You Have Left Your First Love

In the book of Revelation, Jesus takes the opportunity to address seven churches and talk about their good and bad characteristics. Recently, something happened that made me think of one of these letters, the letter to church at Ephesus.

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, “These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: ‘I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. … But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”

Revelation 2:1-3, 6-7 NKJV

This part of what Jesus had to say to the church at Ephesus seems very positive and encouraging. The Ephesians had not fallen prey to false doctrine. This would be particularly encouraging considering Paul’s warning and admonition to the elders in Ephesus on his third preaching journey (Acts 20:28-32). He also says they had labored without “becoming weary.” How many of us would be thrilled to receive such commendations directly from Jesus?

Yet, in one of the verses that was not included above, Jesus threatened, “Or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place…” (Revelation 2:5 NKJV) Considering the other positive statements about this church, what could they have done that jeopardized their relationship with Christ? Jesus accuses, ” I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Revelation 2:4 NKJV) The indication, then, is that while they had maintained certain outward attributes of their relationship with Christ, their love for Him had, in fact, faded.

How is a “faded love” displayed. This is often reflected in a reduced level of zeal and excitement for the object of one’s love. How might this be reflected in our relationship with Christ?

  • To help us understand, I want to present another example of a fading of a certain kind of love. Consider a relationship between a man and a woman:
    • When they first meet, there is generally a lot of excitement to be together. They don’t want to spend time apart.
    • Additionally, in most cases, whenever they are going to be together there is a high level of willingness to be at their best when when they are together. This includes physical appearance, how they conduct themselves, how they spend every moment together talking to each other and being close to each other.
    • Then they get married. And, at first, during the “honeymoon phase,” they continue to try to please one another and spend time together.
    • Unfortunately, in most cases, in time there becomes a sense of “we have the relationship, we don’t really have to work on it.” Work, children, hobbies, and other activities began to take away their time together and erode the emotions of love between the couple. There is no longer the strong desire to spend every available moment together.
    • This relationship may not in an affair or a divorce, but they are together while not necessarily “in love” any more. It’s just not the same relationship it once was.
  • Compare this with what happens with many Christians:
    • Many new Christians are full of zeal and enthusiasm.
    • They are in love with Christ and His word. They spend time studying and growing in the knowledge of His word.
    • Maybe their enthusiasm and love for Christ is exhibited in talking to others about Christ.
    • They may strive to increase their ability to serve: Men wanting to lead in worship; Women wanting to learn to teach.
    • But then, time passes. The relationship becomes stale. Family, children, work, hobbies began to take their time away from Christ and His Word.
    • Maybe they never “fall away” in the sense of stopping assembling with the saints. Maybe they never accept false doctrine.
    • But, they no longer have the zeal to study the word of God. They may feel that they no longer need to serve because the have “served enough.” They believe they have a relationship with Christ, but they no longer have a love for the relationship.

I mentioned at the beginning of this article that something happened to me recently that sparked these thoughts. I was cleaning out an old file cabinet trying to get everything to fit in a smaller storage unit. I came across some old notes I had made when studying 1 Corinthians when I was a younger man. What I saw made me ashamed of recent attempts to study God’s word. I saw detailed notes and in depth research trying to understand the meaning of God’s word. I saw study that took time and effort. I saw study that reflected a deep love for God and His word. And, I realized that I haven’t studied the Bible that way in a long time. I have a lot of “reasons” why I haven’t studied like that in long time, but I believe the underlying root cause is failure to love Christ and His word like I should.

So, how do we correct a loss of our “first love?” Jesus tells the Ephesians the answer: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first work.” (Revelation 2:5 NKJV) The answer is two-fold:

  • Repent: Change your heart. This love for Christ and His work is not optional to be Christian. Christ requires not just our rote service, but our heart.
  • Do the first work: Apply that love to our lives. It will change how we act. It’s not possible to love Christ as we should and not behave differently.

What motivates us to this love? One motivation is provided in this text: “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7 NKJV)

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

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The Good Old Days

It’s a common practice for people to remember the past in way that makes it seem like there were no (or at least far fewer) problems in the past. Frequently this is in reference to our society and culture and how it impacts our ability to serve God. In connection with this thought, Christians sometimes grumble about how hard it is to serve God in our current society and culture. We are often heard to long for “the good old days” when serving the Lord was easier.
For a few moments, let’s consider some of the environments and cultures where people had to remain faithful to God and see if we still think ours is so bad.

Would we rather serve the Lord…

• In the days of Noah, when only eight people (1 Peter 3:10) in the whole world could be convinced to follow God?

• In society of Sodom and Gomorrah, where not even ten righteous people (Genesis 18:23-26…32…19:24-25) could be found to save the city?

• In Israel, during the time of judges, when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes?” (Judges 17:6, 21:25)

• In the first century, when people were persecuted and killed for their faith in Christ? (Acts 7:57-60, 9:1-2; 22:3-5)

• In the first century when there was no readily available printed Bibles to study and know the whole revelation of God?

• In the first century when visiting other churches and could mean days of walking just to get to the nearest congregation?

• In our recent past, before telephones and computers connected brethren to be able to communicate with one another and encourage one another, even from thousands of miles away?

• In our recent past where many brethren, even in this country met without air conditioning or had to travel to church in vehicles without air conditioning? Or, in countries today, where the same is true?

• In countries today (and in times past in this country) where people don’t have readily available transportation and must walk for miles to worship with God’s people?

• In the recent past when Bibles and bible study tools were not readily available at your fingertips on your computer or your phone?

• Today, in other countries, where Christians must worship in secret for fear of being thrown into prison or killed for their faith?

So, the real question is not whether we have it worse than others. Yes, our society is evil and getting worse. But, Read Romans 1-2 and ask yourself if you think our society is any worse than theirs. Theirs was a society where immorality was not only present, but in many cases part of their idolatrous worship.

The real question is whether we are taking advantage of the opportunities God has given us in this day age and in this society. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) the one-talent servant was condemned because he failed to use the opportunity he had to serve the master and be productive. He wasn’t condemned for his results, but for his lack of effort. Will or excuses of an evil society be any more well received than his excuse that he knew the master was a hard man?

Today is the day that we have. This is the society we live in where have the opportunity to bring glory to God by our service. Will we waste it wishing for days that were not better, just different?

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

Unless Your Righteousness Exceeds…

“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. {Matthew 5:20 NKJV}

What is Jesus talking about when He says that the righteousness of a citizen of the kingdom must exceed the righteousness of scribes and Pharisees?

True righteousness is not only about how you act, but how you think. It is about a heart of righteousness and not just righteous acts:

  • “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” {Matthew 5:21-22 NKJV}
  • “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” {Matthew 5:27-28 NKJV}
  • “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all…But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” {Matthew 5:33-34, 37 NKJV}
  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” {Matthew 5:43-44 NKJV}

Another aspect of true righteousness is being righteous for the sake of serving and pleasing God, not being seen by men:

  • “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” {Matthew 6:1-2 NKJV}
  • “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who [is] in the secret [place]; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” {Matthew 6:5-6 NKJV}
  • “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who [is] in the secret [place]; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” {Matthew 6:17-18 NKJV}
  • “But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.'” {Matthew 23:5-7 NKJV}

Another aspect of true righteousness is applying the same standard of judgment to yourself that you apply others:

  • “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank [is] in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” {Matthew 7:1-5 NKJV}
  • “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, [that] observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay [them] on men’s shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers.” {Matthew 23:3-4 NKJV}

Does your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees?

Dan Fontenot
(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

The Tongue Is A Fire, A World Of Iniquity

For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he [is] a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. [It is] an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh [water] and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. – James 3:2-12 NKJV

Let’s consider some things that James has to say about the tongue and speech throughout the book of James:

  • The mouth should be used to ask God for wisdom: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” {James 1:5-6 NKJV}
  • The mouth should not be used to blame God for our temptations: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” {James 1:13 NKJV}
  • Like anger, the mouth should be controlled and kept in check: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;” {James 1:19 NKJV}
  • “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion [is] useless.” {James 1:26 NKJV}
  • We must remember that we will be judged for what we say: “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.” {James 2:12 NKJV}
  • Saying you have faith is not enough. Words must be accompanied with action: “What [does it] profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? … But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” {James 2:14, 18 NKJV}
  • Ability to control the tongue reflects a high level of self-control: “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he [is] a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” {James 3:2 NKJV}
  • The tongue, though small, can do a great deal of damage: “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” {James 3:5-6 NKJV}
  • The tongue is extremely difficult to control: “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. [It is] an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” {James 3:7-8 NKJV}
  • It is wrong to praise God and speak ugly to men: “With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh [water] and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” {James 3:9-12 NKJV}
  • We often lack because we either fail to ask or ask out of selfish motives: “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend [it] on your pleasures.” {James 4:2-3 NKJV}
  • We should not boast in arrogance about the future without acknowledging God’s will: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what [will happen] tomorrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you [ought] to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” {James 4:13-16 NKJV}
  • “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” {James 5:9 NKJV}
  • We should speak with honesty and integrity: “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and [your] ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgment.” {James 5:12 NKJV}
  • We should use our tongues for prayer and praise: “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.” {James 5:13 NKJV}
  • We should use our tongues to confess our sins and pray for one another: “Confess [your] trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” {James 5:16 NKJV}

As we examine ourselves and our relationship with God, let us make sure we examine how we use our mouths and whether we are glorifying God with our tongues.

Dan Fontenot
(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

Sin Is Lawlessness

“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” {1 John 3:4 NKJV}

“Sin” is a word we don’t hear in our society much anymore. We hear about whether or not an activity is “socially acceptable.” We hear whether it is “politically correct” or “sensitive” to someone else’s feelings.

What’s odd to me is that people understand the concept of something being legal in our society. Those who ignore the law or violate the law are sometimes referred to as “outlaws” because of their disregard for the law.

However, violations of God’s laws are far more serious because of the eternal consequences. Consider God’s very clear warnings:

  • “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” {Romans 1:18,32 NKJV}
  • “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?”  {1 Corinthians 6:9 NKJV}
  • “…I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” {Galatians 5:21 NKJV}
  • “…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” {Revelation 21:8 NKJV}

But, what are these things that are so are deserving of such a strict punishment? Only murder? Only the deepest, darkest of evil?

  • “…Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; [they are] whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;…” {Romans 1:24-31 NKJV}
  • “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” {1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NKJV}
  • “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told [you] in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. {Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV}
  • “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” {Revelation 21:8 NKJV}

Many people, even Christians, are surprised to learn that these condemnations exist in the New Testament. Mostly because they have never heard these passages read from the pulpit or lectern even though they are clearly part of God’s inspired message to His people. And, many have never taken the time to read God’s word for themselves.

God’s law is not changed by what is socially acceptable, politically correct, or what laws are passed in any country.

Will you be lawless outlaw? Or will you abide by the inspired law of God?

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

I Thank My God Always Concerning You

“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, [that you may be] blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” {1 Corinthians 1:4-9 NKJV}

In this passage, Paul expresses his thankfulness for the brethren in Corinth. This is not an unusual sentiment for the apostle:

  • “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” {Romans 1:8 NKJV}
  • “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:” {Ephesians 1:15-16 NKJV}
  • “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints;” {Colossians 1:3-4 NKJV}

Paul’s thankfulness for the Corinthian brethren was not unique to those brethren. However, it may surprise some to hear Paul’s thankfulness for these brethren considering some other things Paul had to say about this church:

  • They were divided and contentious: “For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s [household], that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.'” {1 Corinthians 1:11-12 NKJV}
  • They were spiritually immature: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual [people] but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able [to receive it], and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where [there are] envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like [mere] men?” {1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NKJV}
  • They were arrogant: “Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power.” {1 Corinthians 4:18-19 NKJV}
  • They were tolerating sexual immorality in the church: “It is actually reported [that there is] sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles–that a man has his father’s wife!” {1 Corinthians 5:1 NKJV}
  • They were taking each other to law: “But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!” {1 Corinthians 6:6 NKJV}

So, how could Paul be still be thankful for these brethren? The keys are in the text we started with:

  • “The grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus”
  • “The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you”
  • “That you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”
  • “You were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ.”

Paul was thankful for the shared relationship in Christ. It was not about his brethren being perfect, but about them being fellow heirs in Christ. His desire for them was that they would reach their full potential in Christ.

Are we only thankful for brethren with whom we share common interests or with whom see as spiritually strong and mature? We should be thankful for all of our brethren and pray for them to reach their spiritual potential in Christ!

Dan Fontenot
(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

It Was Very Good

There is a phrase that occurs over and over in Genesis 1 as God is creating the world: “And God saw that it was good.” In fact he makes this statement every day of creation (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). And then, as if each of those statements weren’t enough to tell us how good God’s creation was, He sums it up with statement in vs. 31, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”

So, as it originally existed, as God created it, everything was very good. Adam and Eve had access to the Tree of Life. But, something went horribly wrong.  God had instructed Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:16-17).  What happened next would change the world forever:

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; “but of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. “For God knows that in the day 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] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make [one] wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. {Genesis 3:1-6 NKJV}

Along with many other consequences, Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden of Eden and separated from the Tree of Life. (Gen. 3:14-24)

How do people end up giving up what is “very good” and accept the death, destruction, and heartache that comes with sin?

First, notice that Satan is a good “salesman.” Satan didn’t come to Eve and remind her of the consequences of disobeying God. He laced his words with a little bit of truth. Adam and Eve did not physically die the instant they ate the fruit. And, they did gain knowledge that they previously didn’t have. I am always amused at the depictions of Satan in the movies or on TV. He shows up, announces who he is and offers reward in exchange for someone’s soul. While it is true that there are people would would be swayed by such an offer, Satan is far more subtle and dangerous. Another instance when the Bible records that Satan appeared and was known is when he tempted Jesus. We will reference Matthew’s account (Matthew 4). In his first two attempts, he challenges Jesus to prove His deity (“If you are the Son of God…”). However, after Jesus twice rebuffed Satan’s temptations with scripture, Satan resorted to quoting scripture (vs. 6). Jesus was not fooled and easily answered Satan’s misuse of God’s word. In Mat. 7:15-20, Jesus warns of false prophets as “ravenous wolves” dressed up “sheep’s clothing.” The apostle Paul issues a similar warning in 2 Cor. 11:12-15 warns that since Satan passes himself off as angel of light, “it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness.” So, let us beware, just because someone is dressed up a preacher, or claims to be messenger of God does not mean that they are teaching the truth. Satan may very well be using them to draw men away from the true message of God, just as he deceived Eve.

However, let us notice something else. While Satan was clearly attempting to deceive, Eve was open to the idea. First, in her quote of God’s command she leaves out the concept of “freely” eat. That is, they had an abundance to eat. Secondly, she states something that isn’t recorded in Genesis 2. She states that they are not allowed to “touch it.” But, even more importantly, notice her reaction to the serpent. She doesn’t respond by saying, “God said, ‘No.’ So, I won’t eat it.” Instead it says, “…the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make [one] wise.” Instead of heeding God’s warning, she looked at the fruit from the standpoint of her desires. It reminds of the warning of John in 1 John 2:15-17:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that [is] in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

The real problem with sin is that we allow our desires to override the will of God. Wasn’t this the problem with the Pharisees who were looking for an excuse to divorce their wives to satisfy their lusts (Mat. 5:27-28)? How often today to people ignore the clear teaching of scripture, not because it is hard to understand, but because they want to fulfill their own desires? There may be no better demonstration of this principle than Rom. 1:18-32. The passage clearly states that they intentionally rejected God. Note: “… although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God … exchanged the truth of God for the lie … they did not like to retain God in their knowledge … haters of God … who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” And why did they reject God? Consider: “… Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts … God gave them up to vile passions … men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another … God gave them over to a debased mind.” They rejected God because they wanted to fulfill their own lusts.

Today, we see both of aspects in our world. There are many who teach things contrary to the will of God trying to undermine the impact of consequences of God’s judgment. Some outright try to say that “science” eliminates the need for God. Others try to minimize the moral impact of God in their lives while still trying to call them Christians. There are several ways they attempt to accomplish this, including: twisting God’s word by taking passages out of context, claiming that the text has been corrupted over the years, or claiming that the commands of the Bible were not intended for our generation and that God’s word has changed over the years to keep up with a changing world. None of these represent the true nature of God’s will which has never changed and has been preserved for all time.

But, the real problem is that individuals today are looking to justify their ungodly behavior. Whether it is divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, living the party life, or just not being held to strong moral standard, people simply want to be left alone to do their own thing, but feel good about themselves while doing it. Let us examine ourselves and make sure we are not letting our own desires prevent us from hearing the will of God.

Dan Fontenot
(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)