Series: Flip the Script – Part 1
The Lies We Believe and the Truth that Sets Us Free
We are beginning a new series this weekend where we’re going to be talking about some of the lies that we have believed and then we want to open up God’s Word and see the truth from God’s Word that can set us free. Because whether we know it or not, a lot of us have believed lies. We don’t know they’re lies. If we knew they were lies we wouldn’t believe them. But because we’ve believed them, we end up living our lives by them. And here’s the thing about a lie: Once you believe it to be true, it can have the same power over you as if it were true even if it’s not. And so, once you believe a lie to be true it can change the way you live. You end up living by that lie.
I want to give you a few little examples of what I’m talking about. Now these aren’t significant lies. They don’t have major implications. But just a few little examples of how believing a lie can give it the power of truth in our lives.
So, one example would be…carrots. When you tell your kids to eat carrots and you make them eat carrots—you’re trying to motivate them to eat carrots—you might say something like this: “Carrots will improve your…?” Eyesight. “Carrots will improve your eyesight.” Right? Except that’s not true. They don’t. Carrots don’t improve your eyesight. Now many of us have eaten carrots, and we’ve forced our children to eat carrots because we believe that lie. We live by that lie: That carrots will improve your eyesight. But I did a little research on this, and the lie actually is rooted… This sounds made up, but… It’s rooted in World War II propaganda. That the British army didn’t want it to get out that their pilots had radar on their aircraft, but they needed some reason for the accuracy; and so they spread the word that their soldiers had great vision from eating so many carrots. That’s what they said. And apparently one of the writers for Bugs Bunny cartoons had heard that carrots improve your eyesight from this World War II propaganda and believed that to be true, worked that into the cartoons, and now millions of homes are hearing from Bugs Bunny that carrots improve your vision. And somewhere along the line it just became true. And so, millions of children and adults eat carrots in hopes of improving their vision, but it’s not true. It’s not true, but because we believe it is it has the power of truth in our lives. That is to say, we live by it and we eat carrots.
Another example of a lie that we often live by… Again, this isn’t real significant. Not a lot of significant implications, but… A lot of us were told growing up that we could not swim right after eating, that that was not a safe thing to do. And so, I remember very well, you know, getting out of the pool, going inside for a snack, and then had to wait thirty minutes before I could go back out and start swimming again. How many of you had a rule kind of like that—some variation of it? Okay, almost everyone in here had that rule that you couldn’t swim after eating. And maybe your mom told you what my mom told me: It wasn’t safe because there was a greater risk of muscle cramps, and so you need to rest before you go back to the swimming pool. Except you don’t. It doesn’t work that way. It’s not true. Swimming after eating does not increase your risk of muscle cramps. It’s not dangerous.
Now some of you hear that and you hear me say it’s not true, and there’s still part of you that’s like, “Hmmm…yeah it is.” No, it’s not. It’s not true! Like, if you haven’t done the research, if you’re not medically trained to answer that question but you believe it’s true, why do you believe it’s true? Well, there are certain lies that are really hard for us to recognize. When a lie is widely accepted by many people—as demonstrated, you know, when everyone seems to believe that—when we are all told that and believe it, then it’s really difficult to believe something other than what everyone else believes. There’s just a lot of power in that. You don’t want to be the one person who says, “No, I don’t buy it,” and then you put your kid in danger, right? You don’t want to be that person. And so, when everyone else seems to believe it, then it’s hard to recognize it as something that may not be true.
It’s also hard to recognize something that’s a lie if you’ve been told it for a long time. Like, for many of us we heard that one about swimming after eating when we were kids. And the longer you’ve believed a lie to be true, the more difficult it is for you to recognize that it isn’t, right? We’ve just always accepted it. We’ve always believed it. And because we’ve always believed it then, you know, it’s just hard. It’s hard to change how we think about it.
So, you know, even after finding out that it’s not true, that it’s okay to swim after eating, there are parents or grandparents maybe here/listening today…that next summer you’re still going to do this to your kids. Your kids are going to come in from swimming and they’re going to eat, and you’re still going to make them wait like fifteen, twenty minutes before getting back in the pool. You’re not going to let the truth set them free, because you’ve just believed it for such a long time.
And so, you know, it’s not that big of a deal when we’re talking about things like carrots and swimming after eating, but here’s what I want you to consider: Is it possible that we have believed some more significant lies that have more significant implications? Is that possible? We’ve just accepted some things to be true that may not be true at all. And we’ve lived by those lies, and it’s changed the story. It’s changed our story.
You see, it’s one thing to kind of buy into the lie that it’s not safe to swim after eating, but what if you buy into the lie that you’ll never be good enough, that you’ve made too many mistakes, that things will never change, that God doesn’t really care about you? What if you buy into the lie that no one really cares about you, that you might as well give up, that you’ll never be able to stop or that you can stop anytime you want, no one will ever find out? You see, if you believe those lies, suddenly you’re giving them tremendous power in your life. Because when you believe a lie to be true, you give it the same power as if it were.
And so the Bible tells us that we have an enemy, and the Bible says that the enemy has come “to kill, to steal and to destroy.” And one of his primary weapons, one of his primary strategies is to get you and to get me to live by a lie. Because he knows if we can live by a lie, if we’ll buy into a lie, then he has us.
And so Jesus describes the enemy this way in John 8:44. And so Jesus describes the enemy this way in John 8:44. He says, “…there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks…he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
So, whenever he opens his mouth the language he speaks is lying. Everything he says is a lie. He twists the truth. He’s a master manipulator.
And so in this series what we want to do is just spend some time uncovering some of his favorite lies, lies that he has repeated to you again and again and again, lies that he has gotten a lot of people to buy into and they’re hard to recognize. In fact, one of the things I want to ask you to do in this series is not just come and listen on the weekend but to pray through it during the week. Because the only way that we’re going to recognize some of these lies that we’ve lived by for a long time is if we ask God to reveal them to us, to open our eyes so that we can see it; because we have a hard time seeing the truth when we’ve believed a lie for a long time.
So Jesus identifies Himself as the Truth. In John chapter 8, “Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth…” and here it is “…and the truth will set you free” (vv. 31-32, NLT).
“The truth will set you free.” And that’s what we want to do over these next five weeks. We want to recognize these lies that we’ve lived by, and then we want to be set free by the truth of God’s Word.
We’re calling this series “Flip the Script.” “Flip the Script” is a phrase that’s sometimes used in writing or in storytelling to tell about the moment in a story where things go a different direction than you expected. Like, the plot was predictable and then the script got flipped. Things went a different direction. And so, the bad guy becomes the good guy, the good guy becomes, you know, the bad guy; the victim becomes the warrior, the homely help becomes the beautiful princess. The script changes. Flip the script.
And so, I’ve started using that phrase a little bit. I’ll use this sometimes in talking to couples who are having some struggles. They’ve told themselves the same story about their spouse. They’ve been reading from the same script about their marriage for year after year after year. “My husband will never make me happy.” “My wife is never going to satisfy me.” “I’ve married the wrong person.” Well, look, if you keep reading from that script, if you keep telling yourself that story, you’re giving it incredible power. By believing that it’s true, you’re giving it incredible power over your life. You’ve got to flip the script. You’ve got to start telling yourself a different story.
And so that’s what we want to do, because for many of us, you know, we have lived by these lies that the enemy has told us. We’ve been reading off the script that he has handed to us, and we want to replace the lie with the truth that will set us free.
So today here’s what I want to do: I want to address one of the enemy’s favorite lies. Now, look, he whispers this to men and women alike. A lot of men will struggle with this as well. But I just have noticed that it seems to be one of his favorites to throw at women—and specifically to throw at mothers. And here’s what the lie sounds like. It goes something like this: “You don’t have what it takes.” He just tells it to you every day. “You don’t have what it takes. You don’t have the energy, and you don’t have the patience. And you don’t have the self-control, and you don’t have the wisdom. You don’t have enough time left. You just don’t have what it takes.”
Now it might sound different. There might be a different variation of it. “You don’t know what you’re doing.” Maybe that’s what he says. “You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re messing the kids up. They’d be better off without you. You’ve tried long enough. No one appreciates you anyway. No matter how hard you try, it’s not going to be good enough. You might as well give up.” And so, every time one of your kids makes a bad decision, makes some kind of mistake, the enemy leans in and whispers, “That’s your fault. That’s your fault.” You scroll down Facebook or Instagram and see pictures of moms and their children, and there’s just this voice that whispers to you, “You’ll never be that creative. You’ll never be that fun, and you’re never going to be that photogenic. You’ll never be that beautiful. You’ll never be that thoughtful. You’ll never be that spiritual.”
And so, here’s what the enemy does. He hands you a script, and in the script that he hands you, you are not valuable. You are not capable. You are not qualified. You are not competent, and you are not appreciated. And he says, “Read this. Read this. Read this.” And you read that script and you keep reading that script, and you give tremendous power to those lies.
The very first lie that the enemy told the very first woman, Eve, played on her insecurities that she didn’t have what it took. In Genesis chapter 3 we read about this. “The serpent,” it says, “was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, ‘Did God really say…?’ ‘Did God really say that you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?’” (v. 1, NLT).
So here’s what he does. Here’s what the enemy does. He tries to get you to question what God has said. Because if he can get you to question God’s Word and God’s will for you and God’s purpose for you, then he’s got space to fill that with something else.
And Eve said, “Well, no, God didn’t say we couldn’t eat of any of the trees. Just the one…” Verse 3 says, “‘Just the one in middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat.’ God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die’” (vv. 2-3).
And then Satan takes what God has said and reverses it. That’s what he does. He flips it. You see, God says, “You’ll die.” Satan says in verse 4, “You won’t die!” “Na, you’re not going to die.” And “the serpent replied to the woman, ‘God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil’” (vv. 4-5, NLT). And there’s a little truth in this…a little truth in this. But that’s what he does. He sells us a lie by giving us just a little bit of truth.
And so, what’s he do with Eve? He plays on her insecurities. He says, “Yeah, you know, you don’t really know that much right now, Eve. You’re kind of naïve actually. You don’t know much. But if you eat this then you’ll be smart.” And the enemy will do this. He’ll try to immobilize you by telling you lies that make you feel insecure.
And so, I want to give you a few ways that I think the enemy will try to communicate this lie that you don’t have what it takes, to try to play on your insecurities.
One way is through constant comparisons.
We live in a culture and in a time where, you know, we constantly compare ourselves with one another. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians, “Don’t compare yourself with yourselves. It’s not wise” (10:12). But it’s hard to avoid.
We see problems with this—especially with some of the women in Scripture—where Leah compares herself to Rachel and for a long time it’s hard for her to find any joy, because she’s just always comparing herself to somebody who’s prettier. And then we read about this with Sarah and Hagar, and Sarah ends up feeling bitter and angry. And with the rise of social media I think it’s almost impossible to avoid the comparison trap. Especially…especially for ladies, for moms, it seems to be more prevalent. Where you check on your feeds, you know, multiple times a day… And if you do that it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to get caught up in comparisons. I don’t know how you keep from doing that.
Now, there are great things about social media. I’m on social media. I’m not against it. But I just want you to understand, to make sure we all understand what it is. It’s not real, right? It’s just this façade. It’s just a lot of people giving the best versions of themselves. Do you think that’s a healthy thing to kind of give your heart to and your mind to and your eyes to on a daily basis multiple times a day, just to see the best versions of everyone you know? Do you think that’s a good idea? It’s like getting somebody’s Christmas letter every day of the year. That’s not great. Like, I don’t mind once a year hearing about how great your accomplishments are and your wonderful adventures. I don’t mind that. But I don’t want to get it every day. That’s not a good thing, I think, for the most part…for us to give our hearts to and our minds to, our thoughts to…of just hearing the best versions of everybody we know. But I get it. I mean, we will always just naturally only post what we would want others to see. It would seem ridiculous to do otherwise. So, when you scroll down through Facebook or Instagram, just know that you’re seeing these idealized versions. It’s not real. It’s a comparison trap. It plays on insecurities. It gives more weight when the enemy says things like, “You don’t have what it takes.”
I just wish we could change the name of some of these social media sites so that at least everyone would know what it is. Like, instead of Facebook I was thinking we could call it “Façade.” I wish it was called Façade. Like, “Are you on Façade? Do you have a Façade account? I think I’ve seen you on Façade. Can we be Façade friends?” You know? I wish it was called Façade. That way we would just all know. Or that Instagram could be called “Mirage,” right? This isn’t real. You know that, right? Like, “I haven’t posted to my Mirage account lately. But this picture is a great mirage. I’m definitely going to post this one.” We would see it differently. But we don’t always recognize it as that. There’s a sense… I don’t want to overstate this, but I think there is a sense in which it can feel like a form of pornography, where you’re staring at these airbrushed versions of other people’s lives and it just makes you feel insecure and discontent.
And from things I’ve read and seen lately, I think it’s especially true for mothers. The term “mommy wars” is one that you might recognize. In 1990 Newsweek coined this term to describe the tension and the debate between stay-at-home moms and work-outside-the-home moms. It’s kind of a phrase that you haven’t heard much of, probably, in recent years. It’s kind of died down. But this phrase has resurfaced and it’s kind of been repurposed to describe the passive-aggressive behaviors of moms on social media as they try to one-up each other. And then they get on one person’s page and they, you know, put a little emoji with hearts on somebody’s picture, but behind the hearts they’re rolling their eyes. But it’s this passive-aggressiveness that’s become more prevalent.
Now I’m not going to say some of these things because I’m smarter than that, but I can quote some women on this. And so, I was reading this article by Sally Schultheiss and this is what the article said. She called it “Humblebrag: Motherhood’s Newest Pastime.” And the subtitle of the article is, “It’s the boast disguised as modesty—and moms are great at it.” And she talks about how this seems to be a hobby for a lot of moms these days, where each day they want to post something on social media that will make other women in particular think that they’re awesome, that they’re awesome moms and awesome wives, but they still need to feel and come across as humble and unassuming. And so, you have the humblebrag
Here are a few humblebrags versus reality. A humblebrag: “We are going too many directions, and we’re taking a break from baseball season this year. #letthekidsbekids.” Yeah, that’s good. Reality: “I missed baseball signups for my son, and we had a huge fight over it. #toobusyFacebooking.” Right?
Here’s another one. Humblebrag: “We are taking a stand. No more iPad for the kids for a while. #familytime.” Reality: “My kid dropped the iPad and broke it, and I lost my temper. #Isoundeddemon-possessed.”
Here’s an example of the humblebrag on social media: “It’s impossible to get Jake out of the house this morning. All he wants to do is play the piano.” So, you know, here’s what you’ve got. She hooks you in by kind of talking about this “every mom gripe.” “My son is never ready for school on time.” And then she says, “Because he’s a musical prodigy. That’s what I have going on in my house.” And so, it’s kind of this humblebrag approach.
It’s not real. That there is a façade. I just want to make sure we recognize, you know, that we need to guard our hearts about some of this stuff.
Now I’m not talking about this because I want to make moms, or anyone for that matter, feel bad; I’m talking about this because I want moms and everyone to feel free from this. I don’t want moms to feel the pressure of this every day, where they go to bed at night and the last thing they do is they check their Instagram feed. And as they fall asleep at night, they think about how wonderful everyone else’s life seems to be and how they’ll never quite measure up. I’m not saying it’s wrong sometimes; I’m just saying it’s not healthy to give too much of our head and our hearts to those things. I just don’t think it is. And I just want moms, women, men, to be free from that. I want kids…I want kids to be free from that, so that every time mom or dad is taking a picture of them it’s not whether or not it’s going to make the Instagram cut, you know?
So, we’re constantly looking at these mirages and façades. And then you start to compare and feel insecure, so what do you do? Well, you put something up from your life, and then you get on and you see the comments. What’s everybody else saying? How many likes do I have? And so, you look at the list of likers, hoping that the mom you don’t really like would like your post. And it’s just…it’s just all feeding this insecurity that so many of us struggle with.
So if you’re feeling this way—I mean, if you’re just feeling like you don’t have what it takes—can I just encourage you to limit some of this in your life, to just kind of guard your heart and guard your thoughts when it comes to this stuff? Because some of you just need to flip the script. You just keep reading the same story from other people’s lives, and you need to start telling yourself a different story.
Those pictures…you know, those posts…they’re not real. They’re not real. Without exception, every single person you see on there is struggling. And it makes it really hard for us as a people to be vulnerable and broken when we are surrounding ourselves with veneer versions of other people’s lives. It’s really hard.
Do you know how I know that’s true? Because it happens all the time in church. Church can be a lot like social media. Everybody comes in and they have the best versions of themselves, and nobody really knows what anyone else is struggling with. But I know everybody is broken. Everybody is struggling. And yet if you’re in a culture, if you’re in an atmosphere where you don’t see that, it’s almost impossible to find any kind of health or any kind of healing. Because if you can’t be vulnerable and broken, you don’t have a chance. And if you’re surrounding yourself constantly with these idyllic images and identities that aren’t even real, you just need to know…you need to know it’s dangerous.
There have been studies done that talk about how…for example…when someone is having financial struggles, they’re more likely to post pictures of themselves, like, on a shopping trip. Or if they’re having marital struggles, they’re more likely to do all kinds of posts…you know, the romantic dates. Why? Because they don’t want anybody to know. They’re afraid somebody is going to see past the mask. They want to hide their insecurities.
And then you become angry because you feel guilty that you’re not perfect and that you don’t have what it takes, and it makes you feel guilty. Guilt always surfaces in anger. And you’re angry at yourself because you don’t feel like you’re getting the job done, but you know who you take it out on.
And then there’s fatigue, because after you’re angry long enough and you feel guilty long enough, you just…you just get worn out. You just become tired and you’re ready to quit.
Now, I should say that most…like most of the enemy’s lies this one has some truth to it. You see, when you read, “You don’t have what it takes,” you know, that’s true. What makes it a lie is it’s not the whole truth. That’s what makes it a lie. You see, the truth is you don’t have what it takes, but the whole truth is in Jesus you have everything you need to live out what He has called you to.
And if you’re a mom, I just feel certain the enemy is trying to tell you that you’re blowing it, that you’re missing the mark and you don’t have what it takes. And when you start to buy into that lie, you give it power as if it were true, and it leads to…for a lot of moms it leads to perfectionism, because you feel like you don’t have what it takes and so you want everything to be perfect. But that’s unattainable, and so your family and your heart begin to pay the price.
And then oftentimes there’s some form of escaping, where you emotionally detach and you focus your attention on some area of your life where you’re not going to feel that way. You’re not going to feel less than. You’re not going to feel like you don’t have what it takes. And so, you know, it’s a new career, or it’s a workout obsession, or it’s another redecorating project, or it’s a new relationship. And the enemy loves it…loves it…because he knows…he knows if he can get you to live under this lie of “You don’t have what it takes” long enough, it’s just going to put an incredible amount of pressure on you and those you love. And given enough time of you believing that lie and giving power to that lie, that pressure is going to cause things to break and fall apart.
Philippians 4:13 is a truth that sets us free: “…I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (NLT).
I can do all things through Him. And so, you flip the script, and next time the enemy tries to get you to believe that you don’t have what it takes, you say, “Yeah, you know what? Maybe that’s true. But I know who does.”
The Amplified Version puts Philippians 4:13 this way: “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me;…” And here it is: “…I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].”
Claim it. I mean, you put both hands onto that verse and don’t let go.
And so just to be clear: You are too weak, but in Him you are strong. And you are too inconsistent, but His grace is sufficient. You have messed them up. You have. But His mercies are new every morning. And so, you delight yourself in the Lord and you find your sufficiency in Him. He knows the real you—not the airbrushed version. He knows your struggles; He knows your insecurities, and He loves you more than you can imagine. And His love and grace can give you the freedom to break free from this lie that the enemy has been telling you for a long time. You can stop comparing. You don’t have to be perfect.
And how He feels about you…how Jesus feels about you doesn’t change if your kids misbehave in public. And He doesn’t care if you go to bed with dirty dishes. He just doesn’t. He doesn’t care if you wear sweatpants and no makeup out in public. He doesn’t care if your house is painted in last year’s colors. He doesn’t care if you decide to fix a frozen pizza for dinner. He doesn’t care about those things. So, you take a deep breath. The pressure is off. Start telling yourself a different story where you find your strength in Christ and you are self-sufficient in His sufficiency.
If you’re feeling helpless, He wants to help you. And if you’re hurting, He wants to hold you. If you feel guilty, He wants you to experience the joy of His grace. If you’re disappointed and disillusioned, if this isn’t how you thought it would be, He wants to be your delight. If you’re lost and you don’t know what to do, He wants to guide you. If you’re confused, He wants to give you His wisdom. If things are kind of a broken mess, He wants to come in and make something beautiful. If you feel overwhelmed, He wants to give you His peace. If you feel like you don’t have what it takes, like, if you’re reading from a script and the script says, “I don’t have what it takes,” He wants to give you a new script to start reading, where you say, “I can do all things through Jesus who gives me strength.”