The Edifier

West Allen Church of Christ

The Edifier Index

Man's Greatest ErrorThe Seriousness of Individual Sin

Boyd Jennings

"These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes (Psa 50:21)."

Man's greatest mistake is to view God as having a human nature. This idea may temporarily ease the conscience, but it has a damaging effect on the soul. Such a view of God will, in every case, lead to actions that meet with His displeasure. In the verse above, God is speaking to those who had this false notion of His nature. "You thought that I was altogether like you," He said. Their subsequent actions demonstrate their misconception of God. He describes them as teachers who would not receive instruction; consenting with thieves and adulterers; mouths given to evil, deceit and slander. (Psa 50:16-20) These sins were the result of their failure to retain a proper view of God in their minds.

Do we have a proper view of the nature of God? If so, we learned it through His word. The Scripture describes Him as the holy, eternal creator of all things, and therefore worthy of all that is rightfully His, i.e., glory, honor, authority, riches, strength, blessing and wisdom. (Rev 4:4-5) Do we believe these descriptive terms with reference to God, or are we comfortable with the mistaken idea that we can, in some way, control and dominate Him. Have we fallen prey to the erroneous concept that God is "altogether like you"?

The word of God is replete with examples of men and women who were certain that God was like man. Consider the following examples: In the garden of Eden, following the first transgression, Adam and Eve thought that since they were able to hide from one another, surely they could hide from God and their sin would go unnoticed ( Gen 3:8). However, they soon learned that God is not like man!

In Acts 5:1-10 two Christians, Ananias and his wife Sapphira, thought that God could be deceived as easily as man could. The two of them sold a possession (the proceeds of which would go to needy Christians in Jerusalem) and kept back part of the price. Their error was not in keeping a portion for themselves, but in attempting to deceive Peter, thus God, into believing they had given the entire sale price. In this case, immediate death was the consequence of thinking that God is like man. He is not! Anyone who owns or manages a business soon learns that many of their customers are happy to be the recipients of a product or service, but are rather slow in their efforts to pay in full. However, God is not like man! Though a thousand years may pass before the coming of the Lord and the end of time, "The Lord is not slack (slow, bj) concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9). Longsuffering is a characteristic of God's nature. He is patient, for the time being, allowing all men everywhere ample time for repentance. (Acts 17:30) That includes you and me. We should view every day as a day we have to grow closer to God. To do this we must understand His nature, His will.

That God is not like man is self-evident. We unnecessarily deceive ourselves to think any different. (Gal 6:7-8) Moreover, if we hope to be like God, our Father, we must bring "every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5) In doing so we become "partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world through lust (2 Pet 1:4). This is God's way of saying that if we claim to understand His nature then we will pattern our lives after Jesus His Son. (2 Pet 2:21-25) The Fiftieth Psalm ends with God stating a basic element of truth. "Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God." (Psa 50:23) A comforting promise indeed to those who understand God's true nature.