Doubt and the Grid of Truth

This is a bit long, but I think it is quite good if you decide to read it through...

I am toying with an idea. Different people have said different things are the root sin. I have heard some say it selfishness. Every sin is inherently selfish. C.S. Lewis said it was pride. However, I am toying with the idea that the chief sin is doubt. I don't know that I have fully thought through the ramifications of this yet, but more on that later...

Each of us have a grid. When we hear information spiritually we accept it or not based on the grid. I know some of the messages that I reacted the most negatively to is because it disturbs something in my grid (and of course, I view my grid to be right ¡) ). Our grid is not what we know in our heads. It is the reality we walk out of spiritually. It is what happens when we are in that difficult place when temptation could be screaming or life's circumstances are out of control. It is what we cling to.

Some people would say that their grid would include that they know God is loving. But yet they spend their lives feeling like they can't come to the Lord after they have sinned because they don't feel like they can. So they don't. So ultimately their grid is based on their feelings... that dictates the reality they walk out of, not the truth.

Here's the main problem. Many Christians have things they know to be true. They are in their head. Things like... God is good. God loves me. And so forth. The problem is that they don't hold on to these things when lives circumstances seem to indicate differently. They may know that they do not have to punish themselves after they have sinned (because Christ took it and I would be claiming His work was not enough), but the reality is that they think that guilt and shame are good for them to help them grow (even though it hasn't changed them from that sin issue in YEARS... if it hasn't in that long, do you really think punishing yourself will change things now??). So they don't live out of the truth of God's love for them when things are not going well, they live out of their feelings. The truth is not rooted in them because they do not HOLD to the truth in difficulty. They don't really HOLD the truth to experientially KNOW it be set free. In today's microwave generation of instant gratification holding to truth and clinging on to the Lord are not popular messages to preach and even less popular to live out. Unfortunately, it is the only way to experience any real lasting freedom.

Here's the problem. Because their is no clinging to truth and holding on to it even when it does not feel true, people begin to doubt the truth. They think that it can't be true because they don't feel it. So the "truths" in their lives they doubt because they can't hold fast to them. They don't seem to "work."

Doubt is such a huge issue because if one allows truth to be robbed from them by doubt, their will never be any real foundation for any growth to occur in their life. Oh, there might be tons of head knowledge. But this only causes more pride... and with it disillusionment, because the empowerment to walk out the truth is only something that comes by the Holy Spirit, not through man's efforts and pride. Remember, God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4 and 1 Peter 5). So the proud, smart man has no foundation because all of what he "knows" he doubts and he can even walk away from the Lord because he thinks he is the epitome of the Christian walk (in his warped thinking, the epitome of Christianity is head knowledge and theology rather than character, surrender, and dedication to the Lord). Remember fruit is NOT a byproduct of knowledge, it is a byproduct of abiding (John 15). How can one walk in the fruit of the Spirit when they can´t get past the debate of whether the Holy Spirit even exists? How can one receive from the Lord if they get robbed of the idea that God is even there whenever they don´t feel like He is? And then as a result, they have no identity in Christ and they have no fruit because these are things that are impossible for man´s striving to achieve. They then have to control and manipulate or become driven to make things happen because there is no trust of God coupled with stewardship of what God has given them. They have to compare themselves to others and vascillate from pride to insecurity or depression at what they derive an insecure identity (the only unchanging identity comes from the unchanging one... i.e. from God) over because they have eliminated God.

There must be inherent truths which a person lives out if they are ever going to grow to any semblance of maturity in their Christian faith. Things that are unshakeable. Things that they know to be true and they will hold on to them regardless of what anyone tries to convince them, any circumstances try to dictate, and so forth. Once these truths are in place is when true learning can begin to occur. Future truth gets added to the foundation or already existing grid of truth. The problem is that too much of the church has not experienially clung to the truth both in the good times and in the brokenness to understand that numerous cliches and things that others have said (that all seem like fine things) really aren´t the truth... or they are a twisting of the truth. So they have to discover what the Bible... not their denomenation, favorite pastor, what they are comfortable with (for example, many people are uncomfortable with bizarre manifestations with the Spirit of the Lord but if they were to only read God´s Word they would see that there are an assortment of them throughout it... for example, Ezekiel getting picked up by his hair), or friends, or whoever... say is true and uncover it... all the while having trusted mentors who know how to get free of the struggles they are in, help show them biblically how to do so, as well as illuminate blind spots. It really is like the parable of talents says... the one who has the foundation and values truth keeps having it grow, while he who does not value it enough to hold to it in the face of opposition, loses what has been given to Him. It is a kingdom principle...

Now then, I was just asked by some friends what core truths make up my grid. I think there are many. After having gone through cancer, praising the Lord when worry or fear comes is one. It is how I take thoughts captive. If I don´t do so, my life is miserable and I come under the circumstance rather than above.

God is good. I know that He will always take care of me. Anything that appears to not be good He will work for good. I can praise Him and rest because of this.

God is my source. This is HUGE. This is why I am convinced doubt is such a big deal. And first I must say that there is a big difference between God being my source and presumption. I hear all sorts of people do all sorts of things, but because God is their source, God will foot the bill. The reality is that God is not obligated to finance your plans. I also can not frivilously waste and expect God to supply. God being my source needs to be coupled with stewardship in a healthy balance. To be compulsively obsessed in a condemning way about stewardship is not healthy, just as to ignore stewarding wisely what He has given me and just expect Him to be an enabler is just as unwise. This issue of God being my source is a much more foundational issue than finances. In fact, it is for all of life. I like to talk about love. Love is from God. It is not my love I give. It is God´s love. If I can tell that I have no love for people... that I approach them to get validation, acceptance, attention, etc. rather than to freely do those for others, I no longer am walking in God´s love (virtually synonomous with walking in the Spirit) and am now walking in the flesh. Consequently, I need ongoing fresh encounters with God, His Word, and His Presence, both corporately and individually (because sadly many Christians have a warped idea that it is either just me and God, or that I don´t need to spend time with God by myself because I´d rather hang out with others... both equally just as disastrous), in order to have any semblance of fruit being produced from my life. If fruit is a byproduct of healthy relationship with God and others and is produced by abiding in Christ according to John 15, than if I debate about whether I need to read my Bible daily because I don´t want to be legalistic, I clearly have no concept of what walking with Christ is all about and will probably never see any overcoming like that. Since prosperity is a byproduct of the meditating on the Word day and night... at least according to Psalm 1 and Joshua 1... to not be rooted in God´s Word will keep any amount of fruit from occurring.

You see, once one experientially knows the grid, it truly brings them to a healthy place of brokenness. Because they can know their grid, but cannot walk out empowered in what they know to be true. It is only in constant dependence and ongoing relationship that the empowerment will come. And this is the source of humility. As one is in relationship with God as their primary relationship (not what they SAY is their primary relationship), if they understand God in the truth of how His Word presents Him as well as understand themselves the way that He describes us, one can´t help but be humbled. I´m convinced humility is only a word that describes healthy relationship between God and man. It isn´t something one tries to produce. Like much of the Bible, the things presented are not something one reads about and then tries to figure out how to do (as if they have been successful applying about anything else that they have tried to do in their own effort. This clearly doesn´t work... I´m convinced just waiting for people to try to give up their religious striving to finally enter into real relationship with Him). So humility is a term that describes one in healthy relationship. Many other things are this way too.

Now then... I seemed to have taken a bit of a detour. Others on the grid...
These are some of the main wrong roots...
guilt ¨shoulds or shouldn´t¨ I really should have done this. I really shouldn´t have done that. And so forth. Guilt is a joy robber and is a counterfeit to walking the Spirit. Some people think a good message is one that convicts them. Unfortunately, there is a whole lot of conviction going on in a whole lot of churches but no empowerment to change. There must be change or else conviction can turn to condemnation. But anyways... so if Guilt is occurring one needs to deal with situation. What happened in the past stays in the past. If one needs to repent, they do it. If they need to ask for forgiveness of another, they do it. If changes need to occur in the future, they adjust and make them (i.e. I really should jog in the mornings. Evaluate it and see well I can´t do anything about the past so lets just figure out tomorrow. I think I´ll set my alarm clock earlier. Done.) But to allow a nebulous idea of ¨shoulds¨ to linger will only give a religious sounding counterfeit to the true freedom we have in Jesus Christ and being led by His Spirit.

Fear Fear often is the ¨what if monster¨. It says, ¨what if¨ this happens. Or ¨what if¨ that happens. The truth is that we can walk in peace (a fruit of the Holy Spirit´s filling not something I try manufacture) and take thoughts captive with thankfulness because we know His truth that He takes care of us and loves us.

Blame. Blame says ¨You Always...¨ or ¨You never...¨ and often cause distraction from one´s one spiritual formation because of the focus on another. If the other person is at fault, perhaps I need to reevaluate the boundaries that are between this person and myself so as to not allow the situation to persist. But to blame a person is inherently prideful because it makes me above doing what they did. The reality is that there is no sin that I am not capable of, because the fundamental roots to sin are all apart of my mode I revert to if God´s hand is not tightly on me. Perhaps this is another reason why saturation is so important with the Lord. All sorts of things, pride, worry, unforgiveness, lust, and on and on can crop up causing one to feel hopelessly overwhelmed of how to deal with it all. The reality is to not focus on the problems half as much as to focus on the solution. To further deepen and pursue the healer is much more important than fully understanding the disease.

Shame. Shame devalues oneself from the identity God gave us as a royal priesthood. Shame derives identity from sin rather than what the Lord says. There is no excuse for devaluing God´s masterpiece... either ourselves or others.

And on and on the list goes. Much of the grid is things to hold to and what to avoid. When the truth is held to when it does not feel like truth is when after a while it starts to line up with truth. Of course, most issues of life are not as cut and dry as only impacting one item on the grid. If one were to think, ¨ blank is good. God loves me so He wants me to have it.¨ The person is operating with one aspect of the grid but probably not fully realizing all of the ramifications. So it is wise to have a grid that completely holds to the truths of God´s Word but has enough flexibility that it could realize that it may not have a total picture of all truth involved in a given situation.

Please don´t make the mistake to think that I have everything figured out. I only was sharing what was on my grid. And do realize that unless the Holy Spirit shows me when I am walking in guilt or whatever I won´t realize it. I am so, so utterly dependent. He shows me the grid. He enables me to walk in it. He shows me when I am off track. He is my everything and I´m doomed without Him. This is why I write so many messages about being saturated in the Lord. Unless I stayed filled with the Holy Spirit, I have very, very little shot at a healthy life. There is a reason why Christians were meant to be worshipers in Spirit and in Truth. Wolfhart Pannenberg said that the more of God is in one´s life the more constancy and less rollercoasters there will be. This is so true because as one sets the mind on Christ and things above (Col. 3 1) they will be less impacted on the circumstances around them like Peter walking on the water. As they get swallowed up in the circumstances is when they start to sink. God, keep me focused on YOU!

Feel free to read this over more than once if it was a lot of info... or ask questions or whatever. God bless you guys and thanks for reading!