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)

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You Are the Man!

“You’re the MAN!” “You’re the ONE!” “You are IT!” How excited do we get when we are the focal point of one of these exclamations? Generally these expressions are associated with something positive and exciting. However, on one occasion, when King David heard these words, it was the last possible thing he wanted to hear. Nathan, a prophet of God, came to David and told him a story about a rich man:

1 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. 2 “The rich [man] had exceedingly many flocks and herds. 3 “But the poor [man] had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. 4 “And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” [2 Samuel 12:1-4 NKJV]

As one might expect, David, being a man “after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), was enraged. How dare the rich man conduct himself this way. David demanded justice!

5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “[As] the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 “And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” [2 Samuel 12:5-6 NKJV]

Now it was time for David to hear the words he did NOT want to hear: “YOU are the man!”

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You [are] the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 ‘I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if [that had been] too little, I also would have given you much more! 9 ‘Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife [to be] your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. [2 Samuel 12:7-9 NKJV]

David had committed adultery with Bathsheeba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11:2-4). But, he hadn’t stopped there. When it was discovered that Bathsheeba was pregnant, he first tried to cover his sin by bring Uriah home from battle, even getting him drunk, trying to get him to go in to Bathsheeba (2 Samuel 11: 6-13). But, that didn’t work and so David had Uriah killed in battle (2 Samuel 11:14-25). So, what can we learn from David being “the man?”

  • First and foremost, sin can be forgiven. When David was confronted by Nathan, he acknowledged his sin and Nathan told David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” [2 Samuel 12:13 NKJV] Once we recognize our sin, we have the choice of ignoring it, becoming overwhelmed by it, or acknowledging it and seeking forgiveness as David did.
  • However, just because he was forgiven did not mean there were no consequences. He was told, “the sword shall never depart from your house” [2 Samuel 12:10 NKJV] and, “the child also who is born to you shall surely die.” [2 Samuel 12:14 NKJV] All of this came to pass. Just read the rest of 2 Samuel to see the problems David faced the rest of his life. Being forgiven does not eliminate all consequences.
    • Families and friendships can be destroyed adultery, anger, or hatred. Forgiveness may come, but the relationships may never be the same again.
    • Lives can be lost or forever changed by sinful acts. Disease from sexual immorality. Taking another life while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Forgiveness can come but the consequences may never be reversed.
    • Churches can be divided and destroyed because of sinful attitudes.
  • Finally, sin that is not corrected can lead to far worse. We not only see this in David as he moves from adultery on up to murder. It’s also evident in Cain, whose jealously about his brother Abel turned into murder. And, in King Saul who failed to honor God and then began taking it out on David who was chosen to replace him. Eventually, he had priests killed and even attempted to kill his own son. Do not let sin take root. When discovered, repent and purge it from your life before it is everlastingly too late.

Just remember, at some point, we are all “the man.” “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3:23 NKJV] What will you do when confronted with your sin? Dan Fontenot

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

 

The Lord's Hand Is Not Shortened

Sometime after I finished the last post, I went to my daily Bible reading schedule to do some catching up. It just so happened that the reading for the day was Isaiah 59-61. Immediately, the first three verses of Isaiah 59 jumped out at me:

1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden [His] face from you, So that He will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, Your tongue has muttered perversity. [Isaiah 59:1-3 NKJV]

In a previous post we looked at the fact that since the beginning of time, God has desired for mankind to follow Him and make Him the focus of their lives. What jumped out of this passage as I read it is another principle that has existed just as long: God gives man the ability to make that choice! And, with the wrong choices come consequences. Let’s start in the Garden of Eden:

  • God said: “16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. ‘” [Genesis 2:16-17 NKJV]
  • Adam and Eve chose: “6 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 3:6 NKJV]
  • God rendered judgment and they suffered consequences for not following God’s command. These included leaving the garden, death, working for food, pain in childbearing, and the serpent was condemned to crawling on his belly (Gen. 3:13-20).

This pattern, started in the Garden of Eden, has continued in every generation and dispensation since then. God gives man a choice and man must decide whether to “walk with God” or suffer consequences of his failure to do so. We must also recognize something else from the Garden of Eden. Sometimes sin has physical consequences that reach beyond the person who actually committed the sin. Every woman who bears a child suffers pain because of the sin of Eve. Every one that has faced “thorns and thistles” in toiling for their food does so because of the sin of Adam. And every person on the face of the earth faces certain death because of the sin committed at beginning of mankind. Know this: all pain, all suffering, all death is ultimately not the consequence of an incapable or unwilling God, but of sin. As long as there is sin in the world, pain, suffering, and death will continue. In many cases we have no choice or control over the physical consequences of sin, especially that which results from the sin of others. But, this must not be confused with the spiritual consequences of sin and our ability to choose right or wrong . Many in the “Christian” world would argue that Adam and Eve were the only ones who really had a choice. But the scriptures do not support that concept. The verses below could be multiplied many times over, but these should provide a sampling of the evidence that God did not make beings forced to do His bidding (compare the instinct of animals), but rather beings that must choose to love and follow Him, and in so doing avoid the spiritual consequences of sin. (I have added emphasis in red, bold letters)

  • “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” [Joshua 24:15 NKJV]
  • “And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD [is] God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.” [1 Kings 18:21 NKJV]
  • The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” [Ezekiel 18:20 NKJV]
  • “3 For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” [1 Timothy 2:3-4 NKJV]
  • “The Lord is not slack concerning [His] promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” [2 Peter 3:9 NKJV]

However, as noted in the opening passage, our failures do not reduce God’s power to save. A little later in Isa. 59, there is hope in this statement, “‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,’ Says the LORD.” [Isaiah 59:20 NKJV] Jesus, the Redeemer, has indeed come and salvation is available to all as noted in the verses above. In future discussions we will look at what God expects for people to restore the relationship that they have broken by their sin.

Dan Fontenot

(editor’s note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)