Scriptures: Genesis 3:1-6
God has spoken and has done so clearly. Further, that which He has spoken perfectly reflects His divine character and nature and leads us toward lives that are for our good and His glory. The question is not whether or not God’s Word is clear and reliable, but whether or not we will trust God’s Word and His goodness, walking in obedience to Him.
Ed Welch wrote a book entitled “When People are Big and God is Small.” Welch’s book deals with our tendency to fear man rather than God, making man appear bigger than God. We could just as easily write our own book, however, every time we fail to trust and obey God – “When I am big and God is small.” Any time we fail to trust God and obey His Word, we are setting ourselves up as superior to Him, claiming that we know more and that our way is better than His.
Before Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the garden, they had already sinned against God in their hearts. They failed to trust God, His Word, and His goodness, causing them to act on their own wisdom and desires, leading to disobedience and death. We do the same when we fail to trust the God who speaks and fail to obey that which He has spoken. We act as though we are big and God is small.
I – We fail to trust God by questioning His Word (vv. 1-2)
Though Adam and Eve did not need help to question God’s Word, they had help – Satan, the father of lies. He introduced doubt about the Word of God – “Did God really say?” Satan is a real enemy. He is alive today, and he will seek to introduce doubt regarding God’s Word if we will let Him. God has spoken, and He did not stutter. Furthermore, God’s revelation is sufficient. He has given us all we need to know, love, honor, worship, and obey Him. The question is: Will we trust God by trusting His Word, or will we question God’s Word?
Application: Is it a sin to have questions when we read God’s Word? Certainly not! We will never fully understand all the depths of the riches of God’s great revelation. The question is, first, do you read God’s Word, showing its authority over you and your submission to it? If you do, how do you respond when you have a question about what you have read? Do you question your understanding of God’s Word, keeping God’s Word as the trustworthy authority? Or, do you question God’s Word, making yourself the authority over His Word?
II – We Fail to Trust God by Altering His Word (vv. 2-5)
The Word of God – in its quality and quantity of content – is perfect. Everything in the Word of God is true and trustworthy, as is God Himself. Nothing in the Word of God needs to be removed, and nothing needs to be added to it. When we alter the Word of God by addition (as Eve did) or by subtraction (as Thomas Jefferson did), we are demonstrating a lack of trust in God. We either say that God’s Word is not sufficient, because something needs to be added, or His Word is not good, because it places demands on us that are not necessary or best. Either way, altering the Word of God shows that we do not trust the wisdom or goodness of the God of the Word.
Application: What is your tendency? Do you add things to God’s Word – maybe social restrictions regarding music, dress, drinking, etc.? Or, do you take things away from God’s Word – maybe God’s hatred for divorce (since your spouse was unfaithful and you want out), or God’s command to forgive (since someone has hurt you deeply)? How does your willingness to alter the Word of God show that you are not trusting and submitting to the God of the Word?
III – We Fail to Trust God by Disobeying His Word (v. 6)
The clearest evidence of our failure to trust God is our disobedience to His Word. Disobedience is our adamant usurping of God’s authority and reign in our lives. Our disobedience says, “I know what your word says. I am going to do what I want to do instead.” This is the fruit of our decision to make ourselves big and God small. When faced with an opportunity to obey or disobey God’s Word, the question to ask is not, “Does this thing appear to be helpful, beautiful, and desirable?” The question to ask is, “What has God said about this?” Obedience will flow out of trust and surrender. Disobedience comes from a heart of doubt and rebellion.
Application: Can you think of a time that you have disobeyed God that did not result from doubting God’s Word and choosing to rebel against Him? Since you cannot, ask God, by His Spirit, to help you trust His Word and His goodness, leading you walk in obedience to Him. When faced with some temptation to doubt and disobey, don’t be deceived by asking if the thing you want seems to be helpful, beautiful, or desirable. Instead, simply ask yourself, “What has God said?” Then trust God’s goodness and faithfulness and walk ahead in obedience to Him.
From the time our first parents sinned, we have been bent toward distrusting God, His Word, and His goodness, choosing instead to disobey God and go our own way. Whether we add to or subtract from God’s Word, we demonstrate our lack of trust in God, His Word, and His character. We place ourselves above God and His Word, making ourselves big and God small. Those who do not know Christ walk in this way as their manner of life. The only hope is repentance of sin and surrender to Christ as Savior and Lord. Believers must also realize, however, our similar sins of disobedience. We must depend on the transforming power of the Gospel and the sanctifying work of God’s Spirit to empower us to trust God, to submit to His Word, and to walk in obedience – by His grace and for His glory.