The truth can be traumatizing.
Have you ever stuck your fingers in your ears and said, “I don’t want to know the truth?” There are times that the truth can be traumatizing. When we have made up our minds, we don’t want to be confused by the truth.
In modern-day Christianity, people are trying to change truth rather than have truth change them. As we acquire a more complete perspective of God’s values, we gain a more comprehensive insight into how desperately we fall short of His design. When we connect to our sinfulness in the light of God’s holiness, the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts through the trauma of truth. Consequently, our orientation to God is altered, our perspective of God changes, and so does our perception of people, positions, and possessions. The Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth, we encounter God’s truth, and our response is to be traumatized by His truth.
Brokenness is the willingness to give up my willfulness.
It is impossible to move from perversion to living in truth without brokenness resulting from the trauma of truth. Brokenness is the willingness to give up our willfulness. As the Holy Spirit reveals God’s perspective to our deceived hearts, we come face to face with the tragic truth that we are sinful souls. We are alienated enemies of God with no hope. The resulting grief can produce healthy, therapeutic guilt, shame, and fear as we begin to interact with and mourn these truths. Through the trauma of truth, godly sorrow produces a spiritual disruption of the heart that leads to the reordering of our souls, maturing us into Christlikeness. This productive pain reveals that my value system is changing. I want to be different. This is the foundation of repentance. Or I may choose to reside with the toxic guilt, shame, and fear of the sin nature.
The pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.2 Corinthians 7:9–11 NLT
Choose to receive the truth or reject the truth.
There are only two options—people will respond by receiving truth or rejecting truth. To receive the truth means we allow the Holy Spirit’s work to be solidified in our lives; the changes are becoming permanent. God’s work takes hold in our hearts as we abandon self and walk in brokenness. Rejecting God’s truth produces a hardened heart that rebels against the Holy Spirit’s efforts to bring us to brokenness. We live like we don’t want to know the truth.
Because God is Creator of all, His truth undergirds all. Foundations are built or crumble as the direct result of His establishment. His truth maintains accountability and brings consequences into our lives, both negative and positive. As we follow God’s truth, His promised blessings result. If we neglect God’s truth, His promised destruction results.
The way of the Lord is a stronghold to those with integrity, but it destroys the wicked.Proverbs 10:29 NLT
Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Remember what it says:
“Today when you hear his voice,Hebrews 3:12–15 NLT
don’t harden your hearts
as Israel did when they rebelled.”
Transformation by Truth
Living in the truth is the process of divine transformation where God changes me. The permeation of God’s truth in my life alters all aspects of my being—what I believe, how I think, what I feel, how I behave, and the choices I make. I am made new.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20 NLT
Our violating God’s law and usurping His authority required the death penalty. The sinless Son of God died to satisfy the justice of God. Although Christ was the one who was crucified, God views His sacrifice as satisfying His righteous demands on our behalf. Therefore what Christ has done for us, we have done through Him. “My old self has been crucified with Christ.” Christ completed what we were not qualified to do for ourselves. We could not make atonement for our sin. We could only be punished for eternity. What He did, He did for us. Our sins were judged on the cross. Our sinful selves died.
Living in the truth changes everything.
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.Romans 8:1–4 NLT
As the result of being crucified with Christ, we possess the divine ability to live new lives.
Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.Romans 6:5–7 NLT
If we receive by faith the gift that is offered to us, we can also receive the benefits that are applied to us. Christ’s completed work enables us to be empowered because “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20 NLT).
Living in the truth gives us the ability to please God.
Why don’t you want to know the truth? The application of salvation provides divinely enabled abilities. We can actually die to self because the Holy Spirit resides in us. Without the Holy Spirit, we have no ability to please God. Perhaps we think we could perform good deeds, but
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.Isaiah 64:6 NLT
Through His divine enablement, we can now be personally empowered to behave in a way that pleases God.
We may have a vast knowledge of the Bible, but if this knowledge has never changed us, it is because we do not believe what we know to be true. When we believe, we act on what we know is certain.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.Hebrews 11:1 NLT
Living in the truth doesn’t mean you are perfect.
It does not require complete comprehension. Absolute understanding is not a necessity. What is essential is that we trust and follow in God’s way.
You will hear a word spoken behind you, saying, “This is the correct way, walk in it,” whether you are heading to the right or the left.Isaiah 30:21 NLT
Our inability to trust reveals that we do not believe God at His Word. We must acknowledge and confess our unbelief. Authentically facing the reality that we do not believe God results in the trauma of truth that challenges our value system. When we acknowledge our inadequacy, genuine concern for ourselves motivates us to seek God for help.
“Unless your faith is firm,Isaiah 7:9 NLT
I cannot make you stand firm”
Choose Christ’s Redemptive Process
Those who choose to receive God’s truth and enter into Christ’s redemptive process will move to repentance. Repentance is that place where we turn from our philosophy of self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness. It is opting to live and do life God’s way and giving up our self-sufficiency.
Those who continue in deception may attempt a ritual of repentance. With no true heart change, they may go through the motions commonly deemed consistent with repentance, such as crying, revealing sinfulness, asking for forgiveness, going to the altar, making promises to be different, or even a renewed religious fervor. But these actions are merely playing “good” as these individuals attempt to feign something they do not possess. They are not actually seeking to be free from the domination of sin but merely free from the consequences of their sin.
I really don’t want to know the truth.
Deceptive individuals hope to project the virtue of godly change while remaining in their philosophy of self-centeredness. Through an elaborate ruse, they attempt to regain power and control so they can once again manipulate trust to exploit others. But as we give up our willfulness to God and relinquish ourselves unreservedly to Christ, submission to God’s authority, obedience to God’s design, and death to our selfish desires will result.
Isaiah 58:2–3, 5 NLT
“Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day
and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
pretending they want to be near me.
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. . . .
You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the LORD?”
Evil pretends to be good?
Often evil pretends to be good. When our profession of faith is not congruent with our possession of Christ, sin gets normalized through deceptive rationalizations. The expression of evil is then disguised in the charade of goodness. Evil may present itself with a demeanor of goodness to the point we wonder, How could such a good person do this? Then we must look deeper at the possibility that the alleged goodness is merely a facade to disguise evil.
“Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.“Luke 11:35 NLT
“And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”Matthew 6:23 NLT
Some may lead others to believe that their basic heart is good with only random aspects of sinfulness so that their unhealthiness is promptly dismissed as soon as convenient and their evil becomes normalized. After all, we are all going to make mistakes, right?
“Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the LORD.”Zechariah 8:17 NLT
It’s just too hard to do what God is asking.
People complain that it is just too hard to do what God is asking. When we protest, “It’s too hard,” we are actually stating that God is not keeping His promise to enable us. Even in Old Testament times, the people protested that God’s ways were too difficult, and so they attempted to adjust His standards of holiness.
This was God’s response:
“But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s table. You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the Lord,’ and you turn up your noses at my commands,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the Lord . . . “For I am a great king,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and my name is feared among the nations!”Malachi 1:12–14 NLT
Why don’t you give God your best?
So how is it that we manage to believe we do not have to give God our best? Why are we convinced that He is asking something of us that is too difficult? When will we choose to believe God’s truth instead of falling for Satan’s deceptions? Amid all our weaknesses, we can rest assured that God will empower us to accomplish what He desires of us.
When we enter Christ’s redemptive process through brokenness, our repentance leads us to the resolution of our guilt, shame, and fear, so we willingly choose submission to His process. Satan has perverted the concept of submission, similarly to the concept of dependency, so we believe it is something to be avoided. Through submission, we yield our hearts to God’s will and our wills to God’s heart. This surrender creates a reciprocal harmony of fellowship between God and us. Together we walk step by step with the heartbeat of God.
Divine enablement meets with personal empowerment.
We do not have to come up with our own plans or follow our own processes; we can compliantly follow His way. This submission establishes the path of restoration to love, joy, and peace and produces grateful obedience.
Obedience is the place where divine enablement meets with personal empowerment. Our desires are not merely to rigidly do what God wants us to do but to seek to know and pursue His will fervently. Our motivation for living is to connect to God in a vibrant relationship where we are studying His Word and communing in prayer, and following His design. This yearning for prayer and assimilating the Scriptures is to understand His heart and apply His principles to every aspect of our lives, realizing that His designs are perfect. We are responsible for allowing God’s Word to infiltrate the void created when we yielded our independence to God. We bow before God, willing to be governed by His sovereignty.
“So are you saying all I need to do is read my Bible and everything will be fine?”
Actually, if you personalize God’s truth contained in your Bible, you will be transformed. The relevance of His life-changing truth is all that is needed for life and living. The One who designed us knows exactly what it takes for us to live an abundant life. Why do we think we can come up with a better plan? He had it all figured out before He even created Adam and Eve. It is simply our responsibility to surrender to His design by walking in His way. We accomplish this by believing and acting on God’s truth. His Word is an all-encompassing record of the ways we can trust Him.
Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.Ephesians 4:21–24 NLT
The admonition here is not to merely make better decisions but to make empowered choices to mature into Christlikeness.
Die to self to live in the truth.
Because we have been reconciled to God, through Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, we may now die to self so that our ways become His ways. His divine enablement empowers us to sacrifice anything that interferes with our following Christ, whether influential people, strategic positions, or satisfying possessions.
As we die to self, we can suffer through confrontation, ridicule, persecution, deprivation, and oppression for the cause of following Christ. As corpses who Christ has revived, we can face anything that opposes our following Christ. Although our flesh may suffer consequences, we abandon the desires to promote or preserve self. Whatever the sacrifice and whatever we must endure, we do not have to be influenced by our sinful selves because we choose Christ’s redemptive process instead of self’s redemptive process.
Since the Spirit of God and the spirit of sin are at war within us (Galatians 5:17), self must be conquered. As we choose dependency on God’s Holy Spirit, His Spirit will combat and defeat the resident hostile forces that are against God.
Through repentance, the fleshly resistance is rendered inoperative. A new foundation of resurrected freedom triumphantly allows us to embrace a new life in Christ. The fallen regime of self should no longer influence our minds, hearts, or souls since we consistently choose to be part of Christ’s redemptive process. We may still choose the path of self-sufficiency that will lead us once again into self’s redemptive process. However, God’s truth and love will continuously draw us back to the victory we experienced while abiding in Christ’s redemptive process.
Choose to know God’s truth.
Submission, obedience, and death to self are the means through which the Holy Spirit postures our souls to fight the sinfulness of our hearts. When we don’t want to know the truth, yielding to His transforming work matures us to Christlikeness. Although the trauma of truth may be painful, God calls us with His truth to redeem us from the miseries of life, we must receive the convicting power of truth and allow this intrusion to accomplish His work, thereby transforming us into His likeness. To turn a deaf ear is to shut out the life-giving opportunities God wishes to undertake. God disrupts our lives so He may redesign our souls.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.2 Timothy 1:14 NLT
When Repentance Is Necessary
Psalm 51 is a beautiful prayer pattern to help us repent of traumatizing truth. When the weight of our sin is too heavy to bear, David’s words can guide us to the throne. David modeled repentance for us after Nathan, the prophet, confronted him after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Use Psalms Prayer Patterns to pour out your heart to God while acknowledging your weakness and His strength as you grow deeper in your relationship with Him.
Prayerfully discern: What lies am I believing that keep me from an intimate relationship with Christ?
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Excerpts from Desperate Dependency by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis.
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