In my early twenties, as a new Christian and pastor, I will never forget one meeting I had with a dear young couple. The husband deeply loved his wife. But, she was emotionally distant, and he felt like she lived in a bank vault that he did not have the combination for. No matter what he tried, he could not get his wife to emotionally open up and connect.
After I opened our meeting in prayer, the husband with tears in his eyes explained both his love for his wife and his loneliness from his wife. When I asked her to be brave and tell us what she thought the cause was, the husband and I were both shocked to hear her say, “I cannot open up and trust him because when he leaves me I will be heartbroken.”
The husband was stunned. This man loved his wife. This wife was convinced that eventually he would leave her and so she needed to guard her heart and prepare herself for her divorce even though they’d just been married. As we dug deeper, the lie she believed was rooted in the fear she had from the pain she’d endured. She grew up in a home where her mother was married and divorced five times. Her entire childhood was spent watching men marry and divorce her mom. Satan used that pain to cause her to believe the lie that the same thing would happen to her. I opened to John 8 and shared with her these words from Jesus Christ:
- John 8:44 (your father the devil) 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 lies.
- John 8:31-32 So Jesus said…, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Lies come from Satan; truth comes from God. It’s that simple. To ensure we get this point, Jesus then says in 8:45, “I tell the truth”, something he echoes roughly forty times in John’s gospel.
After explaining this, I then took a sheet of paper and drew a line down the center. On the left, I put the word “lies”. On the right, I put the word, “truth”. I then gave the woman a homework assignment requesting that for the next week she take every questionable thing that she thought about God, herself, and her marriage and decide if it went in the truth or lies category. For anything in the lies category, I wanted her to then go to the Bible to put the truth to the right of the lie. My hope was that she would learn to quickly recognize lies that she believed and defeat the lie that was putting her in slavery with the truth that would set her free.
One week later, we met again. This poor woman filled up an entire notebook of lies and truth. She had no idea how much bondage she was in from lies she believed. The more she started to feed the truth and starve the lies the more joy she had and the more her relationship with God and her husband grew.
After more than two decades as a Senior Pastor, the is likely one homework assignment that I have given people more than any other. And, I’m praying that you will have the courage to do the same starting right now.