Brandon and I started attending a church here in town: Grace Community. In addition to coffee, fellowship, and worship music, we get to participate in the messages from Craig Groeschel through Life Church. The last series of messages Pastor Craig shared had to do with how we misinterpret scripture. We have a tendency to take things out of context and misconstrue them. We twist the verses in order to make ourselves or others feel better. Here are a few of the phrases we think God said that He never said at all:
1. God wants you to be happy.
2. God won’t give you more than you can handle.
3. It doesn’t matter what you do.
4. It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.
So God really didn’t say these things??? It is true, these are half-truths from the enemy. When we are not careful, it is very easy to fall into the enemy’s traps. 1 Peter 5:8-9 reminds us to “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
So let’s break this down:
1. The theology of Happiness:
- Whatever makes me happy must be RIGHT. Whatever makes me unhappy must be WRONG.
- Discomfort, delay, risk, suffering, inconveniences, and obstacles can’t be God’s will.
- Without knowing it, I begin to WORSHIP the false gods of comfort, money, pleasure, and things.
However, here is the TRUTH in God’s Word: God does not want us happy…
- When it causes us to do something wrong or unwise.
- When it is only based on things of this world.
God calls us to holiness. He does not call us into sin! Happiness is not a necessity, as much as we would like it to be. JOY and PEACE are fruits of the Spirit, but happiness is not even mentioned in that list of fruit! Happiness is not a requirement for life. What we do have is the fact that God wants us BLESSED. We are blessed with His presence daily, in the dark and the bright moments of life. In His presence, we can find the JOY and HOPE we need rather than the happiness we think we need. Scripture references: 1 Peter 1:15, 1 John 2:15-17, Psalm 37:4, and Psalm 97:12
2. What I have found about this half-truth is this: God never gives us more than HE can handle. Now a truth here is that God will never allow us to be TEMPTED beyond what we can bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13) However, life will at times seem like the thrashing waves in the most tempestuous storm over the ocean. We may feel like we are drowning, and survival seems impossible. We may feel crushed, but we are not defeated because Christ has won the battle and is victorious for us! King David writes of this depression and crushing spirit in Psalm 38:4 and 8. Jesus speaks of the burdens of life in Mark 14:33-34. We are not immune from grief, depression, and despair. It is in these darkest of moments that we DEPEND ON HIS PRESENCE and WE EXPERIENCE HIS POWER. Check out these verses: Jonah 2:2, 7; Psalm 145: 18; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Romans 8.
3. It does matter what we do. Yes, we can never earn our way into heaven. Yes, we will sin. We all fall short of the glory of God. But choosing to sin when we know better can cause others to stumble and fall. Our culture teaches these lies about sin: A. I am not a bad person. B. All sin is the same. C. Since I’ve already done it, I might as well keep doing it.
We all sin. If we deny that, we are lying. 1 John 1:8 reveals that truth. Romans 3:10 also demonstrates this. All sin will lead to eternal death, but each sin provides us with different consequences and punishment in hell. See Romans 6:23, Luke 20:47, John 19:11, and 1 Corinthians 6:18. Now, since I have already “messed up,” should I keep messing up? No! Each day is an opportunity to try again. Each day is an opportunity to let the Spirit move, to transform our minds. Romans 6:1-2 reminds us that in Christ, we have died to sin!
God is faithful. He does not want us to hinder others from finding Him, and our choices may include that as a consequence!
4. It does matter what we believe! Jesus himself tells us that He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6) That’s the whole truth right there. Narrow is the path to heaven, because we so do not want to live in such an exclusionary view! The truth is, the only reason there is exclusion is because we first exclude Him. When we turn to Him, He very mercifully and gracefully wraps us in His arms! Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you. No questions asked! (James 4:8)
Watch Pastor Craig’s messages for yourself: http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch/god-never-said-that/