He isn’t. We are just very sinful.
Sin corrupts, distorts, and confuses us so much that at times we give in to it. How do we combat against sin from ourselves or that of others?
The bible teaches us right from wrong. For those specific moments that we are unsure of, it also teaches us how to pray.
If only we could actually see God and then speak to him face to face. We will do this one day, but on this earth God’s ways sometimes seem vague.
Idol worshipers have a figure to turn to at least, something tangible that can be seen and touched. But for all of their presence, the idol cannot respond to the asking. The worshiper can make up whatever response from this god that he wants.
18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
Also read verses 9 through 17 when you have the time.
Our sinful nature wants a tangible god so much that we craft it from our strength and dare to call it holy. Forget about those ancient idols though, this also covers the sin of sensuality, or of turning towards material things instead of the invisible God who created them.
Should we worship the Creator who has chosen to be invisible?
Praying to the Invisible God
We reach out to God by reading the bible and also through prayer.
But who are we praying to?
Our invisible God was revealed on this earth long ago through Jesus. That was very visible. Christianity is the human response to Jesus’ call; it has forever changed culture.
But today, Jesus is in heaven. He has given an invisible manifestation of God calling Him our Helper or the Holy Spirit.
So now, we pray to an invisible God. Outsiders call us crazy of course. Worshipers of materialism shake their heads. “Where is your God?” They’d ask, “Are you talking to yourself?”
Let us also mock them and their material possessions just as Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal who failed to call fire from heaven.
1 Kings 18
27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.
Cars, mansions, and money also remain mute to the cry of our deepest and most soulful questions.
God differs from material possessions in that He responds.
How He Responds
There is much debate between Christians on how He responds. Many reformed Christians say it is only clearly spoken through His bible.
Outside of that, we receive strong convictions from the Holy Spirit concerning our sin, but nothing vague or hard to discern.
All Christians agree that God answers our prayers through the Holy Spirit. All agree that the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. For most reformed Christians this is enough. We should not ask about anything else.
Maybe I’m getting this part of the reformed faith wrong, it’s just really hard for me, a newly reformed Christian, to believe that we should never ask the Lord for a specific direction in our lives.
I ask this in prayer all the time.
In this asking, there have been hard seasons where I was led astray by my feelings and sins, but I have also experienced great spiritual growth and direction in the asking. The point is, you should always keep asking.
In the end, all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
The word “good” there is the Greek word agatha meaning intrinsically good, good in nature, good whether it be seen to be so or not, the widest and most colorless of all words with this meaning.
So, even in my sinful seasons of struggle and strife, God was working in me and through me towards His good “whether it be seen to be so or not”. Should I keep sinning then? No!
If I stayed in that sin and did not eventually repent, that would only prove that I am a slave to it and God is not in me. Thank the Lord that through my confession, He is faithful and just to cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) so that I can become a slave to righteousness by a continuous commitment towards Him (Romans 6:17).
So, in waiting and hearing from the Lord, I have gotten it wrong. My sins have confused me at times. But I would say that over all, listening to God and following his direction has been very rewarding.
Am I Only Talking to Myself?
How do I reconcile this with the bible? Those reformed fellows and gals who disagree with me would say I am talking to myself and myself is responding to me and I’m calling that self a god. They could easily point to all of my sins and say, “See! The fact that you have had these sinful seasons proves that listening to God for a specific direction is wrong.”
But, we all struggle with sins. I could point to there’s and also mock them saying, “Your ways are also full of a struggle with sin.”
Let’s take the plank away from our eyes and admit that all have fallen short of God’s glory here. We must remove this plank in order to rightly judge the meaning and purpose of prayer.
Are we praying to an idol that does not respond? No! Our God is alive. He is Yahweh.
He is the He Is.
Being full of sin doesn’t stop God from leading us through thoughts and musings when we pray. It just means our sins distort and confuse His response so that it seems vague. Should we stop asking, stop praying? No! We should pray more and be cautious.
So then, how do you know if God is speaking to you outside of the bible? Well, first of all, praying to God for help with a specific situation in our lives is never outside of the bible.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
The Greek word for wisdom here is sophia. It means wisdom, insight, skill (human or divine), intelligence.
So, if you are asking the Lord to give you insight, a divine skill or intelligence on what to do in a specific situation in life, God will respond generously without reproach. It will be given to you. Just be cautious and ask in faith which is the Greek word pistis meaning faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness.
God will not give us an answer immediately, so, don’t ask amiss or in a wishy-washy way. Be consistent and faithful in the asking.
This is great advice and expounds wisely upon Jesus’ own words about prayer. In Matthew 7 while he was addressing a multitude during his sermon on the mount He said:
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
The word for good in verse 11 is the same Greek word agatha which, again, means: intrinsically good, good in nature, good whether it be seen to be so or not, the widest and most colorless of all words with this meaning.
“Whether it be seen to be so or not.” I really like that part. Sin distorts, whether it comes from yourself or from another. Even when God responds we can be blind to it. His response can appear to be vague.
His goodness comes to us all the time whether it be seen to be so or not. Sin will then come, from ourselves or even a friend or family member, and snatch it away.
This is why we must be full of pistis faith in the asking. We must continually ask and seek and knock, not amiss but confidently and consistently. God is very tolerant and patient with us. Eventually, sin will be chased away and His goodness will come around. It will stop being vague.
God knows many things that we do not. So, His response is often ignored by our frilly minds who cannot see all things. This is why we keep at it. Eventually God will reveal it to us, though in many cases He asks us to trust in Him before it is fully known. This gives glory to God in the end because in looking back we see His faithfulness and wisdom.
Therefore, the wisdom of His calling will be known to those who consistently and faithfully ask of Him.
So, ask, seek, and knock. When you are unsure, keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking. Eventually the answer will come clear and free from our sin that so easily besets us.
What is Pistis Faith?
Chapter 11 of Hebrews opens with an explanation of this strange sort of faith that all Christians must have.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
The chapter continues with story after story of people in the Old Testament constantly tested in what to do when seeking the Lord. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, and Moses to name a few.
These patriarchs of our faith dealt with hearing from God. Some of it was very obviously spoken through prophets. But consider Moses who had no prophet to tell him exactly how to act. Yet he is also counted among the faithful in his actions against the seen and towards the seeming vagueness of God’s word and calling.
27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
Is the writer of Hebrews only listing these patriarchs of our faith for history’s sake? Are we to only read the bible and ignore what it tells us to do about prayer, in asking for wisdom, for a divine skill in understanding this very hard life that we live?
Does the Holy Spirit only tell us what not to do (our sin) and leave the rest up to us?
Does God remain mute and silent to those who are pistis faithful in asking of Him? The Hebrews writer continues in the very next chapter 12 saying.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
If you do not believe that God responds to us who faithfully ask for wisdom from Him about specific issues in our life (as I have done for the past 2 and a half years and am doing now about a specific issue in my life), then you must ignore a vast majority of the bible.