Believe God, Not the Deceiver
About the Guest
Who are you listening to? Dennis Rainey explains that all of life is one long process of asking and answering the question, "Who am I going to believe?" In Genesis, we see Satan, the big deceiver, questioning Eve about what God had told her. Eve began to doubt God, and mankind has been struggling ever since. Rainey cautions listeners not to follow Eve's footsteps, but to believe what God has promised in His Word and to hold onto that truth for life.
Who are you listening to? Dennis Rainey explains that all of life is one long process of asking and answering the question, “Who am I going to believe?”
Believe God, Not the Deceiver
Bob: Have you ever found yourself tripped up because you believed a lie? Dennis Rainey says there is a way for you to have that happen less often in your life.
Dennis: I think the question is—for every single person, married couple, every parent—is to answer the question: “How are you going to grow your faith for a lifetime? How are you going to nourish faith so that you don’t move into disbelief?—so that you don’t get deceived and fall into sin?”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, October 24th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. So what exactly can we do to grow our faith / to stretch the faith muscle so that we are not deceived as often as we are today? We’ll explore that subject today with Dennis Rainey today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You’re getting a lot of interesting feedback from people who bought that little book—I can call it a little book; right?
Dennis: Yes; they’re able to read it in a couple hours and have some real take-aways for their Christian faith.
Bob: This is a book you wrote called Choosing a Life That Matters. It really is from a message you gave at a graduation for seminary students, years ago. There was a lot of resonance around that message; and you thought: “I’m just going to expand on these themes and have something—that high school graduates, college graduates, people who are in the early phases of life, or people who are new to the faith—can understand: ‘These are kind of the anchor points for what life’s supposed to look like.’”
Dennis: —or people who have been walking with Christ for decades and have kind of lost the essence of what it means to be a follower of Christ. I initially called the message, “The Seven Non-Negotiables.” We changed it to Choosing a Life That Matters: Seven Decisions You’ll Never Regret.
Over the past several months, we’ve talked about the first three: “Seek God, Not Sin”—that’s the first one. Of course, you think about seeking God—you don’t think about sin seeking you, but it is after you. The world, the flesh and the enemy are all out to seduce you away from seeking God.
The second one is “Fear God, Not Men”—there are a lot of people who are more focused on pleasing men than pleasing God.
Bob: —more concerned about what their peers think than they are about what God thinks.
Dennis: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom / the beginning of knowledge and it does turn our hearts away from evil.
The third one is “Love God, Not the World.” I think all of life is one long process of determining: “What are you going to love? What are you going to invest in? Where’s your heart investing in the future?”
Bob: Well, “What are you going to love?”—but also: “What are you going to believe? What’s your life going to be anchored in? What’s the truth you’re going to base life on?”
Dennis: That’s the fourth one we want to talk about today: “Believe God, Not the Deceiver.” The bottom line on this one is: “All of life is one long process of asking and answering the question: ‘Who am I going to believe?’” If you look at the Bible, the Bible begins with a conversation that Eve was having with the serpent. And he basically said, “Has God said…?”
Dennis: Eve, of course, doubted God / was deceived by the serpent; and the rest—shall we say?—is history. We’ve been in a battle for belief, big time, ever since then. This one is one that Jesus spoke a great deal about in the New Testament. I love John, Chapter 7 and Chapter 8; because they really call out the essence of faith. Jesus basically says, you know: “You are of the devil, your father.
“You believe the deceiver. He has no truth in him; he’s been a liar since the beginning.” He is speaking of this issue of: “Who are you going to believe? Are you going to trust the devil? Are you going to believe his lies?” or “Are you going to embrace what God says in the Scriptures?
Bob: It’s interesting—Jesus refers to Himself as the Truth—that’s one of the names He gives for Himself—He says: “I am The Way, the Truth, and the Life. Nobody come to the Father but by Me.” He refers to Satan as the deceiver, the father of lies. There’s a real clear juxtaposition, in Scripture, between truth and lies, and where truth is located and where falsehood is located.
Dennis: Yes; I don’t think we realize how the soul is a battlefield over: “Who will you believe? Who are you going to trust with your life?”
Bob: Well, think about Satan being the father of lies—the thing about him, as a liar, is that his lies sound attractive; they sound plausible. He really dresses them up to make them very appealing.
Dennis: Well, one of the things that I dealt with, as a young follower of Christ, was doubt. I think the enemy likes to sow seeds of doubt in our soul, because doubt that isn’t dealt with turns into disbelief; and disbelief turns into confusion: “Who are you going to trust? Who are you going to believe?” If you don’t believe the Bible, then, what will you believe?
And then, finally, as you move into confusion, that gives way to outright defiance, where you say—like Adam and Eve did—“God, You may have said this is wrong; we’re going to go ahead and choose it and go our own way.”
Bob: Think about where we are in the culture today, and think about where Christians are today—there are a lot of people wrestling with the reliability of Scripture / the authority of Scripture. Culture is telling us: “We know better than Scripture. Scripture needs to be adjusted to be better understood in our day or to be better applied in our day.”
A lot of young people, coming up, thinking, “Maybe my parents have had it wrong with their fundamentalist thinking about Scripture.”
Dennis: A lot of young people today have a face to some to the issues—they know a person, who is living a certain lifestyle that the Bible speaks clearly about as being wrong, and yet they’re looking at that person—they’re going: “How can that person not be loved by God?” The answer is: “They can be loved by God, but their lifestyle can be one of disobedience.”
I think the question is—for every single person, married couple, every parent—what you are attempting to build into the life of your children is to answer the question: “How are you going to grow your faith for a lifetime? How are you going to nourish faith so that you don’t move into disbelief / so that you don’t get deceived and fall into sin?”
In this little book, Choosing a Life That Matters, I have several points that I make just about how you can grow your faith. The first one is be intentional about your Bible intake—feed your faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. If you don’t have a regular reminder of who God is / what the truth of Scripture is, you’re not going to spot it in the culture, or with your friends, or even in your Christian community when you hear something that the Bible speaks clearly about that someone’s not embracing at your church.
Bob: I think it’s important here, too, as you read your Bible, to make sure that you are—you’re not just reading it, devotionally; but you’re reading at a level that digs down deep and that you’re reading and listening to the voices of those who have walked with Christ for years or in centuries past. In other words, we can’t just read our Scripture in a vacuum today.
I think there a lot of people, who are coming to wrong conclusions about what the Bible teaches, because they’re not hearing from saints who have gone before—they’re not hearing what pastors and Christian leaders are saying. They’re just saying, “Well, this sounds good to me,” and “I think this is the interpretation, and I’ll just go with that.”
Bob: Bob, I’ll give you the supreme illustration of this, at least, in our lifetime. I had the privilege of going to Dr. Billy Graham’s funeral. Each of his children spoke about his life.
Every one of those children all spoke of both their daddy and their mom being a man and woman of the Book.
Bob: How many times did we hear Billy Graham say, “The Bible says…”?
Dennis: Well, that’s what they said; right?—they said: “One of the greatest illustrations of my dad was having that Bible open, and his finger pointed out to the crowd, going, ‘But the Bible says…’ and he called people to believe God’s Word.” And they didn’t just stop there, saying: “Daddy preached that,”—they said: “Daddy practiced that; he lived it.” It wasn’t just a matter of a devotional time; it was the source of his life.
Bob: So we’ve got to anchor ourselves in the fact that we’re going to believe the Bible is true; and when the Bible and the culture clash, and even when you get punished for believing what the Bible says, you still have to hang onto the truth.
Dennis: I’ll just give the folks a few of Barbara’s and my favorites of ways we’ve studied the Scriptures or have allowed the Bible to soak into our souls and caused our faith to grow. One was a Bible study called Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. A couple of other ways Barbara and I have practiced Bible intake is five chapters of Psalms and, also, one chapter of the Book of Proverbs a day. You do that—over a period of 30 days—you go all the way through the Psalms and the Proverbs.
Another way that I’ve studied is reading through the Gospels, just asking the question—not merely, intellectually: “What would Jesus do?”—but watching what Jesus did and put yourself in the situation, where He dealt with religious people, who didn’t have a relationship with God.
Join a Bible study group; a HomeBuilders Couples Series® that FamilyLife® has; The Art of Marriage®; our new parenting study that we have. Those are all ways where we can practically have an intake of the Scriptures and begin to apply it to real life.
The last way that I think listeners have heard me talk about here, recently, is a Psalter—just a book of the Psalms that has places for you to write your thoughts out in the margin / to the side about what you’re learning and gleaning from the Scripture—ways you are praying for yourself; observations you are making, interpretations, and application that you have to your life.
Bob: We’ve got to start with studying the Scriptures; but as I’ve heard you say, many times: “It can’t end there.”
Dennis: No; one of the great lessons I learned was from Dr. Howard Hendricks—he said: “The body of Christ today suffers from a vitamin A deficiency. What every listener needs to think about—when they go to church, when they read the Bible, when they listen to God through prayer—is: “How are you going to apply this?”
Bob: That’s the vitamin A.
Dennis: That’s the vitamin A. In fact, the entire conference—the Weekend to Remember®—is built around helping couples / husbands and wives apply what they’ve heard at the Weekend to Remember to their marriage, on the spot. Bob, I think one of the reasons the conference is so transformational is because we give people the truth; we explain to them what it means—that’s interpretation—and then we give them the time and the questions to help them apply it on the spot. If that occurs, you’re going to grow / —your faith is going to grow, and you’re going to want to know more of the Bible and how you can apply it for life.
Bob: This is instinctive for you—I mean, I’ve watched you. When you read the Bible, it’s almost like you want to get right to the “So what?”—right to the application: “How do I live this out?” If somebody doesn’t go there, instinctively, is there a way that you’d recommend you can cultivate application?
Dennis: I think you can take Dr. Hendricks’ very simple method of Bible study, which is “Observation: ‘What does the Bible say?’”—just observing and reading. Then taking a step back and looking at the context of the passage and go, “What does that mean?”—“What’s the interpretation of that passage?” There’s where I think a lot of people, Bob, stop—they stop one step short of moving to the next question, which is: “How can I apply this to my life today? What’s the take-away?”
I think, on Sunday morning, one of the biggest problems is—we have some great preaching/great teaching—but we don’t give the average person in the church, who is listening to the message, an opportunity to reflect and to think about: “How are we going to apply this in our lives?”
Bob: Here’s part of the challenge with that—and you know this—if somebody says, “Okay; here’s the application for you...” a lot of people will take that like that’s the new law they’re supposed to follow; and they’ll think, “Okay; I’ve got to do this, and this, and this; and now, I heard at church, ‘Here are the six steps…’ If I’ll do this…” This whole area of application—we’ve got to be Spirit led and know what the application for us is—how God would have us apply it in our life in our day.
Dennis: And we’ve got to pass that on to our kids. That’s what it means to pass on our faith to our kids—to help them learn to apply Scripture to the issues they are facing. Many times, we live as practical atheists. We don’t apply our faith to our circumstances and take our obstacles to the Scriptures and ask God: “Help us; would You help us?”
Bob: So do you do this, consciously, as you’re reading a passage in the Bible? When you are done, do you stop and go, “Okay; what’s one thing I can do that would apply that passage to my life today?”
Dennis: I can just tell you—recently, going through the Psalter—as I go through a Psalm a day—and really reflect on it / think about it: “How does this apply to my life today?”—yes! I’m asking it on every one of those Psalms. Some of those Psalms are more practical than others for what I’m facing today; but I think it’s the discipline of asking the question, repeatedly, of the Scriptures and then being careful to listen to God for how He wants to apply it to your life.
Bob: So, you read the Scriptures; you learn how to apply the Scriptures and come up with action points. Is that where it kind of ends?—right there?
Dennis: No; I think there are all kinds of ways in the Christian life where you find ways to remember to believe God—not the deceiver. One of the ways is to start a rock collection.
Bob: A rock collection.
Dennis: That’s right. You look at the Old Testament—many times, God did a powerful act on behalf of the nation of Israel or on behalf of the leader; and He called them to establish a memorial.
One time He actually had them gather stones out of the Jordan River and bring them back and form up a memorial so that: “When your children and you were walking by that pile of stones, and say ‘What are those stones there for, Daddy?’ ‘…Mommy?’ you can tell them: ‘This is when God stopped the waters and brought the nation of Israel out of the wilderness into the Promised Land.’”
I think there are all kinds of memorials that God is creating for us, over our lifetimes—if we don’t collect some rocks—write it down / write in a journal—maybe, even, actually have a pile of rocks—
Bob: There’s a big rock out in front of our building, here, at FamilyLife®.
Dennis: There is; and it says, “Dedicated by families who wanted to give God all the glory.” And it’s a rock that weighs a lot.
Bob: It weighs a lot!
Dennis: It weighs a lot! You’re not going to move that rock without having a pretty good-sized piece of equipment. Well, the reason is—I don’t want it moved.
I want it to be a reminder to anyone who comes into this building, here, at FamilyLife that this building/this facility that has touched the world is here because God supplied the money through families, who didn’t want the credit personally, but wanted God to get all the glory.
If you think about it, Bob, the Lord’s Supper, in a way, is a rock collection. Jesus said, “As oft as you drink this cup and eat this bread, you do this”—what?—“in remembrance of Me,”—what I have done for you. I think the reason for these rocks and the Lord’s Supper—those kinds of spiritual milestones—is because we tend to suffer from spiritual amnesia. We forget what God has done; and we move into unbelief, where we get confused; we doubt God and, ultimately, we become defiant.
Bob: I know you and Barbara have found strength, and hope, and courage to walk by faith by looking at the lives of those who have gone before.
Dennis: Barbara and I have had the privilege of knowing some of these personally: Bill and Vonette Bright, Dr. Howard Hendricks and his wife Jeanne—powerful people, who lived lives—50/60 years of marriage and family—and who believed the Book and who lived lives based on that Book.
But there are also some peoples’ lives that are written in books that are really worthy of being in your library. Before I came into the studio, I called Barbara and said, “What are some of your favorites?” because I have some of mine. She said, “Well, I love the story of Brother Andrew that’s called God’s Smuggler.” It’s a story of a courageous, faithful warrior, who smuggled Bibles into countries, where it was illegal to bring a Bible. In doing so, risked his own life and possibly imprisonment.
There’s the book about Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place—that’s one of Barbara’s favorites. One of mine is Loving God by Chuck Colson. That book is filled with great stories of men and women, from other cultures, who lived lives of faith and who grew their faith over their lifetime.
And then, she reminded me of this—she said, “You used to give away a lot of C.S. Lewis’s books.” And I thought, “Yes; she’s right.” Mere Christianity—that’s a great book that will cause your faith to grow. Another one that he wrote is called The Screwtape Letters—this is about the deceiver.
Dennis: It’s a conversation that the devil was having with his comrades about how to deceive those of us who are trying to live by faith. And then, of course, the famous series that C. S. Lewis wrote is The Chronicles of Narnia. You may not think it’s growing your faith as you read it, but it really does.
Bob: Ultimately, that’s the issue—if you are going to believe God and not the deceiver, that’s an issue of faith.
Dennis: It really is. In fact, I’ll never forget a conversation I had with Dr. Bill Bright, President and founder of what was then Campus Crusade for Christ®. As a single man, I walked into his office. He wasn’t there; and on the corner of his desk he had a little plaque that was on a piece wood—it said, “I’m no grasshopper.”
Later on, I ran into Dr. Bright; and I asked him about that. He said: “That’s from Numbers 13. It’s about the majority and the minority report. The majority said: ‘There are giants in the land. We can’t take it.’ There was a minority report of two—Joshua and Caleb—who said, ‘God will give them into our hands.’ It’s actually said that people actually chose to believe the majority report; and it says, ‘and they became as grasshoppers before the giants in the land.’” Bill Bright said, “You know, I don’t want to be a grasshopper. I don’t want to look at circumstances and not be able to trust God.”
I would just challenge the listeners—whether single or married—there’s a great statement made by Martyn Lloyd Jones / it is one of my favorite quotes to share with single ladies—and there happens to be two single young ladies; and one, whose engaged—she’s holding the ring up right now!
Bob: Is she single if she’s engaged?
Dennis: Yes; she’s still—she’s still single; okay?
Bob: Technically, she’s still single. Alright; although her fiancé might go, “No; she’s not single anymore!”
Dennis: Well, here’s my favorite quote to give single women—as far as that goes—single men. Martyn Lloyd Jones made this statement—listen carefully; it’s just a few words, but it is profound: “Faith is the refusal to panic,”—they’re nodding their heads—“Faith is the refusal to panic.”
Why is that? If the object of your faith is the Lord God of the universe, there’s no reason to panic. You’re not a grasshopper; you are a person of faith. You don’t have to be seduced into embracing the lies of the deceiver: “Believe God, Not the Deceiver.”
Bob: Yes; this is something all of us face every day. And the choices we make determine how we think, how we act, and the direction/the trajectory of our family—the trajectory of our lives. It’s not just this issue—you address seven different issues that are key to Choosing a Life that Matters. That’s the title of the book that you wrote that has been at the heart of what we’re talking about here today.
It’s a great book—for parents to go through together with teenagers, for college students to read on their own, for anyone who is new in the faith—to understand what’s at the heart of living life by God’s design; or for anyone, who has walked with Christ for years, and needs a fresh reminder of what’s at the core of how we live out our faith.
We’ve got copies of Dennis’s book, Choosing a Life That Matters, in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to order: 1-800-FL-TODAY is the number. Again, the title of the book is Choosing a Life That Matters. The website is FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get your copy.
I’m thinking about—down on the second floor, here in our headquarters of FamilyLife, where we’ve got four banners that hang in the hallway that remind us of what FamilyLife is all about. The first banner is about you and your walk with God. The second is about the sacred nature of the marriage covenant; the third is about the roles God has called us to play in a marriage relationship; and the fourth is about how we pass on a legacy of spiritual vitality to the next generation.
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Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about a movie that is coming to theatres this weekend—a movie that’s all about the impact that the battlefront can have on a marriage relationship. You’re going to meet Darren and Heather Turner, whose story is at the center of a movie called Indivisible. And you’ll meet the movie makers, David and Esther Evans. That all comes up tomorrow. I hope you can tune in for that.
Bob: I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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