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Beware of Suspicion | College Retreat

College Retreat | Jon Rouleau | Saturday Night

In this session, Jon Rouleau breaks down the difference between truth and suspicion. Jon also gives three steps that result in doubting God.

  1. You become suspicious of his Word.
  2. You become suspicious of his goodness.
  3. You become suspicious of God.

Suspicion breaks down our relationships. In Genesis 3, we see Satan shifting Eve’s gaze away from the Lord using these three steps. The Enemy does not want you to worship God. He wants you to doubt God and reject him. 

When you are doubting, run to God. He will fulfill his promises to us. He is who he says he is. He is faithful.


  • Genesis 3
  • Proverbs 3:5-6

Read the Transcript Here!

See what I want to talk to you tonight about, is I want to talk to you about the difference between truth and suspicion. See, I’m convinced that the greatest threat to Christianity currently, and especially for you who are in college, is suspicion. To be honest with you, I know that the majority of you are not going to deconstruct your faith. Unfortunately, statistically, maybe some of you will, and I’m sure some of you have came here and you’re really struggling, and I recognize that a lot of you aren’t going to completely turn around and walk away from God. But my fear is, with this current cultural climate, not that you’ll walk away from God, but that you will be so suspicious of God, you’ll be suspicious of authority, you’ll be suspicious of the Bible, you’ll be suspicious of Jesus, that you won’t walk away from God, but you’ll walk your whole life lukewarm in your relationship with Him. Because, see, what suspicion does is it actually breaks down trust. I mean, how many of you, when you think about the person that you want to date in the future and you’re praying, “Lord, I just pray that he makes my heart full of suspicion.” That’s not a character that you’re searching for, is it? See, suspicion breaks down relationships. And suspicion isn’t all bad. I mean, Brody talked about it a little bit last night. See, suspicion is a filter. We teach our kids to be suspicious of strangers.

See, suspicion can be a good thing. I tell my wife, “Hey, if it’s late at night and you’re going to a gas station, you should be suspicious of the men that are around you. You should keep your eye open.” See, suspicion is simply a filter. The reality is, is that the opposite of suspicion is trust. Can you put up on screen Proverbs 3: 5 and 6? And I know the majority of you know this verse, and I know the reason why the majority of you know this verse is it’s foundational. Almost everybody, when you first come to Jesus, for whatever reason, we end up landing on this verse. Proverbs 3: 5 and 6, what does it say? “Trust.” Let’s repeat it. Let’s actually read it out loud. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” You’ve seen that verse before? Probably 100 times. It’s foundational to our relationship with God. When you come into a relationship with God, what you are saying is, “I trust you.” It is the basis for having a relationship with God. In fact, it’s actually the basis for relationships in general.

That if you want to draw close to somebody, the basis of that is trust. And so this passage of Scripture said, “We trust in the Lord with all of our heart.” And what happens, see, with that filter of suspicion and trust? What happens when you trust somebody as you start to give them authority in your life? You start to give them control in your life. You start to allow them to speak into your life. You actually give authority to things all the time. Today, when you went back to campus, some of you rode rec. You did the climbing tower or you rode some of the swings. You were actually giving authority to our staff. You’re saying, “I trust you. I’m giving you control of my life.” Any person that ever steps on an airplane, you’re saying, “I am giving authority to this pilot. I am trusting that he is going to get me and land me safely.” Because the reality is, is that whoever you give your trust to, your ultimate trust to, that’s your God. Whoever you give the ultimate authority in your life, whoever you give control to in your life, that’s your God. See, it makes sense. This is the very definition of God. God wants to be God in your life. In this whole world, the enemy, the devil, the flesh, the world, the devil are three main oppositions.

They are all set up against that authority. They’re all set up against that relationship. The devil would like nothing more in your life to pull you from that trust and intimate relationship with God. The reality is, I know sometimes when we think of like Satan and like worshipping the devil, right? It’s like, it’s like, man, there are very few people that actually have some kind of thing set up or whatever. And they’re, “Oh, I’m a Satanist,” right? But the reality is there are a ton of people that worship themselves. There are a ton of people that God is not the God on their heart. See, Satan doesn’t care if he’s like a figure in your room or that’s who you’re worshipping. Satan just doesn’t want you to worship God. He just doesn’t want you to put your trust in God. And if he can accomplish that, he’s already won. And I’m convinced that in this generation, the tool that he’s using the most is suspicion. Let’s jump into the scriptures. Turn to Genesis 3. I’m going to read the first seven verses.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God, Jehovah Elohim, the Lord God, personal reference, had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say,’ in personal reference, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the tree in the garden. But God said you should not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden. Neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For that God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of it and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were open. They knew that they were naked. They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloth.” -Genesis 3:1-7

I went to Liberty University trained in the Baptist. Ayo, so I’m gonna give you three points tonight. Three steps that’ll pull you away. Number one, you become suspicious of God’s words. Number two, you become suspicious of God’s goodness. And the final blow is you become suspicious of God. See this text that starts off, it starts off and it says, it says, “The serpent was more crafty.” Such an interesting word, right? When I think crafty, I think of like, ooh I’m gonna stay away from the crafty one. But I wrote down a couple definitions because when I was looking up the Hebrew definition, they throw a couple things. The first three are shrewd, sly, and crafty. And I’m like, yeah, that sounds like a used car salesman. I ain’t stepping close to that. But listen to this, the next three, subtle, sensible, prudent. Prudent, the act of showing care and thought for one’s future. Sensible, chosen in accordance with wisdom, likely to be a benefit. Subtle, delicate, nice, or fine. That’s so interesting. I mean, those sound like characteristics of somebody that I want to get wise counsel from. I want somebody to be subtle and sensible and prudent in my life, right? That cares about my future. You know what that sounds like? It sounds like manipulation. Let’s not forget, the Bible describes Satan as an angel of light, that he was something that was beautiful, that he was something that was attractive. He led the the Lord’s choir, right? But it doesn’t sound like somebody that you’re gonna be like, pushing away from. Sometimes we look at this passage, we wonder why Eve even was having a conversation. Point number one, you become suspicious of God’s word.

It says, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made, “and he said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say you shall not eat of the tree in the garden?'” Did God actually say? Did God say that? The definition of suspicion is the act of suspecting something wrong without prior evidence or proof. The act of suspecting something is wrong without evidence or proof. Did God actually say? See, suspicion is a filter. Suspicion is not a search for the truth, it’s actually the opposite. Suspicion is a search for the lie. Suspicion is the search for the fault. And see, here the enemy comes and he’s telling a lie, but what he does is he turns this filter, and immediately he starts to get Eve to be suspicious of God. Did God really say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” See, all of a sudden he flips it. Even though he’s the one that’s lying, he’s the one that’s trying to point and say, “Hey, I think evil’s on that side. Let’s turn your focus that way.” It’s so subtle. Do we have any Office fans in here? I don’t know. Okay, we got like half, so half are going to get this illustration. That’s cool, that’s fine, that’s good odds. I watch that show all the time.

Okay, real quick, so there’s this character, Jim and Pam, and they have this relationship. Pam used to date Roy they were engaged. Yeah, we got a couple fans nodding like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, okay.” First couple episodes, well, we all knew Pam and Roy weren’t a thing. Roy’s not a great guy, Jim is just this good guy. You’re like hoping for Jim, right? So, long story short Pam breaks off her engagement with Roy, and you’re like, “What’s going to happen?” And next thing you know, “Oh, guess what? Jim and Pam are engaged.” You’re like, “Yeah, yeah, right?” Well, there’s this moment where all of a sudden, like, Jim and Roy, they see each other and stuff, and it’s like, “Oh, it’s kind of awkward and tense.” And they’re just having a conversation, he’s like, “Oh, how’s Pam? She’s great.” You know, “Guess what? We’re engaged.” And he’s like, “Oh, that’s kind of awkward.” You know, whatever. But the conversation is, “Oh, she’s doing great. She’s in New York right now. I let her go up there. She’s pursuing her dreams. We’re really happy for her.” And then Roy makes a comment, or he says, “You know, last night, she was out with all of her friends, and it was awesome.” And then Roy goes, “I thought you were her friend.”

And see, in this moment, what he was doing was, he was causing suspicion in this relationship. There was nothing in that relationship to cause him to be suspicious. And immediately, in the next scene, Jim’s in the car going to New York because he wants to check on her, and I love this moment. He says, “Nope.” He stops. He said, “Nope. There’s no reason for me to be suspicious. I trust her.” But that’s how subtle it is. Just a seed of doubt planted. There was no reason for him to have suspicion. There’s no reason for us to be suspicious of the Lord and who He is and His character and His word. But Satan comes, and all of a sudden, he flips that filter. And of course, because it destroys our relationship. If you’re suspicious of your best friend, that relationship doesn’t grow close. It starts to become distant. Now, imagine this. Imagine you go back to college this weekend, and you’re in a new relationship. Your girlfriend, your boyfriend, and everybody at your college. It’s a long-distance relationship, and everybody at your college is like, “Ah, I don’t know about this person.” And they just start throwing all these comments like, “Man, what do you think they’re doing tonight? Do you think you could really trust them? Are they out on their own dah, dah, dah?”

And they just keep throwing all these suspicious comments. How long do you think that relationship is going to last? Imagine being surrounded in your whole group of friends. Imagine your whole college was suspicious of this relationship, and they were just constantly throwing these accusations at you. Now, imagine if somewhere along the line in that relationship, it got rocky. What do you think would happen? Now, imagine it’s not boyfriend, girlfriend. Imagine we’re talking about God. When you have this relationship with God, and you’re going back to college. Everybody around you, every professor, every article every person in authority, everybody’s just constantly throwing suspicion and doubt and questions, and did God really say? And that’s all you’re getting, that’s all the filter that’s coming through. And the reality is, at some point in your relationship with God, you’re going to have trouble. You know why I know that? Because the Bible says, “In this world, you will have trouble.” Because God is honest. Because God is truthful. In the scripture, He told Adam and Eve what would happen, because the words that come out of God’s mouth, even when they’re hard to hear, they’re always true.

But imagine if in the heart of Paul, the apostle, was this suspicion that sat there in his relationship with God. Imagine if he carried that suspicion, and then he was shipwrecked. Imagine he was carrying that suspicion, and then he was arrested and put in jail. Imagine Moses being suspicious in the wilderness as God was trying to reveal himself. Imagine Mary being suspicious after Jesus died. Instead of going to the tomb, she’s like, “I’m out. Everybody said this was going to happen. Look, it happened.” See the danger? You carry that suspicion, and it’s like a lens. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You are searching for the lie instead of looking for the truth. And Jesus says, “I am the truth.” Number two, we become suspicious of the goodness of God. Suspicious of His words. All of a sudden, you become suspicious of His character, of who He is. Let’s continue to read. It says, verse four, “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die, for God knows. You will not die. That’s a lie.'” See, lies, we never really accept lies that are just like straight up, we know that they’re bold-faced lies, right? Like if that shady dude that you see at the gas station comes up to you and he’s telling a story, you’re kind of like, you know. “You will not surely die, for God knows.”

See, here’s the flip. Here’s the flip. He’s about to, “God is the bad guy. I’m the good guy.” Oh, God told you something? Well, guess what? He doesn’t have your best interests. He’s not for you. He’s not good. “For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be open. You will be enlightened. You will be set free, and you will be like God.” See, God just doesn’t want you to be like Him. He doesn’t want you to be free. He wants you to be stuck where you are right now. You’ll be like God, knowing good and evil. Look at this. “So when the woman saw.” See that? “When the woman saw.” What did she see? See, what Satan was doing was he was trying to reinterpret the Word of God. He was trying to give her a different filter so that she saw something different. She’s reading the same words. She’s reading, or she’s seeing what God said. God was honest. He was truthful. But all of a sudden, she’s interpreting it from bad faith. All of a sudden, she’s viewing it through suspicion and mistrust, and she doesn’t trust God’s character because God is trying to keep something from me.

It’s amazing having a little girl and trying to teach her what trust is. Trying to teach her that her parents love her, that mommy and daddy love you, and we’re good. And she’s a toddler now, so she’s learning right and wrong and doing things, and it was really funny the other night. This was about a month ago, and she loves potato chips, and my wife loves those, what are they called? Takis, is that right? Takis, and they’re real spicy. So anytime I go to Trader Joe’s in Atlanta or Asheville, I go and I get a ton of takis, and I bring ’em home, and we have five or six in the cabinet. And so Jen is eating these takis on the couch, and she’s like, “Mommy, chips, Mommy, chips.” And she’s like, she’s like, “Baby, this real spicy, it’s real hot. “Mommy, chips, Mommy, chips, I want chips.” Okay, Josie, it’s real spicy. So we hand her a chip, and all of a sudden she puts on her tongue, “Ah, spicy, spicy.” I know, baby, we told you, spicy. And literally 30 seconds later, she came back, “Mama, chips, chips?” And that’s what we learned, okay? My girl likes spicy food, that’s cool. She does the same thing every time. And then she goes, “Ah, ah, ah.” And then, “Mommy, chips?” You know what I mean? It’s like, I get that, I understand. But see, there’s this process where we’re trying to teach her, “Hey, your parents, who have been given authority in your life, we love you, and we care for you, and we have your best interests, and when we tell you something, we’re not lying.”

“We’re not telling you this to keep you from this. We’re gonna be super honest.” And that’s God. He’s gonna tell us the truth, even when it hurts. But when He speaks, when He speaks true in our life, when He speaks truth in our life, it’s coming from His character. It’s coming from the goodness of God. It’s coming from His love and who He is, a God of compassion, a God of mercy, a God of love, abounding in forgiveness. It’s who God is. He doesn’t act. His motivation is never evil. And even when it doesn’t feel like it, it’s always for our good. But see, Satan had already shifted her lens. And so she saw. It says when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was a delight to the eyes, and that it was to be desired to make one wise. You see what Satan does? You see how he packages sin? You see how he packages rebellion against God?

Three things. It said it was good. It was delightful. It was desirable. See, this lie, it wasn’t something that you outwardly reject, it was something that you crave. It was good. It was delightful. It was desirable. Have you heard that before? Have you experienced that before in your life? Has Satan ever tempted you with something that’s good, In our culture, it might sound a little bit something like this, “Hey, I’m just doing what’s good for me. Hey, that’s good for you, but I’m gonna do what’s good for me.” Or it’s delightful, “Hey, just do what makes you happy. Hey, girl, I just want you to be happy. I’m so happy for you. You just do what makes you happy,” What’s desirable. Why would God keep this from me? This is something that I desire.” Sound familiar. See, the enemy packages things in a way, he packages rebellion, he packages sin, in a way, that’s good, delightful, desirable.

And his whole intention is to get us to mistrust, to get us to be suspicious of the character of God. We start doubting, we start mistrusting God’s goodness, that He’s withholding something from us, that He doesn’t want us to have what we desire, that He doesn’t want us to be happy. And as a result, our relationship starts to break, it’s almost like the final blow. Let’s continue, we will read verse six and seven. And number three, we become suspicious of God. Starts out with just being suspicious of His words, then we’re suspicious of His goodness and His character, and as we continue to go down that path, we’re just suspicious of God. It says, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of it and ate of its fruit. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew they were naked, and they sewed fig lies together, and clothed themselves.”

She took it and ate it. She took control. She decided in that moment that, “God is no longer trustworthy, so I’m gonna take control.” See, that’s where Satan won. It doesn’t say that, “Oh, she worshiped the devil, and she worshiped Satan.” It says that she took it and ate, it says that she decided that, “I know better for my life than God does.” instead of trusting in the Lord with all of her heart, she says, “I’m gonna trust myself.” And in this moment, she became her own God. See, God desires to be our God. He wants us to trust Him, but in this moment, she said, “I’m gonna trust myself.”

See, I think that’s the greatest danger of this generation, it’s all about self, it’s all about, “You do you.” It’s all about you becoming your own god, even though everybody around you is trying to influence you and manipulate you, and you realize you think you’re just following yourself, but you’re actually following a false god. Gods love to be worshiped, gods love followers. So what did she do? She gave some to her husband. Bad company corrupts good morals, doesn’t it? Misery loves company. It’s so interesting how when people walk away from God, they love to post it on Instagram, and social media, and TikTok, isn’t that so funny?

They wanna draw everybody in. I don’t know if it’s this underlining, I’m just total speculation. I don’t know if it’s underlining guilt or shame, but you know it’s like when people wanna go up to the party, and to the club, they want a bunch of people with them, they don’t go by themselves. They love to be surrounded. Maybe it’s ’cause they’re insecure. Their Eyes were both opened, enlightenment, freedom, it’s amazing how freedom that the world talks about leads to bondage. The grass is not always greener. Yeah, their eyes were opened. And that’s where shame and guilt and insecurity came from. It says, “They were naked. They knew that they were naked, and they hurried up to cover themselves.”

They were just… In the chapter before they were just naked and unashamed. You know what naked and unashamed means? That’s intimacy. That means everything exposed in your life and you don’t care because you’re close, you trust each other, and that was broken, and all of a sudden guilt, and shame, and insecurity, and covering, and aloneness, that entered into the world. They decided to be their own god and it broke what they desired the most, and God gives us that freedom to choose. It’s so interesting I feel like in times of uncertainty, we just want control, don’t we. It’s so hard for us. It’s a spiritual discipline. Can I encourage you? When you’re feeling that doubt, when you’re feeling that insecurity, don’t run away from God, run to Him. Even when it’s hard.

Say it out loud. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked and said, “God, I don’t understand this right now, but I’m gonna trust you. I’m just gonna be faithful today because I’m so confused God, but I’m gonna trust you.” See, there is going to be a space. There’s gonna be time between the promises of God that He makes you, and how He fulfills those promises. That has been all throughout human history, it’s been all throughout the Scriptures. There was a gap between when Jesus died on the cross, and when He raised from the dead. And it was three days. Imagine if they were suspicious, if they doubted God in those three days. See, there’s gonna be a gap in your life that you’re not gonna understand, you’re gonna be like, “God, why don’t you show up? Where are you? I’m following you, I’m trusting you.” I don’t know how long your gap is gonna be.

But you know what the enemy is gonna do at that moment? He’s gonna fill it with all types of mistrust, and suspicion, ’cause he wants to pull you away from staying and being faithful to God, but I promise you, just like the resurrection of Jesus, God will show up. He will fulfill His promises. He is who He says He is. I thought it was so interesting.

One more story, I share a few more thoughts and them we’ll be finished. I thought it was so interesting. I don’t know if any of you watch football, but if you saw the unfortunate tragic accident of the Bills player. Thank God he’s okay, he’s in the hospital, he’s covering. But there was an NFL football player that was playing in a game, and I don’t know of if this ever happening before, but right in the middle of the game, he collapsed on the field. He collapsed, and apparently he had a heart attack, and they were doing compressions, or whatever, and it was so traumatic because it was on TV and everybody saw it, that the whole world stopped. They stopped the game, they canceled the game, it was all over social media, and all of a sudden, all over social media, everybody was saying, “Pray.” Everybody was saying, “Call on God, pray.” In fact, I re-post it on my social media because there’s one ESPN analysis, he prayed right on national TV. He said, “I just, I don’t know, I feel like this is what I gotta do.” And he prayed to God.

And I thought that was so interesting because just a couple of years ago, we went through COVID, and I thought, “Maybe this is what is gonna draw people back to God because of the insecurity, and the doubts, and unknown, but instead we decided to put our faith in other things, right? And I’m not saying God doesn’t use other things, science, medicine, all… That’s not what I’m saying. But it’s interesting, the difference that in this moment, all of a sudden, they saw, “Man, we need something bigger than ourselves.”

At some point in your life, you’re gonna need a God who’s bigger than yourself. If you are your own God, you will not be enough, you are not the rock, and Satan is gonna constantly try to pull you away from God, and at some point in your life, you’re gonna need a God who is bigger, bigger than this world, bigger than circumstance. That’s who God is. God is God, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the God of Heaven and Earth, the God who created the universe, the same yesterday, today, and forever. Eternal. Alright, I’m gonna close with this. Three steps that pull you away from God. Step one, you mistrust His words, step two, you’ll start to mistrust His character, His goodness, who He is, and ultimately you’ll start to distrust Him.

Can I share just one last thing? This is why I was so passionate about this. I just wanna, I wanna share this from a cultural perspective, from a cultural lens, see right now, there’s this theory, it’s called critical theory. Critical. You know what that is? Suspicion. And every single thing that we’re being taught in our society is teaching us to be suspicious, and it is so interesting. And every single… All of these scholars and philosophers that create all these philosophies, it’s so funny, when you dig down to the root, none of them actually believed in God. In fact, they were all suspicious of God. From Marx who said, religion is just here to oppress you, from Freud who said, “Man, the people that are religious just wanna keep you from having sex the way that you want.” To all the post-modern philosophers, our religion is just trying to say that they know the truth, but they’re just trying to take power from you and trying to oppress you.”

See, it’s funny because one of the definitions of suspicion is doubt and uncertainty, and it’s so interesting that right now, this is our cultural moment, and our society is going through so much doubt and anxiety and stress. I see more advertisements for mental health, mental health, and it’s because we’re just living in a stressful, suspicious environment, suspicious of your neighbor, of your friends, of anybody in authority.

See, here’s what I’m so passionate about. And I gotta hold back because, see the danger is, all of a sudden you’ll start to become suspicious, not just of authority, but they wanna make you suspicious of your pastor. See, this is why you should be suspicious of the Church, and here’s some good reasons, you should be suspicious of the Bible because they’re just using it to oppress you, to pull you away. You should be suspicious of Jesus, you should be suspicious of God. And the next thing you know, we have this underlining mistrust, we go to the scripture, he flipped the lens, now we’re viewing the lens, we’re viewing who God is, we’re viewing the Bible, we’re viewing Jesus, we’re viewing God through the lens of suspicion, we’re looking for the lie instead of seeking the truth. The truth that will set you free, and instead you find yourself in bondage, and it starts with, we’re suspicious of the words of God, become suspicious of God’s character and His goodness, and ultimately that leads us to being suspicious of God and we walk away.

You know what’s so beautiful about the story? Is that in fact, if you go back to our Advent series, Zach wrote about it, that the Gospel is actually in Genesis, that from the beginning, the Lord was actually already redeeming us, His purpose and plan, even if we walk away, was that he loves us and he was gonna continue to pursue us, and he was gonna find a way. So even when the enemy and the devil deceived Adam and Eve, he was still gonna find a way to redeem humanity, so I want you to know there is nothing that you can do. If you came here and you’re like, “Man, I’ve made some mistakes, there were some gaps, I’ve walked away from God, I’ve done some things that I’m ashamed of.” I want you to know that you don’t have to be naked and ashamed, because Jesus died on the cross to cover your nakedness, that there is no more shame. That there’s no more guilt. That even in this moment, He was redeeming all of humanity.

You know why? Because God is good, because He loves you, because He desires what’s best for you. And even in our brokenness, He desires what’s best for us.

February 2, 2023

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