THE PSYCHOLOGY OF GOD
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF GOD
I am occasionally amused at religious people who try to “figure out” God – why He does what He does, or why He gave certain commands. I would be inclined to think that this is an area where mere mortals should fear to tread; and yet many seem to occupy themselves with trying to explain the “psychology” of God. In this article, I want to consider the danger of this all-too-common practice.
Let me illustrate the kind of thing to which I refer. Often, I hear questions like: “Why did God command baptism for the remission of sins? Why involve the use of water at all?” Another question: “Why did God command instruments of music in the OT (2Chr.29:25; Ps.150:3-5), but not in the NT?” Here’s another: “Why did God require blood to atone for sin? How does blood (a physical thing) atone for a soul (cf. Lv.17:11)?”
Let me confess without reservation that I don’t know why God commanded baptism for the remission of sins. I don’t know why water is involved. I only know that God said so (Ac.2:38; 8:35-39). I don’t know why God does not authorize instrumental music. I only know that He doesn’t (Col.3:16-17). I don’t know why God requires blood to atone for sin; nor do I know how “blood” can atone for a “soul.” Not only do I not know the answer to such questions, I DO NOT CARE! God said it, and that is enough for me!
In Leviticus 18:4, God said, “You shall therefore keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the Lord your God.” What a powerful truth! What this means is that God is in charge and I am not! The same concept is taught in the New Testament. Consider, for instance, this command: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ep.6:1). In effect, he is telling us to obey simply because God said so! We are in no position to judge God or to judge what He demands of us (Jm.4:12). We must accept God as God, then shut up and listen to Him (Hab.2:20)!
But some protest, “There is always a reason for God’s commands; He is not capricious and arbitrary; He does not make rules for rules’ sake.” I could not agree more! In fact, God sometimes tells us why He gave certain commands (cf. 1Tm.3:4-5). Other times, we may be able to figure out the why. But the point I am making is that I do not have to know the reason; I must simply do what He says without question – even if it sounds “arbitrary” to me! In other words, the “why” is irrelevant!
In addition to the simple fact that God is God and I am not, there are some other reasons why is it dangerous to try and “figure out” God. Let’s note a few:
1. We cannot read God’s mind! In 1 Corinthians 2:11, Paul said, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God” (NASV). Just as surely as we cannot read one another’s minds, we also cannot read the mind of God.
2. We may not need to know! In Deuteronomy 29:29, Moses said, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Simply put, God has put us on a “need to know” basis. If He revealed it, then He wants us to know it; but if He did not reveal it, then we don’t need to know! The next point is closely connected to this one:
3. We need faith in the sufficiency of His word! In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God has provided all that we need to know to be saved, live right, and get to Heaven. When men begin to doubt this, they try to “help” God by “filling in the blanks.” But faith says, “Be patient and wait for God to fill in those blanks in the time and manner of His choosing.”
In the final analysis, we are “disciples” – learners and followers of our Heavenly Master. Our job is to become diligent students, always trying to learn, grow, and put into practice what God has revealed to us (Mt.28:19; Hb.5:12-6:3; 2Pt.3:17-18). We must not judge God or His law. Let us learn our place, get in our place, and stay there!