Lies About God 3: “We Must Choose Between A Life We Enjoy and A Life Serving God”

Many people think that the key to the Christian life is to deny yourself of all pleasure, and live a life of boredom.  For them, all pleasure is sin, and desires are to be denied.

But the truth is that desires are God-given and good; where we go wrong is in trying to fulfill them in ways outside of God’s plan.  The problem is not that we have desires, but how we try to satisfy them.

God Himself takes pleasure in His Son (Matthew 17:5; Isaiah 42:1; Colossians 1:19), in His creation, and in His people as we glorify Him.  He promises us “abundant life” (John 10:10), and that if we will find our delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart (Ps. 37:4).  Yet, in spite of these great promises, we still choose to seek joy and pleasure elsewhere.

This very simply is because of unbelief, and unbelief is the very root of sin.  Adam and Eve did not believe that they would really die if they ate the fruit, and so they did.  They thought that what they would gain by eating would bring them more pleasure and joy than if they did not eat.  They lived in a perfect world, in intimate fellowship with God, but chose something far below that, which resulted in separation from God and physical death.  And we do the same thing.

Not to say that there is no pleasure in sin – of course there is.  If there were not, it would be no problem.  But what sin brings cannot really even be rightly called “pleasure” when compared with what God offers to us.  Yet we often settle for it, and then wonder why we’re left with regret, guilt and emptiness.  A well-know quote from C.S. Lewis puts it well:

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak.  We are halfhearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

So the Christian life is not about denying ourselves pleasure, but choosing what will bring us the most pleasure – and that is always going to be obedience to God.  It’s really a “no-brainer”; it’s choosing the holiday at the sea over making mud pies.  And, in choosing to live life serving God faithfully, we are actually choosing the most satisfying life possible.

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Lies About God 2: “God is obligated to save people from other religions”

What about people who never hear the name of Jesus, and never read a Bible?  Is it fair for God to send them to hell when they never had a chance to accept Christ?

“The heavens declare the glory of God”, according to Psalm 19.  Nature itself is a testimony to God (Rom. 1:18-21), and because of that, those who ignore it and reject him are “without excuse” (v. 20).  Furthermore, the moral law of right and wrong is “written on their hearts” (Rom. 2:15), though no one lives up to it.  So we see that nature can not give us what we need.

One may say, “But what if someone sincerely seeks God, in their own way?”  This may sound good, but it neglects to deal with mankind’s problem.  The requirement to stand before God and escape judgment is not sincerity – it’s righteousness.  We can not achieve that through our own works, no matter how sincere we are.  There is only One who can give us that, and His name is Jesus.

“Is God fair?” is really a loaded question that depends on the standard of fairness, and He gets the privilege of deciding that.  He is not obligated to save anyone; however, He must be just in all He does.  Are we being arrogant to say that Jesus is the only way?  No, because it’s not our plan.  Considering these things makes clear just how urgent a task it is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Most who are worried about those in other religions are not concerned enough about themselves.

I’m Encouraging Intolerance On This

In Proverbs 6:16-19, there is a list of 7 things that God hates, and 3 of them deal directly with speech:

16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

There are some things that simply must not be tolerated, both in the life of the believer and in the church body.  Sins willfully committed against each other with words are on that list.  We are setting a new standard of intolerance for this kind of behavior in our group.  The goal is to make our Student Ministry a place where verbal abuse of each other is not welcomed, and where people who are prone to this cannot find anyone to listen to them or participate in it.

Most everyone would say they’ve been a victim of gossip, but hardly anyone ever thinks that they are a gossip.  Nobody likes drama, yet some are always in the middle of it.  This affects everyone in the group at one time or another, and will only be overcome by fighting it together.  It’s not someone else’s responsibility – “It Stops With Me”.

1. If this is not a problem for you, you can help fight it; in fact, nothing will change much if you do not.  The best tactic, when someone starts to involve you in their sin of gossip, is to just walk away.  Even if you don’t repeat it again, by listening you are part of the problem.

2. If you do have trouble controlling your tongue, you need to repent, get right with God and those you’ve hurt, and stop.  If you’re really brave, ask your close friends to call you out if they hear you starting to do it again.

3. If you like spreading gossip and lies about others, and have no desire or plan to stop, then you need to understand that your behavior is no longer welcome.  We will do anything we can to help you overcome this wicked sin, but you will no longer have a place where you can practice it without consequences.  Our goal is to create a spirit of unity and peace that will make you unable to continue spreading your poison as a part of our group.

If someone walked in and started slashing people with a knife, we would do whatever is necessary to stop them.  We can no longer simply sit by and allow people to do the same thing with their words.

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”