Belief Series: (Part 9) – Two Types of Heart Belief
Two Types of Heart Belief
In administering TPM to untold numbers of people since the inception of this ministry in 1995, we have found —without exception— that every lie-based heart belief a person has harbored was one of two basic types. Because of this consistent finding, we are relatively certain that these are the only two types of heart belief. These two types of lie-based heart beliefs shape and direct much of how we feel, and in turn, the choices we make on a daily basis. They are:
- Self-identity: “How I view and understand myself.” Who or what I am, my value, my purpose.
Examples: “I am worthless, “There is something wrong with me,” “I am unlovable,” “I am a reject,” “I am defective,” and etc.
- State of Being: “How I view and understand God.” My condition, situation, the state of my world.
Examples: “I am unprotected,” “I am abandoned and alone,” “I am out of control,” “I am going to die,”There is no way out,” and etc.
Satan is highly invested in keeping us from knowing the truth about who we are in Christ and the truth about the heart and nature of God. Much of what he does in this world is focused upon keeping this truth hidden from mankind. To the degree that we know the truth in these two areas, we will walk in victory, joy, and peace.
Self-identity Heart Belief
A self-identity heart belief such as “I am worthless” may drive me to be a workaholic, type “A” personality and overachiever as I try to disprove the lies I believe and show that I have value and worth. I may get involved in “helping” ministries to compensate for the painful emotion that stirs in me from the lie-based shame I may feel. My attempts to disprove the lie-based belief are motivated by the fact that I believe it. So even if I become a high performer and am found “worth-full” by others, I will still feel worthless.
This is where the “good things” that we may do, that are viewed by others as spiritual and Christlike, may in fact, be a vain attempt in suppressing the lie-based pain we carry. When this is the case, the good things we do are actually sinful, since they are a vain attempt in “healing” ourselves. The Scriptures tell us that “… whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23)
The context of this passage just quoted is eating meat sacrificed to idols that was believed to be (by the weaker brethren), forbidden and sinful, when in fact, it was not. Nonetheless, because the person believed it was wrong to eat the meat, to do so would be sinful since eating it would be doing that which he believed was forbidden by God. However, he had a dilemma. He was caught in a double-bind. For him, to do that which he believed was good —abstaining from eating meat sacrificed to idols— was in and of itself a sin, since his abstaining was not being done from a pure faith or truth believed in his heart. He believed a lie that he was forbidden to eat the meat, when in fact, the truth was, he could.
The principle here is, anything that we do that is not motivated from faith (truth believed with the heart) is sin. Or stated from a TPM frame of reference, anything that we do that is motivated from a lie-based belief or impure faith is sin, even when it has the appearance of being good. If the good things that I am doing in Christian service are attempts in suppressing my lie-based pain, compensating for the lies I harbor, or any form of self-medication, then what I am doing is motivated by lie-based thinking and therefore, a sin.
The meat abstainer was sinning whether he ate the meat or if he abstained. To eat would be a violation of what he believed was the truth (when in fact it was not). However, to abstain from eating because he believe to eat it was sinful, was in fact a sin, because he was operating on a falsehood (impure faith). The answer to this dilemma? Know the truth in your heart.
The truth of our identity
The Bible is clear when it comes to defining who we are in Christ:
“… if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor.5:17).
“… in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Gal. 3:26).
“[you have]… put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places …” (Eph. 1:3).
“[We are]… God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,…” (Col. 3:12, ESV).
However, the enemy has convinced most of us to believe such things as: “I am worthless,” “I am unlovable,” “There is something wrong with me,” “I am bad,” “I am defective,” etc.
State-of-Being Heart Belief
We see that a self-identity belief is about me, whereas a state-of-being belief is about God. A state-of-being belief reveals who I understand God to be, since He is supposed to be overseeing my condition, my environment, what is happening to me, etc. This type of heart belief might also be called a “God-identity belief.”
So then, a state of being belief reflects what I believe and understand about God. For example: a common “state of being” belief is “I am all alone, abandoned.” This belief describes the person’s perception of his state of being, but also his belief about God. God has declared in His Word that He is with us always, is our provider, protector, in control, and faithful in all respects. How I view my life situation is a direct reflection of my understanding of who God is and what He is doing or not doing in my world.
An example of a state-of-being lie being triggered may be seen when a person feels claustrophobic whenever he rides an elevator. While there may be no rational reason for him to be afraid, he may still have a panic attack when the doors close. If the elevator triggers heart beliefs learned in a childhood experience, he may feel fear and panic. If his mother punished him by locking him in a dark closet as a little boy, he may have learned lie-based beliefs such as, “I cannot breathe,” “I am trapped,” or “I am going to die.” Years later as the elevator doors close, his mind may interpret the moment as him being trapped, not able to breathe and about to die. He may try to tell himself the truth, but his mind will not differentiate between the elevator ride and being stuck in the dark closet. When this happens, his core beliefs will override his logical and intellectual belief that says he is safe. In spite of his rational thinking, he may still have a panic attack. The reason that this lie-based belief is a reflection of the person’s understanding of God is that believing he was going to die, suffocate, etc. says that God is not in control, does not care, does not love him, has abandoned him, etc.
A lie-based heart belief will be illogical and irrational compared to the truth of our intellect and reason. Nevertheless, heart belief will always win out when an interpretation is needed in the current situation. This is why you will commonly hear people say things such as, “I know I shouldn’t feel this way but I do.” People can choose to act in opposition to their lie-based heart belief and go with what they believe intellectually, but not without much struggle. This gives understanding to why it is so difficult to do the truth in many situations. Struggle is an indication that our heart belief is not in line with the truth we know with our intellect.
What may be an irrational fear in the present situation makes perfect sense when viewed in the light of its origin. It may make no sense to be afraid of riding in an elevator (claustrophobia), getting into a swimming pool (aquaphobia) or going to the shopping mall (agoraphobia), but when these fears are followed (association) to where they were first experienced, it all makes perfect sense.
For example: if as a child you were punished by being put in a dark closet, or if you almost drowned in the neighbor’s pool, or if you were lost in the shopping mall, feeling these same emotions in their original context would make perfect sense. However, these same emotions do not seem to match the present situation. The reason we feel them today is because the belief that was learned in the original event came forward and has become our current core belief and the source of what we feel. This is the importance of memory. Memory provides us with a rational and logical understanding for how we came to believe the lie we believe and thus, why we feel what we currently feel.
Now, when we experience anything that is remotely similar to the original experience (and it can be very remote), our minds will access our heart beliefs to interpret the present moment. These things make us feel bad and we want to avoid feeling bad, so we solve the problem by avoiding the elevator and taking the stairs (for the exercise, of course), not buying swimsuits to avoid swimming, or avoiding the mall (and other places) where there are crowds of people.
The Truth of God’s Identity
The Bible is clear when it comes to the true character of God and His faithfulness toward those who belong to Him. All things that are created are held together by Him. For “… in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16-17).
If we are in Christ, then our state of being is safe and secure. He is in control and lovingly watches out for all those who He has “called according to His purpose,” always making sure that “… all things work together for the good…” (Rom. 8:28). He also has His eye “upon the sparrow” making sure that it is fed and cared for. Likewise, His heart is tuned to the small, defenseless and mistreated, whether they have entered into His household or not. We see the heart of God in the life of Jesus, who went out of His way to care for people such as this. God is concerned about us and our “state of being.”
We see evidence of the Apostle Paul’s state-of-being belief (who God is) in the words he wrote while imprisoned and in chains, saying “Paul, a prisoner of the Lord…” (Eph. 4:1), as opposed to saying, “Help, I am trapped and cannot get away!” In this place he believed that God was in control, watching out for Him and that he was right where he needed to be. His state-of-being belief was based upon the truth of who God is. Paul believed that he was a prisoner, but not one did not one held by the legal authorities, rather he was a prisoner of the Lord. The Lord was in control even though it appeared otherwise.
Remember the story of the disciples believing they were all going to die because of the storm at sea? They believed a state-of-being lie about who God was. Because Jesus held a different perspective than they did, he was asleep in the stern of the boat. They woke Jesus up saying, “Lord, did you not know that we were about to perish (how they were viewing their situation)?” Jesus then proceeded to give them the truth about who God is and He rebuked the storm. He then asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The story continues: “They became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’” (Their understanding of who God is) (Mark 4:40-41). Their question exposed their “state-of-being” lie belief. Of course, the answer to their question was that Jesus is God. This belief was not yet their state-of-being belief. They simply did not know who was in their boat with them.
When Stephen was about to be stoned to death (Acts 7:56), it says that he looked up and declared, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” This was the truth about God. It is this state-of-being truth, received by Stephen from his heavenly vision, that made it possible for him to endure the physical trauma of being stoned to death, and yet still experience the joy of the Lord and His peace. His state-of-being belief was “God is on the throne; what do I have to fear?” Stephen’s joy was the same joy that carried the Lord through His crucifixion, “… because of the joy set before Him, he endured the cross…” (Heb. 12:2). Jesus always maintained a heavenly state of being.
Wearing the Right Glasses
We interpret life through the “lens” of our heart. The Apostle Paul prayed that God would “open the eyes of our hearts…” (Eph. 1:18) so that we may see the truth from God’s vantage point. Until we know the truth with our hearts, we have a limited intellectual understanding of it. An intellectual understanding of the truth is no different from that of the unbeliever or the demons, as it says: “… the demons also believe, and shudder” (Jam. 2:19). God desires to give us heart belief in the truth. He does this when we are persuaded by Him of the truth.
It is from the heart that we interpret life, but not all that we believe in our hearts is the truth. This is why we can find ourselves in trouble feeling afraid, worried, anxious, or alone. If we believe something with the heart, our heart belief will override any intellectual belief we may have appropriated. I can memorize the Bible verse that says that God is my Provider (Phil. 4:19) and yet be overwhelmed with worry over my finances. I can choose to focus on what the Bible says, but will not be able to control the fearful feelings that rise up within me when my bills are due. The reason for this is that I feel what I believe in my heart, not what I necessarily believe intellectually.
Because not all that we believe in our hearts is the truth, we do not always interpret our life situations correctly. Our painful negative emotions are evidence of this, since we feel whatever we believe. This is why we need our the “spirit of our minds” renewed (Eph. 4:23). We can know the truth with our intellect, but how we interpret life as it happens around us, is dependent upon our heart belief. This belief dictates our perception and perspective of the world around us, our view of others, our self-image, etc. We want to believe the biblical truth, but our lie-based heart belief holds greater power and influence.
This is why we sometimes say, “I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but I do.” In other words, “I know the truth, but I feel something else.” “I know that God loves me, is with me, is my provider (intellectual knowledge), and yet I feel alone, rejected, fearful, etc. (emotions caused by lie-based core belief).” “I know that God will supply my needs (intellectual) but I worry over how I will pay my bills (state-of-being belief).”
We may try hard to believe the biblical truth and “take every thought captive,” (2 Cor. 10:5) by choosing to do the right thing (obedience), and yet the lies we believe still feel true. The problem is, what feels true is what we believe with our hearts and this belief will eventually win out over what we may know in our heads. Denying what we feel and disregarding the beliefs we harbor is not the answer, but rather taking ownership of what we feel and believe and looking to the Lord for His truth. The Lord will give us His truth, but we first need to bring what we have hidden into the light.
Back to the example at the coffee shop: the server spilled hot coffee on my lap. I remember what happened in detail. The memory of the experience is my experiential belief. I also came to assume and thus believe that the reason she “poured” the coffee in my lap was that she did not like me and wanted me to stop coming to her shop based upon what I observed. Based upon some or all of the above, I may interpret the coffee shop experience as “I have no value and there is something wrong with me,” (self-identity belief, “Who I am ”) or maybe, “I am not safe or protected.” (state-of-being belief, “Who God is”)
The fact that we feel the way we do reveals that the smoke is already in the room. We just need to locate and expose the fire producing it. Heart belief is the final conclusion drawn from our “experience” and “understanding” that pertain to our self identity or state of being. A heart belief expresses what we believe about who and what we are or about who and what God is.