Satan is still using the same methods to deceive you as he used with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He tries to convince you that you need something outside of a personal love relationship with your Creator to identify you and give you purpose and value.
Satan tells you your identity comes from what you do, what you have, how you look, and in what other people think about you. When you are successful in these areas, you are a valuable person. But when you are unsuccessful you are worthless.
When you agree with this lie from Satan your purpose and meaning in life will be to become valuable by being successful in all these areas. You will spend your life trying to do things well, have nice possessions, look good, and please others.
Here are some examples of what a person might think, feel, or do if he/she is looking for identity outside of relationship with God.
Which of the following have you seen in your life?
1. I’m not really good at anything. If I were ___________________ (smarter, more artistic, athletic, outgoing, etc.) people would like me more and I would feel better about myself.
2. I really messed up that ___________________ (relationship, marriage, job, project, assignment, conversation, New Year’s resolution, etc). I must be a failure; I wonder what other people are thinking.
3. I’m never going to ___________________ (look good, loose weight, get the job, be successful, be the best, be good at that, etc.), so I might as well not even try.
4. If only I could get that ___________________ (girlfriend, boyfriend, promotion, job, career, house, new wardrobe, etc.), then I would be happy.
5. I spend large amounts of time thinking about _________________ (how to fix it, how to do better, how I messed up, how to make it work, what I should have done differently, what he/she/they must be thinking, etc).
6. I think I’ve done well for myself. I got the ___________________ (family, house, job, girlfriend, boyfriend, car, etc.) I wanted.
7. I’m embarrassed by the actions of my ___________________ (spouse, sibling, parent, child, or friend).
8. I work really hard at ___________________ (school, job, marriage, relationship, parenting, etc.) because I’m afraid of messing up or I’m afraid of loosing what I already have.
9. It feels good to be needed. My ___________________ (spouse, children, boss, church, teammates, etc.) would be lost without me.
10. I feel overlooked or undervalued. I wish someone would recognize the good I’m doing.
11. I want to be a better Christian. I need to spend more time ___________________ (reading my Bible, praying, witnessing, serving others, etc).
12. If only I could do something important like ___________________ (care for orphans, write a song, start a successful business, raise good kids, etc.) then I would feel better about myself.
When you believe your identity can be found outside of your relationship with God you will try to find fulfillment and satisfaction in the things the world has to offer. This will lead to wrong thinking, wrong choices, and negative emotions. You may experience disappointment, fear, worry, exhaustion, and depression.
What negative results have you seen in your life as a result of finding fulfillment outside of your relationship with God?
Depression is a growing problem in our society. Prime time television commercials advertising anti-depressants are commonplace.
Many years ago I suffered from depression and was thinking of taking medication when I read something Corrie Ten Boom had said:
Look around and be distressed.
Look inside and be depressed.
Look at Jesus and be at rest.
As a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, Corrie was surely familiar with distressing circumstances. My circumstances, however, were not distressing and yet I was depressed. Corrie seemed to be saying that depression was an internal problem caused by focusing on self.
Could it really be that simple? I decided to journal for one month how I was feeling and what I was focusing on. At the month’s end I was astounded to see the correlation between my depression and my negative self-focus.
My negative self focus looked like setting standards for myself that I didn’t feel I measured up to and then condemning myself. Or comparing myself to others and feeling less than. No wonder I was depressed.
As I began to take Corrie’s advice to look at Jesus and his love and acceptance for me, I began to experience the rest she talked about. I focused on developing a love relationship with the Lord, and one day I realized, “Hey, I’m not depressed anymore!”