From Eden forward, Satan has been telling two vicious lies about God.
First, he spreads the awful falsehood that God sets boundaries because he doesn’t really love us. Wants to take the fun out of our lives. Wants to keep things from us that would be good for us. Remember the strategy? He convinced the original pair that they would be better off with something God had forbidden.
Second, he has had great success in telling the even more insidious lie that anyone who crosses one of those boundaries had better be afraid of God. Run from him and hide. Get away or get wiped out. This is even worse than the first!
Yes, the Bible speaks of a reverent fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom. But that is very different from the dread and terrible sense of foreboding from an intolerant, ill-tempered God who is more likely to strike you down than pick you up when you have failed. Crossed the line. Really messed up.
Do you remember what happened on that fateful day when God came for an evening stroll with his beloved Adam and Eve in their garden home? They were nowhere to be found. So he called for them, and there was no answer. Then he went looking for them and found them cowering and trying to get out of sight. “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid,” said Adam, “because I was naked.”
Adam had been naked every other evening God had come to visit. He hadn’t been afraid to meet with him on those days. Neither had Eve. So what had happened between the last visit and this one?
“They had sinned!” you say. Yes, but something more had happened. They had been set up for that sin by Satan’s first lie and hurt even more by the second. The second one made it more likely they wouldn’t react well afterward. Satan had convinced them that God is mean, hard, and vengeful.
Afraid of God, the original pair started looking for a place to hide. And the human race has been fleeing God ever since – convinced by Satan that the last thing we should do is run straight to God when we’ve broken faith and failed.
One of the things I have had to learn in my own life is to challenge that lie. Would that all of us had a healthier image of the God who created, loved, and redeemed us. Would that we had never fallen for the devil’s lie. What Satan says is the wrong thing to do when you sin is, in fact, precisely what you should do: Don’t run from God in your failures; run to him instead.
“Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16 NLT).