Have you ever heard that all you need to do to change your life is to simply try harder? If we’re honest, not only have we heard this lie, but we’ve believed it to be true. No doubt, effort is required for change to occur in our lives; but true change—beautiful and life transforming change—does not begin by working harder. It begins by believing better. True and lasting change comes when we we place our faith in Jesus Christ. We are saved as we turn to the truth of the gospel, believing that Jesus alone is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). We are changed as we continually turn to the truth of the gospel, allowing the promises of God to sink into our soul, nourished in righteousness by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Many Christians remain cemented in patterns of sin because they focus on their outward behavior instead of fighting the unbelief that lies below the surface. They work hard to change, but all their effort goes into working harder instead of believing better. In other words, they believe lies instead of believing God’s truth. And behind every sin is a lie about God.
Looking back into God’s true story, we see that this has been true since Adam and Eve. God had commanded that Adam and Eve not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:17). God loved Adam and Eve, and he knew what was best for them. His command for Adam and Eve was good. All they needed to do was trust that God was good, showing their trust and love by obeying God’s word.
Then the serpent came along and convinced Adam and Eve to believe a lie about God. What was the lie? That God was not good. That God was holding out on them. That they could be like God himself.
"But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” (Genesis 3:4-5)
Eve is convinced that God is not good. She believes the lie of the serpent instead of holding fast to the truth of God. Once she believes the lie in her heart, she acts upon it:
"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Gen. 3:6)
Behind every sin is a lie about God. Adam and Eve believed the lie that God was not good. They disobeyed God’s word and death entered into the story.
For life transforming change to take place in our lives, we must reject the lies we’re told and believe the truth about God.
In his book, You Can Change, Tim Chester identifies four liberating truths about God:
God is great - so we don’t have to be in control God is glorious - so we don’t have to fear others God is good - so we don’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction God is gracious - so we don’t have to prove ourselves
Chester noted that underlying all our sinful behavior and negative emotions is a failure to believe one of these truths at a functional level. Embracing, believing, trusting and delighting in the appropriate truth about God has the power to set us free from sin – though we need to recognize that this typically involves a daily struggle – the fight of faith.
But it’s not a fight we take on alone. In fact, we can’t fight the lies and believe the truth about God without the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. The Holy Spirit reveals the truth about God to us, for he is the Spirit of truth (John 15:26). The Spirit reminds us of Jesus’ words, which are truth (John 14:26). The Spirit points us to God’s truth and empowers us to reject the lies that plague us and to embrace the truths of God that free us.
Through the Spirit, we are brought to repentance and faith. Repentance is turning from the lies about God and the sin that comes from those lies. Faith is believing the truth about God and living in faithful obedience because of that truth. We experience true and lasting change as we live in a posture of continual repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
For the next four weeks we’ll be exploring these four liberating truths about God—what we call the “4 Gs.” These four liberating truths offer a great diagnostic tool for addressing sin in our lives and in the lives of others. Our prayer is that God will nourish our souls with his truth, bringing about life transformation for his glory and our good!