One of the best ways you can preach the gospel to yourself is to read, memorize, and recite gospel passages of Scripture. Romans 5-8, Ephesians 1-3, and Colossians 1-2 are great places to start, but there are many other passages you can focus on. And let me encourage you not merely to read or memorize isolated verses that are disconnected from their context. Instead, swallow whole paragraphs, entire chapters. Romans 5, for example, is a long and beautiful train of thought on the subject of justification. Memorize that entire train of thought and then start quoting it to yourself as a way of “beating the doctrine of justification into your head” (to quote Martin Luther).
Is it not true that the lies we believe are often connected in a web-like fashion? For example, a man gets up in the morning and does not begin his day with conscious and prayerful expressions of gratitude and dependence upon God, apparently feeling that connecting with God is less important than something else he needed to do (lie #1). Failing to connect with God in this way, the man is now operating according to his normal human wisdom, which makes him vulnerable to whatever lies may present themselves. Soon thereafter, the man’s wife says something that punctures his thin skin and provokes him to anger. He nurses the anger, feeling fully entitled to it (lie #2). Shortly thereafter, a lustful thought suggests itself to the man, and he feels entitled to entertain that lustful thought (lie #3). He acts on that lustful thought in some way, feeling justified in doing so (lie #4). Then he feels guilt and thinks he has lost his gracious standing before God (lie #5). He decides that he should not come to God right away to make things right, because God is too angry with him right now and does not want him in his presence (lie #6).
Feeling condemnation from God, the man is in no position to give grace to anyone else in his life, especially his wife and children. He starts rehearsing his wife’s failures in order to make himself feel better about his own failures (lie #7). He snaps at his wife and children over the smallest provocations, obviously thinking that their provocations merit such a response in the moment (lie #8). Typically, such behavior generates responses from his family members that are similarly angry; and, in each instance, there are additional lies that commend themselves to the man. Soon the man is caught in a whole web of multi-layered deceptions. (And in the process, the devil has used him to spin a web of deception that is now entangling his wife and children.)
Indeed, the Devil rarely nails us with one lie. It’s normally a web of lies – lies that can stretch from one day into another, with threads that can stretch through weeks, months, years, decades, and sometimes even from one generation to another.
And we think we can combat such spirals of deception with some floating gospel truth we found somewhere? That probably won’t work. What we need to do to read and memorize more than a truth, but entire networks of truth -- whole sections of Scripture that contain multiple gospel truths connected by words like “therefore,” “so then,” “for,” “because,” “in order that,” “so that,” etc. If we read and work hard at memorizing Scripture like this, then we will find ourselves better equipped to respond with an overwhelming arsenal of tightly reasoned gospel truth against the lies that come against us.