On the eve of Resurrection Sunday, the climactic triumph of Holy week, I am not feeling particularly holy. It has been a rough week, and I feel my need of a Savior. That’s probably a good thing.
People who are in good health need no physician, but the sick do. And we are sincerely grateful when we are made whole. Easter is that kind of celebration. The dead rising, the spiritually sick recovering their health!
It’s fair to say that the person who tells me I am well, when I am sick unto death, does not love me. To pat me on the head and tell me everything will be all right, when I need emergency surgery, is to do me no favors.
We all should be glad for people who love us enough to tell us the truth, even when it cuts like a knife. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Proverbs 27:6a) Our tendency is to prefer lies that encourage us to follow our own path. Below are three lies we believe to our own destruction.
- It’s enough to go to church: Some of us will be at church tomorrow for the first time since Christmas. It’s good to go to church and to hear sound Bible teaching. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
But what real difference does church attendance make in our daily lives outside the pew: the choices we make, the company we keep?
There’s a danger in hearing God’s word again and again and refusing to obey it. The danger is that we develop callous hearts that cannot hear the truth; our consciences become “seared with a hot iron.” (I Tim 4:2). Think of scar tissue, so thick that it’s impermeable.
God holds us accountable for what we know. Hebrews talks about those who have experienced the good things of God “and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.” (Heb 6:6)
- Jesus is always with us: This sounds sweet and biblical, but it’s not quite true. God is omnipresent, technically everywhere at once. But God “with us” implies more than His simply being in the neighborhood; God with me involves His personal care-taking, protection, provision, intervention.
In that sense, the question isn’t whether God is with me but whether I am with Him. The distinction is an important one. Christ is called “Emmanuel, God with us.” (Matt 1:23) Who is “us”? God’s own people.
God is particular about who He “hangs” with. He is not everyone’s homey.
When Joseph was in prison through no fault of his own, Scripture repeatedly says “the Lord was with him.” (Genesis 39) God was not with everyone in that Egyptian jail. God was with Mary and Joseph at Jesus’ birth. He clearly was not with Herod or the populace at large. God was not with Judas, Pilate, the High Priest or anyone who condemned Jesus to death on the cross.
Then, and now, God is with those who are with Him.
Study the Old Testament battles Moses and Joshua encountered. God did not go with them to battle when there was unrepentant sin in the camp. Even when they greatly outnumbered their enemies, they were forced to turn and run because God did not fight for them. God is not “with us” when we are in sin. He calls us to repent, to come out of sin, to enjoy His fellowship and blessing.
- I can always get back to the place of blessing: Maybe not. When Esau sold his birth right for a meal, he didn’t think much of it. The sacredness of the blessing meant nothing to him… then. When he later sought to regain what he had so thoughtlessly tossed aside to satisfy a fleshly appetite, he couldn’t get back to that blessed place.
Esau didn’t foresee the ramifications of his careless choice. Yet Scripture records it as character-defining, describing Esau as a “fornicator or profane person.”
“For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” Heb 12:17
Take no comfort in lies. The devil is the father of lies (John 8:44) and uses them to destroy us. Christians serve a God of Truth. Our embrace of truth is a barometer of our spiritual health.