Monday, January 17, 2011

Genesis 3:1-5

Good morning, gang!

I'm enjoying having a quiet, unrushed Monday morning, with no major agenda for the day! :) I'm excited to study this chapter this week, because it is so pivotal to our understanding of why the world is so out of whack, and how that applies to our Christian walk. It portrays a loving, gracious God, who is longsuffering with rebellious people. We see the ultimate consequences of disobedience, while also learning about His provision for our redemption.

Commentators may disagree about where the problem started with Eve, but we can see immediately the cunning of the serpent (Satan) who sows seeds of doubt about God's Word, when he asks Eve, "Did God really say...?" His number one tool in his arsenal is the manipulation of God's Word. Satan knows God's Word. We know from the temptation of Christ (Matt 4), that Satan can quote it just fine - although he prefers to misquote it. Here he asks Eve, "Did God really say,'You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'" He wants to make God seem like a kill-joy (when we know that Satan is the true joy-robber). God had actually given Adam and Eve free reign to eat of ANY tree, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve makes her first mistake here, by engaging in dialogue with Satan. Don't even go there, folks! He is crafty and has had 1000's of years to study man. He knows our weaknesses only too well! Even Michael the Archangel refused to argue with the devil in his own strength, but rebuked him in the LORD's name (Jude 9). So, don't try to go mano-a-mano with him!

Eve, in her eagerness to put down Satan's argument and "defend" the faith, goes one step farther than God did: "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' " Here Eve does the thing that we all tend to do, and certainly something organized religion has done for centuries - she ADDED to the Word of God. We might agree that not even touching the tree might prevent temptation (although it had no effect here with Eve, did it?) however, her adding that one simple rule turned to disaster. Jon Courson says in his commentary, "The Word of God is incredibly profound. But it is also amazingly simple." When Eve added that little bit to God's simple command, we see the beginning of legalism! Courson says, "Adding to the Word always leads to bondage, bitterness, and backsliding. Our intent might be to try to prevent ourselves or others from getting too close to forbidden fruit, but in reality, our rules and barriers only burden people and ultimately cause them to forget the whole thing and walk away from God." I would add that the other danger is that people become so proud of their "holiness" in keeping these man-made rituals and regulations, they lose their dependence on grace and think they can do it themselves...

After questioning God's Word, Satan questions God's motivation, suggesting that God only wants them to stay away from that tree, because He knows they would then become godlike themselves - having His knowledge and His immortality. Again, this is the same argument he uses today to keep people from experiencing the fullness of God's love and blessings. He suggests that the fulfillment of human potential is to become God, and He makes God out as the bad guy, someone who wants to restrict your personal freedom and potential. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32) God offers us the abundant life - a life of fellowship with Him, a life of fulness of joy. Satan wants you to focus on restrictions.

I love the advise Courson offers his own children: "If you think sin is fun, if you want to eat from the tree of forbidden fruit, first look to another tree - the tree of Calvary - and you'll see what sin will ultimately do. It will crucify you. And if you think God is holding something back from you, look at that tree again, and you'll see Him with outstretched arms, nails piercing His palms, proving to you unequivocally that He loves you passionately."

The defense against Satan's wiles? Know God's Word and don't add to it! Trust that His "No" is only because His "Yes" is so much better!

Have a great day!

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