BY DR DOUG MAMVURA
It is very disheartening to note that most people, especially believers are living way below what God has purposed for them, mainly because of ignorance and failing to understand the true nature of God. There are so many songs that we sing in our churches confessing about the goodness of God and yet it seems this is just sense knowledge.
God has been blamed for many things that happen on this planet which have absolutely nothing to do with Him. I have often seen this at funerals where for example some teenagers get drunk and they are involved in an accident and they die. You hear the preacher saying “God has done His will”. This clearly shows that the minister of the Gospel is sincerely lost and is ignorant of the true nature of God.
John 10:10 says that the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly. How can the God who wants to give you abundant life be responsible for killing you? I have also heard people say that “God is teaching me something through my sickness”. Would you inflict some disease on your own child just to teach them something?
God is not the author of sickness, poverty and disease. We fail to resist these problems because we think they are coming from God. We should know the source of our problems. It is the devil who happens to be the god of this world: “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this world has blinded, who do not believe.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Satan is the god of this world and we should resist him and stand our ground: “Finally, brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand the wiles of the devil. ‘Stand therefore having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6 :10 -14).
We have to be strong not in ourselves but in the Lord and the power of His might as we stand our ground against the enemy. James 4:7, encourages us to resist the devil and he will flee from us. We should never give in to the devil’s challenges because of ignorance. We should know the true nature of our Father.
If people knew how good God is, they would love Him and live for Him. That in turn would solve all the problems of the world. But God has been so slandered that most people don’t know Him as the good God He really is.
One of the biggest problems is religion’s misuse of the Law. This has done tremendous damage to God’s image. The Law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). The Law wasn’t inaccurate but incomplete. And if it is not properly applied, it gives a wrong representation of God.
Jesus was the perfect representation of God (Hebrews 1:3). He said if we have seen Him, then we have seen the Father (John 14:9). He did exactly what He saw His Father do (John 5:19). Jesus showed us that God is love (1 John 4:8). Yet He was constantly accused of breaking the Law.
Of course, Jesus didn’t break the Law. He’s the only One who ever truly kept the Law. But the mercy and grace Jesus extended toward people was radically different from the “eye for eye” and “tooth for tooth” of the Old Testament Law.
Jesus forgave a woman whom the Law condemned to death (John 8:1-11). Jesus ate and fellowshipped with publicans and sinners, which the legalistic Jews of His day wouldn’t do (Matthew 9:11). Jesus touched the untouchable (Matthew 8:3) and loved the unlovable (Luke 8:2). He showed us grace and mercy, which the Old Testament Law didn’t do.
A wrong understanding of the purpose of the Old Testament Law leads to a misunderstanding of the nature of God. Most people believe God gave the Law to show us what we needed to do to obtain relationship with Him. But the Law was never intended to bring us into relationship with our heavenly Father. It was intended to show us our sin and our need for God. It was given to show us how unholy we were so we would despair of trying to earn salvation and just receive it as a gift by faith. It was to turn us from self-righteousness to a faith-righteousness that could only come through a Saviour (Romans 10:3-4).
Consider some of the things the Scripture says about the Law:
- The Law strengthened sin (1 Cor. 15:56).
- The Law was a ministry of death and condemnation (2 Cor. 3:7 and 9).
- The Law gave guilt and knowledge of sin, not salvation (Rom. 3:19-20).
- The Law made sin come alive, and killed us (Romans 7:9).
- The Law magnified sin and produced hopelessness (Romans 7:13-25).
Why would God give us something with all these negative effects? It was because we were already beaten by sin and didn’t know it. Before we could be motivated to receive God’s gift of salvation by grace through faith in a Saviour, we needed to be convinced that we couldn’t save ourselves.
So, the Lord revealed His standard of holiness (the Law), which was infinitely higher than any of us could ever attain. We had to come to the end of ourselves before we could begin to find God. The Law was perfectly suited to do that. It shut us up to faith so the only way we could look was up (Galatians 3:23).
When the Law is used for that purpose, then it is good (1 Timothy 1:8). But when people are taught that God’s blessings are dependent upon our performance, that kills faith in what Jesus did for us. Religion has taught that we have to fulfil the demands of the Law in order for God to love us or use us. That’s totally wrong!
For 2,000 years, after Adam’s fall, God dealt with mankind through mercy and grace, which wasn’t evident when the Law came. For instance, God protected the first murderer (Genesis 4:15) instead of killing him as the Law later prescribed (Leviticus 24:17). Abraham married his half-sister, which the Law said was punishable by death (Leviticus 18:9). Jacob married two women who were sisters, which the Law condemned to death (Leviticus 18:18). Yet Abraham and Jacob became two great patriarchs of the Old Testament because God wasn’t imputing man’s sins unto him at that time (Romans 5:13). But when the Law came, God’s wrath was released against sin (Romans 4:15), and we got caught in the middle. God smote people with leprosy (Numbers 12:10 and 2 Chronicles 26:19 20) and all manner of plagues (Deuteronomy 28:15-68) because of sin.
Yet this wasn’t God’s original reaction to sin, as can be seen by the fact that it was 2 000 years after Adam’s sin when He gave the Law and released His wrath. He wasn’t imputing man’s sin unto him until the Law was given.
However, the Law made sin come alive, and it killed us (Romans 7:9). The Law released God’s wrath (Romans 4:15). This served two main purposes. First, God’s display of His wrath against sin forever changed the way man thought of sin. Now he had graphic evidence of how much God hated sin, so this served as a deterrent to sin.
Second, and more importantly, the Law gave such a perfect standard of performance that those who understood it clearly saw that they could never be good enough to receive anything from God. It took away any deception that God owed us anything, and it made us throw ourselves on God for mercy and that’s what the Law was intended to do.
I pray that you will be able to understand the true nature of God by rightfully diving the Word of God and know the difference between the two dispensations of Old and New Testament so you can fully experience His unconditional love.
- Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @dougmamvura