by Brett Barry
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent...said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
I especially love the opening lines of Genesis 1: “In the beginning, God created…” This is followed by a series of accounts that begin with, “And God said…” I find these really comforting.
“God created” tells me that we are here by design. And if we read on we see that His specific intent was for us to be with Him in unhindered fellowship and to enjoy and reside over all He has created. And the fact that “God said” carries the power to create something from nothing? Unfathomable. Yet, key to unhindered fellowship.
So why the disconnect then between us and God? What caused it in the garden, and what causes it now?
The easy answer is, sin. But sin is acutally the result, not the cause.
We know about sin, the choices made then, and the ones we make now. But Adam and Eve were not created sinful. And our sin nature, if we are in Christ, has been crucified and is now under the authority of the Holy Spirit through our new nature born of God in Christ Jesus!
We are no longer required to sin based on who we are.
In fact, because of who we are in Christ, we are called to not sin; to be at war with sin, and to overcome it. To literally be ambassadors of God’s righteousness in our mindset, heart's desire and actions.
So there has to be something in between thought and action, a process within our freedom of will where, like Eve, we formulate perspectives that are true or false and then make decisions that result in actions of obedience or disobedience.
Maybe you've already wrestled with this into your understanding. But what I'm after here is to identify the heart of what motivates us toward or against God, even unknowingly, and, thus, where the enemy works to trip us up. I believe the culprit and key is revealed in Gen 3: The cause that leads to sin, both then and now is, independent thought; free will not intentionally subject to “God said.” For, truly, independent thought can only lead to independent action, which always gives birth to sin.
Independent thought leads to independent action.
Satan led Eve to question “God said” and thereby enter the realm of independent reasoning. As you know, the results were devastating; then and now. In her pondering Satan’s questions, she hadn’t yet sinned. But she had turned away from the objective resolve of God’s command and was now heading toward sin (about to step onto Satan's Slip-n-Slide!).
In the same way, when we begin our thought process with “I” instead of “God said”, we’re already heading toward trouble, for we’ve started on the path of soul-based, or man-centered reasoning over God-centered, Objective Truth. To effectively live by the Spirit, we must know and begin with what God has said and then enter the realm of reasoning, building our thoughts and conclusions upon Truth that is objective, resolute and unchanging. Our actions will then align with our confession, and we will grow toward Godly character through unhindered fellowship with our Creator.
Side note: When we begin with, “I”, we open the door to man-centered reasoning. Pondering this, it occurred to me that there are no “I’s" in God, Father, Jesus, Son or Holy. “Ah, but there is an “I” in Spirit, you say.” Yes, I noticed that too. In fact, there are two! And as I thought about that, I heard the Lord say, “But those I's are for seeing!” And, in the practical sense, since there are two, it’s not “I”, it's, “we”, in which there is no, "I".
OK. Back to the point here.
It’s important to note that Satan twisted God's original and very clear command with a question that was part truth, and part lie.
In Gen 3:1, he asked, “Did God say you are not to eat from…” (truth, for God did talk about eating from the trees in the garden), followed by the twist of “any tree” (lie). He knew God’s instructions involved only one forbidden tree.
Then, in response to Eve’s reply (v4), he focused the conversation on the result of what would happen to her if she disobeyed rather than on God’s command. Doing so got her to take her eyes off of “God said” (which protects us as we reason based on objective, absolute truth), and instead to begin focusing on herself, thereby opening the door to independent reasoning which always leads us toward sin.
Nothing has changed. Today, Satan is still lying, both boldly and subtly; and we are still drawn toward independent reasoning.
Everything has changed. Satan has been defeated. The curse has been broken. The Spirit of our Holy Creator now lives in us. We have a new nature. We have the mind of Christ. We are seated in Christ with resurrection authority. And, as ambassadors of God’s righteousness in the earth, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation, represented first and foremost by how we exercise the spirit of *self-control also given us. (*Some translations use discipline/sound mind. The discipline of a sound mind is self-control.)
Nothing has changed. Everything has changed. We choose.
What voice are you listening to today? Is it directing you to the dependent thinking of, “God said,” or to the independent thinking of, "I think" (“Did God really say?”)?
On our faith journey, it’s imperative that we learn to discern the difference and, by the resurrection power of His Spirit in us, exercise self-control through the resolve of, “God said.”
I encourage you to find out what God has said and hold that up as the standard for each thought that enters your mind and heart, that Truth might become the center of all our reasoning and actions.
As ambassadors of righteousness, let us begin, and end, with the beginning:
"And God said...".