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Lie #2 God is Holding Out on You

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
August 10, 2021 8:00 am

Lie #2 God is Holding Out on You

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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August 10, 2021 8:00 am

A lot of people think that God’s 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. It’s an important look at how to recognize and reject the devil’s misinformation tactics in our lives.

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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. Celebrating 40 years of faithfulness, 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. Well, 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 Satan keeps trying to sell us.

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 Genesis 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. Let's look at what God actually said. Chapter two, 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. The first thing God talked about was all you could do, not what you couldn't do. 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 has been 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, 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 a 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 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 the 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 law 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 list 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 10 ways to do that, the 20 ways to do that, the 30 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. 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. That's why Jesus didn't say, keep my commandments. He said, if you love me, keep my commandments. 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. Many of us are raising our children under the wrong tree. We have made their acceptance based on rule keeping. Now, yeah, there are expectations, but rules without relationship equal rebellion. There's gonna come a point where they're gonna want out. Not because the rules were wrong, but that's all they knew. They knew about this rule tree.

If you're my son and you have my name, you don't do this, you don't do that, you don't do this, you don't do that, you do this, you do this, you do this, you do that. And after a while, it may be when they can get out for college, they're gone because they don't want to live under the rule. However, with the rules, because they don't want to live under the rule. However, with relationship, knowing what it is to be hugged and to be told I love you and to be told you mean so much to me, even when you're bad, I still love you.

When they enter into a realm of relationship, they're a lot more motivated to keep the rules. Before they fell, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was irrelevant. It was irrelevant because they had life. They had life. Dr. Evans will have more for us on the danger of relying more on rules than relationship when he returns in a moment after some reflection about how God has kept him going through some of the most difficult challenges he's ever faced. There were times when I was overwhelmed with the burdens of life, when I didn't know that I could keep going, and yet God would bring someone or something to speak words of encouragement to me during difficult times. Of course, 2019 was one of those times when I lost my wife over 49 years.

And how do you keep going during that season? One month after I'd lost my father. And yet God provided the strength that I needed to keep proclaiming His Word during those difficult days. And I'm very grateful that for 40 years we've seen His kind hand of favor on this ministry.

Especially when you consider the challenges and difficulties along the way, the expansion and growth we've experienced here is nothing short of a miracle, and none of it would have been possible without the faithful contributions of people like you. And that's why I want to let you know about a special package we've put together as our way of saying thank you when you make a donation to keep this ministry going. It starts with Tony Evans Top 40, 40 classic messages covering some of the most important topics in the Christian faith. You'll get volumes one and two of this four-volume set, along with Tony's popular booklet on fasting, which will teach you how to sharpen your spiritual appetite by sometimes saying no to your physical one. Make your contribution online at today, or call our resource center at 1-800-800-3222 and make arrangements to get this double resource package before time runs out. I'll repeat that information for you again after part two of today's message and this.

Coming to theaters this November. I'm here in Bethany, the place where Lazarus was raised from the dead. I'm here in the place where it's believed was the tomb from which he walked when Jesus raised him from the dead.

Dr. Tony Evans brings the New Testament Gospels to life as he visits the locations of Jesus' earthly ministry, connecting them to their significance for humankind today. What do you think has died in your life? Maybe hope has died. Your relationships have died. Maybe your dreams have died.

Guess what? Jesus is still the resurrection. He can take things that are dead and bring them back to life again. November 15th, 16th, and 17th. Travel with Dr. Tony Evans on a life-changing, eye-opening journey with Jesus.

Find theater showtimes and learn more at 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. 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've 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. 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 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. Okay? 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 need 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. A 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 current special offer, Volumes 1 and 2 of Tony Evans' Top 40, packed with 20 of Tony's most popular messages, including the one you heard today, plus his powerful booklet on how fasting can lead to the breakthrough you've been praying for. 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. Make the arrangements today before time runs out by visiting or call our 24-hour resource center at 1-800-800-3222. That number again, 1-800-800-3222. Dr. Evans says the fact that we're worried can be a bigger problem than whatever we're worried about. Be sure to join us tomorrow as he talks about why we still experience anxiety when God promised us peace. The alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by the Urban Alternative and is celebrating 40 years of faithfulness thanks to the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-16 15:24:06 / 2023-09-16 15:32:52 / 9

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