In the last post, we used Jeremiah 31:3 as a scriptural springboard to propel us toward the rich river of promises that speak of the beautiful and magnificent love of God. Today, the focus will remain on God’s love, but I will encourage all readers to stay focused on divine mercy and not to doubt the beautiful love of God. God is love; He is also truth. Out of love, God makes us promises that are always trustworthy. Consequently, if you trust God’s promises, you will have fullness of life. But if you doubt God’s love and reject His truth, what you will invariably be left with are the devil’s lies. Out of hatred, Lucifer tempts us with the promises of sin. Consequently, if we trust in the lie, we will die and be deceived into thinking we’ll have a good time digging our own graves. The bottom line is, do not doubt the love of God. No one loves humanity like the Lord, and no one will care for His children like our Heavenly Father.
Our Scripture focus today comes from Genesis 3:1-5. In these verses, the serpent (the devil) tempts Adam and Eve, who then fall into sin. Yet it’s crucial not to miss that the only way they could have trusted in the serpent’s words is if they had first doubted God’s love; that is, if they first said to themselves, “I don’t think God really has our best interests in mind. I think He’s holding something back from us and standing in the way of our advancement.”
Now, before we read the text, let us remember what happened up until this point in the story. Until then, God made everything and provided Adam and Eve with all they needed; in fact, He put them in Paradise. (And what did the devil do? Absolutely nothing.) This is what love does: it provides abundantly with kindness. Then, after God provided for His children, He made them a promise. He promised Adam and Eve that as long as they followed His word, they would live and prosper. He also said that if they disobeyed His word and ate from the forbidden tree, they would die (Genesis 2:17). This is also what love does: it protects by warning, cognizant that disobedience is a path that ends in destruction. God does not give commands out of malice to burden; He gives them out of love to safeguard.
Let us now read our text. Genesis 3:1-5 says:
Now the serpent was more cunning than any animal of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God really said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You certainly will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the serpent lied and said, “You certainly will not die!” he was suggesting that God was not all-powerful. When the serpent said, “For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and evil,” he wasn’t telling an outright lie. He was telling a partial truth: Adam and Eve would have their eyes opened, but to see their own shame and guilt. And they would become like God in the sense of knowing what sin is, but their resultant sinful corruption would make them totally unlike divine holiness, desiring what a sinless God hates. If Adam and Eve had trusted in the love of God, their thoughts of the Lord would have remained high and they would have walked in obedience. But because they doubted, they sinned. The pressing lesson for all of us is that whenever we sin, we are to some degree doubting the love of God. We doubt that His intent is kind, we doubt that His commands are good, we doubt that His supply is sufficient, and we doubt that His strength to help is adequate.
Furthermore, what’s even more diabolical is that Satan will not cease his assault after you doubt the love of God and trust the lie. After you have fallen into sin, the devil accuses and burdens you further with shame and guilt. He tells you that you are no child of God, that you are unworthy and ought not dare step into the divine presence. After all, who can commune with an all-consuming fire? Satan’s desired result is that you doubt the love of God even more and run away from Him, even though He is the only One who can help. Human guilt never produces anything of value, which is why God sent His Son to make an atonement on the Cross. Had God not acted out of love first, there would be no hope. But God did act. This helps to explain why God went after Adam and Eve, even though after they sinned, they ran away from the Lord and covered themselves with fig leaves. Even after their fall, a loving Father acted in order to rescue His children (Genesis 3:8-9). Do not doubt the love of God.
Doubting God’s love comes from Satan’s deceit. It brings Lucifer joy when he can nudge a person to doubt God. “Did God really say? Has he threatened you with death? He knows full well it would be better for you.” Don’t listen to words based on false promises. Remember the Crucified Savior and ask yourself: is that a demonstration of love or anger?
Truly, there is nothing more grievous to the Lord, nor consistent with the design of Satan, than for a person to think low and hard thoughts of God: to think that God is always angry, cannot be pleased, and will pour out wrath, not love. Is not a child terrified to come into the presence of an angry father? For a God who loves His own beyond comprehension, imagine how it grieves Yahweh to be slandered in the hearts of His children. Imagine how it grieves Him knowing that when His children doubt His love, they will reap bitter fruit.
In the words of Thomas Watson in The Ten Commandments, “Mercy is an innate propensity in God to do good to distressed sinners.” God’s glory is His mercy (Exodus 33:18-19; II Corinthians 1:3), and His mercy is free and spontaneous. Yes, by our acts we may compel God’s punishment, but nothing can force God’s mercy. No one can deserve God’s love, because the Lord loves us freely and abundantly. Again, as Watson has written, “The vial of God’s wrath only drops, but the fountain of His mercy runs.” In dealing with His children, God’s wrath may last for a moment, but His mercy lasts forever. It is foolish to doubt God’s love.
You may be asking yourself how what happened to Adam and Eve such a long, long time ago applies to you now. Well, recognize that while the serpent acted to overthrow mankind all at once, he still uses the same strategy now as he attempts to overthrow you one by one. No, you and I will not have a conversation with a talking serpent, but you can still hear his whispers in television, movies, music, non-believers with platforms, conversations with others, false churches, and your own conscience, just to give a few examples. Regardless of who is encouraging you to doubt God’s love, remember the negative example of our first parents as a warning and a lesson: Do not listen to hellish lies. Do not listen to attempts to overthrow you. God is good, gracious, tender, kind, and loving to His children.
As John Owen once wrote in The Father’s Love:
Assure yourself there is nothing more acceptable unto the Father, than for us to keep up our hearts unto Him as the eternal fountain of all the rich grace which flows out to sinners in the blood of Jesus.
To paraphrase, Owen also encouraged Christians to endear their souls unto God, delight in Him, and make their abode with Him.
Adam and Eve reaped the consequences of their actions and were expelled from Eden. But they didn’t leave empty-handed. God promised them (and thus all of humanity) a Messiah (Genesis 3:15), and He also covered them (Genesis 3:21). You see, even though Adam and Eve may have lost Eden, they didn’t lose God. The Lord’s bond of love with them united Him to them. So, even though Adam and Eve fell, God already had a plan to redeem them, which played out through the rest of the Old Testament and reached a peak at the Cross and the Resurrection. So, do not doubt the love of God: find comfort in the reality that the same God whose love fills the heavens and the earth loves you and is yours.
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal