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Sunday, February 24, 2013

What Sin Hath Wrought - Part 3

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. (1 Timothy 2:14)
The devil's strategy for ruining mankind is worth taking note of. Satan thought out his plan very well and chose to approach the woman first. I have found that discussing this matter seems to be offensive to some women, but the fact remains that this is how God says sin entered into the world. This is not about laying the blame for the sin of mankind on the woman, and therefore making all women guilty. She is not to be blamed, any more than Adam, because he sinned also, just as every man and woman has since. So for women now to get up in the air about the account in the Bible of how sin entered the world is a very ungodly way to feel and think. There are some very obvious reasons why the Serpent approached the woman first instead of the man, and we are going to look at some of them.

Satan did not attempt to deceive or attack Adam in person, but entered into the situation by striking up a conversation with the woman and influencing her thinking. Her feminine nature was more susceptible to the subtle and deceitful reasoning presented by the Serpent. He took advantage of her God-given characteristics in order to prevail. Furthermore, the Serpent chose the woman first because she was made after God had given Adam the commandment about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so she had received the knowledge of God's command from her husband, while Adam had received it directly from God. Another advantage Satan had by going to the woman was that he knew she had much more power to influence Adam than he did himself, because of her relationship to him and her access to his heart. His goal was to bring to bear on the man such pressure that he would yield and disobey God. We should be aware that Satan never changes his strategy. He will not attempt to enter through the most fortified gates. We can be sure that he will work subtly and deceitfully through whatever person or median that has access to the mind and heart of the person he is out to destroy.

What happened when Adam and Eve sinned has had far greater consequences than just the sorrow and hardship they suffered for the rest of their lives. There is no argument that the entire human race has been affected by their sin. Life has been made hard for all of us. Furthermore, it is obvious from observation, and confirmed by the Scriptures that all men are sinners, and that all men die. But we must look deeper than physical things in order to understand spiritual matters. What really happened when Adam and Eve ate that fruit? Did it change the molecular structure of their physical bodies? Did it cause a mutation in their genes that made all their offspring sinners by nature? Did it introduce some substance into their bloodstream called "sin" that is now passed from person to person like a disease? When put this way these ideas sound absurd, but they are in fact what most modern doctrine is based upon.

What really happened when Adam and Eve sinned was that their eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked. They obtained the knowledge of evil - they already had the knowledge of good. They knew about the concept of evil, but now they knew evil experimentally. They knew evil was possible because God had established that fact by simply setting before Adam a forbidden object. But now they have identified themselves with evil instead of good - they have become sinners. Their souls have been altered from their original state of innocence and now are guilty. The pain and darkness and sense of loss that always accompanies sin is now a permanent part of their very being.

The manner in which one soul begets another is a mystery that is far too deep for our comprehension. Although man has dissected, analyzed, and studied all the physical aspects of how reproduction occurs, he cannot explain how a soul is created and set apart from another soul.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6)

Man seems to have trouble grasping spiritual truths without trying to make them conform to physical processes. It is one of the great errors of our time that all moral and behavioral problems are believed to be based on physical things, and therefore treatable with physical means. There are so many problems now that have no identifiable physical cause that a new generic term has been invented to describe them - they call them "disorders." Many things that used to be considered immoral behavior are now considered to be simply a "disorder." It is interesting that they chose that word because it is certainly very appropriate. "Disorder" perfectly describes the behavior of people who do not behave according to the way they were designed. Believing that all behavior is somehow caused by physical composition or processes they assume there are drugs, surgeries, and mind games that will correct any "disorder." This is basically what is called sorcery in the Bible and is condemned by God as a most serious sin.

Just as the soul of Adam descended from God, so the souls of our children are descended from us. Our offspring get more from us than physical traits and characteristics. We always see ourselves in our children - not just in their physical characteristics, but in their personality and disposition. They are not only our flesh and blood, but their soul is begotten of ours. Although God is without sin, Adam, being separate from God, sinned even though he was the offspring of God himself. Likewise, Eve, although she was the very flesh and bone of Adam, and her soul was descended from him, she was separate from him, and sinned. Now Adam and Eve begin to have sons and daughters.

Example is the strongest influence. What they had done was their example, and it could not be undone. When their children got old enough to begin to ask questions how did they explain the reason for covering their nakedness? They had sinned against God and life was difficult because of their sin in every respect. This was the kind of life that their children inherited from them.

We can see in the first child born on earth that he followed the bad example of his parents. He made up his own mind about what was acceptable to God, and got angry with God for not agreeing with him and approving of his attempt to be his own moral authority. But we must also take notice that the second son was a righteous man who obeyed God and obtained the witness of God that he was righteous. He offered an acceptable sacrifice to God and ended up being murdered because of his righteousness. So of the first two children of Adam and Eve one was wicked and one was righteous. If sin were a physical substance transferred from the parents to the children then they both would have been wicked. The truth is that Cain and Abel were both able to choose to obey or to disobey God, just as their parents were. Their circumstances were just far more difficult than their parents were, and ours are even far more difficult still. The way we come into existence in this world now assures that selfishness will be rooted well in our hearts before we have any knowledge of God. That selfishness must be dealt with by parents who are usually selfish and immature themselves. So their walk talks louder than their talk talks and the children follow their example. Since the first parents sinned, sin has been the path of least resistance. As people multiply, so does the power of sin, and the resistance to righteousness increases. This is a truth that applies to all the social order of man - cities, nations, churches, etc.

The fact is that we cannot blame our sin on anyone or anything else but ourselves.

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

It is true that we live in a sinful world and the pressure is on us to follow their example. It is true that as long as we are in such a world we will be tempted to sin. It is true that lies and deception abound and that we are very vulnerable to being deceived.

But it is also true that God has sent a Savior and has made an Atonement for our sin. It is also true that we can be forgiven of our sins which are past and be delivered from sins power and dominion by being born again and trusting in the Savior. We are not doomed to sin and to live under its power. We can walk with God and shine as lights in this dark and evil world. We can overcome all that is against us by the Spirit of God living in us and the written Word of God He has preserved for us.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

What Sin Hath Wrought - Part 2

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. (Genesis 3:7)

Adam and his wife were the first to sin, but we have all experienced the same thing they did. They sinned, "and the eyes of them both were opened." There is a point, a threshold of sin where everything is changed forever. It is the point of no return. They entered a whole new existence and were now experiencing emotions and thoughts that they had never known before. But the first sin, just as every other sin committed since, did not bring what was expected. They expected to gain, but found they had suffered enormous loss in every aspect of life. They expected to experience new feelings that were sweet and pleasant, but they discovered their new feelings to be painful, shameful, and bitter. They expected their way to be easier, but it became much more difficult. They expected to be enlightened and to be able to understand things more clearly, but found their soul in darkness and confusion. They had made their choices based upon lies and now found themselves lost, miserable, and at odds with God and all his Creation. They discovered that the same capacity their soul had for infinite happiness, it also had for infinite misery. They discovered that their sin had wrought permanent changes in their lives, their environment, and in their souls.

If they had any doubts at first about sin's penalty being death, the years that followed taught them differently. As they watched each other age and saw the effects of toil, labor, sorrow, and time on their bodies they knew that they were slowly dying and their sin was the cause. David was not the first one to experience the fact that "my sin is ever before me." As they experienced the first childbirth, with its pain, travail, and blood - they remembered their sin. As they watched the conflict grow between their two sons they remembered their sin. As they buried Abel's bloody dead body in the ground they remembered their sin. As they mourned for Cain after he was banished from them, they remembered. As they lived for over 900 years and watched the earth begin to fill up with their offspring and saw how they forsook God and lived selfishly, trampling over one another's lives - they remembered their sin. Those few little words of God, "…I will greatly increase your sorrow…" rang more true as the years passed on.

The account of man's fall in Genesis 3 is extremely abbreviated. It is simply the basic foundation and outline of what happened. The rest of the Bible gives us much more understanding of what actually happened here. As time has progressed through the millennia God has revealed more and more to give us understanding about what happened in the garden and how it has affected the human race. So, we need to study these verses closely, but not without the light given in the rest of the Bible on this matter.

For example:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12)

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45)

We must look at the facts and at reality and believe what the Word of God says. There is no way that I can explain to the satisfaction of every mind what has been debated and conjectured about for 6000 years, with no real consensus. The questions remain, and will continue to remain in the hearts of men who are looking for answers about the evils and difficulty of life outside of themselves. In other words, those who are looking for somewhere to place the blame for their sin and misery besides their own stubborn and selfish heart will never be satisfied with any doctrine that places the blame squarely on their own head.

The best way to understand what God was doing here is to look around us and consider our own hearts and highest purposes. Why did God not ban the tempter from the earth? Why did God not make it impossible for Adam and Eve to be tempted? Because He created them in his own image and likeness, therefore, they had a free will to choose. To most, this seems to be an insufficient answer. That is because there is more to it than that. God imparted life to the man - his own life; the man was the offspring of God. The Bible calls Adam the "son of God." God did not remain attached to the man, but set the man free, on his own, to live independently of God. God reproduced himself in the man - as a separate being.

Just as our children are with us, so were God's first children. We do our best to teach them the right way. The first word we teach them is "no" and we warn them of evil in all its forms, and our motive is to keep them from pain and suffering and destruction. We love them and desire the best in life for them, but we cannot MAKE them do what is right. We cannot hedge them about forever no matter how hard we might try. Those who attempt to do such a thing destroy the relationship and the lives involved. There comes a time when they must choose for themselves to believe what we have taught them and believe that we want what is best for them, or to listen to the voice of the serpent who is telling them they are missing out and it is we who are keeping them from really living. Even in the most godly families we will always see different degrees of faith and sin in the children.

How is it that the whole human race became sinners because of one man's sin? This is the question that brings forth the strongest feelings I have ever encountered in preaching the gospel. It was the doctrine of original sin that caused the Catholic Church to murder thousands of Christians through the ages. Now sometimes it seems to me that the red hot hatred they had for Bible believing Christians has been passed on to many Baptists. The Catholic Church put people to death for not baptizing their babies. According to the doctrine of original sin, all babies are born guilty of Adam's sin and will go to hell if they die unless they are baptized by the Catholic Church. But that was not the only part of the doctrine of original sin. It was based upon a whole system of theology that has now been adopted by almost all of what is called Christianity. Although most Christians do not accept the idea of babies being damned because of Adam's sin, they have accepted all the ideas upon which that doctrine from hell is based. It has affected every major doctrine of the church and has actually become the foundation of the modern understanding of sin and salvation. Those who dare to stand against this doctrine of the devil are labeled as heretics, and always have been. They are immediately falsely accused of thinking themselves without sin, or promoting some other way of salvation, and many other vicious and unfounded lies.

It is not only stated in the Bible that all men have sinned, but it is an obvious fact. The question is, how does that happen? Men always try to oversimplify matters in order to understand them in their darkened intellect. This is exactly the case in this matter because to come to the conclusion that sin is a physical matter and that it is transferred to others by physical means is the most abominable error ever introduced into the minds of men. It completely derails the working of God in the hearts of sinful men. Just as a pain pill eases the pain of a cancer-ridden body, but does nothing to cure the cancer, this doctrine does the same thing - it numbs the pain of guilt without removing it's cause. It provides a false comfort by suggesting that my sin is not really my fault, but Adam's. It provides an excuse for sin because I simply cannot help it, since it is what I am; it is what I am made of; sin is in my very genes and blood. Such foolish and abominable teachings completely divert the minds of sinners from the issue that has them at enmity with God. It lightens the whole matter of sin and forgiveness and then simplifies salvation into an intellectual exercise of accepting certain facts, or agreeing to an imaginary financial transaction of some sort. You "owe" a "sin debt" and Christ "paid your sin debt" for you. Therefore, all you need to do is believe that fact and you are saved. Such teachings do not even resemble the Gospel of Christ taught in the Bible, and when they are preached they are not accompanied by the power of the Spirit of God, because He does not approve what is not true.

The question is not whether all men have sinned or not. It is clear from the Scripture and from observation that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." The issue is how did it happen that all men became sinners because of Adam? As I mentioned earlier, there is no way I can ever answer that question to the satisfaction of every mind. But I can say that sin is a moral issue. It is a spiritual matter of the soul that is acted out in the body, because our body is that means by which we experience life in this world, and we have no other means by which our sin can be manifested. The heart is the source, or origin of all sin. Jesus said so:

And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (Mark 7:18-23)

Since Jesus told us so very plainly where sin comes from we can be sure that it does originate in our "flesh" or our bloodstream, or our DNA. If it does, then we do not need Jesus and his death to fix the problem. Man will one day soon be able to find that "evil" gene, or that sequence in the DNA that causes sin and figure out a way to eradicate it without God and his Atoning Blood. They are looking for it already. It was reported in the news recently that researchers were studying the DNA of the young man who killed the school children in Connecticut recently to find the "evil gene." They are looking in the wrong place for evil. It was in his heart and they cannot see in there. We only see its effects when it is manifested through the body.

God covered Adam and Eve.

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)

Those skins came from an innocent animal; another life was taken to cover their shame. As they felt the warm, bloody skins draped over their naked bodies they understood that God had forgiven them, but at the expense of an innocent life, with whom they were no doubt acquainted. Adam and Eve had acknowledged their sin and confessed it to God. Some might think that they cast the blame but they really only explained how it had happened. They did not defend themselves, but each of them said, as they stood naked before God, "I did eat." They admitted their guilt to God. Eve was aware that she had been beguiled, so that is evidence that she was no longer under any delusion about what God had said and what was true. Sin had introduced death into the world and it was by death that their sin was covered.

The promise of a Redeemer was given in Gen. 3:15 who would one day make it possible for sinful men to be reconciled to the God they have rejected and offended. Adam and Eve understood this as they watched the first blood sacrifice made for their sin. All this was because they disregarded one law of God - they ate the fruit of a tree. How much worse is it when people commit adultery, steal, kill, curse God to his face, and disregard ALL of his laws? If the consequences for what Adam and Eve did were so enormous, what do you suppose it will be like for sinful men and women who have lived a lifetime of one transgression after another and refuse to repent?

But thankfully, God's thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are not our ways. God has revealed what a wonderful and merciful God he is by the fact that He would even think of redeeming such a race of people as we are. Just the fact that He would take us back at all is beyond our comprehension, but that He would do so at such great cost to himself is enough to melt the heart of the hardest sinner who ever lived when he is truly brought face to face with this truth.

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. (Isaiah 1:18)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

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