A Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad, Lie – A Sermon by Tim Melton


Genesis 3:1-7 – A sermon preached by Tim Melton, February 21, 2010, At Surfside PCA Church, Myrtle Beach, SC

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Click “Read the rest of this entry” to see Sermon Notes:

A Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad, Lie

1.  What makes a Lie great?
a. A great lie is not great in how it is told
b. A great lie is not great because it is told by a great liar
c. A great lie is great in how greatly it is believed
d.  In fact we might say this: The Greatness of a Lie is not in its being told, Nor in the Greatness of its teller, it is in how greatly it is believed.

2.  The Great Sin in Genesis 3 is Unbelief
a. That great Sin is so mighty, yet so subtle – it happens right between 5 & 6
• Adam and Eve believed the Great Lie – “God Doesn’t Love Me”
b. Of this passage, John Calvin says:
• What was the sin of Adam and Eve? The opinion of some of the ancients, that they
were allured by appetite or lust is juvenile. The fuller definition of the sin may be
drawn from the kind of temptation which Moses describes. For first the woman is led
away from the word of God by the lies of Satan, through unbelief.  So then observe,
that men then revolted from God, when, having forsaken his word, they gave their
ears over to the lies of Satan.  Hence we conclude, that God will be seen and adored
in his word; and, therefore, all reverence for him is shaken off when his word is
despised and the lies of Satan are believed. Therefore, Unbelief was the root of
defection. Just as faith alone unites us to God.  (Unbelief was and is that sin that
casts us from him).
c.  The Jesus Storybook Bible – The Terrible Lie – “God Doesn’t Love You” – It’s not a Dream, It’s a Nightmare

3. Have you ever thought of Unbelief as Sin?
Usually we consider sinful acts of behavior as sin, while ignoring altogether those sins of the heart.  And when we do look to sins of the heart, we usually look to lustful thoughts or prideful ideas or angry emotions as primary issues.  But if we look a little deeper, Isn’t it true that Unbelief lies underneath it all.  Isn’t our central sin that we resist believing and trusting in God and turn to believing this terrible lie that “God Doesn’t Love Me”.  Do we Ever repent of Unbelief? Do we really believe that Unbelief is a significant sin?

4.  This is Satan’s primary Work
• To perpetuate this lie, to tell it, over, and over, and over again
• Give the devil his due: He is a Great Liar

• He is:

o The father of all lies, and all lies rest upon this lie
o Lucifer – the great deceiver, telling this lie
o The Angel of light who is really the prince of darkness telling this lie
o Medusa calling us to look into his eyes so that he can tell this lie and turn us to stone

• Satan is the Siren Liar who sings this lie to us and calls us to our death. As Leonard Cohen would say, This lie sucks the Hallelujah from our lips and our hearts.

o Satan discourages by telling this lie
o He entices by telling this lie
o He instills fear by telling this lie
o He produces rebellion by telling this lie
o He drives us into depression by telling this lie
o He fuels pride, and anger, and hate, murder, all by telling this lie

But the Greatness of the Lie is not in its being told, Nor in the Greatness of its teller, it is in how greatly it
is believed.  And this lie is not a dream, it is a nightmare.

5.  This Lie is Not a Dream, It’s a Nightmare

o Adam and Eve believed it and plunged the world into darkness
o Cain believed it and killed his brother Able
o Job’s wife believed it and said “Curse God and Die”
o Abraham believed it and turned to his servant Hagar to produce the promised son
o Jacob believed it and lied to his father to steal the blessing
o Moses believed it and grew prideful and angry toward God’s people
o Samson believed it and trusted Delilah
o David believed it and slept with Bathsheba
o Elijah believed it and hid like a coward in a Cave

Because the Greatness of the Lie is not in its being told, Nor in the Greatness of its teller,
it is in how greatly it is believed

• Romans 1 says that when this Terrible Lie is believed, people become…

o Evil, covetous, and malicious,
o Full of envy, strife, and deceit
o They become gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, and boastful
o They invent evil and disobey their parents,
o They become foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless

Have I mentioned? This lie is not a dream, it’s a nightmare.

• When this lie is believed

o Marriages are Shattered
o Fathers abuse and Mothers abandon
o The unborn are Murdered
o Guns are loaded and triggers are pulled
o Bigotry is promoted and racism is embraced
o Money is horded up and the poor are ignored
o Beauty is worshipped and sex is degraded
o Anger is justified and Religion is use as a weapon
o Families are split, churches are split, nations are divided, and the world catches fire

It’s not a dream.  It’s an absolute nightmare.  Because, you know, I’ve heard that the Greatness of the Lie
is not in its being told, Nor in the Greatness of its teller, it is in how greatly it is believed

o John the Baptist believed it and he doubted that Jesus was the messiah
o Thomas believed it and doubted everything
o The 5000 believed it a cried out for bread when they should have cried for a savior
o The Pharisees believed it and picked up rocks to stone the Son of God
o Judas believed it and betrayed the Son of Man
o Peter believed it and sank in the water, feel asleep when he was supposed to pray, hacked
off Malchus’ ear with a sword, and denied that he knew the Son of God three times
o Annanias and Sapphira believed it and lied to the Holy Spirit and fell down dead
o Paul believed it and thought he was bringing glory to God by killing Christians
o And 2000 years ago, the crowds in Jerusalem believed it, as they stood before Pilate
screaming “Crucify Him, Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”
o And we believe it too.  We believe that lie every single day, and just like Judas, just like
Peter, and just like the crowd, deep in our heart of hearts, we believe that terrible,
horrible, no good, very bad lie.  We believe it every day, every hour, every moment.  We
believe it with every breath.

6.  The Only One Who Didn’t Believe the Lie – In fact, there was only one who did not believe that lie.  In all the world, from the creation of the world, among all men and women who ever lived, there was only one who did not believe it. Even though it was whispered in his ear a million times, over and over again, every single moment of his life.  He never, ever, not even one time, believed the lie.

He never believed that God did not love him.

o Though he was born in a manger,
o Though he had no place to lay his head,
o Though he had no form or majesty that any should look at him
o Though he had no beauty that any should desire him
o Though men hid their faces from him, and despised him, and esteemed him not
o Though he was smitten by God and afflicted, and wounded for transgressions that he did
not commit, and crushed for iniquities that were not his
o Though he was cut off from the land of the living and his grave was made with wicked
o Though he was tempted three times in the wilderness while starving to death
o Though he was abandoned and betrayed by his closest friends
o Though he was attacked in the garden of Gethsemane at his weakest moment
o Though he was spit upon, mocked, and reviled
o Though he was beaten and whipped and nailed to a Cross
o Even though the very Wrath of God was poured out on him on that Cursed Tree
o Even as he Cried out “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me…

Not even once, not for a moment, not even for a milli-second, did he ever believe that terrible lie.

Did you know that I’ve heard it said, that the Greatness of the Lie is not in its being told, Nor in the Greatness of its teller, but in how greatly it is believed.

7.  The Only Way to Overcome the Lie – And I think that’s true.  And the greatest of all lies then, must be the lie, that “God Does Not Love Me.”  And the only time I don’t believe that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad lie is when I turn my eyes, and entrust my heart, and place my faith, in the one who never, ever, believed it.

For Jesus is greater than all our sin, greater than our idolatry, and greater than our unbelief. O Wretched men and women that we are, thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ, the Gospel is greater, far, far greater, than that Terrible Lie.

Listen Church. The lie is indeed Great, But Christ is greater still.

And so, when we enter our closet to pray or bow our knees to meet with Christ, let us not simply ask forgiveness for those things that we have done with our hands and said with our mouths. Let’s dig down a little further, a little deeper, way down into our hearts where that evil lie creeps around in the depths of hearts.  And let us repent, not for what we have done, but for what we believe.

Lord forgive us for believing that lie.  That terrible, terrible lie.  Forgive us for doubting your love.  Forgiving us for being unwilling to endure pain and suffering for the gospel.  Forgive our betrayal.  O how you love your beloved.  O how you love us. O behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called children of God.  O how he loves you and me,
Church.  O how he loves you and me.

19 thoughts on “A Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad, Lie – A Sermon by Tim Melton

  1. 1. I agree. I don’t care about the liar or the lie until people actually start believing it! I can laugh off the Flat Earth Society (lol) because only an insane pocket of people actually believe it. But imagine their ideas catching on! They get invitations to be guests on CNN, their views are espoused by A-list actors in the movies, Al Gore makes a documentary about it! lol.

    2. I also have trouble thinking Eve fell because of appetite (or lust?). Freedom is a knife’s edge. As soon as an alternative is posed, the awful possibility of choosing it opens up. That’s the ‘anxiety’ Kierkegaard talked about in The Concept of Anxiety (he calls it ‘the dizziness of freedom’). But when Eve starts telling the Serpent that she can’t even ‘touch’ the tree or the fruit, we start to wonder what’s going on in her mind, lol. It’s almost like she is enticed by what the Serpent said, and so she starts to exaggerate the boundaries God set up (just don’t eat of the fruit: that’s it) in order to deceive herself into thinking eating the fruit was okay.

    And who knows how long the conversation lasted, or how many times a day it went on! I appreciate C.S. Lewis’ imaginative scenario of ‘how it all went down’ on the planet Perelandra, with Weston’s body (inhabited by the devil) was trying to get the Green Lady to set foot on the Fixed Land at night. Her mind was like a leopard, and it was so cool to see how the devil would bring up certain ideas to tempt her (female independence: a modern virtue, so understood) and she would yawn, because her mind didn’t have a concept of what he was talking about.

    In Genesis, though, Eve just stopped believing. In Bonhoeffer’s book Creation and Fall, he says the same thing, and he goes against my old sentiments about what I thought the primary sin of the Fall entailed: disobedience. Disobedience is the bloom on the flower of unbelief, or as Bonhoeffer calls it: revolt. He says: “Disobedience doesn’t exhaust the facts of the case. It is revolt, it is the creature’s departure from the attitude which is the only possible attitude for him, it is the creatures becoming Creator, it is the destruction of creatureliness.”

    3. Very good point on: Satan telling the lie over and over and over. Lewis in his Preface to Paradise Lost makes a similar point. When Paradise Lost was written, a lot of people at the time thought that ‘the Satan’ represented the modern Prometheus, and he became a symbol for Romanticism. But Lewis brought back the idea (I think Augustine was the first to really expound on it) that Satan is a buffoon, almost like a little brat, that can turn sophisticated rationality and argument on and off like a light, and can be thrown away like a used Kleenex. There’s got to be an element of buffoonery in seeing God, tasting joy, bathing in God’s holiness, and then revolting. Satan will use weary repetition and say over and over and over again what isn’t true, and – the excellent psychologist that he probably is – thinks that will hit closer to home than rational argument. It’s almost like the annoying kid in the backseat constantly complaining: “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” lol

    All in all, great sermon!


    • Matt,
      Excellent points! I really appreciate your feedback. All your thoughts were great, but I especially enjoyed that you caught and unpacked the inference that Satan is a Buffoon with a Bomb. The power is in the lie, not in the Liar. I hadn’t thought about the comparison between Milton’s mythological view of “Satan” as a modern Prometheus, and Augustine and Lewis’ more accurate Biblical view of Satan as a buffoon. Great illustration to drive the point home: “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Haha. That’s it precisely! Satan has stumbled upon a powerful lie, and he just whispers it over and over and over again.

      I also enjoyed Bonhoeffer’s quote and the association of “revolt” and “unbelief”. I agree with the idea that unbelief IS revolt. It is a refusal to believe, despite all the evidence. Our unbelief is a denial of reality that is fueled by revolt, not delusion. Delusion comes after.

      Great stuff Matt. Thanks again!


  2. Yo!

    I want to be careful though. Lewis makes the case that it was Milton who wouldn’t have believed ‘the Satan’ to be a modern Prometheus. Lewis was trying to look at ‘the Satan’ in context. And contextually, Milton was a churchman, familiar with the works of Augustine and the Reformers. After all, Milton was writing the first epic poem by a Protestant Reformer, or in the tradition of the Protestant Reformers.

    But what happened was this: the spirit of the age just happened to coincide with the publication (or rise to fame of) Paradise Lost, and a whole history of misinterpretation had begun. The spirit of the age was, of course, Romanticism, individualism, nonconformity, defiance against societal norms and traditions, and so on. The Romantics were inspired by ‘the Satan’, the revolt against God! But Lewis is saying: that’s not how Milton would have thought about Satan, you weirdos! lol

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of the literary critic and historian Harold Bloom? He annoys me a lot. lol. He has some good insights, but his whole philosophy of literary criticism is wrong, I think – it’s spelled out in his book The Anxiety of Influence, and basically says that the only reason (or, the main reason) why writers write is because of the anxiety they feel to excel the masters that came before them. Excuse me? That’s a little shallow, no? Anyway, Bloom carries the torch of ‘Satan being a symbol of Prometheus, or Romanticism’ right now. And every single time he brings up Lewis, he just takes little pot shots at him, without dealing with his arguments at all. Very annoying. For example, in a book analyzing ‘genius’ called Genius, Bloom says against Lewis: “I, for one, don’t start off every morning with a healthy dose of hatred for Satan.” Ooooooohhhh! Great comeback! lol

    But I just wanted to clear that up. Milton – at least, according to Lewis – probably didn’t believe that ‘the Satan’ was a Prometheus. It was a whole spirit of an age that ran with a certain, inspiring (at least, to them!) misinterpretation.

    If ‘the Satan’ appears ‘Romantic’, it’s just because Milton is a poetic genius and makes him say some enticing things, makes him appear to be this warrior poet. After all, Paradise Lost is an epic ‘poem’. But whatever.



    • I think I get it. You are saying that the idea of “The Satan” as Promotheus (the warrior poet, the wily fire stealer who robbed wisdom from God and gave it to men) is not an idea necessarily promoted by Milton himself, but rather by the Romantic era readers of Milton. Is that correct?


      • Oh cool! I can reply to your reply. Sorry! lol. Learning how to navigate around here.

        Anyway, exactly! And not just the Romantic era, but a whole school of critics. Bloom is the head honcho there. There was a movement at Oxford headed by I.A. Richards and Leavis when Lewis was there. They thought poetry wasn’t ‘about’ anything; it was just the mere expression of the poet’s personality. Thus, ‘the Satan’ was an expression of a secret part of Milton’s personality.

        It’s actually an interesting debate. It boils down to competing philosophies of poetry. I think Lewis’ school is the victor here (of course, ;-)). Have you heard of a book called A Personal Heresy? Lewis debates Tillyard on that very issue. Thomas Merton actually wrote a great review of the debate. Everyone pretty much agreed that Lewis came out on top. Here’s a link: http://www.amazon.com/Personal-Heresy-Controversy-Lewis-Tillyard/dp/1881848108


  3. I have always thought that the very first sin was unbelief, or should I say – doubt. Yes, we all go through that doubt everyday. Everytime we find ourselves in a situation that only God can get us out of and we try so hard to do it on our own. Then we find ourselves so surprised that God did it, usually right there in front of us, and we stand agape. Tim, let me know if I could use some of this for a men’s ministry that the church is trying to restart. Pray for us on that. We have so many new people in the church and we need something for the men. Love you and your family so much — tell them hello.


    • Larry, Thanks for commenting! I pray you are doing well and of course, you can use any of this stuff that you like. I’m honored that you find it helpful. I will certainly being praying for your men’s ministry there at The Creek. 🙂 I miss you guys!


  4. Tim, I think you preached through Genesis at Camp Sonshine 1999, the week that I realized I had believed in the Great Lie and looked to the Only One who is Greater than the lie.

    Still thankful for hearing your preaching more than a decade later.



    • Dan, Great to hear from you man. And thank you for your encouragement. I definitely look back on those days at Camp Sonshine with very fond affection.


  5. Hi Tim!

    I’ve been mulling on your message/blog on the terrible horrible no good very bad lie today – love that title!, and it’s prompted a few thoughts. 🙂

    I agree that unbelief is the root of our sin; but I think there is a more foundational issue than believing “God doesn’t love me,” too. After all, many people reject the exclusivity of salvation through Christ on the basis that God is more “loving” than that…

    Romans 1 clarifies: where actually it does not say that people became evil etc because they believed that God didn’t love them (therefore exchanging the love of God for a lie); it says they became evil etc because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie (v25). In exchanging the truth of God for a lie, we don’t just quit believing that God loves us; instead, the definition of love itself is redefined.

    Love is, in essence, the expression of righteousness (1 Cor 13), and part of our deception as fallen humanity is holding to a redefinition of love that meets our own self righteous standard. Thereby, we clothe ourselves in fig leaves, and a need for the righteousness of Christ is not realized. To such a person, an assurance of God’s love is evaluated on the basis of our own fallen definition of it, and our exchanging the glory of God for idolatry (Rom 1.23) is perpetuated.

    I agree that we need to repent, but not over simply doubting that God loves us. Rather, our repentance should be over expecting that God should live up to our standard of love, when it is self serving – and an outright rejection of His glory – to think that He should!

    Love ya man.



    • Geof,

      I agree completely with you. But I would like to add a few comments concerning Sunday’s sermon.

      First of all, there were a good many rabbit trails that I could have followed. For example: (1) From the Calvinist/Reformed perspective: How do you explain “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated?” In other words, isn’t it true that God loves some (and thus saves them) and doesn’t love others (and thus does not save them). (2) The Idea of Satan as a buffoon who has discovered a great weapon. (3) The Idea that God doesn’t love us when he ordains that we should experience pain and suffering. (4) The contrast between Christ, who experienced suffering at its worst never doubted his Father’s love juxtaposed with the Elect, who doubt the Father’s love when we stub our toe. 🙂

      In my sermon Sunday, I had to decide on a certain direction and go with (I only have 30 minutes). One of my biggest frustrations in preaching is that good biblical, penetrating, preaching often creates more questions than can be addressed in 30 minutes. Simple homilies roll across the surface of people’s hearts and minds and gives simple answers to simple questions. Gospel preaching, however, digs down deep and requires complex answers to complex questions. Unfortunately, Sunday mornings do not allow the time nor provide the setting to tease out and apply all the issues that a penetrating sermon might unearth. My point has been proven this week as I have had a number of people tell me they enjoyed the sermon a great deal, and then right behind that statement asked several questions that the sermon aroused.

      Again, I had to take a certain direction and and a make certain emphasis and go with it. So…

      1. In regard to the Garden, I chose to deal technically with the Lie that Adam and Eve believed: “God is with-holding something good from me.” And the corresponding implication underneath: God doesn’t love me or care about me.
      2. In regard to audience, I chose to address those who know Christ – the beloved, the church, the elect – rather than humanity at large.
      3. In regard to emphasis: I chose to emphasize Unbelief as “believing the lie that God does not love his beloved”
      4. In regard to climax: I decided to bring the sermon full circle by juxtaposing our consistent unbelief concerning God’s Love despite all of our blessing, with Christ’s unyielding belief in the love of His Father despite all of his suffering.

      In choosing to say these things, I had to allow other things to go unsaid.

      So then, in closing, let me say that I agree with you that our fundamental problem in regard to unbelief is a denial of God’s Truth, (ie. Romans 1), but that rejection of His Truth is inextricably tied to the belief that he does not love us. The two go hand in hand. You said that “we need to repent, but not over simply doubting that God loves us. Rather, our repentance should be over expecting that God should live up to our standard of love.”

      I would put it another way. I would say: “we need to repent over doubting that God loves us and we should repent over expecting that God should live up to our standard of love.” Our repentance should focus on our doubt and our self-serving redefinition of love. Both issues should be addressed. In truth, I would say that when we start digging around in our dark heart of unbelief, there are all sorts of off-shoots of unbelief that need to be addressed.

      Hope this all makes sense. Geof, thanks so much for your wise and thought provoking comments. I always am eager to hear your perspective.


      • Hey Tim, I just got done recording for the day. 🙂
        I hear ya bro. Yes, truth and love do go hand in hand, and like you said, we need to “repent over doubting that God loves us and we should repent over expecting that God should live up to our standard of love.”

        Repenting over doubting that God loves us is true under the umbrella of understanding the righteous basis of it. From what I’ve seen, though, most people don’t make that connection between love and righteousness, even in the church. Folks will say, “God is love, but He is also holy…” when it’s not but, it’s because! Love is the fruit of righteousness (Hosea 10:12, Philip 1.9-11). Righteousness is the spring; love is the outpouring, the overflow.

        When we doubt God loves us, it is typically on the basis of our own self righteous standard (ie I don’t deserve this!), and when we doubt He loves us by that standard, we are right! Repentance of doubting a self righteous standard of love is really no repentance at all.

        Which is why, in keeping with Romans 1 and other passages, I think it is most needed to reiterate the presentation of truth and righteousness as the foundational issues. Such a foundation, by God’s grace, brings us to being certain of our need for Christ’s righteousness, even as we are certain of his love – and of what love is….

        Anywhoo. Thanks for engaging me mate. I’m off to bed, grateful for God’s mercy..

        Blessings back!


      • Geof,
        Thanks again for the dialogue. I enjoy hearing your thoughts.

        On the relationship between God’s Love and Righteousness (Holiness), I would suggest that you may be wrongly thinking of love as a “derivative” or “fruit” of God’s Holiness. When we say “God is Love because he is holy”, then we are making love a derivative perfection of God. We are saying that Love is a function of God’s Holiness. This is not true of Love. D.A. Carson make this point in his book, “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God”, when he says, “wrath, unlike love, is not one of the intrinsic perfections of God. Rather, it is a function of God’s holiness against sin. Where there is no sin, there is no wrath—but there will always be love in God. (p.67)”

        So then, of God’s communicable attributes of Love – like Holiness, Wisdom, Justice and Faithfulness – should be understood to be an Intrinsic Perfection of God. Wrath is a Functional Perfection of God. In other words, Wrath is an expression or function of God’s Holiness and Love. Love on the other hand is not a fruit or function of another attribute of God. God’s Love is not the expession of God’s Righteousness. God’s Love is an expression of his Love.

        The apostle John also drives this point home in I John 4:7 – “Dear friends let us love one another, for love comes form God, because God is Love.” Did you catch that? God expresses love, because God is Love. John goes further on to detail for us just how it is that God expresses this love, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not the we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

        As strange as it may seem, I would also argue that God’s Wrath (a functional perfection) is not only an expression of God’s Justice, it is also an expression of his Love, but that’s a topic for another day. 🙂


      • Tim,
        Since you were going to post our dialogue on your blog, I refrained from saying anything more. But you might not do it now that it’s been so long, so here are my thoughts. 😀

        Certainly God expresses love, because God is love… I mentioned this in my book, actually. But this isn’t exclusive to love, it is true of all God’s attributes: God is righteous; God is good etc. The point being that He doesn’t just do loving things like fallen humanity, He is that way by nature. Love comes from God like it doesn’t come from us.. All of God’s commands are not abstract requirements separate from who He is, but derived from who He is. We who were created in His image are rightly called to love, because God is love. We are called to be holy, because God is holy.

        It’s not a matter of derivatives, there is simply an order in how we should understand these things. But I do wonder where you get holiness being an attribute of God’s love from? What Scripture? I maintain that this is flipping the order that God specifically gives us in His Word. Which isn’t contradictory to saying that God expresses love, because God is love. It is in keeping with it, and is quoting Scripture verbatim:

        “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap the fruit of unfailing love..” Hosea gives us a picture of righteousness being the seed, and love being its fruit. What comes first, sowing or reaping? So then, when righteousness is sown, love is the inevitable evidence – and not the other way around. And this isn’t just the order for us, it is explained this way for us because this is who God, in whose image we were created and from whose glory we have fallen, is.
        But again, I don’t understand this as speaking in derivatives. It is said in the context of them being of the same tree.

        Look at the definition of love in 1 Cor 13 – it is defined by standards of righteousness. So too in Gal 5, the acts of the sinful nature are, in essence, acts of unrighteousness; and in contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is acts of righteousness. This is what love is.

        So it is that where righteousness is flawed, love is flawed. But where righteousness is pure, love is pure. And trustworthy!

        Anyway, I need to hit the road, I’m on my way to Indiana. I expounded more on this in a blog at the turn of the year. Rather than repeat it, I’ll just give you the link. 🙂

        Cheers mate, have a great day.


      • Geof,
        I think we are missing each other a bit. I’m not saying that the attribute of love is central and integral while the attribute of righteousness is secondary. Not at all. What I’m saying is that there are integral attributes of God that must be seen as eternally and infinitely coinciding. Love and Holiness are not to be seen as one flowing from the other. Love, as an attribute of God, doesn’t spring from His Holiness. They are both “integral or essential” attributes of God. Wrath, on the other hand, is not an “integral” attribute, but an “expressed” attribute of God’s anger against sin that emerges out of his integral attributes.

        I feel that you may be seeing God’s love as an “expressed” attribute – like Wrath, rather than an “integral” attribute – like Holiness. God’s Love then should not be seen simply as a “fruit” of His Righteousness.

        In regard to the passage in Hosea 10:12 – “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” – we see that God pours out both love and righteousness upon those that He has made righteous. In other words, God expresses both Righteousness and Love.

        However, I must say that I do see where you are going in your blog post (above). I agree with you that we must not see God’s Love as an attribute that suspends or negates His Righteousness and Justice. That’s what so beautiful about the Cross. In the sacrifice of Christ we are able to observe, in the same moment, God’s Justice, Righteousness, Wrath, His hatred of Sin, His Mercy on the elect, and the wonder of His infinite Love.

        In regard to ‘our’ righteousness, we must understand that it is dangerous to focus on our so-called goodness. Love is not produced out of ‘my’ goodness. The scripture makes it clear that we are righteous because Christ has declared it so, and we receive that perfect righteousness by Faith. So then, we should believe that and accept it as so. Therefore, we are to no longer strive after righteousness (Christ has fulfilled Matthew 5:48 for us), but we are to strive, by faith, to obey Christ and to lean upon Him. We “sow righteousness” by depending upon and resting in Christ. Obedience to Christ and His Word, repentance of sin, and continual dependence upon the Spirit are those things that produce love.

        Paul makes this point in Philippians 3:8-9 when he says, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

        That’s all I have for now…



  6. Tim, g’day. Just got back from Indiana today, lots to catch up on. 🙂

    Maybe (I hope!) this will explain where I’m coming from… (Actually I think that saying Satan’s lie was “God doesn’t love you,” is firstly a departure from an exegetical approach to Genesis, which leaves us with Satan tempting Eve by saying, “You’ll be like God… who actually doesn’t love you…” Not a very strong temptation..)

    But what concerns me greatly, is that understanding it in such terms leads to a fallout which is illustrated in one of my kids. Devyn came to me the other day, telling me that she had been told in Sunday School of the terrible horrible no good very bad lie that “God doesn’t love you,” which Satan told Eve and is still telling us today. Here’s why it hits hard for me: This is the same child who once said to me, “You don’t love me!” because I didn’t give her something that she wanted that wasn’t good for her. When our children are assessing love in this way – indeed, when anyone is assessing love in this way, and our churches contain plenty of folks who do – the assurance that God loves them is appropriated in a way that bolsters an idolatrous understanding of God, assures a self righteous assessment of love, and propagates unrepentance. This is actually the same kind of thing Satan did in the Garden – deceived by mixing truth with falsehood and causing doubt over what God really said – and is in itself a terrible horrible no good very bad lie.

    My concern is not to uphold our goodness at all, even as Hosea’s wasn’t either; my concern is that the need for the righteousness of Christ is not realized. The call to sow for ourselves righteousness, is not that we would place any confidence in our own righteousness but instead that we would see our absolute depravity and bankruptcy in that regard; to turn from it and see it as filthy rags; to see our need for Him who is Himself “the Lord our righteousness;” that He would come and shower righteousness on us.

    This is precisely the purpose of addressing the issue of righteousness foundationally; it is for the purpose of bringing that out. A proper understanding of Hosea keeps us from the error I’ve explained above. Fruit is the expression of information held in a seed, even as the fruit also holds the seed. And the seed of love is righteousness; they are like cooperative entities of the same plant. This is why Paul said God’s law was put in charge to lead us to Christ. It is His law – the standard of righteousness – that makes evident just how unrighteous and unloving we really are, and therefore how much we need to be clothed in Him. It is as we turn in repentance from sin to God, and walk in His righteousness, that we reap the fruit of unfailing love….

    Or to put it in specific terms: As Jesus expounded, it’s not just those who are murderers who are in danger of hell, but those who speak slanderously, who bear malice, impatience, unkindness, anger. As we by God’s grace are convicted of these things and come to Christ for forgiveness, we also come in repentance; grateful for Him who became a propitiation for us, and who covers us in His righteousness. And as we repent of our unkindness and our impatience – that is, our unrighteousness – and we follow Him and walk in His ways, we bear the fruit of unfailing love – which, as described in 1 Cor 13, is patient and kind… and never fails… Love is the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who convicts us of guilt in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16).

    OK, hope that helps clarify. I better get on with my to-do list. 🙂 Cheers mate.


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