies Christians Tell Themselves

It’s one of the big ten—don’t lie.

Every Christian knows that we shouldn’t lie. Serving the God of Truth, we should reflect that truth in the most major or the most mundane ways.

While everyone lies, the gospel frees us to admit our tendency to lie and to have the courage to tell the truth—both to ourselves and others.

It doesn’t give us the ability to say whatever we want in the name of truth, but it does give us the command to say what is right and necessary within the context of Christian love.

Christians should tell the truth. (See: God Called Me vs. I Want To)

But sometimes we don’t.

Sometimes we lie and very often, we lie to ourselves. (See: You Don’t Know That I’ll Be Fine)

Here are the three biggest lies Christians tell themselves:

1. I can be obedient to God without the church. You can be a Christian and not go to church. Faith is not ultimately determined by one action or inaction. Christians “can do” all sorts of things. If you doubt that, take a look at the major Biblical characters. While being a Christian is determined by what Christ has done for us more than what we do for Christ, there are many things which a Christian cannot do and still be obedient to God. Involving oneself with a local church is something a Christian should do.

Failing to be involved with a church doesn’t necessarily negate one’s faith, but it does clearly reveal a heart which is not fully obedient to God. The church is God’s idea. He created it and he planned for Christians to be involved with it. Yet many Christians have come to the conclusion that the church is no longer a necessary part of their faith journey.

Approaching it from a consumeristic mentality, they see nothing in it for them. Of course, they also fail to see that part of God’s redemption plan was to use relationships with others to expose our sinful hearts and to apply his teaching. God desires us to serve others and much of that service begins with a local body of believers.

One can be a Christian and not go to church, but I struggle to imagine many scenarios where one can exclude themselves from a body of believers and still be obedient to God.

2. I can share my faith without using words. Every believer understands that sharing their faith is part of faith. We tell others what God has done for us. Yet a common misconception continues to grow which says that we can tell the gospel story solely based on the lives we live. (See: What I Mean When I Say ‘You Are a Sinner’)

Our lives are important. When we fail to live by the gospel, it weakens are testimony to others. What we do either assists or distracts from the gospel story. Yet the gospel is good news. It is not something which can be shown; it is something which must be told. Our faith can only be shared with words.

The old saying goes, “Preach the gospel at all times, use words if necessary.” I understand the quote, but it is greatly misleading. The gospel requires words. We cannot share our faith without words. Our lives are important, but so are our words. We can show others that our faith influences everything we do, but the gospel ultimately requires us to tell others what Christ has done for them.

3. I can have a one-time experience and that be enough. I have no doubt that someone can have a one-time experience with Jesus and go to heaven. As they are breathing their last breath, their eyes can be opened to faith and God can rescue them. Yet that story is rare.

When grace is truly received, it changes lives. There is no way someone can have a deeply meaningful understanding of God’s love and his saving grace and then live the rest of their lives without any transforming effect. It can’t happen.

Far too many people put too much stock in a one-time experience of praying a prayer, walking an aisle, getting baptized, or being confirmed, and they base their entire eternal security on that one experience. I think praying a prayer is great. I did so on May 5, 1988. I think walking an aisle is wonderful. I did so the morning May 8, 1988. I think getting baptized is wonderful. I did so the night of May 8, 1988. Those were meaningful moments of my life and my eternal security was no longer in question the moment I prayed the prayer.

However, if from that moment there had not been a single shred of evidence of God’s grace at work within me, I would have no reason to believe my eternal security is set. A one-time experience in the past is never the Biblical question regarding the salvation of an individual.  The question, “Are you a follower of Jesus?” is far more important than “Have you been saved?”

Becoming a Christian is a change of direction in life, it is not a hoop to jump through as we continue to live as we wish.

Christians know they aren’t supposed to lie, but on a weekly basis I hear some version of these lies as people tell them to themselves and others. No matter how good they sound, they are simply lies.

Are you tired of lying to yourself?

Start telling the truth. Find a local church, tell your story to a friend, follow Jesus.

If you need help doing any of these, I would love to hear from you.

For more, see:

Never Confuse Acceptance For an Absence of Faith

Don’t Blame God When You Break Up With Your Boyfriend

18 Responses to Three Lies Christians Tell Themselves
  1. Angela Roberts Reply

    I might accept these as lies if you backed them up with scripture to prove an absolute truth. As is, they really seem like your own version of evangelical Christian “truth”.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Angela, I’ll be happy to elaborate. Is there one of them that you disagree with or do you find all three as truthful statements?

  2. Angela Roberts Reply

    It really is the first one, though, I do think if you are going to claim anything as truth you should show your work by referencing your source. I will admit to being (jaded?) and walking away from the institution of church and ministry, but I still have many Christian relationships. I cannot see the modern church in scripture. I cannot see what we accept as Christian culture, in the bible. I don’t see it. I am truly seeking answers, I am not an internet troll looking to be clever. I just don’t believe in the institution of church anymore. I can confess that this is heart breaking for me and I may only be sharing it with you because you are a stranger.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Angela, thank you for the thoughtful response. As a pastor, I understand the messiness of the church. If it wasn’t for the New Testament, I would assume we can do this whole thing on our own. But I just can’t shake the idea that most of the letters in the New Testament were addressed to churches–local congregations who regularly met for prayer, corporate worship, and service to one another. I actually think the messiness of the church was part of God’s plan. Consider Hebrews 10.23-25. Find a local church where you can stir up one another to love and good works and where you regularly are reminded of the good news of the faith.

  3. Meagan Piroutek Reply

    I think there is definitely a deeper relationship with God and others that develops when you are consistently engaging with, challenging, serving and encouraging others in the body of Christ. The institution of church provides the need and the opportunity in a single location. I have played the church game as a consumer who was very involved, only to realize (after many failed attempts) it’s not about me or my family or what I alone can do for the church. Attending church with the correct intentions in itself is an act of worship. To be a part of the congregation and involved with others in a way that is glorifying to God is a crucial form of worship. I have also learned (the hard way) the need to embrace the “Church” as a God inspired but human facilitated institution when flaws arise. Church isn’t about what I am learning (although that’s nice) or how many baby butts I cleaned in the nursery (although I’m sure someone appreciates it.) It’s about coming together with others as an individual part of one body, one flock, one congregation and doing the best we can to strengthen each other. As someone who has bailed on church before because I was hurt and thought I could do it on my own, I can now clearly see that NO ONE should miss out on a God filled support system or life changing biblical education because it has been named “Church.” Like many other aspects of life, there are things we simply can not achieve on our own.
    Thanks for this reminder today, Kevin.

  4. Paul Alexander Reply

    Kevin, I have a question. Is the church your referring to only the in the community you live in or can it be lets say a hour and half away? Let’s say churches in one’s community does not share the same doctrinal views. I for one believe in corporate worship, prayer and certainly fellowship.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Paul, obviously the closer the better that way you can interact as much as possible with others. However, theology is important. So in your case it would be a judgment call I think. Thanks for reading.

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  13. Dave Reply

    The Church is no arbiter of truth or the lack of lies. Hitlers’ Germans were 80% Lutheran. A big Church everyone trusted. What was their God telling them? How could their hearts have led them so wrong? Are you a Charlatan lying to the people to get money for a nice life? Or a dupe of some Satan who wants another war?

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