All of us have troublesome areas in our lives that need to be
acknowledged and honestly dealt with, but many of us refuse to even
admit that we don’t have it all together.
All of us have troublesome areas in our lives that need to be acknowledged and honestly dealt with, but many of us refuse to even admit that we don’t have it all together. Denial is not a river in Egypt, it’s a river that runs through our hearts, a delusion-producing way of thinking that robs us of freedom and power.

Denial manifests itself in a number of lies that we tell ourselves. One of the most common is believing, “I am a good person; any faults I have are because of someone else. I’m just a victim.”

The Church of Laodicea had this kind of denial. Jesus told them: “You say, ‘I am rich, with everything I want; I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that spiritually you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17). The only thing worse than being wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked is to be that way and refuse to admit it.

Jesus went out of His way to help all kinds of people except those who thought they didn’t need any help. He told these self-righteous people, “It is the sick who need a doctor, not those in good health. My purpose is to invite sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think themselves already good enough.” (Luke 5:31-32)

I sometimes talk to folks who say they want to become Christians and go to church, but they must first “clean up their act.” My response is usually something profound like, “Huh?” To me, it’s like a person who gets hit by a car – ribs broken, clothes torn and bloody, but when the ambulance comes the person says, “Wait, I can’t go to the hospital looking like this! I need to go home and get cleaned up, then I’ll go.”

The church is a hospital for sinners. We’re to bandage one another with love and encouragement, but first you have to take personal responsibility for your problems.

A second lie that denial leads us to believe is this one: “I cannot do anything about the problems I have.” Some people are natural-born cynics. They figure you’re born in one hospital and you die in another, and the purpose of life is to get from the one hospital to the other without messing up too bad. But while it’s certainly true that life is not a bed of roses, there is something that can make huge difference between those two hospital visits: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 Paul explains it this way: “It is true that I am an ordinary, weak human being, but I don’t use human plans and methods to win my battles. I use God’s mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil’s strongholds.” These verses plainly say we can change, so why do so many Christians feel powerless and bound? Because there are supernatural powers that have a vested interest in keeping us down.

It’s popular today to think of the devil as a sort of a metaphorical personification of evil, an image created to help us understand the negatives that come into our lives. Baloney! Satan is real, and he’s out to eat your lunch! The good news, however, is that even though Satan attacks us daily, the overall victory has already been won by Christ.

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus makes an interesting statement, “…upon this Rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” I used to think that the church had some sort of gate that Satan couldn’t get through, but that’s not really what this verse says (read it again).

Have you ever been attacked by a gate? What Jesus is saying is that we are to be the ones attacking! In the Message Bible translation, Jesus says “I will put together a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.”

So… how are we doing? Are hell’s gates still on their hinges in Hollister?

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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