Thoughts to Ponder

Playing by the rules

I get many questions about why God would do things the way He does. I will not try to tell you that I have all the answers, but I do think that we can understand in a very elementary way how God works.

The more I study God and His Word the more I realize that He plays by the rules. He made the rules and He could change them anytime He wanted but He does not do so. He follows them in everything.

Let's look at salvation. I often get asked the question, why doesn't God just forgive us our sins and forget the whole thing? Why did He send His Son to die for us? Well I think the answer to that is simple; God plays by the rules. His holy nature demands death as the punishment for sin, any and all sin. Someone had to die for our sins. We could, but then we would forever be separated from God. He did not want that, so He paid the price Himself, by sending Jesus to earth to die for us. But He did not just come to earth as a grown human and jump up on the cross and die so that it was over. No He played by human rules. He was born just like us, He suffered just as any other human does. He was tempted just like us. He allowed Himself to be shamed and mocked. Even Satan knew that Jesus could have called a legion of angels to protect Him. In fact Satan would have been happy if Jesus had done just that. After all if Jesus had stepped outside the rules, God would have (by His holy nature) denied the sacrifice Jesus later made.

If you look back further to when Satan (then called Lucifer) sinned, God could have destroyed him and been done with it. But instead God played by the rules and set out to show all of creation how those rules worked. He created man in His own image. He gave mankind a free will. Here again, He played by the rules. He did not say "okay you have free will" and then force Adam to obey Him. No He gave Adam everything, that is except one thing, the forbidden fruit.

People ask why God would have placed the forbidden fruit there in the garden of Eden. Doesn't that show that God was tempting Adam? I don't think so, on the contrary I believe that you can't really have free will unless there is the possibility of choosing to do wrong. How could Adam have free will if there were no choices to make? Yes God knew that Adam and Eve would make the wrong choice, but He allowed it, because again He played by the rules. Free will is free will, not, free if you agree with me and not free if you don't. We as human parents often tell our children that they can make their own decisions, but watch out of they make one we don't approve of! They will see very quickly that we did not mean they could really choose anything they wanted, we meant we were going to see what they decide then either agree or disagree, but in the end the choice was really ours all the time.

God does not work like that. When He says it is up to us, it is up to us. If we choice to suffer eternally instead of accept the free gift of salvation He offers, so be it. That does not mean He likes it, but He will not step in and tell us to make the other decision.

I love the story of Job, but to be honest it scares me too. On the one hand it is apparent that Satan cannot just do anything he chooses to a believer. But it also shows that God will allow Satan to do some things to us. He already knows how much we can take and He will not allow too much to happen to us. He loves us but that does not mean that He will bend the rules to keep us comfortable. He also shows in Job that He does not have to answer to us. We are the creation and He is the Creator. Never forget that. Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Job 38:1-4

Many people can't handle that. They can't accept that we mighty humans have a master; that we are not the be all end all of the universe. They want to tell God how He is to treat them. God shows how He feels about this several other times in scripture: You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"? Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing"? Isaiah 29:16 "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'?

Woe to him who says to his father, 'What have you begotten?' or to his mother, 'What have you brought to birth?' Isaiah 45:9-10 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? Romans 9:20-21

This takes me back to my point. God is very capable of snapping His fingers, or for that matter just speaking and making every human being bow to Him and proclaim Him God. One day He will do just that, but He has played by the rules with His creation to show us His nature, His fairness, His grace, His love, His holiness and His glory.

Why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people? The simple answer is SIN! When Adam and Eve sinned they set into motion the effects of sin on all creation. That was one of the rules, before sin came into creation, it was good. There was no death or suffering, but after sin entered into creation, the clock started clicking down on all of us. Death became the rule for every living thing. And the rules said that every sin must be paid for by death. God, in His great love and grace, paid that price for us. How it must hurt Him to watch us spurn His free gift, but He will always play by the rules. So no matter how it hurts Him, He will not change the rules or go out side of them.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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