Do you have any conflicting beliefs? There are times in my life when my actions don’t line up with by beliefs.
Psychology calls this cognitive dissonance. “Any situation that involves conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. This conflict in turn produces a feeling of discomfort which results in an alteration (change) in one of the held attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to reduce the discomfort (tension) and restore balance.” – Social Psychology
Lets look at some examples to see if you relate.
1. Caring for animals is important, but I love eating meat.
2. I’ll take care of my kids needs before my own, but sometimes I need a break from the kids.
3. Smoking is bad for you, but I like smoking.
4. Lying is wrong, but an occasional lie is ok when it’s easier than the truth.
5. The law is there for our protection, but spreading is ok.
6. It’s important to get a good night sleep, but Netflix just released an entire season of my favorite show.
7. Marriage is a loving commitment, but I could cheat on my spouse.
8. God is Lord of all, but I am the master of my life.
You may have not identified with many of these examples but one thing is true, many of us believe God is Lord of all, but live as if we are the masters of our life. We are all slaves to our own spiritual cognitive dissonance. Our beliefs in God and our actions just don’t line up. The Bible calls this dissonance sin.
Sin simply stated is missing the mark. The mark is righteousness. In other words, complete, pure, right, honest, and perfect in character and deed. Romans chapter three says that we have all missed the mark. Listen to the language used to describe mankind.
Romans 3:10-18 ESV
“as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.””
We may believe this, but do our actions back up that belief? For many of us, if we were honest, we would have to admit that our lifestyles express we know best, can make good choices, we are right, descent, and good. This is simply unrighteousness dressed in self-righteousness.
Romans 2:6-11 ESV
“He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil…but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good… For God shows no partiality.”
What do you want – wrath and fury or glory, honor, and peace? Don’t worry about answering that questions. What you practice will reveal the answer.
1 John 3:4-10 ESV
“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
1 John 3:4-10 ESV
For anyone seeking to know God, spiritual cognitive dissonance must be resolved. There is only space for one master, the Lord Jesus Christ. One important practice that relieves this tension is confession of sin.
How does confession of sin play out in your relationship with God?
Stop trusting yourself, run from your previous choices, believe God’s Word, and live God’s Word.