Thursday, June 15, 2017


Generally, when we see danger, we avoid it. We’ve learned that smoking is a threat to our health. Therefore, this deadly habit has been seriously reduced, despite the difficulty of shaking this persistent addiction.

However, in other areas of our lives, it seems that we dwell in a state of self-imposed denial. Meanwhile, the Bible posts numerous warnings that denial and rebellion against the reality of God can be hazardous:

·       And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? (Numbers 14:11; ESV)

Unbelief was never a product of a shortage of evidence. In contrast, the atheist reasons:

·       If your god exists and he or she wants to be known and followed, he/she could easily have accomplished these goals by simply providing enough evidence. However, he/she hasn’t.

In contrast, the Bible consistently reveals that we are surrounded by an adequate supply of the supernatural. Therefore, the problem is not that God has failed to provide us with enough reasons-to-believe, but that we refuse to consider them:

·       In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite his wonders, they did not believe. So he made their days vanish like a breath, and their years in terror. When he killed them, they sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly. They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer. But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant. (Psalm 78:32-37)

Jesus’ Apostles were little different. Thomas had seen hundreds of Jesus’ miracles over the three years he had been with Him. Nevertheless, Thomas refused to believe:

·       So the other disciples told him [Thomas], “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” (John 20:25)

Thomas’ reasons for unbelief in the face of abundant evidence to the contrary were probably different than most. However, denial remains a pervasive human problem. It was just Jews who had been in denial. It was also the MO of all the other nations. Even after experiencing God’s ten plagues against his land, the blind Pharaoh stubbornly followed the Hebrews through the parted sea to the destruction of his entire army. Despite hearing the reports of the miracles that had attended the Israelites, the Canaanites continued to oppose them. Only one had the sense to see that such a God cannot be opposed. The prostitute of Jericho, Rahab, confessed to the Israelites spies:

·       “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction.” (Joshua 2:9-10)

She therefore asked for protection and received it. However, we are left to marvel that no one else was willing to humble themselves before the God of Israel. The Gibeonites did make a treaty with the Israelites through deception. However, wisdom should have informed them to join the “winning team” rather than lie to them. No one who had ever sought conversion was ever denied.

Was not anyone seeking truth? Evidently not! After the Philistines had defeated the unfaithful Israelites and captured the Ark of the Covenant, God sent them unmistakable signs of His severe displeasure and His superiority over their god Dagon. Instead of pledging their allegiance to Yahweh, the Philistines merely dispatched the Ark to Israel – good riddance!

These examples of denial are countless. The Apostle Paul revisited this critical and central theme, concluding that there is no excuse for such ignorance and denial:

·       For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

We need not believe in the Biblical accounts to embrace this conclusion. Psychological surveys also reveal that denial is pervasive, so pervasive that it is regarded as “normal”:

In fact, a wealth of studies have revealed that we are masters of self-delusion:

·       “In one study of nearly a million high school seniors, 70 percent said they had “above average leadership skills, but only 2 percent felt their leadership skills were below average.” Another study found that 94 percent of college professors think they do above average work. And in another study, ‘when doctors diagnosed their patients as having pneumonia, predictions made with 88 percent confidence turned out to be right only 20 percent of the time.’” (; “Self-images Often Erroneously Inflated,” 11/9/05)

Although we have the inner resources for self-knowledge, we seem to lack the willingness to use them. In “Positive Illusions,” psychologist Shelley Taylor sums up the evidence:

·       “Normal people exaggerate how competent and well liked they are. Depressed people do not. Normal people remember their past behavior with a rosy glow. Depressed people are more even-handed…On virtually every point on which normal people show enhanced self-regard, illusions of control, and unrealistic visions of the future, depressed people fail to show the same biases.” (214)

All of this raises the all-important question – “Why are we in denial about the dangers we face? Were the Egyptians unable to see that passing through the Red Sea represented an extreme threat? Were the Canaanites unable to see that if God was with Israel, they didn’t stand a chance? Perhaps instead, they had their own agenda that trumped any real consideration of the dangers.

Instead, why doesn’t humanity seek the truth about the threats and even the benefits that attach to a faith in God? Why instead do they deny these considerations? Many have told me, “I wish I could believe as you do.” However, I no longer take them seriously. Why not? I always ask them if they are willing to explore the evidences for faith, assuring them that I would be willing to lead them through the evidences. None have ever taken me up on this offer!

Evidently, they are satisfied with their lives as they are, even if they are filled with pain. Jesus explained it best:

·       And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21)

Nevertheless, we must not despair on this darkened world, knowing that God hears our prayers.

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