“Character is who you are when no one but God is watching.” That saying sits in my office to remind me of Who it is that I ultimately live before. That’s not always easy to remember nor to live out. That’s the struggle that Jenny addresses in this next essay in our Cosmic Battle series. Enjoy! – Arthur
As I continue to think about this cosmic battle that takes place every moment of everyday, the more I realize that this battle is not so much a battle where the church is battling against the world, defending the truth at the frontlines of apologetics and evangelism. Del Tackett said this profound statement – “Every sin that besets us can be traced back to a belief in a lie.” And the more I examine my heart, with this statement in mind, the more I realize the scary truth that the real battlefield is inside of me, in my heart. This cosmic battle between truth and lie, between belief and unbelief is a battle in the human heart. And a belief in a lie is not just that, but in essence, unbelief in the truth.
If the root of sin is unbelief in the truth, and belief in lies, it’s no wonder that the writer of Hebrews warns the church – “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief ” (Heb. 3:12). An evil heart is an unbelieving heart, a heart that rejects the truth of God and embraces lies instead. I guess it all comes down to this – the most basic battle of our life is the battle to believe in the living God and what He has said to us in Scripture.
And these aren’t just words that I’m saying, but I do see this battle taking place in my heart, every moment of my every day. At times, by the grace of God, my heart is softened, humbled, and governed by the truth of God. And other times, my heart is “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:14). And sin is indeed deceitful – it appears fair, but is filthy; it promises much, but performs nothing; one sin allowed gives way to another; and each time we sin, we strengthen the habit. My sinful actions/thoughts/feelings that follow are a deliberate and defiant attitude of unbelief. Instead of believing God’s truth in Isaiah 64:6 – that “our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” in His eyes – I still choose to think highly of myself and to take pride in my church background, acts of church service, and church reputation. Instead of believing Jesus’ words in John 6:63 – that the flesh profits nothing and that His words give life – I spend more time immersing myself in the world’s words than in God’s life-giving Word. Instead of believing God’s promise in Jeremiah 31:14 – “My people will be satisfied with My goodness” – I look to other people for satisfaction and struggle with being content with His love for me.
I’m realizing that belief is not merely an agreement with facts in the head. Rather, it is an appetite in the heart which turns to and clings to Jesus for satisfaction. “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall not thirst.” (John 6:35) So unbelief is this – turning away from Jesus as our only source of satisfaction and being dissatisfied with the truths and promises of God.
Now we have the upper hand in this battle, because we are no longer in bondage to the deceitfulness of sin (PRAISE GOD). May we not fall prey to the lies that Satan constantly whispers in our ear – the lie that we are not that bad, the lie that life is about us, the lie that Jesus is not enough. This fight of faith is a fight to believe in the living God, and to be satisfied in our God who is good.
May we learn to battle unbelief and fight the fight of faith, so we can say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7).
– Jenny Liu