Summary: No one wants to live in a lie, however, as a believing being, many men live with corrupt beliefs that influence their thoughts and actions.
So I’d like to begin with a quote today. From A.W. Tozer. He says, “What comes into our minds when we think about God, is the most important thing about us. What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” I love this quote because I think it gets after the essence of what I want to share with you today around systems of belief.
We can also see this play out in Proverbs 23:7. Which says, “As a man thinks within his heart, so he is. As a man thinks within his heart, so he is.” And we know this to be true. Because women who think they’re ugly, when in fact are beautiful – have a corrupt belief system. Women who think they’re fat, when they’re actually skinny are carrying around corrupt beliefs. And the systems of belief influence how they think and act in life, but they also influence – oh so carefully how they view themselves in relationship to God. And God himself, as AW Tozer is teaching us.
I have been so influenced in my life, gentlemen – by corrupt beliefs. I can remember as a very young man standing on the basketball court, as a teenager – hearing a young man come over to me, talking about a sexual encounter that one of his buds had with another girl on our campus as a young teen. He profaned this girl and shared all the details that he heard that Tony had done with another guy. And made one of the most profound influencing statements on my mind as a 12-year-old. He said this. “Guys, I guess Tony this weekend became a man.”
Now this very powerful thought stuck with me and went so deep into my thinking that it caused me to believe that having sex and being sexually intimate with another girl was the way to define my manhood. And gentlemen, this corrupt belief stayed with me for years. And influenced – unfortunately, the things that I thought, and the way that I interacted with young women. And I’ve got to tell you – gentlemen, sex does not define our manhood. I know this to be true, because I’ve seen 2 dogs having sex, and they didn’t turn into men. Just a little humor there, but the logic plays out well.
Sex does not define manhood. Something else does. But how do these corrupt beliefs, and these systems of belief find their way into our mind and corrupt how we think about life, relationships, God, and our future? And gentlemen, we need to deal with it.
So today, I want to give you 4 principles about belief systems, that will help and begin to help you see how we can rewire these very, very conscious beliefs that are corrupt that we have. And even maybe undo the ones that we don’t know that we have. 4 principles.
Principle 1 is this. We create belief systems. Gentlemen, we create belief systems. Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways – declares the Lord. The Lord God is defining for us the very fact that he thinks differently than we do. Because we believe different things than he does.”
Gentlemen, we are a believing being. This is just simple philosophy 101. You are a believing being. It’s what makes you unique as a human being. Is the fact that you can believe. And as we are exposed to data, we make judgments and develop concepts and inferences about life that result in ideas and images that are burned and embossed on our brains and our heart, that comprise our beliefs.
You see gentlemen, belief systems require 2 parties. It’s very simple. The believer, which is a subject – which is you – and a proposition, which is an object that you believe in. When you put these 2 things together, as a result of it – you have beliefs about education, about money, about work, about family, about all kinds of things in life. And over a lifetime, you build a system of these beliefs. A cluster of these beliefs, we call them a belief system, and they’re just a cluster of ideas and images that you have built up over a lifetime.
Principle 2 is this. Not only do you create belief systems, but you are controlled by your belief systems. Again, Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Or how about Numbers 13:33? You’ll love this verse. It says, “And there we saw the Nephilim, and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers. And so we seem to them.”
I don’t want to get into a discussion about the Nephilim, these giant man-like creatures. But there is something about how people viewed themselves when they saw themselves in light of the Nephilim – that they seemed to themselves like grasshoppers. They saw themselves as less next to these giant supernatural creatures.