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Pointers along the way #523

Ignoring reality
- Jacob Ninan

Psychologists have identified that one of the tricks our mind plays with us in order to protect us from pain is a defence mechanism called denial. We tend to deny the reality of facts that stare at our face by questioning their validity, proposing the possibility of errors or playing with alternative scenarios, if only we can show that these facts are not facts! When we hear the shocking news about the death of a loved one, don't we try to dodge it by saying it can't be true because we spoke to him only the other day? This kind of reaction actually lasts only for a short term until we can no longer deny the facts. But the sad thing is when we use this approach when we come face to face with spiritual realities that cause us distress. The resulting damage could be long lasting.

Think of how people try to hold on to the teaching that when we were born again we were made completely new (2Co.5:17). What this really means, when we read it along with all other statements on this subject, is that God has started something new in us to make us like Jesus and that our life will become more and more new as a result. It's not as if our old life has suddenly disappeared and got replaced with the life of Christ. But there is a process involved here, it will take time, and we have to cooperate with God by putting off the old self (Ep.4:22), denying ourselves and following Jesus (Lk.9:23). If we try to pretend or try to make ourselves believe that the old life is totally gone, we deceive ourselves. We deny reality in that way, and the result will be confusion and frustration.

It is a reality in life that we are tempted and sometimes attacked by Satan or his demons who try to deceive us and take hold over parts of our life (Ep.4:26,27). We are warned many times to take care that we do not fall for their schemes (1Pe.5:8,9;Ep.6:11). But if we imagine that Jesus has conquered them on the cross of Calvary and since we are in Him we don't have to worry about Satan at all, we deceive ourselves. Then we won't be prepared when the attack comes, and we may not even recognise that a problem is from Satan.

All Scripture is the inspired word of God (2Ti.3:16,17). If we don't believe this we will have no solid foundation for our faith, our hope and our doctrines. But if we don't acknowledge the practical limitations that God took on Himself when He used ordinary imperfect people to write down His words, the different literary styles He allowed the authors to use, etc., we may tend to read things into the words that God never meant them to mean.

God wants us to be honest. Any pretence we take up, even if it is done with a (misguided) goal of honouring God, is abominable in His sight. Of course we would believe God rather than man (Ro.3:4), but let us not make ourselves believe things which are contrary to reality. When we find contradictions let's check to see if we have understood things rightly and also what other parts of the Bible say.


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