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God is Holding Out on You

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
December 18, 2020 7:00 am

God is Holding Out on You

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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December 18, 2020 7:00 am

A lot of people think that Gods offer to be close to us is too good to be true. But in this lesson, Dr. Tony Evans will expose that lie and explain how hard Satan works to keep it alive.

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God never meant for his relationship with you to be tied to a list.

That's law. Dr. Tony Evans tells us what the Lord really had in mind. He meant for his relationship to be tied to his grace, and that's intimacy. This is The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of The Urban Alternative. A lot of people think God's offer to be close to us is too good to be true. Today, Dr. Evans explains how the devil perpetuates that attitude and what you can do about it. Let's join him as he talks about one of the six lies of Satan. Today we want to look at lie number two. The second lie perpetrated in the garden is that God is holding out on you. The second half of verse one of chapter three states, And he, the serpent, or Satan, said to the woman, Indeed, has God said that you should not eat from every tree of the garden?

Now, this is instructive for a number of reasons. First of all, you've got the devil quoting God's word. We ought not be surprised about that since he even did that with Jesus in the Garden of Eden.

Now, if he'll do it with the first Adam who had not yet sinned, if he'll do it with the last Adam who's never sinned, what do you think he's going to do to us who have a major problem with sin? He doesn't mind Bible teaching as long as it serves its own purposes. If you will look carefully, you will notice the devil raises a question about the command of God. He does not simply give it. He says, Think about it. It's a question. A question demands an answer. He left it open, evidently appearing sincere.

He enters her thought processes by means of such a strategic strategy that it's easy to miss. And it's all in one word in the question, the word not. You shall not eat of every tree in the garden. Let's look at what God actually said. Chapter 2 verses 16 and 17. And the Lord God commanded the man saying, From any tree of the garden you may freely eat, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.

For in the day you shall eat from it, you will surely die. Now if you go back to what God actually said, not is the second thing he said. The first thing he said is you may freely eat. The first thing God talked about was all you could do, not what you couldn't do. He skips the discussion of verse 16 and he zeroes in on the negative of verse 17. He does not want Eve to interact on the goodness of God. He wants Eve to interact on the restrictions of God, the fact that God is holding out on her. He reduces the command to a question so that God appears to be harsh and restrictive.

Let's rephrase the question. What Satan is asking her is, has God put any limitations on you? Has he restricted you? Has he held you back? Is he saying there are things you cannot do?

He enters her mind with a question about the goodness of God. Now this raises a question, the question in the text. Why put a knot in there at all? Why just not let me eat whatever I want to eat, whenever I want to eat it, simply because I'm in an eating mood? Why give me a knot at all?

Why can't I not only eat of all the trees in the garden, but why can't I eat the one in the middle, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? There are a number of realities in this knot, in this restriction that God gives that is instructive for us today as you will see. First of all, freedom involves choices. The wonderful thing about living in America is that you have options. The wonder of the American experience and experiment is the opportunity, at least on paper all the time, not realized in application, but at least the principle is there that a man is free to pursue life and liberty and he can go after what makes him happy.

He can come up with an idea and facilitate it, but make no mistakes. There are restrictions in a democracy. There are limitations. You're not supposed to drive through a red light.

You could argue, why put a knot there? If I want to drive through a red light, why tell me I should not drive through a red light? I should not shoot through a stop sign. Why limit me? Because very simply, in order to enjoy freedom, there must be sufficient restriction so that you can maximize what freedom is. A tennis player isn't free to play tennis if there's no baseline. A baseball player isn't free to play baseball if there's no foul line. A football player is not free to play football if there are no sidelines.

There are some knots in the athletic game for you to be able to maximize the freedom to play the game. The reason that God puts a negative is to create the option or the opportunity to maximize freedom. And in order to do that, there must be the ability to choose. The second reason why God must put a restriction in the garden is to remind man of his creatureliness. In other words, restrictions make it clear who's in charge.

All of you with teenagers know that that can get blurry real quick because the older the young person gets, the more apt they are to rebel against the restriction, and after a while, it becomes unclear who is parent and who is child, and all of us have been in the position of having to remind our teenagers who's who. God wanted it to be clear that there was a major difference between man and God, a big-time difference. God is transcendent. God is infinite. You are not. There is only one God. You are not it.

Get over it. And therefore, there would be a restriction. Satan, seeing the restriction, zeroes in on it, never mentioning the goodness of God. So he gets her to think his thoughts after him. This was not the woman's idea. This was the devil's idea put into the woman's mind. 2 Corinthians 11, 3, As the serpent deceived Eve, as he got her to think like he thinks, even about God's Word, he entered her mind. When he enters her mind, he says, You know what? God is being rough on you. He creates you, puts you in a beautiful garden, and then he starts off by telling you what you can't do. Isn't that right, girlfriend? Now, Eve then begins to interact with what the devil put in her mind. She begins to discuss it, interact on it, think about it, meditate on it, and makes three subtle changes in the thought process. Verse 2, And the woman said to the serpent, From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat.

So far so good? No. That's a major flaw in that first line. Go back to verse 16 of chapter 2. The Lord commanded the man, saying, From any tree of the garden you may eat freely. God didn't just say you can eat. He says you can eat from every tree of the garden, save one, and it costs you nothing. It's all free.

I've provided it, I've created, and you can shop till you drop, because it's all free. By dropping off the word freely, she minimized the provision of God. Many of us have lost sight of the goodness of God because we have been duped by the devil into only seeing what we can't have, because all you see is what God has prohibited. The devil has blinded you to all the privileges, rights, joys, and opportunities of all those other trees, but because you've got your sight set on that one thing you can't have, you wake up miserable, live miserable, go to bed miserable, mad at God.

He hasn't gotten you a mate yet, mad at God. He moving too slow, when if you would look real close and not be duped into seeing the one thing you can't have, you will discover there are more trees in this single garden than you could ever imagine. There was another tree in the middle of the garden sitting right next to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that comes up a little later in the text. It's called tree of life.

So there are two trees sitting side by side. There is the tree of life and there is the tree of law. This tree of life offered them intimate fellowship and relationship with God. The tree of the knowledge of rules, good rules and bad rules offered them death. God wanted them to live their lives based on a relationship, life, not based on a list. The problem with eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil wasn't because the floor was in the tree, but now they would live their life based on their own set of rules, not based on an intimacy of relationship.

The New Testament would call that the difference between law and grace. With the law tree, you got a list. The problem with the list is that it's long and it never runs out. You keep adding stuff to it. And you go to hear this sermon and this preacher's got two more things for your list. And you listen to the radio program and that preacher's got three more things for your list. And you run out of lists and after a while you're tired. Even of the good stuff that's on the list. Because you can't keep up with all that good stuff. The five ways to do this, the ten ways to do that, the twenty ways to do that, the thirty ways to do that.

You don't even know where the paper is where you wrote it down. Because God never meant for his relationship with you to be tied to a list. That's law. He meant for his relationship to you to be tied to his grace. And that's intimacy. God meant for your Christian life to be driven by your walk with him, not your list. The Bible has a word for this. It's called grace.

It has to do with intimacy of relationship. Many of us have discovered how miserable it is trying to live by law rather than living by abiding in intimacy with him. You see these two trees represent two very different approaches to life. It's two different approaches to life. God says you will not live life with the knowledge of all the list of good and all the list of bad and trying to not do the bad and trying to do the good.

You're going to just be miserable. Jesus didn't say keep my commandments. He said if you love me, keep my commandments.

He said it's based on love, which means it's driven by grace. If you are not enjoying your Christian life, it's because you have joined Eve by eating from the wrong tree. And it's good stuff you're eating. You know the good, you know the bad. You know the right, you know the wrong. You're just hating your life. And yet you say I'm a Christian and Christ lives in me.

Why am I so miserable? It's the wrong tree. It's the tree of rules and not the tree of relationship. And the law kills. The law is good, Paul says in Romans 7. He says the only problem with the law is that while it's good, it can't help you. It can show you right and it can show you wrong.

It can't help you be better. Only a relationship abiding in the presence of Jesus Christ can make you better. Dr. Evans will have more for us in a moment on the danger of relying more on rules than relationship. Through this year, the mission of the Urban Alternative has not changed. Dr. Evans will not stop teaching and preparing you for the challenges you may face.

We've all been affected by the major events of 2020. Dr. Evans and the Urban Alternative want to be here for you and to continue to spread the teaching of God's word while transforming lives. And today, with an end-of-year gift, you can be a part of helping Dr. Evans continue this very important mission. Visit to give today. You know, Tony has said that the more people who meet Jesus, the more lives will be transformed.

It's a simple equation and it's the driving purpose behind this ministry. Please, especially if we've never heard from you before, visit or call us at 1-800-800-3222 and make a contribution to help keep Tony's ministry moving forward. When you do, we'll say thanks by sending you the best of Tony Evans 2020. It's a giant set of 20 of his most popular messages of the past year, digging into subjects like overcoming addiction, healing relationships, drawing closer to God, and much more. And as an added bonus, we'll also include a copy of his popular devotional book, Called for a Purpose. It's easy to get wrapped up in the wrong agenda in life, and this book can help you discover why your passion and purpose are linked and how your obedience to God can make your calling clear. The best of Tony Evans 2020 and the Called for a Purpose devotional book make a perfect Christmas gift for someone you care about. And right now, we'd like to make it a gift for you. Make your contribution online at today or call our Resource Center at 1-800-800-3222. I'll repeat that information for you again after Dr. Evans brings us part two of today's lesson.

Let's join him. How do we overcome this subversion that God is holding out on me? I'm a Christian now. I guess I'm supposed to be miserable. And when I get to heaven, things will be better. Until then, I guess the more miserable I am, the more spiritual I must be. That doesn't sound like the abundant life Jesus talked about. I have come to give you life and to give it to you more abundantly. Life has enough misery than for you to be adding to it.

What do you do? You put things in their proper order. Verse 16 says of chapter 2, of all the trees in the garden you may freely eat. Whenever you see that word free, that's grace. We've been justified freely by His grace, Romans 3 says. Romans 8 even gets gooder. Romans 8 says, if God has given us Christ, will He not freely with Him give us all things?

That sounds like the tree of life to me. That sounds like the first side of the commandment. The first thing you should be talking about as a Christian is not the prohibition. Let's spend time, devil, talking about the goodness of God that's free. All the good things that He has provided us that cost me nothing.

If girlfriend would have only thought for a moment, what about all these other trees? And that's why the Bible says thanksgiving is to dominate the life of the believer because ingratitude is the mark of the devil. The devil says, look at what God has taken away from you. A proper perspective says, look at all the stuff God has given me for free.

When Israel was in the wilderness, the first thing the children of Israel did was complain. We don't have meat. We don't have water. You also don't have the Egyptians holding you as slaves. A few minutes ago, y'all were crying to me, woe is me. I'm miserable. How long I got to live here in Egypt?

I set you free and you forgot. Our problem is a lack of gratitude and it shows up because we rarely give thanks. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6, God has given us all things to enjoy.

That doesn't sound like a miserable person. If God gave it, enjoy it. Enjoy it. Don't apologize for it. Don't feel bad for it.

Enjoy it. Also, don't be put on a guilt trip. Don't let folk eating from the tree of knowledge mess you up from eating all the stuff for free.

Now, if they operate it based on what the Bible says and it's a biblical prohibition, then that's fine. But don't let them cause you to live there and miss all the stuff that God has given for free. It's so easy to be ungrateful. It's like the girl whose mother was trying to teach her to pray and she didn't want to pray. Her mother was trying to put on a guilt trip. She said, well, think of all the children who don't have food, don't have clothes, don't have parents like you. Just think about that.

The girl said, yeah, well, I am thinking about that. That's why they're the ones that need to pray. It's real easy to be ungrateful. Anybody here have any ungrateful kids? You go out there and work and work and work and they're getting stuff for free. Free food, free housing, free clothes, free gas in their cars. You bought all this stuff, you take care of those kids just because they're yours.

You love them. And the only thing they want to talk about are the restrictions. Well, how come I can't stay out later? Well, John's mother let him go there. Well, if you're living with an ungrateful teenager, now you know how God feels about his ungrateful kids who he gives good things to day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, and we miss his grades. God told Israel, even after they sinned, he said, if you'll look close, you'll see these 40 years your shoes did not wear out.

Oh, you didn't get new shoes, but your old shoes were good enough to keep you going for 40 years. I kept your clothes intact because the goodness of God is not just seen in new stuff you get, it's in his preserving old stuff you have. And in the worst situation, there's always a reason to give thanks, even when something is wrong. And he says, you come before me, come with thanksgiving.

It's like the man who needed his pants ironed, and his wife was ironing his pants, and she burned his pants, his good, brand new, new pants that he was looking forward to putting on. And he started to get mad, and then he thought about it and said, I thank you, Lord, that my leg wasn't in it. There's always a reason to give thanks.

The man got on the bus one day, and he was taught not to have a lady standing on a bus, so he got up and he let her sit down, and the lady fainted that someone would be that kind. Then she came to, and she said, sir, thank you for your generosity, and then he fainted that somebody would be that grateful. God says, if you will find a reason to give thanks, you're positioning yourself for more grace. John Wesley was robbed one day, and when he was robbed, he got on his knees and he gave thanks. He says, Father, I was just robbed, and I want to give you thanks. I want to thank you first that I was the robbie and not the robber. Then I want to thank you that they took my money but didn't take my life.

Then I want to thank you that they took all I had, which wasn't much, so I want to give you thanks even though I was robbed. God is good. Psalm 84-11 says, no good thing will he hold from those who walk uprightly.

So if you want to live under the right tree, go to God and thank him as a way of life for all the good things he's given you, and give him glory. Dr. Tony Evans, crushing Satan's claim that God is holding back on us. Before we go for today, let me quickly remind you about our special year-end offer, The Best of Tony Evans 2020. Many of Tony's most popular messages plus his powerful devotional book called for a purpose. This special resource bundle is yours as our thank you gift when you support Tony's work here on the radio, on television, and with pastors, their families, and churches around the world.

Get Tony's best so you can be your best. The devotional book and 20 messages to end 2020. Make the arrangements today by visiting, where you can also find great life-changing gifts for the people you care about. That's, or call our 24-hour resource center at 1-800-800-3222. That number again, 1-800-800-3222. Well, on Monday, Dr. Evans will explain the success or failure you experience in this world is determined by what goes on in a different world. I hope you'll join us. The alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by the Urban Alternative and is made possible by the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-13 23:40:08 / 2024-01-13 23:49:03 / 9

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