Satan’s dangerous web of “advice”
We will live with more joy and fulfilment if we are able to discern the lies that the devil lays in front of us. The world is full of life “advice” that teaches us to idolise ourselves. Such idolatry will eventually lead to our spiritual death. How do we ensure we don’t fall into Satan’s dangerous web of “advice”?
Worldly advice on how to live our lives
1. “Live your life to the fullest” / “Work hard, play hard”
The truth is only God can fulfil us in our inner core. We can chase achievement, glory, fame and material things, but they will never satisfy us fully.
John 6:35 ESV Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
The danger with this sort of thinking is that it subtly encourages us to place ourselves on the throne of our lives. It turns the focus on ourselves and how we can satisfy our earthly cravings, needs or insecurities.
Philippians 2:3-4 ESV Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
The Bible teaches us to love Him and to love our neighbours as ourselves. As we grow more in love with God, we would naturally move from thinking “this is what I want!” to “what can I do for others?”, because His love will satisfy us so deeply that we find we no longer need anything from this world.
World: Live your life to the fullest. Bible: Love the Lord your God to the fullest.
Matthew 22:37-38 ESV And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.
2. “You will get what you want if you work hard for it”
The truth is we can work hard but we can’t determine the outcome, only God can. This attitude sets us up for disappointment, fear and insecurity, when we stray away from God’s planned blessing.
If we ask God to change our hearts to seek what He wants for us, then we can be certain we will attain whatever that is. Often, it is far more than what we can hope for or imagine.
Ephesians 3:20 ESV Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
Psalm 31:19 ESV Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
World: Work for what you want. Bible: Seek God first and pray for what He wants.
John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
3. “It’s your little secret, no one needs to know”
The truth is we have no secrets. In fact, the Bible says that even before we say anything, God already knows what we will say. That’s how intimately He knows and cares for us.
Psalm 139:4 ESV Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
And He wants us to confess any sin that is hidden in secret to our trusted Christian brothers and sisters so that we can be healed from shame and guilt. If we don’t tell others what we are struggling with, how can we get the counsel and help we need to overcome them? The Bible says that sin and anger create opportunities for Satan to work in believers’ lives. And it is far better to confess it to God-fearing Christians now than have to confess it to God later!
Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
Hebrews 4:13 ESV Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
World: Keep secrets. Bible: Do not keep your sins secret.
James 5:16 ESV Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
4. “You aren’t worthy of God’s love”
The truth is we all are unworthy of God’s love, but He loves us anyway! The problem with this thinking is that we forget the second part of that sentence (that He loves us anyway) and focus on ourselves when we should really be focusing on God. The fact that He loves us anyway is cause for great rejoicing!
World: We are not worthy. Bible: That doesn’t matter to God at all.
Romans 5:6-8 ESV For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
5. “You have to earn respect”
The truth is we don’t need to strive to do anything to be loved and respected by God. The problem with this attitude is that we end up striving to live up to other people’s standards, rather than rest in who we are in Christ. Jesus died for us. Does that not make us valuable enough to be respected?
Some people with this ingrained form of thinking will have difficulty accepting God’s love freely, because they feel like they “haven’t done enough”. We all need reminding that Jesus’s love is simply a gift, it is not earned.
Other people end up living to please others. Jesus reminded His disciples that because they were His followers i.e. Christians, they should be prepared to be unwelcome and persecuted by others. It takes guts to stand up for the truth, at the expense of losing other people’s respect. If we live to please others above God, we turn them into idols and stumbling blocks in our relationship with God.
Matthew 5:10-12 ESV “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
World: We have to earn respect. Bible: It’s not about earning love and respect, it’s about giving love and respect.
Acts 20:35 ESV In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
6. “You should always aim to be number one”
The truth is God should be number one in whatever we do. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t aim to perform our best in everything. This is referring to having an uber-competitive spirit. By the way, the Bible says that some who are first on this earth will actually be last (forever) in heaven!
Luke 13:29-30 ESV And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
We are called to be followers and servants of Christ. When we get too used to the idea of always seeking to be first, we face the internal struggle of submitting to God. A competitive spirit also makes us a hindrance in ministry and God’s work, particularly when we work with others. In ministry, we are not competing against each other, we are fighting the good fight against our enemy.
World: Aim to be number one. Bible: God is number one.
Revelation 22:13 ESV I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
7. “You should be proud of what you have achieved”
The truth is we can’t achieve anything if God doesn’t first bless us. Can we be successful if God doesn’t give us good health, bless us with various talents, and allow us to be at the right place at the right time? The danger with this thinking is that we forget to thank God and give Him the glory.
James 1:17 ESV Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
World: Congratulate yourself. Bible: Thank God.
Ephesians 5:20 ESV Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
8. “You can say whatever you like”
The truth is we can say anything we like, but we will be called to account for everything we say, including the careless words we speak. We should be avoiding gossip, crude jokes, suggestive language, half-truths, gross exaggerations, unkind words, false accusations etc.
Matthew 12:36-37 ESV I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
World: We have freedom of speech. Bible: We have to practise restraint in speech.
Proverbs 13:3 ESV Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
It’s about our attitudes
These eight common pieces of advice we hear often all sound good in themselves, but at the end of the day, are subtle distortions of God’s truth. If we love God and live upright lives for His glory, we will get what we want, we will gain respect, and we will have fulfilling lives etc. It’s just that our attitudes, focus and hearts are different – and so is our consequence.
The messages that the world bombards us with every day are seductive and deceptive. The deceptions are subtle and lead to spiritual death.
There are many more worldly messages not covered in this post, such as “dress to kill and you will be admired”, “do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone”, “you answer only to yourself”, “it feels great to get rich”, “always be on the offensive”, “swing the first shot”, “you can’t trust anyone”, “just tell them what they want to hear” etc.
Do you know what the deceptions are in these examples? And what are the Bible references that reveal the distortions?
1 John 2:15 ESV Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
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