Tag Archives: sin

GOD, ADAM AND THE GARDEN: LOVE AND TRAGEDY IN PARADISE

        GOD, ADAM AND THE GARDEN: LOVE AND TRAGEDY IN PARADISE

 

When I recently read the first few chapters of Genesis, I felt the full measure of God’s overwhelming creative power and love for me as He, and the Holy Spirit (see Gen. 1:2) designed and built a beautiful, and glorious habitation for His beloved new creation – man. I felt the intimacy of God’s thoughts towards us as He created thick green grass to cover the barren earth, and a multitude of seed-yielding herbs and fruit trees to provide us life-giving food, sweet and delicious to the taste. God then created lights in the heavens to govern both the day and the night – for signs and for seasons and for days and for years. God also made a multitude of creatures to fill the earth, the waters, and the sky with abundance. He blessed them and told them to be fruitful and multiply, and to fill the earth … and He saw that those things He made were good.

 

Then God formed man in His own likeness, and gave him dominion over all of the glorious things that He had just created, and He blessed us and told us to be fruitful and to multiply. God then viewed all that He had carefully labored over… and He saw that it was very good.

After God made Adam from the dust of the ground, He put His mouth up to Adam’s face… and gently breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and Adam became the first living soul. Genesis 2 goes on to state how God Himself went and “planted” a garden in a place called Eden, designed specifically for Adam, with every tree that is “pleasant to the sight” and that was “good for food.”

As one who loves to plant palm trees, bamboo and other tropical vegetation, the above passage touches a deep place in my soul, painting a beautiful and intimate picture of the God of heaven and earth personally designing and building a gorgeous and life-sustaining garden for man. God specifically created it so that, not only are there an abundance of plants which are perfect to sustain him physically, but there were also many trees, shrubs, and flowers which were placed there by God solely for Adam to enjoy with his other senses – his eyes, his nose and his tongue. When I picture this garden, I envision lush green queen palms blowing slowly in a soft, warm wind. I see huge, grand Canary Island date palms; purple and translucent Hawaiian Ty; thick pink, white, and yellow oleander; and waves of flowering purple, lavender and orange bougainvillea, all surrounded by endless open spaces full of thick, lush dark green grass.

I had never noticed the fact that, after creating the garden, God gives Adam his very first job, a job, which I greatly envy. “The Lord God took man, and put him in the Garden of Eden to dress it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15). What a great and innocent vocation – to tend to all of the beauty and glory that God specifically fashioned for him, all the days of his life. If only….

Besides the fact that God actually designed and planted a lush beautiful garden specifically for Adam, where he could live and reign forever, enjoying the beauty and glory of creation each and every second, the verse that struck me the most about God’s intimate and personal love and delight in man, was Genesis 2:19. In this verse, it says how God formed all of the birds and animals, and brought them to Adam “to see what he would call them.” I envision God, like a loving, deeply interested father, sitting back and watching with a big, warm smile, as His precious son Adam, thinking and imagining for himself, perhaps for the first time, comes up with creative names for all of the living creatures God made just for him. It reminds me of watching my little daughter with a new doll wrapped up perfectly for Christmas, opening it, naming it, smiling joyfully at it, and holding it close to her heart…and then giving it her very favorite name. The feeling I get as a father when I see this, is just a little taste of what God must have felt as He finished His six days of creating this wonderful planet, and watching as His plans, His purposes, and His dreams for mankind are fulfilled through Adam.

But God didn’t want robots to fill this glorious place that He carefully and lovingly designed for us, so He gave Adam and Eve free will. He allowed them to decide whether or not He, the God who made every single thing on the earth for them, was enough. Would they choose to love Him? Would they choose to trust Him? So God planted a tree, that if eaten from, would give them the knowledge of good and evil – and He specifically told them to enjoy all of the other trees and plants but not that one.

God loved them (and us) so much that He did not want us to lose our innocence and be burdened with the knowledge of evil, and He gave us every opportunity to avoid it. He simply hoped that we would be content tending the garden, enjoying the beauty, the peace, the love, and the friendship that Adam and Eve had with each other and with all of the animals, and He wanted us to walk closely with Him…in the cool of the evening.

But it wasn’t enough for Adam, and it wouldn’t have been enough for me. The unceasing beauty and majesty of creation – which speaks loudly to the hearts of each and every human through the soft clouds and a warm summer wind – is not enough. No. We, in our selfish ambition and desire to be as gods, prefer to close our eyes and hearts to God, and to pursue the cravings of our flesh. As a result of Adam’s choice, he and Eve were ejected from the garden God designed for them, and the ground was made firm and difficult to till so that they would have to eat from the sweat of Adam’s brow…and the intention of God, to make them immortal in their innocence, was shattered, and God declared that from dust they were created and to dust they shall return (Genesis 3:19, 22, 24). A cherubim and a flaming sword were placed at the entrance to the garden, preventing mankind from ever accessing the tree of life again…until Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, provided us a way back to intimacy with God through His precious blood shed in agony on a hard wooden cross.

What a great tragedy mankind turned out to be. We continued to hurt the heart of God even after the garden to the point that, just before the world was destroyed by a flood in Genesis 6, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth and it grieved Him at His heart.”

The fact that we have the capacity to so wound the heart of the living God, shows me in a tangible and powerful way, just how much He does love us and just how grievous our sin is to Him. This same God, who made us in His image, and placed a rich and verdant garden in which we could have dwelled forever in unceasing peace and beauty, was pierced deeply and personally because of our unceasing wickedness. And to consider that, despite the fact that every inclination of our hearts was evil, He still sent His one and only Son to live spartanly and die brutally, shows that His love and desire for our hearts has not waned. May we return that love to Him by seeking His face and His face only, and recalling His wonderful plan for us at the dawn of time. For if we truly repent and believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will, one glorious day, be restored to Him and to His eternal kingdom, and there we will finally eat from the tree of life, and we will live and reign with Him in paradise forever.

Heaven: Your Best Life…Later Part 2

Grace, Obedience and Salvation: The Narrow Road

Favorite Scriptures #1: Paul’s Perspective On This Short Life (Philippians 3:7-14)

Confronting Sin: Snatching Those we love From the Flames

           CONFRONTING SIN WITH THE SHARP SWORD OF TRUTH, WHICH IS THE WORD

“That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:9-10‬ ‭KJV‬‬

    ***This was in response to a friend who once had a powerful ministry that dealt with intense sin through the love, mercy and truth of Jesus Christ….but he was ultimately shamed and bullied into denying the eternal word and placing worldly friendships and short-term acceptance by this sick and dying planet, over the everlasting truth of the Living God.

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”   John 3:19-21

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”    Isaiah 5:20

“…And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”  Jude 1:23

 

When I read some of your thoughts on grace and accepting everyone as they are, they do, for a moment, sound good. But as I ponder them in light of scripture, they sound more to me like the basic philosophies and principals of this PC world rather than the principles of our glorious and eternal God, Jesus Christ(Colossians 2,8). Jesus didn’t come to make sinners happy, content and affirmed in their sin. He came instead to set his precious children free – free from the eternal fire of hell which he says, very clearly, is the consequence of sin.  Jesus told the adulteress, whom he saved from a brutal death, to “go and sin no more.” He told the man he healed by the pool in John 5 to “stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” He told others that if their right arm causes them to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better to go into heaven maimed than to be cast into hell. Hell, according to Jesus, is very, very real.(See, “Hell and the Wrath of God,” Linked at the bottom of this article).

So, while accepting everyone as they are, without addressing sin with the sharp double-edged sword of the word, and the idea of “non-judgment” sounds good to the world’s itching ears…it is not real love in the eyes of our God, who is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Jesus and Paul tell us to make “right judgments” based on the spirit (John 7:24; 1 Cor. 2:14-15), not to ignore the obvious. It is not love according to our God, if we who are called to love, refuse to address the sin of those we are instructed to love – especially when we know that such sins will lead to hell…if we even believe in sin and hell anymore.

In 1 Thessalonians4:2-8 (one of the many scriptures addressing sexual sin) Paul states that anyone who rejects his teaching on sexual immorality rejects God himself. Thus, we can deduce that there is something very important to both God and Satan about sexuality. One created it and wants to preserve the beauty and holiness of it – while the other wants to destroy it, and us along with it.

What hurts a person who is living in open sin worse – being confronted with that sin directly by someone who loves them, with a heart focused on getting them to heaven with Jesus forever – or simply allowing them live in false love and acceptance for the next 40 or so years, which will ultimately lead to an eternity in hell, where the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched?  Most people who are living an openly sinful lifestyle both love and hate their sin, so of course it is going to hurt – and badly – when they are confronted with the fact that the sin they indulge in daily, and often with great delight, and which actually has become integral to their identity, is presented as a grievous error in the sight of living God. The humiliation of seeing these acts for what they are – along with the fear of rejection by clueless Christians are very, very real – but also very short term when eternity is at stake.  Real love through Jesus is caring more about their eternal destiny then it is about being comfortable, happy and accepted on this planet.
Paul cared about one thing as he carried the gospel across the known world – the souls of men. He didn’t seek to be liked or affirmed or to make people happy. He preached, with great passion, the true gospel of repentance and grace plainly and clearly, whatever the personal cost was to him…so that by all means some, even one, might be saved.

Attaining eternity with God in unimaginable glory, beauty and peace is the true purpose of our lives.  We are all called, loudly and clearly, to throw off every sin that entangles us, and to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead..pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:7-14).

EPILOGUE

As James (and John) said, friendship with the world is hatred towards God and becoming a friend of the world makes us an enemy of God. So why is it that we seek acceptance by this world instead of acceptance from the one and only God? See scriptures below:

How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God “John 5:44 (NIV84)

“Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.”  John 12:42-43

Are we afraid of being rejected by the world – being thrown out of the PC synagogue – if we stand for truth? Jesus was hated by the world (John 15) and he told us that we would be hated as well if we really are his disciples. So why – why do we so hunger for the approval of a sick, sinful world that is going burn in the end? Paul lived for the eternal kingdom of God – one which can never be shaken – for he truly understood the words of Jesus…”For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?”

A few other key verses, which push me to take a very close look at all that I speak, write and approve, are….

Romans 14:22b “Blessed is the man who is not condemned by what he approves.”

And

1 Timothy 4:16 “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them for in doing so you may save both yourself and your hearers.”

I do not want my worst enemy to burn in hell for eternity. How much more do I want to protect those I know and love from the flames – the flames which Jesus himself refers to on many occasions as being very real? Let is put aside the fear of appearing legalistic or judgmental, and with love, address the sin of those we care about and hope that they will do the same for us. Perhaps, as Jude says, we can snatch them from the flames…for in hell, the fire is never quenched.

Isaiah 1:18

18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Hell and the Wrath of God-Almighty