I Think Hidden Beliefs Are Crippling Most Believers

Consider with me how the Garden of Eden was lost. The serpent said, “God knows that when you eat [the forbidden fruit] …, you will be like God” (Gen. 3:5). The hidden message was, “God withholds the very best things. He doesn’t love you.”

Adam and Eve believed this lie, and world history was forever changed.

When they believed this lie, they believed a false interpretation of reality. The “reality” they believed in became the reality they lived in. It governed their behavior.

It is precisely our beliefs that determine how we act, feel, and experience life. But many of our beliefs are hidden, so we act, feel, and experience life from unexamined beliefs.

It is vital for that we uncover hidden beliefs in our heart. The serpent is crafty. He doesn’t say, “God hates you.” He offers an interpretation that implies an unloving God. The subtlety of the lie makes it hard to spot.

Hidden beliefs are crippling most believers I know.

The betrayal of hidden beliefs

Adam and Eve believed one hidden lie. We probably believe many. I know doctrinally correct [on paper] believers whose lives are filled with worry, anger, shame, and fear. Their lives betray hidden beliefs of a false reality that control their lives.

Let me offer one way to discover hidden beliefs (there are other ways as well).


Wounds? Yikes! Is this going to be some psycho-babble? I hope not. Instead, let’s think of them as a means of spiritual discovery. There is a spiritual perspective on wounds that many of us miss. Let me tell you about a Christian man I once met, Ray.

As a boy, Ray longed for a Red Flyer wagon for his birthday. His parents couldn’t afford it, and he was deeply disappointed. He remembers thinking, “Wanting anything hurts too much.” This phrase ruled his life, though always as a hidden, barely conscious belief.

He lived a life of resignation, refusing to risk, and stifling longings for jobs, relationships, and hobbies (he always wanted to sail).

Now his wife and children despise him.

Ray’s hidden believed-in reality—“Wanting anything hurts too much”—dictated his life.

Here is how it works

A wounding event occurs (from a birthday disappointment, or a football team rejection, to a brutal childhood rape).  The serpent interprets the events—“Desires bring disappointment,” or “You’ll always be rejected.” Finally, we believe the interpretation.

It’s not the wound that cripples; it’s the lies that we buy. We all believe hidden spiritual lies. Some come from wounds. Understanding wounds can surface hidden beliefs.

The spiritual nature of the wound

The wound is like a snake bite. The bite doesn’t kill; it’s the venom. The invisible venom coursing through our veins is the belief in our hearts when we buy the lie.

Many men I know either fixate on the bite (the wound) or ignore it (“It’s no big deal”). Understanding even the smallest wound is helpful when we let it bring to light our real problem: debilitating beliefs. Fixating on the wound, however, is harmful because it distracts us from the real danger.

So, is there an anti-venom?

All our problems with wounds, worry, anger, shame, and fear arise from the fact that God’s salvation is unreal to us in that moment. The “reality” we live in comes from what we most deeply believe.

Heart beliefs (not paper theological doctrines) rule our actions, emotions, and life experiences.

Merely fixing the “wound” is like putting a band-aid on a snake bit. Fix our heart beliefs and the venom is rendered powerless.

Believe what? The Great Exchange.

The cross has been called the “Great Exchange.” Jesus lived a perfect life deserving the perfect reward. We lived imperfect lives deserving death. Jesus took the death we deserve and he gave us the reward he deserves. It’s the Great Exchange.

A personal application of the Great Exchange brings true healing—it’s THE anti-venom.

  • What about Ray’s disappointment wound? Christ lived a life—in our place—that deserves eternal satisfaction. Then he took our eternal disappointment on the cross so we can have his eternal satisfaction. No earthly satisfactions—even wagons—fully satisfy. God’s love lasts forever. This is the anti-venom we need.
  • If we have a rejection wound, Jesus was rejected on the cross in our place. Only one rejection would have killed us, and Jesus took it for us. In believing his rejection for us, we are now accepted; knowing this is our needed anti-venom.

Many of us believers have an abstract notion of God’s love. But his love isn’t real in our hearts. Applying the cross personally, asking God to make this real to our hearts for every pain and disappointment; that brings our final healing. It’s THE anti-venom.

To the degree we believe in our hearts this Great Exchange—to the degree it is real and personal—the venom of disappointment (rejection, betrayal, etc.) will be healed.


So what do you think?

  • Do you agree that heart beliefs shape how we act, feel, and experience life?
  • Do you think that wound examination can help us uncover unexamined beliefs?
  • What worries, anger, shame and fear may come from your hidden beliefs?
  • What are other ways you know of discovering unexamined beliefs?

22 Responses to I Think Hidden Beliefs Are Crippling Most Believers

  1. Shane S. says:

    This post reminds me of step 2 in a 12 step program I work. Step 2 has one examine their hidden beliefs in God and then, once discovered, exam their source and then revisit their beliefs with their new understanding of God. The point is to uncover all the hidden sources of guilt and shame that often drive us further from God.

    • Hi Shane,

      This is really good. I like the process: 1) examine hidden beliefs, 2) exam their source, then 3) revisit their beliefs with new understanding of God.

      Often our very guilt and shame are great indicators of hidden beliefs, and yes, they drive us from God.

      Thanks for your insights.


  2. John says:

    Sam I agree with what you are saying, it’s the lie behind the wound that is the venom. I also believe the JE prayer “God, would you expose any lies I am believing, and any agreements I have made with my enemy”, is a great place to start the journey of a rescue of your heart. This journey involves a look into the past.

    There is another way to expose the lies of the enemy, and that is to examine how you see the future. This is a great place to find the resignation and agreements about the future that “has the wool pulled over our eyes”, in fact it may be the statements we think as “normal” or “typical” of our future. This is where the enemy has given us a “false prophecy” about how things will turn out especially when considering something risky or out of your comfort zone. Here are some example thoughts:
    1. Yes I could do this (new thing), but come on, I know I won’t make a difference.
    2. OK, remember how this went in the past, you’re going to fail again, you’re wasting your time, and this will result in being embarrassed and looking like a fool.
    Can you see how the enemy is corralling you away from the adventure and life God has for us. A thief is lying to us and stealing our future if we agree with his false prophecy. Our Father has good works which He prepared for us beforehand, plans for welfare and not calamity. And the results are not the most important thing, we have the freedom to fail, and with that comes the freedom to live life. Renounce the false prophet!

    • Hi John,

      Hey, great comment and observations.

      I like your idea of how we look at the future as a method for uncovering our hidden beliefs. If there is a hopelessness, resignation, or despair, that means we have a belief of something false.

      And when our vision of the future is hopeless, then our experience of life (today) is deeply affected.

      Too many men and women I know try too hard to deal with the “wound” when their real issues are the beliefs from the thief, the liar.



  3. Vicki says:

    It is the habits that come from a lifetime of believing lies that are hard to break. I think I need to consciously see that my habitual responses come from unbelief. Then I consciously need to tell myself that my response is based on a lie and then ask, “How should I react in this particular situation if I believe that the gospel is true and the Great Exchange has taken place for me?” Habits are very comfortable, even bad ones.

    • HI Vicki,

      I absolutely agree, “It is the habits that come from a lifetime of believing lies that are hard to break.”

      They are hard to break in part because they are so hard to see. We are so used to them–thus the long ingrained habits–that we often don’t even see them.

      I like your answer to solving our belief problem, “How should I react in this particular situation if I believe that the gospel is true and the Great Exchange has taken place for me?”



  4. Someone emailed me with a good little self-check on if we are still “walking in our wounds.”

    If we still say, “I have a __________ wound” (fill in the blank, rejection wound, betrayal wound, disappointment wound…), that is a sign for us that we still focus on the bite not the venom. Greater freedom is available.

    Once, however, we begin saying, “I had a false hidden belief,” it is a sign that we are getting healing.

    I means we are identifying the true source of problems, the venom not the bite.

    And once we recognize our hidden false belief, it is so much easier to kill … and be free.


  5. Mark Wilby says:

    Sam, so many of these lies/false beliefs become the cornerstones for the way we live our lives. They in fact become powerful “truths” for us and can define all of the important relationships and events in our lives. They become the filters through which we see everything and we usually don’t even know they are there. Its sort of like the color of our hair or eyes, we have lived with them so long that we are not conscious of them. But thanks be to God for the Holy Spirit, who is able to lead us into all truth and to bring every thought captive for Christ. Yet it’s not a given that we will be set free. So often, like Lazarus, we need brothers and sisters to unbind us. Are you familiar with theophostic prayer?

    • Hi Mark,

      Yes, I like it where you say, “They in fact become powerful “truths” for us and can define all of the important relationships and events in our lives.”

      That is it. They become POWERFUL TRUTHS.

      And then you say they become filters through which we see the world.

      That is why we need the help of the Holy Spirit, and we need the help of each other …”brothers and sisters to unbind us.”


  6. Wow this is a really really good point. I think for me, sometimes I don’t trust God because I believe “God doesn’t really hear me” or “God doesn’t really understand how I feel/ what I need”- lies along those lines.

    How to get rid of them? It’s going to be different in every case. I have a degree in math so I’m the kind of person who wants everything to be logical, one step clearly follows another- so I look at this issue like that. I believe God knows everything, yes? I believe God loves me, yes? Therefore, it follows that he does hear me and understand me. And I think that’s what faith is- believing something that SHOULD be true, based on the axioms I believe about God and the logic I used on them- even if the conclusion doesn’t FEEL true. Faith is taking that conclusion and acting on it like it’s true.

    • Hi perfect number (!),

      I like your line, “Faith is taking that conclusion and acting on it like it’s true.” Yes, we need to act on it because we know it is true, even when we don’t feel it.

      I also think God wants to reveal the reality to our hearts. Faith is much more than academic belief. It is action, and it is a soul sense, a heart-empowerment. It is a new way we understand reality.

      But…we need to act in accordance even when we don’t feel it.



  7. Mary says:

    I definitely think that our “venomous” heart beliefs affect how we see life, sometimes for years. It takes the Holy Spirit showing us where our thought life is wrong, and “being transformed by the renewing of our minds,” to be able to see situations correctly.

    Wounds often need the application of forgiveness to be healed. (Maybe this is the antibiotic, to keep things from becoming infected)! Then we need to address the venom. For example, after repeated rejections in life, we must come to realize that the Lord will never reject us. Then we also need to see how our relationships with other people are being affected. Do we back away from potential friendships because we are afraid? If we are rejected by people, do we realize that Jesus also carried this? He was born into a situation where his birth was shadowed in innuendo, and lived with the implications his entire life. His response to rejection was always love and forgiveness. This sets the bar pretty high for me(!), but I believe it’s the only way to be set free to respond to the Lord and to other people correctly, whatever form our “venom” takes.

  8. Hi Mary,

    Great line about forgiveness being the antibiotic! You are 100% right. We need forgiveness, and we need repentance (of the bitterness we’ve held, or the disbelief we’ve lived in).

    It does set the bar high, but with you, I agree this new heart belief is the way to be free.

    I always appreciate your comments and observations.


    • Mary says:

      Just a short addendum. One of my favorite teachers, Clay McLean, says this: “Words [that we hear and believe] produce attitudes; attitudes produce actions; actions produce habits; habits produce character and character produces destiny, so it is vital that you hear the right voice [and believe the right thing].”

  9. Guy says:

    That is a very interesting separation between wound and venom, Sam. Getting bogged (how we say “stuck” in Australia) in the wound is something I’ve done far too many times and it always has the affect of re-traumatizing me and reactivating my defenses, where as when I’ve let go the wound and followed the trail leading to the beliefs – which I find actually hurt much more- that have congealed around the wound, the freedom that comes in simply discovering what my actually hearts believes is wonderful (it reminds me that I do have a heart!) and if a “great exchange” moment happens too, it’s even better.Sadly I find that I forget it is my hidden beliefs dictating my thought life and behaviour a lot of the time and for that reason I appreciate this timely reminder.


    • Hi Guy,

      Yes, the distinction has been helping me as well. Getting “bogged” (I love that term) in our wounds has happened to far too many WAH men I know.

      I found it helpful to understand the snake “bite” vs “venom.”

      In fact, I’d like to quit referring to “it” as the wound. Rather, I’d like to refer to it as the “lie.”

      When we say we have a rejection wound, the focus is on the wounding event, and that is where our minds stays, and it brings up feeling sorry for ourselves or anger at another, or the unfairness.

      However, if we say we have a “lie belief that I’ll be rejected,” then even in saying it, we reject it–it’s hard to say I believe a lie without beginning to stop believing it.

      Thanks for the comment.


  10. Lyle Regan says:

    I think you have hit upon something that haunts many, many people, myself included. Yes, recognizing the “wound” is very important, altho I think only the 1st step. I know that in my own life, coming to grip with that was monumental, but only a beginning of my recovery. (Which is a work in progress) As I continue to meet with men in my personal orbit and ask the questions that most men wish were not asked, I find that it’s hard for them to “go there.. deeply” to discover what it’s all about, and consider what’s REALLY TRUE about them from Gods view. Then comes the really hard question,.. what now?? It continues to amaze me how emotional some men get when they seriously pursue this thing that has held them down for so long. Thanks for putting hard questions and thoughts out there for us all to think about, and do something with. Lyle

    • Hi Lyle,

      I agree. Many, many people are simply fearful about rediscovering–and sometimes almost re-experiencing–the pain of past hurts. The re-experience can be painful, and even admitting that there is something can feel humiliating (as in, “Hey, I’m a tough guy, it’s no big deal”).

      The problem we face is when we think the “wound” is the issue when it is mainly the trigger. The real issue is our deep beliefs of God and what we believe is HIS opinion of us.



  11. Jim says:


    Some great truths being shared in this post. I can relate in my own life how the unexamined stories in my own life once brought to light and looked at and dealt with have brought freedom I never anticipated.

    One author I recently read said “Hope is a future memory”. Without a proper perspective of our past wounds and how God uses them in spite of Satan’s intentions we get stuck.

    Dan Allendar said ” There is a war in every heart to determine the story or stories that shape our perspective of life”. The story we choose to focus on determines if we believe God is good or not.

    Looking at the stories and themes of our lives are critical to getting to the underlying truth that is sometimes buried in a corner of our souls.

    It is you and others that help with the clutter.


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