As we conclude our Stirred by the Word series we examine how the Bible is truth and how this truth has major implications for our lives forever.
One of my favourite films is Only You with Robert Downey Jr and Marissa Tomei. I love it because it is a film that echoes my dreams.
It is about a hopeless romantic, Faith (Tomei) who races to Italy to follow her destiny of meeting someone of the name Damon Bradley, which was a name given to her by a fortune-teller when she was young. She then bumps into a man (Downey Jr), not called Damon Bradley, whom she falls in love with, but won’t admit this because she won’t believe that it’s her destiny.
The reason that I adore the film so much is, firstly, because it is absurdly romantic and I just love all of that. Secondly, it is set mainly in Rome and the Amalfi coast of Italy, two places I would most like to visit in the world. The beauty, culture and decadence of Italy are portrayed deliciously and it is pure escapism.
One of the central scenes of the film is a parody of a scene from Roman Holiday. Tomei and Downey Junior, after a idyllic night wandering around Rome, have ended up at the Mouth of Truth, or Bocca della Verità as the Italians call it. They then reenact a scene from another film featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, Roman Holiday where they talk about the legend of the Mouth of Truth. This states that if you put your hand inside the Mouth and tell a lie your hand will be bitten off. They put their hands in together and then simultaneously pull them out with their hands up their sleeves as though they were missing!
The Bible is a little like the Mouth of Truth. The Bible is Truth and by it everything can be held up and measured against it. Like the Mouth of Truth we can detect and discover lies where the master of deception, the devil is at work.
The sum of your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.
Princes persecute me without cause,
But my heart stands in awe of Your words.
I rejoice at Your word,
As one who finds great spoil.
I hate and despise falsehood,
But I love Your law.
Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous ordinances.
Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble.
Life as a follower of Jesus is a battlefield. It is a battlefield of the mind where On the one hand we are fed the promises, assurances and encouragement that come from the incredible love and grace of God. Our relationship with God is one which has no condemnation in it because of Christ, where we need feel no guilt and where we can be free.
Then on the other there are the whispers from the devil. The lies where he tries to tell us how we fail, why we should feel bad about ourselves and what can make us feel trapped by fear and anxiety. These are lies that we hear every day. They are lies that we hear from the thoughts in our own head stemming partly from our own negative self-image and insecurities, They are also lies that other people want to make us believe either if we have upset them and they want to hurt us or if we find ourselves in some kind of abusive relationship.
They say that it takes at least five positive experiences or comments to make up for one negative one. I would contest that with many of us it is significantly more than that. We often absorb the negative things that are said about us or things that happen to us because they represent more like what we believe about ourselves than the positive things do.
However, God has given us the Bible, the Mouth of Truth to discern what is truth and what is a lie. Not only that, it reveals to us how we can deal with the lies and equips us with the tools to destroy them.
Everything in the Bible is truth. Everything we read is inspired by God to equip us for everything that we might face in our life. We will be persecuted at times by the devil (vs 161). At times he will pursue us and want to draw us away from the truth that we are a child of God, holy and blameless in His sight.
The power of God’s words are awesome (vs 161). By His word the very universe was created! We can and should be filled with awe when we read God’s word found in the Bible. Only the truth found in the Bible has the power to defeat the lies sown in our hearts by the devil. Jesus knew this and in Luke 4 we can read about how Jesus used the Word of God to hold onto the truth and resist the lies of the devil.
The lies of the devil are often not obvious. We need the Word of God to help us to discern what the truth is. It’s not like the devil tells us outright lies that we would never believe about ourselves. No, he subtly twists the truth so it is almost true but not quite. It is so easy for us to fall for these subtle tricks of deception. We have to be aware of these traps that it is easy to fall into. We have to despise the lies of the devil (vs 163) and rejoice in the truth of the Bible (vs 162).
I often fall prey to believing that I don’t match up to the standards that people expect of me and therefore, also the standards that God expects. I project the status of those around me to something close to perfection and lower myself to somehow being substandard, inadequate and a failure. The effect that this has on my life can range from trivial to profound. Often it inhibits my ability to do God’s work because I lose faith in my ability to follow His calling and serve Him. It also distances me from Him, causing me to hide like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after they had eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, ruining the intimate relationship with God that I could be enjoying.
This is a subtle lie of the devil. Of course, the truth is that I can never meet up to the standards of God – that’s why Jesus isy Saviour. Of course, I am not a lesser person than those around me. And of course, the devil loves to stop me from serving God and enjoying intimacy with Him.
If we love the Bible and turn to it every day it will enable us to defeat the lies of the devil. It will enable us to hold on to the promises of God and the truth it contains about our relationship with Him. Our hearts will be filled with the truth of His Word and will overflow with the praise of His mighty name. We will not be lowered by the deception of the devil and distanced from the amazing intimacy we have been given the privilege to enjoy with God. Let us get Stirred by the Word and hold on to the truth about who we really are in God.
Photo used with permission by John Hughes courtesy of Stock.Xchng