At the heart of sin is idolatry, and at the heart of idolatry is putting something or someone in the place of God, including yourself. Countless millions of non-believers do this every day of course, but what is really regrettable is the fact that so many Christians do exactly the same.
Plenty of Christians sit in judgment on God and see no problem in telling him what he can do or what he cannot do. They have the audacity to put God in the dock and inform him about what he is allowed to do and what he should not do.
This is the height of impudence, stupidity, and gross wickedness of course. As Isaiah said 2,500 years ago (Is. 29:16):
You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it,
“You did not make me”?
Can the pot say to the potter,
“You know nothing”?
Yet that is just what we find so often happening with arrogant Christians actually presuming upon God, telling him what he can and cannot do. The examples of this seem almost endless. Many of them contain an element of truth, but also much falsehood, making them all the more dangerous. I have written at length about these various examples, so I will add a link to a full-length article with each one.
Let me offer just a few of them here.
God would never want us to rejoice over the defeat of enemies
Yes and no. While we have to show grace and humility in victory, and not simply view all opponents as enemies, the Bible actually speaks repeatedly about God’s enemies, their overthrow, and celebration and exaltation about this. Often we find God’s people rejoicing when God steps in and defeats their enemies.
David often delights in God and his vindication when his foes are defeated and his accusers are silenced. Plenty of the psalms (songs of worship for ancient Israel) are devoted entirely to these realities. In Revelation we read about God’s judgment over his enemies and the worship that breaks out in heaven because of this.
A classic example of this is found in Exodus 15. God had just routed Pharaoh and his armies at the Red Sea, triumphing over them in massive fashion, while saving his people in a miraculous way. So here we find the Song of Moses and Miriam. What is it all about? It is about rejoicing at the defeat of Israel’s (and Yahweh’s) enemies. As v. 1 says:
I will sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.
See more on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2016/01/19/divine-justice-overcoming-evil-is-good-news/
God wants us to support socialism
We hear this all the time: God cannot support the evil capitalistic system, but he does support socialism. Um, not quite. God does care about the poor and the disadvantaged. But the question is, what economic system has traditionally done more to lift the masses out of poverty than any other? That system, for all its faults, is the free-market economy.
The free market is based on such basics as private property, hard work, personal responsibility, and obtaining the fruit of one’s labours – all things affirmed in Scripture. Socialism is about the state confiscating the wealth of others and redistributing as it sees fit.
Not only is this nowhere enjoined in the Bible, but whenever it has been attempted it has been an abject failure, further harming the poor while benefiting a few elites. Even when God miraculously provides for his people (not the state), God expects his people to work for it. As I just recently read in Exodus 16:4:
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions’.”
While public safety nets for the deserving poor have a role to play, overwhelmingly Scripture speaks about our responsibilities to work hard and be productive, not to lay back and depend upon state handouts.
See more on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/04/06/markets-and-morality/
God would never condone something like the death penalty
We hear this so often from believers who actually think they are wiser and more moral than God. Um, simple question: Who ordained the death penalty in the first place? God actually. And where has it been rescinded in Scripture? Nowhere actually.
God established capital punishment back in the early chapters of Genesis (9:5-6), well before the law was given in Exodus 20, so it does no good to say it was part of the Mosaic law and done away with in the New Testament. Paul fully assumed that the death penalty was still binding in his day (Acts 25:11) and even says it is a primary part of why God created the institution of the state (Romans 13:1-7).
Yet I hear so many people who actually seem to think they are more merciful and more loving than God when they insist that the Christian must never support something like capital punishment. Sorry, but I will run with what God has said on this, not fallen man.
See more on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2007/10/11/on-capital-punishment-part-1/
God will never violate human free will
This is another one of those matters which contains some truth, but not all the truth. Yes, generally speaking God respects us and the autonomy (within limits) he has given us. We are responsible moral agents who can make decisions about all sorts of things.
Normally God does not override or interfere with our freedom, but a brief look at Scripture will discover that often God does intervene for various reasons. His norm is for human beings to make choices and be responsible for them, but sometimes we read about God achieving his purposes even through our choices.
The classic case here is Joseph who was abused and misused big time by his brothers. Yet God was involved in all this bringing about his desired ends. Thus Joseph could tell his rather worried brothers in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
See more on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2017/01/18/theology-gods-sovereignty/
God does not want us to judge
This is one of the biggest furphies going around today, and there seem to be as many Christians running with this as non-Christians. “You cannot judge anyone” these folks will insist, usually by mangling Matthew 7:1. Indeed, this may be one of the most abused passages in all of Scripture.
These folks insist that God alone can judge, and we must never do so. Never mind all the passages that tell us to do exactly that: judge. We are told repeatedly to judge, assess, discern, evaluate, make distinctions and exhort and rebuke when necessary.
Jesus himself told us to “judge with righteous judgment” (John 7;24). Paul judged the Corinthians involved in sin and was shocked that the Corinthians did not. As he said in 1 Cor. 6:2-3: “Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!”
Elijah judged the Baalists, Isaiah judged the idolaters, Jesus judged the Pharisees, Paul judged the Judaisers, and we too are to judge all things, including the beliefs and behaviours of fellow believers.
See more on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2008/10/08/thou-shalt-judge/
God supports all forms of love, regardless of the sexual expression of it
This has become a mantra of late not just for the ungodly but for those folks claiming to be Christians. ‘Love is all that matters’ we are told, and God would never look down on anyone in their expressions of love. Thus all sexual lifestyles are OK, as long as love is involved.
This of course is so patently unbiblical that it is amazing that anyone who says he is a Christian is pushing this nonsense. But it is happening all over the place as the world’s perverted sexual ethics are replacing the clear teachings of Scripture.
Biblical love is certainly not lust, nor is it mere feelings and experiences. Biblical love is about willing the highest good for the other person, and that includes obeying God and his word when it comes to sexual morality. Human sexuality is confined to heterosexual marriage – end of story.
Any other sexual activity is a violation of God’s will and good intentions for us. Biblical love is an obedient love. As Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
See more on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2008/08/12/on-biblical-love/
Many more examples of this could be offered here. Many of you would have your own to add. But it is time Christians stopped telling God what he can and should do. It is time they let God do the talking, and we do the listening – and obeying.