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Nothing about God’s nature should cause man to doubt Him (Deut. 32:3–4), yet ever since Eve questioned God’s intention in the garden, people have doubted God’s Word and motives. Unbelief assumes or suspects iniquity or inability in God and may be expressed by grumbling at providence, “helping” God fulfill His promises, seeking proof before trusting Him, or asserting a degree of independence from God (Gen. 16:1–6; 18:10–14; Matt. 16:1, 4). Our doubt of the perfect One reveals our imperfection and flawed knowledge of Him.

We cannot trust unless we are certain of the character of the person we trust. Knowing our proneness to doubt, God graciously assures us of His trustworthiness. He accompanied His promises, which should be enough by themselves, with signs (Judg. 6:36–40; Mark 2:8–12; John 10:38; 20:30). He who cannot lie swore an oath to buttress our faith in His unchangeable character (Heb. 6:13–19). By giving up His Son, He supremely demonstrated His just, loving, and trustworthy nature (Rom. 5: 6–10; 8:31–32).

We should focus not on our faith but on God. The hero of Abraham’s faith is God, not Abraham. When told to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham reasoned that since God is perfect, His promise must be fulfilled, so if Isaac must die, God must resurrect him (Heb. 11:17–19). David’s faith was almost wrecked because the wicked prospered until he appreciated God’s justice (Ps. 73). Knowing God is what strengthens our obedient faith.

Without knowing and trusting God, we cannot fully obey Him by loving Him and our neighbors (1 John 4:7). One may obey solely out of fear, but such obedience is not born out of full knowledge because a true obedience presupposes an intimate knowledge of God on which trust is based (John 15:12–15). Christ could love and obey the Father by dying for us because He trusted the Father with His life. Laying down one’s life without faith and love cannot lead to true obedience (1 Cor. 13:3) because true obedience presupposes faith and love (John 14:15, 21, 23–24; Rom. 1:5; 1 John 3:23). Hence, without a proper knowledge of God, our trust, love, and obedience will fall short (Matt. 26:35, 74).

Because of residual sin that clouds and often perverts our knowledge of God, we doubt God, wrongly believing that something in Him warrants our distrust. At the consummation, when our knowledge of God will be perfect (1 Cor. 13:12), it will be impossible to doubt or to not love and thereby disobey God because our certainty that He is absolutely trustworthy will no longer be mixed with doubts. Our final perfection in trust, love, and obedience is inextricably linked to a perfect knowledge of God. A trust-infused relationship with God grounded on an intimate knowledge of Him is the context of obedience.

Because Christ perfectly trusted and obeyed on our behalf to give us knowledge of God, let us pray that we may grow in knowing and trusting Him, which enables us to walk increasingly in loving obedience.

Paul Entreats the Corinthians

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From the November 2021 Issue
Nov 2021 Issue