This is part two in a two-part series. Read part one here.
When Eve was told by the devil that eating the forbidden fruit was not a sin (as God had said it was), she chose to lie to herself, and concluded that since it was a delight to the eyes, it would help her to gain wisdom and thus become like God.
She decided that she knew better than the omniscient God and was made fatally ignorant by her disobedience. She concluded, in a sense, that God could not be trusted and that He had ulterior motives for His commands. Adam bought in to this deception and all creation became blind and fell into corruption as a result.
So this problem of fake news pretty much started on Day One.
For Adam and Eve, (and their son Cain), God's punishment was swift and severe and continued down the family tree to everyone born since. But as time drew on and man's blindness increased, God became more longsuffering before meting out punishment. Why? Because the sin of Adam and Eve had been done with full knowledge and access to God, (who would walk with them in the Garden), but subsequent generations were born spiritually dead—raised under a great veil of darkness, not even knowing God.
He was always there, of course, and would reveal Himself to anyone who fervently sought Him (2 Chron. 15:2, 12, 15; 16:9; Jer. 29:11-17), but most did not. It was easier to go with the flow of fallen creation and its fallen creatures. Instead, as a way to satiate their strong inner drive to worship something, they created mythical gods out of the mists of fading memories of the one true God and worshipped the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:18-32).
As a civilization, we began telling ourselves lie upon lie in order to hide a God-given conscience that was trying to lead us back to Him and to His righteous principles. The lies were more convenient than the reality. It was easier to bow down to a stone carving and give it an offering than to be confronted with an all-powerful, all-knowing God who wanted to have an ongoing, real relationship with us and who might demand something from us that we might not want to give (such as surrendering ourselves wholly back to Him in faith that everything He said was 100 percent true). So we invented gods who, for the most part, would only ask of us things we were willing to give. We lied to ourselves because our hearts were selfish and our minds were depraved (Romans 1).
On top of that, we excused our frailties by normalizing them - by creating gods with those same frailties. We created gods who were murderers, deceivers, rapists, adulterers, homosexuals and yes, even transsexuals and cross-dressers. In some cases, gods like the Phrygian goddess Cybele were attempts to explain why children were being born with physical aberrations, as in the case of hermaphrodites, (now called intersex). Instead of properly attributing such occurrences to the consequences of sin (our sin, though not the immediate fault of the child so born), we assigned mythical gods to comfort us in the notion that all was as it should be.
God is holy, but we decided that He had all of the sinful, tendencies and frailties that we had. We made Him into our own fallen image. Today, many in the New Age movement go as far as proclaiming themselves to be gods.
But here's the truth:
God created human sexuality (male and female) to reflect His own image (self-giving, procreative love) and ordered it to reflect the marriage that will one day take place between Jesus Christ and His church (Is. 54:5; Jer. 3:14, 20; Hos. 2:19-20; Eph. 5:22-32). But we decided that sex was borderless, recreational fun and power games and that the weaker could be made to serve the stronger. "It's their destiny, after all", we muttered to ourselves. And so as a human race, we enslaved, we raped, we cruelly used women and children and even men as recreational sex toys. We mocked and marred the image of God found in our sexuality, with perversions of sexuality.
This panoply of imaginary gods in our heads and the lies we tell ourselves allow us to justify our freewheeling, sinful actions by claiming that God designed us to act in such ways. "He made me homosexual" or transsexual or a cross-dresser, a child molester or the like. No sin, no foul. In fact, professional psychological associations have declared that child molesters are disordered only when their actions cause them distress. How utterly obscene is that?
If we'd only consult God's owner's manual for mankind (the Bible: 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet.1:20-21), we'd see that due to our love of this fallen world and our worship of its idols, our hearts have become darkened and our minds depraved (John 15:18-19; Rom. 1; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17), and that the only way out is to seek God with all our hearts (Deut. 4:29; Jer. 29:11-14; Acts 17:27; Hebrews 11:6), through Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Romans 6:23, 10:9,13), ready to do His will no matter how inconvenient or how painful it may be to our rebellious souls (Prov. 3:5-7). We have to die to self in order to live for God (Matt. 10:38-39; 16:24-26; Rom. 6-8). We have to forsake the myths and the lies that we have been telling ourselves and be reconciled to our Creator (2 Cor. 5:17-21), who is the very personification of truth (John 1:1-14; 14:6).
Sadly, most of us do not want to be holy. We do not want the responsibilities that love demands. And we have deceived ourselves into believing that God is the myth.
When we don't suffer immediate consequences for our sin, due to the long-suffering mercy of God, we lie to ourselves and conclude that there won't be a consequence to our sin nor a remedy to our fallenness.
Why doesn't God exact immediate consequence for our sin? He has in the past. He could make it very clear that sinning was a zero sum game. In the short run, we'd be much more obedient as a result.
For that matter, why doesn't He show Himself to everyone, worldwide, on a regular basis, so that we'd see the One who has the power to lower a very unpleasant boom on us should we stray? If He would only show Himself, not only would I sin less, but my desire to follow Him would be freed from doubts about His existence or His goodness or His love. I would see His glory and feel His love and thereby be persuaded to follow Him.
As problematic as it can be, let's try to look at this question from God's perspective and that of the goals He has for creation. His goal is to create (and, after His creatures inevitably have been deceived and fall), redeem a people who are His very own—eager to do what is good (Ps. 40:8, 51:10-12; Matt. 6:10, 7:21, 12:50; 2 Cor. 1:21; Phil. 2:13; 1 Thess. 4:3-8; Heb. 13:21; 1 Pet. 4:1-6; Titus 2:14). In other words, He's not trying to create obedient robots who follow Him only out of fear. He wants people who follow Him because they love Him (John 14:15 ,21, 23-24; 2 Cor. 5:14-15), because they love being holy, because they love holiness itself rather than evil (Ps. 40:8), yet who also understand that they cannot bring about such a heart-change on their own. It must be the work of God in response to their surrender to His Son, Jesus Christ, and the work that He has done on the cross to remove the punishment for their sin. And it must be God's work in their hearts by the Holy Spirit that moves them to obey (Rom.7:18, 8:6,.9-14, 9:16, 13:14; Gal. 5:16, 24; Phil. 2:13; Col. 3:5; 1 Pet. 2:11; 2 Pet. 1:1-11).
If God were to show Himself as the glorious, loving Being that He is, we would indeed be far more likely to be obedient, but our motivation for being obedient would be selfish and self-centered rather than a response of love and a genuine desire to be holy. We would obey in order to get what is attractive to us, what will benefit us the most, what feels good to us, or to obtain the glory for ourselves that we see in Him. Our interior motivation would be impure. And we would try to be holy by our own strength, which for fallen man is completely impossible.
We would lie to ourselves and say that we were following God from right motives and for all the best reasons, but we would be deceiving ourselves. More fake news.
The solution, then, requires changing our nature—ontologically—at the level of being itself. That is a piece of the puzzle that we cannot satisfy. As Creator, only God has the wisdom and power to re-create what He has already created. And so, via the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, who took upon Himself the penalty for our sins, God offers to recreate us so that we take on the very nature of God Himself in His holiness.
Step One is to recreate our spirit in holiness, which has been dead because of sin. That happens when we become "born again" or "from above" (John 3:16). Then God leads us through a sanctification process, whereby our will is conformed to His and we willingly forsake the fallen things and thinking of this world system in order to believe in and adopt the realities of heaven. Such realities include the moral character and behavior of God. In that state of recreation, with its natural fruit of submission, and with the holiness of Christ Himself shining ever before the throne of God blotting out our ongoing failures, we are made ready to live with Him forever.
How is that any different, you ask, than the first creation? Weren't Adam and Eve holy at first? And didn't they fall at the first whiff of temptation? What's to prevent that from happening again?
Before the first creation, man wasn't there to consent to being created. His will was not involved. It was a sovereign act of God that created him from the dust of the earth (Genesis 1-2). From God's perspective, the act was one of love, but love unrequited and unreciprocated. In order to complete that circle, the created being had to be given the chance to return God's love. His will had to be engaged to say the "amen" to God's act of love and to return it with the like-minded character of the God who created him "in His image." To truly be a son of the Father, he had to display the traits and the character of his Father.
So, to be like his Father after the fall, man had to be made holy again, by an act of God first, but in agreement with man's own will—and that motivated by love. And because it was an eternal God who, (in Jesus Christ), atoned for the sins of those who would follow Him, that atonement was thereby made eternal. In other words, fixing believers in a state of holiness, (incapable of sin once brought into His presence in heaven), was justified because it had been done with the complete and utter "Yes and Amen" of the believer.
If God had enticed or purchased our love and attention through ever-present displays of His glory or by immediate and severe punishment for every contrary act, such an incredible outcome could not have happened.
In the end, the only news that is not in part or whole, fake news, is the Word of God: that glorious and fully true revelation that God has poured out for anyone who wants to know, love and follow the truth.
Do you want to know the truth? Are you tired of fake news?
Read the Bible, give your life to Jesus Christ, seek an intimate relationship with Him with all your heart and then simply do what He says.
Dr. David Kyle Foster is the producer of Pure Passion TV and the documentaries, Such Were Some of You (www.SuchWereSomeOfYou.org), How Do You Like Me Now? When a Child, Parent, Spouse or Sibling Says They're Gay (www.HowDoYouLikeMeNow.org) and the upcoming TranZformed: Finding Peace with Your God-Given Gender (www.TranZformed.org) (coming June 2017). He is also the author of Love Hunger (Chosen), Sexual Healing (Regal) and Transformed Into His Image: Hidden Steps on the Journey to Christlikeness (Laurus Books).
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