“BEASTS IN THE BASEMENT” – what an intriguing title for a men’s retreat. I’d go to it if I were a guy. The title’s not only intriguing – it’s accurate. Men do have “beasts” and they do hide them in their “basements.” But the title’s also incomplete. Women too have beasts (and basements in which we hide them).
Basements are places where we put things we don’t want on display in the living room. They’re filled with junk we’d rather keep from public view. Sometimes they contain what we want to hide from others; sometimes they’re filled with things we want to hide from ourselves. Basements typically serve a purpose: they let us (and others) pretend that our junk doesn’t exist.
Naming the Beasts
What kinds of beasts lurk in our basements? Some live in the present – ongoing transgressions, habits of which we’re ashamed, attitudes like greed or anger or selfishness that we don’t want others see. Others come from our pasts – memories of our own wrongs or recall of the wrongs people committed against us.
But the truly sneaky beasts are the lies we believe. Whether we’ve been taught them by others or manufactured them on our own, lies we believe are always deadly. We believe that we’re worthless (lie), that we’re damaged goods (lie), that we’re victims or doomed to failure (two more lies). We’re convinced that others are always against us (lie). We buy into the fallacy that God isn’t trustworthy, doesn’t care, or that He’ll send us to hell if we step too far out of line (three particularly virulent lies).
But lies are all second-generation beasts; the real beasts, the primary beasts, are named Flesh, Sin, and Death. The three primary beasts work together. Flesh (our inclination to rebel against God) produces Sin (actual rebellion against God), and Sin results in Death (experiencing the attitudes, behaviors, and confusion that rob us of life).
Battling the Beasts – Escaping Beastly Power
Our beasts keep winning because they’re stronger than we are. We lose the battle with them when we fight them in our own strength using our self-made weapons. But only God is stronger than the beasts and the only weapons that work are the ones He supplies. God gives us a list of His weapons in Ephesians 6:10-17. It looks like a complicated arsenal until we look more closely and realize that all God’s weapons are forged from truth. That makes sense. What better way to counter beastly lies than with godly truth?
It’s crucial that we steep our minds in God truth. If we forget truth (or never learned what’s true) we’re in trouble. We can’t act like who we are if we aren’t aware of who we are. We’ll hide in shame if we don’t know that doing jerky things doesn’t turn us into jerks. We need to be aware that Sin, Flesh, and Death no longer define us. We need to remember that our old selves have died and that our new living selves won’t ever fade away or disappear.
Beauty and the Beasts
If I asked you why you hide your beasts you’d probably give me the standard answers. I feel guilty about them … I don’t want to deal with people’s reactions when they see my ugly side … I’m trying to please God.. But there’s another reason you may not have considered: we also hide our beasts because we think our beasts define who we are. It’s an identity issue. If we have junk doesn’t that prove that we are junk? Not according to God. He doesn’t identify us with the beasts that live in our basements. He identifies us with Himself. When someone, anyone, asks to be joined to Jesus, they’re given a new self that no longer resembles any beast. It resembles our new Lord.
Having a new self has huge implications. Those basement dwellers no longer define us. We, at the core, shine with God’s glory. The basement dwellers also no longer own us. We don’t have to sit around and listen to their lies. We don’t have to indulge them or feed them or submit to them. The beasts in our basements no longer master us. They’ve lost their power over us; we now have a new master: Jesus.
That’s all wonderful news, but there is a continuing problem: While the beasts have lost their power over us, they don’t leave our presence. They still hang around to harass us.
We all (well, most of us, like me) feel a giddy kind of relief when irritating visitors finally climb into their car and drive away. It’s pretty wonderful to watch them vanish into the distance. But beasts (the Sin-Flesh-Death kind of beasts) don’t drive away. They stay. On and on and on. We can’t get them to leave. From the time we’re made alive in Christ until our entrance into heaven, these unwelcome visitors hang around inside the same body that contains our new glorious self.
We spend the pre-heaven portion of our lives in the presence of our enemies. But remember: these beasts, though they may still be in us, no longer are us and they no longer control us.
In heaven the flesh that produces sin will be history, the death that follows sin will have disappeared, and the enemy spirit behind flesh, sin, and death will be permanently banished from our presence. When we leave our earthly bodies and step into heavenly ones, the beasts will drive away and never be seen again. Someday our struggle with the beasts in our basements will be history. I can hardly wait.
● What are the names of your beasts?
● When you consider who you are, do you identify with your beasts or with Jesus?
- Grappling with Your Identity (by Lynne Fox) covers in detail our new identity in Christ. See particularly Chapter 21 “Not Self but Sin.”
- Spiritual Warfare (by Ray Stedman) is an excellent guide to understanding and resisting evil.
- Waking the Dead (by John Eldridge) has a twofold focus: learning what it means to be alive in Christ and fighting the enemy, Satan, whose lies robs us of life.
The Beasts in Our Basements
© Lynne Fox, 2015