Believing God

When God speaks, His words are alive and bursting with meaning.

The Question

God once asked me,

Would you behave any differently if you were truly convinced that I AM?

In the moment I heard the words “I AM” I also heard the phrases, “I AM all that I AM, I AM Who I say that I AM, I AM the Living God, I AM in control of everything, I AM in charge!”

I knew as He spoke that He wasn’t asking me if I believed in Him (whether He existed or not), but rather if I actually believed Him…

  • Did I believe what He said?
  • Did I believe He was Who He said He was?
  • Did I believe He, alone, was God?
  • Did I believe He was actually running things?

In other words, was I submitted to God in all things? And, as a result, did I live accordingly?

  • Did I love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?
  • Did I truly trust Him?
  • Did I lean on Him with all my weight?
  • Did I come to Him for everything?

NOTE: To believe in a god, or even to believe in God, is quite different from believing God.

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Unbelief or Idolatry?

As I reflect on the words men speak it is apparent that they do not believe God regarding much of anything. And, witnessing their actions and the lives they lead, they certainly don’t believe that He is in control… of anything!

Many will acknowledge God to be behind all the good and pleasant things in life: butterflies, sunny days, bunny rabbits, the birth of (healthy) children, a new job promotion, winning the lottery, etc.

But most are at a loss to explain the rest of the real world around them. When plans go wrong, when “stuff” happens, when tragedy strikes, they are the first ones to turn to anything but God alone to resolve their problems.

In their minds, the God of all creation, the I Am That I Am, is not all that, at least not anymore. He may have been at one time, back in the old days, back when He interacted directly with men… Back when men may have needed Him. Apparently everything changed: Men grew wise in their own eyes and their inventions, and their imaginings of technology, science, wealth and political power replaced their need for God.

Idolatry is the replacement of God with anything but God. Yesterday’s idolatry is often associated with bowing before stone, wood, plaster, plastic or paper faces and figurines, bearing bowls of fruit, chanting and/or offering up meaningful words. Today’s idolatry appears to be much more sophisticated, and much better suited to science-based and evidence-based minds.

Many want to believe in a not-so-powerful god that would endeavor to do nothing but enrich their miserable lives. This god requires monetary funding, and investors are promised that they will be returned abundantly more than they invested. Naturally, this god acquiesces to modern science, but he is most willing to accept your income while you continue hoping that you will reap a bountiful harvest, a harvest plentiful enough to satisfy all of the the lusts of your flesh.

In a particularly insidious example of this neo-idolatry a distant, impersonal god may be acknowledged to entertain interest in certain aspects of the lives of some people (perhaps unobservedly and imperceptibly so) and elects to work indirectly through other people and circumstances. This god mystically expands and contracts in influence to suit the needs of the moment. This god is believed to be directly responsible for all the good things in life, especially those things otherwise attributed to coincidence and luck, but could not possibly have anything to do with the bad stuff.

It is a rather brilliant belief system as it permits one to quasi-believe in any god of one’s own imaginings while still loosely or directly assigning causation and/or credit to one’s institutions of choice. In other words: one doesn’t have to believe God to believe in god.

For example, if the loving god I believe in wouldn’t harm a fly, when a fly is harmed and someone accosts me with a question as rude as, “How can a loving god harm a fly? Why would a loving god let such bad things happen?”, I can sound confident and self-righteous in my ludicrous non-answer by saying, “My loving god didn’t do it, he wasn’t involved!” When people then look at me as if I have lost my mind, I can attempt to recover my lost credibility and appear to be more sophisticated by adding, “I know the god I believe in is still in control, because he ALLOWS the awful things to occur for reasons we may not understand. You’ll see: these are things that he will later use for GOOD.”

If I am feeling really courageous, I may ascribe the orchestrating of all fly harming events to the devil. Or I may even go so far as to blame the {insert object of fear and loathing, here} (e.g., the Left, the Right, the Government, the useless eaters, the 1%, the Russians, the Chinese, the Americans, the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, White people, Black people, the Global Elite, the Deep State, the un-Vaxxed, the Vaxxed, etc).

I can go on doing whatever I was going to do anyway and still feel good about my so-called faith (aka, my idolatrous belief system) because I have a trite explanation for events that might otherwise have demanded my serious consideration. 

When things go well, my pet god gets the praise, along with members of the academy, mom and dad, and whoever else I think I may benefit from by flattering!

For example, when someone recovers from an injury or illness, the “expanded god” team, the ones that the god I currently believe in chose to work through, is sent the credit and praise for this person’s restoration to health. That team may include, but not be limited to, the medical facilities, prescribed medications, the General Practitioner, three Specialists, one Surgeon, hospital nursing staff, Auntie May’s chicken soup, and Vitamin D.

By contrast, when an earthquake and its aftershocks devastate a city, razing most of the buildings to the ground, and a quarter of the inhabitants are killed, and most of those who remain alive are suffering harm in some form or another, I can launch into my fly harming event explanations, declaring how my personal, loving god may have ALLOWed bad things to happen, but isn’t involved. But is still in control.


Unbelief is the failure to acknowledge the One True Living God to be in charge of everything.

Idolatry is acknowledging anyone or anything to be in charge other than the One True Living God.

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What does God say?

In order for anyone to have a chance to believe God they would have to first HEAR God; God would have had to reveal Himself to them.

…a knowledge of God is revealed to them, for God has revealed it to them. For the secrets of God from the foundation of the world are appearing to his creatures through intelligence, even his power and his eternal Godhead, that they will be without a defense… Romans 1:19-20

God is Who He is. Settle this issue once and for all by submitting yourself to God. You either believe God or you don’t. If you say you do, beware the deceptiveness of idolatry. Don’t replace what God has said with something you feel is more palatable, more believable, less offensive or will cause less controversy. And stop making excuses for Him.

God instructed Moses to tell all of Israel:

There shall not be another god for you apart from Me! Deuteronomy 6:7

The Psalmist declared:

Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Psalm 113:5-9

Who is in control of ALL things? Through Amos, the herdsman, God asks Israel a series of rhetorical questions, for which the truthful answer is, “Of course not!”:

Do two men walk together unless they have made an appointment?

Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey?

Does a young lion growl from his den unless he has captured something?

Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground when there is no bait in it?

Does a trap spring up from the earth when it captures nothing at all?

And He completes His list of rhetorical questions with this humdinger:

If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it? (NASB)

Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it? (ESV)

Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? (KJV)

Is there evil in the city that the LORD has not done? (FCAB)

Of course not! (see Amos 3:3-6)

Just how many gods did you think were running things?

And He will say: ‘Where are their gods, the mighty ones those upon which they were trusting?’, for they were eating the fat of their sacrifices and they were drinking the wine of their drink offerings; let them arise now and let them help you and they shall be protectors over you. See, therefore, that I AM The Living God, and there is no God apart from me; I am putting to death and I am making alive; I am striking and I am healing, and there is none who escapes from my hands. Therefore I have lifted my hands over Heaven and I have said: ‘I live to eternity.’ I shall sharpen the point of my sword like lightning and my hand shall seize on judgment; I shall return a reward to those hating me and I shall finish my enemies. Deuteronomy 32:37-41

There is only one of Him:

I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God. Isaiah 45:5-6

And He is in charge of everything – EVERYTHING! The light and the darkness, the good and the evil, all of it is because of Him.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. Isaiah 45:7

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Temptation

You may be wondering, “What does temptation have to do with believing God?” Permit me to show you:

A man should not say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God is not tempted with evil and he does not tempt a man. James 1:13

According to James we can conclude that God does not tempt a man. You may ask, “Where does temptation come from, then?”

But each man is tempted from his own desire, and he lusts and he is seduced. And this desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin, but sin, when it has matured, gives birth to death. James 1:14-15

James tells us two things about the source of temptation:

  1. A man is seduced
  2. A man’s own lusts (desires) are used in that seduction

Let me ask the big question for you: Who is doing the seducing? James doesn’t leave us to wonder:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Resist the Devil. Temptation is his role. He is specifically called “the Tempter” in Matthew 4:3 and 1Thessalonians 3:5.

In Genesis 3:1-5 we learn of the encounter between Eve and the Serpent. Of significance is the Serpent’s question to the woman:

Did God actually say…? Genesis 3:1

Who is this Serpent?

And he seized the Dragon, the Ancient Serpent, which is the Devil and Satan… Revelation 20:2

Is the Serpent in the garden the one referred to as “the Ancient Serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan?”

Getting the woman to question what she believed God to have said was only part of the Serpent’s agenda. This was step one in a two step operation. The woman could not have KNOWN what God had actually said, because God hadn’t spoken with the woman. Prior to her being created, God told the man, “Thou shalt not eat…” We can only assume that she had heard adam tell her what God had said, as she did manage to get part of it right when she engaged the Serpent.

For more on this topic, see my article on The Origin of Man.

The point is that the Serpent first challenged the woman’s beliefs regarding what God had said. He then told her what she was longing to hear: instead of continuing with this whole “just take God at His word” stuff, once she ate the fruit of that tree of the knowledge of good and evil she would be godlike, gaining the ability to make her own decisions, deciding for herself what is good and evil, right and wrong, up and down, left and right, etc.

James showed us that a man is tempted when his own desires are used against him, to seduce him, to draw him away from believing God. The Serpent appealed to the woman’s own desires in order to seduce her:

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit… Genesis 3:6

John warns us:

Do not love the world, neither the things that are in it, for whoever loves the world does not have the love of The Father in him. For everything that is in the world: the desire of the body and the lust of the eyes and the pride of temporal life, these are not from The Father but these are from the world. 1John 2:15-16

The purpose of temptation is to simply swap out the love of God with love for the world. All that is in the world is summed up in the following three things:

  1. The desire of the body
  2. The desire of the eyes
  3. The boastful pride of this life

Let’s map Eve’s temptation with John’s summation of all that is in the world:

  1. the tree was good for food – the desire of the body
  2. it was a delight to the eyes – the desire of the eyes
  3. it was desirous to make one wise – the boastful pride of life

Before you say, “You have only further reinforced the idea that God isn’t responsible for the bad things. See? The Devil did it!”

Let’s dispel that notion once and for all, shall we? This teaching concludes with a story that can be found in the following three passages:

  • Matthew 3:13-4:11
  • Mark 1:9-13
  • Luke 3:21-22,4:1-13

Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan river to be baptized by John. As He came up out of the water, the Spirit of God descended upon Him. Mark records that immediately following His baptism the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. After He had been there forty days, He was tempted by Satan.

Both Matthew and Luke put it a little differently. They say the Spirit led Him into the wilderness. Drove. Led. Don’t drown over this issue. Rather, pay attention to the very reason the Spirit DROVE or LED Jesus away from the Jordan and into the wilderness: both Matthew and Luke clearly state that the reason Jesus was sent into the wilderness was TO BE TEMPTED BY THE DEVIL.

Then Jesus was led of The Spirit to the wilderness to be tempted by The Devil. Matthew 4:1

But Jesus, being full of The Spirit of Holiness, returned from the Jordan and The Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tempted by The Devil for forty days… Luke 4:1-2

Don’t miss this:

  • Question: Who, exactly, led Jesus into the wilderness?
  • Answer: The Holy Spirit.

Pay attention:

  • Question: Why, exactly, did the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness?
  • Answer: To be tempted by the Devil.

The Spirit of God, not some evil spirit, led Jesus into the wilderness specifically to be tempted!

Luke tells us that Jesus’s disciples came to him with a request:

Our LORD, teach us to pray… Luke 11:1

Both Matthew and Luke record this astonishing statement in Jesus’s prayer:

Our Father…do not lead us into temptation, but save/deliver us from evil/the Evil one… Matthew 6:13, Luke 11:4

We know it is the Devil who is the Tempter, who does the actual work of tempting. And the way the Devil does it is to get you to question God and then use your own desires against you.

But it was the Spirit of God who LED Jesus to be TEMPTED!

When the Spirit led Jesus to be tempted, the Devil, try as he might, could not find any lustful desires in Jesus that could be used against Him, let alone could he get Jesus to question God. But we are not Jesus, and no one knows that better than He.

Jesus taught His disciples to tell the Father NOT to lead them into temptation!

He didn’t tell them that God wasn’t involved, and it’s all the Devil’s fault! Nor did He tell them to beg God to help them be stronger than last time! Instead, He said to tell the Father to DELIVER us from evil, from the EVIL ONE. Deliver us from the entire process of temptation!

Jesus was hungry, having fasted for forty days. The Devil challenged Him by saying, ‘IF you are who you say you are, you can turn these stones into bread (to satisfy your hunger).’ Astonishingly, with literal starvation now weakening his body, Jesus responded with:

It is written: ‘A man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’

That would be “from the mouth of God,” NOT from your mouth, Satan! Or anyone else’s mouth, for that matter! In my hunger I don’t need or want your advice, your oh-so-clever suggestion to come up with my own solution, my own way out of this situation. The words of my Father are my sustenance. He LED me here. He will deliver me!

Do you now see the connection between temptation and believing God?

  • Question: Who, exactly, is in charge? Of everything? At all times? Unto eternity?
  • Answer: The One, the Only, the Living God!

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In Whom do you trust?

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put your trust in men… It is better to trust in the LORD than to put your trust in princes. Psalm 118:8-9

…and again:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. Jeremiah 17:7

…and again:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Lest you get the wrong impression and think these are merely suggestions, look at this TRUST issue from God’s point of view:

Thus says the LORD: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.’ Jeremiah 17:5

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Do you believe?

‘…but there are men among you who do not believe’, for Jesus himself knew from the first who they were who were not believing and who he was who would betray him. And he said to them, ‘Because of this, I said to you that no man can come to me unless it has been given to him from my Father.’ John 6:64-65

Has it been given to you? Then…

Do not fear; only believe. Mark 5:36