Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Dannah Gresh: Friendship is so important, and we all crave healthy friendships. How do we make sure they are healthy? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says . . .

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Honesty is the basis for trust in any relationship, and if we’re going to seek Him—seek the Lord—and experience the joy of personal revival, we’re going to have to get honest!

Leslie Basham: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh, for October 2, 2019. 

Dannah: Some fifteen years ago our host, Nancy, joined forces with Tim Grissom and other leaders of Life Action Ministries to write a workbook entitled Seeking Him. They took Life Action’s classic messages on revival and turned them into a workbook so that individuals could seek the Lord on their own for personal revival.

I’m happy to say that this classic has been updated and re-released. And Nancy also has a brand-new video series so that small groups can go through this study and then watch Nancy on the video together. This week we’re listening to the teachings from that series, and we’re calling it “Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.” Today Nancy’s going to teach about honesty.

Nancy: How many of you are on some kind of social media (I don’t mean right this minute!) You’re involved in Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or Snapchat? Let me see your hands. Okay, I probably should have said, “Is there anybody who is not involved in social media in some way?” Okay, we’ve got a few of those hands. 

Good for you! I’m not going to judge, but I want to just tell you about a couple of interesting things I read recently. They relate specifically to Instagram, but I think they could be applied to other forms of social media.

This one article said: “We all know it. Instagram photos are never what they seem!” And it talked about how careful cropping and applying the right filters can make normal life seem almost magical. And it demonstrated it this way: there was a photographer in Thailand who took a series of photos that illustrate how people lie about their lives on Instagram. 

So you could see the whole scene—what it really was. Then you saw just the part that was the shot on Instagram that was cropped and filtered and all of that. So you have this collection, this really cool Pinterest-y looking collection of plants and cool little pots. That is all you see on Instagram.

But then you look at the whole big scene, and it’s a huge, cluttered, messy room—maybe more like a garage. You see the real whole thing. 

There was another that showed this bike on what looks like a really romantic, lonely path. But then you get the wide view of what the actual scene was, and it’s a street with lots of people on it. It’s not romantic at all!

So the conclusion of this whole series of photos was: “Don’t forget that those envy-inducing Instagram shots are a manipulated version of reality!” (And I see a lot of heads nodding.) And then there was another article I came across last week that said, “Ten things people lie about the most on Instagram.” (I’m not picking on Instagram; it’s just I happened to come across these articles.)

This article said we’re not always painting an accurate picture when we post on our feed or stories. Here are some things this researcher said that people lie about: they lie about their relationship status; they lie about the strength of their relationship. 

The piece said, “Instagram is a mask every couple loves to hide behind when times get tough, so don’t let their social media affections fool you!” So they lie about their relationships, about the strength of their relationships. They lie about how many friends they have and who they’re friends with. 

The piece said, “People could have fewer friends than there are days in the week, but they’ll still use social media to make it seem like they’re friends with everyone in the world!” And then they lie about their social media popularity, about their interests, about what they do in their free time. There was a comment about that:

Social media is all about showcasing the most exciting parts of your life. No one takes time to post about the boring moments. No one wants you to know that they only watch Netflix, or nap, in their free time. 

So these are things where maybe what you’re seeing isn’t the whole real picture!

They lie about how great their life is. A quote from this article: 

Social media is all about making yourself look better. Rarely will you see people post about the moments they feel frustrated or upset by something not going their way. What they post about is how things always work out for them. They know that’s not true . . . and so do we.

And then here was kind of a summary statement that really caught my eye: 

Social media is a mask we all hide behind to receive compliments from people we don’t really know in order to feel better about ourselves. 

Hmmm. Well, whether you’re on Instagram or not, I think those observations are representative of the human heart.

The truth is, at some level, we all wear masks. We’re pretenders, we’re posers. We’re inclined to hide, to cover, to pretend. You may remember the pop song in 1978—Billy Joel wrote and sang it—called, “Honesty.” He said, 

Honesty is such a lonely word,
Everyone is so untrue.
Honesty is hardly ever heard,
And mostly what I need from you.

Am I right when I say that it is deeply ingrained in us to “smile for the camera”? You see that if you post Christmas photos that people send you at the end of the year. I used to post tons of those on my refrigerator. My refrigerator would just be covered with these posts of friends and their families, and I know those people!

I know what kind of year some of those people had. I know the tears and the troubles and the family breakups and the fractured relationships and the hard things they went through. But there they are, all with their Christmas photo pose on. Now, it’s not sinful to pose for a photo, but the point is things aren’t always what they seem or what we project, because we want people to see us at our best.

That’s why we have in the back room here a makeup artist. I wouldn’t have come to this session without wearing makeup, and I’m not very good at doing my own, so I wanted some help for the cameras and lights here. I said as we were getting ready for this session, “Maybe I should just come out and do this session with no makeup!” 

And then some of you would wonder, Who is that?! (laughter) But we do that in life! We pretend, we lie, we hide—from our mates, our friends, our kids, our coworkers. We lie to ourselves. We lie to others. And, most seriously, we lie to God . . . or we try. We never fool Him. We lie about ourselves. We lie about our successes and our failures. We lie about our sin.

We lie about who we really are. We’ve learned to act, to perform, to pretend, to cover, to wear masks. In fact, that’s the word: “masquerading.” You go to a masquerade party. You’ve seen some movies with these masquerades. The key characters have got masks on, and nobody can tell who they really are. A lot of people live life that way. All of us do, to some extent. Playacting, hypocrisy. 

So, “How are you doing?” 

What’s the standard answer? “Fine!” We’re all “fine,” right? Now, it’s fine to be fine! If you’re fine, it’s really fine to say you’re “fine.” But the fact is, a lot of times when people ask that question . . . . Maybe we don’t know if they really care what the answer is. But we can say “fine” as we’re meeting somebody on the way into church. 

“How are you doing?” 


“How’s your week?” 


But the fact is, our marriage is on the rocks, our kids are rebellious, we’ve got broken relationships, and our morals are in shambles. 

Whatever the truth is, things we’re struggling with, things we really don’t want people to know. Sometimes it’s one thing not to tell total strangers, but sometimes we don’t tell our best friends! Or sometimes we don’t tell even within our marriages or our families. We’re covering, we’re pretending. Why do we do this? I think there are a lot of reasons. . .

Certainly, some of those reasons would be: 

  • shame 
  • fear of consequences (if people found out) 
  • comparison (I might not look so good in comparison to others) 
  • pressure to perform
  • others’ expectations of us (we don’t want to let them down; we know they are counting on us to be this way)

And I tell you what, if you serve in ministry—and I don’t mean just a big public role, but you’re involved in teaching a class or leading a small group—this is a huge temptation, to not be real. Because people expect, “You’re spiritual; you’re godly.” This is a struggle in my own life, to not let people’s public perception of me drive who I think I am or who I want to be.

I know I want to be real before God, I want to be real before God’s people, but sometimes just years of people’s expectations, you can start to just perform. There’s a fine line between doing your job, doing it effectively, serving others well and acting, performing.

There’s a character in the Old Testament . . . and he really was a character! His name was Jacob. You may remember some about Jacob. He was known for being a deceiver, for being an imposter, a poser. And you don’t have to know all the details, but let me just give you a little bit of background, because I want you to look at a key passage about him.

He envied his brother, who had the blessing of the firstborn son. So Jacob deceived his brother about the birthright and then conspired with his mother to deceive the dad so he could get the firstborn’s blessing from his older brother. The blessing that was coming to the older brother, he wanted for himself. His brother’s name was Esau.

In Genesis chapter 27 (this is a fascinating progression here), Jacob, after making up himself . . . His brother was a hairy man, so he had to go get some animal skins that would smell like his brother who was a hunter and was the outdoorsman. Jacob did all he could, because his dad was old and his eyesight was failing, to pull the wool over his dad’s eyes, so to speak.

So Jacob did everything he could to masquerade, and then in Genesis 27:18–19: “He went in to his father and said, ‘My father.’ And [his father, Isaac] said, ‘Here I am.’” Then a really important question: “‘Who are you, my son?’ Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn.’” He’s lying! He’s pretending. He’s an imposter, he’s a poser. He’s not Esau! He’s Jacob!

But he knows that his dad can’t see enough to tell the difference, and so he says, “I’m Esau.” 

“Who are you my son?” 

“I am Esau.” 

“I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me” (v. 19).

He’s longing for something that he doesn’t think he can have if he’s really Jaco, so he’s going to pretend to be Esau so he can get the blessing that he thinks he wants and needs. He’s going to do whatever he needs to do to get that blessing. He had an agenda, and in order to fulfill that agenda, he had to playact; he had to be a hypocrite. 

Well, fast-forward from Genesis chapter 27, and God takes Jacob on a journey away from home to a foreign country, to other people who actually cheat him so he can get a dose of his own medicine. But this is a journey to expose his heart and to bring him face to face with the truth. Then, years later (do you remember) in Genesis chapter 32, an angel of God comes to Jacob during the night and wrestles with him.

And the angel says to him in Genesis 32:27: “What is your name?” 

And what did Jacob say this time? He said, “Jacob.” 

What did he say when his dad asked him years earlier, “Who are you?” 

Jacob said, “I am Esau.” 

Now the angel says, “What is your name?”

Jacob says, “I’m Jacob!” Now, it’s not just the name . . . “It’s my past; it’s what I’ve done.”

For the first time in a lifetime of deceiving, Jacob stopped pretending! He got honest about who he really was and what he had done for the person who really knew all of this. 

So let me ask you: “Who are you? What’s your name?” Now, if I went up to you and asked, “What’s your name?” You would tell me your name.

But I want to know more than your name, and God wants to know. And He knows! Who are you really? Are you pretending to be somebody you aren’t? Are you pretending to have a different persona? Are you your Instagram character? Are you your real persona? Is there a difference between the two?

You see, honesty is the basis for trust in any relationship. If we’re going to seek Him, seek the Lord, and experience the joy of personal revival, we’re going to have to get honest! That’s why we talked about humility first. We had to cover the ground with that, because you can’t get honest if you don’t have humility, because getting honest is going to require that we be humble, right?

There’s a lot about us that’s truthful that we don’t really want God or others to see. So once we’re willing to be humble, then we can better afford to be honest. It requires that we get honest with ourselves, with each other, and first and foremost, with God. You see this all through the Scripture.

Let me just mention a couple of verses: Psalm chapter 15, verses 1 and 2: “O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?” This is talking about the tent of worship, where the people came to worship God. “God, who can draw near to You? Who can seek You? Who can come close to You?” What’s the answer? “He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart” (v. 2). Truth. 

Psalm 24:3–5, 

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? [Here’s the answer:] He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord.

The one who doesn’t lift up his soul to what is false. You see, God lives in the “honest space.” After all, He is I AM. “I AM that I AM” (Ex. 3:14). There’s no shadow of turning with Him (James 1:17). There’s no deception with Him, there’s no pretending, there’s no falsehood. He is straight up noonday!

There’s no shadow of turning with Him, but with us, we live in shadows, right? And so we lurk around, we want to manage other people’s perceptions of us. But God lives in the honest space, and that’s where we receive His blessing. You see this concept in the New Testament in the first chapter of 1 John. I want to invite you to turn there.

You may be familiar with this passage, but it’s one we ought to look at regularly. 1 John chapter 1. This is not the gospel of John; it’s the epistle of John, toward the end of the New Testament. Chapter 1, beginning in verse 5; the apostle John says,

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

So you have a series of contrasts in this passage: God is light. In Him there is no darkness; no shadows, no admixture of light and darkness. And then, verse 6: 

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness [we’re not where God is!], we lie and do not practice the truth. 

The lie is over here in the darkness; the truth is over here in the light, where God is. So if we say, “Oh, yeah, I walk with God,” but we’re walking darkness, we’re lying. We’re not practicing the truth. 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another [We walk with God. He’s in the light and we’re in the light, so we can walk together] and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (v. 7). 

It’s not saying we’re perfect or that we never sin; it’s saying as we walk in the light, we will get forgiveness. As we walk in honesty and humility before Him, that Light and the One who walks in the light, will cleanse us from all sin.

The alternative, verse 8, is that we cover our sin. We pretend we don’t have it. 

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth [God is the Truth] is not in us. If we confess our sins . . . 

What does that mean? It doesn’t mean we never sin. It means we bring our sins into the light. We don’t keep walking in the darkness. We don’t live in the shadows. We don’t try to convince other people that we haven’t done anything wrong or we’re all holy or we’re all mature spiritually. 

I want to tell you, the longer you walk with Christ and the more publicly visible you are to others—even as a parent—the tendency is to not want to have your children see the truth.

Now, your children do see the truth. Of all people, your children do see the truth, and they’re often quick to point it out, right? But we want to rationalize and excuse and defend ourselves. But he says, no: 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (v. 9). 

All the darkness comes out of us if we walk in the light and agree with God, if we’re honest about our sins.

If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (v. 10). 

You see, darkness conceals, but light reveals. If you’re going to walk close to God, who’s in the light, what’s it going to do? 

It’s like picking up a rock out of your garden and exposing all the little vermin and varmints under that rock. They go scurrying right when the light turns on because they want to be in the darkness. They don’t want to be exposed. The light reveals what the darkness conceals.

And so Proverbs 28, verse 13 tells us: “Whoever conceals his transgressions [like, whoever stays in the darkness, the person who wants to hide in the shadows] will not prosper.” You won’t be blessed, you won’t experience the joy of personal revival, the joy of walking with Christ, seeking Him, knowing Him, finding Him, if you conceal your transgressions.

“But he who confesses and forsakes them [brings them into the light, walks in the light, what will happen? He] will obtain mercy” (v. 13). Isn’t that what we need?! And isn’t that why we hide in the darkness sometimes? We’re so afraid, we’re ashamed, we feel guilty. We think, If I walked into the light, God would wipe me out!

No, God says, “You walk in the darkness, you’re going to get wiped out! But you step into the light, you walk in the light, you get honest; you’re going to find mercy, compassion, the covenant-keeping love of God on your behalf! God will cover everything that we are willing to uncover. If we’re willing to confess it, God will cover it with the blood of Jesus Christ, will cleanse us from all sin.

But ultimately, God will uncover everything that we try to cover. God sees it all, God knows it all, and freedom comes from agreeing with what He sees and knows. So we want to walk in the light with God. As one writer has said, “Roof off (open, honest with Him), “walls down.” We want to walk in the light with others on the horizontal relationship—not hiding, not pretending.]

God says, “You desire truth in the inward parts,” Psalm 51:6 (NKJV). And Ephesians 4:25: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” That includes being real, being honest, about our struggles, our failures, our needs.

I have a friend . . . His wife had come to me at one point and had said, “I feel like my husband . . . there’s something wrong. I feel like he’s hiding.” He was an impressive man with a lot going for him, really respected as a Christian leader in his circle. But she said, “Something’s not right.”

Well, in time God did (actually through one of the messages in this Seeking Him study), shine light on this man’s heart. He and his wife later told the story of how he finally stepped into the light and acknowledged that he been posing; he had been a deceiver.

He said, “In the past I would come to the altar. I would respond to an invitation. I would say, ‘God please help me!’ But I wasn’t really looking for a way to get out, because I knew that would mean I’d have to get honest. I would have to say, ‘This is what I really am—and what I have been. What I am in my natural flesh is a liar, a thief, a conniver, and a deceiver.’” (This is what he said later.) “I’m selfish and independent and manipulative. That’s what I really am; that’s what my flesh is.” 

When that man stepped out into the light, when he got honest, when he said, “This is who I really am,” the grace and mercy of God flooded into his life and began to transform him and transform their marriage, transform their kids’ lives.

God is using that man in a significant way today in a national ministry, to help others walk into the light. I’ve seen it happen over and over again! If you travel by airplane anywhere in the world today pretty much, your baggage is going to be inspected in an X-ray machine. The TSA agents (or whatever it is in the country where you’re traveling) want to see what’s inside your baggage.

We traveled to South Africa not too long ago. We had packed a bunch of books to take with us to give to our ministry partner friends over there. We watched as they scanned; they saw there were books inside. Then they opened those suitcases—all the wrapping, all the tape, everything. They opened it all that we had so carefully packed together. They took out of every one of those suitcases every one of those books and held them up to the light and paged through them. 

I’m thinking, Maybe they’re reading that book, Lies Young Women Believe, or whatever it is! (laughter) They were looking for contraband; they wanted to see what’s in there.

It’s not just your suitcases, it’s you! So you walk through a metal detector. They want to see if anything sets off alarms. 

Well, God doesn’t need X-ray equipment to see what’s in our hearts. To walk in the light is to let Him search your heart and show you what’s there, and then it’s to agree with Him about what He sees and what He knows. Are you walking in the light?

Who are you? What is your name? Are you real before God and others? 

You say, “Where do I start?” 

Maybe you’ve done this for so long; like your whole life is an Instagram post that isn’t who you really are. Begin with the first thing God is showing you. Have you been pretending to be something you aren’t?

Are you more concerned about your image than about the truth? Is there anything in your life you’re not willing to have brought into the light? Is there a sin you’ve been covering, a past or a current failure or struggle? As you walk in the light in one area God will shine light on other areas.

You say, “I’m not sure I want that. That sounds kind of scary. That sounds downright depressing!”

If you’ve walked in the darkness for a lot of time, it can be scary. But you know what? You can bear being told by a doctor that you suffer from a disease if you know that there’s a cure for that disease. But to refuse to let the doctor to tell you about your disease or to refuse to accept or believe what he says is to reject the cure, right?

The cross of Jesus is where we see the painful truth about ourselves and our sin revealed. That same cross is also the cure for our sin! As one old-time writer said, 

As long as I know there’s a fountain [a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins, that fountain] for sin and uncleanness, I can face the light about myself and my sin.

So over these next hours and days, as you get alone with the Lord . . . Some of you, your heart is beating so fast you think, I don’t know if I can afford this! Let me just tell you: You can’t afford not to! You don’t have to walk in darkness any longer. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to tell everybody you ever talk to everything that ever happened in your life.

That wouldn’t be biblical or wise or necessary. But it does mean you don’t want to lie, you don’t want to pretend, you don’t want to cover up, you don’t want to spend your life just posing, pretending. You want to be real with God, family members, friends, people you love. You want to be able to say, “Look, I’m really struggling with this. I’m defeated in this area of temptation. I’ve never told anybody this, but I need somebody to know.” 

Maybe even the truth about what has happened to you; maybe it’s not your sins, maybe it was somebody else’s sins, but you feel so much shame. Bring it into the light of Christ and a godly, confidential friend who can walk with you and help you get past the shame, past the fear, past the rejection, past the pain. That doesn’t mean, it will just be out of your life, it will never bother you again, you’ll never think about it again. But you’ll have grace to walk through whatever is involved as you walk in the light.

Oh, Lord, have mercy on us! Help us to be willing to step out into Your light. And thank You that when we get there, when we’re real, when we tell You who we really are, where we’ve been, what we’ve done, what’s been done to us, we get honest; that we’re going to find great, great mercy. Thank You, Jesus! Amen.

Dannah: Don’t you think that honesty is a rare commodity these days? I mean, it seems like everyone—from academics to political leaders—claim there really is no truth. But Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing us the joy that comes when we embrace honesty. It’s one of the marks of personal revival, and that’s what Nancy’s teaching us about in our current series.

It’s all based on a workbook she co-wrote called Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival. If that is something you need in your life, why don’t you follow up and get a copy? You can learn more about honesty and all the other marks of personal revival. The workbook will lead you into a study of Scripture on topics like repentance, honesty, and purity. 

You’ll also answer questions and explore your own life. You’ll discover areas where you need personal revival. We’d like to send you this Seeking Him workbook when you donate any amount to this month, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959 and ask for the workbook with your donation of any size. You can also get more information about how you can receive the DVDs of Nancy’s teaching. 

Tomorrow Nancy will show us the joy that comes when we view repentance as a way of life. I’m Dannah Gresh inviting you back tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Honestly, Revive Our Hearts wants to help you discover greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken fromthe ESV unless otherwise noted.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.