Lies always lead us places. We might think of them as mere tricks, but they’re more than that. They are paths. Paths always take us somewhere. And if Satan’s great lie is that God isn’t always and everywhere present, where is that taking us in our relationships?
Identity and Presence
Satan’s great lie has a lot to do with our identity, though we might not see it right away. Who are you? In Scripture, we can’t answer that question without mentioning God. We are who we are only in relation to him. We’re not only made in his image (Gen. 1:27); we’re also surrounded by his presence. In fact, his presence is what gave us life in the first place.
That means two things. First, we can’t know who we are without knowing who God is. That’s why J. Gresham Machen wrote, “The relation to God is the all-important thing. It is not a mere means to an end. Everything else is secondary to it” (Things Unseen, p. 9). We can’t come close to knowing who we are without simultaneously coming closer to stare at who God is. Self-knowledge necessitates God-knowledge. That’s one of the many reasons the ravenous search for identity in the Western world is so tragic. At the deepest level, true identity isn’t a matter of gender or passion or self-discovery. It’s a matter of knowing yourself in relation to the God who made you, the God who is present all around you. If God is being ignored as functionally irrelevant in your life, it will be impossible for you to come to peace with who you are.
Second, given the fact that we’re made in the image of a relational God, our identity is defined in relation to others. It’s safe to say that Adam didn’t fully understand who he was until he saw Eve, until he saw someone he could give his life to. If you question that, recall what Jesus says are the greatest commandments: loving God and loving neighbor. Yet, loving neighbor is a form of loving God. We can’t even perform our most basic purpose apart from living in relationship with other humans. I was reminded of this recently by Kelly Kapic in his recent book, You’re Only Human. Following the thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he writes,
I need others if I am to be the most faithful version of “me.” We expose one another’s blind spots and help one another imagine a more beautiful, flourishing life. The Christian insight is that “I” flourish not so much by exalting myself as by learning to love and sacrifice for others as well as learning to accept such love and sacrifice from others.
The presence of God and the presence of others is key to your own identity. You don’t just have relationships; you need them. They’re built into your DNA.
The Path of Satan’s Lie
If all this is true, then where does Satan’s lie take us? It takes us to the only other place available: away from God and away from others, into the dark den of ourselves. Selfishness, egoism, and constant preoccupation with your own needs and desires is the product of Satan’s lie. After all, if God’s presence isn’t available, and if the presence of others is only periphery to you, then you’re just left with yourself.
When you’re just left with yourself, the light of your soul darkens. It’s no surprise that nearly 20% of the American population is being treated for depression and anxiety. That didn’t come out of nowhere. The status of mental health in the United States right now is a legitimate crisis. But so is the status of our spiritual health. We need to satisfy a longing for God’s presence. And only when that longing is first satisfied will we be able to satisfy the longing for others.
Relationships are central to being human. Satan’s great lie would have us ignore that. But in so doing, we would plunge deeper into the caverns of self, losing our purpose and ignoring our God-given, relational identity.
Get more when you dive into The Great Lie
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