It is true, that in God we live, move, and have our being (KJV)! However; God decided to make an independent self-sustaining human being, in whose life, on earth, God will not interfere. Thus, on my long journey of grace, I too was left on my own to face good and evil in this world. It was up to me to choose what was right and what was wrong. Most of the choices were reached by trial and error. To assist me in my search, I followed the large Manual, the Bible. And after some seventy years of studying the Bible, I would like to share some things that helped me make it through this world. The first thing is this: “Why did God limit Himself?”
What is Divine Limitation?
Man has always wondered and even speculated how far-reaching God’s power is? Believers will insist that God’s power is limitless! Yet, so many things do happen, in the world, that seem to rule out divine intervention. Many of the occurrences are so evil that one cannot help but perceive that there is an evil power behind it. The ancients believed that God made a perfect world and that Satan took it upon himself to ruin it (Isaiah 14:12-15). Our first couple did allow the snake or the symbol of perversion to divert their objective (Genesis 3). Christians believe that there are principalities and powers in the air that disrupt God’s affairs in the world (Ephesians 6:12). To counter those powers, Christ Jesus was sent. But what happens when evil is not restrained? How do we explain the evil actions of man as the out-right orders of God? Are atrocities judgments ordained of God or are they the misguided acts of man? Are earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and disasters “Acts of God?” Where does God’s power begin and where does God’s power end? Are there divine limitations? Contrary to popular belief, God has limited Himself by His own Word and by His own Laws. Not a dot can be altered or aborted (Matthew 5:18). God has determined to place the world in man’s hands and He will not interfere (Genesis 1:26). Even after the flood, the Lord God did not release man from managing the world. In fact, God strengthened the Covenant with Noah by granting Noah more respect and more authority (Genesis 9).
Many people believe that these happenings, regardless how devastating they may be, are God’s punishments for man’s transgressions. Of course, that is one answer that may satisfy those who see God as “One” that can step in and out of human history. The people of the Old Testament did believe that the Lord God stepped in and out to either bail them out or to punish them. Thus, when Israel liquidated the people of Canaan, before they took possession of the land, their actions were interpreted as divine orders. But when Israel and later Judah sinned, both were carried into captivity. In fact, every nation that sinned, no matter how powerful it was, fell or even ceased to exist. Is it the United States of America’s turn to fall from the throne of the world? Is there an invisible hand-writing on the wall of history? Has God chosen some power, like Babylon of old, to teach His people a lesson? The writer finds all this very troubling. It is not at all characteristic of the God, whom Jesus called His Father, that He was the only One, in the universe, that was God. It is far more likely that man himself, by disrupting what God has created, that he is bringing disaster upon himself. God does not need to destroy the world. Man has found the knowledge of good and evil and he is quite capable of changing the ecology and human behavior. He has designed tools for survival and weapons for self-destruction. All God has to do is let man find another planet like earth so that he can repopulate and mess it up again. This idea of another planet, like the earth, is not at all as far-fetched as we may think. The technology is already available to travel in space for centuries until such a place is found.
Before we get caught up in speculation, let us touch on the subject of our intent. Let us look at divine limitations. The Bible tells us that God created a good and self-sufficient world. In fact, it was a paradise called “Eden.” God then created man to manage it. Man messed up and he lost paradise. Man became the fallen angel and he took the devil with him. In the new world, man was completely on his own. Again, man mismanaged by allowing evil to misguide him. God interfered for the last time with a flood. God made a “Covenant” with Noah that He would never again destroy the world (Genesis 9). God would from time to time allow his Spirit to touch some individuals. But, that too would be abused by man. People that were not sent by God did speak for Him (Jeremiah 28). They even will use the Lord’s name to do mighty works; however, they will be evildoers (Matthew 7:21-23). They shall see themselves in the light of God’s favor and mercy, but deny His Presence by their deeds (II Timothy 3:5). Even those whom the Spirit of the Lord did touch did not always interpret the Spirit of the Lord accurately. Hence, Abraham became the father of Ishmael before he became the father of Isaac. To please the men, Moses changed the law on divorce. Salomon turned wisdom into a diplomacy of sin. Peter was to save souls, but he had Ananias and Sapphira killed. Paul made a man blind and stopped a girl from witnessing in his favor. The point is this — man does misread and he does misinterpret God’s intentions and God will do nothing about it in this life. The only thing man cannot do is kill the “soul” and the “breath of life” itself. Man is in charge of the world, and not God. That is why Satan, whom man follows, could offer the world to the Son of the Creator (Matthew 4:8-9; Luke 4:5-7). We can sing all we want that “This is My Father’s world!” The truth declared by Jesus was and still is, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).
God has absolutely nothing to do with man’s destructive behavior. To begin, God is good and perfect and God is the Father of the Light that comes from above. God does not change like the shifting shadows (James 1:16-17). Second, God loves the world and He has no intention of destroying the world. God sent His Son to save the world (John 3:16). By the term world, the entire cosmos is meant. That includes all of creation and not just man (Romans 8:19-22). We have been led to think that man alone needs redemption. In reality, it is creation that is in bondage to man and groans to be delivered from man (Romans 8:22). Man is the culprit that has devastated creation. Christ came to give man a new heart and a new perspective. However, man has conveniently turned that idea to his own benefits. Thirdly, God no longer judges! God is the Father of all creatures! And for that reason, God has turned the problem of man over to Jesus, His Son. The Son has been entrusted with judgment (John 5:22). The Son became a man and He set the example of how to live and how to manage human affairs. Now therefore, man has no excuse (John 15:22). And fourth, Jesus Christ arranged it so that man becomes his own judge by rejecting Him, by the way he believes, by the way he behaves and by the way he brings forth good or evil (John 5:24-29). Even a careless word will hunt man on Judgment Day (Matthew 12:36). Man shapes his own destiny. This is consistent with what God said when Adam and Eve disobeyed, “Man has become like one of us, he knows good and evil” (Genesis 3:22). Guilt and innocence rests entirely on the shoulders of man! Woe unto that man who wants to hold God accountable for his actions!
Man’s argument has been, “The devil made me do it.” Again, man has twisted the truth. It is man who makes the devil do it. Man solicits the devil’s help, uses his techniques, gives the devil permission and then believes his lies. Dear friend, the devil does not have to do anything. Man takes drugs, which disable him mentally and perverts him sexually. Man lets doubt and fear into his heart. Turn on any news cast. Do you see the devil preaching fear? It is the foolish reporters that scare us to death with a handful of Anthrax cases. It is bad enough to have one case, but why must an entire nation be held captive? It is bad enough that the trade center in New York is in ruins, but why must the whole nation be suspended in time? In spite of the positive rhetoric of the leaders, we are on a fate train headed for doomsday. It so happens that this writer lived through World War II, and he is convinced that the American Free-Press did prolong the war with its irresponsible reporting. The Nazis were convinced that America would soon quit and that they would succeed in the end. Now that we are at war with the terrorists, you are doing it again. Just listen to your questions and the answers you pass on. You do not need the devil to create fear. You are doing rather well without his help. You reporters have such power that you drive the politicians out of their minds. They know that if they are not on good terms with you, they will be smeared in public and that will cost them the election. What is even sadder is that the public believes the yarn that you spin. Contemplate, for a moment, how many lives you put at risk and how many you disable with idle words? Stop being bearers of bad messages! Your messages are sharper than a two-edged sword.
Concerning Satan, or the devil, too much is being said about his influence. Satan is not as strong as he is made out to be. If he is a roaring lion, then Jesus has knocked out his teeth (I Peter 5:8). He can no longer bite or hurt anybody. The good news is that the devil has been stripped of his power. Jesus has cast him out and rendered him ineffective (John 12:31). Satan is already condemned (John 16:11). He cannot touch Jesus. However, he is in the world and he is on the loose now (John 14:30). All one has to do is submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee (James 4:7). The devil cannot stand people who live godly and clean lives. Satan prefers that men render lip service, rather than godly acts of compassion and mercy. Satan too believes in God, only fools do not, but Satan trembles (James 2:19). Satan is deceptive! Satan likes to appear as if he were “an angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:14). That is, Satan can only appear! Satan cannot be real. Satan steals the truth and alters the Word of God by putting doubt into men’s thoughts (Luke 8:12). The work of Satan, and that of his followers, can be identified easily. He who commits sin is of the devil (I John 3:8). Anyone that entertains murder is a child of the devil (John 8:44), and so is the one who betrays Christ (John 6:70; 13:2). The truth is simply this, without voluntary human consent, Satan the devil, his angels and demons cannot touch or use man. Man must want to do his bidding and believe in his teaching. Satan uses one argument only and that is, “God could not really mean what He said.”
It is important that man discerns the spirits whether they are of God (I John 4:1). How does one know whether the spirit is beneficial? Let us look at some examples. A Samaritan village did not welcome Jesus because He was on his way to Jerusalem. Two of his disciples were ready to have fire fall from heaven and punish them. Jesus’ reply was, “You do not know of what kind of a spirit you are” (Luke 9:56). The two, in question, were James and John. And John was the disciple whom Jesus loved. For instance, take Peter, the third of the three that went everywhere with Jesus; when Jesus informed his followers that He had to die to give credence to His Mission, Peter tried to be helpful and told his teacher that he would not let this happen. Jesus told him, “Get behind me Satan! You do not want what God wants but what man wants” (Matthew 16:23). The disciples were arguing who among them was the greatest? Whatever Peter did, Jesus addressed him, “Simon, Simon Satan is trying to sift you as one does wheat. I have prayed for you that your faith will not fail and when you have had a change of heart, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32). Peter did not get it! Peter kept on insisting that he would prove to Jesus how great He was. And what did Jesus tell this man that was supposed to be the rock of his Church? He predicted that he would deny his Lord three times before the rooster crowed. Obviously, Peter had not taken inventory of his spirit. Jesus had sent out seventy-two to do His Work. They returned with glowing stories of success. How did Jesus receive them? “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven,” he told them (Luke 10:18). Again, Jesus had to stop Satan from getting the better of the seventy-two. The spirit of pride and success almost kept them out of the Kingdom.