Faith or Fear
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on June 13, 2021 at 7:45 PM|
1 Corinthians 10:13
The question arose in our Bible study: “What if I ask God for something that isn’t good for me and He gives it to me?”*1 Such a question gives rise to more. “Is God the author of evil?”*2 “Does God ever test us?”*3
The second question requires an answer first. Is God the author of evil? Scripture holds answers for us. James 1:13 tells us “God cannot be tempted by evil and He, Himself, does not tempt anyone”. Jesus’ temptation in the desert was clearly from Satan (Matthew 4). When God’s judgment [calamity, disaster] falls, many would call that an evil, but it is not morally wrong to punish sin. To understand the moral nature of God, we need to know that sin is not a created thing, but rather our response to circumstance, the lack of moral perfection in a fallen creature.
How would it be possible to trust a God who is the author of confusion, One who wavers from one decision to another, One who possibly lies? Paul assures us “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). The arch-enemy of God is known to be the Father of lies. Jesus gives us a bio on the devil – a murderer from the beginning, in whom there is no truth (John 8:44). On the other hand scripture defines the character of God. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and then not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19). Perhaps we should consider – if God warned of judgment for sin and did not perform it, could we trust His word?
This gives rise to another question. “Does God mean what He says?” We know Adam and Eve fell from grace when they questioned God’s word. Satan helped them: “Did God really say….?” (Genesis 3:1). We need to be careful as we read scripture not to question what God has said. That attitude determines if we are indeed people of faith.
Another question that sometimes gives rise to fear is “Does God ever test us?” Of course He does. The Psalmist prayed: “Test me, O Lord, and try me; examine my heart and my mind” (Psalm 26:2). Perhaps that seems like quite a bold prayer. That creates a transparent relationship between us and God so that we can/will keep short accounts when we sin. Most of us have things in our lives we wouldn’t want spread across the news, but God Almighty already knows these things. Does that strike fear into our innermost being, or do we trust His mercy and His grace? Job knew what it meant to be tested and praised God that “When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
Back to our first question. Will God give us things that are not good for us? It may seem so on the surface, but underneath are the Everlasting Arms. Do we trust Him completely to bring good out of difficult situations. What determines whether something is good for us – our comfort, our convenience, our success?…and the list goes on. What are the lessons we learn during those times of testing? Would we have learned to trust Him under happier circumstances? In the end we can trust God to give us what we need.
What exquisite joy - knowing He never leaves us or forsakes us! And – we have His promise for those times when we may even be tempted: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man”. Is there any comfort in knowing others have gone through similar circumstances and come out on the other side glorifying God?....Paul continues “And God is faithful! He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Faith or fear? Which defines your earthly pilgrimage? “There is no fear in love – perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). However, there is another implication in the word fear. People who truly fear God [respect, honour, glorify God] know His Holy Word is to be trusted. They know they are accepted by His loving heart, warts and all. People who live in fear of judgment don’t understand the amazing character of our Sovereign Lord. Even in failure, God gives us hope. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). His faithfulness is the cornerstone of our Christian faith, and casts out fear. When things get tough do we have the right to accuse God of bringing evil into our lives?*2 Are we afraid we may not pass the test?*3 Or, will we celebrate the goodness of God, which equips us for victory?