But someone may say, it is not God people fear, but demons—the devil himself and evil spirits generally. The answer is that the whole business is still superstition, for it makes God a party to all this supernatural carryings-on, and even if He is on our side He is unable to help us without certain magic passes on our part, such as knocking on wood, throwing salt over our shoulder or making the sign of the cross. God is therefore subject in some measure to these evil powers and helpless against them unless we play along with the cruel game by staying off the thirteenth floor of hotels, looking at the new moon over our right shoulder, wearing a charm that has been blessed by a priest or reciting a religious phrase that is supposed to have some special power to terrify the devil. This is all unworthy of God and altogether beneath the dignity of the Majesty in the heavens.
Some persons also think of God as being vindictive, churlish and quick to take vengeance on anyone who is careless about words or gestures or customs, no matter how innocent he may be or how unintentional his error. Of course this is simply a case of judging God by ourselves and thinking that He is altogether such a one as we are. How utterly grateful we should be that when we sinned and fell away from grace in the beginning, God did not act like us. Our eternal hope lies in the fact that at that tragic hour God acted like Himself. His conduct sprang out of His own holy nature and led Him to send His only begotten Son to die for the very ones who had been guilty of such an awful affront to His Person. For this the redeemed shall sing forever, "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain" (Revelation 5:12).
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Sometimes we Christians are opposed and persecuted for reasons other than our godliness. We like to think it is our spirituality that irritates people, when in reality, it may be our personality.
True, the spirit of this world is opposed to the Spirit of God; he that is born after the flesh will persecute him that is born of the Spirit. But making all allowances, it is still true that some Christians get into trouble through their faults instead of through their likeness to the character of Christ. We may as well admit this and do something about it. No good can come from trying to hide our unpleasant and annoying dispositional traits behind a verse of Scripture.
It is one of the strange facts of life that gross sins are often less offensive and always more attractive than spiritual ones. The world can tolerate a drunkard or a glutton or a smiling braggart but will turn in savage fury against the man of outwardly righteous life who is guilty of those refined sins, which he does not recognize as sins, but which may be more exceeding sinful than the sins of the flesh.
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