What Went Wrong?

The death of trust is what went wrong.Graham Maxwell often said, “If we can understand what went wrong, then we are in a better position to understand what needs to be put right, and what it would take to set things right and keep them right for eternity.” So what did go wrong? Men broke trust with God and believed lies about Him, and because they believed these lies were true, they rebelled against Him.

The Lies I Believed

These are the lies I believed. I believed that sin wasn’t really that bad because God could just forgive it and all would be well. So I believed that my problem wasn’t really sin. It was God…or at least obtaining His forgiveness. I had offended a holy God, the cure of which was obtaining His forgiveness. If I could appease Him with the blood of Jesus, then I would magically receive a stamp of approval in the heavenly record books, saving me from His wrath against me. As long as I covered my bases with God’s forgiveness, it was all good.

“Even Adam shared the very legal understanding of the plan of salvation that has benighted the human race for such a long time: that our problem with our heavenly Father is a legal problem that is cared for by forgiveness. Whereas sin is not something recorded in a book to be stamped forgiven from time to time and all is well. Sin is something that happens in people and even though we be forgiven, we’re changed, and we need to be healed…God forgave Adam and Eve, but they were changed.” – Graham Maxwell

The Fallout from the Lies I Believed

The problem with my belief was that it trapped me in a cycle of disobedience and forgiveness. As long as I saw my problem as a legal one and wasn’t focused in on the real trust problem, then I was only concerned with adherence to rules, beliefs, and good behavior. I wanted to do everything necessary to get to heaven, but I wasn’t too worried about being “set right” with God, let alone “kept right.” I was focused on all of the externals but was still at odds with God.

Yet the most harmful part of my old view of God was that I got His forgiveness backward. If I repented, then God would forgive me. But the truth is just the opposite: when I learn of the Father’s forgiveness I am moved to repentance. It is my response to His existing forgiveness that heals me from the disease of sin. It’s all about my response or my ability to respond. There has never been a time when God has not forgiven me or will cease to forgive me.

The Solution Is Understanding What Went Wrong

So I finally understood what is actually necessary for salvation after spending many years in the “reward and punishment” trap. Perhaps my biggest hurdle was coming to the place where I could believe that it could be as simple as it really is: so simple children can understand. I started making progress when I understood what went wrong in the first place—when I began to see sin as a serious disease I had contracted instead of a mere breaking of the rules. If sin is a disease and I am stubbornly and suspiciously unwilling to listen to my Physician (who has the only cure) then my root problem is a breakdown of trust and trustworthiness.

When we understand that a breakdown of trust is what went wrong, then fixing the problem is really quite simple. All God wants in order to heal our fatal illness is our trusting friendship.


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