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Why People Believe Their Own Lies

By Don Umphrey

           (scriptural citations from the NIV)

To one extent or another, we are all in denial about many things.  For example, while I was teaching at the university level, one of my students brought in a picture of a man from a magazine that she thought looked like me.  My thought: Does she really think I look that old? 

In my last blog I observed that every addiction starts with a pleasurable experience and/or fulfills a perceived need.   

Denial starts when a person becomes fixated on a substance, behavior or pattern of thinking, and it starts to become the most important thing in his or her life.  

People in denial believe their own lies. As the father of lies (John 8:44) Satan has people in addiction doing his dirty-work on themselves as they unknowingly follow a path of self-destruction.  

Degrees of Denial

 The greater the gap between reality and self-perception, the greater the denial. It is deadly serious for people in denial about their addictions. 

In referring to the start of recovery from alcoholism, the book Alcoholics Anonymous includes this admonition: “First of all, we had to quit playing God.” (1)

Can there be any greater gap between self perception and reality than an individual thinking he or she is God Almighty? 

Claims to deity are associated with insanity, according to the 1964 book, The Three Christ’s of Ypsilanti by Milton Rokeach. This social psychologist studied three schizophrenic men at Ypsilanti State Hospital in Michigan who claimed to be God.  He put these men together to see if it would cause any of them to lose faith in himself as God in the flesh.  The answer was no for two of them and yes but only temporarily for the third.

As a result of my denial, I was full of anxiety and depression at age 26 and visited a doctor to see if I could attribute these problems to low blood sugar.  That did not turn out to be the cause of my problems, but the blood work revealed an enlarged liver from alcohol abuse, a step on the way to cirrhosis. 

I told the doctor that I would cut back on drinking, but knee-deep in denial, I continued with near-daily drunkenness.  It is safe to say that my self-destructive path was insane. 

Finally, I checked myself in a mental hospital a year later.  Between my mental and physical problems, I would not have survived to age 30 if I had continued drinking. 

Eve’s Skewed Perspective

While my focus was on alcoholic beverages, Eve, the biblical mother of humanity, became fixated on the only tree in the Garden of Eden that God had forbidden to her and Adam.  Below are three examples of denial leading to her downfall.

1) While talking with the devil in the form of a serpent, Eve made reference to “the tree that is in the middle of the garden” (Genesis 3:3). She was referring to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that produced the forbidden fruit.  Her statement shows that she overlooked the “tree of life” that was also in the middle of the garden (Genesis 2:9).  

2) She and Adam ate the forbidden fruit after she concluded it was “good for food, pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom” (Genesis 3:6).  In saying this, she failed to observe there were “all kinds of trees in the garden” that were good for food and pleasing to the eye (Genesis 2:9). 

3) Her sole remaining reason was “desirable for gaining wisdom,” coinciding with Satan’s temptation of  “you will be like God knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). She chose to believe Satan rather than her creator. God had said that particular fruit would kill them (Genesis 2:17), while Satan told her, “You will not certainly die” (Genesis 3:4). 

Eve doesn’t deserve all the blame for the fall of humanity.  While she conversed with Satan, Adam apparently said nothing.  Or at least if he did, it is not recorded.

Here’s what we know about Adam: Upon seeing Eve for the first time after (Genesis 2:23), he said something that included sexual connotations. The next recorded time he opened his mouth was to eat the forbidden fruit. 

His priorities seemed to focus on food and sex.  

Speaking of sex, it created a huge mess in the life of King David who’d been called a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).

Bathsheba in the Buff

As detailed in 2 Samuel 11, David stayed home instead of attending to his kingly duties of leading his army that was at war with the Ammonites at the city of Rabah. 

One night while walking on the roof of his palace, David looked down to see the naked Bathsheba who was bathing herself.  If David was feeling frisky, he could  have visited one of more of his six wives for a midnight surprise, 

Instead, he was mesmerized by the naked body of Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of his best soldiers.  David sent for her, got her pregnant and as part of a cover-up, arranged to have Uriah killed in battle. 

The Three-Pronged Disease

"David stayed in denial for nine months.  Later looking back, he wrote a psalm about how his spiritual downfall impacted him both mentally and physically.

"Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me. Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.  My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.

"My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart..."My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes... I am like the mute who cannot speak" (Psalm 38:1-8, 10, 13).

Many people think of addiction in terms of a three-pronged disease: mental, physical, spiritual. This seems to apply to David’s mess with Bathsheba, and it certainly applies to my alcoholism.

The ramifications of David’s sin also resulted in the death of the baby born to Bathsheba and some subsequent monkey-see, monkey-do activities among his sons, including rape, murder and a revolution. 

My own denial resulted in mental and physical maladies in addition to problems with employment and the wrath of a drug-using young woman who lived by the motto, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Eve’s denial resulted in death and also curses impacting both men and women. (See Genesis 3:16-19.)  The plus side was God’s promise of a savior (Genesis 3:15) who would come into the world and crush the head of the evil one.

Have you been in denial about an addiction?  If yes, what negativity has it brought about in your life?

In writing about denial, I have relied heavily on my book Deliver Us I: Recognizing the Influence of Evil on the Road to Redemption. That volume also describes how Satan, originally an angel, became the epitome of evil. 

Footnote 1. Alcoholics Anonymous Third Edition, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc, New York, 1976, p. 62.

© 2022 by Don Umphrey

New International Version” and “NIV” are registered trademarks of Biblica, Inc. Used by permission.

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