Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Dr. David Murray explains there’s often a gap between what we say we believe and how we live.

Dr. David Murray: You ask every Christian, “Do you believe your sins are forgiven?” They will say, “Yes!” But I ask them, “Is there a sin from your past that you think about all the time?” They will say, “Yes, there is.” And so it’s a contradiction that needs constant gospel warfare, because God has taken it away; the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin.

Nancy: We’ll hear about fighting the lies with gospel truth today on the Revive Our Hearts podcast. It’s July 22, 2021, and I’m Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. 

Would you say you’re a good lie detector? How good are you at spotting lies—not so much in the lies of people around you, but what about lies you may be believing yourself? Drs. David and Shona Murray are with us again today to explore some of the lies we believe. 

They’ll explain why these lies are so harmful—especially when it comes to the effects of anxiety and depression. They’ll point us to the truth that sets us free from those lies! Here’s Dannah Gresh.

Dannah Gresh: I know one of the things that you two both talk about a lot is something that Nancy and I talk about a lot—we’ve written several books on the topic. That is, that many times depression and anxiety are fueled by lies that we believe.

I want to talk about that a little bit, because I think that’s one of the important keys to overcoming anxiety and depression. We have to identify those false thoughts; we have to identify those lies, and we have to replace them with God’s truth.

One of the lies we believe is that, “I have to hold the world together,” or “The world won’t keep spinning without me.” Or we take those verses from Scripture about “a little slumber, a little folding of the hands” (Pro. 6:10). We wear that without the totality of Scripture that says, “You’re not supposed to oversleep and become a sloth,” but you are supposed to rest! God created us for rest. It’s one of The Ten Commandments. Hey! Let me say that again! It’s one of The Ten Commandments! God told us to rest!

So, tell me, what are some of the other toxic lies that women believe, that really fuel the anxiety and the depression so that we can take them to Scripture and say, “Here’s the truth you need to digest.”

Dr. David: Yes, I’ll give you some of these, Dannah. I think the key ones are related to identity, and that is not easy to uncover in us.

Our identity is so deep that we’re often unaware of it. It’s one thing to identify a lie about something we’ve said, but to actually identify a lie about our being—how we view ourselves—that’s much harder.

The ones I’ve come across very commonly among men and women, boys and girls are: “I am my body,” for example. Nine out of ten girls are unhappy with their body, so they define themselves as: “I’m fat, skinny, tall, small, ugly, beautiful.” And that’s the sum and substance of who they are. “I am my body.” That’s a lie. Your body is part of you, but you’re not your body.

Dannah: Can we pause on that one, because I’m thinking something really important.

Dr. David: Sure.

Dannah: Maybe it’s just important for me, but when you say that . . . First of all, I identify with it because COVID was not kind to my body. Maybe you guys kept eating vegetables, but I went to Sam’s Club and bought a vat of Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies when we started sheltering in place for fourteen days.

I weigh a lot more at the end of a year or so of fighting this pandemic, being in this with everybody else, than I did. I liked how a year ago I didn’t think about my body. And now I am thinking about my body, and I feel self conscious . . . which, you know, I’m believing the lie.

Trust me, the Lord is telling me He wants me to take care of my body better, but also there’s a lie in there, that my value is in how I look. And you know what truth the Lord is taking me to that He’s setting me free with? 

It’s 1 Corinthians 6:19 and 20 which talks about, “Don’t you know that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You’re not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.” (CSB) 

Now, here’s what God is unfolding in my mind. First of all, the opposite of “my body is my identity,” isn’t, “my body doesn’t matter!” It does matter; it’s the temple of God. And that’s what’s so hard about this process. The truth that’s going to set me free—at least this is what God’s Spirit is working in my hear— is that my body does matter because it’s the temple of the Holy Spirit. But my body shouldn’t bring me glory because it looks great according to the world’s standards. My body should bring God glory. The way I care for my body should point to Jesus. That should be the goal.

So, I think that’s what’s hard about this whole lies and truth thing. We can identify the lies, but finding the truth isn’t always easy, because it’s not always the opposite of the lie, is it?

Dr. David: It’s sometimes in the middle. It’s trying to avoid the extremes of body idolatry and body neglect. But it’s not just in the middle. I think your emphasis, Dannah, is great. It’s introducing a vertical element to it as well. And that is bringing God into this, bringing our bodies to God. I think that will keep us in that middle place of truth. 

If it’s any comfort to you, a recent survey found that half of men gained thirty-seven pounds during the pandemic and half of women gained twenty-two pounds!

Dannah: Praise the Lord! That feels so nice! (laughter) Thank you for sharing that!

Dr. Shona: You know, Dannah, we are such creatures of extremes. We tend to go from one extreme to the other. What is to live before God in the proper sense? We’ll get to this in heaven—getting the right balance.

As far as our bodies and keeping healthy, the motivation is really what is important. So, I can try and keep my BMI [Body Mass Index] at a really cool level, where everyone admires me, and that’s just fantastic—that’s the sole motivator, so that everyone will think I look fantastic.

Or, I can try and keep my body healthy, my BMI within a good level, so perhaps I can live longer, be more fit, and better able to serve God and steward the resources I have.

Dannah: That’s it right there, isn’t it?

Dr. Shona: Motivation—what is driving this is the key. Is it me, or is it God?

Dannah: Yes, good point. Alright, we took care of that lie! David, what is the next one? You were going to mention it.

Dr. David: Yeah, let me run over a few, and you can choose which one you want to dive into. 

“I am my grades . . .”

Dannah: Yes, or “my work.”

Dr. David: People who get their sense of worth from that, or their work. 

“I am my friends.” Building your identity around having friends (that could be online or real life). 

“I am my sin.” There may be a sin from the past that dominates our thinking.

Dannah: That’s the one; we’re stopping right there. We’ve got to pull off the highway and stop at this one, because it’s a big one. 

Dr. David: Yes, it is. Again, that’s where the gospel comes in, isn’t it? It’s strange because if you ask every Christian, “Do you believe your sins are forgiven?” They will say, “Yes!” But I ask them, “Is there a sin from your past that you think about all the time?” They will say, “Yes, there is.” 

It’s a contradiction that needs constant gospel warfare. We must go to war against that false guilt, because God has taken it away by the blood of Christ; it cleanses from all sin. I think it’s not a brainwashing . . . it’s a gospel washing we need.

And the devil’s involved in this. He is the Accuser of God’s people, and we need to shove the gospel down his throat! (laughter) That’s my Glasgow background coming in there; forgive me. But I mean, really and truly, we need to be ruthless with the devil.

Dannah: It’s a battle!

Dr. David: Go to war! It’s dirty; it’s exhausting. I was just reading through the temptations of Christ yesterday, and it does say at the end of it (and it was a wonderful comfort to me), “The devil left Him for a season.” (see Matt. 4:11) And maybe that’s about the best we can hope for in this world. But, precious season! I’m going to enjoy that as much as I can!

Dannah: Well, I think my own testimony is one of sitting on the sidelines, for probably a decade, because of decisions I made as a teen. Sin caused so much shame. I believed that I was forgiven in my head. It was up here, stuck up here in my head.

But every morning I would wake up and I would have this sense of, “The birds are singing; the sun is shining. Something’s not right! What is it? Oh, yeah, that!” Like when you said a moment ago, “That sin that you can’t stop thinking about.” I knew exactly when I fought that.

I loved what you said—a gospel washing. How do we take that woman who right now is listening, and she can’t stop thinking about the abortion, she can’t stop thinking about the teen sex, she can’t stop thinking about that season where she lived as a lesbian, she can’t stop thinking about that theft. How do we wash her heart with the gospel right now and rearrange her mind with truth?

Dr. David: We mustn’t play down the sin. “Yes, I am a sinner.” Let’s just be honest, straightforward. Because confession is the way to forgiveness. But then, I think, it comes down to identity. Yes, we are sinners as long as we live, but we are also Christians now, and that is to be the majority of our identity.

Therefore, we keep reminding ourselves: 

  • I am loved by God for all eternity, forever. 
  • I’m a child of God. 
  • I’m accepted by God.
  •  No matter how much others cast me out or reject me, God accepts me 100 percent. 
  • More than that, I am a joy to God!

I love to take people to Zephaniah 3:17, where Scripture talks about God singing over His people, and that was Israel. They weren’t exactly great people. But He enjoyed them, and He sang songs over them. He sang songs about them. And that is true of every single Christian.

Therefore, I think if it’s that identity lie of, “I am my sin,” we need to go back to the gospel. “No! My sin is part of my life, but I am loved by God! I’m a child of God. I’m accepted by God. I’m forgiven by God. I’m a joy to God.”

Dannah: And that verse, Zephaniah 3:17, says, “He will quiet you by his love.” I’d like to think that He quiets those toxic thoughts. But I do know I was stuffing those thoughts in my head when I was that twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight-year-old woman who couldn’t believe that the blood of Christ was big enough for my sin.

What’s a practical step for women to take? Maybe she’s listening, and she’s said, “I’ve confessed it to the Lord 5,000 times! I’ve talked to the Lord about it.” What does she need to do if she has this secret in her past that just won’t go away?

Dr. Shona: Some women have a sin like that in their life, and they’ve never told anybody else; they’ve never shared that with anybody. They’re ashamed. They even dread the day of judgment. They have this sense of, “Everybody is going to see this!”

But the reality is, every one of us is harboring sins from our past—of one size, shape or other—and before God, they’re washed forever. So, I think if you’re young, find somebody you can trust, somebody who is wise, somebody whom you know is not going to break confidence. 

That’s another thing. You do not want to share this with someone who is just going to make it a “prayer need” with another fifty people, and then everybody knows. So, number one, find a trusted friend, preferably somebody wiser and older, and just pour it out before them. Tell them, “I know I’m forgiven, but I want to share this with you.”

And sometimes that very act of sharing it and being honest and open verbally with another Christian gives tremendous relief! It doesn’t change things; it’s not confession—in the sense of priestly confession. It’s not that. You have already confessed it before the Great High Priest.

But because we’re human, Satan can keep us in a bind, and that is part of the anxiety that this raises. It becomes bigger and bigger, like a snowball that is gathering momentum and size. 

Whereas, if you can bring that to a friend and say, “Here it is! I want to tell you this, and I need help with this. I need you to pray for me.”

Dannah: Yes, this isn’t just a good idea, this is Scripture! James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another . . .” and it’s not, then you will be forgiven. It says and then, “you will be healed.” So there’s a healing work that God has entrusted to the body of Christ.

Dr. Shona: You might call it “closure” is the modern expression. That’s a very common concept, that human beings need it.

Dannah: And once we have confessed it to Christ, we are now no longer in darkness. We’re living in the light of the Lord. Scripture says, “Live like children of the light, not like you’re still in the darkness, and have nothing to do with those old dark deeds, but expose them.” (Eph. 5:8–11 paraphrase).

That’s what Ephesians 5:11 actually says: “Expose them!” For me, I had to come to a place when I was about twenty-six where I just decided to believe that Scripture. I drug my sin into the light, doing just what you said. I told an older, wiser, godly woman. Then I told my husband, and then I told my mom. 

The three scariest conversations I ever had!! Terrifying! Every single one of them resulted in blessing and healing and closure (as you called it)! The Enemy loves to tell us the opposite, but the truth is, if you’ll tell someone, you’re going to find your identity really is restored—you are a sinner, but you are redeemed by Jesus!

Dr. Shona: And you know they love you for who you are, with everything that’s in your past.

Dr. David: I think as well that some of the images in Scripture are even more powerful than the truths, as it were. You can say to someone, “You are forgiven.” But God actually gives us images, pictures that are much more “sticky” than words.

You’ve got Isaiah 1:18, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Psalm 103:12, He removes our sins from us, “as far as the east is from the west.” Then one of the wee prophets, Micah 7:19, He casts “all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

There are many, many more images, but I think to fill our minds with these images. This is a good “Instagram,” as it were. It’s a “Gospelgram.” It’s using image-based truth that God has given us, and I think that can often stick in our minds and be more influential in our souls than even just the bare systematic theology. 

Dannah: I love that! You know what’s happening right now?

Dr. David: What’s that?

Dannah: I’ve got butterflies inside of me. I feel so much joy when we’re talking about truth! And when we talk about truth and we wash one another in the water of the Word, that’s what happens! 

I’m longing for the women listening who have been in this battle with depression, they’ve been under the weight of it for so long, for that to be their norm!

Dr. Shona: I want to give you another verse, Dannah, that’s very helpful. It helped me tremendously. It’s from Isaiah 54. It talks about the woman who is forsaken, tossed with the tempest and afflicted, and God promises a beautiful picture of a building. 

“O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, behold, I will . . . lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles [windows] of agate.” (Isa. 54:11–12) It’s this most beautiful building—this picture and creation of God that He promises to make you. The great two words of hope are the two words: I will. 

Dannah: We don’t have to do it; He will do it. Wow, rest in that! That takes us back to where we started, doesn’t it?

Dr. David: Yes, and to just go back to the book of Psalms, Dannah. I think this is what I love about this whole topic of depression and anxiety. People often say to me, “Does that not get really depressing? Could you not rave at something else!?”

Dannah: I’ve gotta say, when you said, “I love the topic,” I thought, That’s a funny sentence right there. “I love the topic of depression and anxiety!” Do tell!

Dr. David: Well, I’m Scottish. But what you see is how God uses it and the good He brings out of it. It’s like the oyster has a little piece of sand that it gets really irritated by, and so it coats it with this beautiful white coat, which makes it a bit bigger and even more irritating. So he coats it with even more of that white material. And that makes him even more irritated. Eventually you have a pearl at the end of it! But it started off as a really irritating bit of sand or grit. 

That’s what I’ve seen depression do in so many lives, in my wife’s life as well.

I think of that verse, Psalm 30:5; let me just read that out: “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” 

I think when Christians pass through times of depression and anxiety, the joy that they find on the other side of that is immeasurably greater than what they had beforehand.

And the way you appreciate every day of sanity, of soundness of mind, of just, “I’m walking in the light!” It’s so much more precious than it ever was before!

Dannah: What a beautiful picture! I wonder, Shona, if you would pray that Scripture over the women listening right now. Pray that thing in their life that’s this painful grit of sand, that’s painful every day they feel it, that God would just begin to cover it, and that it would become a pearl in their lives.

Dr. Shona: Lord Jesus, we pray for every woman out there who is feeling the pain of anxiety and depression, who is in deep darkness and even despair. Lord, we know that You understand that darkness even in a much deeper way. We thank You, Lord, that You are the great loving Savior who delights to lift us out of the pit of darkness and set us firmly on the Rock so that we can love You and worship You and experience the joy that You have.

Lord, fill them with Your Spirit. Show them that Your people love them. But above all, that You love them. Bring them out of the difficulty and the trial and the weariness, and make them into that beautiful oyster pearl. We thank You, Lord, for Your great power! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Dannah: Amen! 

Nancy: Regardless of how overwhelmed you may feel with depression or anxiety or some other challenge, there’s always hope because of Jesus! David and Shona Murray have been with us the last few days sharing their expertise and their wisdom—as well as their personal experience—with the issues of anxiety and depression.

I love that they keep pointing us back to God’s Word to help us counter the lies we so easily believe. If you’re struggling with believing the lies of the Enemy, I hope you’ll take some of the practical advice we’ve just heard. Find someone that you can trust to talk to.

In fact, every once in a while I get a text from one of a couple of young women friends I have who have battled with depression and anxiety. They’ll just say, “Do you have a few minutes you could talk and pray with me?”

It's an honor to do that, to encourage them to seek the Lord, and to help them replace the lies that are taunting them with the truth from God’s Word that really can set them free! 

Now, there’s no magical formula for dealing with these kinds of issues, but I want to stress that we’re not hopeless! We have the blessing of godly counsel from godly friends, concrete biblical ideas of steps to take, and the Spirit of God who promises us His presence! 

Here at Revive Our Hearts, we’re committed to equipping you with practical, helpful resources that point you to truth. You’ll find links to some of those tools at our website ReviveOurHearts.com. 

Now, if you’ve been encouraged by today’s program, let me just say thank you to each person who has given to this ministry.

This message, along with every other program and resource we produce, is all made possible by friends like you who pray for us and who support our outreaches financially. In fact, I want to just give a special shout-out to our Monthly Partners who are so vital to the ongoing outreach of this ministry!

When you give to Revive Our Hearts, you’re helping women experience the freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness that can be found only in Christ. As a way to thank you today for your donation of any amount, we’d like to send you a booklet I’ve written called A Deeper Kind of Kindness. It’s part of our emphasis on the theme of Kindness all this month.

This resource will help you see the difference that kindness can truly make and how your actions can minister grace and healing to others, and bring glory to God! If you’d like to make a gift today, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com or call us at 1–800–569–5959. When you contact us, be sure to ask for my booklet on kindness.

Dannah: What kind of words come from your mouth? Tomorrow Nancy takes us to Proverbs chapter 31 to show us that a virtuous woman speaks words of wisdom and kindness. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth challenges you to identify lies and replace them with truth! It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Host

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

About the Guest

David and Shona Murray

David and Shona Murray

David Murray (PhD, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) is professor of Old Testament and practical theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He is also a counselor, a regular speaker at conferences, and the author of Exploring the Bible. David and his wife, Shona, attend Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church.

Shona Murray is a mother of five children and has homeschooled for fifteen years. She is a medical doctor and worked as a family practitioner in Scotland until she moved to the United States with her husband, David. She is the author of Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands.