I want to tell you about a passage in Scripture that has really impacted me.
2 Chronicles 12:14 says, “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD.”
It’s a choice to set your heart on the Lord.
You do it by reading Scripture and learning about God’s character. You can’t just do it now and then. You need to set your heart on God as a regular practice of the soul.
If you do it, it changes you. It changes your worldview. It frees you from misunderstandings or imagined ideas about who God is.
If you don’t set your heart on seeking the Lord, that’s a choice.
That choice pays off further along in life: you will do evil. You will misunderstand what God’s priorities are, or you won’t even care to ask.
This is so important that I’m going to orient my writing around the topic. We need to see God’s heart and see his understanding of what is “good.”
It is far too easy to think we know what God is like and to think our ideas come from Scripture, when they don’t. They come from our childhood guesses, our unchecked premises, the voices around us, and our own wishes.
To worship a god of one’s own imagination is idolatry. If we do this, by what right can we even say we are God’s followers?
What errors will we imagine about God?
1. God’s Judgment
We tend to think the God of the New Testament will not judge, because “love doesn’t judge or condemn.” That idea leaves us with no way to even comprehend what the Old Testament is talking about or what God was doing. Ultimately it ruins our grasp of the gospel, especially our need for repentance.
2. God’s Goodness
We tend to think of God’s goodness as an abstraction with little idea of what goodness means, so we are confused when we see God doing evil toward people.
3. God’s Righteousness
We tend to think righteousness is primarily a question of putting others before oneself, so we fail to reconcile God’s righteousness with his jealousy, wrath, or straightforward pursuit of his own self-interest.
4. God’s Truth
In light of our above confusions, we have a hard time understanding God. Stacking confusion upon confusion, we conclude, “It seems like a contradiction, and it must be. God does not make sense.”
Do you wonder how a virtuous God could be “jealous”? Or how Jesus Christ could delight to stand upon his slain enemies in the day of his return?
Or have you ever heard it preached that God’s love for us is irrational? Crazy?
If such low views of God and rationality were true, there would be no problem in the final misconception, that God desires us to develop a “faith seeking understanding” rather than a faith based on understanding.
Scripture does not support these ideological disasters.
These four main misconceptions about God’s character (his goodness, justice, righteousness, and truth) end up skewing our worldview and our very approach to understanding the good, the just, the right, and the true.
The solution? We must take our view of God and our view of the world from Scripture rather than from our own imagination. As we set our hearts on the God of Scripture, we are surprised to find that the aspects of his character do accord with one another, but only when the evidence has been considered and our premises have been checked.
A logically consistent view of God’s character is possible to man.
God has revealed himself sufficiently.
A true view of God brings enormous applications for our own lives. As examples, consider that God’s treatment of us is not the main criteria for determining his goodness. He is good apart from us and independent of us, and he has no duty to us. How freeing it is to base your love of God upon who he is, rather than upon current circumstances.
In fact, God’s treatment of us relates more to the question of his justice. The motive of God is radical, wholehearted self-interest, and it is from that principle that he works to show his goodness to us, within the constraints of what is allowed by his justice (Rom 3:26). This is what a rational, truth-oriented God is like.
For God, and also for man, it is rational to understand value as relating to the individual.
Goodness is not subjective, for there are indeed facts about what is good. But these facts are always about relationships between an individual and the world he inhabits. They are facts about the long term benefit to the individual.
For man, as for God, righteousness consists in following one’s own self-interest; all moral considerations are for this purpose.
For man, as for God, the commitment to radical self-interest requires us to uphold justice: rationality in our evaluation of other men.
Further, though we are not omniscient, we should embrace the absolutism of reason and truth. Though man’s mind is not infallible, man can never do better than to follow the course which best seems to accord with the evidence.
It’s a lengthy project to show the Scriptural evidence for these facts about God’s character. That’s why I’m inviting you to join me on a journey of Scripture. We will learn to see God’s goodness, and in so doing, we will live.