Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Is God Holding Out on You?

"Really? " asks my youngest son.  "Really.....REALLY?" he repeats several more times. 

Over the past week, he has used this phrase with ever increasing frequency, each time his tone communicating how incredulous he is.

It doesn't matter that I have never lied to my children, nor that I don't weekly remind them that mommy will never lie to them even if the truth hurts.  There's just something in my children that doesn't want to believe what someone else tells them, even if that someone else is a loving parent with their best interests at heart.

The problem doesn't just lie with my children, though.  Grown men and women are equally doubtful of others, believing that everyone is forever holding out on them.

In fact, Satan, himself, planted the thought in Eve's mind as early as the dawn of man in the Garden of Eden.  

The book of Genesis says, "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’?” (3:1).

There it is, a mere three chapters into recorded history--the implication that God, Himself, is secretly lying, is holding out on them....is keeping the best, the naked truth for Himself.

Eve responded, 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’” (v. 2-3).

But even in her response, that tiny mustard seed of doubt must have already been growing in her mind, for she didn't walk away, didn't leave the conversation.  Instead, she waited there while Satan spun his warped version of the truth: "You will not certainly die!...For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (v. 4-5).  

God is holding out on you.  That blind obedience bit is just a ruse...don't you want to know what He's really hiding behind that threat of death?


And Eve took the bait.  She chose to disobey the one rule God had put before her because she doubted His truth; she doubted that He had her best interests at heart....she believed the lie that there was something more, that there was something better than what God had given her.

Scripture says, "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves" (v. 6-7).

As much as we want to look back at this story of original sin and click our tongues in disapproval, I would argue that this scene plays out each day, only now the setting has changed from the pure innocence of the Garden of Eden to this fallen speck of earth in a vastly expanding universe.

Satan's message is the same today as it was all those many millennia ago. And can you blame him?  Why change a sales tactic that continues to work?

"God is holding out on you," Satan continues to say to every man, woman, and child. "There is more to be had in this world than what God offers you.  There is more freedom and pleasure that God is denying you by binding you to the limitations He's set forth in Scripture and The Ten Commandments. You can become your own god...you can know all things, be all things...just reach out and take what you want."

But every word Satan whispers or yells--it's all a lie.  Jesus even said that Satan "was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies" (Jn. 8:44).

God is NOT holding out on you or me.  He isn't trying to take away all our fun, all our freedom by asking us to obey His Word as found in the Old and New Testaments.  Instead, His Word is sent to protect us from ourselves, from the ravaging damage that sin can wreak in our lives.

As James said, "Don't be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights" (Jas. 1:16-17).   Even Paul says we should "put [our] hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Tim. 6:17).  Our enjoyment!!!

If we had any questions about whether God was holding back His best gifts or knowledge from us, those questions should have been laid to rest at the foot of the cross where God demonstrated His boundless love for mankind by sending His one and only son to die for every sinful, defiant, doubtful soul.

Yes, even as man continued to believe Satan's lie, God sent the fullness of all grace and truth to us in the God-made-flesh body of Jesus Christ.  And through Jesus' death on the cross, God made a new covenant promise with mankind wherein He reconciled us to Himself so that He could give us an eternal inheritance: "Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance" (Heb. 9:15a).

Satan's sales pitch is persuasive because we can't imagine a God who holds nothing back, who never lies, who wants only the best for us.  But, it's the truth. 

The only more to be had in this life is found through salvation in Jesus.

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