Suggested Reading: Genesis 2:4-17, 3:1-24; Romans 5:6-8:10
Word of the Day: Sin – failing, missing the goal or mark
There was a time when everything about life was perfect. God had finished creation. The air was pure and fresh. The young seas were roaring, the winds were blowing, and the rivers running. Animals were roaming around the land (called earth), the creatures of the seas swam freely, and the birds were flying abroad. The trees stood at various heights with the young and beautiful flowers decorating the fields, valleys, and mountains. The glory of the sun shined brightly and the moon and stars shared their lights in due time. It was a perfect tropical paradise. Mankind lived within this young and perfect utopia, yet only two people existed: Adam & Eve. God placed them in the perfect place to begin human life: in a garden called Eden (Gen. 2:8-15). The Bible is very specific to the events that took place:
“Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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.”
Even though Eve had not yet been created when this command was given to Adam, she must have been told about it at some point because when the serpent tempted her to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, she responded with the same message God had given Adam:
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.'”
The rest of the story is history: the serpent lies to Eve, Eve believes the lie, Eve commits sin with Adam following suit, God punishes man as the consequence, and mankind has been in turmoil ever since that day over this small word: SIN. You hear about it in every sermon you listen to, but it’s not like you go on the streets or at work and people want to talk about the idea of sin and the Bible. Where did this concept come from and how does it affect me? In this series, we are going to investigate as much of the Bible as possible on this topic and look at the plethora of sins mentioned within its pages. To begin, we need to start with the scenario of Eden. I’m not talking about a specific play-by-play of the account, but rather looking at your own life.
God has given you many blessings in this life, has He not? Jesus reminds us that God blesses us richly because He does care for us (Matthew 6:19-33). Storing up earthly possessions is not what God wants us to focus on, but rather on the heavenly blessings found in Christ (Eph. 1:3). With blessings of both physical and spiritual given to us, God makes sure that we can have a good life here on earth. There are times however, that we find ourselves wanting more. We crave having something new, shiny, or expensive to gratify some kind of need or desire. Do you really need it though? Paul would stress this concern by simply saying, be content with where you are and what you have (Phil. 4:11-12, Heb. 13:5; I Tim. 6:6-8). Society would scream at us, “Have more of this, more of that, more and more of mish and mash!” Just look around your own hometown and see how many storage lots are being built. A lot of people have way more than they need, yet they always need more. Sadly the problem doesn’t stop in the physical possessions. Let’s think bigger! Take the example of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11. Why did David fall to Bathsheba? Did he possibly say to himself, “I want…”? What about Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8 desiring the gift of the Holy Spirit? Did he not want such power for the wrong reasons? I’m not saying that wanting is a bad thing, but the intention and the obsession of a want can lead people down a dark path. Eve wanted to be like God, just like Satan said. John says he appealed to her by three avenues: 1. Lust of the flesh (it won’t kill me and I’m hungry, why not one bite?), 2. lust of the eyes (it looks so good to eat from), and 3. the pride of life (I’d be as wise as God!). The downfall of obsessive wanting is not what God is looking for. Rather God can take care of our wants and needs at any time as long as that is His will to do so. I suggest an idea for you to consider along this line of thinking.
Since God has blessed you richly in this life, find a piece of paper and write down every blessing you have. Now I want you to write beside each of those blessings ‘wanted’ or ‘needed’. How were those needs and wants fulfilled? Did you see it coming or no? Now make a separate column and write down the things you don’t have, but you really, really want. How much are you willing to give or lose just to have these things? Is it even a good thing if you do have or receive these things?
Consider your own ‘garden of Eden’ that God has given you. Your blessings are all around you. He has given you many things that you need and the blessings of things you’ve wanted for a long time. You’ve prayed earnestly for many things and God has granted them to you.
What about what He hasn’t given you?
God is going to give you a test of obedience. The one thing you’ve been wanting the most that you are just dying to have and you know you can’t really have it is right there in front of you. God says, “Don’t touch this tree for any reason at all.” What would you do? We know what Eve did, but is that a reflection of what you or I would do in this situation? If you told yourself, “I’d never do that!” ,consider what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:12.
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
You must be careful with your desires. You must not assume that you will be a hero in every situation you encounter. More times than naught, you will find yourself failing rather than succeeding, especially if you are a young Christian. It still happens to those who are wise and strong in the faith, but the key is to take caution before acting. Consider what tempts you the most and place yourself in the garden. How are you avoiding this sin? Are you turning another way? Is purity before God important to you or satisfaction from physical things whether it be a possession, action, or person? David would describe three different temptation scenarios in Psalm 1.
“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;”
We find the progression of temptation that can lead to sin (James 1:14-15). One is blessed when he can walk by it, but as time passes we find ourselves standing at the tree of sin and sit down for our own delight. Paul had this problem too at times in Romans 7:13-25. He found himself at times wanting to do the right thing and be pleasing to God, but then he would fall short. He became so aware of his own sins that it plagued him, questioning who would be able to deliver from the eternal consequences of sin. His answer was found in Christ (Rom. 7:25-8:2). Jesus would show us that the best way to resist such a temptation is to use God’s wisdom: scripture (Matt. 4, Lk. 4). It makes me wonder at times if we look at our weaknesses and respond to those urges to fall with a, “It is written…” David would advise this approach as well continuing in Psalm 1:2:
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.”
So what has God given you? Where do you stand in regards to you own desires in this life? Are they in accordance to what God asks or solely upon what you desire? We must focus on avoiding and turning away from the tree that God tells us not to take from, because He has already given us everything that can give us a good life, both physically and spiritually (2 Peter 1:3). What makes you fall short? Why does that happen? Where do you or can you begin to draw the line so that your Eden is just as God planned it for you? What’s in your Eden?
It is my hope that this study helps you and I thank you dearly for looking into God’s Word today. May God bless you and keep you in His care till we meet again in our next study, “Where Does Sin Come From?”