Right from the beginning, God has already manifested His authority over His creation. Adam and Eve were under God’s cover in the Garden of Eden until they disobeyed one simple command from the Lord, and that was to not eat of the forbidden fruit. Disobedience is moving away from God’s covering. When a person disobeys the Lord, he does not recognize the authority of God in his life; accordingly, he goes about doing what he wants to do. He rejects the law, or the will, of God, and replaces it with his own needs and wants – his own law. The apostle John made it clear that “sin is lawlessness” (English Standard Version, 1 John 3.4).
Bevere says in his book that lawlessness will abound among the members of the Church – those who loved the Lord, but have grown cold, and those who started the race but are having difficulty enduring it (30-31). As time passes, more and more Christians will be deceived and be inclined to lawlessness. In this light, it is essential to know that lawlessness arises from deception. Take this situation for example. What Christian, in his right mind, will disobey the sixth commandment of God to not murder? I assume none, but when Satan does his job of tricking us into believing that mere words cannot hurt or kill people, and we start gossiping and spreading rumors about others, then we have already been deceived by the master himself. Satan is so good at fabricating lies and leading us astray that he makes sure we don’t catch him sneaking right at our doorstep and makes us believe we are acting according to the law of the Lord when in fact, at times, we are not.
The course of deception starts with knowledge of the law. There is a huge difference between communicated knowledge and revealed knowledge. As with Eve’s case, she may have heard the command of God from Adam, and not from God Himself (Bevere 38). This is communicated knowledge. We don’t hear something first-hand. We hear it from another source. We hear sermons and teachings from our pastors, leaders and mentors. We learn of facts from books, lectures or video clips. Come to think of it, it is truly impossible to hear God’s voice in modern times. We have no choice but to be fed by second-hand sources. This is where the revelation of the Lord is necessary. When Eve was told by Adam to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, she was compliant. She may have thought, “Oh, great. My husband conveyed God’s message to me. They must be really close.” It is rather important to note that God and man were in direct communication in the beginning. Knowing this, Eve did not even consult God or ask further information about His command. She merely settled for what Adam had told her. She did not receive the revelation of God; she trusted in her own understanding of God’s words to Adam. This is exactly how she was deceived by the serpent to think that “there [was] good outside God’s provision” (Bevere 44).
As a Christian who grew up in church, I was led, if not taught, to believe that God’s provision was the best, and that anything of this world will not do me any good. However, as I let sin enter into my life, I didn’t notice that a veil of deception was gradually covering my heart. When we justify our sins and claim that they are not against the Lord, we fool ourselves. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is lessened and we fail to see the sins we have done (Bevere 60). We tend to give logical reasons for our disobedience, and it becomes harder for us to acknowledge that we have, in fact, sinned. I had been a victim of deception for a long time, and based on personal experience, I believe the reasoning came naturally because of the abundance of sin in my heart, my mind and my life.
To remove this veil of deception, God uses a three-step process. After we sin, the Lord convicts us through the Holy Spirit. Others call the conviction an act of the conscience. When, after the conviction, we still don’t confess and repent of our sins, He uses prophetic messages to reach us. He makes use of the people around us, the things we read, and our environment to convey His message to us. When, after the conviction and the prophetic messages, we still don’t acknowledge our lawlessness, He resorts to punishment. When we experience God’s punishment, it is not that God brings suffering on us. It is that “He lifts His hand of protection and allows the enemy to bring on us what obedience would have protected us from” (Bevere 63).
God wants only the best for us. We want blessings; He willingly gives them. We want comfort and protection; He is our Fortress and Refuge. We want a Friend, a Teacher, or even a Father; He’s always there. In spite of all the things we need and desire, God requires only one thing from us: total obedience and submission to His authority. By total obedience, it means the Lord is not contented with 99.9% obedience; He wants 100%. Partial obedience is still disobedience because there is still a portion of disobedience and rejection of His commands.
After our disobedience, we might think that sacrifice can make up for it. We do all sorts of things, thinking they are enough to find favor in God’s eyes. However, in heavenly standards, obedience is much better than sacrifice. Why is this? While God is pleased with our sacrifice, He doesn’t need, or even want, them. He wants us to obey Him, to follow His every command. We should bear in mind that while God gives us our own free will, we cannot choose how to please Him. We don’t do the choosing; God does, and we are under His authority. The story of Cain and Abel is the perfect illustration. Cain made a sacrifice out of his crops, even though he knew very well that God wanted the sacrifice of blood. Cain chose to disobey what God wanted and preferred to try to please God in his own way. This will never bring satisfaction to the Lord. We should serve the Lord and live our lives the way He wants us to. We don’t choose what is pleasing to Him or not. We don’t do it our way. Otherwise, we disobey. And our sacrifices are useless if we don’t obey Him in the smallest of things.
Obedience is not limited only to God’s word. The Lord has appointed leaders for us. It is sad, though, that most of the leaders, especially of our nation, do not fear the Lord. They remain corrupt, abusive and oppressive. It is not that God is unaware of their wrongdoing. In fact, it is He who placed them in authority. He knows what they are capable of doing and how wicked they can get. After all, He is omniscient. I have often wondered why God has placed them in authority. Now I understand that they are positioned above us to train us for heavenly authority. If right here on earth, we cannot follow our local barangay, town and city officials, the president of our country and his fellow national officers, our church pastors and leaders, our teachers at school and supervisors and managers at work, and even our parents and grandparents, then it is quite impossible for us to follow the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords. Insubordination to God’s appointed authority is insubordination to Him as well. However unfair and wicked His appointed authorities over us are, we must obey them and submit to their authority. God has his own way of dealing with their wickedness. All we have to do is follow, and by following, we are placing ourselves under God’s protection. Even if God’s appointed authority over us plans evil against us, we are under God’s cover and no harm can be done against us.
Now, when I hear the phrase, “under cover,” an entirely different concept comes to my mind. I think of the covering God has over me. I think of how He keeps me under His care and authority, and all I have to do is bask in His goodness and mercy, and obey and submit to His direct and appointed authority.