Lies Against God’s Goodness & Love

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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY

February 22, 2009
Spiritual Warfare, Pt. 10: Girded with Truth, Pt. 7
Lies Against God’s Goodness & Love

 

Introduction

Truth is essential in our battle with Satan for he is a liar and his lies have resulted in the destruction of both many Christians and non-Christians. Unbelievers blinded by his deceit and their own desires store up for themselves God’s wrath which will result in their eternal condemnation to Hell unless they recognize the truth and repent from their sin. Multitudes of Christians waste their lives in spiritual defeat because they have allowed themselves to be deceived by the devil instead of knowing and holding fast to God’s word.

The belt of truth is the first piece of equipment Paul describes in Ephesians 6:14 as he explains spiritual warfare and what God has provided us so that we can obey His command to stand firm against our adversary. This is no easy task for Satan’s lies can be very subtle and truth is not easily discerned. Johann von Goethe wrote, “It is easier to perceive error than to find truth, for the former lies on the surface and is easily seen, while the later lies in the depth, where few are willing to search for it.” In addition, the paradigm shift to post-modernism that has been taking place in America has made it popular, if not normal in many social subcultures, to determine truth by how one feels regardless of the factual evidence. We increasingly find that few seek the truth, fewer are courageous enough to face it, and even fewer who will proclaim it.

While the search for truth can be tough, it must be a constant quest for it is our first line of defense against Satan. Truth is to be a mark of the Christian because we are to reflect our Savior who is “the truth” (John 14:6) and whose His word is true (John 17:17).

This morning we will continue in our quest to prepare ourselves with the belt of truth by exposing some more of Satan’s lies. Over the last couple of months we have already exposed some of Satan’s lies against God’s existence (See: The Belt of Truth: God’s Existence), God’s infinite nature  (See: God’s Infinity), God’s truthfulness (See: God’s Veracity) and His wisdom (See: God’s Wisdom), God’s holiness (See: God’s Holiness), and last week, God’s righteousness and justice (See: God’s Righteousness & Justice). This morning I want us to look at God’s goodness and love and expose some of Satan’s lies against them.

Denial of God’s Goodness & Love

Satan’s lies against God’s goodness and love parallel each other and they are related to God’s mercy and grace which we will be looking at next week. Goodness is somewhat foundational because if God was not good, then He would not be loving, merciful or gracious.

Satan does not hesitate with a direct lie if it will work. His classic lie is a bold face denial that God is good and loving by the argument that if God were really good & loving, then He would not allow anyone to suffer. The premise is that because suffering exists, then either God cannot stop the suffering or will not stop it or both. The first part of the argument is that if God cannot stop the suffering, then He is a finite being limited in power and ability to carry out His will. He would be subject to circumstances instead of sovereign over them, or perhaps He does not even exist. Either way, God becomes inconsequential if He cannot stop suffering. However, we have already seen in this series that Satan’s lies and slander against God’s infinite nature do not hold up. God is infinite in relationship to time, space, knowledge, power and rule. God does not lack in ability in any manner. God is the only eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and sovereign being. Those attributes are what set Him apart from all creation and therefore intrinsically holy.

The second aspect to the argument is that if God is able and was good and loving then He would not allow natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes and wildfire to kill and maim so many people. He would not allow the sufferings caused by war and crime to continue. He would not have allowed so many great atrocities to have occurred throughout history including the massive murders in the last century such as the Nazi holocaust, the genocide of the Armenians by the Turks, Stalin’s direct massacres and forced starvations, Cambodia’s killing fields, the Communist purgings in China, the bloodbath in Rwanda as well as the continuing murders and wars waged by Islamic thugs and terrorists around the world. Satan argues that if God was good He would not allow any of these things, and if He was loving He certainly would not send those murdered to the horrors of hell. The devil is the actual purveyor of these atrocities since he is both the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44), yet he attempts to put the blame on God for allowing evil to exist. In a real sense the devil blames God for creating him and then allowing him to exist after his fall.

Now there are those rare individuals who are truly thoughtful of those who have suffered such things. They have real compassion and desire to alleviate suffering as they can and end it if possible. Such people might think deeply about the philosophical questions involved, but most people only use this argument as a screen. It is more personal for them. They do not really have any altruistic concern for the welfare of others. They are not the ones personally going to disaster areas to help, and if they do contribute some money or supplies, it is only a pittance of what they could actually give. They have means and ability but do nothing or little, yet they still think themselves to be good and loving. Their argument against God is quite hypocritical, but rarely do they recognize that their very claim against God is a condemnation of themselves.

Most people who use this argument to reject God as being good and loving is because of their own personal suffering or the affliction of people they love. They judge God as failing to be good and loving because He has not done for them what they desire. They take the truth of God being sovereign and use it to accuse Him of being responsible for whatever they or their loved ones have suffered concluding that He must be evil and cruel instead of good and loving.

I have had, and I am sure most of you also have had encounters with people who are bitter against God because of something that had occurred in their life, or perhaps you were that position yourself at one time. It is not unusual for this to develop in people after the death of a loved one or some sort of abuse or great tragedy they have suffered. They accuse God of being guilty of the evil they have endured because in their mind God either caused it directly or failed to prevent it from happening.

Refuting the Denial

The lie in all of these cases is the same and it is believed for the same reasons. 1) They forget about God’s holiness, righteousness & justice. 2) They ignore their own culpability 3). They fail to recognize God’s goodness and love demonstrated to them and all mankind. 4) They think God is like them and views life in the same way they do

God’s Holiness, Righteousness & Justice. I pointed out the consequences of God’s holiness, righteousness and justice over the last few weeks. The holiness and righteousness of God will not permit anything sinful in His presence. First, the holiness of God sets Him apart from all creation so that there is a chasm between us that we cannot bridge ourselves. Remember what God told Moses when Moses wanted to see God’s glory, a glory that emanates from God’s holiness. God told Moses, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (Exodus 33:20). We struggle trying to imagine such absolute glory and perfection and the implications of it, but God is absolutely holy and we cannot exist in a defiled state before Him. We would be as a moth consumed in the flame of a candle. We must be holy in order to withstand the consuming fire of His glory if we are to survive in His presence.

Second, God is intrinsically righteous because He is absolutely virtuous, upright, faultless and guiltless. In addition, He is the perfect law giver and the standard of each of these characteristics. True righteousness cannot be known apart from Him.

Third, the justice of God is without partiality (Rom. 2:11). God cannot be bribed (Deuteronomy 10:17), and because He is omniscient, all the facts are known to Him. God’s judgements are based solely upon the deeds of the person (1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 20:11-15).

God’s holiness, righteousness and justice must be kept in mind when considering God’s goodness and love. God’s holiness sets Him apart from man’s understanding. We do not have the whole picture of what God is or is not doing and therefore are without ability to discern much less impartially judge any of the specifics of what God does or does not do. God’s righteousness sets the standard of what is right and wrong, and God’s justice demands that He carry out justice according to that standard of righteousness. The ability to discern good and evil, right and wrong cannot be known except by God’s righteousness and justice. Man’s attempt to judge God by any other standard only reveals man’s unrighteousness.

Man’s Culpability. I have yet to meet someone who tries to argue that God is not good that recognizes their own culpability. They have this twisted idea that if they can bring God down to a level equal to or lower than their own moral standards that somehow that will enable them to escape His judgment. The question of God’s goodness has no bearing on whether you will be judged or not, only on the equity of the judgment pronounced. An evil judge can be arbitrary, and since man has nothing to offer God as a bribe, then the judgment of an evil God would be according to whatever whim He had at the moment. Such a God would be more dangerous because there would be no means to know how to appease Him. Yet it is man’s guilt before God that pushes him to these ludicrous concepts in the effort to somehow escape God’s righteous and just judgment. The very attribute they attack, His goodness, is the attribute that ensures they will be judged. Why?

First, man is not holy and without holiness no man will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). Man can only become holy when he is set apart unto God through faith in Jesus Christ for Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no man will see the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

Second, man does not meet God’s standard of righteous and his self-effort to achieve righteousness by his own means and methods will always fail. Man wants to determine right and wrong for himself and in his hypocritical self delusion man may think he meets the standard he has set up, but the truth is that man fails even in that. Paul explained and warned in Romans 2:1, “Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” Those who argue against God’s goodness and love want to judge God by their own measure, but they even fail in the application of that standard in their own life. God is the one that determines whether something is good or evil, right or wrong.

Third, God’s justice demands that all the requirements of His law be met including the just punishment of those that fail to do so. In Ezekiel 18:4 God says, “Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.” Since every person has sinned (Romans 3:23), then the just wages to every person is both physical and spiritual death (Romans 6:23). The violation of God’s law demands His justice to be executed. If there were no means to temper God’s justice, then that judgment would need to be immediate and all of mankind, every man, woman or child that has every existed, would be without hope or recourse against His wrath and condemnation to eternal Hell. If God was not good and loving that is what would have to happen.

It is God’s goodness and love that tempers His justice and gives Him the attributes of patience, longsuffering, and mercy. Those attributes delay the execution of that condemnation from immediate to future. It is God’s goodness and love that also give rise to His attribute of grace by which He makes provision for the forgiveness of man’s sin. Justice still has to be satisfied, but that is now done through the substitutionary atonement of man’s sins by Jesus Christ. That payment of the sin price is applied to an individual human by God’s grace through faith in the person and work of Christ. Salvation from sin and its eternal consequences is founded in God’s goodness and love, and there is no other source of hope outside of Jesus Christ.

God’s Love. God’s attribute of love is a stated fact of Scripture and it is evidenced throughout the Bible. The apostle John states it directly in 1 John 4:8 that God is love. The apostle Paul referred to Him as the “God of love” through whom we can have peace (2 Corinthians 13:11). Ephesians 2:4 tells us that God’s great mercy arises because of the love by which He has loved us. If these things were not true we would be in huge trouble because God is also a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). If that “consuming fire” was unloving, then I would definitely flee, but if it is loving, though I might still be somewhat afraid at first, I would end up being comforted by the immensity and power of it, because now it would be my protector. An analogy to this would be a young child afraid of the size and power of dad, especially if that power is being displayed, yet finding peace and comfort in that same man when that power is directed in the protection of the child.

The love of God is not like that of man. We have fond feelings of affection toward others that come and go depending on the attractiveness or value we place on others. God’s love is not based in anything in us. It is a love that is chosen and set upon another that seeks their best interest even at the cost of self-sacrifice. A man might do that for a friend. Jesus said in John 15:13 that “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” But God went way beyond this and demonstrated His love even toward those who have set themselves as His enemies. Paul said in Romans 5:7-8, “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This act alone is sufficient to prove God’s love for all time and eternity. God does not need to do anything else, and yet He does in both His general goodness to us and in His loving involvement with us individually.

Satan also lies against God’s personal involvement with us. The deists of the 17th – 19th centuries expressed that lie in their belief that God is a first cause only and without any direct intervention in the natural order afterward. That idea also resulted in their denial of the Trinity, the incarnation, the divine authority of the Bible, the atonement, miracles and Israel as God’s chosen people. The legacy of deism exists in the idea of mechanism and in literary higher criticism of Scripture. Though few would identify themselves today as deists, many do hold to their manner of thinking and view God as distant, abstract, uninvolved and therefore unloving.

However, the evidence of God’s loving intervention is strong. The Bible itself must be rejected to believe otherwise because it is the record of God’s direct intervention in the affairs of men through many miracles and the incarnation of Jesus Christ, His life, death and resurrection. God’s promise is to continue to intervene culminating in the consummation of the ages in His return. The invitation throughout the Bible is to come to God to worship and pray to Him. The God that numbers the hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30) wants you to bring your prayers and cast your cares upon Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). That is why the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (James 5:16). God’s love is personal as well as universal.

God’s Goodness. That God is good is stated over and over again in the Bible. His goodness is proclaimed in the fact that good even exists, for all that is good is from His hand. In Genesis 1 God proclaimed each day of creation as good and then all of it as “very good” on the last day. Though sin has marred creation since then, it has not eliminated the evidence of God’s goodness in creation. It is from God’s hand that we get everything we need for life. It is God that provides sun and rain for plants and food for all creation which includes you (Isaiah 55:10). It is God that gave man both intellect and a body design that allows us to take raw materials from the earth and manufacture them into useful things. It is God that knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139), and it was His breath that gave you life (Job 33:4). James 1:17 states that “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” Every good thing you have and every breath that you take comes only because God is good to you.

Those who argue that the existence of evil precludes an all powerful good God error in their argument because they are shortsighted. They are bound up in the fabric of time and their own very limited experience. They do not understand the universe from the vantage point of eternity as God does. The occurrence of a crime does not preclude the existence of a powerful police force and good judicial system. It only precludes that the police and judges have not yet concluded their good actions in bringing the criminal to justice.

Evil exists because some of God’s creatures, specifically certain angels and all of mankind, have rebelled against Him. Evil continues on in the present time only because God is longsuffering and is patiently working out His plan of redemption for His own glory. This patient endurance does not preclude God’s power or His goodness. It only reveals additional attributes of God. Paul explains some of the reason for this patience in Romans 9:21-24. “Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And [He did so] in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 [even] us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” Let me quickly add that the verb tense in the phrase “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” is called a reflexive middle. It is between our concept of active and passive. The vessels of wrath are involved in preparing themselves for destruction. God patiently endures evil in the present for His own purposes, but the judgment of all that is evil is certain.

Harder to explain for those who argue against God’s goodness and love is the existence of even the concept of good if there is not a good God who has set an absolute standard. What is the source of the standard by which they want to determine what is good? If you use evolution, there is no ultimate purpose to anything except survival, so anything that benefits the survival of yourself and your offspring would be “good.” If societal acceptance is the standard, then what society at what time? Nineteenth century America? Twenty-first century Denmark? Nazi Germany or North Korea at present? Is Islamic terrorism a legitimate moral benchmark since it is accepted and promoted among the so called “Palestinians,” Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Queda, and funded by Iran? Is slavery acceptable because it is still practiced in many third world countries to this day? What about the oppression and abuse of women occurring in many societies in which women are viewed as the personal property of the men? Is lying and deceit okay? It was to a tribe in New Guinea that thought Judas was the hero of the Gospel accounts because they highly valued the ability to deceive and betray a friend. If the standard is personal, as is advocated in our own society by the secularists, then why is your standard used instead of mine? What objection could you have against someone that considered it right and good to embezzle, sell drugs to children, sexually exploit teens, and take vengeance into their own hands for every real or perceived slight by someone else? That would quickly reduce to the idea that might makes right so that the morality of the strong prevails over everyone else. Humans cannot define what is good except there be an absolute standard of good outside themselves, and that standard is the righteousness of a good God.

Man’s Arrogance. Those that claim that God is not good do so because they are proud and arrogant in their ignorance. They project upon God their own thoughts and feelings under the false assumption that God must be like them. Man is both finite and sinful and it is foolish for Him to try to judge the actions of an infinite and holy being. They fail to recognize that they are under God’s judgment and it is out of God’s goodness that they are even allowed another day of life that perhaps they might yet repent (2 Peter 3:9).

We fully recognize that there are great disasters that occur and that horrible evils are committed by men against one another, but these give no evidence against the goodness of God or His love. Instead, they proclaim the tenuous nature of our lives and that we better be ready to meet God as our judge at any point in time. These warnings are a goodness to us because they help us to prepare for eternity. Is that not what Jesus said in Luke 13:1-5? 1 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And He answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were [greater] sinners than all [other] Galileans, because they suffered this [fate?] 3 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were [worse] culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Suffering occurs because sin has consequences. We suffer the consequences of our own sin. We suffer the consequences of the sin of others. We suffer the consequences of living in a fallen and cursed world that does not function according to God’s original design. Those that reject God’s goodness also reject the loving provision of redemption in Jesus Christ. Without repentance, turning from sin and to God and placing our faith in Jesus Christ, they will suffer the consequences of their sin throughout eternity.

Slander of God’s Goodness & Love

If outright denial of God’s goodness and love will not work, Satan will tone down the contradiction by just perverting the truth instead of directly denying it. The devil suggests that God is good in some portion and perhaps loving to some degree, but not enough to trust and not enough to be worshiped. This was the lie Satan used in the Garden of Eden. Satan did not brashly accuse God of being evil, he only suggested that God was withholding something good from Eve. Satan falsely claimed that eating the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would open her eyes and make her like God, knowing good and evil. It did open her eyes to know the reality of evil, but not like God, but like Satan. God’s goodness was slandered to remove the good protection from experiencing sin and its consequences provided by God prohibition.

Satan’s slander will vary in its magnitude and so also in its effect on people. Some that fall for it will not trust God at all. Others will trust God to some limited extent, but they will not yield themselves to trust Him completely. A lot of the counseling I do is because people believe these denigrations of God’s goodness & love.

One of the sure signs that a person does not really believe that God is good and therefore loving is that they do not trust Him for the future. They worry. They are anxious. They are afraid of what might happen. What if they lose their job? What if they end up in severe financial difficulty? What if some medical problem arises that handicaps them? What if they can no longer do what they have always done? What if something happens to the children? What if? Planning for the future is wise, but when worry drives you decisions, when anxiety keeps you from sleeping, when fear controls you, then you have a problem in trusting God. You do not trust Him because you do not believe He is good or loving enough to watch over you and care for you.

Satan is subtle and a lot of Christians have stumbled over his lies at this point. Most will say they believe the promises of Scripture, but their actions show that they really don’t. They may acknowledge Jesus’ promise to be with them even unto the end of the age (Matthew 28:20), but in practical terms they take it to mean He will stand close by with His arms folded watching them drown. Many Christians have memorized Romans 8:26, – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose, but for too many it is a nice cliche but not a reality they actually believe. They fear that what God will do or allow to be done to them will not work together for good.

Poor theology, shallow Bible knowledge and a perverted gospel have left many susceptible to the false idea that God’s goodness and love means that nothing bad can happen to them. They have been sold the lie that because God is good and loves them He has a wonderful plan for their life that will let them live carefree doing most anything they want without any troubles or trials. Such people then lose faith when they experience a natural disaster or suffer evil at the hands of others.

We should not be afraid to acknowledge that bad things do happen to Christians. Believers are killed and injured in earthquakes. Christians lose their homes to hurricanes and tornadoes. Saints get mugged and robbed. Christian women are raped. Believers do get cancer and other horrible diseases. Does this mean that God is not good? That God does not love His children? Many professing Christians feel that way even if they are not willing to state it.

All suffering is the consequence of sin – our sin, other people’s sin, and living in sin filled fallen world. The suffering means we are not home yet. We are still awaiting final redemption from this sin cursed world as Paul points out in Romans 8:18, he says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” He then goes on to describe our longing for heaven and final redemption. It is because God is good and loving that we have a hope for the glory of heaven.

Too often we quickly forget that the Christian life is about Christ and His glory and not about us and our comfort here on earth. Just because you do not have the ease of life you would like or that someone else does have what you envy does not mean in any way that God is not good to you. We forget that both Romans 5 & James 1 clearly says that it is through troubles and trials that God matures us and conforms us into the image of His Son. If you believe Satan’s lie here, you will fail to learn the lessons God wants you to learn. You will continue to go through life self centered and falsely accusing God. We like to claim the promise that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) but seem unaware that the context of “all things” there is learning to be content in any & all circumstances we may encounter in life. Paul learned to be content as he endured many tribulations.

How many of us could react like Joseph? His brothers were jealous of him and hatred him so much they were planning to kill him. They sold him as a slave when he was just 17. Joseph spent the next 13 years as a slave and then in jail after being falsely accused. It would be well over 20 years before he would see his family again. What was Joseph’s attitude toward God and his brothers after all this? Genesis 50:20 records, “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Joseph believed in the goodness of God and saw His loving hand at work even when he was suffering from the evil others did against him.

John 16:33 records that Jesus told His followers, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” We need to take heed to what 1 Peter 4:12-13 tells us, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.

Troubles and trials in this life are to be expected. Paul told Timothy, “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). It is because God is good that we have hope in the midst of anything that comes against us. And as Paul says in Romans 5:5, that hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” We are assured of God’s goodness and love. It was proven on the cross.

In a few moments we are going to celebrate the Lord’s Supper which is a time when we look back to the cross and remember the price Jesus paid for our sins, but before we do, there is one other great lie against God’s goodness and love I need to expose.

Satan spends much time trying to get people to believe that God is not good or loving, but the opposite extreme has also been useful to Him. The idea that God is so good and loving that He will not condemn people to hell. The idea that God will accept me as I am without expectation of change.

God does offer salvation to you just as you are, but He will not and cannot accept you until you have repented from your sins and placed your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins. Only in Jesus Christ can you be made holy and righteous so that you can come into God’s presence. Otherwise, God’s holiness and justice will exclude you. Take note as well that once you have come to Jesus for salvation, God is not going to leave you as you were. God will immediately begin the work of sanctification. He will change you and conform you into the image of His Son. Holiness will become your desire and righteousness the increasing practice of your daily life.

Do not trample on the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the price that was paid for your transgressions against God, by magnifying the love of God to the degree that it disregards His holiness, righteousness and justice. Heaven and Hell are both real places. Those who reject Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior reject God’s love and there is no other option for them but hell. But praise be to God, that His goodness and love have been offered to us in Jesus Christ and this morning we can come with thanksgiving for the forgiveness of sins.

Let’s prepare for communion by quietly praying and confessing any sins that we may have committed including the lies about God we may have believed as well as thanking Him for loving us so much that Jesus Christ died in our place.

KIDS CORNER
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – 1) Count how many times the words “goodness” and “love” are mentioned. 2) Talk with your parents about what makes you doubt God’s goodness and love.

THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why do so many Christians live in spiritual defeat? Has this been true in your own life? How was it / could it be overcome? Why is truth so important in spiritual warfare? How does Satan seek to deny that God is good and loving? Does the existence of suffering preclude a good and all powerful God? Why or why not? Who or what is the source of evil in this world? Why do people desire to accuse God of not being good and loving? What do they hope to gain? How do God’s attributes of holiness, righteousness and justice contribute to refuting the accusation that God is not good? What is man’s culpability before God? Does the question of God’s goodness have on any bearing on God judging man? Explain. How does God’s goodness and love affect His justice? What would God’s justice demand if God was not good and loving? How is God’s justice satisfied so that man can be forgiven? What evidence demonstrates God’s love? What are some of the problems with the theology of the deists? How do we know that God is personally involved with humans? How have you seen God personally involved in your life? What evidence is there that God is good? What helps you personally to believe that God is good? Why does evil & suffering exist? What is its source? What are some reasons that God tolerates evil at the present time? What are the dangers of each of the following being used as a standard of determining what is good: Evolution? Societal acceptance / approval? Personal acceptance / approval? How did the devil slander God’s goodness in Genesis 3 without directly denying it? Do you have fears about the future – is there anything about which you are anxious and worry? Do you see any connection with that and a lack of trust in God? Do you believe God’s promises? Are there any promises God has made that would give you peace? How have you seen God use trials in your life to make you more mature? How have you seen Christ give you peace in the midst of persecution? What must man do in response to God’s offer of salvation from sin in order to be saved? Have you done that?

The next sermon in this series is: (See: Spiritual Warfare Part 11; The Belt of Truth, Part 8: Lies Against God’s Mercy & Grace )

Sermon Notes – 2/22/2009

Spiritual Warfare, Part 10; The Belt of Truth, Part 7: Lies Against God’s Goodness & Love

Introduction

Christians live in spiritual ______because they believe the devil’s lies instead holding to the word of God

Few ______the truth; fewer have the courage to face the truth; fewer still are willing to proclaim the truth

Denial of God’s Goodness & Love

Satan’s denial is based on the premise that God would not allow __________if He were good & loving

Corollary: If God cannot stop suffering, He is inconsequential because He is either ______or non-existent

Truth: God is ____________. He is infinite in respect to time, space, knowledge, power & rule.

Corollary: If God is able and _________, He would not allow suffering in His creation.

Truth: The ________is the source of evil, yet tries to blame God for evil be He lets the devil exist.

Few people have altruistic ___________for those suffering. People hypocritically ______God’s goodness

People ___________God for the suffering they or a loved one has experienced.

Refuting the Denial

People _______God’s character, deny their culpability, ignore God’s goodness & think God is like _____

The ______________of God sets Him apart from all creation and therefore make Him holy.

God is intrinsically ____________because He is absolutely virtuous, upright, faultless and guiltless

The justice of God is ____________ and based solely on the deeds of the person.

Man does not _____________ God, the eternal perspective, or justice based on true righteousness

Man’s Culpability – Men think they can _________ God’s judgement by denying His goodness

God’s goodness has no bearing on whether you will be judged or not, only on the ______of the judgement

Man is not holy, and without ___________ no man will see the Lord – Hebrews 12:14

_____does not & cannot meet God’s standard of righteousness. He does not even meet his own – Rom. 2:1

God’s __________demands every aspect of His law be met including punishing those that fail to keep it

It is God’s goodness & love that __________His justice with patience, longsuffering and mercy

It is God’s sacrificial love that satisfies His ________to grant grace for forgiveness of sins through Jesus

God’s Love is a stated _______of Scripture & evidenced throughout the Bible – 1 John 4:8; Eph. 2:4, etc.

God’s love is not based in anything in ___. It is a chosen & self-sacrificial love for the others best interest

God’s demonstration of love in the __________of Christ proves His love for all eternity (Romans 5:7-8)

Deists and others deny God’s __________ involvement in the affairs of men

God has numbered the hairs on your head, invites you to cast your cares on Him and _______ to Him

God’s Goodness – is stated fact in the Bible and demonstrated in that good even _________

God provides everything needed for ____generally and personally (Isa. 55:10; Psalm 139; Job 33:4; Jms1:17)

Evil exists because certain angels and all of mankind has ________against God.

God’s ______endurance of evil does not preclude His goodness or power. He will _____(Romans 9:21-24)

Those who denigrate God’s goodness cannot produce a stable ________for a standard of goodness.

Man’s Arrogance – Man ________projects upon God his own thoughts falsely assuming God is like him

God ________ us to prepare for eternity – Luke 13:1-5, etc.

Suffering occurs because _______ has consequences – temporal & eternal.

Slander of God’s Goodness & Love

Satan suggests God is good and loving only to a __________ degree. – Genesis 3:5

Evidence of believing this slander is the level of ________ a person has in God for their temporal future

God’s promises are ______ (Matt. 28:20; Romans 8:26), not cliches

God has not promised Christians __________ from all suffering and tribulation.

Believers will also _______ due of their own sin, the sin of others and living in a fallen world (Rom. 8:18)

God uses tribulations ______us (Rom. 5; Jm 1; Phil 4:13), expect them (Jn 16:33; 1 Pt. 4:12-13; 2 Tim. 3:12)

God offers salvation to you just as you are, but demands repentance and ______ to receive it.

God’s ________ does not disregard His holiness, righteousness and justice.

KIDS CORNER

Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – 1) Count how many times the words “goodness” and “love” are mentioned. 2) Talk with your parents about what makes you doubt God’s goodness and love.

THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why do so many Christians live in spiritual defeat? Has this been true in your own life? How was it / could it be overcome? Why is truth so important in spiritual warfare? How does Satan seek to deny that God is good and loving? Does the existence of suffering preclude a good and all powerful God? Why or why not? Who or what is the source of evil in this world? Why do people desire to accuse God of not being good and loving? What do they hope to gain? How do God’s attributes of holiness, righteousness and justice contribute to refuting the accusation that God is not good? What is man’s culpability before God? Does the question of God’s goodness have on any bearing on God judging man? Explain. How does God’s goodness and love affect His justice? What would God’s justice demand if God was not good and loving? How is God’s justice satisfied so that man can be forgiven? What evidence demonstrates God’s love? What are some of the problems with the theology of the deists? How do we know that God is personally involved with humans? How have you seen God personally involved in your life? What evidence is there that God is good? What helps you personally to believe that God is good? Why does evil & suffering exist? What is its source? What are some reasons that God tolerates evil at the present time? What are the dangers of each of the following being used as a standard of determining what is good: Evolution? Societal acceptance / approval? Personal acceptance / approval? How did the devil slander God’s goodness in Genesis 3 without directly denying it? Do you have fears about the future – is there anything about which you are anxious and worry? Do you see any connection with that and a lack of trust in God? Do you believe God’s promises? Are there any promises God has made that would give you peace? How have you seen God use trials in your life to make you more mature? How have you seen Christ give you peace in the midst of persecution? What must man do in response to God’s offer of salvation from sin in order to be saved? Have you done that?


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