This week we cross the halfway mark in our study of “The Gospel According to Satan” by Jared C. Wilson. By now we have established that God doesn’t just want us to be happy. We were reminded that we don’t only live once but we have one life that can last forever, depending on how we live it. We discovered the real truth and accepted (begrudgingly) that our feelings are not reality. This week we investigate the lie that your life is what you make it. We live in the age of self where we are inundated with self-help books by self-made gazillionaires promoting themselves on your social media feeds with their selfies. The devil is trying his best to convince us that we can create the life we want all by ourselves.
Jared Wilson reminds us that the pursuit of wealth and success is not sinful, but this striving should never replace the treasures we accumulate in heaven. Solomon warns in Ecclesiastes 1:14 that chasing after the riches of the world is like chasing the wind. Jesus often warned about the dangers of the love of money, especially in Matthew 19 when he asked the rich young ruler to sell all he had and follow him. The rich man could not obey Jesus’ instruction and had to turn around in disappointment. The disciples were stunned when Jesus explained that it would be very hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven because they are loyal to this world.
We all love nice things. All of us have experienced how our phones suggest products we might have admired only in conversation. It lures us with adverts and suggestions on how to fulfil that desire for another thing to fill our homes and our lives with. Satan loves this new technological development because we so easily succumb to desire that we become drunk on stuff. It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking stuff will make us more happy and secure than we are. We are lured to imagine how the next thing will finally make us happy. When we can’t fulfil our desires we compare ourselves to others and find ourselves lacking, ashamed and unworthy. That is how cheap the devil holds our souls – he wants us to look for our ultimate fulfilment in the stuff of this world, instead of in our relationship with God.
God is holding out on you
Ever since Satan convinced Eve that God did not want her to eat the forbidden fruit in the middle of the Garden, we have believed his lie that “God is holding out on you”. When we don’t get what we want we become like spoiled children who believe their parents are evil for withholding blessings from them. We easily forget that God made the world good and convince ourselves that we can make the world better. If we pull up our bootstraps and hustle harder we can make anything happen.
This view of God is the same reason so many people find the concept of grace so inconceivable. How is it possible that God can forgive a lifetime of sins and give us eternal life in exchange for a little faith? It’s too good to be true. There must be a catch. Satan is the catch (Genesis 3:1,5). He asks us “Did God really say?“. A God who makes salvation so simple must not be trustworthy? Right after we entertain the thought of pursuing our own way, the devil encourages us with the lie that trips us into idolatry: “You will be like God“. You can achieve what God does not want you to have because you know better. And so, with the help of the evil one, we enthrone ourselves above the authority of God.
Adam and Eve expected to get a “creature promotion” and become like God after eating the forbidden fruit, but instead, they got a “downgrade” to sinful refugees banished from paradise. This pattern has repeated itself over and over in scripture through stories like that of Cain killing his brother; the need for the flood; and the building of the tower of Babel. Today we see this lie perpetuating everywhere we look. T-shirts and commercials shout it out: You can do anything. Your life is what you make it.
Let’s be very suspicious of this lie: God made the world and everything in it and he made it good (Genesis 1:31). From the outset, God made a plan to save us and reconcile with us (Genesis 3:15) by sending Jesus to die and be overcome death to save us from our sins and give us eternal life with him (John 3:16). To say your life is what you make it is to declare all that God has done insufficient, and to pronounce yourself a better creator than he is.
That is treason against God. And treason leads to death, not life.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of the books studied by Nettie’s Book Club. I am not profiting from the sale of these books. I will carefully select books that have had a significant impact on my faith. My goal is simply to share the wisdom in these books with others so we can assess and apply the wisdom of these authors to grow in understanding of our faith together.