Dannah Gresh: My passion is that the Church would start to look like the Church. That we would be more joyful than the rest of the world—rather than depressed. That we would live in confidence and victory, not shyness and fearfulness. That we would live untainted by the sin of this world, rather than having statistics for sexuality and divorce and all these other things that aren't that much different from the rest of the world.
Do you hear what I'm saying? What would happen if we would wake up tomorrow and actually live in the power that Jesus said we could live in? He kind of said three things. He said, "I came for three purposes." One, "I came so you could be with Me. I want to be near you. I love you so much, I want to be close to you." And He said, "I came so that you can go out and share the gospel, the great truth, this wonderful story." And then the third thing He said was, "I came so you can have authority over the darkness. I came," He says in the New Testament, "so that you can cast out demons."
But instead the Church struggles so often with its panic attacks, its depression, its wounded-ness. Do you know what I'm saying? We just don't look that different.
In Lies Young Women Believe we actually created sort of a quiz for you to take to get an idea of whether or not you might be believing a lie. You see, when Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote Lies Women Believe, she really talked about the fact that sometimes the greatest evidence that we are believing a lie is that our emotions are not healthy. They're not what God intended for them to be.
So this is kind of a quiz for you to take to know if your emotions are healthy. Now the first thing that I say—if that sounds more like you than the second option in this list, I want you to stay seated. But if the second option in these pairs sounds like you, I want you to stand up.
Sit down if, on a regular basis, most days, you feel relaxed, but stand up if most days you feel totally stressed out.
Sit down if you are totally happy to be a single girl and content with that, but stand up if you've got to have a guy right now, this moment. Woo—some very honest girls here today.
Sit down if you're good with what you've got; stand up if on most days you feel just a little bit ugly.
Sit down if you feel forgiven; stand up if you struggle with feeling guilty.
Sit down if it is the normal tendency in your life to take your problems to God in prayer first; stand up if you run to your friends for advice first.
Sit down if you've got just enough friends; stand up if you sometimes struggle with loneliness.
Sit down if you're feeling friendly today; stand up—so we can identify you—if you're totally "PMS-ing." (laughter) Whew—okay.
Sit down if you feel authentic; stand up if you sometimes feel like a hypocrite.
Sit down if you are in control of your tech world; stand up if you feel like text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, Words with Friends tends to control you.
Sit down if you're content with what you got; stand up if, tonight during the break, you are totally dying to get out there and shop 'til you drop. (laughter)
Sit down if you are content to submit; stand up if you sometimes struggle with anger at your parents.
Stand up if you stood up at all.
So it looks to me like our emotions might betray the fact that we are a group of girls that sometimes believes lies. Today we're going to learn the process of identifying a specific lie, overcoming it with God's truth—just like you heard Erin Davis do. And today we're going to work specifically on some of those lies, so that you can walk out of here free. How does that sound? Good stuff . . .
So let's be a little bit instructional for a few minutes. Sit down, and let's write down the definition of "lie" and "truth." Let's begin with the definition of a lie. A lie is an inaccurate or false statement—an imposter. If I were to tell you that the sky is chartreuse, would you believe me? What is chartreuse? Well, it's the color that I say the sky is. (Chartreuse is like a putrid green.)
The sky is generally what—blue. But an imposter tries to come in and convince you of something that's not really true, that's not really there. Do you know that we know, because it's written in Scripture, where every single lie comes from? Every single lie—turn to John 8:44—comes from one place. John 8:44 says, "[The devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of all lies."
Some versions say, "When he speaks, he speaks out of his native tongue." It's the only language that's natural to him. It's the language the he knows, to lie to you, to lie to me with the purpose of destruction. Because the Word also teaches that the thief—the enemy—comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
He has no intention of making your life joyful or free or authentic; he has every intention of making you miserable. He has every intention of making you feel hopeless. He has every intention of making you feel hypocritical—that is his purpose in lies.
Now with that definition laid down, let's look at the definition of truth. Truth is an agreement with a standard or original. Now if I say to you that the sky is blue, how do you know what blue is? We know what blue is because there's something called the primary color wheel, and we have colors in that primary color wheel by which we define all colors.
So we can conform a definition of the sky to a standard or to an original. I believe that the standard, or original, that you and I should conform our lives to, is Jesus Christ. He says in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life."
I was so heartbroken because, when we did the Lies Young Women Believe focus groups, Erin went around the nation and talked in small groups to hundreds of young women to identify the top twenty-five lies that they might be believing, so that we could address them in the book.
One of the things that was just heartbreaking to me was when we asked women your age, "What is truth?" nobody said "Jesus." And there was once a day when you asked a teenager who was living in a Christian home, growing up in a Christian church, "What is truth?" that it would be almost synonymous with the name "Jesus Christ." We understood that He is truth.
He is truth as a Person, but one of the beautiful things that He's given us—because that can get so complicated (because He's not very tangible at times)—is the Bible says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." That verse is talking about Jesus Christ.
Since He is the Word, we can also go to this written Word, which is a representation of Him, and know that all of our truth can conform with this standard, with this original. The problem is that so many times what is tangible is our panic attack or that sense in the morning that you just simply can't get out of bed, because the depression is pushing on you like a heavy rock—pressing you into the pillow.
What's tangible is that guy that just broke your heart, that girlfriend who you thought was faithful, who you thought would stand by your side, but when push came to shove, she was more of a "frenemy" than a best friend. What's tangible sometimes is that the Church is flawed and imperfect, and sometimes the Church hurts us. Sometimes our youth pastor lets us down; sometimes our pastor lets us down. Sometimes our moms and our dads let us down.
So we live in this state of emotion because we're embracing and believing the lies from those experiences. You know what, as kids, we are really great observers of things that happen, but we are terrible interpreters. And so sometimes things happen in our lives, and we begin to believe things that are not true.
As my friend Erin Davis shared in the first few chapters of Lies Young Women Believe her struggle with panic attacks through her teen and early adult years, when we began to really pray through that, and Erin really began to look at, "When did those panic attacks first begin? When did I have the first one?" It became apparent to her that it really started about the time that her father chose to leave their family. That's not supposed to happen. Families are supposed to stay together.
You're supposed to know your family loves you, you're supposed to know they'll never leave. And sometimes when they do—some of you know what I'm talking about—we interpret it incorrectly. Erin's seventh-grade heart began to interpret it as a lie, the lie that "everyone leaves."
When I was about fifteen years old, I was struggling with something very different from Erin. You see, Erin was being sinned against, but I was sinning. Because when I was fifteen, though I loved the Lord with all of my heart—I was active in my church, I attended a Christian high school, I was a missionary for Child Evangelism Fellowship—I can't even tell you how it happened, except that the enemy puts us in his target when we least expect it. And when we think we are above sin, we are the most vulnerable.
But I walked down a wooded path, and I gave away to a fifteen-year-old guy—who is a complete stranger to me today—the gift that God meant for me to give to my husband on my wedding night. (Deep sigh) I really interpreted things badly.
There were a lot of lies that I began to believe, but one of the lies that rooted very deeply and impacted me for almost ten years was the lie that "God can never use me now." And I don't really think that God wanted to use me during my season of sin or my season of healing. There is a time when we sit on the sidelines, and we let the Body of Christ do the work of restoration. But to go ten years past that day of sin and still believe that God could never use me . . . to resign from my position as a Child Evangelism Fellowship teacher, as a Sunday School teacher, might have been right for a season, but to live in that for a decade was not God's truth.
What resulted from Erin's lie was a life of panic, and it was a lot of torture. What resulted from my lie was something that I consider to be shyness—but you know what it really was? Some of you struggle with this. It was fear, and God's Word says something about fear. God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.
Any time you are struggling with fear, you can be certain of this—it's written in black and white—it is not God at work in your life. But why did we go, and why are you struggling, for such a long season in your emotional bondage? Why are you still struggling with the depression, with the cutting, with the eating disorder, with the addiction to social media? Why can't you overcome these things?
Why are you still struggling with the inability to get out of bed or to make friends? Why are you still struggling with fear? I think many times it's because when the enemy plants something, we don't have to be impacted with it forever. I want you to turn in your Bibles with me to Genesis 3. We're going to look at the first lie.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?'" (v. 1).
That was a lie. How many of you recognize that as a lie because you're familiar with what God said? God said, "Look at this beautiful garden I've made for you! Walk through it, love it, enjoy it, eat from it. Look at its beauty—it's yours; it's My gift to you. There is one tree—one tree—that I ask you not to touch. One."
And do you know that I believe that even that tree was good—because God pronounced that everything was good. So that tree, in God's timing, in God's plan, in God's perfect intention, had a good and noble purpose. But He had drawn some boundaries—as He does in our lives with many things—saying, "Not now, not here, no—for your good."
So the lie that Satan introduced was, "Huh! Did God really say you can't eat from anything here?" It was a lie. She didn't have to be impacted by it, but here's what she did.
And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die'" (vv. 2–3).
Oh no, we have a problem—that's not what God said either. God never said, "Don't touch it." You see, what Eve started to do at the very moment was to slow down and to pause and to dwell on the lie. Why do you struggle with the eating disorder? Well, maybe it's the anorexic photos of models you have plastered all over your bedroom. You're dwelling on the lie.
Why do you struggle with rejection? Because your boyfriend broke up with you in seventh grade, and you're still not over it, and you're a senior in high school. Because you keep writing about it in your journal, you keep festering on it, you keep dwelling on it.
Eve began to dwell on the lie when she stayed focused on it. You know what I asked Erin? I asked Erin, "Was there any way that you dwelled on your emotion of panic attacks?" She said, "Absolutely." I said, "What was it?" She said, "Well, I sometimes used them to gain attention." Dwelling on the lie.
"I'm so depressed, I can't get out of bed." Okay, there's an appropriate time and place to tell someone that you're struggling with something, and you have to tell someone. But if all you do is walk around, the martyr, and you dwell on it, and you use it for attention, you will not be free.
She also said this (you don't need to be a rocket scientist), she said, "Sometimes I would watch scary movies, knowing that they would make it worse." Anybody know what I'm talking about? You know that what you're struggling with is going to be made worse by XYZ, and you do it anyway. You dwell on it.
You know what I did to dwell on my lie that God could never use me was that I withdrew from every ministry opportunity, again and again and again, and I played the martyr, sitting myself on the back row of my Christian faith. I said to myself, I can never be a missionary as I dreamed. I can never be a Bible teacher as I dreamed. I can never do any of those things. So what I will do, I will get a job in business and I will be a missionary in corporate America.
But you know what—it was an excuse. There are so many people that are called to be missionaries in corporate America—what a blessing. But when you are called, as I had been, to be a missionary and a Bible teacher, you don't settle because Satan's telling you lies, and you don't not move into what God's called you to.
What you do do is identify the lie, and you replace it with truth. Let's finish this story with Eve.
But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise . . . (vv. 4–6).
Boy, had she really begun to believe the lies, the imposters, the inaccurate statements. Just like you have—you believe that it's good that you don't eat because you're fat, even though your doctor tells you you're underweight. That it's good that you don't go to youth group and get fellowship, because those other people are not as spiritual as you are. I think the Bible says something about, "Do not forsake the meeting together." You're believing a lie, and you're empowering it with your pride. "God can never use you because you looked at pornography." Baby girl, He wants to use you. But right now, it might be a time to sit on the sidelines under someone's nurturing care.
But it's not time to do this: "She took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband" (v. 6). You see, when we believe lies and dwell on lies, eventually we act on lies, and we sin. You cannot continue to struggle with your emotions the way that you are, because you will eventually act out in a way that break's God's heart.
Erin's truth, as we prayed for her, was found in Hebrews 13:5: "I will never leave you nor forsake you." My truth was really funny—2 Corinthians 1:4 says, "[God] comforts us in all our affliction, so we that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
Sometimes our human tendency, when we want to fill ourselves with truth to make our emotions feel better, is: "Oh, God doesn't really think that much about it; it's not that big a deal. God's going to use you. You're great." That's not what that verse said. That verse said, "You know what? You sinned; you were broken—this is true. Face the reality of it, but reach out for the comfort of God. Because the comfort of God is what can empower you through your brokenness and your healing to comfort others."
What is amazing to me is that I've sold almost a million books on the topic of sexual purity. Hello? Does anybody understand that when I say that, I am still amazed at the healing and goodness of God, that He would say, "I know this broke your heart. I know it wounded you. I know it was one of the greatest tragedies of your life. But I'm going to choose, in your weakness, because you yielded yourself to My truth, to make this where I most use you."
There is no pride when I say that He's used me to do that, and if you think there is, you may not have been as broken as I was. But some of you are as broken as I was, and today you don't have to leave that way. Throughout the day we are going to be writing down the lies we have believed or maybe we are still believing.
I want everyone in this room, at some point during the day, during our game time, or during one of our break times, or even—if God really is speaking to you, and you can do it very quietly—during one of our teaching times without disrupting an entire row, I want you to go to the back of the room.
When you walked into the room, you walked across two big long strips of paper and a lot of chalk. I want you to fill that paper up with the lies that you have believed: "I'm ugly. I'm fat. No one will ever love me. Everyone leaves. God can't use me." I want you to write them down as God reveals them to you throughout the day.
Now don't think that we are going to embrace those lies, because there is going to come a time today when we are going to plant truth on that paper as well. But I want to pray with you right now, that this time right now—which has just been kind of instructional—will be a foundation for our day, and that God would begin to help you to identify the emotion that you've struggled with, the lie that might be at the root of that emotion. And as we move throughout the day, He will teach you to go to His Word to find His truth, so that you can be free.
Father God, I thank You for these beautiful young women—that their hearts and their minds are attentive. Lord, may they be the church that rises above the norms, may they be the church that rises above the depression and the anxiety and the fear and the emotions that Satan uses to steal, kill, and destroy.
I pray, Father, that as they hear testimonies and that as we give them further tools, that You would help them to take that emotion they're struggling with, find the lie that is rooted under it, and when they will leave here today that they would have at least one Scripture verse that would be the anchor of their truth.
I pray this in Your Most Holy Name, the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.