What Do You Think About God?
In a message entitled “God Cares about Our Views of Him,” Pastor Tom Ascol opens God’s Word at Psalm 50:16-23. God cares about our views because it is important. Our understanding of what God is like will determine how we live and reveal the kind of person we really are. Further, misrepresenting God, as did the friends of Job, resulted in an inability to properly counsel and comfort Job ultimately earning the friends God’s rebuke. Perhaps most importantly, a wrong understanding of God, in the end, is behind every sin we commit.
The early verses of this psalm give a preview of the coming day of judgment. God instructs His servants, those who truly love him, on the kind of worship He desires; worship from the heart, not mere outward actions. We glorify God not so much by doing for Him but by humbly calling out to Him with hearts full of gratefulness. The verses of today’s passage expose the hypocrisy and wickedness of those who have never turned to Him. First, God rebukes spiritual hypocrisy. Like the New Testament Pharisees, hypocrites are those who pretend to be what they are not willing to be. Unwilling to come to God on God’s terms, they have no right to speak for or teach about God. They love to point to the faults of others with no self-examination. As Spurgeon once said, “How horrible an evil it is, to this day we see men explaining doctrines who despise precepts.” These blithely ignore God’s commands while presumptuously attempting to explain His doctrines.
Next, God reveals the root of this spiritual hypocrisy. Verse 21, in particular, explains the problem. The real cause of these hypocrites’ continual sin is due to their wrong thinking about God; God says, “These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself.” Their sinful doings flowed from their flawed thinking. They mistook God’s longsuffering for His approval as if God’s thinking was like the thinking of humankind. Rather, God’s kindness was meant to lead to repentance not hypocritical sinning. Following this, God warns spiritual hypocrites of their danger. For Sodom and Gomorrah, for those of Noah’s time, each day seemed like the previous day, until catastrophic judgment struck. Verse 22 calls to people to stop and consider. Judgment is coming yet God offers hope through a Savior (v. 23).
God offers anyone, hypocrites included, salvation. While God, the just judge, will not let sin go unpunished, he has provided a way for those willing to come to Him for salvation. Still, many today mistake God’s patience and longsuffering for God’s approval. They should remember, God’s ways are not man’s ways. He calls men to faith and repentance. It is true that what one thinks about God matters. Their thinking if reflected in the actions. It is only by turning to Jesus Christ and his work on the Cross that man can be saved and have their thinking corrected as they study God’s Word and His ways.