Last time we dove into the topic of happiness by exploring God’s design for our desire to be happy. We learned that God created us to be happy in Him and that sin has caused significant heart problems in us. For many, it is comforting to learn that God desires us to be happy. Today we continue in our series in which we will answer the question, “Why does God give us law if He wants us to be happy?”
For many, God was introduced to them through a series of commands or rules, like the Ten Commandments for example, that highlighted a lot of restrictions in the negative rather than positives in the boundaries. Today more than anything else, it seems that the “shall nots” serve as perpetual wedges between hearts that need God and wills that don’t want restriction. But what if God’s law was actually for your benefit? What if God designed His instructions so we could be happy? We are all born so set on our own self-interest, so convinced of our capacity to govern ourselves, we immediately reject God’s law as oppressive. Our sinful hearts exclaim, “I don’t want any one to tell me what to do.” “I am the captain of my own soul.” This is obvious to any parent. Have you ever wondered why you humans seem hardwired this way?
In the Bible we are introduced to God’s character by His loving provision for Adam and Eve. He lays out creation, the dominion of the the Earth, the garden of Eden, and all fruit (except the forbidden one) as a gift to His beloved crowning creation, humanity. This showcases His goodness and that He designed our universe to sustain and benefit us. The Bible also records that upon completion of His creation God evaluated it, calling it all very good. Many people have misunderstandings about God because they do not understand what happened to make things go so wrong in our fallen world. They overlook God’s beneficence, His goodness in creation, and they overlook His love on the cross when they make evaluations about His character without understanding the fall that resulted because of our sin.
Later in the chronicles of the Israelites, God introduces His law as a set of principles to govern His people and as a requirement of their relationship with Him. The word law in Hebrew carries the connotation of instructions. Instructions are beneficial! But my goodness, how often we don’ want to take the time to read them, do we? At times we can pay the price for failing to do so as well. What if God’s instructions, His commands and designs, are designed for our own benefit. What if they are all about a loving Father not wanting His children to hurt themselves? If you take the time to carefully evaluate the purposes behind God’s laws you will find that His intentions are always for them to benefit us. For example, marriage between one man and one woman is a beautiful, tremendous blessing that produces life-long companionship, the pleasures of sexual union, and in some cases the blessings of children. Conversely, a life of shallow sexual relationships that leave emptiness, loneliness, and guilt is far short of glamorous despite Hollywood’s attempt at selling it. This is just one example of how God’s instructions are actually intended for our happiness.
Earlier I mentioned God’s instructions were a requirement of our relationship with Him. God is holy. He does not sin. He is perfect. He is a perfect judge. The Bible teaches us that God uses justice and righteousness as His measuring tool (measuring line and plumb line; Isaiah 28:17) Because of this we simply cannot have a relationship with Him if we are sinners. This is the bad news of the Bible. The worst news is that according to God all sin is deserving of death! (Rom 6:23) But God loves you and me and He wants a relationship with us so He did the most amazing thing to show us. The good news of the Bible is that He sent His Son Jesus to live the perfect life we could not and then to die on the cross for our sins so that we might be forgiven! The best news is that on Easter morning Jesus rose from the dead showcasing His divinity and showing us that we who believe in Him also have received eternal life. This means that those who believe in Jesus are offered victory of sin through the cross and victory over death through the resurrection.
Now, God has done all of this so that we might be able to have a relationship with Him. Someone might wonder, “Does a relationship with God make a person happy?” Well that depends on God. Is God happy or unhappy?