Intro: Acts 17:28 – for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Paul, quoting some familiar words from a poet of his day, says we are the offspring of God. This would naturally imply that we are like Him. Gen. 1:26-27 tells us that God created us in His own image. There are some things in which we are like God because we are His offspring and have been created in His spiritual image.
- We can think, love, and make moral decisions. We have a spirit and God is spirit.
But, there are also huge and obvious differences between ourselves and God. There always have been and always will be. It is those differences that man sometimes forgets, and that leads to careless living.
- Psalm 50:16-21 –But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, Or take My covenant in your mouth, 17 Seeing you hate instruction And cast My words behind you? 18 When you saw a thief, you consented with him, And have been a partaker with adulterers. 19 You give your mouth to evil, And your tongue frames deceit. 20 You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son. 21 These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes.
I. Wrong Thinking leads to Wrong Living: In this passage, the Psalmist links unrighteous behavior with wrong thinking. This is not hard to understand. The superstitions of the idol worshipper are clear examples. When people have wrong perceptions about God it always leads to sin. God wants us to come to know Him so that we can live like Him.
A. The Psalmist says that the sins that will bring God’s judgment against His people are the product of a false idea.. “You thought that I was altogether like you”.
B. First we recognize that this is totally false thinking. God is not like us. Paul points this out in Acts 17, where we looked earlier. Acts 17:24-25 – God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. God made everything as that means He is above it all.
1. The word that describes this fact is transcendence. The word means rising above… greater than.
a. God is transcendent in time. He is eternal. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. (Psalm 90:2) Moses speaks about the transitory nature of human life in this Psalm (as a sleep) . Moses lived to see over a million people die in the wilderness in 40 years; that’s an average of 70 funerals a day! But Moses saw God’s eternity not only in contrast to man but to the earth on which man lives. Nothing has the greater appearance of age from man’s perspective than the earth itself. (“old as dirt”). But God, the Father is older than mother nature – from everlasting to everlasting.
b. God is also transcendent in holiness. He is without any moral defect. He never entertains evil in thought, and always acts according to righteousness. We are not like Him. We are sinful and prone to more and more evil. He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
C. The transcendent holiness of God makes the Psalmist point in Psalm 50 – (go back to that passage)
1. God says, “”What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? 17 You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you.” (v. 16-17) You have no regard for my words, and from that have convinced yourself that I do not mean what I say.
2. When they saw someone braking God’s law (a thief) they joined him in his wrongdoing. You readily accept those who commit adultery because you do not have the same deference for it as God, and you have come to believe that God does not care either.
a. They were willing to speak evil things and even slander their own family members because they thought God was like them.
3. They thought that if they excused themselves, then God would too. Saul thought that saving some of the spoil of Amalek was a good thing – make a sacrifice to God – so he excused himself from God’s specific command. (“I have obeyed the Lord”) But He was wrong. If I see the need to practice deceit or to be negligent, then God will see it the way I do and not hold me accountable. If we think that way, we are wrong. God is different – He hates sin all the time.
4. God sees everything just as it is, but man often sees only what he wishes to see. The Lord said, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8, 9).
II. The implications of God’s Transcendence: Consider some ways in which God is different than man, and what it implies.
A. You Can Deceive a Man, But Not God. “The Lord knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath.” (Psalm 94:11). We cannot cause God to believe something that is not so. One may be a good enough liar to fool people, God cannot be deceived. God knows us too well. Ps 139:1-6 – O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. 5 You hem me in — behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
B. You Can Hide From Man, But Not From God. Again we look at the words of Psalm 139 – Ps 139:7-12 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
1. The attempt to hide from God is as old as sin. “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8). It never has been successful. Jonah boarded a ship to flee from God, but God was already there. God is not like us.
C. You Can Bribe a Man, But Not God. It is said that everyone has his price. But what can you offer God that would entice Him? We cannot bribe Him into accepting less or lowering the standard. We cannot buy ourselves out of our accountability.
1. Some try to buy God’s approval with ritual or lip service. Jesus said, “This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” (Matthew 15:8, 9). We think that because it pleases us, it must please God. It is enough for us, so it must be enough for Him.
2. With us, a bad person can absolve himself in other’s eyes by doing good deeds occasionally. But God is not like us. Our good deeds do not erase the guilt of our sins. We must come to God seeking forgiveness with true repentance. God demands a contrite and obedient heart.
Conclusion: Paul makes a profound statement about God in Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
God is not mocked – This is so because He is not like us. People often mock other people. But despite the appearance that unrighteousness has the upper hand, God is not being hoodwinked. He is not overwhelmed or negligent. He is not like us. He sees all, knows all, and is morally perfect. In the end, we will reap what we sow.
- If you sow to the flesh – if you live for the things that please you, and live for yourself – you will reap destruction.
- If you sow to the Spirit – if you live for the things that God has revealed, and that please Him – you will reap eternal life.