Can We Be Honest With God?

In Genesis 15:1, Abraham has a vision. The text says,

“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”” (Ge 15:1)

In his vision, God appears to Abraham. Of course, Abraham’s first reaction is fear — fear of judgment. Knowing Abraham’s thoughts, God says to him,

“Fear not, Abram, I am your shield.” (Gen. 15:1a)

In other words, God is telling Him that He is for him, He is his refuge and protection. As such, Abraham shouldn’t fear God’s judgment.

That’s true for us as well.

Those who are God’s need not fear His judgment

That is an awesome promise because it means those of us who are God’s know where we stand with Him. We are not left to wonder or worry. We don’t have to hope that we have done enough good works to escape God’s judgment. Those who are His know where they stand.

Those who are God’s Can Expose Their Life to Him

Knowing where we stand with God allows us to expose our life to Him without fear that He will use that against us, or change His mind and judge us. As well as it allows us to be honest with God, to truly share our feelings with Him. We don’t have to hold back. We can reveal sin in our lives, repenting of it, and asking Him for the strength to fight it. We can share with God what we are thinking. We can ask Him questions.

Abraham’s Example

That is exactly what Abraham does. After God tells Abraham that He need not fear Him and that His reward shall be very great, Abraham is honest with God when he says,

““O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?””” (Ge 15:2)

You see, 10 years ago God promised Abraham that He would give him a son and that He would make him into a great nation. God hasn’t delivered on that promise yet. Since God hasn’t delivered, Abraham questions God. Essentially he is saying in verses 2 and 3,

“You have been promising me a reward for a while. I still don’t have the heir you told me I was going to have. The only one I have is Eliezer, who is my servant. Is he supposed to be my heir? Because, if I remember correctly God, You told me You were going to give me my own son?”

Calling God’s promise into question takes some guts. But, again, knowing that we don’t have to fear His judgment if we are His allows us to be honest with God.

Proof We Can Be Honest With God

God proves that we can be honest with Him, when He doesn’t respond in judgment. Instead, in verses 4 and 5, He responds lovingly, assuring Abraham that he will have a son of his own and he will become a great nation. So this will sink in, God takes him outside, tells him to look up at the uncountable stars in the night sky, and as he does, God tells him again that He will give him an heir and that the nation that will come forth from him will be greater than the stars in the sky that night.

Question for Reflection

  1. When is the last time you have been honest with God about how you feel, the sin you are struggling with, or the questions you have?


Post adapted from my sermon What are the three foundational truths upon which the Christian life must be built? You can listen here.


What are the Benefits of Those Who Fear the Lord?

We are told in Proverbs 1:7 that:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; 
fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

What does it mean to fear the Lord?

Fearing the Lord means that we have a certain awe and respect for God, which arises from recognizing our place in the universe. No matter what psychology says, we are not the center that everything and everyone should revolve around. God is at the center because He is the Creator and subsequent owner of all creation. We are His.

When we recognize God’s power, glory, and creative genius, we should be driven to wonder, amazement, and a deep respect for God. Instead of worshipping self or creation, we should worship the Lord. Instead of trying to do things on our own, thinking we know best, we should seek the Lord and His Word because we know He knows best, and when we live according to His design things go well.

The Benefits of those who Fear the Lord

The Psalmist, building on the idea from Proverbs, enumerates the benefits of those who fear the Lord in Psalm 25.

(1) His guilt is pardoned, and he no longer has to fear the Lord’s wrath (11).

(2) He receives the Lord’s instruction, telling him how he should live (12).

(3) His soul is at ease. Worry, stress, and, at times, even the hardship of life are not present (13a).

(4) His children will inherit the land promised by the Lord because the father’s actions don’t result in discipline. By the hand of the Lord, He dwells securely in the land and his children are able to inherit that same land (13b).

(5) He will receive the counsel of a friend from the Lord (14a).

(6) God’s covenant faithfulness is made known to him (14b).

(7) He will be rescued from his enemies by the strong hand of the Lord (15).

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you fear the Lord?
  2. Do you recognize the benefits of fearing Him?



Who Do You Trust and Fear?

As Christianity is marginalized more and more, there will be stands we have to make. Whether we stand for the Lord or man will determine who we trust and fear.

A Contemporary Issue

The sanctity of marriage is a hot button issue in our country right now. Those not on the bandwagon of gay marriage are quickly labeled as bigots and haters; their participation in the public arena is limited; and they are pressured by their friends, family, employers, and the media to embrace and celebrate the sexual revolution.

As the pressure mounts, those desiring to please others and continue to have public influence will eventually evolve on the issue. Those who evolve on the issue show who they fear, man not God. They fear what man thinks of them, what man can take from them, and what man can do to them.

However, those who can’t or won’t acquiesce their beliefs show who they fear, that is the Lord. Those who rightly fear God will find themselves being marginalized. While the marginalization of Christians may limit the jobs we can hold, the businesses we can run, and the public influence we have, we need not fear because the Lord will care for us.

The Truth

Knowing the marginalization of Christianity is coming, and is indeed already here, we need to decide right now who we are going to fear and who we are going to trust.

If we cave to societal pressures, by fearing and placing our trust in man, we may find ourselves exalted and praised. We may experience all the benefits this world can offer. However, at some point you can bet things will not work out like we thought. Man always lets us down. They never stick to their word.

However, if we continue to fear and trust the Lord, we can be confident we will never be let down, and we will experience eternal life because the Lord always sticks to His Word. He doesn’t sway and shift with the cultural breeze. He doesn’t bend his knee to Caesar. He is unmovable, unshakeable, unbendable. He is who He is today and tomorrow. The Lord doesn’t change, which means the Lord can be trusted.

Who will you trust and fear? God or man?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Have you felt pressure lately to go along with society instead of God? If so, how did you deal with it?
  2. Do you believe Christians are being marginalized in our country?



Wisdom Apart From the Lord is a Counterfeit

Walk in the Forrest

Where can we find wisdom? Man says in Philosophy, the arts, or by looking to ourselves, but God tells us something different. Here is what He says through Job:

But where shall wisdom be 
     And where is the place of 
Man does not know its worth,
     and it is not found in the land 
          of the living.
The deep says, ‘It is not in me,’
     and the sea says, ‘It is not with 
It cannot be bought for gold,
     and silver cannot be weighed as 
          its price.
It cannot be valued in the gold of 
     in precious onyx or sapphire.
Gold and glass cannot equal it,
     nor can it be exchanged for 
          jewels of fine gold.
No mention shall be made of 
          coral or of crystal;
     the price of wisdom is above 
The topaz of Ethiopia cannot 
          equal it,
     nor can it be valued in pure 

“From where, then, does wisdom 
     And where is the place of 
It is hidden from the eyes of all 
     and concealed from the birds of 
          the air.
Abaddon and Death say,
     ‘We have heard a rumor of it 
          with our ears.’

“God understands the way to it,
     and he knows its place.
For he looks to the ends of the 
     and sees everything under the 
When he gave to the wind its 
     and apportioned the waters by 
when he made a decree for the 
     and a way for the lightning of 
          the thunder,
then he saw it and declared it;
     he established it, and searched 
          it out.
And he said to man,
     ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that 
          is wisdom,
     and to turn away from evil is 
          understanding.’ ” - Job 28:12-28

Where Do We Find Wisdom?

Wisdom isn’t found with man. It can’t be bought. It can’t be searched, or mined out of the self. Wisdom is found only in the Lord, and specifically in fearing the Lord.

Wisdom is found only in the Lord.

Wisdom, then, is learning and obeying God’s commandments. It is living according to God’s ways and not man’s ways.

So then, if you aren’t following God, you aren’t wise. Your wisdom is counterfeit because true wisdom is found only in the fear of the Lord.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Where do you believe Wisdom is found?
  2. Do you agree with Job?



X-Ray Questions: Whose opinion of you counts?

This week we continue our X-Ray Questions series, as we look at the question: Whose opinion of you counts? You can read the other posts in this series by clicking here.

X-Ray Question:

(13) Whose opinion of you counts?

From whom do you desire approval and fear rejection? Whose value system do you measure yourself against? In whose eyes are you living? Whose love and approval do you need?


When you lose God, you enter a jungle of distortion. You tend to live before your own eyes or before the eyes of others – or both. When you lose or take God out of the equation, what is left is to seek the approval of man, which will ultimately leave you wanting.

Even for us who have not removed God completely from the picture, the approval of man has a strong pull on our lives, often causing us to seek it, rather than God’s approval. Since man’s approval has such a strong pull on our lives, we must fight the desire within to seek man’s approval, finding our approval in the Lord alone.

If we do not fight, we will compromise our convictions, not speaking up when we know Scripture speaks against a certain issue. When we remain silent on issues because we fear we will lose the respect of men, we are like the authorities who did not stand up to the Pharisees. John says,

Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:42-43 ESV)

May we make it a point to seek the glory that comes from God more than the glory that comes from man.

Social Idols

The “social idols” which encompass approval and fear can take numerous forms:

  • Acceptance or Rejection
  • Being Included or Excluded
  • Praise or Criticism
  • Affection or Hostility
  • Adoration or Belittlement
  • Intimacy or Alienation
  • Being Understood or Caricatured

Awareness of these “social idols” is the first step, but we must also ask God to reveal to us where we may be seeking to please others rather than Him. In other words, we must plead with God in our prayers to reveal to us if the opinion of man is an idol that is present in our lives.


If after we pray, God reveals to us that approval is an idol in our lives, we must repent and turn from that idol. We do so by realizing true approval comes from God alone. The approval man gives us is temporary and situational. We may have man’s approval one day, but the next day they may reject us because we have not lived up to their expectations.

In contrast to the world, those who have repented of their sins and professed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will never be rejected by God. As a result, they should never fear the loss of God’s approval.

Why want believers be rejected by God?

Because God accepts us based on Christ’s cross work, not our own work. When we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His righteousness is imputed to us, so that we too become righteous (2 Cor. 5:21). As those who are righteous, we are just as Jesus is even now in the world (1 John 4:17), meaning we are sons of God, just as Jesus is the Son of God. Those who are God’s children have nothing to fear. Instead they are to be confident on the Day of Judgment, knowing that God abides in them and they in God (1 John 4:15-18).


Here are a few passages from God’s word to meditate on this week, as you consider the question: Whose opinion of you counts?: Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 29:25; John 12:43; 1 Cor. 4:3-5; 2 Cor. 10:18.


All X-Ray questions taken from David Powlison’s book Seeing with New Eyes.

Thinking Out Loud: How is God a Christian’s Judge?

A perplexing question has had me racking my brain for several days now. In what way are we as Christians judged by God? The text that has motivated this question is 1 Peter 1:17, which says

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,” (1 Pe 1:17).


Verse 17 comes in the midst of Peter telling his readers to place their hope in Christ alone (13), to not be conformed to their former way of life (14), but instead to be holy as God is holy (15-16). So then, the context deals with Christian conduct. More specifically, Peter wants his readers to understand that their profession of Jesus Christ as their Savior should also result in transformed living.

Verses 13, 14, 15-16 provide commands to live a certain way, as well as they provide the motivation for such living. Verse 17 seems to follow suit. It provides a command, “conduct yourselves in fear”. It also provides a motivation, God is both the Father of those who profess Christ to be their Savior and the Judge of all.

How Can God Be The Judge of Christians?

Verse 17 says God judges all impartially according to their works, which should lead to us conducting ourselves in fear during our earthly stay. Commentators and preachers differ in regard to what this judgment on Christians could be.

  • Some hold it is a judgment regarding rewards (Rom 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10-11).
  • Others skip over the phrase, “who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds,” opting only to deal with the word fear. They then conclude fear means we need to live in reverence to God.
  • While others hold a tension between fear referring to reverence for God, and also a fear of God’s judgment.

What I Think

Based on Peter’s mentioning of God as Father and Judge, the context calling for believers to live a transformed life as a result of their salvation, as well as Romans 2:6-11, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, and John 3:36, I think Peter is presenting a tension here. A tension both John and Paul present in their writings and one that is evident in the passages above.

The tension I think Peter is presenting is that our faith in Christ should produce good works (Gal. 5:21; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). It is these works that are judged, proving that we are Christians. So then, on the one hand, our fear is to be one of reverence and respect for God. On the other hand, we are to fear God as judge, knowing that if we do not finish the race (1 Cor. 6:9-11), we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Even if at one time we did great works for the kingdom, we must continue to live a righteous life throughout our time here on earth. In other words, we must finish the race. God is not a partial judge, no matter how much good we have done for the kingdom.

I don’t believe our righteous living earns us salvation, but I do believe it proves our salvation since it would not be possible to live righteously without the Holy Spirit residing in us. The Holy Spirit would not reside inside of us, if we did not believe Christ to be our Savior.

Final Questions: I Want Your Thoughts

Those are my thoughts. I want to know what you think. To help facilitate that, here are my final questions:

  • Am I on the right track believing there is a tension between God as Father and Judge, or am I missing something?
  • Do you also see a tension between our faith and works, with our works, or obedience, proving our faith?
  • Do you believe fear in 1 Peter 1:17 is referring to reverence only, or both reverence and judgment?
  • Do you believe Peter is talking about our rewards in heaven? If so, how would those rewards motivate us to live holy lives now?
  • What do you make of verses like 1 John 4:18-21, which tells us those who fear have not been perfected?

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