The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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 2:15-17
Repeatedly, part of my learning process includes going back to the basics. When something I’m doing or working on starts to get turned upside down, it is often a return to the fundamental truths that set things back in their proper order. And many times, once order has been restored and right thinking is (re-)established, the process makes sense again. Sometimes there is also the discovery of missed or incomplete steps in the process, that once seen and understood, help bring greater clarity.
Now what I’m jotting down here are a few of my thoughts as I consider obedience and disobedience, faithfulness and unfaithfulness, good and evil, faith and sin. Much of my recent reading in the Bible has been in 1 & 2 Chronicles. I’ve really been appreciating watching the kings come and go, seeing their response to God and how they led the people. This morning I was looking at King Ahaz; not a pretty sight. And here is a question that caught my heart’s attention, spoken by Oded, a prophet of the Lord.
…”Have you not sins of your own against the LORD your God?”
The who and the why of this question in 2 Chr 28 are very important and as I saw this question put to the men of Israel, I had to stop and respond to that question for myself. What about my own sins against God?
Why do I sin against God? It seems so foolish and empty and dangerous at this moment.
Where did sin come from? What is it about the knowledge of good and evil that made ‘death’ the sure outcome in back in the garden of Eden?
Where did good and evil come from? Why did God desire to protect us from that knowledge?
One reason these questions are coming out of my reading this morning is that I’m finding the answers to these questions largely unaddressed and unclear in my own mind and in the mind of other christians I interact with on a regular basis. There’s a sense of uneasiness that is present when going back to God, the origins of good and evil, and the fall of man. I would probably go so far as to say that there’s a fear that we are going to somehow contaminate God with a sinful act if we look too closely at where sin comes from. Also, a motivation for me to pursue these questions is my concern that leaving a question mark in our minds about the origin of sin also puts a question mark in our belief in God’s sovereignty; for me, this is huge. But that is my starting point… God is Perfect, Holy, Righteous, and so everything I think or believe or understand from the Bible is founded on this truth.
So where do I go from this starting point? If the bedrock of all my thinking and understanding is that God is Eternal, Sovereign, Holy, Righteous and Good, then the next question I’m asking is how do I run my questions through the grid of God as Creator?
I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things. Isaiah 45:7
…and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, Ephesians 3:9
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11
The Bible is unmistakable on this… that ALL things that were created were created by God. With that truth, I simply ask where did good and evil come from? If they exist, they were created and if they were created, then God created them. Does that seem wrong to you? Does it make you squirm a bit… doubting? Go back and remember the starting point. God is Perfect. If evil exists… if calamity is created, God created it… for His purposes and for His glory. (added, here is where I resoundingly state that I am finite… and limited and that there are many things I have not included in my ‘equation’… so listen to God’s Word here…. not mine.)
Next obstacle… but what fellowship does light have with darkness? There is nothing that says God has fellowship with evil simply because He created it. And then James 1: 13-15 lends us understanding as well…
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
It’s clear hear that God is not tempted with evil, and He doesn’t tempt anyone with evil. God is NOT the source of temptation… Death is. Satan is. And we, as a result of the Fall, are in bondage to death/sin. We sin whenever we submit to evil. We are fully responsible for our own sins.
Back to my questions… I believe God created good and evil; without this reality there would be no moral choice. I believe that we choose evil over good and in so doing we sin, just like Adam and Eve. I believe that I still sin because sin/death still exerts its power on me through my flesh. I have been saved by grace through faith in what Jesus Christ, the God-man, accomplished willingly for me by His sinless life, death on the Cross and bodily ressurection from the grave to the right hand of God the Father. I am eternally saved, justified, by the finished work of Jesus Christ, yet I still find myself submitting to the tempting offer of sin in my flesh. James describes it very well. I choose or respond to that temptation by letting the lure (or bait) entice me to go after evil desire (just like a fish) and when the hook is set, sin is birthed… and if it remains to grow and take over it brings forth death.
Thinking through these truths of God, man, sin and Jesus Christ… the Gospel, helps me. My feet get more firmly planted on the Rock, my mind becomes informed with understanding, my heart is strengthened to love God and choose Life… and I learn more and more and remember better and better, that there is a deadly hook somewhere in that attractive bait. And, by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, I turn and swim away.
My approach may seem too simple, but that’s my point… what is the Truth? I want to know it and believe it. What are the fundamentals that I need to stand on? If you’re reading this, you may have some very good questions or even thoughts or truth that might contravert what I’ve said. Please share them, ask them; they will sharpen me and we may both come to understand God and His word better.