My mother was an excellent cook and baker and I still have fond memories of times spent in the kitchen with her as she was baking cookies, pies, and cakes. Many of the things she did then would seem out-of-date now as we continue to look for shortcuts and easier ways to complete a recipe.
Back then watching her sift flour for a cake recipe was common, but rarely do I do that today nor do I hear others do so even if they skip the cake mix and try a homemade recipe. What was important about sifting anyway?
Sifting the flour makes the flour lighter and easier to mix with the other ingredients in the recipe and allows them to combine more evenly. It aerates the flour and gives a more consistent measurement and ultimately a finer product.
Often as we are seeking to determine the truth, it is obvious and evident, but that is not always the case. To be discerning about it we may often need to sift through the information before us that may very well include bits of truth, half-truths, “white lies” that seem palatable, and absolute lies that are easier to recognize. All of it requires discernment and a biblical foundation of truth.
The 1992 movie, A Few Good Men, has a famous line many of us recall. In a riveting courtroom scene as Jack Nicholson is being relentlessly questioned by Tom Cruise, Nicholson finally says, “You can’t handle the truth!” The statement is a pithy one for consideration not only in the movie, but also in our own lives. Perhaps that is because the truth is often harder to accept than the half-truth or lie we would prefer to believe.
Truth reveals. It may reveal our failures, our lack of responsibility, our selfishness, our arrogance, or even how deceived we may be. It may reveal things are not under our control or help us see those that are.
Clearly, truth illuminates and makes lighter the darkness that swirls around us and sometimes hides within us. I think that is likely what makes the enemy so determined to hide it, disguise it, or serve us something that looks like the truth and is easy for us to believe and yet is not the truth at all.
His schemes are often effective because he is skilled at confirming doubts we have about the Lord, the Bible, others, and ourselves in our lives that matter to us in one way or another. There are many reasons we succumb to his devices. After all, he has been practicing this for thousands of years and seduced many others before us.
Do we really recognize his voice? We should, but often we do not recognize the Lord’s voice either. Learning to discern the voice of the one speaking to us requires a lot of listening and discerning over time and testing what we hear against foundational truths and experience. It is crucial we learn to recognize the enemy’s voice because he is nearly always whispering in the background of our daily life.
What are some of the messages the enemy most likes to repeat to us?
- “Your words are ineffective.”
- “Your trust is misplaced.”
- “Your helpers are worthless.”
- “Your godly leaders will mislead you.”
- “Let’s make a deal. You can have your cake and eat it too.”
- “Focus on your circumstances.”
- “God sent me.”
- “Be afraid.”
- “My reward is just like God’s.”
You may not have heard those exact words, but I am guessing it is very likely that you have heard some of them or paraphrases of them. Consider the goals of those messages.
The enemy wants us to believe that our words are ineffective as a tool against the enemy’s devices when the Lord has given us the Word to speak against all the devices of the enemy. You may well remember how that played out when the enemy in the wilderness tempted Jesus and what defeated the enemy’s devices in that scenario.
The enemy wants us to believe that no one can be trusted so we isolate and try to do life alone on our own. Wrong! Going it alone is the one sure way to be worn out, worn down, and fall. God designed us to work in relationship with one another, to lean on one another. Solomon speaks to that:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)
The enemy wants us to make a deal and compromise our values, the Lord’s values in us. He also wants us to focus on the circumstances we find ourselves in rather than to keep our eyes on the Lord. He wants us to tremble in fear despite the Lord telling us repeatedly in scripture not to fear.
If we rest in Him, we still the competing voices and learn the truth.
In a great sermon, I heard a principle we can use to benefit us greatly in the processing of sifting to find the truth:
You cannot trust unless you fully rest, and you cannot fully rest unless you trust. We must deal with this…rest/trust. They are inseparable.