Sunday, May 2, 2021

Guest Post: The God Who Hides Himself

Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.


And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.


He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.


Life eternal [is to] know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ....


Most of us fail to grasp the depths of depravity into which the United States––and the world––are rapidly sinking, provoking a merciful and patient God to judgment. The evidence is so overwhelming that we're blinded to the truth like the proverbial frog in the pot imperceptibly being brought to a boil. Between 1960 and 1990 out-of-wedlock births in the USA increased more than 500 percent (from 5.3 percent to 28 percent), single-parent families tripled, about 50 million babies were murdered in the womb and violent crimes increased 500 percent. About 16,000 crimes occur on or around school campuses each day! Homosexuals now flaunt their sin in public, are fêted and wooed by politicians, thanked and indulged by our president for their part in voting him in, and their perversion rewarded with privileged status. It's Sodom and Gomorrah again––or worse!

"You've come a long way, baby!" says the cigarette ad. And so today's woman has. She is free to smoke and destroy her lungs, arteries and heart like a man. She is also free to turn her womb into an execution chamber with the blessing of America's highest court of justice. Popular TV talk show hosts congratulate her for the "courage" to murder her own offspring to protect her "rights." And millions demonstrate in the streets for "the right of choice" not only for abortion but for all manner of "freedoms"—homosexuality, bestiality, incest, pedophilia and drugs, brazenly flaunting perversions that would have made past generations blush with shame. Yes, she's come a long way and so have we all.

The liberal, humanist agenda is clear: to do away with God by denying the conscience He has given us. Virtue is ridiculed, evil is praised as good and liberating, and God-given moral standards are mocked as the narrow-minded thinking of a past generation. Inevitably, "negative" judgments about homosexuals, the government or other religions will be forbidden––and likely much sooner than most Christians suspect.

The seeds of this liberal totalitarianism are sprouting even in evangelical circles, where those who dare to oppose false teachings and sin are accused of division, are denied a voice from pulpits, radio and TV, and their books are refused display in many Christian bookstores. To fail to see the connection between the censoring of biblical reproof in the church and the rejection of corrective teaching as "negative," and the coming government ban upon any criticism of immorality, is to be blind indeed.

What is wrong with America is not complicated, nor will expensive government programs cure it. Mankind has rejected God and His standards and has deliberately determined to go its own way. Clinical psychologist Stanton E. Samenow, after studying hundreds of criminals firsthand, wrote in Inside the Criminal Mind, "I had to unlearn nearly everything I had learned in graduate school....We found conventional psychological and sociological formulations about crime and its causes to be erroneous and counterproductive because they provide excuses....From regarding criminals as victims [of past traumas and deprivations] we saw that instead they were victimizers who had freely chosen their way of life...."

Yet the lie persists. Typical is the following from the Tompkins County, New York Mental Health Association Journal: "The [psychological] healing process cannot be completed until the childhood memories that were stuffed into the subconscious during the abuse are remembered, talked about and openly acknowledged. 'The truth shall set us free' remains the basis for all deep psychotherapy...." What a perversion of Christ's words! The truth of which He spoke has no relation to psychotherapy, but sets free from sin by God's supernatural power working in those who repent and obey the gospel.

Every evil in today's world is a continuation of the rebellion against God which began in the Garden of Eden. "[R]epentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts:20:21) is the only remedy. Yet the church is diluting the gospel and devoting itself to social and political activism in alliance with the ungodly. Saving the world has replaced saving souls. Those "dead in sin" (Eph:2:1Col:2:13) are being embalmed, even by Christians, with toxic sociological and psychological formulas instead of being raised to new life in Christ. Through redefining as mental illness what the Bible labels sin, modern man, like Adam and Eve, still hides from God. Consequently, God is hidden from His creature.

For a generation now the pens and pulpits of prominent evangelicals, following the heretical lead of Norman Vincent Peale and his protégé Robert Schuller, have poured forth an ever- increasing flood of sincere but misguided advice rooted in selfist psychology. Multitudes of Christians have been persuaded thereby that they do not love themselves enough, when, in fact, their real problem is that they do not love God as they ought. Instead of seeking God they are seeking to know themselves. The gospel of self-love and self-esteem, unheard in the church for 1,900 years, was not discovered at this late date through diligent Bible study and Spirit-inspired insight into Scripture. In fact, far from being taught in God's Word, this "new truth" is condemned therein. It has another source.

The facts are undeniable. Christian psychology sprang from godless theories foisted upon society as a rival gospel by psychologists determined to destroy Christianity. Typical was Freud, who was motivated, as research psychiatrist Thomas Szasz reminds us, by "the desire to inflict vengeance upon Christianity." Inexplicably, the enticing speculations of anti-Christians––though so clearly contradictory to God's Word––have been welcomed by the church as a new source of "God's truth." Christian psychologist Bruce Narramore has unashamedly admitted that the theory (now popularly accepted as evangelical truth) that self-love and self-esteem are desirable originated with humanists and only recently has begun to be embraced by Christians:

Under the influence of humanistic psychologists like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, many of us Christians have begun to see our need for self-love and self-esteem.

That Maslow reversed Christ's "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Mat:6:33) and put spiritual needs last did not deter Christian leaders from proclaiming his "hierarchy of needs" as a newly discovered part of "God's truth." Nor did it concern Christian psychologists who built upon his theories that Rogers called self the "god within" and advocated worshiping at its altar. Christian psychology brazenly turned Christ's "deny self" into "love, esteem, accept, develop, assert and highly value self"—and almost no one seemed to notice the contradiction. That Robert Schuller would declare that Christ had endured the cross to sanctify His and our self-esteem was not surprising. But it was shocking how many evangelical leaders would endorse his books and ministry and how eagerly unbiblical humanistic theories were embraced by Bible scholar/shepherds and taught to trusting sheep.

Inspired with anti-Christian ideas, an ever-growing number of today's prominent evangelicals preach sermons and write books glorifying self––and Christians love it. Leading Christian publishers eagerly use their presses and prestige to proclaim the popular new gospel. Christian psychologists and psychiatrists, the new infallible authorities on spiritual problems affecting individuals and families, with their new source of "God's truth" (Freud, Jung, Maslow, Rogers, et al.), are the most sought-after conference speakers, while the growing budget to advertise their expanding and lucrative empires of clinics and counseling centers has sparked an explosion in Christian radio. The two top-rated programs are hosted, not by Bible teachers, but by a psychologist and two psychiatrists. "America's foremost authority on the family," the most trusted advisor in the church, is a psychologist who (according to his office) deliberately avoids an emphasis upon God's Word, and bases his counsel upon humanistic psychology, especially the theory of self-esteem. A psychologized view of Scripture has become the standard belief in evangelical churches, seminaries and universities. Those who oppose it as unbiblical are dismissed as ignorant, narrowminded and unscholarly.

The greatest growth in both the world and the church has been in the numbers of those dispensing and those receiving psychological counsel. At the same time, the number of Christians involved in immorality, divorce and the living of frustrated, unhappy lives has kept pace with exploding wickedness among the ungodly. And why not, since both follow the same theories? Like the unsaved, most Christians are convinced of an urgent need to esteem and value themselves more highly––when, in reality, they already esteem and value themselves too highly and care too little for others and God!

There can be no doubt that we are in the "perilous times" which Paul warned would be characterized by men being "lovers of their own selves" (2 Tim:3:1-2). Men have always been narcissistic, but for the first time in history self-love is praised and promoted––and selfishly "looking out for Number 1" is a virtue! Even among evangelicals God commands little reverence and is generally treated as though He exists primarily to fulfill man's desires.

Multitudes of Christians uncritically accept heresy from a Benny Hinn who promises physical healing, but they refuse correction which would bring desperately needed spiritual healing. Millions seek happiness, but few desire holiness. The gifts are eagerly sought; the Giver is slighted. The pursuit is of blessings rather than the Blesser. Paul's desire "That I may know him" (Philippians:3:10) has been exchanged for "That I might know myself and have my plans blessed by Him." Yet the Bible plainly states that God "is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb:11:6).

Many Christians selfishly think this verse provides a formula for getting a car, house, good job and other things from God. Yet what a bad bargain it would be to receive the whole world instead of Him! God wants to reward us with Himself, but most Christians are seeking everything else. Yes, we do have needs in this life and He has promised to meet them. But He has told us to seek first the kingdom of God (which is "not meat and drink" [Rom:14:17] but Himself reigning in our hearts) and His righteousness (Mt 6:33), and whatever needs we have will be supplied. Those who seek God with the whole heart have no anxieties! This, not psychological therapy, is the antidote for unhappy or fearful souls.

Today's world is rushing headlong to judgment. Many Christians, caught up in the mad pace, find little time for the one worthwhile pursuit both for this life and the next: knowing God. Christianity has been formularized: a few songs, some prayers, a brief, uplifting sermon, hasty parking lot greetings; then, conscience too easily appeased, a hurried departure to the real world of earthly pursuits and pleasures. How paradoxical that the lives of His followers leave so little room for God! It is not our natural bent to seek Him but rather to hide from Him. We can only seek God as He first has sought us and draws us to Himself through the wooing of His Holy Spirit in our hearts. This He will do if it is our true and deep desire.

What does it mean to seek God––and, after all, what is the use? Is He not "a God who hides Himself"? Where is God in Sarajevo? In Somalia? In the Midwest floods, and recent hurricane devastation in Florida? Where is God when we pray and have no sense that anyone is hearing or even cares? Where and why does He hide when we need Him most? Has He no pity for the weeping widow or orphan?

God is not mocked. He is too loving and wise to jump to the aid of those who, having turned a deaf ear to the witness of creation and conscience, now suddenly cry out in disaster for His help. The very tragedy prolonged may prove to be the only means of causing a stubborn heart to turn to Him at last. The cry must be deeper than a plea for mere rescue from trouble. One's utter hopelessness without God––the opposite of self-esteem, self-worth etc.—must be seen and the sin of self-importance and self-will confessed. And one's desperate need of Him, not only in the present circumstances but for eternity, must be confessed if God is to be known.

It is not easy for God to reveal Himself. It requires a passion to know Him on our part. How can He help those who, if He worked a miracle in response to their cry, would give credit to Buddha, to Allah, or to some "spirit" or idol or occult force? Reinforcing faith in false gods would not be a kindness but would only grease the road to hell. God hides Himself––yet not from those who can see, only from those who cannot. The ego of man is so inflated that it obscures the God who fills the universe, whose infinite wisdom and power are conspicuous in every leaf and star.

Men are blinded because of their own false ideas. Most people are not interested in knowing the true God but a "god" who suits their taste, with whom they feel comfortable, and who gives them their desires. Masons, New Agers and members of many of the numerous Twelve Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous insist that any concept of a "higher power" will do; just believe in "God as you conceive Him to be." God will not reveal Himself to that false faith––but Satan will happily oblige to foster such delusion.

Even many professing Christians have been deceived by popular formulas taught in the church for knowing God. One of the most deadly is the belief that God or Christ can be known by visualizing them as one imagines them. These visual images conjured up in "inner healing" or "two-way prayer" sometimes even speak, and this is the fastest way to pick up an "inner" or "spirit guide"—literally a demon masquerading as "God" or "Christ" or "Mary" or whomever one visualizes. The demonization that takes place is not entered into deliberately but is a form of entrapment about which the visualizer cannot complain since he has involved himself in unbiblical techniques which cheapen God and lead in a direction that common sense ought to recognize as deadly.

The Ayatollah Khomeini declared, "The purest joy in Islam is to kill and to be killed for God!" Such is not the God of the Bible, who is love and whose followers He empowers to love even their enemies in His name. Yet the time is coming when God, no longer hiding Himself, will come forth in judgment and all flesh will know that He is God! May our passion be to know and love Him now. May our lives be characterized by a reverent fear of Him. And may we persuade those about us to know, through Jesus Christ, the only true God, whom to know is life eternal. TBC

By Dave Hunt
September 1, 1993