Letters on Spiritual Formation #6
Belief Will Drive Your Actions - Part 2
This is article is part of a series of letters on spiritual growth and maturity. To read the previous letter in the series, click here.
It was the belief that Adam and Eve would not die, but would become like God that caused them to sin
Sin was not the result of temptation, it was the result of their belief structure coming into agreement with deception. There are core beliefs that you hold about yourself and about others that drive your behaviour. These core beliefs drive destructive behaviour to yourself and to others, as well as actions that build up others and yourself. Until these change we will be stuck in perpetual cycles of behaviour driven by mistaken identity.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of three men that were each given finances to invest by their master. To one was given five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent. The two men given five and two talents invest what they have been given and show a return on their investment. Their master comes back to them and says to these two men:
"His lord said unto him, Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your lord." Matthew 25:21, 23
The man who was given one talent then says this to his master:
"Then he who had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you that you are a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not spread: And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: lo, there you have what is yours." Matthew 25:24-25
What determined the actions of the servants?
What caused the first two servants to invest wisely and the third servant not at all?
The answer is simple: it was what they believed about the master.
Their beliefs drove their actions. The first two servants recognized that the master was a rewarder and responded accordingly. The third servant viewed the master of as a hard and unfair man. The belief in who the master was drove the actions of each servant.
Within the life of Jesus there is an example of beliefs driving righteous actions. Satan began testing Jesus by calling into question who Jesus believed himself to be, “If you are the Son of God…” The first two temptations of Jesus begin with this phrase. Satan preyed on the core belief of Jesus. “If you are…” calls into question personal identity. The third temptation (fall down and worship me) calls into question who Jesus believed God to be.
These two core beliefs (who is God and who are we) drive our actions and Satan continues to try to exploit them. Jesus combated the use of deception by quoting truth. But not just any truth, Jesus specifically states, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Jesus had just experienced the life-giving words of God proceeding from the father’s mouth at his baptism 40 days earlier.
If sin (a life of decay) came in the form of deception, it follows that freedom would come in the form of truth:
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
This is where we come back to Jesus, light, and life found in John 1:4. As you grow closer to Jesus, light shines upon you to reveal his thoughts about you. This is your original and true design. This light brings truth. Where characteristics were once shrouded in darkness and decay, being comfortable and familiar with pain and trauma, light now exposes the true, original intent God had for you. This experience with truth has the potential to bring incredible transformation and radically impact the nature of the life within us. True identity only comes in communion with he who is light, Jesus.