This cunning and perfidious question of Satan began mankind’s fall. Mistrust was sown and an enticing reward promised. The seed sprang up and its fruits are effective until today: The rupture of a unique and wonderful loving relationship between God and man.
We must realize that this question is still Satan’s most important weapon and strategy with which to cloud resp. destroy our relationship with Jesus/the Father. And that this question is not asked of unbelievers who do not even believe in God’s existence. With these Satan has no problem. He asks the question of us – believing Christians and disciples of Jesus.
I will briefly depict the way in which this question then and now is intended to lead us astray.
The life of Abraham and Sarah is a perfect example. They were promised several times that they would have a son born of Sarah, who was 90 years old and barren. Her husband Abraham was 100 years old. I can well imagine that they asked themselves more than once, “Did God really say that and did he really mean it that way?” All, really all humanly imaginable circumstances spoke absolutely against it! Without God’s involvement it was a clearly hopeless situation. (However, with him: “Is anything too hard for me?” (Jer. 32:27)
The fact that the two of them took it upon themselves to solve this apparently impossible situation, because they had neither sufficient trust nor perseverance, has problematical consequences which cannot be overlooked, even today. Their decision to conceive a son Ishmael “in the flesh” had consequences not only for their own lives. All our decisions always have an influence on and consequences for the lives of many others.
!! Make 2 sentences here in German, also, if it’s not too late!!
We remain with Abraham but go to the year 1996 when I read Gen. 13:17, “Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” As I read it, I had the definite impression that God was saying these words to me personally at this moment, regarding Switzerland. I was to walk through the length and breadth of Switzerland and to invite other brothers and sisters to join me. As if that weren’t enough: Without my asking, the Lord immediately gave me the dates to begin and end the walk. We should begin on August 1 (Independence Day) and end on September 21, 1997 (national day of thanksgiving, repentance and prayer) at the Parliament Plaza in Bern. At that time I didn‘t have the slightest idea whether this was even possible. I knew nothing of the number of kilometers, whether we would cross mountains and passes, let alone whether it could be done in the time frame given. Quite apart from all this, we had nothing to support us. No organization or ministry, no congregation, no one knew us, no team, no finances, no know-how and we felt incapable of doing such a thing.
It was a situation pre-destined for Satan to confront us with just this question, “Did God really say?” With this question, problems, doubt and lack of faith can prevent us from accepting God’s promises, from waiting for the right time and fulfilling our part. We didn’t allow ourselves to be side-tracked but believed and trusted God’s voice. We put ourselves wholly at his disposal. How often has your heavenly father already spoken to you – through the Bible, directly through the Holy Spirit, through words or prophetic impressions from brothers and sisters, through news, media, situations etc.? And how often did the question come to your mind, “Did God really say?” It doesn’t even have to be heard so clearly, but your life answers. You don’t believe it. You don’t trust him. You would rather attempt it yourself. Repent! Turn around! You can still do it.
There is another way in which this question can mislead. Satan knows the Word exactly, as demonstrated in Jesus’ temptation in the desert (Matt. 4:1-11). God’s word is perverted and misused in order to justify godless living.
At this time, for example, we see that the church is increasingly divided over the question of homosexuality. The proponents of same-sex marriage and blessing, homosexual pastors usw. have God’s word on their banners. To put it bluntly: God is love, we should love our neighbor and when one loves it doesn’t matter if it’s two men, two women or man and woman. Love over all! Yes, the love of God to each person is over everything. But that doesn’t mean approval of everything we do. He has told us clearly what is good and right or bad and wrong in his eyes. Homosexuality is bad and wrong in God’s eyes and should be in ours, as well.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Is. 5:20). When God’s people entered the promised land he absolutely forbade them to participate in the heathens’ godless customs, e.g. homosexuality, which in many cultures (including Roman and Greek) was practiced as if it were normal. But in and through God’s people this was different. In addition, Paul later preached and people believed in the living God, were born of God and filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they changed their lives and turned from such practices. Wherever the Gospel was victorious people, whole societies and countries changed. Laws were made on the basis of the Gospel and God’s commands. Therefore homosexuality was neither tolerated nor allowed in our countries; it was prosecuted and condemned. Then there was a breathtaking change of attitude and it seems to interest no one (from among those us who follow Jesus).
“Did God really say, ‘Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions” (Rom. 1:16-17). Yes, he really did say that and also meant it! We should love these persons but not their way of life!
I want to briefly comment on a further example from Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 1:21. Did God really say, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you sent me.”
This verse is often sweepingly misused in order to pray for the unity of different religions, Christian creeds and for ecumenism (all Christians and churches). Unity as Jesus prays here is based on the relationship between him and his Father. Those who personally enter this kind of relationship with Jesus and the Father (possible only through repentance, turning around, accepting Jesus’ sacrificial death, re-birth and filling with the Holy Spirit, life dedication and loving discipleship) are called to this unity. Without this personal unity with Jesus Christ and the Father there can be no collective unity. But those who are bound with him in this sense will also become one because Jesus asked the Father for this. There is no simply unity (in the flesh” (“We’re all God’s children!”), as we often wish and pray. There is unity only from and in the Spirit. “Did God really say and mean this in such a narrow way?” Yes, I believe He did.