Last week we looked at an example of how my ungodly beliefs almost caused me to leave the ministry. Click here to read that post. Today, we want to define the components of an ungodly belief and show the various ways they enter our lives.
Definition of Ungodly Beliefs
Many authors have definitions for an ungodly belief. One I like comes from Chester and Betsy Kylstra, the founders of Restoring the Foundations. It is a thorough definition and will give me an opportunity to highlight some truths in helping you discern the lies you are believing.
I am thankful for the ministry of Chester and Betsy. Suzette and I have personally received training from them. Their ministry is a blessing to the body of Christ.
Suzette and I have received advanced ministry and completed training through Restoring the Foundations and heartily recommend it for your own personal growth in the Lord.
The Kylstras define ungodly beliefs as:
All beliefs, decisions, attitudes, agreements, judgments, expectations, vows, and oaths that do not agree with God (His Word, His nature, His character). (emphasis theirs)
I like the above definition, but I want to alter it a little bit to make an important distinction. My purpose is not to be critical of the Kylstras. I want to show how easy it is to consider actions that flow out of ungodly beliefs as beliefs themselves.
The above definition includes “decisions” and “attitudes” as ungodly beliefs. I do not see them as ungodly beliefs, but as the result of ungodly beliefs. Let’s look at each word and see if the focus of the word is on beliefs or results coming from beliefs.
Take the word “decision.” A decision is based upon information that is processed in a person’s mind. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a decision as “A choice you make about something after thinking about it: the result of deciding.”
The decision is based upon a choice that a person makes from information he or she is contemplating. The ungodly belief is a step below this choice. The three-stage process looks like this:
- Stage 1: The ungodly belief
- Stage 2: The process of considering the information
- Stage 3: The decision made
In case you are wondering, there is a whole process that takes place to form an ungodly belief (we will talk about that later), but since our goal is to define an ungodly belief, we start there for this illustration. So how does this work in a person’s life?
Stage 1. Bill has an ungodly belief that he is a failure and will never amount to anything. He has believed this most of his life. Bill hates his job. He feels that it is a job that only loser would do. He constantly talks about getting a better job.
Stage 2. Bill’s friend Ahmed comes to him one day all excited. He knows Bill hates his job and there is a new opening available in the company. He knows that Bill would be perfect for the job.
Instead of being excited, Bill immediately begins to make excuses why he should not apply for the job. He says, “There are people with more seniority than me. There is no chance in the world I will get the job.”
“Are you kidding,” said Ahmed, “You are perfect for the job. You have a great chance of getting this job. You’ve got to apply for it.”
Great,” said Bill, “Thanks for the info. I’ll think it over.
He did think it over. Fear rose in his heart. He thought, Why would they choose me when there are better qualified people? Even if I got the job I probably couldn’t do it right and they would fire me anyway. I would be out of a job and unable to care for my family. I guess I’m just doomed to remain in this job forever.
Stage 3. As you probably guessed, Bill made the decision to not apply for the job. His decision process was impacted by an ungodly belief that stopped him from having the confidence to try something new.
Attitudes fall into the same three stages described above. They are a result of making a decision based on beliefs. Let’s see how it works in the life of Jana.
Stage 1. Jana grew up in home with a domineering mother. She was never allowed to do things her way. She formed an ungodly belief that everyone was trying to control here life. She made an inner vow that she would never let anyone tell her what to do. She would do it her way.
Stage 2. Jana gets a job in a production plant that has specific protocols on how the job is to be completed. After a couple of days, Jana figures out a way she thinks would be better and starts doing it her way.
Her supervisor sees she is not following the protocol. Approaching her, he says, “Jana, you are not following the protocol that I taught you.”
“I found a better way to do it.”
“Company policy is that we follow protocol. If you feel your way is better, there is a process where you can suggest changes. In the meantime, please follow the protocol.
Stage 3. Shaking her head from side, rolling her eyes, and sighing Jana said, “My way is faster and better.”
“Still,” he said walking away, “I am going to have do it our way.”
Jana’s fists tighten and she hit the table. Why is everyone always trying to tell me what to do? My way is better and he knows it. Who does he think he is anyway?
Jana looked over her shoulder with a sneer and went back to doing it her way.
Focusing on the Fruit Instead of the Root
One of the common mistakes I see people make in their attempt to change things in their lives is that they focus on the fruit rather than the root. They see an action or an attitude that they don’t like and try to change it. The problem is that changing the visible things in our lives does not change the invisible.
Let’s picture your life as a tree. There are a lot of parts to a tree. We will only be looking at two: the roots and the fruit.
The roots are the invisible part of the tree. They exist and go deep, but are not seen by the naked eye. In this example, the roots are your heart. The fruits are the actions that flow from your heart. These are the outward manifestations that everyone can see. These are the things you try to change.
The roots of a tree provide the nutrients needed to produce fruit. A normal tree only produces one kind of fruit. Your life produces many types of fruit, both good and bad. It is important to see where the source of this fruit comes from.
Jesus tells us it is from the invisible issues of our hearts that the external issues become visible. In explaining a parable to His disciples in Matthew 15:18-20, He shares the following words:
But the things that proceed out of the mouth comes from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart heart comes evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile a man . . . .
The first word in the list of manifestations Jesus mentions is evil thoughts, what we are calling ungodly beliefs. Ungodly beliefs are the source of all the evil we see in the world. A person thinking godly thoughts would never commit murder, adultery, or any of the other things listed above.
Can you see why it is so important to deal with the root of the issue rather than just the fruit? If you do not take care of the root it will remain to torment you. You will constantly be fighting against the fruit that seeks to pop up out of your heart.
Jesus gives us greater insight into what is taking place in the heart in the Sermon on the Mount. He said:
You have heard it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)
Jesus is showing us that adultery does not just happen. A person doesn’t just walk down the street one day and accidentally or unintentionally commit adultery. The process of adultery begins with thoughts. These thoughts are given place in the heart and move a person toward the actual act of adultery.
As Jesus said, the adultery first takes place in the heart. Therefore if you want to get rid of the fruit of adultery (or any other negative actions), you must deal with the issues of the heart. It is the invisible issues and thoughts of the heart that produce the fruit you do not want.
Focusing on the Root Instead of the Fruit
Real change comes in your life when you go to the source or the root of the problem, your ungodly beliefs.These beliefs are rarely seen as the source of the problem. Many times you are unaware that you are believing ungodly thoughts until the Lord shows you what they are.
These beliefs are so much a part of your thinking that they are operating on a subconscious level. You have already gone through the thought processes that established the ungodly beliefs and now they are just a part of who you are.
You don’t even consciously think about the thoughts. They just flow out of your heart and flavor everything you do.
Let’s take a moment to look at the aspects of an ungodly belief to see how they are all based in the realm of thought. They are not the actions that result from the beliefs, but the beliefs themselves. They are the root from which actions flow.
Here is an updated definition of an ungodly belief that leaves out the words “decisions” and “attitudes.” It now reads:
All beliefs, agreements, judgments, expectations, vows, and oaths that do not agree with God (His Word, His nature, His character).
To get the most out of this definition, let’s look at the simple description of each word from Merriam-Webster to see how each is part of your invisible thought life.
- Belief: a feeling of being sure that . . . something is true.
A belief does not have to be true in order to be believed. It just has to feel true. That’s why ungodly beliefs are so deadly. They feel like they are true.
Example: “I feel that God does not love me.” We know this is not true because God loves the whole world and sent Christ to die for us.
- Agreement: a situation in which people share the same opinion : a situation in which people agree.
An agreement takes place when two people come to an the same opinion. This is especially true when dealing with word curses where a person or the devil has spoken something over you and you come to believe it.
Example: You dad constantly says you are a loser and will never amount to anything. At some point you being to agree with what is said and personalize it by believing in your heart, “Dad’s right, I’m a loser and I’ll never amount to anything.”
- Judgment: the act or process of forming an opinion or making a decision after careful thought: the act of judging something or someone.
A judgment is the end result of thinking about a certain issue. It includes the forming of an opinion of what you believe is true. The judgment can be about God, others, or yourself.
Example: A person who has been hurt by multiple men might make the judgment, “All men are evil and will hurt me.”
- Expectation: a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen.
An expectation is a strong belief that something is going to happen. It is generally based on past negative experiences that are projected into the future.
Example: “Everyone has rejected me in the past. If I make a new relationship, I will also be rejected.”
- Vow: a serious promise to do something or act in a certain way.
A vow is an inner decision that can be spoken aloud. Its focus is on what a person promises to do or not to do.
Example: The person who was hurt by men might make the inner vow, “I will never let another man hurt me.”
- Oath: a solemn usually formal calling upon God or a god to witness to the truth of what one says or to witness that one sincerely intends to do what one says.
An oath is vow that someone gives before God. The idea that it is given before God makes it more serious and unchangeable.
Example: “God, I will never let another man hurt me.”
- His Word: does the thought that you believe line up with God’s word? If it doesn’t, it needs to be rejected and the truth of God’s word received.
- His nature: does the thought you have line up with who God is in His being?
- His character: does the thought you have line up with the way God acts? Would Jesus think this way?
Now that we have a good understanding of what an ungodly belief is, it is time to see how they are formed. Next week will look at the first of eight sources of ungodly beliefs.
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