February 19, 2014

A path to deception . . .

“If I am seeking to control God, then I am trying to make myself God.”

The black and white of that statement is so ridiculous when examined in the light of day, in the sane moments of reflection. How can I do that? God is God.

Yet at times, I’ve tried telling God what to do. Sigh. In spite of that folly, I can still answer “yes” to these questions . . .

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28)

How does a Christian who knows the Lord and has seen His power fall into the idea that I could tell God what to do? Is it for that very knowledge of Him? Is it because He has given me the experience of Himself that I get the idea that I know enough to become His counsel?

I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:14)

Does having spiritual strength lead to deception? Does knowledge of the Word of God puff up? Does victory over Satan give me some sort of special edge, or at least make me think I have such an edge? These reasons play their role, but the deeper reason is not in knowing God but in letting sinful human pride enter the picture. And pride is a dangerous thing . . .  

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

I’m reading a section of a larger book on the Life of the Children of God, by Barth, and have been utterly amazed at the complexity that he uses to explain the whys and hows of loving God and loving others. In this reading, God has opened my eyes to truths that I need. He is giving me a richer, fuller experience of Himself.

Yet, the above warning is timely. If I run true to my past, I’m in danger of letting this new awareness blow up my pride. I need to remember that knowledge is not for notches in my belt, but for action. Talking about what I have learned is useless. I must put into practice what God is teaching me. This is Christianity 101 as Paul wrote to the prideful church at Corinth . . .

Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. (1 Corinthians 4:18–20)

James also said that if I look in the mirror of God’s Word and see myself and the needs for change in my life, I must not walk away. If I don’t do anything about what He shows me, then I am in great danger of self deception. Jesus said the same thing to the Christians in Laodicea who were lukewarm in their obedience. This was also rooted in pride . . .

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (Revelation 3:17)

It is in wretchedness and poverty that God comes to my aid. It is in blindness that He opens my eyes, in nakedness that He covers me. If I start thinking I am rich and need nothing, then the worst possible consequence of such deception besides the destruction that follows pride, is missing out on whatever blessings God had planned for me. 

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