We’re continuing on in a series that I believe is more of an open discussion than anything else. I’ve been impressed to write more topically for a few weeks because of the need to give certain issues specific attention. When I was brainstorming the idea of “What lies need to be dismantled?”, I came to realize that as Christians, we primarily believe lies about ourselves that can hold us back from moving forward in our faith. It’s these lies that were the subject of last week’s blog post here. This was in no way an attempt to be comprehensive but the main points were some of the most common conversations I’ve had. Even the most seasoned and mature Christian can still have these lies pop into their head from time to time. That’s why it’s so important to regularly bathe our minds in the Word and in prayer. By doing so, we are renewed and transformed into the image and likeness of Christ.
This week we move forward to address lies we believe about God. Obviously, this is a BIG topic because there are many, many lies that get perpetuated about God. And one can only scratch the surface in a few minutes in a blog entry. As we move from ourselves inward, it can be logical to move outward and even project falsehoods onto the Creator. We have the propensity, even the will perhaps, to formulate and speculate Who or What God is. Problem is, we often do so outside of the Bible and outside of His revelation of Who He is and What He has already demonstrated Himself to be.
Again this week I believe God is big enough for us to ask hard questions and even bring to Him our doubts or mistrust we may have. As I said last week, Satan’s playbook really isn’t that difficult to figure out. Many of these lies are the things that have been passed down through the ages, simply repackaged and replicated to fit the context of the day. As much as things change, they really just stay the same! I think you will agree…so here goes:
Lie #1. God is not completely good
When we look at the world around us, in its fallen state; when we see headline after headline of brokenness and tragedy, the conclusion often seems logical: “If God were really good, the world would not look the way it does.” And as Christians, we face ridicule and admonishment from the world because if God really does exist, why would He allow so much suffering. This first lie is so strong, I believe it’s a lead-in to atheism for so many. Honestly, we’ve been led to question God’s goodness and provision for us since the very beginning. It was the serpent in Genesis 3 which first put doubt into the mind of Eve:
Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1
If we are led to believe that somehow God is not good, then we really aren’t too far off from rejecting Him completely. From there, we make the leap to control our own destiny because if God cannot provide goodness, happiness, the fullest in life…then I will step out and find it for myself. And that’s exactly what Adam and Eve did. But if we can see God as ultimately good, with no inherent evil in His nature at all, our whole perspective changes. God then becomes a Creator who maintains and sees all things, yet has given us free will to accept or reject Him and His ultimate goodness for us. Further, if Adam’s sin ushered in the fall of mankind, we are in a place that was meant for closeness and proximity to God and is now broken. But through Christ, a way to restoration has been made. Hallelujah! God is good despite our rejection of Him.
Lie #2. God is wrathful and wants to punish us
Taking the first lie a step further, this lie says that not only is God not good, He is full of wrath and vengeance. I hear comments like this quite often: “I’ll serve the God of the New Testament, Who is loving and peaceful. But the God of the Old Testament, I can’t accept. His wrath and killing of innocent people is something I find hard to believe.” It is usually the “Old Testament God”, the One Who wipes out nations and destroys people with a flick of His finger, that those unfamiliar with Scripture have a hard time with. And I can sympathize with ignorance, but not disobedience.
Have we heard about or read stories of the wrath of God? Yes. Is this a real thing? Yes. Does His wrath define His entire nature and character? No.
To understand God more fully, His nature must be examined through the whole lens of Scripture. Cutting and pasting stories here and there to paint an inaccurate picture of God is a disservice to Him and is essentially blasphemy (a profaning of His name). So when God does destroy a group of people, a city, or a nation for its wickedness we must examine verses that say why (here are 2 Old Testament examples, then 1 New Testament):
Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is immense, and their sin is extremely serious.” Genesis 18:20
“But if the Lord brings about something unprecedented, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them along with all that belongs to them so that they go down alive into Sheol, then you will know that these men have despised the Lord.” Just as he [Moses] finished speaking all these words, the ground beneath them split open. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, all Korah’s people, and all their possessions. Numbers 16:30-32
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. Romans 2:5
We realize that God’s wrath and judgment in these verses is a result of sin; of man’s disobedience and unfaithfulness to the Lord. As Paul states in Romans, a hardening of our hearts toward God incurs His wrath. Unless we are repentant, the ultimate punishment we face is spiritual death and separation from Him. But it is the other balance of God’s character; His enduring mercy that saves the repentant heart:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and rich in faithful love.
He will not always accuse us
or be angry forever.
He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve
or repaid us according to our offenses. Psalm 103:8-10
There can be no honest discussion addressing this lie until the balance of God’s mercy is examined as the flip-side of His justice and wrath. God is not completely wrathful. He desires all to come to a saving knowledge of Him. Sadly, many will still reject and not accept His free gift of salvation.
Lie #3. Jesus is not fully divine
One last lie that I believe the ancient church faced and we still face today is the lie that Jesus is not fully God. It is interesting to me that so many early church councils were convened to combat heretical teachings about Jesus. Out of those councils, well-known creedal statements arose, including the Nicene Creed (written 325 A.D.) Look what it says about Jesus:
We believe…in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary…
Such a strong statement about Christ’s divine nature had to arise in response to strong opposition that He was something other than what He said. Perhaps a good teacher, perhaps a priest or even a prophet; but not someone possessing the qualities of God. This lie is still one we hear today. I think it takes it’s form in subtle ways; even within the church.
I love the statement popularized by C.S. Lewis which basically says Jesus is one of three things: He is liar, lunatic, or Lord. I believe when we believe the lie that Jesus was not divine, we minimize His power and we neuter the authority of the Gospel and Scripture. What Lewis says is true because if Christ is Lord, then everything He has said about Himself and revealed to us is true. However if He is not Lord, then He is either a liar or a lunatic (a crazed man).
I’ve covered a lot of ground here today and even in writing these thoughts, I feel like so much is still left unsaid. But hopefully what I have addressed is enough to start the discussion about lies we must dismantle in regards to God. We have His Word, which is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Through His Word, He has shown us His character and we have the “sword” to fight against the lies Satan would use against us.
As always, I’d love to chat further. Looking forward to continuing this conversation about lies into the third and final installment of this series next week! Until then, God bless
I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org