“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
See John 10:10
Our Creator has received a pretty bad rap by way of humanity’s incorrect opinion. From the beginning of time, the enemy has somehow convinced us God isn’t good and He’s holding us back from enjoying our lives.
He’s whispered, “God’s design for you is pain, so you’ll snap! GOD IS BREAKING YOU DOWN! He wants you broken so you’ll have to worship and serve Him because He’s so full of Himself! Why would you want anything to do with such a monster?!”
Unfortunately, lots of people have believed this liar and as a result we’ve blamed God for many things which are not His fault.
Jennifer and I were recently watching the new movie Unbroken: Path to Redemption. It’s the follow up film about war hero, Louis Zamperini. The focus of the flick is his battle with unemployment after the war, severe alcoholism, and PTSD due to a two year stint as a POW.
To make matters worse, prior to prison camp in Japan, for 47 days he drifted at sea. His plane crashed into the ocean in 1943, during World War II. On a side note, he held the United States high school record for the fastest mile in track and also ran in the Olympics. To say the least, this man’s life was a movie. But Path to Redemption centered around Louis blaming God for all his problems–and I mean all of them.
Ironically, he was furious and salty toward a God he didn’t even believe in. Louis had the following accusations against our Creator:
- God caused the plane crash.
- God caused him to be lost at sea on a raft for a month and a half.
- God caused the Japanese army to find him and imprison him.
- God caused the Japanese army to torture him for two years.
- Once he was back at home, God caused him to not be able to find a job.
- God caused his self-pity and extreme loathing of life.
- God caused his devoted wife to not let him blow money.
- God caused him to drink.
- God caused his wife to be a nagging Christian who wanted him to stop drinking.
- God caused everyone to pick on him.
As you can see, none of this stuff was God’s fault; and contrary to popular belief, God wasn’t causing these things to happen in order to “break him” so that he would turn to faith in Jesus. God doesn’t work that way. Islam works that way (the word Islam literally means submission) and other world religions do too. But the God of the Bible is good.
Paul tells us in Romans it’s the goodness of God which leads us to repentance, not the pounding away of God (see Romans 2:4). Painful situations always come at us, but God is always working in us and through us. He’s not trying to increase our problems. His desire is to help us with them by way of His Holy Spirit. Even for those who don’t yet believe, He’s steadily pursuing their hearts and wooing them–not carrying a lasso and a billy-club. God is a gentleman offering Himself to us, never pushing Himself on us (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Galatians 5:22-23, Matthew 11:29).
Just the same as we can’t blame Bill Gates for the problems on our computer–because he invented Windows–we can’t blame God for the problems we have on earth, because He invented the universe. We flubbed it up, not Him. His plan of action to take care of our original ancestors’ mistake was redemption through His own Son, not piling on the heartache.
Even more, God is not causing havoc in our lives and then comforting us at the same time. Do you realize how many churches teach this “two-headed monster god”? A lot. Countless pastors articulate our Father as being a troublemaker and a comforter both at the same time; as if He’s here to hurt us and then swoop around and heal us. This theology is highly incorrect.
Sure, there are some religious people like that–some even church leaders–but the God of all comfort is nothing like that. Mental and physical abuse–and sometimes sexual in the name of God–may come from nasty legalists, but not from our Creator. God’s goal is to build us up, not break us down; and He definitely isn’t breaking us down to build us up. That’s not the gospel of grace, which is what Paul called this good news (see Acts 20:24).
God isn’t trying to “improve” us either. From our first moment of faith in Christ, He literally kills us on the Cross with Christ, in the supernatural realm. He then remakes us brand spanking new! We are not better versions of ourselves but whole new creations learning who we now are! As we do this we take the veil off of self improvement from our mind’s eyes and go from glory to glory in our thought life! (See Romans 6:6-10, 12:2, 1 Corinthians 6:17, 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, 5:17,21, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:3).
I understand many struggle with the incorrect idea of God harming us so that He can help us. I’ve been there. But what an absolute ogre and psychopath would our God be if this were the truth. Can you see why this notion is from hell? It is Satan who’s pit us against our doting Dad with vile and septic lies about His true character.
I’ll tell you what the main problem is: human ogres and psychopaths running churches and “Christian cults” acting as if they’re representing our Father while spitting profusely in their sermons and gritting their teeth. Countless sheep believe them just because they’re up on stage.
But it’s not simply the fact that many of these charlatans misrepresent God’s love–but also, we’ve mistaken the word discipline with punishment. There’s not a single passage in any New Testament letter that says a Christian will be punished by God. Punishment is reserved only for those who reject faith in Messiah; and there’s only one verse which mentions discipline:
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
First of all, do you see what happens through discipline? The fruit of the Spirit happens. So discipline is a good thing. Many Christians believe discipline is God laying down the hammer or whopping us with a belt. It’s not. He has already laid the hammer down in full, on Jesus, and whooped Him plenty at the Cross. Do you not realize your punishment was put on Him completely and it’s finished? Do you not know that Jesus’ body was pummeled for every single screw-up you and I would ever commit? Past, present, and future?
Yes, even in the future. Even the sins we’ve not yet committed. God is not bound by time! A day is like a thousand years to Him, and a thousand years is like a day! (See 2 Peter 3:8). He created time for us! The 24-hour rotations of the earth. The sun in which we get our seasons. These created things are for us to live out our temporary physical life as time creatures. Then we enter into eternity with or without God based on whether or not we’ve believed on Jesus, once. He resides in a realm with no time–at least as we know it. So He’s taken away all of our sins once and for all time! (See Hebrews 10:10, 1 John 3:5).
If you really think about it, how many of our sins were in the future when Jesus was punished for them? All of them. This is why we have no right to say behavior repentance and/or confession cleans us off daily. God requires blood and death for every single one of our sins! (See Hebrews 9:22, Romans 6:23). So if you’ve placed your faith in Jesus’ sacrifice, you’ve been perfectly cleansed forever. By one offering, Jesus took on your sin punishment at that exact time in human history! (See Hebrews 10:14, 1 Corinthians 6:11).
Discipline, according to God, is not the same as punishment. YOU DO NOT WANT GOD TO PUNISH YOU. TRUST ME. His punishment is not taking away your Christmas bonus or causing your car to break down. IT IS DEATH (see 2 Corinthians 5:15, 1 Peter 3:18). This is why God’s discipline doesn’t break you down. It encourages you into the truth of who you are, as well as who He is.
Discipline from God is not punishment, but discipleship. The very word discipline comes from the word disciple. So if you look to how Jesus treated His disciples in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you’ll see how God disciplines us, which is always with love and respect. Jesus and the Father are one. They aren’t playing “good-cop bad-cop” (see John 14:9).
Yes, sometimes Jesus corrected them with a firm rebuke, but He never punished any of His disciples, even when they said and did stupid stuff. His side of the relationship was always expressed with hope and caring guidance even while explaining harsh truths. Jesus is God. So this is how God treats you, today, Christian. Just look:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
I want to repeat myself for emphasis: discipline is not the same as punishment. This is crucial to understand because punishment from God only happens because of sin. But as believers, Jesus died and took those all away (see John 1:29, 1 John 3:5, Hebrews 10:4). The Cross was a huge success!
If I thought it wasn’t, and that I have to add to it to make it better–or sustain it through what I do and I don’t do–I’d be an idiot! I should doubt my salvation every day! But even more, who in the heck do I think I am, if I, a created thing, can actually do what only the blood of Jesus can do? Do you see the logic? There isn’t any in such a semi-grace doctrine! My blessed assurance isn’t so great!
God is not reactionary to our sins. Again, His reaction would be our death. Therefore He counsels us away from sin, with love, because He has recreated us in spirit to not sin (John 14:26, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:2,11, 1 John 3:9).
Let’s go back to Louis’ story. Even though he was blaming God, these painful circumstances weren’t coming from God. Instead, one or more of these five factors were the culprits:
- The world, planet earth – This place is fallen. It is broken. Death, destruction, weather and literal storms, seasons, flawed DNA, human bodies that need food and water to survive; people living here who are influenced by demonic forces, unbelievers who do not house the Spirit of God–and more–is in this world. What was once perfect is now a harsh place to have life. But–the world is not God.
- The power of sin – Not to be confused with the verbs of sinning, but the Greek word hamartia, it is a noun. It’s an actual force on this planet like gravity, which entered our physical realm when Adam and Eve no longer took God by His word. It is a dirty film on and in everything physically created. From the opening book of the Bible it’s mentioned (see Genesis 4:7). Paul talks about hamartia in Romans 5, 6, and 7, in great detail. But–God is not sin, obviously.
- Demonic armies from hell – An infantry of demons are allowed to roam this planet for now. Jesus said Satan–who is their director–only has three main goals for his pathetic existence: steal, kill, destroy (see John 10:10). Accusations in our minds is their primary M.O.–but again, this is not God.
- Unrenewed human mindsets – This might be the most overlooked issue when it comes to people blaming God for their problems. Paul constantly talked about changing our minds for a reason (see Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:8, Colossians 3:2). Our old thought patterns and methods of coping cause us to remain stuck in the same situations day after day. Yet we blame our Creator for how we are thinking. The truth is we have our own minds and He doesn’t control them. Again, not God.
- Our decisions – There’s no easy way to say this but just because God isn’t punishing Christians that doesn’t mean our own choices aren’t causing earthly punishments. In heaven, we reap what Jesus has sown. But on earth, we reap what we have sown (see Galatians 6:7-8, James 3:18). As you can see, this isn’t God either. It’s us.
None of these things are from our Creator. He’s for us not against us. He’s here to help us without overriding our free will.
A person who struggles with self-righteousness and overlooks the Cross might exclaim, “Matt, are you saying that Moses, Job, Jonah, Joseph, and people from the Old Testament didn’t get punished by God?! How dare you!”
Friend, these Patriarchs, in regard to their suffering, none of it was caused by God. Instead, He allowed painful situations to happen so that Israel would be protected so that the line of Judah could produce Jesus Christ with His exact human DNA. It’s always been about Jesus, from the very foundation of this vast universe. Allowing is much different than causing.
God didn’t cause Israel to become enslaved. The Egyptians did that.
God didn’t cause Job to suffer. Satan did that.
God didn’t cause Jonah to be swallowed. A sea creature did that.
God didn’t cause Joseph to be sold into slavery. His jealous brothers did that.
God didn’t cause these tragedies to happen in order to break these people down so they’d surrender. He allowed certain circumstances in order to protect the seed of Abraham–Jesus–so that Christ could take away our sins and give us life! (See Genesis 17:4, Colossians 3:4, Galatians 3:16, Romans 5:1, John 1:29, Hebrews 9:11-28).
Any type of punishment He was handing out before the Cross was rightly deserved because His wrath over sin was not yet satisfied (see Romans 5:1,9, 2 Corinthians 5:21). There’s a big difference in His vengeance being dealt to His enemies, and Him allowing difficult circumstances for those who believed in Him to achieve a greater good.
Now that Christ has come and paid the final price for all sins, what is it that breaks a person down? The world, the power of sin, accusations of Satan and his demons, our unrenewed mindsets and bad decisions–but not God.
So today, my friends, know this: God isn’t breaking you down, He’s building you up. What kind of good father would abuse their children so they would then surrender, get on their knees, and crawl toward him? A good father wouldn’t do that. A good father runs to their children when in distress, hugs them, and comforts them. He encourages them. He tells them the truth about their identity, their true strength, and reminds them of who they are.
Even while disciplining us with healthy boundaries for our own benefit, God cares deeply. That’s our Father. Our Father is good (see Matthew 7:9-11). For the unbeliever, God is not dealing with them in a harsh way either, but in a kind way, so they’ll turn toward Him and believe in Jesus (see Romans 2:4, John 3:17-18). Their own choices are punishment enough. The world, Satan, hamartia, and their thoughts? Those are punishment enough. God is not vindictive or mean as the dickens like some of our religious relatives and acquaintances. God is gentle, patient, loving, and kind. He’s humble in heart and you are too, Christian. You are good like God is good. You’ve inherited all of His traits.
A prayer for you: Dad, thank you for being my Dad. Because of the lies I was taught about you–brainwashing, really–I thought you were really unpleasant. Thankfully you’re not. I thought you were rightly punishing me each day for my dumb choices. But you were not. Your Spirit has revealed your true character to me. I trust you so much, and I love you so much. Thank you for being a wonderful Father to me. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of these dear readers have had a bad relationship with their earthly father, they believe you’re the same. Reveal to them you’re not. As your children, you’re always on their side. You defend them, go to bat for them, show them favor, and you protect them. Even in their darkest hours you are hard at work in their lives. Your gentle care and guiding discipline is better than they can comprehend. I pray their minds become renewed to the truth of who you are. You don’t cause bad things to happen to us but you’re there with us, in the midst of all of it, using pain for eternal purposes. You never leave us. Teach these wonderful people all about your goodness through your Holy Spirit. Thank you for building us up each day, rather than breaking us down. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.
This devotional is from The Christian Identity, Volume 2. Get your copy here!