Proverbs 23:7 in the King James and the New King James translation says that as a man “thinks in his heart, so is he.” This verse has been the subject of much debate by scholars, but I believe the truth is that we act out what we truly think “we are” at the deepest level. Hypnotists make a living by making their subjects act in a way inconsistent with who they really are. One Hypnotist applied his practice to four people at the same time on a stage in a crowded theatre. Each were “put under” so to speak and told they were a chicken, duck, dog, and a cat. When he brought them out of their slumber one clucked and scratched at the floor, one quacked and nodded his head up and down, one barked and chased a ball and one meowed and rubbed against the hypnotist’s leg. The audience roared with laughter. When he brought them out of their state, they were all embarrassed at how they were told they behaved.

My point this morning is that Christians are often hypnotized by the world, the flesh and the devil. We act out in ways that are truly inconsistent with who we really are. We are acceptable. Because of rejection from others in the world we often act like we’re unacceptable. The truth is “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (See Ephesians 1:6) We are acceptable to God. We are also valuable. In 1 Corinthians Paul focuses on that reality and tells us that we are bought and paid for by God. We are His prize possession. But because of mistreatment by the world and others around us, we often lose sight of our intrinsic value to God and act out in sinful ways. Isaiah 54:10 tells us that “the mountain and hills may crumble but My Love for you will never end, so says the Lord who loves you.” The world, our flesh, and the arrows of Satan often cause us to doubt God’s love and concern for us leaving us to search for love, as the song says, “in all the wrong places.” We have been hypnotized by the world, the flesh and devil in many ways.

Gary Small and John Trent wrote, “We all desire relationships in which we are accepted, valued, and wanted. We desperately long for this esteem from our peers, but seldom experience the “real thing.” Countless stories are written about teenagers who accept life-threatening dares in the hopes of being accepted by their peers, or business people who compromise their integrity and ethics to join an elite, inner circle. We read of men and women who are driven to succeed because they believe the lie that says their value is determined by the quality and level of their performance. …For the Christian, none of this futile struggle is necessary because we have been chosen by God before time ever began. We belong, we matter, we have been accepted. No longer outcasts or second-class citizens, we are part of his family.” You are acceptable! You are valuable! And you are lovable, because God says so!