1 John 4:16
God is love (NIV84)
The bible tells us that God is love, not that he loves, but that he IS love. Dogs are like people, and cats less so. Alligators are unfriendly, and I wouldn’t want to find a hungry tiger in the house and forget about the ugly spiders ;-). These are statements of fact. When describing the nature of God, we can say that he IS love.
1 Corinthians 13:4–7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (NIV84)
Here in 1 Corinthians, we see a biblical definition of the Greek word, agape, which describes the love that God is. I want to rewrite the above paragraph to personalize the passage concerning God. I can do this because the bible tells us that this word, love (agape) is God.
This is what God is like.
God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. 5 God is not rude, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. 6 God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
If this doesn’t match up with your thinking, then your thinking is wrong. If you want to understand anything in the bible, you must first come to grips with who God really is. Everything must be understood with this in mind. We tend to evaluate everything from our own perspective and understanding. How can we do otherwise since, we are our own point of reference ? When I look out into the world, see a person, and come to the conclusion that that person is a good person, what I am really doing is comparing that person to myself. But it is unwise to judge God in the same wa y, because he has nothing to do with our point of perspective. God is far beyond our experience. We do not have the tools with which to properly evaluate him. What we do have is the revelation from God that illuminates all things.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (NIV84)
What this passage means is that when you look at Jesus Christ, and listen to his words, you are seeing and hearing God himself. In other words, if you want to see God, you need only look at Jesus Christ. This is a vital thing for you understand. God is invisible, but you can see him and come to know him through the bible. This makes the bible the most valuable thing in the entire universe. It is priceless beyond any measure.
You want to understand injustice in the world. Such understanding starts with allowing the revelation of God into your heart. If you keep measuring everything by your own point of reference, or your own wisdom, then you can never truly understand anything beyond than yourself. To gain this understanding, you must get to know God, and to do so, you must open your heart and receive him into yourself, that is, to allow the illumination of God into you. There is no other way.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (NIV84)
The above passage refers to Jesus Christ, but also to the bible, for the bible and Jesus are one and the same being. This is a wonderful bible mystery, but you can only see the truth of it when you open your heart and look. There is another Bible passage that is important for you to see on the topic of the nature of God, and that is…
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. (NIV84)
God is love, and love expresses itself by way of these “fruits.” This passage describes God in action. If you don’t see God this way, then you don’t really know God.
Something important you must know and understand is that God is eternal. I am sure you’ve heard that God is eternal, but do you know what eternal really means? The fact that God is love and that he expresses love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control means these are all necessary qualities for a being to live happily forever. I don’t know if you noticed it, but in 1 Corinthians 13: 5 above, it states that God is not self-seeking. If you look at the life of Jesus Christ, you will see that never once did Jesus do anything for himself. Jesus Christ was not and is not self-seeking. This is a critical quality for eternity, as only love can live in peace and happiness forever. You must think long and hard on this point. Would you rather be stranded on a small island with a selfless person or a self-centered one?
The Selfish One
Ezekiel 28:12, 14-15
“ ‘You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
(These verses are talking about Satan before his rebellion.)
14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.
15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. ( NIV84- parentheses mine)
The guardian cherub s are the angels that watch over the holiness of God. In Isaiah 14:12, we see that Satan was called “morning star, son of the dawn.” The King James Bible translates this as Lucifer (keeping the name, not choosing to translate it). Lucifer was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. This was until wickedness what found in him.
So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.
18 By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching.
19 All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.’ ” (NIV84-underlines mine)
You must note in your heart and mind why Lucifer became Satan, the devil (which means the adversary who accuses). Lucifer became proud, and it was his pride that drove him to become selfish. So, what we see now is the selfless God and the selfish Satan. One exists forever, and the other has a fire within him that is consuming him. This fire is called sin in the bible. Looking back at 1 Corinthians 13, we can once again rewrite the passage for sin, Love’s opposite. This is what Satan became:
While God is wonderful, those full of sin are the last people we would want to spend eternity with.
Sin is impatient, sin is unkind. It envies, it boasts, it’s proud. 5 It’s rude, it’s self-seeking, it’s easily angered, it keeps record of wrongs. 6 Sin delights in evil and hates the truth. 7 It never protects, never trusts, never hopes, never perseveres.
Before the universe was created, there was a rebellion in heaven; God in his selfless glory and beautiful Lucifer, then Lucifer saw himself as being more than everyone else. He elevated himself, thinking himself equal with God…
You [Satan] said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (NIV84- bracket insert mine)
The problem with his rebellion of self-elevation was that he was no longer a child of love, but rather became a child of selfish sin. This so-called false epiphany, on his part, drove him to break the faith-bond that he had with God. Lucifer no longer believed in God, that is, he no longer believed in love toward his fellows. He saw himself as the god of his own existence and the ruler of his own destiny; a belief-system which is all too common in the world today.
Immediately, Satan began to preach his deceptive message of Self to his fellow angels, and a full third of them listened, and followed him in his rebellion.
The Children of God
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (NIV84 italics mine)
If Lucifer became proud because of his beauty, what were the chances that man, who is even more beautiful than Lucifer, would not also elevate himself above others? God knew that there was no chance.
Let me back up just a bit and ask a question. Why did a third of the angels rebel? It was because they did not know what death was. They had never seen death. They had no way of understanding anything about it. I am sure that God warned them, but what is a warning if you don’t understand it?
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (NIV84-italics mine)
This is the warning that God gave the man. God said, “when you eat of it, you will surely die”. I am sure that Adam thought that this was interesting, but I don’t believe that he truly understood the ramifications that would transpire should he eat the forbidden fruit.
The understanding of the true meaning of death is one of the biggest, most important, questions that anyone can learn the answer to. This is the question that both, the angels in heaven and man on the earth, must learn the answer to. The universe was created by God expressly so both the angels and mankind could learn the answer to the question, what is death?
The world is a place where it is possible to die and yet live. The death I am referring to here is spiritual death. Physical death is only a sort of metaphor for the real death of the spirit. Living on the earth has taught us all what it means to die physically. We all know that when a person dies, he or she is excluded from the community of the living and that his or her body decomposes until it is totally gone. But, how does this relate to the angels that have no physical, that is, mortal body? The death we are talking about is the same, but how? It all has to do with the faith-bond that exists or can exist between the spirit-being and God.
The institute of marriage is a perfect illustration of what a faith-bond is. When a man and woman enter into marriage, they confess before all that they will be faithful to one another until death separates them. That is the key point of the marriage contract.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (NIV84)
It is the same faith-bond that joins a person to God, the exact same bond. This is the bond that Lucifer broke and became Satan, the devil. This is the same bond that the woman and the man broke in the Garden of Eden concerning God.
God created the universe (the world) so that he could come to the earth and die for us, to show us the way back to him. What I mean is, we can see and believe that God wants for us to be reunited with him in this same faith-bond. God wants us to confess before witnesses that we promise to be faithful to him until death separates us, which will never happen. You see, Christ died for us, but because he never sinned, death had no power over him, and so he raised himself from death to life, and we who can see and believe in this, die to the world so that we can live in him. We do this because we believe, that is, have faith in God’s desire for your return. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God is proposing a marriage-like reunion between himself and us. If we believe in a world of selfless love and peace, then we willingly and eagerly accept his proposal and, after that, live in him, the God of love now and for all of eternity.
The Sinful World
Now, as to why the world is full of evil, which God seems to allow, is because of sin. Sin is the enemy. Sin is powerful. No infected person can ever escape it by his or her own power. It is utterly impossible. Sin corrupts the mind of all reason, so reason alone cannot lead a person out. Sin, when it is full-blown, causes insanity. Look at the actions of the demons (fallen angels) to see what I mean, that is, their ruthless desire to destroy all that God has created. On earth, we can only resist sin’s pull for a time, but without Christ in eternity, sin will utterly destroy.
The need for mankind and the angels to learn this was and is critically important. We must learn it, and the only way it can be learned, is through experience. It is God’s desire that you see sin for what it is, and that you hate it to your very core.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (NIV84)
If God were to remove every sinner, then who would be left? What would be the point of the world? Remember that everyone who is separated from God is under sin’s power. We are all helpless to sin’s corrupting power, but God has not abandoned us. The following is one of my all-time favorite Scriptures…
2 Samuel 14:14
Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. (NIV84)
Jesus Christ, the very image of God, died on the cross, and was resurrected from death to provide the improbable, and completely unexpected, path for us to travel back to union with God. Amen.