Over the next several weeks we will be looking at four eternal truths about God. These four truths (4Gs) reveal the deep heart idols under all our sinful (thorny) behavior and negative emotions.
A very helpful resource has been Tim Chester’s book You Can Change. In this book he identifies four liberating truths about God that we often exchange for a lie which is the source of our sinful behavior and negative emotions. The four truths about God are:
- God is great – so we don’t have to be in control.
- God is glorious – so we don’t have to fear others.
- God is good – so we don’t have to look elsewhere.
- God is gracious – so we don’t have to prove ourselves.
Tim says “that our struggles and temptations often trigger sin, but they never cause it. The root cause is always the heart and its sinful desires.” This is why the book of Proverbs tells us “to guard our heart above all else, for everything we do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23) because the source of all human behavior and emotions come from the heart. The heart in the Bible means more than the muscle in your chest that pumps blood around your body. The heart describes the core of a person—the source of our thinking and desires; our behavior and emotions. This is why Jesus says, “for from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23) because the heart is the source of all our behaviors and emotions.
Jesus illustrates this with trees, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). What Jesus is saying is that our actions reveal what we are believing to be true in our heart.
Underneath all our sinful behavior and negative emotions is a failure to believe one of these truths about God at a heart level--when we “exchange the truth about God for a lie and begin to worship the created rather than the Creator”(Romans 1:19-23). Sin happens when we believe lies about God instead of God’s word and when we worship idols instead of worshipping God. What does this mean? It means that our struggles (fruit)—often revealed by our circumstances—find their source in what we are believing to be true about God in our heart (root). So, destructive behaviors like lying, manipulation, hiding, violence, thief, adultery, addictions, eating disorders and negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, envy, guilt, bitterness, and pride all arise when our hearts don’t trust God as we should and don’t worship God as we should. The work of the Spirit in discipleship is to reveal the link between our specific sins and the lies/idols in our hearts. And as this happens we respond in repentance and faith.
Repentance is not primarily turning from behavior but to change our mind about who or what is God. Our sinful thoughts, emotions, words, and actions all spring from unbelief in our heats, which is false worship or idolatry. Therefore, our repentance must address the root of our sin not merely the fruit. Faith is when we reaffirm who God is and live in light of who we are because of all that He has done for us in Jesus. These four truths offer a great diagnostic tool for addressing sin in our lives and in the lives of others.
Below are four great stories from Soma Communities highlighting each of the 4 truths:
Mark shares how he has experienced the truth that God is Great, so he doesn't have to be in control.
Megan shares how she has experienced the truth that God is glorious, so she doesn't have to fear others.
Stacy shares how she has experienced the truth that God is good, so she doesn't have to look elsewhere.
Greg shares how he has experienced the truth that God is gracious, so he doesn't have to prove himself.
Grace be with you,
-  Tim Chester. You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions. Page 66.