Sin, Lies and Believing the Truth

Tim Chester, You Can Change
Sinful acts always have their origin in some form of unbelief. Behind every sin is a lie. The root of all our behavior and emotions is the heart—what it trusts and what it treasures. . . . [Our] problem is futile thinking, darkened understanding, and ignorant hearts. This is the cause of indulgence, impurity, and lust. We sin because we believe the lie that we are better off without God, that his rule is oppressive, that we will be free without him, that sin offers more than God (73-74).

This is a radical view of sin. It means many of our negative emotions are sinful because they’re symptoms of unbelief—the greatest sin and the root sin (75).
Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians
There is simply no other way to compete with the forebodings of my conscience, the condemnings of my heart, and the lies of the world and the Devil than to overwhelm such things with daily rehearsings of the gospel (14; emphasis added).
Psalm 62:11-12
One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.
Aaron Orendorff
In the wake of the powerfully redemptive tone of Psalm 62:11-12a, the close of v. 12 appears at first somewhat disconcerting. To begin with, David opens v. 11 by stating, quite straightforwardly, that when it comes to God there are two basic truths that outshine everything else; two fundamental, divine realities that are absolutely foundational to who God is and what He does: (1) God is strong and (2) God is love. Nothing could be more reassuring and worship inducing (particularly to sinful, hurting people) than those two facts. However (even with these two truths firmly in mind), given my own personal history, the last thing I’d want is for God to then move on to “rewarding” me “according to what [I have] done.” These two thoughts—God’s strong love and just recompense—appear (especially when measured against the brokenness and evil of my own life) at definite odds.

In addition to this particular tension, we read throughout the Psalter statements that likewise seem far to the contrary of the seemingly natural interpretation of v. 12’s close. Statements like, “Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you” (Ps. 143:2), and even more plainly, “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (103:10). Neither of these texts (nor the numerous others like them) sit well with a God who simply “gives us what we deserve.” The close of v. 12, then, cannot simply mean that God is (though at times strong and loving) at the end of the day a God of pure and strict justice, devoid of grace and mercy.

Instead, when placed in context, David is pleading with God to deliver him from his enemies. He is asking for God to vindicate him because (in this instance) he is truly in the right. Part of that vindication is rooted in the belief that God is a God of justice, just as he is a God of strength and love. David is not asserting his inherent status as a more righteous human being than those standing against him; even less is he pitting his life record against God’s perfect standard. He is simply pleading with God to save him from the false and wicked men “attacking” him and speaking lies (62:3). In the face of dire circumstance, David looks to God. He entrusts himself to “him who judges justly” (1 Pet. 2:23).

Far from undercutting God’s strength and love, his justice supports them. The truths to which vv. 11-12 point (and likewise the “lies” which they confront) are profound.

If we believe God is weak (and, by implication, not strong), then we will be full of fear and doubtful as to whether or not He can help us. If God is weak, then we will be compelled to “take control” of our situation, to fend for ourselves, and to protect what’s ours (whether that be relationships, property, reputations, or even our emotions).

Similarly, if we believe that God is not loving, then we simply will not trust him to take care of us. Not only will we doubt whether or not He can help us; we’ll even doubt whether or not He’s willing to help us. If God is not fundamentally loving, then we will be compelled to either find other sources of love (dark, shallow, ultimately unsatisfying sources) or to prove ourselves to Him and earn his love.

On the other hand, because God is strong, I can trust that nothing that happens to me is outside of His control; nothing is bigger than Him. Because God is strong, I can admit that I am weak and rest in His care, protection, and sovereignty. I don’t need to be in control because God already is.

Similarly, because God is loving, I don’t have to prove myself or earn His affection. He loves me in spite of who I am and has demonstrated His love most powerfully through His Son. Because God is loving, I can trust that He wants to take care of me, will never abandon me, or leave me to fed for myself. I don’t have to search for love or earn it, but can rest in the love that already is.

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