Did God Really Say...?
As I write this, I am flying home from an incredibly restful and refreshing respite in the mountains - blessedly removed for a moment from the troubles and strains of 2020. My heart is tugged in so many directions as I look out the window and over the miles of wilderness. How beautiful and glorious is God’s great creation! Everything He made He called good, and He made it for His own pleasure and ours. But how frustrating that the world is so confused and chaotic. Too many people are not aware of His goodness, or have been fooled to think that God is not real and this is all just random, purposeless chance.
If you were an evil enemy of God, what would you do to take as many people away from Him as you could? Not very many people are so easily led to outright devil-worship or murder or other wicked acts - trying to catch everyone in that trap would be a terrible waste of time, even for an evil enemy. The fastest and easiest way to draw people away from God has proven from the very begining to be to sow confusion about God’s character. Is He really entirely good and completely unselfish, or is He just controlling and self-seeking like everyone else?
Remember what happened in the Garden of Eden - we read in Genesis 2: 15-17…
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Next, fast-forward to chapter 3: 1-5…
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say,
‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Do you see what the crafty serpent did there? The enemy took the word and law of God, and twisted it up to confuse and trap God’s beloved children. Our good Father does not want automatons for children - He has given us each the blessing of a free will. God could have blasted the serpent out of existence right then and there, but then real love would have been cheapened. Only when the risk is there to not choose relationship can love really be love. God wants each of us, all of us, to choose to be with Him, and to enjoy all that He has made.
But the enemy hates God so much, that he really does want to keep everyone from knowing their Creator. Not because that serpent cares or feels anything for us in any way, but because he wants to hurt God as much as he can in the time he has left before his own horrible end. So, the enemy’s preferred method since the beginning has been to cast doubt on God in the minds of His children.
It is a highly effective method - beware.
“Did God really say…?” that wicked rascal whispers, again and again. “You won’t really die - He just doesn’t want you to have what He has.”
Some would accuse me of being a little overly-religious and old-fashioned here; perhaps even repressed or leaning on some sort of old crutch that mankind invented long ago to keep everyone “in their place.” I would say that such accusations only add more evidence to my belief that God is who He says He is, and that there truly is a battle for the soul of every human. What better way to keep people blind to reality than to cast doubt on everything that is true?
So many Christians today find themselves confused or wondering if maybe they are not a little off-base and intolerant, like everyone is accusing. Maybe we shouldn’t be so rigid and uptight about sin and selfishness. Maybe it really does not matter how anyone chooses to live their life. Maybe God actually is just cruel and selfish, and doesn’t want everyone to have fun in their own way. “Did God really say…?”
We have a good friend who has frequently told the story of a young man with a chemistry lab. This fictional person is highly trained in their field, is already has several advanced degees, and keeps a working lab with all of the right chemicals and compounds that any serious chemist would have. He is proud of his set up and loves to invite friends and family and any interested persons to visit and check things out.
Imagine if this young chemist decided, just for fun and to be free from convention, to change the labels on some of the chemicals in the lab. For instance, what if he took the jar of cyanide, which as any reader of mystery novels knows smells like bitter almonds, and changed the label to read “Almond Jelly Beans?” The next time visitors came to his lab, he could show them this container with its pristine new label and invite them to sample the contents.
Clearly, the new label says “Almond Jelly Beans,” such a harmless and innocous thing. Almond jelly beans pose no threat to anyone. What is the big deal?
Tragically, no matter what this young man chooses to call the substance in the container, it is still cyanide. The moment his visitor opens the lid to take a smell of the harmless little jelly beans will be their last moment - no matter what you call it, cyanide is deadly.
This story is such a perfect illustration to describe what we can see on the news and in our neighborhoods every day. Changing the labels doesn't ever work - sin will still kill you every time. God’s laws are not just arbitrary rules: He does not make up things on a selfish whim, or just to keep us ‘in our place.” Rather, God’s laws are a description of reality from an infinite persepective. His laws are truth, and they are inviolable.
He does not instruct us not to do things to keep us from having fun or living our best, carefree life. From His timeless and limitless perspective, God can plainly see the train wreck that is coming down the line with selfish and willful choices. He wants us to have a good life now and forever, so He tells us the truth about what will help us truly live and what will make us surely die.
Be encouraged today, and do not let confusion be sown into your mind and spirit. Read the Word of God and spend time in the presence of Jesus through worship and prayer. Rejoice in God's truth, and take comfort in the fact that He holds everything together - now and forever.
We must not fall into the the mistake of becoming angry with the people around us who do not yet know the love of God. More than ever, everyone needs to know the peace and confidence that comes from a relationship with Jesus. The world is giving off plenty of fear and anger - we must have lives that radiate joy and hope. We know that the laws of God do not squash the life out of us; in fact, they set us free to live a truly abundant life! The enemy has fooled so many of our friends and neighbors, but no one is too far gone that the love of God cannot reach them. This season is a wonderful opportunity for the Church - the deeper the darkness, the more brightly the love of Christ can shine.
For further reading on God's Laws, please see Winkie Pratney's 21CR resource - a real treasure!
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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