The Devil’s Trinity
JANUARY 25, 2017
What is very bad can be the key to what is very good when it comes to the Devil’s Trinity of shame, guilt, and fear. Fear shows our helplessness, shame defines our problem, and guilt drives us to God. The Devil’s most effective tools become, as it were, the keys to health and wholeness. Masks are made from the material of shame, guilt, and fear, but it is also the manure in which God grows flowers.
Let’s pay a visit to the community, the courtroom, and the prison.
Someone described the church as a bunch of porcupines huddling together in a storm.
God didn’t create us to exist in a vacuum. He called us to community. It isn’t good for man/woman to be alone (Genesis 2:18). The psalmist wrote, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm133:1).
If we were created by God to be in community, if we need to be with other people and they need to be with us, and if God works in and through his family, why is it so hard and painful?
It’s the shame.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of shame in the lives of everybody you know and in you. It’s the reason we wear masks. The problem is that people really do need people. We are created that way. And the “hell” of it is that the very thing we desire is the very thing that prevents us from having it. I yearn to love and be loved, to accept and be accepted, to affirm and be affirmed, but my mask won’t let me.
Are there reasons for shame? Of course there are. The Scriptures are replete with images and admonitions of how we should live. In that sense, there are legitimate reasons for shame. However—and this is important—the Scriptures are also replete with illustrations of those who didn’t live that way. And the most important thing is that those illustrations are very often the heroes of our faith. Flipping through the Bible should give all of us an attack of sanity. You can read about how it all got started when Jacob stole his birthright, Abraham’s lying about his wife and saying she was his sister so she could enter the king’s harem, David’s adultery and murder, Tamar’s seductive ways, Jeremiah’s fear, Paul and Barnabas’s anger and jealousy, Mark’s cowardice, Peter’s hypocrisy . . . and it goes on and on.
Do you think God is up to something?
Sin isn’t sin because it’s “nasty” and simply “not done” by proper Christians. Sin is sin because it is destructive, vicious, and dangerous. Sin destroys all that is honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable (Philippians 4:8). It destroys relationships and families. It makes us hollow and empty, and it pokes at us every time we try to sleep or rest.
There are those, of course, who lower the standard. But that doesn’t work in a courtroom. There is something inflexible about the law. If you read the Sermon on the Mount (preached by Jesus and found in Matthew 5—7) you know that Jesus didn’t just proclaim the law of God; he ratcheted it up just so we would know what was behind God’s holiness and his law.
In God’s courtroom the judgment is always accurate. There is no wiggle room. Every lie, every bit of jealousy and envy, every root of bitterness, every time you lusted, every time you demeaned others, every time you failed to feed the poor, and every time you expressed a racist comment, all of that will be exposed and you will be found guilty.
If that doesn’t scare the spit out of you, you’re crazy. Not only should that scare the spit out of you, it will lead you to . . .
In Romans 7, the apostle Paul confesses his sins. Paul’s honesty is quite astonishing. Before that, he said Christ came to save sinners and he was “the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15 niv). He cries out in the end, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7: 24).
Our masks are killing our relationships because relationships won’t work without a modicum of authenticity and we simply can’t risk it. And if that weren’t bad enough, the God we would go to for comfort isn’t any safer than the people we would like to go to for comfort. In fact, it’s even worse, because God’s holiness is a “consuming fire.” Once one understands those hard truths, we just get more committed to hiding behind our masks and promoting our hidden agendas. The spiral goes deeper and the darkness grows darker.
But there is great hope. God came to us in our sin. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:18-19).
Adapted from Steve’s book, Hidden Agendas: Dropping the Masks that Keep Us Apart.
Get 20% off Amazon’s price and FREE shipping when you order Hidden Agendas and The Seed together from Key Life. Plus, all the proceeds go to support the ministry! Just click the image below.