Once of the greatest fallacies that we as professing Christians make is to assume that God is like us. When a person is not firmly grounded in the Word, it becomes the default mode to create images of God that are based on our own preferences and scriptures that are ripped kicking and screaming out of their proper context.
Sadly, much of the Christianity we see in America today is more devotional than doctrinal. Much of our Christian culture is based on cliché phrases that serve the purpose of making us feel better about ourselves, but not so much in leading us to gaze upon God as He has revealed Himself through the scriptures.
Far too often, professing believers pick and choose the attributes of God based on how we want God to be. God’s wrath is ignored in order to elevate His love. God’s sovereignty is disdained in order to set on high the free will of man. God’s justice is downplayed so that those living in habitual sin might not feel the weight of His Holiness.
In doing this, we end up repeating the sins of the Israelites in Exodus and mold our own golden calves to worship rather than the true and living God. The dangers of this are many. For one, when we make God out to be who we want Him to be based not on scripture by ourselves, we end up worshipping a version of God, but not the God of the Bible. In essence, we form an idol of a God molded by virtue of attempting to make God more like us.
This is not something God takes lightly. He will not overlook the ignorance of man, because His Word has been given to us and we are without excuse. On the great day of the Lord, those who have made God into their own image will have to stand before His accusation of them. And they will stand guilty.
“These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.” Psalm 50:21.
Why does our human nature lead us to contort scripture? Because in our sin nature, we are self-centered creatures. At the core of our being, we want to be front and center. We want to have our needs met. And we want to be the motivation for everything that God does. In short, the Gospel is extremely offensive to humanity.
“To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.” Jeremiah 6:10.
At the very heart of this matter, all of our misunderstandings of God stem from one pivotal truth that is so often overlooked. Are you ready? Here it is, so brace yourself.
God is first and foremost for God.
Many may wonder what is so controversial about that. But when we dig more into that statement, we see that humanity comes second to God’s own affections for Himself. God’s primary commitment is concern is for His own glory, and this great truth in turn is the basis for ours as well. God’s primary love is for His own glory.
To the devotional believer, this truth stings. It may even cause resentment or anger. But lets slow down and consider for a moment the far reaching implications of God being for God.
For starters, we know that God cannot sin. Throughout the scriptures, the Lord warns us of falling into certain damnable sins. One of which is the sin of idolatry, which is putting anything in our lives or our affections as being more important that our love for God.
Now I ask you, is God an idolaters? If God places more of His affections upon anything other than His own glory, then He would be guilty of committing the sin of idolatry. This means that man cannot be primary in God’s affections, because it would go directly against God’s own character.
John Piper wrote of the God centeredness of God, “Why is it important to be stunned by the God centeredness of God? Because many people are willing to be God centered as long as they feel that God is man centered. It is a subtle danger. We may think we are centering our lives on God when we are really making Him a means to self esteem. Over against this danger I urge you to ponder the implications, brothers, that God loves His glory more than He loves us and that this is the foundation for His love for us.”
The Lord’s primary desire is to see Himself glorified. And as offensive as this truth is to our flesh, we wouldn’t want it any other way. Because we were designed to find our deepest satisfaction and joy in making much of Him. When we are the center, we will constantly be let down. Not so with God. We were wired before the foundation of the world to find our greatest contentment in life in glorifying Him. God does everything for His own name sake and loves His glory above everything.
“For my name’s sake I defer my anger; for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” Isaiah 48:9.
God saves sinners for the sake of His great name and His own glory.
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.” Ezekiel 36:22-23.
One has to ask, what were God’s intentions in creating man. God didn’t create us because He was lonely, for He had perfect and complete fellowship with the Son and Spirit. God didn’t create us to have children to dote on. Why did God create humanity? The answer is for His great glory.
“…everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”Isaiah 43:7.
Why did God save the Israelites from Pharaoh? What were the motivations of the Lord for leading His people out of bondage? What caused God to act in their redemption? Was it primarily due to His love for the people, or for the love of His name sake?”
“But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.” Exodus 20:14.
In like manner, why did the Lord bring Israel back from the Babylonian Captivity? Did Daniel pray for the Lord to save His people for the sake of their well being?
“Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate.” Daniel 9:17.
And what was the purpose of God the Father sending Christ the Son into the world? Yes, it was in order that sinners might be saved. But lets go deeper. What was the motivation for Christ being sent to dwell among sinful man. It was no other reason than for the glory of God.
“But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”John 12:27-28.
Piper again writes, “When Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful,” it does not mean that we are saved in spite of our faithlessness. For the verse before says, “If we deny Him, He will also deny us.” Rather, as the verse explains, “He remains faithful” means that He cannot deny Himself. God’s most fundamental allegiance is to His own glory. He is committed to being God before He is committed to being anything else.”
One of the staple verses that we teach our children in our home is 1 Corinthians 10:31. “No matter if you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all things for the glory of God.” This was one of the very first verses that Lacy and I taught our children, because it impacts everything pertaining to how they view God.
God gives lavishly to His children that He dearly loves. But His motivation for this great love is grounded in His own glory. God has given us food, that we may give Him the glory. God has given us drink, that He may receive the glory. God has given us breath, that He may receive the glory. And God has given us eternal life, that He may receive the glory forever and ever.
There is not greater joy found than that which is found in God. We will find our contentment nowhere else under the sun. The call to glorify Christ is for His name sake, but it is for our greater joy! C.S. Lewis nailed it when he wrote, “In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”
The command for us to glorify God is not an order from an overbearing slave master, but rather it is an invitation from a loving Father, calling us into our deepest enjoyment. So writes the Psalmist;
“In your [God’s] presence there is fulness of joy, in Your [God’s] right hand are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11.
It would be a horrible thing for the affections of God to be primarily centered upon us. Because life and contentment cannot spring forth from man. We desperately need the fulfillment of that which is outside of ourselves, and only found in Christ Jesus!
Satan would rather have man focus on Himself, because self centered pride led to his own fall. But God leads us to see that our fulfillment can only be found in a God that is for Himself. God’s desire for glory is where we find true abundant life.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10.