Creflo Dollar - The Truth About God's Ways
Isaiah chapter 55 verses 8 through 9. Now, this is gonna be interesting. You know, I'm often, again, asking God, "Give me the utterance. Show me how to say the thing that I see". And, this is big. This is big. This is, I don't think there's anybody in here who hasn't experienced some of the stuff that I'm gonna be talkin' about today. And, I don't know, maybe for forty, for forty-some years I've known it. I don't know if I've said it clear enough, but I'm'on be real clear today about this. "God's Ways and Man's Ways". And sometimes we wanna make God's way like it's man's way, and then sometimes we wanna make man's way like it's God's way. It's different, and it's time for us to see distinctly how different it is, God's way and man's way. God is not a man, okay?
Now, that scripture says, "God is not a man that he should lie". But God is not a man that he should do almost anything like man does it. And we love takin' human experiences and usin' those for examples to try to, you know, to say that's God. And there's nothin' wrong with that in some areas, but I think this will be interesting. Let's go ahead and get started. Isaiah 5 verses 8 and 9. Now, I'm gonna stop every now and then and make sure that we're all on the same bus and doin' this.
All right, verse 8: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher, the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher, my ways higher than your ways". My ways are not on the same level as your ways. "My ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts". Now, later on in the scripture, he goes on and he says and I gave you my word so you can kinda get ahold of this. But now, I wanna focus in on his ways are higher, his thoughts are higher. And in what way is this? So in no instance in this situation more true, it's more true than connecting with the promptings for proper conduct.
So, when we look at his ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts, this is very true when it deals with, with proper conduct, that God's ways of prompting us to do right and live right. God's ways of getting us to, to live godly, and God's ways are higher. His thoughts are higher. The whole objective here is how to I prompt you to proper conduct as Christian people. Am I gonna beat you down with fear to try to get you to act right? God says no, that's, that's, that's man's way. My way is higher. My thoughts are higher. Now, why is this so? Because under grace, God does everything apart from human merit. He does everything apart from human merit. The word "merit" just simply means deserving praise or reward. So, God does everything apart from humans deserving praise or deserving a reward.
So, man does things, you know, that you deserve. God says no, I'm doing things apart from you deserving praise and deserving reward. God's not givin' you praise and rewards because you deserve it. If you understand that, say amen. Okay. And he's not, he's not, he doesn't have a thought of repayment. In other words, you came to church today. He ain't repayin' you with nothin' 'cause you came to church today. No, no, no, he's not, he's not doin' that. So, he cannot, God cannot offer his blessings as an inducement. He, he can't offer his blessings to influence someone to do something. That's what it means, an inducement. To influence someone to do somethin'. So, he's gonna bless you to influence you to live right.
So, if God gives me the money to get my house, then I'm'on live right. He can't do that. God cannot use his blessings for inducements. He cannot use his blessings to try to get you to do something. You see why I wanna take my time with this? I want, I want you, I wanna drive out tradition this morning. I thought that, I thought, well, you know, God'll use his blessings and then that'll get me to do what he called me to do. That'll get me to, you know, be loyal and faithful. But God can't do that. His ways are higher than that. He's not goin', you know, man does that all the time, right? I'ma, I'ma do somethin' for ya to get you, to influence you to do somethin'.
God's not gonna try to influence you to do somethin'. He cannot. He will not use his blessings as an inducement, nor will he use his judgment as a threat to encourage godly living. So, he's not, he's not gonna take his judgment and say, you know, I'm'on threaten you by sayin' you gon' be judged if you don't live godly. If you don't live godly, you gon' have a car wreck. If you don't live godly, you know, you gon' lose a kid. If you don't live godly, you gon' use it, God doesn't use his judgments to threaten you towards godly living, and he doesn't even use his blessings to try to, to cause inducement or try to get you to do somethin'.
So then, he, since he doesn't do this, under grace, God first reminds us under the grace of God, he reminds us of what he has done in grace, and then on the basis of that, he appeals for a life in harmony with that which he has done. So he says, I wanna show you what I've done in grace. I wanna show you the finished works I've done in grace. I wanna show you that you're made righteous because of you believin'. I wanna show you all that has been made available to you through the grace of God.
Now, once I show you what has been done in grace, then I'm gonna come to you and appeal to you to get in harmony with that which has already been done. So he says, I'm gonna show you your estate. I'm gonna show you that you are already the righteousness of God. By grace, you're already righteous. By grace, you're already perfect. By grace, you're already holy. He says, I'm showin' you that by grace, and now that you can see that it's available to you by grace, then I'm gonna try to appeal to you to live a life in harmony with what grace has already done. Did everybody, everybody understand that?
All right. Now. But man's ways, so you see God's ways, but man's ways are not God's ways. In general, man clings to the idea that benefits always come because of good conduct. So we, man believes that this great thing that happened in my life happened because I was good and I deserved it. And man's ways says that the losses came because I had bad conduct. Oh, I lost my house. I lost my job. I remember when somebody broke in my car and I thought it happened, let me examine the bad conduct that caused somebody to break in my car. And when somethin' happens good, oh, let me have a seminar and explain to everybody the good stuff I did so they can have the good things to happen to them as well.
Haven't we all thought like that before? Oh, you haven't? I was the only one? Natural man always feels that he must contribute somethin' to earn God's favor. Natural man always feels I've got to contribute something in order to earn God's favor. I've got to be good in order to earn the right for God to be good to me. Absolutely. And that, that, that is, that is all in the church, workin' to be good so that God can, can do somethin' good for me. And so we have this, and man's way is, is I've gotta contribute something to earn God's favor. Which, if it's God's favor, can't you see how that, it contradicts itself to say if it's favor, you don't work for favor.
If you work for it, it's, it's a wage or a paycheck. It's your salary if you work for it. But if it's favor, by pure fact that it's favor and a gift, you don't work for favor. It's not a favor if you had to do somethin' to earn it. And I still, no matter how, oh God, I don't know how long I been preachin' on grace, but I been preachin' on it long enough I'm thinkin', and I got a pretty big microphone, I'm thinkin' for people to quit saying you do these five things to get favor. If you do the five things to get favor, it's not favor you got. It was something you deserved. And man's way is if I deserve it, I did some, I do somethin' to deserve it, I do somethin' to contribute.
And so, in our relationship with God, we're constantly trying to figure out what contribution do I need to make in goodness in order to receive God's goodness. That's wrong. Now, that's wrong. And that's just been beatin' the, our brains out because of that way of thinking. God's method under grace is seen in Jesus's dealing with the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Lemme show this. Look at John chapter 8:10 and 11. This woman was caught in the act of adultery and they brought this woman to Jesus, the pharisees did, and when the pharisees had gone out after Jesus silenced them, Jesus said this in verse 10. John chapter 8 and verse 10, and I'm'on read verse 10 and 11. He says, "When Jesus had lifted up himself, and he saw none but the woman, he said unto her, 'Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?' She said, 'No man, Lord.' And Jesus said unto her, 'Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.'"
All right, now watch this. The first thing Jesus did here, Jesus first freely forgave her sin. Now, she was, there is no question about whether she committed adultery or not. The Bible said she was taken in the very act of adultery, sheet and all, you understand? They snatched her right outta the act of adultery, so there was no question about what she did. But Jesus forgave her sin for which, if she was under the law, and in this case she was under the law, she shoulda died, because under the law, to be caught in adultery meant death. You were put to death. So, he forgave her of her sins, and then secondly, he admonished her to live a life free from sin.
Now, notice what happened. Number one, I forgive you for somethin' you obviously did. And then number two, after you've received this mercy... isn't that what she's had? And she received mercy, right? After she received mercy and after she received grace for what she did. Mercy is the bad that you did, in other words, you, you, you, you do somethin' bad but you, you, you're not punished for the bad that you did. Did she? She did, she did, she committed adultery. But mercy showed up. I forgive you. Now, that's the first thing that happened. I forgive you. Receive the mercy of God. The bad you deserved, you don't get. The bad you deserve, you don't get. The good you don't deserve, you get. That's God's way. But no, notice what he says. Mercy and forgiveness on you first. Secondly, invitation to sin no more.
All right, so here's what we do. Here's what man does. Sin no more, without any mention of mercy. Sin no more. You bet' not do that no more, with not any mention of grace. So, that's gonna make it kinda difficult for me to sin no more without me first of all recognizing that there's grace and there's mercy. In fact, if you read the scriptures carefully, he's always talking about the mercy part first, and then he talks about the thing that you oughta do in your life. I'll get to it in a minute, but it says present your body, present your body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, and they forgot to read the first part of that. "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God first, then present your body as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God".
What he was sayin' for us, is that as the church, we keep tellin' people you've gotta do that, you better do that, you better not do that, you better not do that, you better not do that, you better not do that, and then we attempt to try to do it in our own ability without first of all hearing there's mercy. There's grace. Wow. Now, watch this. It's important to, to recognize this because I asked a question. I spent like two, maybe three days this week 'cause I wanted to know why. I wanted to know why do we need to know about the works of grace before you appeal to us on how we should be living.
"Before you tell me I need to be holy, before you tell me I need to present my body as a living sacrifice, before you tell me that I ought not to be committin' adultery, before you tell me, you know, that, that, that I need to act right, why is it necessary for me to know about your mercy and your grace first"? Well, very simple. And I, and I'll explain to you in detail. If I proceed to try to live right without knowing that there's grace, eventually in my conscious I'm gonna have the fear of punishment and the fear of man. I am going to be afraid somehow along the way that I'm tryin' to do right, because I'm afraid of punishment, versus I'm living right confident of the grace of God.
Now, this is where I wanna spend my time with you this morning. If we get a little farther, we, that'll be great, but if there's any doubt that the cross has removed all of our sins, past, present, and future, if we doubt that one bit, we will doubt whether God has good in our future and we will do somethin' to cleanse our conscious to obtain a good standing before God, or to work our way back into favor with man. Now listen to me carefully. If I doubt that Jesus forgave me of my sins on that cross, if I doubt it one bit, if you look at the stuff you've done in the past and you doubt that God forgave you, if you look at the things that you obviously committed in your life and you doubt that, that the sins have been dealt with in your life, then you will doubt whether God has good in your future.
If God hadn't forgiven me of my sins, why would he do anything good for my future? If I'm still guilty of everything that I've done, why would he forgive me? Why shouldn't anything good, why should, excuse me, how, why should anything good come before me? Why should I, why should I even trust that something good's gonna happen? So, you got a lotta people, especially Christian people are living wondering if God's gon' do anything good for me. I know you say God is good, but you, you don't know what I did. I know you say that God has mercy and grace, but, I don't know. I don't know. "I know you say God's forgiven me of my sins, but my sins are many. I, I doubt it. I doubt that he has really forgiven me of my sins".
This is what you're saying. "I doubt that he's gon' do anything good for me". That's gotta be done. That's enough, that's something we've never really meditated on really in church is the fact that are you doubting that God has forgiven you of your sins? 'Cause if you're doubting that God's forgiven you of your sins, you know, you're goin' to church and you're tryin' to do right and you're tryin' to live right, but you still don't believe that he has forgiven you of all of your sins? At the same time, you don't believe he gon' do nothin' good in your future. "I don't believe God's gon' do nothin' good in my future". And a lotta people come to church a hopin' and a prayin' that's just might, if I can just come to church or not. There you go again.
Now, you're trying to get yourself in a position where you'll deserve his goodness. Instead of just believing, "My sins are forgiven. If I were to die right now I am in heaven. My sins have been taken care of. And hey, by the way, I believe tomorrow, God's gonna do somethin' good for me". That's not so. Lotta struggle amongst man if you don't believe that God has forgiven me of all my sins. Say this out loud: I believe it. What do you believe? That God's forgiven you for your sins? Do you believe God's forgiven you of your sins? So, is it hard for you to believe that God's gonna do somethin' good for you in your future? I got some work to do today. Listen to me carefully here now.
Now, what happens now, when your stance and you believe that God's not gonna do anything good for my future? Well, in your conscious, to obtain good standing before God, in your conscious, what you're gonna do is you're tryin' to figure out how do I work my way back into good standing with God. What do I have to do? And you know what most Christians do? Well, I think I'll go on a twenty-day fast. If I, if I feel like I suffer some, then maybe I might feel like I'm in good standing with God.
Lemme ask you this. How many of you've ever felt like you were not in good standing with God as a Christian? Okay, so, I must be makin' my point and you just must be quiet because you might be thinkin' I'm talkin' directly to you. Everybody's thought that. Everybody's thought I am not in good standing with God, for whatever reason. Maybe I didn't pray enough or I haven't been prayin' or maybe, for some reason you don't think you're in good standing with God. So, the natural man says, now what am I gonna do to regain what you thought was a good standing with God? And you thought all of the stuff that you were doing got you in good standing with God. I ain't gon' miss no mo' church. It's that song, "I'll never let you down no mo'".
This time, Lord, I mean it from my heart. Made up in my mind I'm gonna have a brand new start, for the eleven hundredth time. And here's the promise, Lord I'll never let you down no more. And the truth about that is you will let him down next week. But letting him down is not why you deserve good or bad. I am attacking the very demon of tradition. Listen to me now. You know what this is called? When you attempt to get yourself back in good standing with God, you know what this is called when you try to get your self back in good standing with man? What is it called? Self-righteousness. You're trying to, through your own selfish agenda, be right with God and right with man. What can I do to be right with God? That's self-righteousness.