I was listening to a David Hogan message this morning. I am always astonished by the humility of this man. He may sound abrasive and speak with divine confidence but he is like a little kid when it comes to the power, mercy and Grace of God. He was telling a story about a teenage girl who was horrifically burned when she fell on a cooking fire. She was so badly burned from her waist to her neck that her rib cage was showing. On one side she had no skin and no breast. He was amazed she was still alive. He prayed for her and spent time holding her and loving on her. He had to leave to preach in another place but on his way home he came back by the girl’s village. As he was driving home he saw a person dancing in the road ahead of him. He stopped and was amazed to find it was that girl. She said that after David left warmth came over her and the pain left her. She was still severely burned but free of pain and of course was celebrating.
David stopped by many times over the next few weeks. Each time he prayed for the girl. On one visit something was very different. They fed him a huge meal and this girl kept bringing him more food. He didn’t think once about the girl’s condition. He just expected to pray again and move on. While he was sharing this story he said this:
Our minds won’t make allowances for the goodness of God.
Here is a man who has seen the dead come back to life. He has seen organs created or replaced. He has seen pins and screws and metal leave people’s bodies. He has seen a 13-year-old girl raped over and over healed and restored to her virginity. He has seen God do so many amazing things and still he sees clearly this limitation of our fallen nature. He sees clearly what I have been discussing in the last few posts.
Something very drastic happened to us when we ate the fallen fruit. We lost the capacity to see the goodness of God. Yes we turned to sin and selfishness as a means to cope with our shame and condemnation. Yes we ran from God. Yes we hid in the darkness of the bushes. Yes we turned away from God and turned to ourselves. All of that however was a product of a human nature that could no longer perceive or conceive or allow the understanding of how good God really is. Now add a lawyer’s need for justice and fairness and balance. Add a healthy dose of man-made religion. Add a heaping pile of religious fear and look at what we have. This is what Jesus died to free us from. We needed a savior that could come all the way down to our fallen level and still go lower. He humbled Himself as a servant to us all the way to letting us kill Him. That is how far God will go for us.
Still we insist on our effort and our self-righteousness. We either outright reject or cower in fear of a God that we believe is angry, mean, vengeful and spiteful. Of course all of that is a lie but we are bound by the deception. Look at what Paul says:
Eph 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ! — 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (ESVST)
The demonic religious spirit will tell you “see I told you so…look how awful and evil and corrupt people are…see how they are just miserable little sinners…slimy worms…piles of poop.” I’ve have heard that from the mouths of people sitting in pews. Can you see the lie? All of us will reject the goodness of God in our fallen human state. Just like Adam and Eve we will run away from God instead of into His arms. In this fallen state we might as well indulge ourselves since we have no other option. If we believe that God hates us, is angry at us, is ready to smite us, then we will run deeper and deeper into the bushes and hide in the dark where anything goes.
When we add on a “balance” of law we make things worse. We nullify the power of Grace and step right back behind the veil of deception. Look at what Paul says here:
2Co 3:14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)
And later he says this:
2Co 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (ESVST)
Are you beginning to “see” what the real problem is? It isn’t our sin since that is a product of unbelief. It isn’t our “evil nature” since that is a lie the enemy has spread over and over from the pulpits of religion. No it is our inability to allow for the goodness of God. When we turn and change our minds (repent) and look to God for an answer, He answers with Jesus and power.
2Co 4:5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus ‘sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (ESVST)
2Co 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (ESVST)
It is always God that does it. That is Grace. If it was “us” that did it then it would be “wages.” Grace is free. Grace is God. Grace is power. Jesus sets us free from “blindness” and brings the “light” of revelation into our clouded minds. He changes our thinking by His Holy Spirit. Our relationship with the Holy Spirit opens our ears to hear and our eyes to see the goodness of God.
So David is sitting there while the girl is waiting on him. David is talking to her Dad who is a pastor. David is not sure why all the attention and food but he is just going with the flow. Then the girl comes up to David and says “I want to show you something.” Her Father gives an approving nod and she lifts her shirt to reveal perfect skin, a new breast and no scars. David was blown away. It was as if she never got burned. Here is a man who has “seen” everything. He is well aware of what the goodness of God looks like but still his mind didn’t make allowances for what he just saw.
I want that. I want to see the goodness of God to the point of being knocked down with amazement. I want Him to reveal Himself to me so I will NEVER EVER be the same again. Come on! Allowances for His goodness!