Is God Fair in His Demands for Obedience?
Question: The Bible says that we must obey God because this is His universe. Doesn’t that make Him a tyrant? You say He gave man freedom to choose good or evil, but hasn’t He stacked the deck so that man is forced to go God’s way or be damned? Is that fair?
Response: The command that God gave to Adam and Eve simply forbade them to eat of a particular tree in the garden. There is no conceivable command that could have been easier to obey. There must have been thousands of trees of every variety in that lush garden of perfection. The tree of which God told them not to eat was no doubt one of hundreds of trees bearing that same kind of fruit. The fruit of the tree did not have magical powers that imparted sin and death to Adam and Eve. It was their disobedience in eating of it in defiance of God’s prohibition that constituted sin and brought death upon them and all of their descendants to this day.
We must agree, then that there was nothing unreasonable about God’s very first commandment to mankind. Nor can we find any way to excuse Adam and Eve for their disobedience. The same is true of all sin and all sinners.
In the first sin of mankind we see the truth about all sin. The act itself may not seem so bad. Simply eating some fruit isn’t evil in itself. A couple committing fornication may excuse themselves by saying they are only expressing their love to each other. The evil lies in defying God, who as our Creator not only has the right to establish laws governing our behavior but only does so for our good.
Furthermore, that defiance is both a rejection of God’s authority and a denial that He really loves us and that His way is best. It is man’s egotistical and self-centered assertion that he can be his own god, that he can decide his own fate. Such rebellion cannot be allowed in God’s universe anymore than the referees on a football field or basketball court can allow the players to violate the rules of the game. In the case of Adam and Eve we also see the horrible consequences of an individual’s sin upon future generations. That awesome fact should be enough to make us all shrink from sin.
Two Logical Alternatives
Let me illustrate the point. Though it occurred about 30 years ago, I vividly remember two young men visiting me late one night. One of them was angry at God because he was being shipped out to Vietnam the following morning. His friend had brought him to me to see if I could answer some of his complaints against God.
“I didn’t ask to be created,” the one going to Vietnam said bitterly, “but here I am without choosing to be here. And now God dangles me over the flames of hell and says, ‘Turn or burn. Do it my way or I’ll drop you in!’” Hostility seemed to be consuming him.
“Let’s look at it like this,” I suggested. “Suppose you have just come into existence somewhere in the universe and you have the authority and power to create your own destiny. After spending 3 or 4 billion years planning your ultimate Utopia you put the finishing touches on your blueprint for life and sit back rather pleased with yourself. God immediately lays His blueprint for your life beside yours and you look it over carefully. Now tell me, which blueprint would be better?”
He looked at the floor, then the ceiling, then the fire in the fireplace, and finally at me with an unhappy expression. “I guess I’d have to be the greatest egotist in the world to say my plan would be better than God’s,” he admitted at last.
“Precisely,” I said. “God is infinitely wiser than you and truly loves you. Therefore His plan would obviously be far better than yours. That being the case, what’s this about ‘Turn or burn, do it my way or I’ll drop you in’? What you ought to say is, ‘God, thank You that though I’ve been an egotistical fool as to imagine that my way is better than Yours, and though I have rebelled against You, You sent Your Son to pay the full penalty for my sin and now offer to me as a free gift of Your grace Your perfect blueprint of life in exchange for mine. Thank You, Lord!’”
I tried to persuade this troubled young man to receive Christ as his Savior and to trust himself to God’s love and grace and protection. There is no other way to have real peace in our hearts. Tragically, he was not willing to give up his complaints and to let God be God. I do not know what became of him or whether he ever returned safely from Vietnam. Years later the other young man who had brought his friend made himself known to me at the end of a meeting where I was speaking. He had become a pastor.
“God was dealing with me through what you said that night,” he told me. “As a result, I surrendered my life fully to Christ.”
The facts are clear: Evil and Satan are indeed real and exist in opposition to God. There is a genuine and fierce battle for our souls and destiny. Each of us has a solemn and eternal choice to make, one that will determine the outcome for good or evil of that battle.
Nor can there be any doubt that the only intelligent choice we could possibly make would be to let God have His way fully in our lives. Nothing else makes sense. It is no “sacrifice” to obey God; it is a great privilege to become His child through faith in Christ and to begin already in this life to enjoy the eternal blessings He has prepared for those who love Him.