“Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.”
Revelation 22:14-15 NLT
John’s brief list of sinful acts ends with a strange reference to “all who love to live a lie”. What is that all about? When we were children a favourite pastime was to dress up in clothes, giving us the feeling of being someone we weren’t. When my wife and I were foster parents, we kept a box full of what we called dressing up clothes, and the children occasional pulled them all out and had a dressing up session. As an aside, we had one 4-year-old boy who loved to wear little girls’ clothes, and particularly a tutu and ballet shoes. I’m not sure what the psychiatrists would make of him today, but it was just a phase he went through. He grew out of it.
To a certain extent we all live a lie. We hold within ourselves our feelings and what we are really thinking, preferring to display a “face” telling a different story to those around us. And we all have skeletons in cupboards somewhere, tucked away in dusty recesses in our minds. We all have history. But we don’t have to be defined by that. I know we have memories, terrified that someone might find out something about us we don’t want to disclose. But when we repent of our sins, bringing them under the spotlight of God’s grace, He wipes them out. He remembers them no more. We read in Hebrews 8:12, “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins”. There are other Scriptures too that say the same. But the one I like is in Psalm 103:12, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west”. It doesn’t get much further than that. God forgets but, sadly, we don’t. And the memories lurk there in our minds, emerging now and then, often with the devil’s prompting, causing us pain. And just in case we had forgotten to confess a sin, we repent again. But God says “What sin?” And so the cycle continues. Someone once said these memories are the stain of sin. When satan come a-knocking, trying to torment me once again, I refute his accusations, reminding him of my blood-bought status and that I’m a sinner saved by grace. I’m no longer the man I used to be. James very perceptively recorded in 4:17, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. And so he does.
We don’t have to live a defeated life, tormented by every memory. Instead, we can stand boldly before God free of conviction and a guilty conscience. We read in Hebrews 10, 19,21-22, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus …. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.”
So living a lie needn’t be the case because before God we are an open book. He will gently lead us on our journeys to Heaven, exposing and dealing with our issues and sins step by step. And with our fellow Christians we can be honest and open too, though in the process being careful about not disclosing too much information. A “need to know” approach is best. The next time we walk through the church door or sit at our desks, and someone asks the question, “How are you today?”, we can respond with a faith-filled statement. We may not be “Fine”, but we will be, once we allow God’s love and grace to flood over us.
Dear Father God. We thank You for Your encouragement, sustaining us through the trials and tribulations of life. Only You have the ways of fixing broken and tormented souls. Amen.