(The Walk Applied continuing series is a comprehensive Christian biblical model
that is applicable for counseling, discipleship. mentoring, teaching, etc.)
Certainly, the Fall was foreseen by God. Consider the following two scriptures: "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.?(Gen 3:5) "And the Lord God said, The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil."(Gen 3:22)
Adam and Eve did not know what evil was because they had never experienced it. The passage implies that we must be like God, knowing good and evil. For Adam and Eve - and us - to be able to choose God, there must be a legitimate choice. They, and us, needed to know what it was like to exist outside of Godly authority to be able to truly choose Godly authority. Thus, God needed to create an environment where by we could see the stark, vivid contrasts between Him and well, anything but Him.
It is crucial that we understand that death and suffering must be in the mix. We must be exposed to the grotesque horrors that evil inevitably brings. We must have experiential knowledge of evil. God, in His limitless wisdom and great love for us, withholds nothing. It must be demonstrated that God is our only hope. God's existence requires that we be faithful to Him and Him alone; there cannot and will not be another besides El Elyon, the Most High God.
So, one might pose the question: Why doesn't God just get rid of evil? Why does He allow suffering and tragedy at all? What's the point? God's word already gives us the most unwelcome news regarding gross evil. Let's examine the facts: Lucifer was in Heaven where he could commune readily face-to-face with God, but sadly, pride was found in him. Lucifer subsequently chose to rebel. Adam and Eve were in a glorious, pristine environment whereby they presumably communed with God, yet they also rebelled at the slightest (the first?) temptation. Even a full third of the angels chose to rebel, despite experiencing God in all His wonder and glory.
The ability to choose is a fundamental requisite to life itself. Without the ability to choose, we become mere automatons. The foundation of true love comes when it is rooted in the deep conviction of our own decisions. God is Love, and love requires that we choose to love. Love cannot be dictated or commanded. And the choice to love must be irrevocable with unwavering commitment - there can be no flip-flop or waffling.
God demonstrated His endless love for us by choosing to sacrifice His Son. Jesus proved His endless love for us by choosing to endure the unfathomable agony of the cross. Jesus took on our sin so that we might experience the joy of being His bride. Because of His great love, the Father is showing us that there is only one safe place that exists or will ever exist under His holy authority.
In the end, The Bride of Christ must be two things: Perfectly righteous and faithful Matthew 5:48: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Salvation happens in an instant in time when we are declared perfectly righteous. Matt 24:13: "the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." To prove ourselves faithful, we must be tested by adverse circumstances.
THE FALL:THE CONSEQUENCES
When Adam and Eve made their fatal choice to fall, we saw serious and profound consequences to their choice: Death as a spiritual being (Gen 2:17) as well as banishment from the garden (Gen 3:22-23). They now knew the difference between good and evil (Gen 3:5). Fear, shame and guilt now made them afraid (Gen 3:8), and blame entered the picture(Gen 3:12-13). They also now realized they were naked. They now saw themselves negatively, as opposed to positively (Gen 2:25). They covered themselves because of shame and guilt and both feared being rejected by the other because of that judgment. (Gen 3:7). So we also see judgment: the action of putting ourselves in spiritual authority over another. If there was no fear among us of being judged -there would be no need for covering.
Adam and Eve now had a different belief system. The concept is accentuated by the idea that their behavior after the fall is profoundly different than it was prior to the fall. They now saw the world significantly differently than they did before, and consequently, they acted quite differently.
GUILT & SHAME
Consider the state of mind of Adam & Eve when they were exiled from the garden. This was the only home they had ever known and every need was fully supplied. Now, they would have to fend for themselves. The onrush of emotions must have been overwhelming. The Genesis account has a distinct feel to it in that judgment and execution of God's judgment was indeed swift. It makes sense that within a matter of minutes what was once their home was now forever denied them.
Besides the guilt, the regret, and the shame, there must have been a pronounced and ominous sense of dread. Who would now take care of them? We might conjecture that security (or the lack of it) is a primary consideration in our makeup, as it was likely in theirs. The elements of guilt, shame, and security bring us to the foundational layer of the dynamic of the sinful, natural flesh.
In a masterful sermon delivered by Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church of New York, he expounds upon the relationship of guilt, shame, and the fall.
"Genesis tells us we were created in the image of God. We know we fell. We know deep inside that there is something wrong with us. Guilt describes our own conviction that we KNOW we did the wrong thing. We KNOW we OWE Him because of what we did. Guilt is specific. We can point to it and say yes, we did it or no, we didn't do it. "
"Shame is different than guilt. Shame is that feeling of regret we feel when we realize the horror of what we've done. Shame is like smoke. We can't really pin it down, it's very difficult to erase it. Despite our salvation, we still sense our own guilt and shame over what we have done. While guilt may have been resolved in some who have truly accepted that Jesus really did die and paid the price and resolved our guilt, it's very rare that we find someone who has resolved the shame issue."
Another way of looking at guilt and shame is to simply think of it as "Guilt is WHAT I DID; Shame is WHAT I AM" In other words, we can let guilt and shame define us. Yet Jesus paid The price for what we did and redefined us as righteous. Jesus obliterated BOTH guilt and shame on that "old rugged cross" - Praise His Name!
Finally, let us examine what is meant by worship. For our purposes, we define worship as the active relationship that exists between us and what we believe provides our security. Rick Warren writes in the Purpose Driven Life that we are "hard-wired to worship". In other words, God has implanted within us an innate need to seek our security in something outside of ourselves that we perceive as being superior to ourselves. Fundamentally, this notion is that we recognize that we are vulnerable, and that we acknowledge that we are indeed in great need of protection. Indeed, the profound idea is that we recognize our smallness, and that we need something or somebody more powerful than us to protect us.
Next Time: #3: Rebellion Idolatry
N. Patrick Marica contributes incisive Christian commentary on this blog on a regular basis. He has been the Director of Godly Training Ministries since 1993. He has his MA from Liberty University in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is the author of the forthcoming book: The Walk Applied". He has been married to Kathy since 1985. They have 2 adult daughters and 1 extraordinary son-in-law.