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Who Made This Mess?

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, [it was] very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” 

Genesis 1:31 KJV

“And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God.” 

Mark 10:17-18

If God made everything to be very good, why is there so little that is good anymore, except God?

If God is good why is our world full of so much despair? Why is there death, decay and disease?

Who made this mess anyway?

To answer that, there are three essential truths for us to understand:

1. God alone is good and He is always good;

2. Satan works to convince us that God is not good;

3. We each must make an intentional choice to know God who is good.

God is Always Good

Nothing created can ever be greater than its creator.

A few trips to the Toledo Art Museum, delighted me with some of the finest works of art in the world.  It stands to reason that these great art works were created by great artists. They were masters of their use of craft, color and composition. They understood how light interacted with color and how this interplay varied even by their choice of strokes on canvas.

Years ago, I graduated with a degree in art and the main thing that I learned there is that I am not a good artist (‘artsy’…maybe). There were good artists that I went to school with, but they were not yet masters. Consequently, they produced works that were according to their mastery. It was impossible for them to produce a work that was greater than their ability.

In much the same way, life reveals to each of us in various ways that we are neither gods, nor are we good. This is, at least in part, what it means to be depraved. That isn’t to say that we are not capable of doing some good things, having good thoughts or even creating good and beautiful works.

Neither does this mean that we are as bad as we possibly could be. It simply means that our sin nature limits us from fulfilling our role as God intended. That sinful, lustful nature gives us a nearly limitless capacity for all manner of evil. Our role as image bearers of God has been defaced by sin until we are redeemed back to God through the blood of Jesus Christ.

When we go back to the book of beginnings, we learn that at the end of six days of creation that God declared everything to be ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). This means that God’s creation was unmatched in its wealth of beauty and happiness…it was exceedingly good. Not only was it unrivaled (it was all that there was) but there could never be anything to rival it. Therefore the Creator is also unmatched, unrivaled and there never can be anything to rival Him.

In Mark 10:17,18, Jesus asked this question of a man who knelt down and called Jesus ‘Good Master’. Jesus responded by asking Him if He realized what he was saying. Did this man really believe that Jesus was Jehovah or was this man just being obsequiously flattering and insincere?

Jesus questioning revealed that this rich young ruler was very sincere in his desire to know how he could obtain eternal life. Jesus lovingly revealed that this man’s sincerity was not enough. His sincerity was not greater than his trust in uncertain riches.

In other words, in this man’s heart there was a rival to God’s goodness. He walked away sad because he couldn’t understand why a good God would ask him to give up his wealth. That rival in this man’s case were his great possessions.

What is it in our hearts and lives that cause us to doubt God’s goodness?

Of course, the point is that wealth and prosperity is not a valid proof of God’s goodness. Job understood this when after having lost everything he said, ‘The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) Job realized that God’s goodness is found in the reality that God has chosen to reveal Himself to men. Sometimes it is through prosperity and sometimes it is through adversity. 

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews begins his message with this evidence of God’s goodness, writing: 

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;” Hebrews 1:1-2 NKJV

The Greek phrase translated ‘by His Son’ literally reads, “in Son”. That is, the full revelation of God’s goodness is found in the person of Jesus Christ. In other words, God Himself did not hesitate to experience intense suffering and even death in the flesh so that we could know Him.

During Christmas season we are reminded of the goodness of God in sending Jesus Christ to live among us. He did it in a way that is strange to us.  When young Mary was told by an angel that she was highly favored among women, she might have thought that she had one life’s lottery. She might have imagined that her life would be full of wealth and prosperity.

Yet as we know, the goodness of God toward men was anything but easy for Mary and Joseph. They had to deal with the discomfort of travel on the back of a donkey while being great with child. They had to deal with the unbelief of others. Who would believe the story told by this young couple who for the first nine months of their marriage had insisted that this child was not conceived from adultery?

They had to deal with the humiliation of being given a stable in which to birth this holy child. Mary did not have the comfort of her mother or any other women who could encourage her during the pain of her first child’s birth. It would have been easy for Mary to doubt God’s goodness during such a difficult time. Yet we read that she treasured all of these events in her heart (Luke 2:19). Mary knew that the Word of God was sure.

Christmas time also reminds us of those who are no longer with us. If we are able to gather with our families, we think of all of the loss that this life brings and we wonder, who made this mess?

Casting Doubt On God’s Goodness.

Now, let’s go back to the garden of Eden. Lucifer was a magnificent creature and as near to perfect beauty and resemblance to God as any creature could be. The prophet Ezekiel described the beauty of Lucifer, son of the morning as being full of beautiful gemstones. (Interestingly, the same stones that adorned Lucifer, would later adorn the breastplate worn by the High Priest in the Tabernacle and Temple) Only God Himself was greater in dazzling beauty and wisdom (Ezekiel 28:13,14).

Until God created Adam and Eve from the dust from the ground, Lucifer had no rivals among God’s creatures. Now mankind had perfect bodies and their world was full of things to delight them in loving service to God. They were able to walk with God and not be afraid. 

Although Lucifer’s light and beauty was similar to the image of God, mankind was given something that Lucifer could never have… Mankind was created in the fiery, light bearing image, and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26; 5:1). This means that mankind’s appearance presents a paternal resemblance to God. This gave Adam legal title to exercise dominion over all of God’s creation. (Psalm 8:6)

These rivals to Lucifer’s position of nearness to God was more than Lucifer could tolerate. How could the ‘Son of the Morning’, full of light and beauty allow himself to be ruled by these creatures who were mere children of the mud? He saw himself as a worthy rival to God’s goodness and desired to be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-14) Motivated by jealousy, Lucifer used his dazzling beauty to his advantage.

When Lucifer appeared to Adam and Eve in the garden, he was not yet a slithering serpent. He was a magnificent creature that would have been an awesome sight to Adam and Eve. It is likely that Lucifers’ nearness to God Himself made them forget that Lucifer was but a creature over whom God had given them dominion. 

So when Lucifer began to question God’s Word, (Genesis 3:1) Adam and Eve were left to discern the Word of God from the word of error. They were either to trust in the goodness of God or to doubt it. Their rebellion began when Eve corrupted the Word of God, saying that God told them not even to touch the forbidden fruit. Adam stood by and did not correct her.

They both tragically chose to listen to the creature more than the Creator. (Romans 1:25)This resulted in the destruction of God’s creation from something unrivaled in beauty and goodness to what we now experience under the curse of God. This is the same choice that each of us has to make today.

Now that Satan has usurped dominion over creation from mankind, he has designed this world system to cause every child of Adam to question the goodness of God. Our education, our entertainments, our politics and even our religions are full of lies and half truths that cause us to focus on what God is doing to us or for us rather than knowing and loving God for who He is.

We must choose between what God has said and what this world says that God has said.

Knowing God

Instead of having confidence that God is good, we are left to doubt how a good God would allow death, decay and disease to dominate our lives. However, the goodness of God requires that His creatures be given free will to choose to follow the truth or to walk away from it.

The sin of our parents was believing that God was not good for denying them the knowledge of good and evil. Yet God never said that He did not want them to have that knowledge. As His image bearers, how could they not eventually learn that knowledge? Yet, it must be gained in a way that was not independent of God. (1)

Any of us who have raised children know that children must be taught the right and wrong use of fire. We don’t leave it for them to figure out on their own. Likewise, if we were required to forage for food in the wild, we would need to be taught what is poisonous and what is healthy rather than just going out and figuring it out on our own.

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? [then] may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”

Jeremiah 13:23 KJV

So it is an evil thing to apply knowledge independent of God. This makes it impossible for us to do what is good in God’s sight. Everything that we do for ourselves independent of God is tainted by doubt of God’s goodness.

However, the cross of Christ changes everything…

Christ’s sacrifice for sin restores our right relationship to God (John 15:5) and it removes all doubt of God’s goodness. This is why we sing:

When I survey the wondrous cross

on which the Prince of Glory died,

my richest gain I count but loss

and pour contempt on all my pride.

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“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

Matthew 16:24 KJV

When Jesus teaches us to deny our self, take up our cross and follow Him, He isn’t telling us how to earn our salvation through affliction and suffering. A person carrying his cross to the place of execution is not checking his appointment scheduler to see where he has to be tomorrow. That person can do nothing and is as good as dead.

In the same way God is telling us to count ourselves to be as good as dead. We must die to our own efforts to please God and earn our salvation. These are nothing more than evidence that we doubt God’s goodness and want our ‘goodness’ to be seen.

We must die to this world system that has taught us to doubt God’s goodness and live independent of God. Once the reality of the cross of Christ is impressed upon our soul, we can no longer doubt the goodness of God.

Jesus did not have to save me. He didn’t have to pay the penalty for your sin and mine on a cruel cross. But He did it because He is God…and because He is very good.

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(1)And God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us–not spoken in irony as is generally supposed, but in deep compassion. The words should be rendered, “Behold, what has become [by sin] of the man who was as one of us”! Formed, at first, in our image to know good and evil–how sad his condition now.” – Robert Jameison – Jamieson, Fausset and Brown

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I have included Blue Letter Bible links to the scriptures cited. When you click on them, it will open a new window to that reference.

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Thank you and may the Lord richly bless you today.

smc

thatyoumayknow.org

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