49 Voting God As Unselfish
Updated: Oct 14, 2021
Discover the importance of seeing God as unselfish as part of the great controversy.
Freedom for God in the Great Controversy: between Love and Selfishness.
I seldom hear any thoughts expressed in public prayers or written prayers for the situation God finds himself in. This concerns me for in the prayer Jesus gave his disciples he prays to God FOR God in the first half of the prayer. No, that is not a typo. In the following, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” Jesus is concerned that the Father’s will is not being done on earth and this causes pain for God because his creation suffers in consequence.
What am I talking about with praying for God? Imagine watching your dearly loved children abusing and killing each other and selling their children into the sex trade. What sort of emotional experience would that be? Imagine having to watch your children become so desperate for meaning that they take drugs and some of them eventually take their own lives. Would you not feel like a failure? So, perhaps the best prayer for God is “even so come Lord Jesus for God’s sake.”
There are more reasons for being concerned about God’s situation if we can put our own agenda’s aside for now.
There is a shadow hanging over God.
Satan or the devil has claimed God is selfish because anything he desires, he created. He has also claimed God was withholding some good from his creation. Then, the story, as its usually told is that God will simply destroy all those who disagree with him when time runs out. Some make it even worse. They believe God will actively punish those who rebelled against him in a perpetual state of torment. These ideas all confirm that God is so selfish about his reputation he will use the greatest cruelty to destroy anyone who does not do it God’s way. These depictions surely confirm the selfishness of God.
Claims are not proof
so the devil can claim all he wants to and it does not mean that his claims are true. Claims do introduce suspicions or possibility that can influence our picture of God. God can claim he is unselfish, but is then is this claim true? Perhaps we need to enquire if it possible for God to prove or demonstrate that he is unselfish? Can we find a situation where God chose to benefit others at the expense of himself?
This is part of what the Cross is about. We will get there later but first we must consider a few other ideas.
The serious claim that God is selfish was implied in the temptation of Eve by the serpent. Genesis 3: The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
4 “You won’t die!“ the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
“Has God said you must not eat anything?”—The serpent is implying God is withholding something from her. “You will be like God!”—The implication is that Eve could rise to a higher level, maybe be on the same level as God. If Eve eats, she will have a status she does not have at present. Again, the implication is that God is withholding something from her. This was another was of stating that God is selfish.
The devil’s temptations of Jesus Christ were also an attempt to expose selfishness in Jesus and thus also in God (Matthew 4:3-10). 1. Make yourself bread. Make your legitimate, personal desires a priority. 2. Jump off the temple pinnacle: The people will hero worship you and follow you! 3. Worship me and I will bring you the worship of the world and you can avoid all the hardships of unselfish ministry in a selfish world.
The words of Jesus near the end of his life indicated that selfishness was central to the devil’s accusations against God.
And when he (Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged (John 16:8-11 NLT).
Sin: The world rejected Jesus because he brought the unselfish kingdom of heaven rather than the conquering, violent kingdom of David which was anticipated in human selfishness.
Righteousness: God’s righteousness is not in punishing sinners. This is a consequence of sin or wrongdoing which brings suffering and eventually death. God’s righteousness is manifest in his forgiving all people their moral failures and rebellions and his working to bring about reconciliation between himself and us. This reconciliation is pressed towards us even in the face of the shameful way we treated his dear Son. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus is the guarantee that all the above is true and in addition we can be sure that God is not selfish because of the gift of his Son to us for all eternity.
Judgment: The ruler of this world (John 12:31), the devil, is exposed or condemned for his selfishness before the watching powers of the universe. The cause of the torture and death of Jesus Christ was clearly demonstrated to be satanically inspired because this explains why he was cast out.
The responsibility for the origin of evil
As Adam and Eve ate from the “tree of Life” they recognized that life originated with God. In the same way eating from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” implied that God created both life and death or good and evil. The serpent suggested that if Eve accepted this understand by eating from this tree it would bring enlightenment to her. Ever since Eve ate this fruit humans have believed the lie that God also created evil.
Christianity has confused claims on the origin of evil. Most Christians hold that the origin of evil was in the mind or heart of an angelic being who materialized as a serpent in Eden and successfully tempted Eve and later tempted Jesus Christ (Genesis 3; Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:9). However, when Christians experience trauma they often wonder why God has caused the trauma or at least allowed it.
Other Christians believe that since God is all-knowing and that he created the angelic being who later became the devil he must accept culpability for the origin of evil.
During his teaching ministry Jesus Christ declared that God is the source of good alone (John 10:10; 1 John 1:5). Not all believers accept these words of Jesus at face value and the idea that God uses violence (evil) to deal with evil is common. For instance, the belief that God finally destroys evil by violence is demonstrated by the teaching of hell for unrepentant sinners.
At present most, if not all Christians, hold that Jesus Christ has taken human sin on himself. Will he remain the sin bearer for all eternity? Many are of this opinion, but we need to consider a few more facets in the story.
Is it possible to transfer guilt or sin to another?
Moslems claim that that the innocent Jesus dying in guilty man’s place is legal fiction. It is not legal or just or fair to punish the innocent for the guilty. Of course, Christians deny this suggestion but there is a niggling question that is raised because we do not allow the innocent to die for the guilty. But there is more to the story if God is our creator.
We do at times transfer guilt from one person to another. How do we accomplish this transfer of sin? The receiver of the guilt or responsibility must volunteer to accept the guilt or be clearly shown to be the actual perpetrator of the wrong under consideration.
There is the matter of familial responsibility which is understood in society. Here is an example. Rachel threw a baseball through the church window. Doyle and Jody, her parents, could pay for the repair or argue that she did not break the window or argue that the adult leader of the youth group was careless, or argue that the church has insurance for just such incidents. However, generally parents take responsibility for their children’s actions because they are responsible for bringing them into the world. In this case the parents assume the guilt for the child’s behaviour. Thus the guilt of the perpetrator is assumed by the parents. Here is another example of the transfer of guilt. David Milgaard who was 16 in 1969 was accused of the rape and murder of Gail Miller. He was convicted in 1970 and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1971. After 23 years in prison, where David was assaulted physically and sexually, the real perpetrator, Larry Fisher, a serial rapist’s, was discovered to have committed the crime through DNA testing. David was exonerated of the crime and freed. This was not good enough for David and his mother Joyce who had worked tirelessly to demonstrate that her son was innocent. This included her camping on the prime minister’s lawn to make her point. Five years later David was declared innocent and given a $10 million compensation. This process constituted the legal transfer of the guilt of rape and murder from David Milgaard to Larry Fisher.
Moral transfers of guilt are also possible. A perpetrator can admit to a crime and thus absolve the wrongly accused person. Victor Hugo toys with this possibility in “The Tale of Two Cities” where Sydney Carton takes the place of Charles Darnay by subterfuge and is guillotined in his place.
Jesus took both the cause and the consequences of our sin onto himself, thus making us innocent. He did this by acknowledging that he made us (cause), and that we had no choice in being born sinners on this planet (consequence). He forgave us our sin and since forgiveness is always costly. He had to “pay the price” for this forgiveness in the same way that Olympic athletes pay the price for competing at the games. The price is dedicated training and mind focused perseverance. This is a moral price. It is like giving up your seat on a lifeboat to someone else. Nothing legal is involved it is about the moral courage to be compassionate to another at great expense to yourself.
A Case study
A. King David was responsible for the death of Uriah the Hittite.
According to 2 Samuel 11:14-15 King David was the perpetrator. He admits this to Nathan the prophet and confirms his guilt as he repents in Psalm 32 and 51. Nathan declares David is forgiven and does not suffer the stoning prescribed in the law. He will suffer four other consequences according to Nathan.
B. However, Jesus forgave David and took his sin upon himself. Psalm 32:5b
John the Baptist announced Jesus as the lamb of God. This means God brought Jesus to us as a means of atonement or reconciliation as the following statements make clear.
Romans 4: 25 (NIV) Jesus was put to death for our offences.
Romans 5:8 (NIV) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 Corinthians 15:3 (NIV) For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 2 Corinthians 5:14 (NIV) For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
What it meant for Jesus to take David’s sin upon himself:
This action included at least three aspects: 1. Jesus must take responsibility and the consequences for Uriah’s murder. Mark Twain toys with this idea in the story of Tom Sawyer. Tom Sawyer takes Becky Thatcher’s guilt for tearing Mr. Dobbin’s book. He gets the punishment too.
2. Jesus must experience the fear, guilt and shame of David’s sin. “Take this cup from me, not my will but thy will.” “God why have you forsaken me?” “Jesus is crucified naked. A & E were naked. So was David when he sinned with Bathsheba.
3. It must be seen that Jesus has taken this guilt upon himself. (The innocent, by admission of the Roman Governor, was crucified in public. The cross is the most recognizable icon or symbol even in the secular world or today.)
Genesis 3 gives a description of what it means for sin to come upon a person. You become afraid of your only friend and hide from him. You turn on your mate, you blame anyone who is around, there is an awful heaviness inside of you. It is called guilt.
There is also the experience of shame. Shame means there is a change in your self-image. You feel terrible about yourself. Your joy is gone and feel a failure, but you don’t know why. Shame is downloaded on us in cruelty by significant people in our lives. It must have been something the serpent said that wounded Eve’s heart and brought shame on her. It was a terrible emotional experience, it was hell.
When we say that Jesus took our sin upon himself this is what we are talking about. We are NOT talking about some legal penalty. We are talking about him experiencing what it means to be Adam and Eve in the Garden after eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Being naked and ashamed, hiding, making fig leaf clothes, blaming others . . . How did these consequences of sin come upon Jesus? This is not some metaphysical, mystical secret. We poured these consequences on him. His best friends betrayed, abandoned, and denied him. His enemies tortured, mocked, and swapped him for the brigand, Barabbas, who deserved to die. The Romans, who were the guardians of justice, treated him with professional cruelty as the procession moved towards execution even though the Governor had declared him innocent.
Behind it all, the serpent from the first garden was there in the Gethsemane garden. He was there making sure the lash was lead tipped, the thorns were pressed into his scalp, the loss of blood was such he could not carry the cross.
The serpent was there inspiring the mob calling for his blood. The serpent was there stirring the adrenalin in the soldiers. The serpent was there fueling the hatred of the religious leaders. The serpent was there fanning the cowardice of the governor to a hand washing fervour. This emotional experience was so intense for Jesus that his heart physically ruptured. The solder’s spear thrust, to make sure Jesus was dead, released a double stream of hemoglobin and serum or blood and water. This stream is proof that the heart had physically ruptured and thus also confirmed that Jesus was truly an emotional being. He was not pretending to be a man—he was man. This was not a theophany—this was incarnation. The cause of death was established to be emotional trauma rather than physical trauma as awful as it was.
C. Who will be responsible for Uriah the Hittite’s death in a million years?
At present, Jesus Christ carries the responsibility for creating King David who murdered Uriah. Will it be this way forever? To answer this question, we need to consider some of the major judgments in Scripture.
Judgments in the Bible:
Fall judgment. Access lost to the garden and the tree of life.
Flood judgment. Violence results in destruction by water. Sodom and Gomorrah. Wickedness results in destruction Jerusalem destroyed by Babylon (586 BC). Idolatry led to this destruction.
Cross judgment (31 AD) Jesus and the Devil are face to face to answer the question of: Is God the servant of the universe or did God make us to serve himself? Jesus speaks prophetically when he says, John 12:31 NLT “The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out.” Hebrews 2:14 NLT Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—The Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.” The death of Jesus was an emotional argument for the unselfishness of God because God in Jesus did not want to die but he died because love is vulnerability. Jerusalem destroyed by Rome (70 AD) because of Jewish arrogance and defiance.
Pre-advent Judgment (1844 AD) God explains to the angels why the saints are safe to save.
Second Coming Judgment: Saints rescued from the self-destruction of sinners.
Millennial Judgment: Did God save the right people?
Last Judgment at the end of the Millennium (John 6; Revelation 20).
Salvation is given to the saints against the little horn (Daniel 7:9-14; 26-27). Here the destiny of people is not at stake. The saved are in the city and the lost are outside preparing to attack the city.
This judgment is about God and the accusation of the devil.
Did God have any part in creating evil?
If God knew Lucifer would become the devil, why did he create him? Is God selfish? Has God treated the devil unfairly.
The gates of the city are open (Revelation 21:25) meaning that salvation is available to all who desire to enter there.
Everyone who has ever lived is present in this judgment to witness to the selfishness of God—if it exists. The jury is every created being. Your opinion counts because you are part of the jury! This trial happens because God values freedom and transparency. At stake is the future of God.
Since no such evidence of God’s selfishness can be produced, and the devil’s accusation is demonstrated as false.
The origin of sin can then be transferred to the devil for there is enough evidence but if the devil also accepts responsibility for his evil work then the suspicion that God is selfish is effectively totally lifted from him.
Philippians 2:10 NLT that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This final judgment is not about who needs to be punished but about who caused the mess we are in and God’s role in the cause of sin and suffering.
The following Scriptures confirm the above claims. There would be no need for them except that there had been a question about the selfishness of God and his character of love.
Isaiah 45:22 NLT Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. 23 I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to me.[ 24 The people will declare, “The LORD is the source of all my righteousness and strength.” And all who were angry with him will come to him and be ashamed. 25 In the LORD all the generations of Israel will be justified, and in him they will boast.
Revelation 5:13 NLT And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”
The Cross and the powers of darkness
There are passages that indicate the cross would profoundly affect the powers of darkness. John 12:31 NLT The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out.
Colossians 2:14-15 NLT He cancelled the record of charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them at the cross.
Ephesians 6:12 Our battle is against evil rulers and the unseen forces of darkness.
Revelation 5:1-14 (Suffering and God’s response.)
Satan acknowledging that he caused the evil in the universe does not redeem man. However, this admission frees God from the accusation that the devil has made against him. God does not engineer this confession by the devil. It is the confluence of the Second Coming and the revelation of the heart of God and the heart of the devil. The final judgment is more about the truth of God’s heart than exposing the evil of wicked hearts.
“It is finished.”
God did not need to become man to understand our emotional experience, but we needed to know that God understands our emotional plight. “It is finished,” embraces many accomplishments but in this context, we now know with certainly that God understands our emotional predicament.
“It is finished” also implied that the question of the selfishness of God had been settled. On the Cross God, in Jesus Christ, chose to give up his life rather than please himself. The watching universe finally had proof that God is unselfish at the core of his being. The charges of the serpent were demonstrated to be false. God was free at last.
Romans 3:3 True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? 4 Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).