November 08, 2015

How Good Do I Have to Be?

                                          "Bullseye" by Emilio Kuffer © copyrighted


So, last time we took a look at the holiness of our Creator-God. This time, we want to take a look at how we stack up to God's expectations of His creation, namely you and I! What does our “score” look like? How does God, our ultimate Judge, judge us? Let's take a look!

First, we must take a little meander back into the garden in Eden where God had initially placed Adam and his wife Eve. It is here, that God placed two trees – two choices. A tree, we could paraphrase, “The tree of knowing what the rules are.” The second tree was called, “The tree of life.” God also explicitly warned, saying, “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 2:17) So, what was so deadly about this tree? Let's check it out!

So, Adam and Eve had it all, right? A most amazing place to live, fruit trees of every description, rivers, abundant tame creatures, perfect health, a fabulous marriage, and a perfect relationship with God – what could be better? Well, they too thought all was well until...the devil, also called Satan, snuck into the garden to tempt Eve. She caved, and ate from the tree God had warned them about – Adam ate too. They would now find out the consequences of their sin. They would find, that though the tree they ate from appeared to be good, in that it seemed to offer life, that it actually brought death, just like God had warned! From their sin, we will learn a valuable lesson – if we will listen and pay attention! Yet, what of the other tree, that did offer life, why hadn't they eaten from that tree? Yet, this is the choice they made. God would not force them against their will. God would not force them to love Him. Yet, there would tremendous ramifications. Humanity would now be on a devastating spiral of sin, broken relationships, and heartache, all because Adam and Eve chose to trust a stranger instead of the God they knew to be loving.

Suddenly, feelings of guilt and shame swept over Adam and Eve! Should they admit their guilt, or try and cover it up? With fingers trembling with nervousness, they hurriedly fashioned themselves some fig leaf clothes, and hoped their efforts would be good enough to pleases their Creator-God! Then they went and hid, cowering in shame and fear. What would God say? What would He do? How would He handle their sin against the Creator-God? They would soon find out.

God came looking. He made the initiative, because God loved them still. Now they were really beginning to realize, just how much God loved them! Yes, God grilled them, though He knew what they had done. Yet, He gave them a chance to admit their sin, but instead they played the blame game! However, God would not have the wool pulled over His eyes! For it is written, “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13) The truth is, their sin brought death, just like God had warned. They were now separated from their holy, Creator-God! Their friendship was over! That was the first meaning of death. The second, was that they would also physically die, and they did. Finally, they would be cast away from God for their entire existence after their physical death. The Bible calls this, “The Second Death.”

Yet, God did not leave them there, He showed them what it would take for their relationship to be restored and for them to avoid the “Second Death.” God would take animal skins and clothe them. This would show, A, that God, and not us, has the remedy for our sin, and B, it would show that their must be a substitutionary death as payment for their sin. So, no, Adam and Eve's seamstress skills were wholly inadequate! Their efforts fell far short of God's expectations!

So, we have seen that Adam and Eve didn't score very well. We could say, they failed the test. They were unable to keep from doing evil and do the right that the devil had promised the tree could do – even though they understood what they should, and should not do. In plain words, knowing what God's rules were didn't help, as they had no power or ability to obey those rules.

Adam and Eve had thought that they knew better than God. Yet, they were sorely mistaken! Even though God had lovingly given them an amazing place to live and had generously provided them with everything they could ever want, yet, they thought that God was withholding something good – He was not. The reality is that Satan had lied. God, on the other hand, had spoken the truth. Satan didn't give a care about them, but God loved them deeply! Where was Satan to be found after their misadventure? Yet, God sought them out even though they had sinned against Him! Now we know who really loved them, don't we?!

God, however, was not yet done explaining things to us humans! He really wanted us to understand His holiness and our helplessness. So what did God do? He gave humanity even more rules! Yes, God gave the ten commandments! God was going to show just what He expected from us! He told us not to mess around with those whom we're not married to. He even went on during His walk on Earth to inform us that that included even having such thoughts! He also told us not to murder, and again, He would later explain this to mean, even the thought of wanting to do such! Of course we are also told not to, steal, cheat, or worship anything or anyone other than Himself! This is just a sample of what He told us, but it gives us an idea of what He commanded.

So, how have you fared? What would you give yourself? Maybe 75%? I don't know. However, would it surprise you if God demands 100% perfection for you to get a passing grade? Well, it's true! You say, “Impossible!” Yep, that is exactly the point God was making by giving the ten commandments! God's point was the same as with Adam and Eve – we can't follow His rules – they just bring death. In fact, these rules display to us that God is holy and that we are evil, sinful beings. They show that we cannot possibly save ourselves by trying to be good. The truth is, even our good, is seen as “filthy rags” by our holy Creator-God. This is very bad news for us. Our sin, stands as a great big chasm, between us and God.

Do we have any hope? Absolutely! That is just what we'll be looking into next time! See you then!

Victor J. Reimer

*All Scripture taken form the ESV.

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