The Bible is replete with stories of those who did what was right in their own eyes. Adam and Eve head this list that would then be followed by almost every other biblical character. Abraham and Sarah. Jacob. The Israelite nation. Peter. To name just a few.
When we do what is right in our own eyes, the flip side of the coin is that we do what is evil in the eyes of the Lord.
No where is this pattern illustrated more clearly than in the book of Judges. Over and over we read the phrase like this from 3:12a,
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord,
Doing what is right in our own eyes is a product seeking wholeness apart from God.
Attempting to find our worth – our identity – apart from our Creator, we will do whatever it takes to sustain that false sense of self.
- Identity forms our filter for decision-making.
Our identity forms the lens through which we see the world and our place in it.
In Christ or out, we make decisions that support our identity. Giving us a sense of worth and providing a covering for our shame.
So for instance, if your sense of wholeness is related to being married or even in a committed relationship, then if you are single you are going to make decisions that lead to finding a partner. If you are married, then your decisions will be filtered through what is going to keep my spouse happy with me.
- Identity forms the lens of our values.
What is right and what is wrong is determined by what is best for my false identity. Doing what is right in our own eyes…
Going back to the single person whose wholeness is tied to having a relationship, it then becomes a right decision to have sex with someone or move in together or let them be verbally abusive because that is what sustains the relationship which in turn gives a sense of wholeness, keeping identity in tact.
- False identity is fueled by comparison.
Just like a golf leader board, comparison allows us to see where we measure up and how much value we have.
Being better or having more supports the false self. Not perceiving the self as good enough uncovers shame – the fear of not being loved or accepted. In which case we may try harder, we may numb the pain, or we may lash out.
Lashing out is marked by judging, condemning, gossiping, and quarrelling. It is an attempt to reestablish identity.
- False identity leads to isolation.
The above mentioned single person develops a mask. They must be the person they think their partner wants in order to sustain the relationship and feed their sense of worth. There are things they may not feel safe telling their partner about for fear of rejection.
Instead of experiencing the interconnectedness of relationships, this person manipulates and uses and does not feel secure because ultimately their partner loves a false version of them.
- False identity sets us against God.
Seeking wholeness apart from God is sin. Reread Judges 3:12a quoted above. It is evil in the eyes of the Lord.
The gospel is that there is forgiveness and restoration available to our self. Wholeness is available in Christ and we can begin to live in the true self of who God created us to be.
We still experience the battle of our old nature and new. Having times when we return to comfortable patterns and known ways of behavior. But as we experience life in Christ more and more, the old nature will provide less and less return.
Repentance is returning to our identity in Christ. Doing what is right in the Lord’s eyes rather than our own.
I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and Christian identity. Also, I am the author of the forthcoming book Discovering Your Root: Developing Your Identity in Christ.
Services I offer are one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking at organizations/churches, workshops on marriage/discipleship/leadership, and church retreats. For more info, click here to contact me.