Consider with me how the Garden of Eden was lost. The serpent said, “God knows that when you eat [the forbidden fruit] …, you will be like God” (Gen. 3:5). The hidden message was, “God withholds the very best things. He doesn’t love you.”
When they believed this lie, they believed a false interpretation of reality. The “reality” they believed in became the reality they lived in. It governed their behavior.
It is precisely our beliefs that determine how we act, feel, and experience life. But many of our beliefs are hidden, so we act, feel, and experience life from unexamined beliefs.
It is vital for that we uncover hidden beliefs in our heart. The serpent is crafty. He doesn’t say, “God hates you.” He offers an interpretation that implies an unloving God. The subtlety of the lie makes it hard to spot.
Hidden beliefs are crippling most believers I know.
The betrayal of hidden beliefs
Adam and Eve believed one hidden lie. We probably believe many. I know doctrinally correct [on paper] believers whose lives are filled with worry, anger, shame, and fear. Their lives betray hidden beliefs of a false reality that control their lives.
Let me offer one way to discover hidden beliefs (there are other ways as well).
Wounds? Yikes! Is this going to be some psycho-babble? I hope not. Instead, let’s think of them as a means of spiritual discovery. There is a spiritual perspective on wounds that many of us miss. Let me tell you about a Christian man I once met, Ray.
As a boy, Ray longed for a Red Flyer wagon for his birthday. His parents couldn’t afford it, and he was deeply disappointed. He remembers thinking, “Wanting anything hurts too much.” This phrase ruled his life, though always as a hidden, barely conscious belief.
He lived a life of resignation, refusing to risk, and stifling longings for jobs, relationships, and hobbies (he always wanted to sail).
Now his wife and children despise him.
Ray’s hidden believed-in reality—“Wanting anything hurts too much”—dictated his life.
Here is how it works
A wounding event occurs (from a birthday disappointment, or a football team rejection, to a brutal childhood rape). The serpent interprets the events—“Desires bring disappointment,” or “You’ll always be rejected.” Finally, we believe the interpretation.
It’s not the wound that cripples; it’s the lies that we buy. We all believe hidden spiritual lies. Some come from wounds. Understanding wounds can surface hidden beliefs.
The spiritual nature of the wound
The wound is like a snake bite. The bite doesn’t kill; it’s the venom. The invisible venom coursing through our veins is the belief in our hearts when we buy the lie.
Many men I know either fixate on the bite (the wound) or ignore it (“It’s no big deal”). Understanding even the smallest wound is helpful when we let it bring to light our real problem: debilitating beliefs. Fixating on the wound, however, is harmful because it distracts us from the real danger.
So, is there an anti-venom?
All our problems with wounds, worry, anger, shame, and fear arise from the fact that God’s salvation is unreal to us in that moment. The “reality” we live in comes from what we most deeply believe.
Heart beliefs (not paper theological doctrines) rule our actions, emotions, and life experiences.
Merely fixing the “wound” is like putting a band-aid on a snake bit. Fix our heart beliefs and the venom is rendered powerless.
Believe what? The Great Exchange.
The cross has been called the “Great Exchange.” Jesus lived a perfect life deserving the perfect reward. We lived imperfect lives deserving death. Jesus took the death we deserve and he gave us the reward he deserves. It’s the Great Exchange.
A personal application of the Great Exchange brings true healing—it’s THE anti-venom.
- What about Ray’s disappointment wound? Christ lived a life—in our place—that deserves eternal satisfaction. Then he took our eternal disappointment on the cross so we can have his eternal satisfaction. No earthly satisfactions—even wagons—fully satisfy. God’s love lasts forever. This is the anti-venom we need.
- If we have a rejection wound, Jesus was rejected on the cross in our place. Only one rejection would have killed us, and Jesus took it for us. In believing his rejection for us, we are now accepted; knowing this is our needed anti-venom.
Many of us believers have an abstract notion of God’s love. But his love isn’t real in our hearts. Applying the cross personally, asking God to make this real to our hearts for every pain and disappointment; that brings our final healing. It’s THE anti-venom.
To the degree we believe in our hearts this Great Exchange—to the degree it is real and personal—the venom of disappointment (rejection, betrayal, etc.) will be healed.
So what do you think?
- Do you agree that heart beliefs shape how we act, feel, and experience life?
- Do you think that wound examination can help us uncover unexamined beliefs?
- What worries, anger, shame and fear may come from your hidden beliefs?
- What are other ways you know of discovering unexamined beliefs?