St. Augustine said you can identify your wrong views of God by simply tracing worry, stress, and dissatisfaction in your life like smoke that will lead you back to whatever fire you built at the altar of the false god you’re worshipping. So, I challenge you to do just that: Find the places of stress, anxiety, bitterness, or unrest in your life—the places where you are most tempted to sin—and trace them back to their source. I guarantee you they’ll come from a distorted view of God.
The gospel is not that God would help us become righteous enough for him. The gospel is that Jesus was righteous in our place and died the death we should have died so that we could be given his righteousness as a gift in his place. The Christian life, you see, is not about moral improvement. It’s about Christ working the power of a new life in you and through you.
If we lose faith in a god that never existed in the first place, that’s not a bad thing. In fact, we should hope for more people to lose faith in the gods they’ve projected out of their fears and desires. What we must never do is lose confidence in the one true God because we evaluate his love according to our made-up terms.
When you became a Christian, you took the name of God to yourself, the name, I AM. The Apostle Peter declares that we became actual participants in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); the Apostle Paul proclaims us as inheritors of all the divine promises (Galatians 3:29). All the promises of God to us, he says, are “yes” in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). And that means that when we think, “I am not _____ enough,” we are taking God’s name in vain, because even though we are not, he is, and we have become one with him. What he is, he now is for us and through us.
Within 24 hours of sharing his last meal with his disciples, every one of Jesus’ disciples would abandon him. And yet he would die for them anyway. When his disciples sold Jesus out for their own safety, he offered himself up as a sacrifice without price. When they were faithless, he remained faithful. If there’s hope for the disciples, there’s hope, praise God, for me.
What Jesus saw in Gethsemane caused him such strain that he began to literally sweat great drops of blood. Here is Jesus—the eternal Word of God, who spoke the worlds into existence and brought the dead back to life—so horrified at something he sees that his capillaries burst, nearly causing his death. What had he seen that troubled him so? The real question is what he had not seen. You see, in Matthew 26:39, when he called out to God his Father, as he had numerous times throughout his life, he gets no response. He refers to God as Abba, a term of closest intimacy. But, for the first time in all of eternity, the Father was silent.