from the sermon “The Temptation of Jesus,” Jared Herd, July 6, 2014
“If he can distort your identity, then he can destroy your life. If Satan can begin to distort your identity and begin to make you think you’re something you’re not, and he can twist the words of God and he can begin to get you to think that you are something less than the beloved – if he can distort your identity then he begins to have the power to destroy your life.
“Some of us, we hear voices all the time. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I hear voices in my head all the time, tapes that play, telling me lies, whispering…deceit, telling me things that aren’t true about my identity and who I am….And it’s the Accuser accusing me in the same way that he did in the Garden and the same way he did with Jesus. He’s accusing me in just the same way he accuses you of not being the beloved and not being loved and not being holy….
“Some of you might hear a voice that says, ‘Look how far you have to go. You—you can’t do this.’ Have you heard that voice play in your head? ‘You can’t do this. You’ve got so far to go. A lot of days ahead of you. You’re never gonna pull this off.’ That’s the Accuser. That voice, it comes from Hell. Don’t agree with it.
“Some of us hear a voice that says, ‘You’re always blowing it. That’s just who you are. You’re just messed up. That’s your identity. You’re always blowing it. Same thing happened in 3rd grade, it’s gonna happen when you’re 40. It’s just who you are.’ That voice comes from Hell. Don’t agree with it….
“Some of us hear voices that say, ‘You won’t ever get over it. You’re going to feel this way for the rest of your life.’ That voice is the Accuser. It comes from Hell.
“Some of us hear voices that say, ‘You messed up, because you are just a mess up. That’s just your identity. That’s just who you are, and you’ll never be anything different.’
“And just like Jesus does, would we be the kind of people that speak truth about who we actually are, that God has spoken to you and spoken to me in the face of Hell when those voices come. Don’t agree with those voices.
“Jesus always speaks truth. God has told you who you are. That is fixed. That doesn’t change. You are the beloved. You are the loved sons and daughters of the perfect Father.”
What accusing voices do I hear in my head? What tapes play on repeat that need to be refuted?
The voices are far fewer now than they were when I was 18 and still believed a passel of lies about myself. I’ve been refuting those lies for 14 years now, and I’ve come a long, long way in my head. It’s so much easier to believe the truth about who I really am at 32 than it was at 19 or 25 or 30. It’s so much easier now to recognize those lies and shut them down before they’re fully whispered.
That’s what happens when you diligently, persistently, relentlessly, day after day after day agree with the truth of God’s Word about yourself and those around you. You learn to believe it not with just some passing, “Oh, yes, that’s true like the earth orbits the sun,” but with the sort of belief that is so overpowering that you can hardly breathe for the beauty of it.
There are still voices that linger, though. Satan is a fool, but he is a persistent fool. The accusations come every day. When I wake up, when I am tired, when my life is cluttered up with busyness, when my hormones get ugly, when I have a people hangover, when I neglect Him – that’s when the voices become loud again. All in the span of a day, a few hours, a handful of minutes, those lies can rear up and assault me with the fury of Legion looking for a herd of swine. I still fail to disbelieve the lies an awful lot of the time, but – and it’s a holy but – the Lord is faithful, and He has taught me, disciplined me, and loved me well, and He has brought me into victory bit by bit.
When I hear those voices, these are three of the handful I most often hear. And just like Jesus did in the wilderness, I refute the Accuser with the truth of who God says I am, because my identity is fixed.
I can’t do this.
I am a mighty woman of God. He gives me hinds’ feet on high places. He strengthens my arms to bend a bow of bronze. He sustains me. I am a mighty woman of God fitted for battle. He has given me a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. I am fully equipped to fight this battle. I can do this, because He has called me according to His purpose to do good works that man may see Him and worship Him. I can do this, because He makes me brave.
I am an angry, irritable person.
I am one radically loved by God. I am loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. The Spirit of the Living God dwells richly within me, and He bears all fruit in its season. Because He is ever-present within me, I have full access to His strength at all times. I am loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled, because He makes me so. He says I am a new creation. Whether I feel like it or not, I am new all the time, because He makes me new.
I am a sinner. At the root of me, when you strip all of it away, they’re going to see it, all that ugly sin that’s still there and know: I’m a sinner. Nothing has really changed. I’m still a lowdown, miserable, wretched sinner.
I am a saint, chosen, set apart, made holy by the indwelling Spirit of God. He cancelled the written code against me by nailing it to the cross of Jesus, and He crucified my flesh and made me new. When His Spirit came upon me, I became righteous. I am righteous. I am holy. When you strip all of it away, when you get to the very root of me, there He is, rooted and established in the love only a Redeemer can lavish upon His beloved. The heart of stone is gone. A heart of flesh consumed by the Spirit of Almighty God is my root. I am a righteous child of Yahweh, because He makes me righteous.
This piece is the result of practicing the spiritual discipline of meditation. If you are interested in learning more about how to meditate, I encourage you to read Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster. I am on a year-long journey through the spiritual disciplines and hope to share insights as they come. You can read the first meditation here.