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Faith Bible Church, NY
March 2, 1997
Spiritual Warfare, Part 6
Girded with Truth, Part 4
Lies Against God’s Goodness & Love
Truth is essential in our battle with Satan because he is a liar and his lies have resulted in the destruction of many non-Christians condemned to hell and Christians wasting their lives. Truth is the first piece of equipment we must put on in order to stand firm against our adversary. This is no easy task – 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 wiling to search for it.” In addition it is popular in America to determine truth by how one feels, and even when the truth is brought out there are few courageous enough to face it and even fewer who will proclaim it.
The quest for truth can be very tough, but is one we must constantly be on -it is our first line of defense against Satan. Truth is to be a mark of the Christian because our savior is “the truth” and His word is true.
This morning we will continue in our quest to prepare ourselves with the belt of truth by exposing some more of Satan’s lies. We have already exposed some of Satan’s lies against God’s existence, eternality, sovereignty, omnipotence, omnipresence, truthfulness, wisdom, holiness, righteousness, anger and justice. This morning we will expose some of his lies against God’s goodness and love. Next week we will conclude by exposing Satan’s lies against God’s mercy and grace.
LIES AGAINST GOD’S GOODNESS & LOVE
Satan’s lies against God’s goodness and love parallel each other as well as his lies against God’s mercy and grace too. Goodness is somewhat foundational because if God was not good, then He would not be loving, merciful or gracious.
We find here that Satan does not hesitate with a direct lie if it will work. His classic lie is that if God were really good and loving, then He would not allow anyone to suffer. He would not allow natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes or volcanoes 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 in our own century the Nazi holocaust, the genocide against the Armenians by the Turks, Stalin’s massacres, Cambodia’s killing fields, China’s slaughters and the recent bloodbath in Rwanda. If God was good He would not allow any of these things and if He was loving He certainly would not send those killed is such evil horrors to hell. If God were good and loving He would not allow evil to exist and effect people.
There are those rare individuals who are truly thoughtful of those who have suffered such things, but most people use this argument as a screen. It is more personal. They do not really have any altruistic concern for the welfare of the heathen. They have rejected God as being good because of their own suffering or the affliction of people they love and so they judge God as failing to be good and loving. 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. The idea is that a God who was truly good and loving would not allow evil or suffering.
I have run into people, maybe you have too, that are bitter against God because of something that had occurred in their life. Commonly it is the death of a loved one or some sort of abuse they had suffered at the hands of someone else. They accuse God of being guilty of the evil afflictions they have endured because either God caused it directly or at least He failed to prevent it from happening.
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 and justice. 2) They fail to recognize God’s goodness to them and all mankind. 3) They ignore their own culpability.
I pointed out the consequences of God’s holiness, righteousness and justice last week. The holiness and righteousness of God will not permit anything sinful in His presence. Remember what God told Moses when Moses wanted to see God’s glory. God said to Moses, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” We struggle trying to imagine such absolute 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. The nature of our being must be changed to something able to withstand the consuming fire of the glory of His holiness if we are to survive in His presence. That cannot happen apart from Jesus Christ – He is the way, the truth and the life and no man will see the Father except through Him (John 14:6)
In addition the justice of God demands that the sins of every individual be recompensed. In Ezek. 18:4 God says, 4 “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.” And since every person has sinned (Rom. 3:23), the just wage to every person is death – both physical and spiritual (Rom. 6:23). God’s justice demands the death and condemnation to hell of every man, woman and child that has ever lived. If God was not good, He could not be merciful or longsuffering and that sentence would be carried out immediately. If God was not loving there would be no grace and He would not have made provision for the atonement of man’s sins through the Lord Jesus Christ, and there is no other source of hope for salvation.
That God is loving is stated throughout the Bible. We read several of those passages in our call to worship this morning so I am not going to repeat them here except Romans 5:8. God’s greatest demonstration of love is that while we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ died in our place. That alone is sufficient to prove God’s love for all time and eternity. He need not do anything else, and yet He does in both His general goodness to us, as we shall see in a moment, and in His loving involvement with us individually.
That God is good is stated over and over in the Scriptures. 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 His creation as good and though sin has marred it, it has not eliminated the goodness of creation. Some have argued that the existence of evil precludes an all powerful good God. Evil exists because some of God’s creatures (certain angels and all 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, but judgement of all that is evil is certain. Harder to explain would be the existence of good without an all powerful good God. How would we even know what is good without an absolute standard for it being set by a good God.
God’s goodness is proclaimed in what He provides. 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.” 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 – including you (Isa 55:10). It is God that gave man both intellect and a body design that allow 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 (Ps 139) and it was His breath that gave you life (Job 33:4). Every good thing you have and every breath that you take comes only because God is good to you.
Yes, there are great disasters that occur and horrible evils committed by men against one another, but they give no evidence against the goodness of God or His love. Rather they proclaim tenuous nature of our lives and that we have better be ready to meet God as our judge at any point in time. These warnings are also then goodness to us because they help us to prepare for eternity. Is that not what Jesus said in Luke 13? 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 and we suffer the consequences of living in a fallen world that does not function according to God’s original design. Without repentance and placing our faith in Jesus Christ we will suffer those consequences throughout eternity. Those that claim God is not good do so because they are proud and arrogant in their ignorance. 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 judgement and it is out of God’s goodness that they are even allowed another day of life that perhaps they might yet repent. They reject the loving provision of redemption in Jesus Christ.
If outright denial of God’s goodness and love will not work, Satan will tone down the contradiction by perverting the truth. God is good in some portion, loving to some degree, but not enough to trust and not enough to be worshiped. This lie will vary in its magnitude and so also in its effect on people. Some will not trust God at all and reject any measure of worshiping God. Others will trust God to some limited extent, but they will not yield themselves to trust Him completely and so their worship is also limited. A lot of the counseling I do is because people believe these lies against God’s goodness and love.
One of the sure signs that a person does not really believe that God is good and 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 cannot longer do what they have always done? What if something happens to the children?
Such people are great targets for unscrupulous insurance salesmen because there is always another policy you can buy to try to protect yourself against the unforseen future. There is certainly wisdom in having insurance policies as a means of trying to fulfill your responsibilities and planning for the future, but when worry drives you decisions, when anxiety keeps you from sleeping, when fear controls you, then you have a problem, and that problem is with 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. Certainly they will affirm the promise of the Scriptures, but they just do not really believe them. Yes, they acknowledge that Jesus will be with them even unto the end of the age (Mt. 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 8:28, – 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 they do not really believe. Instead they fear that what God will do or allow to be done to them will not be good.
Many Christians are very susceptible to the devil’s lies at this point because poor theology, shallow Bible knowledge and a perverted gospel have left them with the idea that God’s goodness and love means nothing bad can happen to them. The concept they have developed is that because God is good and loves them He has a put together a wonderful plan for their life that will let them live carefree doing most anything they want without any troubles or trials. Such Christians then lose faith when they are affected by a natural disaster or suffer evil at the hands of others. And bad things to happen to Christians.
Christians are killed and injured in earthquakes. Christians lose their homes to hurricanes. Christians are mugged and robbed. Christian women are raped. Christians do get cancer and other horrible diseases. Does this mean that God is not good? That God does not love His Children? Many Christians feel that way even if they are not willing to state it.
All suffering is the consequence of sin – our sin, other peoples sin and living in a fallen, sin filled world. The suffering means we are not home yet. We are still awaiting final redemption from this sin filled world as Paul point out in Rom. 8. In verse 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 His love for us through Jesus Christ that we have a hope for the glory of heaven.
To often we also quickly forget that the Christian life is about Christ and His glory, not us and our comfort. Just because you do not have the ease of life you would like or someone else has what you envy does not mean in any way that God is not good to you. We forget that Romans 5 and James 1 both clearly say 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 lesson God can teach you. 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” (Phil 4:13) but seem unaware that the context of “all things” there is learning to be content in any circumstance we may encounter in life. Paul learned to be content as he endured many tribulations.
How many of us could react like Joseph did to his trials. 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 years old. Joseph spent the next 13 years as a slave and then in jail after being falsely accused. It would be well more than 20 years before he would see his family again. What was Joseph’s attitude toward God and His brothers after all this? Gen. 50:20 – “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 did evil others did against him.
Jesus said that in this life we would have tribulation but that we could be of good cheer because He had overcome the world (Jn 16:33).
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. 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 with 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.
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. God is so good and loving that He will not condemn people to hell. God will accept me as I am.
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 righteous so that you can come into God’s presence. Otherwise, as I have already pointed out, God’s holiness and justice will exclude you. And remember 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 by conforming you into the image of His Son. Holiness will become 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 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.
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