Surrendered to God’s Grace

“The eyes of both of them were opened” Genesis 3:7

This is the first time any person ever felt guilt. Adam and Eve’s attempt to cover their guilt was futile. Covering for guilt and the ultimate removal of guilt would require the death of a substitute. Guilt caused them to flee God’s presence instead of coming to Him. Guilt still does this to those who are yet to be forgiven. Those who most vehemently oppose God are the one’s sensing guilt the strongest. Their sin is against God and only He can forgive their sin. To remain just, a satisfactory substitute would have to die. Adam had brought about a fundamental change in his being which must die. Only a new creation could allow him into God’s presence again.

With the guilt came conviction of sin for which Adam and Eve had no remedy but to flee God’s presence. This did nothing to diminish the conviction or remove guilt. Instead of desiring God’s presence they wanted to hide from Him. People who have believed Satan’s lie still prefer to hide from God.

We observe here that God pursued Adam and Eve until He caught up with them. He then gave them opportunity to have a change of heart which they eventually accepted. First they played the blame game. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent but in reality they were both blaming God. This characteristic of fallen people can be readily observed in all spheres of society throughout history and is still very evident today. It is, we accuse, always someone else’s fault!

When they eventually surrendered to the grace of God, God clothed them in animal skins thus picturing the means by which they and all who choose to believe what God has said will be saved. God is still in pursuit of people but sadly most will not heed His words of love, grace and forgiveness. Don’t be among them but be among those who humbly acknowledge their sin against God, turn to face Him and receive His gift of forgiveness. Paul wrote, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

One who has received the gift of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ will not run away from God when they sin. Having experienced His forgiveness before, they will return to Him whenever they are aware of sin (1 John 1:9). This is a mark of one who has truly chosen to reject Satan’s lie and believe what God has said.

Choosing a Destiny

“God is not a man that He should lie” Numbers 23:19

The basis of all the covenants that God has ever made is that He speaks the truth with no hidden agenda. To doubt or reject God’s word is to call Him a liar. An example of this can be seen in Romans 3:10 where Paul writes, quoting from Psalm 14, “There is none righteous, no, not one” and in 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” There are those who reject these truths and thus call God a liar. John writes as much in his letter, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:10).

Jesus claimed to be Truth (John 14:6; cf. 1:17; 8:32) and God’s word to be truth (John 17:17). In so doing He was saying that God does not lie and therefore His word can be relied upon. Men do lie so when it comes to a choice whose word are we going to believe?

In his greeting to Titus, Paul states clearly that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). The best a man can say is that he is not lying or will not lie but he cannot truthfully say that he cannot lie. Paul gives us the reason God cannot lie in 2 Timothy 2:13, “He cannot deny Himself.” What this means is that God always speaks and acts according to His Divine Nature. We can observe this in His Creation. All creatures and plants conform to their kind and can do nothing else. In breeding animals and growing crops we rely on this fact.

When it comes to God’s covenants and promises we can rely on them because God cannot lie. If we create an image of God in our minds that is like people we will not be inclined to believe His word. As such we call Him unfaithful and a liar. Jesus said that Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). He lied to Eve (Genesis 3:5) and he has been lying to people ever since.

In creating us in His image God has given us free will to make our own choice. We can choose to believe God or we can choose to believe Satan. Our choice will determine the course and destiny of our lives. Believe God to eternal life (John 5:24) or believe Satan’s lie to eternity in the “lake of fire and brimstone” to be “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). We are choosing to be either in Christ’s presence or Satan’s.

The Idol of my Heart

“He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth” Zephaniah 2:11

One thing that mankind cannot deny is that he will worship something. Ultimately if that something is not God it will be himself albeit disguised in some religious or moral garb. All the false religions and objects of worship have man at the pinnacle. This is very clear in those who worship the theory of evolution. They believe it in spite of the evidence being contrary because it puts mankind in the place of God as Creator. In essence the theory of evolution has man responsible for creating himself and this includes moral values; hence our current national moral corruption and bankruptcy. Paul put it this way, “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonour their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:24-25). What is “the lie?” I believe the lie is the one from Satan in Genesis 3:5, “You will be like God.”

God created man in His image but ever since the Garden of Eden people have been creating gods in their own image. We do this because it feeds pride. King Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogance in creating a golden image of himself and demanding all bow down and worship his image is a good example. Daniel had informed him that it was the Lord who had given him the empire and that He would also take it and pass it on to another. The image of the statue of gold, silver, brass, iron and clay represented the passing of the kingdoms. In defiance of the Lord Nebuchadnezzar had a statue created that was made all of gold. In doing so his statement of defiance against God was that he built the empire and that he would cause it to endure forever. He then demanded worship as if he were God.

The idols we worship today may not always be statues or physical images but they always put oneself in the place of God. We may worship our work or our sporting heroes, our moral uprightness or we may worship some person. The one with a spirit of criticism worships himself. The way to ascertain what we worship is to discover what it is we will not surrender if Jesus asks us to. It is not a matter of whether it is good or bad but whether we prefer it to Jesus Christ. If we do, that is an idol. We may even have an erroneous view of Jesus that we worship. An example of this is one who is legalistic in their walk with Jesus. Ultimately, they worship themselves.

When Jesus returns, “He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth.” However, if we truly are disciples of Jesus Christ, we have done so and maintain a watch over our hearts to ensure we do not allow anyone or anything to usurp God’s rightful place of worship, especially not ourselves.

The Greatest Miracle

“For we have made lies our refuge and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves” Isaiah 28:15

Isaiah had been observing his own nation, Israel, and was writing concerning their situation in his day. As we consider this verse we can’t help but believe that he is observing and writing concerning our own nation as it is today. He is not describing every individual in Israel because we know that God always maintains a believing remnant. We would not apply these words to every individual in our nation either because there are those who are faithful to the Lord and His word. But nationally they suit all too well.

Jesus called Satan a liar (John 8:44) and Peter discerned that Satan had moved Ananias to lie (Acts 5:3). Paul recognised that people had “exchanged the truth of God for the lie” (Romans 1:25). He also wrote that because people choose to turn away from God, God will allow them to be deceived (2 Thessalonians 2:11).

Isaiah is saying what we know to be true. People believe the lie about Jesus Christ because it comforts them in their sin. Hence, lies become our refuge, our place of safety and comfort – but only in the short-term. It is easier for a sinner to believe the lie that God does not exist and that they will not have to give account for their lives than to deal with the truth. So they take “refuge” in the lie.

Secondly we hide from the truth by peddling things that are obviously lies. This is why people believe in evolution. It gives them, in their minds, a place to resist the truth and hide from it. Anyone who does some research desiring to know the truth will discover the great falsehood of the Theory of Evolution but it is a convenient hiding place for people who do not want to face the truth.

Psalm ten reveals the three presumptuous thoughts of the person who wants to conceal in their minds the truth by embracing a lie.

  1. I am okay, I am invincible (v 6)
  2. God is not interested or is dead (v 11)
  3. I will not be held accountable to anyone for my life (v 13)

These are all lies of Satan that people all too readily embrace because they love sin and do not want to face reality. Considering the long-term consequences it is staggering that anyone would choose to take refuge in lies and present falsehoods to their own mind and soul to escape thinking about the truth but such is that nature of sin.

Those who do want to face reality will face the Lord Jesus Christ and discover that He has borne their sin on the cross and is able, therefore, to forgive all their sin and, much more, cleanse them from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). The greatest miracle of all is that God is able to bring any sinner to repentance, most of all me, but He does and still is. Hallelujah!

The Truth Exchanged for a Lie

“It was too painful for me until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end” Psalm 73:16b-17

The writer of this Psalm noted the prosperity of people who gave no thought to their Creator; the One who gives them life and provides their sustenance in gracious abundance. He observes that they are full of pride and count pride in themselves as a blessing (v 6), they oppress others (v 8) and boast in wickedness and blaspheme against God (v 9). They are at ease in the earthly riches (v 12) that God has provided for them.

The psalmist then asks himself what the advantage was of him living a righteous life in which God has frequently chastised him (v 13) when the ungodly appear to suffer no chastisement (cf. Hebrews 12:5-8).

We live in such a world as the psalmist observed. There are many who deny God’s existence and are proud in themselves for their material success. Such blessings were meant to turn their hearts in thankfulness for God’s grace. Instead they boast that they have done it by their own ability and strength.

Those who walk with the Lord Jesus Christ do suffer at the hands of the ungodly. Many have their earthly lives ended prematurely at the hands of the ungodly. All Christians will suffer some form of persecution and oppression.

The psalmist then records that as he entered the sanctuary and bowed before the Lord praying about these matters, the Lord reminded him of the destiny of the ungodly.

The world is still going blindly on in unbelief and instead of receiving the truth the truth is suppressed. By God’s grace there are still many people turning to the Lord Jesus daily but that is against the tide of ungodliness. We live in an age of people “who [have] exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshipped and served the creature [man] rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).

As he waited before the Lord the psalmist realised that those people who have rejected God and refuse to have a change of heart have no expectation other than the wrath of God. He understood that such people are in dire need of mercy and forgiveness and that it was he who was in the most blessed state.

Jesus related an account of a certain rich man and a beggar named Lazarus to give us understanding when we observe these things (Luke 16:19-31). The most necessary thing for people is to hear and believe God’s word. Jesus said, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). At Easter we give special attention to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is another opportunity God has given us to share the truth with family, friends and acquaintances.

True to Kind

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” 2 Timothy 2:13

This must be one of the most comforting verses in the Bible for the one who knows the heart of God and knows his own heart. It is one of the reasons why Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd. We are prone to wander from the truth back into worldly ways of thinking but the Good Shepherd keeps steering us into ‘green pastures.’

We are told in the Bible that there are two things God cannot do; He cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18) and He cannot “deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). These relate to His Person. In contrast there are passages that tell us that nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 1:37) but these relate to His activity in the world.

The very origin and root of sin is that Satan provoked Adam and Eve to doubt both of these aspects of God’s nature that He cannot do. He cannot lie and He cannot think, speak or act contrary to His Divine Nature. The combination of these two is where the true believer finds their assurance, comfort and peace.

When we read God’s word we are sure that He is not telling lies or trying to hide things from us. We know that he does not speak with hypocrisy and will not set a trap for us. When we have doubts about this it is easy to know who is behind those doubts. Satan has been doing this ever since he spoke with Eve in the Garden of Eden. He is well practiced by now but we have the whole Bible that will expose his lie.

In the Bible we also discover that there are many ways in which we may think that God is not faithful to His word. Again, our sinful hearts have a bias to consider God unfaithful but as we read the Bible and reflect on our own lives we will discover that He is and always has been faithful to who He is. The world does not see it that way but that is because their idea of godly traits is different to the revelation of God in the Bible.

One of the most common of complaints is used in other relationships as well. Essentially it is that if you don’t give me what I want, you don’t love me. This is a form of manipulation and no one should allow themselves to be manipulated in this way. That would not be love at all and it destroys the relationship. God will not be manipulated.

Love is sacrificially giving what the other persons needs. This is what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. “For God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Wow! Aren’t we glad that God will always love us in that way?