Do you ever find yourself stuck in a mental or emotional rut? Do you find yourself bound, held captive by old, familiar, negative thought patterns? Satan knows those ruts well and has led us down them many times.
This may be just me, but one of my thought-ruts is the “I’m a failure, I can’t do anything right, I’m an idiot, I hate myself, I make everyone’s life miserable” rut. I have a feeling this rut is well-known by many of my fellow perfectionists.
I was traveling this well-worn thought-rut recently... It seems I’m most susceptible to falling into it when I’m stressed, and tired, and I haven’t been in God’s word regularly (true confession time). Somehow that helmet of salvation slips off my head, and that belt of truth falls to the ground, and into the captivity of lies I go.
Fortunately, when I was in this particular rut most recently, God’s Holy Spirit brought to my mind some verses about captivity, and about the lies of this particular “I’m a horrible person” thought-rut.
So let’s debunk the “I’m horrible” lie...
You’ve probably read Psalm 139:14, where the Psalmist, addressing God, says: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
And even more fundamental and profound is Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.”
So, I’m not horrible, I’m a person who’s fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. And so are you.
But, because I’m human, I do horrible or hurtful things sometimes. As Paul says in Romans 7:23, “I see in my members [that is, my limbs, my body] another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” And he goes on in verse 24 to say, “Wretched man that I am! [exclamation point!] Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Now THAT sounds an awful lot like an “I’m a failure, I hate myself” thought-rut!
Now, here’s the good news [the God spiel, the God tale, the God story], the hand of God reaching down to pull us out of that thought-rut:
Jesus says in the gospel of Luke chapter 4, verse 18, quoting Isaiah’s prophecy about himself in Isaiah 61:1: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”
Jesus proclaims liberty to the captives - he frees us from our negative thought-ruts!
In fact, He tells us in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” So we are not only created in the image of God, we are a new creation in Christ!
And, not only does Jesus proclaim liberty to the captives, but in Ephesians 4:8, where Paul is quoting Psalm 68:18, he tells us that Jesus “led captivity captive.” Where Satan seeks to enslave us and take us captive to the law of sin and negative thought-ruts, Jesus takes captivity captive, rendering Satan powerless!
So, the next time I feel myself slipping into the “I’m horrible, I hate myself” thought- rut, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I will heed Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 10:5 and will “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion [or lie of Satan] raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”. And, if you are a fellow perfectionist who is susceptible to the lie of the “I’m a horrible person” thought-rut, I hope you’ll take every thought captive to obey Christ, too.