1. Our greatest needs are to be accepted (loved) and have worth (value). This is what drives us to do what we do. It is the motivation behind all behavior. God made us that way and His design is that He will meet all our needs when we look to Him. Our greatest need is love and acceptance and God is love.
2. As we grow up, have problems and go through life we get messages about who we are. At first they are only feelings about ourselves, but they quickly turn into what we believe about ourselves. It is the way we see ourselves and who we believe we are.
3. As a result we all develop a false identity about who we are. This false identity comes from the world (family, environment, hurts, trauma), our flesh (ways we try to live life in our own resources) and the devil, who constantly accuses us and tells us lies about ourself, God and what we need in life. It shapes all of our life and everything we do.
4. We begin to try to meet our needs for acceptance and worth the best way that we can — in our own resources (flesh). As a result we develop ways of living as we attempt to cope, escape, defend ourselves, succeed (or avoid failure). These are flesh patterns or ways that we learn to live life independent of God. We develop these patterns based on how we perceive ourselves, what we believe about God and how we think life works.
5. A flesh pattern is simply a way that we have learned to meet our needs independent of God. All of us have them because none of us were born Christians and none of us look to God to meet all our needs all the time. We wrongly think it is just the way we are. One of Satan’s biggest lies is that what we do determines who we are.
6. Some of these ways (flesh patterns) are unacceptable such as irresponsibility. Some of them are very bad such as drug and alcohol addiction. But some of them are acceptable such as perfectionism and driven to succeed. We need to know that anything that we do to meet our needs apart from God is flesh. It could be good, right, noble and even spiritual, but if we are trying to meet our needs instead of looking God, it is flesh.
7. Some of these ways develop into strongholds such as drug addiction which causes a lot of problems in our lives. As we seek help, more than likely the counsel is to focus on the wrong behavior and try to change it. This is the reason we don’t get free. The root problem is not the behavior. The root problem is the misbelief behind the behavior. As long as a person believes lies about himself he will never get free, no matter what he does.
8. Alcoholism, addiction, eating disorders, etc., are not the problem. The problem is the lies we believe about who we are that causes us to try to meet our needs in our own resources. The reason we don’t easily give them up is that the way we meet our needs for acceptance and worth is the way we find life and identity. It is deeply ingrained in us.
9. When a person learns that they are not a failure, an addict, unloved, insecure, inferior and guilty — BUT are forgiven, accepted, competent, complete, righteous and secure in Christ, they will begin to change and experience freedom. A person who understands who they are in Christ will not engage in self-destructive, addictive behavior as a life style.
10. The reason few are finding freedom is that they are trying to change their behavior. They may be trying to change it through spiritual disciplines, but that is nothing but Christian behavior modification (legalism). A person will always act in accordance with how they perceive themselves. If we really want to help we must help them know the truth of who they are in Christ to see any real, lasting change.