Sunday, September 9, 2018

Created for Truth

by Sarah Van Diest @SarahVanDiest

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” 2 Corinthians 11:3. 

“You are alone.” “You are not enough.” “There is no place for you in this world.” 

These are difficult words, yes? They represent exclusion, rejection, and pain. Some of us have heard these words, or some similar, spoken directly to us from those we believed cared about us. Others have heard these words in their own minds and hearts, coming from a place deeply buried and hidden. 

These are words of shame. 

As we know from the tale in the Garden, it was shame that caused our ancient ancestors to hide. That is what shame does, or rather, that is a typical response to feeling ashamed. The other well-known response is to fight back and retaliate. Anger rises up and we throw punches at our accuser, or at the wall, or at the cat. Poor kitty.

If we think of the Garden and who is responsible for bringing shame into that pristine place, we think of the Serpent. Yes, we know Eve took the first bite of the forbidden fruit and then Adam had his try, but it was the Serpent who enticed her. His slippery way of twisting God’s words caused her to doubt. The Serpent is, after all, a liar. “…When he (the devil) lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” John 8:44.

Here’s where things get interesting. Today we understand more about how the brain works than ever before, and though there is not full agreement, many still believe there is part of the brain responsible for the feelings of shame and fear. This section is called the limbic system, or the reptilian brain. Yes, that’s correct, as in what a serpent is. It was apparently named that because it was believed reptiles had only that part of the brain. (That is not the case, for all vertebrates have all brain divisions, according to neuroscientist Barbara L. Finlay.)

I think it’s all a bit funny, or somewhat ironic. Maybe it’s more than ironic. Maybe there is a sense in which this is the part of our brains which identifies the most with the Serpent. It is the part of us that is fueled by shame, fear, and lies. Cognitive distortions, to borrow a term from psychology, is another way to say “lies,” and our minds get overrun with those distortions when we listen to the Serpent of old. We believe lies and our reptilian brain sends us running to hide or turning to fight, so to speak. Our reptilian brain listens to and responds to the lies of the Serpent. 

This is not to say that part, or any part, of our brain is inherently bad. No. We are created in the image of God, beautifully woven together by the Creator of all good things. Our brain works to keeps us safe from danger. It is inherently good. But wisdom tells us we are susceptible to attacks if we are not well guarded. And that’s where we get to take action.

The call to don the full armor of God is one of wisdom. 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 
Ephesians 6:10-18

It is too late, in a battle, to look for your sword or put on your helmet once the enemy has already wielded its fury against you. It is before you enter the battle, before you encounter the circumstances of the day, when dressing in God’s protection is called for. But our habits are not perfect, nor is our submission to the Father’s ways, yet do not despair for he remains faithful, even when we are not (see 2 Tim. 2:13)

If you find that you, as I do, have trouble with that particular part of your brain sending you into bouts of fear and worry, remember the Serpent and the lies he tells, and call to mind the armor our Father has provided. Mostly, allow the truth of our Father’s character and his love for you rest in your spirit. 

The Father made his armor because he knew we would face these battles and because he loves his children to be protected. You are worth protecting. He knew we would feel rejected, abandoned, hated, dismissed, afraid and so on. The “simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” come not from lies but from the truth that he first loved you and so you love him. 

Amen? Yes. Amen. 


Sarah Van Diest is a writer and editor. She’s the mother of two boys, stepmother to three more, and wife to David. Sarah wrote this book as letters to a dear friend whose life was turning upside down. She’s done this for years for numerous friends and will continue to, Lord willing. It’s her gift to them. It’s hope written down.


  1. The key to victory in this spiritual battle Ms. Sarah... knowing we never have to face the battle alone. What a wonderful reminder! God's blessings ma'am.

    1. Thank you, Jim! We are never alone!!!
      Blessings and hope, my friend.

  2. "It is too late, in a battle, to look for your sword or put on your helmet once the enemy has already wielded its fury against you. It is before you enter the battle, before you encounter the circumstances of the day, when dressing in God’s protection is called for." Such a beautiful analogy, and so true. Thank you, Sarah. You always leave me wanting more.

    1. Thank you, sweet friend! I've been so busy of late and have missed interacting with you. It is I who is always wanting more!

  3. Thanks, Sarah. I really needed this today. I recently lost a friend, and it’s sting is real, dark, and true. I just finished your book, “God in the Dark.” I’d hoped to give it to this friend when I was done. Day 30 I read Friday, and I realized it was sent to me by a friend not for her but for me. God is reaching out to me through you. Satan does lie, but “He remains faithful, even we do not.” Thanks for the reminder Sarah. I needed the encouragement today.

    1. Laurie, I am so sorry for your loss. I have read that losing someone close to you is actually like losing a part of yourself, in a literal sense. When you are with your friend, your heart rates sync up, your breathing syncs, other physical aspects of your body are actually "managed" by being with them. There is a very real sense in which your system feels lost without them. I hope you will remember to be gentle with yourself. Rest. Breathe deeply. Cry. Laugh.

      Forgive me for going on and on. Know that you are loved and cherished, and most of all, that you are never alone!
      Blessings and hope,

  4. Sarah, What a wonderful reminder for us all. Several years ago the enemy of our souls was hitting me hard with guilt, as some of our children were turning away from God's truth and going their own way. I blamed myself; what could I have done differently in raising them? God broke in one day when I was walking the floor and praying. The devil, disguised as God, said, "You did a lousy job of raising your children." I was starting to agree when it occurred to me that God doesn't speak in an accusatory tone. If we have done wrong He points it out, but doesn't hit us over the head with it. That was a turning point for me. I turned from those feelings of guilt and shame and claimed God's promise that He gave me prior to that, "I will contend with him that contends with thee and I will save thy children."

    1. Wow, Roberta! What a powerful testimony!!! Our Father loves us so!!! Thank you for sharing your words and truth about who he is!!
      Blessings and hope to you and yours!!! And yes, he is faithful!