Do you know someone who is IN DENIAL? They might be obnoxious but are oblivious to it. They can hurt and offend others without ever realizing they’ve wounded someone. Some people are in denial because they won’t acknowledge the elephant in the room. The problem is obvious to outsiders, but those “on the inside” are afraid to admit the dire reality of the situation.
Before Paul was converted, his name was Saul and he nodded with approval as he watched Stephen being stoned to death. His fellow Pharisees had laid their cloaks at Saul’s feet and he was “watching out for the coats of those who were killing him” (Acts 22:20). I’m sure Saul felt honored to be put in charge of guarding the coats, making sure no one would steal them. He probably thought, “Out of all the people here, they chose ME to protect their robes!”
Saul believed he was doing the Lord’s will as he carried out his religious duties, but he was blind to the truth and in denial. I’m sure the Lord had tried to point out the elephant in the room but Saul didn’t want to see it. Religion is Satan’s counterfeit that keeps people busy as a diversionary tactic. Some people are very busy doing church activities (guarding the coats) while their hearts are totally disconnected from God. Here are three reasons Saul was in denial:
1. He was spiritually blind. A deceived person doesn’t know he is being deceived. A blind man cannot see, no matter how hard he tries to see. Although Saul thought he was pleasing God by guarding the coats, he saw nothing wrong when God’s servant Stephen was murdered. When a person is spiritually blind they cannot see what is obvious.
2. He had submitted to “group think.” Group-think is when you let others think for you. Saul was more interested in what his fellow Pharisees thought than what God thought. A cult is a group of people that follow a domineering leader who, through intimidation, controls what everyone thinks. Before you join any church or organization, make sure it is spiritually healthy. If you sense something isn’t right, be willing to walk away from it. After Saul “saw the light” and realized he belonged to the wrong group, he chose to leave them.
3. His priorities were misplaced. When a person is in denial, he will put great effort into things that don't matter, while ignoring the things important to God. Saul thought protecting the coats was more important than protecting an innocent man from being killed. The wrong priorities always keep us from having the right priorities.
Are you in denial? Is someone you know in denial? The answer is to pray, “Lord, if I am not doing what pleases you, open my eyes so that I can see.” And then have the courage to change course.
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