Video Lesson Transcript:
Hi, and welcome back to “My Walk with God.” I hope you’re enjoying our time together. I’m really happy to hear from you, and all our students who submit the “lesson response forms” on the website at redeeminglove777.com. You are always welcome, not only to submit the response forms, but to make any comments, or ask any questions you want to on the website. Today, I’m afraid, our time together is going to take a rather “dark” turn; and I don’t really like having to share this part of the story. But it is an important part of the story of God’s relationship with humanity, with you, and with me; and it is, therefore, vital to our faith that we understand what’s really going on here in this tumultuous battle between light and darkness. In our previous lesson, we saw that “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5). God desires to share His light, His holiness, His righteousness with us. He wants to elevate us to life with Him. However, the Bible teaches us that God, in His infinite love and wisdom, has also provided people with the freedom of choice; and with that choice comes conflict.
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:15-17, NASB).
We can learn a lot about the nature of both God and humanity from the story of the Garden of Eden. We know that God, if He wanted to, could have made human beings completely obedient to Him; and unable to make moral choices on their own or to disobey Him in any way. God did not have to place the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden at all. He could have refused to give the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, any opportunity to choose. But, instead, God intentionally placed them in an environment where they could potentially fail; and, to be quite honest, where He knew that eventually, they would fail. Why? Well, there is only one real reason that I can see. He did it because He desires our true love and obedience from the heart. Love is always a choice. Now, I know, emotions come and go, but true love must be given freely; it cannot be programmed into someone. God does not desire mere mechanical obedience, wherein there are no options. God wants us to choose the “light of life” with Him.
But we also see that God is very clear about the consequences of disobedience—life without Him; spiritual “death”–which is separation from God—and eventual physical death—separation of body and spirit, as well. Tragically, Adam and Eve came to a crossroads in their walk with God; and they chose to go their own way. They chose the path of darkness, the path without God, the path that would lead them, and all humanity, to death.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself. (Genesis 3:1-10, NASB)
The issue, you see, is that because God is light—altogether holy and righteous—He cannot, and will not, be in intimate contact with, or in personal fellowship with darkness, evil, wickedness, iniquity, sin! As the story in Genesis continues, we read:
“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” — therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:22-24, NASB)
The tragic story of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God has continued down through the annals of human history. Over and over again, humanity has chosen not to conform to God’s standards of righteousness, but to go our own way and do evil instead. And, over and over again, God has continually warned His people of the consequences of choosing darkness rather than light.
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2, NASB)
Behold, You were angry, for we sinned, we continued in them a long time; and shall we be saved? For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls on Your name, who arouses himself to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have delivered us into the power of our iniquities. (Isaiah 64:5-7, NASB)
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (John 3:19-20, NASB)
These verses speak to the way human beings consistently choose our own sinful desires over the righteousness of God. Even after Jesus entered into the world, bringing God’s light in a fuller and more direct way than ever before, most people continue to reject the light in favor of darkness. The Bible also points out that those who allow darkness to rule in their hearts develop an ever increasing opposition to the light, and eventually come to despise it. The Apostle Paul gives us an example of this in his letter to the Romans, saying:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness… For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened… being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32, NASB)
But, what about you and me? Those verses don’t really describe us, do they? I mean, really, we’re pretty good people, aren’t we? Sometimes that’s how we think of ourselves. I mean, we all know that we have faults, nobody is perfect, but we’re not like some of these other people described in scripture. We’re basically “good guys,” I mean, at least by comparison, aren’t we? Well, lest we give into the temptation to compare ourselves with others, or judge others too quickly, maybe we need to pay attention to what the Apostle Paul goes on to say to the Romans:
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” . . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:9-12 & 23)
These verses demonstrate that all of humanity, including me and you, have allowed sinful desires to take priority over God’s commands. Now, the Bible does not teach the concept of “original sin.” That is misconception perpetuated upon people by certain religious powers that be. When King David said, long ago, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5, NASB), he was not saying that, as a newborn infant, he was sinful; rather, he is only saying there that he was born into a sinful world, surrounded by sin on all sides from the very beginning of his life. Of course babies are innocent. The Bible says:
Therefore, to one who KNOWS the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
(James 4:17, NASB)
One must know right from wrong before they can choose evil over good and be held accountable for their sin. Some of our religious leaders need to get their eyes off of John Calvin, and off of the precepts of Catholicism, and back on to Jesus and His Word. Babies are born innocent. Some are taken home to be with God while still in their innocence. But for the rest of us, we grow up; and, eventually, we come to a knowledge of good and evil; and to an age of accountability. This is of God. The Bible says:
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:14-16, NASB)
You know, one thing that stands out to me in the Garden of Eden story, and that I’m glad the prophet saw fit to include, is the fact that when Eve, and then Adam, tasted of the forbidden fruit and “the eyes of both of them were opened,” the very first thing that dawned on them was that, well, “they were naked” (Genesis 3:7, NASB). In other words, a self-evident truth was instantaneously thrust upon them. Something happened in that very moment; something that was not natural, but supernatural, something that came directly from God. And their sudden ability to discern good and evil was revealed in their instant sense of need for privacy and for protecting their own, personal, anatomic integrity. This same phenomenon continues today as children in every culture around the globe grow beyond the age of innocence and begin to develop their own need for privacy and for the preservation of their own anatomic integrity. And this is what makes the sexual abuse of a child, or anyone really, so harmful to the human psyche; and so insidious and deplorable in the eyes of society at large.
Original sin is not what has been handed down from Adam and Eve to all humanity; and despite John Calvin’s teaching, the floor/s of hell are not littered with babies a span long (referenced in: tentmaker.org, 2016). What has been handed down is the knowledge of good and evil. This means that nobody who has come to the age of accountability, nobody in whose heart God has cultivated the knowledge of good and evil, is able to walk with God and have life with God by virtue of their own righteousness. This is why the Apostle Paul also said:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. (Romans 5:12-14, NASB)
And, if left to themselves, all humanity would be subject to the eternal consequences of disobedience:
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth… (I John 1:5-6, NASB)
But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left” … “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” … “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:31-46, NASB)
For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power… (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9, NASB)
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15, NASB)
These are some frightening verses; and I don’t know, for sure, just how literally, or figuratively, I should take them. But if it requires that kind of language to describe what life without God is really like, then I, for one, want nothing to do with any of that. And so, for our own sakes, and for the sake of those we love, we need to give heed to Bible teaching in these matters.
If the story ended here, it would be a very tragic story, indeed. Humanity would be hopelessly lost in our sins, and destined to an eternal existence without God. But there is a verse in the Bible that speaks to us of hope. The Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Romans:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
The consequences of sin is death—spiritual and physical. Because Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, we cry at the physical loss of our loved ones. Because we sin and fall short of the glory of God, we are in jeopardy of being eternally separated from God, and from our loved ones, as well. But the good news is that, despite our rebellion, God still loves us and He has had a plan for our eternal life with Him since before the foundations of the world. I hope you will return soon to view the next lesson; where we will begin looking at how God’s love calls us out of all this mess, out of darkness and back into His eternal light, and to back to life with Him.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Tentmaker.org. (2016). Tentmaker Ministries. Quotes index: quotes from Christian perpetuators of the mythology of hell. Retrieved from: http://www.tentmaker.org/Quotes/hell-fire.htm.