Jesus said Come, Follow Me!

Chapter 1 – The Beginning

In order to understand the totality of our condition before God, it is necessary to comprehend man’s original transgression. We must recognize that nothing has changed with man’s nature since the initial sin. We are naturally born into the world with a disposition toward evil and are quickly corrupted (Gen 8:21 ). For the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Gen 8:21 ). Man originally chose his will above God’s and the rebellion has continued through the succeeding generations since Adam. There are two main issues. The first involves atonment for the sinful nature which has been passed down to and partaken of by all men (Rm 5:12 ). Sin takes many forms in the flesh, but the root is pride and self. By the offense of one, judgment has come upon all men unto condemnation (Rm 5:18 ). All have sinned and are equally guilty (Rm 3:23 ). The second issue involves God’s plan to reconcile man back to Himself (Rm 5:10 , Eph 2:16 Col 1:20 ). God has provided a way through Jesus Christ for man to relinquish his self will and come back under His authority (Rm 5:17, 19). Jesus paid the penalty of the broken law. Christ first fulfilled the law through His perfect obedience to the Father, and then became the atonement for us. In keeping with His character (His way – Heb 3:10-12), God’s way requires that a man freely approach Him through love, devotion and obedience – known as faith. A man must die to self (his old sinful rebellious nature, Rm 6:6, Gal 2:20 , Lk 5:36, 17:33 ) and be born again as a new man with God’s nature (Jn 3:3, 5, Eph 4:22-24, 2 Cor 5:17 , Col 3:9-10, Ps 51:10). God gives you a new heart and must be approached through living faith (Eph 3:17 , 2 Cor 1:22 , Heb 8:10, 16, 1 Thess 3:13 ). Reconciliation can never be complete in us until our rebellion is broken and our hearts are changed to lovingly perform God’s will and thereby bring glory to Him. Let us now consider the beginning.

Genesis 1:27, 2:8-9, 16-17, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden ; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Man was created in God’s image and for God’s pleasure (Gen 1:26-27, Rev 4:11 ). All things were created by him, and for Him ( Col 1:16 ). Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein (also Ps 89:11).” God is sovereign and supreme (Ps 33:8-9, Ps 46:10)! Job 12:10 , “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” Man was dependant upon God for everything and lived by every Word that proceeded from God’s mouth (Lk 4:4, Deut 8:3). God’s desire was for man to freely serve and worship Him out of love (Jn 3:16 , 15:13 ). For this to be possible man had to have a free will and the ability to choose (whosoever will – 1 Tim 2:4, Mt 12:50 , Lk 6:47-48, Rev 22:17 ). Otherwise man’s fellowship and service to God would not truly be motivated by love and devotion. Adam and Eve initially (short period) served God with humble child like faith (Mt 18:3-4). All knowledge of good and evil resided within God. Adam and Eve trusted and obeyed God confident that God’s desire for them was loving and always in their best interest. Adam and Eve were to follow God’s will and to depend and rely upon Him for everything. In doing so, God gives life and gives it more abundantly (Jn 10:10 ). The Lord’s yoke is easy and His burden is light (Mt 11:30 ). By always following God’s will and depending upon His knowledge, man would always be in God’s good grace as well as perfectly content and satisfied in his created position. When man was humbled and obedient, God actually exalted him over His earthly creation (Ps 8:6, 115:16, Lk 14:11 , Heb 2:7). To test the devotion of man, God placed a choice in the midst of the garden where man dwelt. The choice was life (God’s will), represented by the tree of life; or death (Man’s will), represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Deut 30:19). For to eat of that tree brought death as a consequence. To reject the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil would prove man’s devotion to God and his free will choice to serve Him out of love rather than any other motivation such as fear. For there is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear (1 Jn 4:18 ). Had man chosen to eat of the tree of life then he would have chosen God’s will and would have lived eternally in paradise. For in God is life and this life is the light of men (Jn 1:4). The fruit from the forbidden tree was “pleasant to the eyes” (desirable to the flesh, Gen 3:6). There is no doubt that man through the eyes of the flesh was drawn to this tree. The spirit must always overcome (rise above) the desires of the flesh in order to walk in obedience to God and bring God glory. The fruit from the tree of life was most likely plain (did not stand out) and unappealing to the flesh, but represented a choice for the spirit (love, devotion and obedience to God) and not the flesh. God does not deal with man on the basis of the desires of the flesh (does not serve the flesh). What God was telling man was that the fruit of the forbidden tree was poison; it was toxic to the very nature and leads to death (thou shalt surely die) – but in man’s eyes it looks so good.

God’s test for man in the garden was not difficult for man to accomplish. Man had access to all the other fruit trees as well as the tree of life (Gen 1:29-30, Gen 2:9, 16-17). Man was only required to abstain from the one tree. Notice in the lead-in verse that God stated that to disobey Him would bring death (if you sin you will die) – physical and eternal! God’s penalty for disobedience was severe, because to disobey would be to question and judge God’s very authority. Whenever we place our will above God’s we have done just that and it is very grievous. The penalty is death! Good and evil cannot co-exist (light/darkness). Evil is corrupting. Whenever evil is present confusion reigns (Dan 9:7). Light excelleth darkness and God has prevailed (Eccl 2:13 ).

 

Evil in the Midst

There was another presence in the Garden of Eden. Lucifer (Light Bearer) was once an anointed Cherub that walked in Eden the garden of God , and provided a spiritual covering for God’s earthly creation (Ezk 28:13-14). Lucifer is a created being (spirit) who was perfect in all his ways until iniquity was found in him (Ezk 28:15). The iniquity found was self-exaltation resulting in complete outright rebellion against God. Lucifer attempted to exalt himself above God (Is 14:13 -15, Ezk 28:2). The seed of iniquity was in Lucifer’s heart by reason of his wisdom and perfect beauty (Ezk 28:12, Ezk 28:2, 31:8-10). Perhaps the timing was due to jealousy of God’s new creation, man. His heart was lifted up because of the brightness of his beauty and this corrupted his wisdom (Ezk 28:17). The scriptures define true wisdom as seeking to know and perform God’s will (Job 28:28, Pv 9:10 ). This is a complete and perpetual dependence upon God and a heartfelt desire to please Him. Lucifer’s wisdom was corrupted because he now sought to live and perform his own will above God’s – “thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God (Ezk 28:2, 31:10).” He was perfect as originally created, but was not content (Ezk 28:12, 31:8-9). Thus, God cast him from his heavenly presence and he fell as lightning to the earth (Is 14:12 , Lk 10:18 ). Lucifer fell shortly after God’s creation of man. The book of Ezekiel states that Lucifer walked in Eden , the garden of God . Therefore, he fell sometime between the creation of the garden and his conversation with Eve. In all probability, Lucifer exalted himself due to his jealousy of God’s creation of man. God has already pronounced a judgment upon him of an eternal separation into the lake of fire to be carried out at the end of the Christ’s millennial reign upon the earth ( Rev 20:10 , Jn 16:11 ). The everlasting fire was prepared for Lucifer, for there was no need for such a place prior to his rebellion (Mt 25:41). Until such a time, God chooses to use him to try the hearts of men. Lucifer is now known as Satan or the devil. The name is characteristic of his nature; he is a murderer and a deceiver, the Father of all lies (Rev 12:9, Jn 8:44 ). He is a murderer because he brought death into the world through his deceit and because he misrepresents the character of God. Satan is so deceptive and convincing through his lies, half-truths, misrepresentations and ambiguities that he convinced a third of God’s angels to join him in his revolt against God (Jude 1:6, Rev 12:4). He now goes to and fro in all the earth seeking whom he may devour (Job 1:6-7, 1 Pt 5:8). Satan is much inferior to the Lord God Almighty and is limited in what he is allowed to do (Job 1:10 , 1 Cor 10:13 ). Man is always allowed to freely choose to serve God. Satan tries to blind the hearts of men and take man’s focus off of God such that man becomes self serving or in bondage to the devil (2 Cor 4:4). The devil does this through deception and appealing to the selfish lusts of men (2 Cor 11:13-15, Rev 20:8). Satan has set up principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places to accomplish this (Eph 6:12 ). When man steps outside of God’s will he also moves outside of God’s established protective hedge (1 Jn 5:18). Man reaps what he sows because his actions have consequences (Gal 6:7, 1 Sam 2:3, Job 4:8, 34:11).

In keeping with his original intent and rebellious nature, the devil desires to be worshipped. He wants the glory, honor and praise that go to God alone. God desires man to worship him freely out of love and devotion. The devil solicits worship out of fear, deceit (trickery), and by force (bondages). Those who are self-serving and follow their own will have rejected God and His authority (dishonored Him) and have submitted themselves to the devil and his rebellion. One day these rebellious ones will be shocked to see their chosen master (Ezk 28:17, 19, Rev 17:8): Isaiah 14:16-17, “They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?” When one professes to follow God (Christ), but does that which opposes Him, the devil gets glory – the accuser flaunts it before God. Conversely, when one worships/praises God in the midst of one’s adversity (hardships, difficulties, hard times, trials, sufferings, tribulations) God gets the glory (Consider Job, Chapters 1 and 2). When one stands for God’s truth (and lives it) when all others are going with the worldly flow – God gets glory from (due to) the one individual.

 

Temptation

Genesis 3:1-5, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The deceiver and tempter entered the garden as a serpent. The deceiver always masks his presence and cannot fully speak the truth (2 Cor 11:14 ). God created Adam first, then Eve. The devil does things opposite of God so he tempts Eve first and then Adam. The first thing he tried to do was place doubt in the heart of Eve as to God’s intentions. Unbelief is rebellion against the will of God. Satan planted this seed (thought) in Eve’s mind, hoping that it would grow. Eve lives in the midst of paradise and knows of God’s love, but allows her attention to be focused on the one restriction. The devil craftily takes man’s focus off of God and places it upon man. What man wants and what is desirable to man rather than what God wills. The temptation is for man to have knowledge of good and evil resident within himself rather than depending upon God for it. The objective would be to become just like God, meaning that man could decide what he wants to do for himself apart from God. Man would decide what is right and what is wrong. Man could seek his own will above God’s will and determine his own actions. Knowledge would be the key to make this happen. Man would become as God because he would now independently decide what he wanted to do for himself with no more reliance, obedience or true love for the one true God. He would essentially attempt to make himself equal with God. Satan also says that God is lying and suggests He is unfair and trying to deceive man, the very thing he is guilty of. The devil always plays opposites with the things of God because he is the ultimate in rebellion. Note also that Eve added a requirement of not touching the fruit, to what God had originally said. Man always seeks to add to or improve upon God’s commands. Lies and deception are also weapons of the devil that have plagued man from the beginning. When man seeks his will apart from God, spiritual blindness clouds man’s reasoning, confusion reigns and man is easily overcome by the devil. This will be further explored within this book.

Satan’s manipulation of Eve is the basis of witchcraft. The serpent beguiled Eve through his slyness and cunning (2 Cor 11:3). One of the main aspects of witchcraft is to manipulate others to do something that they would not otherwise do for the purposes of a selfish benefit such as control. The devil through his hierarchy places baited hooks before men to determine how best to draw individuals from God through their own selfish lusts (2 Cor 2:11 ). The great condemnation is that man chooses (is not forced) to live in darkness through his own will (Jn 3:19 -20). Man may have a predisposition to sin (fallen nature, Rm 5:12), but God has provided a way of reconciliation for those who will repent and turn to Him with a whole heart (Ezk 18:30-31, Lk 13:3, 15:7, 2 Pt 3:9, Jn 3:16, Ps 119:2, Heb 10:22). Man’s selfish lusts are where strong holds are established (2 Pt 2:18 -19). When one truly repents and submits himself to God, the Spirit works to tear down these strong holds (2 Cor 10:3-4). This tearing down does not appeal to one’s flesh because any stronghold is based upon a fleshly lust or desire (2 Cor 10:3-5). The flesh defends the strongholds. The flesh profits nothing (Jn 6:63)! The Spirit must subdue the flesh (deny) and this is never an easy battle. Addictions to cigarettes, drugs or alcohol would be good examples of strong holds and the battle involved to overcome them. There may be a physical component, but there is also a spiritual component involved. To clean up the outside accomplishes nothing if the inside (heart) remains unchanged (Lk 11:39 ). The key is that we do not fight these battles in our own strength, but that which comes from God as one dies to self, is converted, and submits to Him (Php 4:13). There is also no need for deliverance from strongholds if one has no real intent to forsake them. When we are serious toward God, He gives us the ability and deliverance we need.

Notice what the devil told Eve in verse 5, “ye shall not surely die.” This has been “THE LIE” of the devil since the very beginning – you can sin and not die. This is what Satan did, he transgressed God’s will and made himself to be as God. Can you see how the devil appeals to man to join his rebellion by doing the same? The devil says that you can rise above God (disobey) and do your own will and not die. It is so important for us to understand this lie of the devil. This is the lie that is burned into the nature of man. You cannot transgress and then live apart (independent)  from God. The truth is that if you are rebellious and disobedient to God, ye shall surely die. Until man puts down his rebellion and submits to God, there will be no reconciliation and life. The devil came in deception speaking the opposite of truth and then suggested that God was the deceiver (Rev 3:5). That which is opposite of God is confusion and rebellion. Man accepted the devil’s lie in the Garden of Eden and has mostly held to it ever since, particularly in man’s religious endeavors. This is clearly evident in doctrines that promote eternal security, meaning that once saved (by man’s definition) man cannot lose salvation through any effort of his own (sin and not die). Christ came to deliver from sin, but many wish to retain it and stay in the darkness, yet seek reconciliation with God on their terms (Jn 3:19 ). The tree of knowledge of good and evil was known by its fruit, and so is the lie that man accepted in partaking of it (Mt 7:17-20 & Mt 12:33). For the fruit of a lie is death and all liars go to hell (Rev 21:8, Prov 12:22 ). By nature man loves a lie. The seriousness of sin and the resulting death is another truth that will be explored within this book. To seek the flesh (man’s will) there must be a disregard/loss of God’s will (disobedience). So what will be the result? God says (Gen 2:17 ), “thou will surely die” and the devil says (Gen 3:4), “ye shall not surely die.” These are two completely opposite positions (resultant ways of life). God states, you will obey Him and the devil says, you do not have to – one position is in rebellion to the other (as is the devil to God). Man will live his life in conformance to one or the other of these statements and the consequences will be eternal. Many transgress (violate) God’s will and believe they shall “not surely die” – they have bought into the lie. Jesus said simply calling Him Lord, Lord would not guarantee life, only submitting to Christ as Lord and doing the will of the Father (Mt 7:21-23).

We must never get into conversation (dialog) with the devil (in thought) or through his workers in questioning the Word of God. Satan is very crafty and deceives greatly, and his influence will overcome us. His arguments appeal to the flesh and the flesh will find agreement. God’s wrath will be against those who hold the truth in unrighteousness and this is the devil’s ploy (Rm 1:18 ). The Lord says: James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The devil cannot harm those who are truly submitted to God because God will not allow it. The devil tries to make us an adversary of God (Is 63:10) thereby giving him power over us (examples – 1 Chr 21:1, Job 1:9-11, 3-5, Is 63:10). The devil has the power of death (Heb 2:14 ). To reject God is to reject life and choose death (Pv 8:36 ). Our victory is in our submission to God. Our weakness is actually our strength (realizing our need for God, 2 Cor 12:9, 13:4, Heb 11:33 -34). Notice that Eve discussed (gave ear) the matter of God’s rule with Satan and was soon overcome. She should have walked away and sought God. When the devil places temptations before our eyes, we are helpless as long as we are fixated upon the lust or enticement. We must turn our eyes from the temptation and put them on Christ (Ps 16:8, Pv 4:27 ). When we reject God’s truth (love not) for our own lusts and desires, then Satan overcomes us (2 Tim 2:25 -26). When we consider these desires and lusts, we are making agreement with the devil and will be brought into bondage (servants of sin). Dying to our will gives the devil no foothold or place in our life. Jesus said of him: John 14:30 , “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” Jesus totally denied the flesh and the devil had no place in Him. We are not to allow ourselves to be overcome, but are rather to be overcomers (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26, 3:5, 12, 21). Revelation 21:7, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Christ’s perfect and sinless life, which was acceptable to the Father, will also be discussed within this book.

 

Lust of the Flesh

Genesis 3:6, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” Notice that Eve was enticed by her own lust. The fruit was appealing and desirable to her (to the flesh)  so she began justifying it in her mind. James 1:13-15, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Notice the process: temptation, strong willful desire, capitulation resulting in sin and then death. The devil will appeal to or foster a wrongful desire. Satan could deceive, but had no power to make Eve eat of the fruit. The devil could not force her free will. If there were no desire, then the temptation would have had no power. The temptation was not greater than Eve could endure, had she desired God’s will, then there would have been a way of escape from it (1 Cor 10:13 ). Eve was enticed and drawn away by selfish want. If allowed, temptations tend to grow in one’s mind and eventually come forth (2 Cor 10:5). When she thought about and justified the temptation, she eventually gave in to it and this disobedience became sin. This was disobedience and rebellion against God and His authority. When man dies to himself, meaning his will (the desires of the flesh), then temptation will have lost its desire, sin would not result and death would lose its sting. Jesus said over and over, Matthew 10:39 , “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Those who seek to retain self-will shall eventually lose all. Those who die to self and live for Christ’s sake will actually find themselves in Him. Romans 6:7, “For he that is dead is freed from sin.” This concept is so hard for man to understand. The flesh wants to rule and in order for that to happen it must have control (subdue the Spirit). When we seek the things of the flesh we will never be fulfilled and actually become controlled by the things we seek to control (Ps 10:3). If one seeks to gain ten thousand dollars and realizes his goal, then he will immediately desire twenty thousand dollars (new goals are set, Eccl 5:10 , 1 Tim 6:9). If one has a strong desire for a certain possession, almost as soon as it is obtained the fulfillment and satisfaction will be fleeting or gone and a new and different possession will be sought. The one who desires to gain comfort and security from his career will end up serving his job above all else and still not have that which he seeks. If things do not go according to our plans we become upset and seek to regain control. This is a never ending process that serves the flesh (self) and not God – accumulate, gain, conquer and control. The things that are accumulated must be maintained and the fear is that they will be lost or damaged. There is a constant competition, and drive for more and better. This is a heavy yoke, tremendous burden and a great bondage. This is serving self and not God. Proverb 27:20, “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” The man that seeks to gain his life loses it – now and eternally. Most even pray to God (trying to control Him to serve their desires) to help them continue in this rebellious self serving cycle. God wants so much better for you, but you have to see your need and be willing to forsake all and yield. You cannot serve two masters (Mt 6:24 ). Our desires, our wants, our lusts are rebellion against God and His purposes. This makes self the priority and relegates God to a servant. The paradox is that the one who dies to the flesh and loses all (for Christ) actually finds contentment, security and life (1 Cor 1:27:28 ). You no longer have to perform and please others. You no longer strive for things nor do they rule over you. You love God with all your heart and serve Him daily. You just “be” in Christ. You please God and not yourself and find there is such a peace, contentment and freedom (2 Cor 3:17 ). His yoke is truly easy and His burden is light (Mt 11:30 ). You praise and worship Jesus in everything you do all the time. You have nothing and yet possess all things (Prov 13:7, 2 Cor 6:10 ). Proverbs 13:7, “There is that maketh himself rich (lives for self), yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor (dies to self), yet hath great riches. When you seek God first, He provides for your needs and this is great security (Mt 6:25 -34). Your eyes are not on the needs, but are on God and this is a big difference. This is coming back under God’s authority (and renouncing your own). You find that there is much to be enjoyed without seeking after the things of this world. When things come back into order, yielded to God: coveting and unfulfillment become contentment; competition, want and gain becomes sacrifice for God and for others; bondage becomes freedom; control, conquering and rebellion become yielded and humble; taking becomes giving; insecurity becomes acceptance; and frustration becomes peace.

Man gave in to his flesh and his desires. 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” These are the things the world is seeking after. The more we yield to the flesh or darkness, the more power it gains over us –  it rules over us and the light becomes dimmer. Our control is an illusion and we are quickly overcome. These are the things a follower of Christ must overcome through a life of living faith as demonstrated by love and obedience to God. Christ overcame and did not give place to the devil because He died to the things of the flesh and sought only the Father’s will (Jn 5:19 , 30, 6:38 , 8:29 , 14:30 , Rm 15:3). This is victory! We must seek Christ’s light and rid ourselves of darkness. We follow Christ, for He leads “The Way.”

 

The Condemnation

This then is the condemnation: Man, rather than humbling himself and choosing God’s will, exalted himself and chose his own will. Man chose darkness rather than light. This is the basis of all sin. The chief components are pride, and self (flesh). Man thought that he could be self-sufficient. This is the exact same thing Satan had done! Man took on the nature of Satan (his image) and refused the nature of God. Man chose to obey the devil rather than God in seeking his own selfish desires. Man who was created in the image of God, fell through his disobedience and conformed to the image of the devil. Consider Satan’s rebellion: Isaiah 14:13-15, “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” Can you see the I, I, and the Me, Me? Can you see how this negates the one true God of all? The devil exalted himself and was cast down and greatly humbled (Ez 28:13-17, 31:16). When we exalt ourselves, we will be humbled (Job 41:9, Ps 147:6, Mt 23:12 ) for no flesh will glory in God’s presence (1 Cor 1:29 ). The devil convinced man to take his focus off of God and place it upon himself, just as he had done (Ez 31:7-10, Lk 10:18, 2 Pt 2:4, Rev 12:7-8). Man now reflects the character of Satan – to be self seeking and rebellious. Man wants to do what is right in his own eyes (Pv 16:2, 21:2). Because man chose himself (known as the flesh) over God, man is now under the authority (control) of the flesh. The flesh wants to rule man’s actions and man serves it. If you try and deny the flesh (rest, food, heat, comfort, entertainment, praise, etc.), then you will begin to understand. The flesh is a hindrance in serving God – it wants to be served! Man sought the way of the flesh in opposing God. Now man MUST approach God in faith (Heb 11:6, Rm 9:30 ), which “bypasses” the flesh. Faith denies the flesh its security and its understanding. The next point to consider is that man believes his knowledge will ultimately save him (in the flesh). Man uses his knowledge to exalt himself and carry out his own will. This concept shall be examined in a later chapter.

When man chose to believe Satan, man was judging God’s motives and purposes. The devil misrepresented God as not being fair in denying man the benefit of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Man was to love God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength (Mk 12:30 ). However, man judged God as hard and unjust and disobeyed Him in favor of self rule. Whenever God is excluded there is darkness (for God is light) and this is evil. We will explore within this book how man always judges God and His Word through eyes turned in on self. Whenever God is excluded, the devil gets some glory and worship – he wants to be like the most high. Isaiah 14:14, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

The devil seems to have gained some authority on earth due to his prior position; man’s fall; and man having taken on Satan’s nature by following his counsel in disobeying God. Although the devil’s powers are superior compared to man, they are much inferior to God’s (Eph 1:20 -21). The devil has been referred to as the god of this world and the prince of the power of the air (2 Cor 4:4, Eph 2:2). The devil is not a true god, only in the sense of the leader of all rebellion against the one true God. Most men will submit and serve Satan in some way (broad path). His temporal authority is only what God allows him to have. There was an acknowledgment of Satan’s authority when he tempted Jesus: Luke 4:5-6, “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.” Jesus destroyed the devil’s power through the cross (Gal 1:4). Our victory is found in Christ – and only in Him!

 

God’s Order

What does it mean “ascend above the heights of the clouds” and “be like the most high” and “ye shall be as gods?” God has a chain of authority of which He is sovereign (supreme in power, possessing supreme dominion, Deut 10:14, Ps 47:2, 83:18, 93:2, 103:19, Is 42:5, 43:10, 44:6, 45:7, 12, 18, Dan 4:35). This chain of authority extends to His dealings with man – His creation. 1 Corinthians 11:3, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Jesus is submitted to God (the Father), man must be submitted to Christ (the Son), and woman must be submitted to man (Gen 3:16, Eph 5:22-24). The child must be submitted to his parents (Mt 15:4, Eph 6:1-3). Each layer of authority has responsibilities. This is God’s divine order (Is 45:9)! Consider: John 15:10, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” One submits to the will of another. What is being submissive? To submit/yield to the authority of another without objection or resistance. To be ruled by the decision, will or judgment of another. This encompasses meekness, obedience, surrender, yielding, and humbleness. In heaven, the angels are in submission to God’s authority (Mt 6:10, Lk 11:2, Heb 1:5, 2:5, Jude 1:6). We just read how Satan (Lucifer) tried to rise above God’s authority to determine his own course and seat himself as God. Satan convinced man to do the same. Anyone who rebels against God’s order (chain of authority) at any level is a transgressor. To determine your own way is to place yourself above God. If this seems strange to you in this rebellious age, then you are probably not submitted. What you must strongly consider is what Christ said, Matthew 18:4, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” A child is the last of God’s order (submissive to all, Mk 10:14 -15, Lk 9:48 , 18:17 ). He that is least of all, the same shall be great (Lk 9:48 ). God desires such submission in all of us and this is not a dishonor (Eph 5:21 ). To be anything else is to be prideful (Mt 23:12 ). To be first you must be last and a servant to all (Mk 9:35 ). To be greatest/chiefest, you must be servant of all (Mt 23:11 , Mk 10:44 ). This confounds the flesh! To be submissive is to be meek. Meekness is submission to the divine will of God (Ps 22:26 , 25:9) and these will inherit the earth (Ps 37:11). The Lord reveals truth to those who are submitted (Mt 11:25 ). Jesus submitted to His earthly parents as a child (Lk 2:51 ) – living by example. We will study Christ’s total submission to the will of the Father in Chapter Two. In the end, all things will be restored through Jesus: 1 Corinthians 15:24, 28, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” Also see Chapter Seven, “Woman as Head of Man?” And “Symbology of Marriage.”

 

Sin

Genesis 3:7, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Prior to his disobedience, man was innocent and pure – there was no shame. (Gen 3:25). Man was innocent in his actions when he was submitted to God. Once man’s eyes were opened, he understood his sinfulness and this is what his sudden awareness of his nakedness represented. Man tried to atone for his own sin in his way by making a covering of fig leaves and by hiding from God (Gen 3:8, Job 31:33). This is another important point that will be developed within this book. Man mostly tries to reach God through man’s way rather than God’s way (Pv 16:25 , Eph 2:8-9, Ti 3:5). Man’s pride does not want to yield to God. You may be surprised to learn that what the sewed fig leaves represented has developed into the many visible religious institutions of today.

Sin is basically any act by man that negates the will of God. Sin is an affront to the very “being” of God. It challenges His authority on every level. All manner of fleshly fruit results and is physically manifested such as these examples: Foul language, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, lying, homosexuality/perversions, covetousness, maliciousness, deceit, insolence, rebellion, disobedience to parents, gambling, spite, pride/arrogance, wickedness, gossip, boasting, blasphemy, false accusers, incontinence, unthankfulness, gluttony, mischief, scheming, selfishness, traitors, coarse jesting, unmerciful, lovers of selves, etc. In addition you are equally guilty if you take pleasure in them who do these things or pleasure in unrighteousness in general such as thoughts or wicked desires which have yet to be acted upon (Rm 1:32, Mt 5:28, 2 Thess 2:12). Sin could also be neglect of God’s will by not doing things you should have done (Ps 19:12 -13). A tree is known by the fruit it produces (Lk 6:43 -44). Matthew 7:20, “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” The fire is eternal damnation and separation from God.

Satan’s aim is to compel us to sin, through our own lusts (choices), and then accuse us before God ( Rev 12:10 ). By making us an enemy of God, we become defenseless, lost and quickly overcome. The devil is determined to kill and destroy, but you allow him to do so when you alienate yourself from God. Satan is a thief, but is not after money or temporal possessions. The devil comes to steal the souls of men and send them to damnation for eternity. John 10:10 , “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I (Jesus) am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Our strength comes from our weakness. When we become broken and yielded to God, He shows Himself strong for us. Pride and arrogance seek to usurp and conquer and are characteristics of the devil. Taking pride in yourself and your abilities is exalting self above God’s purposes.

Those that are Christ’s must walk as children of the light as led by the Spirit in all godliness, righteousness and truth (Eph 5:8-9). Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance (self control): against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Crucifying the flesh is dying to your will. Walking in the Spirit is faithful loving obedience to God’s will.

 

Priorities

Genesis 3:6, “…she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” God has established that His authority supersedes all else and that obedience to Him takes priority. We are often highly influenced by those around us, particularly close family members. In this case Adam willfully disobeyed God to please Eve (hearkened unto his wife, Gen 3:17 ). Family can be a great influence for good or evil. Jesus said: Luke 14:26, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Christ is saying that nothing can take priority over Him – family or self. Jesus further said, Matthew 10:35-37, “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Those who follow Jesus will have a spiritual outlook and their desire will be to serve Him. Those who do not will have a fleshly outlook and their desire will be to serve themselves. This will create conflicts within families. Adam chose to follow his flesh in obeying Eve and disregarding God’s command. To be reconciled to God, we must come back under His authority and our loyalties must be to Him foremost. There will always be other influences to pull us from God and we must stand firm. Often those close to us will be hurt when we reject their will in favor of God’s purposes.

Our fellow man and friends can also be a great influence in leading us away from God in seeking the things of this world. When you stand for Christ, you may find that many will separate from your company (Lk 6:22 ). We must choose our friends based upon spiritual life and their heart toward God. Those who seek the flesh will have no interest in denying it to serve Christ. This would be a mixing of light and darkness and a source of continual conflicts or damaging influence that would most certainly lead opposite from God. 2 Corinthians 6:14 , “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

The devil will use our friends or family to hinder us in serving the Lord. The devil does not play fair and is out to exalt himself, destroy man and take glory from God anyway he can. Friends and family tend to exert the most influence on us (Gen 3:17 ). Satan once used a close friend of Jesus to try and hinder His purposes. Matthew 16:22-23, “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men (also Jn 14:28 ).” We must recognize God’s will and be faithful in it regardless of any self-sacrifice and persecution required of us.

 

Denial

Genesis 3:9-12, “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Notice that Adam’s innocence is now gone. What was once good has now been corrupted by man’s disobedience and newly gained knowledge and self will. Initially, man tries to hide or cover up his sin (Job 31:33). When questioned of his transgression, man immediately blames others and even God himself. Adam said “the woman whom thou gavest to be with me” placing guilt on Eve, yet implying that it was ultimately God’s own fault. Many will blame God for their own failures or circumstances. Adam attempted to transfer his guilt, but he clearly knew God’s commandment not to eat of the tree (Gen 2:17 -18). Blaming God is judging God and woe to him that striveth with his maker (Eccl 5:2, Is 45:9). Eve was deceived, but Adam was not (1 Tim 2:14 ). Adam’s sin was willful (deliberate) and he did not reverence God’s command thereby judging Him unworthy of obedience. Eve blamed the serpent (Gen 3:13 ), but she also knew God’s commandment (Gen 3:2-3). Man errs greatly by trying to hide or justify his sin rather than confessing and repenting of it (Is 55:7, 1 Jn 1:9). God can work with a truly repentant heart, but no mercy can be given for the one who will not acknowledge any wrong (Pv 28:13). Adam had understanding of God’s will and similarly we also have God’s Word (Bible), which is His revealed will for us. Jesus said: John 12:48 , “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” Even though we have this precious Word, many will disregard it and be lacking on the Day of Judgment. Romans 2:6, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds.” No doubt these will attempt to shift blame or seek justification on that day. Our deeds concern our thoughts, actions, and attitude of the heart toward God – our faith (or lack). toward Him. These manifest in our outward actions.

Notice that Adam and Eve suddenly realized their sin and are embarrassed of their nakedness. When we overcome sin in our lives there will be nothing that we do that we would be embarrassed for God or others to see or know about. If you are embarrassed about certain things in your life (thoughts, activities, etc.) and would not want them displayed for God or others to see, then these things are surely sinful and must be overcome. If suddenly everyone could read each others minds, would you be embarrassed with the content of yours? These things are indicators of your heart.

 

Sacrifice

Genesis 3:21 , “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” A sacrifice had to be made to obtain those skins. Animals had to die to provide this temporary covering for man. Sin always requires a sacrifice. God is holy, righteous and perfect; he will not overlook or excuse sin. There must be an acceptable atonement and the cost of it is very high. Atonement is reconciliation after enmity whereby reparation is made by giving an equivalent for a wrong committed. God always required the best for sacrifices whether unblemished animals or the choice fruits of the harvest. Animal and grain sacrifices could never provide a complete atonement and were only for a temporary covering. Hebrews 10:4, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Sin was such a grievous issue with God that He sent His own Son to atone for man’s sin by suffering and dying. Jesus became the unblemished final sacrifice for our sins, the lamb that was slain ( Rev 5:12 ). Jesus was unblemished by reason of the sinless and well pleasing life he lived upon this earth. Hebrews 10:10 , 12, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” Adam chose his will over God’s and thus brought sin and death into the world. To restore things back into right order and atone for man’s evil; Jesus had to totally choose God’s will over His own. In doing so, Jesus was well pleasing to the Father and reconciliation was made for all who would acknowledge Jesus and put their faith in Him by following His example. Jesus always says, “Come, follow me.” Colossians 1:19-20, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” How can we neglect so great an offer of salvation (Heb 2:3)? We conform to Christ’s image (Jn 12:44 -45, who is the image of the Father – Jn 14:9) by abiding in Him and are thus restored to being the image of God.

In the Garden of Eden, man sought to gain his will or freedom to choose his own destiny. To gain his freedom for SELF, man had to revolt (rebellion) against God’s authority which he was under. The whole concept of sacrifice should tell us one thing. To be reconciled back to God, we must now give up or “sacrifice” the things we want (the selfish freedom we gained) in order to come back under God’s will and purposes. We now deny SELF (that which we rebelled to obtain) to seek God’s will (that which we revolted against and lost). We “sacrifice” the best of our wants and desires to seek God’s will (Ps 50:5). We are to present ourselves as living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God, not conforming to the world, but being transformed by the renewing of the mind to demonstrate the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God (Rm 12:1-2). This is why Jesus said: Matthew 10:39 , “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Finding our life is seeking SELF. Losing our life is denying SELF for God’s will – crucifying self (Gal 5:24 ). 2 Timothy 2:11 , “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him.” This is also why Jesus said that if any man come after Him he must deny himself daily and take up his cross and follow (Lk 9:23). Our love (sacrifice) must be without dissimulation (false motives, hypocrisy, pretensions – Rm 12:9). The original revolt or disobedience (transgression) had to be atoned for. Man could not do this. For a time unblemished animal sacrifices provided a temporary covering (Heb 10:4-12). Christ’s unblemished life and subsequent suffering and death (sacrifice) provided the permanent atonement – forgiveness of past sins (Rm 3:25 ). Just as in the beginning, God still requires man to perform his will (1 Pt 4:2, Heb 10:36 , Mk 3:35 , 6:10 , Rm 12:2, Eph 6:6). Man’s flesh wants to seek its own in keeping with the rebellion (fallen nature). The flesh must be overcome, subdued, and denied to perform God’s will and this is the nature of the battle (Gal 5:15 -16). God has established that man will approach Him through faith (Heb 11:6). The just shall live by faith (Rm 1:17 ). This is love and obedience with a whole heart toward God to perform His will. This faith must be lived out daily and requires devotion to God. This faith cannot be self seeking (would defeat the whole purpose), but must desire to glorify God alone. Jesus has provided us with strength (power) to live a life of sustained faith and has sent the Holy Ghost to equip, strengthen, teach, and guide us (Jn 1:16). 1 Peter 1:5, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Our life of faith reconciles us with God eternally. 1 Peter 1:9, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”

God initially desired Adam and Eve to serve Him out of love. This is why there was a choice in the garden. God’s desire has not changed and we must still approach Him freely in love. You cannot serve God for any other motive. We live in a world full of choices. The Lord will determine who freely and lovingly chooses to serve Him during this time. God is longsuffering and you have a lifetime to decide whom you will serve (however, God will not be mocked). When your life ends, so do your choices. God is not looking for a death bed confession, but a heart of faith toward Him and a relationship of love (Jn 10:3). To be truly reconciled to God, our hearts must also be reconciled.

 

God’s Curse Upon Man

God would not allow man to disobey and rebel without due consequences (besides death). Genesis 3:17-19, “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” God had provided for all of man’s needs in the Garden of Eden, but now man sought his independence from his creator (In reality, man could never truly live/survive independent of God). Therefore, God gave man a degree of personal responsibility for his supposed new found freedom. Man would now be required to strenuously labor to provide for some of his own physical needs. Man would toil (work laboriously and continuously) under this curse throughout his life and through all generations to provide for his basic necessities (Gen 5:29 ). Because of this hard toil, Man will always be mindful of his transgression against God due to his sweat, labor and tribulations (trials, troubles). Even so, God has not punished man as his iniquities deserve (Ps 103:10). God is truly loving, plenteous in merciful and forgiving and has even provided a measure of relief in this curse (Ex 34:6-7, 2 Sam 22:26, Ps 86:5, 15, 103:8, 116:5, Neh 9:17, Heb 8:12). God provides man a way (His Way) for man to come back under His authority through Christ. God’s mercy is for those who acknowledge their wrong and seek God’s provision for reconciliation. God therefore says: Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God , and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” When we seek God first, we are putting self aside and therefore gain a measure of putting things back into right perspective and order by submitting to God. So, what things will be added unto us? Those needful things that we toil so hard after now (Lk 12:22 -31). Matthew 6:31-32, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” When we seek God foremost, we gain the necessary things as His provision (as in Eden ). We still work, but God lessens the burden. We place ourselves back into due order as it should be. Thus, the creation submits to and worships the Creator. When our focus becomes God-centered rather than self-centered, God responds with a measure of relief. An enduring loving obedient submissive heart to God, through Christ, is where our earthly life and ultimate eternal salvation is gained (Is 55:7, Mt 10:22 ).

In the lead-in verse we are told that Adam hearkened unto the voice (counsel) of his wife and thereby disobeyed God. Eve made a very unwise decision that resulted in grievous and untold consequences for all generations and convinced Adam into following her (this does not excuse Adam). Therefore, consider Eve’s punishment: Genesis 3:16, “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Woman would no longer make the decisions, but would be submissive to man – 1 Tim 2:11-12, (see Chapter One, “God’s Order,” Chapter Seven, “Woman as Head of Man? And Symbology of Marriage”). Woman was not originally formed to lead man, but rather to be a help meet for man (Genesis 2:20 -23). Woman would also bring forth children in sorrow or travail (to suffer the pangs/pain/cramps of childbirth, to be in labor) –  (see Chapter Nine, Birth Control). When women become submitted to God and man (God’s order), the Lord offers a measure of relief (entire relevant text – 1 Tim 2:9-15). 1 Timothy 2:15 , “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” God has not forgotten woman since imposing His curse upon her. The travail and birthpangs would remind the woman of the consequence of the transgression (resulting curse) and reveal her dependence upon God and His sustaining of her (where her salvation is found). Woman has not been abandoned and left in melancholy (gloomy state of continuance induced by grief, dejection and rejection), but will be saved if she continues in the Lord. Woman (applies to man also) is saved when she accepts her place or position (and its consequences) and then continues forward in true faith, love and holiness. Aside from the effects of the curse, women have a great honor and responsibility in bringing forth children and rearing them. Never forget that a woman brought forth Jesus Christ (God with us, who became flesh and dwelt among us) and greatly contributed to God’s plan/purposes for mankind. We all have acceptance and purposes in God when we submit to His Way.

Now consider the curse upon the serpent. Genesis 3:14-15, “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” The serpent was the subtil (sly, artful, cunning, crafty, deceitful, devious, shrewd) beast that convinced Eve to transgress the will of God to seek her own will and join the serpent’s (devil’s) rebellion against God (Gen 3:1-5). The serpent proposed that man could transgress God’s will and not die (ye shall not surely die) – and be as gods (determine his own way). All of creation suffered as a result of this lie. The animals who ate the herb (Gen 1:29 -30), became eaters (consumed) of one another. Man and the serpent are not united in their rebellion against God. There has always been enmity (hostility, hate) between man and the serpent (physical and spiritual). The devil is man’s adversary, as a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour (bruising, 1 Pt 5:8). Satan appeals to man based upon the basis of the rebellion (the trap he set); he lures man to seek his own lusts (his way or path, 2 Cor 4:4) which lead to bondage and death. Woman brought forth the Christ. Jesus bruised the serpent’s head (authority). Satan had the authority of dead by causing men to sin. Death results from sin (ye shall not surely die?, Rm 5:12 , 6:23 , 1 Cor 15:56 ). Jesus triumphed over Satan (Rm 6:9): Revelation 1:18 , “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” All things will be restored. God will create a new heavens and a new earth (Is 65:17). God’s people will be joyful (Is 65:18-24). Isaiah 65:25, “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.” Notice the animals are restored to peace and they eat the herb again. But what of the serpent? The serpent is still cursed – it is not restored (Gen 3:14 ). The serpent will never interfere between God and man again! Praise God.

 

Man’s Fallen Nature

Man took upon himself the nature of the devil. Man has been self seeking and mostly following his “own way” ever since – religiously. Man follows his lusts where they will take him – which is to confusion, misery and destruction. Jesus once had a conversation with some religious men (that believed on Him, Jn 8:31 -59). He told them that He would set them free through His truth (Jn 8:32 ). They didn’t see that they were in bondage or needed freedom (Jn 8:33 ). Jesus tried to explain to them that they were servants of sin (Jn 8:34 ). They didn’t desire the freedom Christ offered. Jesus told them: John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” This sounds like a harsh statement. What Jesus was telling them was that they still had the nature of the devil. Satan’s lie was still in their heart – the lie was that you could transgress God’s will and seek your own will (be as gods) and not die (ye shall not surely die, Gen 3:4-5). This was the lie that Eve had accepted and became such a part of man’s nature. The devil’s lie kills (he is a murderer) and sends to hell. When the devil spoke the original lie, he was convincing Eve to do as he had done (speaks of his own) – the devil had transgressed God’s authority (Is 14:13 -15, Ez 28:2, 31:10). When the devil now speaks lies to man, he is convincing man to seek his own (through one’s lusts) as he had done (speaks of his own). The men that Jesus was talking to were not submitted to God (in love and obedience), but rather Satan – this is what Christ was saying. They were following the flesh (it’s desires).

 

Restoration

Man, having disobeyed and being soiled with sin, could no longer partake of the life that is found in God. Genesis 3:23-24, “Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims , and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Sin is a bitter fruit and has brought much toil, pain, hardship, disorder and suffering into the world. Most put undue emphasis on things of this world, but God’s purposes are eternal (2 Cor 4:18 ). Those who are fleshly have a shortsighted temporal outlook – the here and now, what can be seen and felt. Those who are spiritual live for what is eternal – the substance of things hoped for (Heb 11:1). The sufferings of this world are not worthy to compare with the glory to be revealed in us for those following Jesus (Rm 8:18 ). Those who are concerned with the things of this world and seek to gain place will one day realize how misplaced their efforts were. 1 Timothy 6:7, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” The only thing of value is seeking reconciliation back to God. How many rich men have died only to have another acquire that which he lost (Eccl 2:18 -19, 5:15 -16, Job 27:8, Lk 12:20 )? How many have gained all that their eyes beheld only to lose it all in a dying breath, including their very soul (Mt 16:26 , Eccl 2:18 , Ps 49:10)? It doesn’t matter whether your rich, wise or foolish, we all die the same (Eccl 2:16 ). The only thing one takes beyond the grave is a record of a life lived (Ps 49:17).

Jesus provided a way back to the tree of life. Matthew 7:14, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Jesus Christ is the gate that one must enter and the path is the way of holiness (Is 35:8, Pv 16:17 ). Luke 13:23-24, “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” To strive means to endeavor with earnestness, to labor hard, struggle and fight. Traveling this path requires much endurance, perseverance, reproach, self denial, sacrifice, obedience, forgiveness, devotion and love. This path has many trials and tribulations along the way and there will be suffering in the flesh (Rm 8:17 , Php 1:29 , 2 Tim 2:12 ) – there will be obstacles. Many will find the ease of the broad path to destruction much more to their liking, since one may enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, where there are no rules, just right – in your own eyes (Mt 7:13, Heb 11:25, Pv 21:2). This way is whatever you (self) want it to be and the devil will somewhat cater to you for the price of the sinful bondages that are inflicted, the separation from God and the resulting eternal damnation that is justified. Those who have put their faith in Jesus and have been reconciled to God through newness of life are heirs to the promise of eternal life (Rm 5:10 , 6:4, 2 Cor 5:18 ). These righteous ones who have freely chosen God’s will over their own, shall be given access to the tree of life. Revelation 2:7, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” That which was lost will be found once again. Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Recall how Adam did not keep God’s commandment and was denied access to the tree of life. Things have now come full circle. Blessed are those who keep Christ’s commandments (Josh 22:5 = Mk 12:30 -31 = Mt 22:40 , also Jn 14:15 , 15:10 ) for they will be given access to the tree of life. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life (Pv 11:30 ). The tree of life is also expressed as the book of life in scripture. To partake of the tree of life one must be submitted and obedient to God with a whole heart of love. The same is true to have your name written in the Lamb’s (Jesus’) book of life ( Rev 20:15 , 21:27 ). Jesus also said: Revelation 21:6, “And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” The water of life is referring to the Holy Spirit (Jn 7:37 -39). The Holy Spirit leads us on the narrow path to eternal life. Without the Spirit we are not Christ’s (Rm 8:9, 1 Jn 4:13 ). Life is found in the water (Holy Spirit) and the Word (Jesus).

It is also important to note that when Jesus spoke of the broad and narrow ways (Mt 7:13 -14) that He was speaking to professed believers. In verse 21, Jesus states that not everyone who calls Him Lord will enter into the kingdom of heaven because many of these will continue to work iniquity even though they had good works (v. 22-23). Those that do God’s will shall enter into His kingdom (v. 21, 24). The unconverted seem to think that once they acknowledge Christ that they can continue in their old life as if they never had made a commitment. Jesus warned in verse 15 to beware of false prophets that come as sheep, but are really ravenous wolves. These religious men will tell the sheep that God’s grace allows for continued willful unrepentant sinfulness and self-centeredness. In other words the devil’s lie to Eve, you can sin and not die.

 

Summary

Choosing between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a time of testing (Deut 8:2-8, Ps 7:9, Pv 17:3). The time of testing has not concluded. Man still retains free will to choose whom he will serve. Only God can draw man unto Christ because there is no inherent desire in man to die to his will (Rm 3:11, Jn 1:12-13, 6:44 , 65). Mankind has fallen from God’s grace, but God’s purposes continue. The Lord’s will is to reconcile all things unto Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ for His glory (2 Pt 3:9). God’s will shall ultimately prevail and order will be restored (Ps 103:19). Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” God has yet to deal with man as he deserves: Psalm 103:10, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” Man’s nature is sinful, but through Christ, a man’s nature can be regenerated (by God) such that he becomes a new creature with God’s nature (2 Cor 5:17 -19, Php 2:13 , Eph 4:24 ). Man is weak, but Jesus has provided overcoming power through His Spirit (Jn 1:12 , 2 Sam 22:33 ). The corruptible shall put on incorruption and the mortal, immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Man chose to have knowledge of good and evil, but due to rebellion took on the nature of evil. God gave us the law through Moses. The law is God’s requirements for good, yet man cannot fulfill them on his own and thus the strength of sin is the law. Praise God that there is victory through Jesus Christ. There is no other way for reconciliation to God apart from faith in Christ. No one will be able to say they have earned their place in eternity. Apart from God’s love (sacrifice), mercy (undeserved/unmerited) and grace (ability to walk righteously) there is no reconciliation or salvation.

This world is temporal and quickly passing (2 Cor 4:18 , Is 65:17, Rev 21:1). Man’s carnal life is as a vapor or fading flower (Js 4:14, 1 Pt 1:24-25, Job 8:9, 14:2, Ps 78:39, 103:15-16, 144:4, 1 Chr 29:15). Psalm 90:9-10, “For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” Each man has been allotted a space of time (some more than others) to freely choose whom he will serve (Josh 24:15). That which is dust shall turn to dust again (Eccl 3:20 ). Your spirit will return to God who gave it (Eccl 12:7). God observes the ways of man (Ps 11:4, 14:2, 33:13-15, 53:2, 94:9, 102:19, 139:7, Pv 5:21 & 15:3, Job 11:11, 24:23, 34:21, Jer 16:17, 23:24, Heb 4:13). Man’s actions on this earth are recorded (Ps 56:8, 69:28, Ex 32:32-33, Job 16:19, Dan 12:1, Mal 3:16, Lk 10:20, Rev 17:18, 20:12, 15, 21:27, 22:19) – even your hairs are numbered, meaning that God does not miss the smallest detail or thing done secretly (Lk 12:20). All men will die and face judgment (Eccl 8:8, Heb 9:27 ). Man can choose life in Jesus Christ or death by following his own knowledge in pursuit of self. Those who freely and loving submit to God through their faith in Him will be chosen to be with Him eternally. Those who reject Christ and freely choose their own desire will eat of the fruit of their own way and thoughts (Pv 1:31 & 2:13 , Jer 6:19 ). They will be eternally separated from God and totally given over to their strong selfish desires, never to be fulfilled, while enduring never ending enhanced torment of body, soul and conscious in a darkness that can be felt in a lake of fire (Ps 73:19, Job 10:22, 26:6, Ex 10:21, Mt 8:12, 18:8, 22:13, 25:41, 46, Mk 9:44, 46, 48, 2 Thess 1:9, Jude 1:13, Rev 14:11, 16:10, 19:20, 20:10-15). Satan and those spiritual rebellious ones (angels, Rev 12:7) who followed him were cast out from God’s presence. Rebellious man will also be cast from His presence, for hell hath enlarged herself and is never full (Is 5:14 , Pv 27:20, Is 5:14 ). Rebellious man will be consigned to the place prepared for his god, the devil (Mt 25:41) – held with the cords of his own sin (Pv 5:22 ). Take heed Oh man to walk in the ways of the Lord (Ps 86:11). Hebrews 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

 

Hell, Hades, Sheol – The place of the rebellious

Hell is a word (which some religious ones will endlessly debate) that describes the attributes of eternal separation from God. The word doesn’t matter so much as what it represents. The Bible often refers those that are physically alive yet separated from God as being in the shadow of death (Job 10:21-22, 16:16, 24:17, 28:3, 34:22, 38:17, Ps 23:4, 107:10, 14, Is 9:2, Jer 2:6, 13:6, Mt 4:6, Lk 1:79). So, perhaps death is the best word to describe what awaits those who remain in rebellion to God. Death would be the cessation of anything pertaining to life – not a neutral existence (sleep, coma, or nonexistence), but an extremely negative one (second death). A foreshadowing of heaven and hell is best described by the “blessings and cursings” that God promised Israel depending on which path they chose (Deut 11:26 -28, Deut Chap 28, Lev Chap 26). The curses (to bring evil upon) represented God’s punishment or judgment given according to one’s ways (own doings). The “curses” were always the exact opposite of the “blessings.” From what we know from scripture, similar could be said hell; it will be the opposite of heaven (that which represents eternity with God). Let us consider the ramifications. Jesus brought peace (Is 9:6, Lk 1:79, Jn 14:27 ); hell will be full of doom and gloom, restlessness, agony of mind, fighting, bickering and unfulfilled lusts. Christ was the fulfillment of love and joy; hell will be a place of hate, severe bitterness, constant hostility, desolation and unforgiveness. Jesus offered bread and living waters (Jn 4:14 , 6:51, 58, 7:38 , Rev 7:17 ); hell will be a place of gnawing hunger and intense thirst (Lk 16:24 ). Jesus healed and provided comfort; hell will be full of grievous sicknesses and incredible pain and agony (torture, suffering, distress, woe) – physical discomfort. Christ knows His sheep by name (Jn 10:3); in hell, everyone will be completely and utterly rejected by God (eternally) – there will be no individuality (for those who sought self). Jesus brought calm, contentment and deliverance (Mt 6:25 -34, Mk 4:39 -40); in hell there will be intense and unsatisfied cravings and addictions, and the body will be possessed by worms (Is 66:24, Mk 9:46, 44, 48). Christ and His followers are exalted and rewarded (Mt 16:27, Lk 6:23, 1 Cor 3:8, Rev 22:12 ); those in hell will be greatly humbled and punished. Heaven is described as incredibly beautiful; hell will be hideous, nauseating (disgusting, sickening, repulsive, revolting, upsetting) and ugly. Hell is the second death and as such will reek (stench) of the smell of death (decomposing and filthy flesh). The followers of Christ will be given glorified bodies (1 Cor 15:44 , 1 Jn 3:2); those in hell will have bodies that reflect their rebellious nature. Jesus spoke Words of eternal truth; in hell there will be constant vile cursing and only lies (truth will be absent). Jesus brought great hope to man (Rm 8:24 ); in hell there will be no hope – complete and sheer despair (misery, anguish, despondency). Jesus said His burden was light (Mt 11:30 ); in hell the burden will be unbearable and never ending. In heaven one will be known as he was; in hell you will be stricken from all remembrance. In heaven God will wipe away the tears ( Rev 7:17, 21:4); in hell there will be nothing but continual sorrow (mourning, sadness, distress, grief). Those in heaven will live in the light of God’s presence ( Rev 21:23 , 22:5); those in hell will be in their own complete darkness (Mt 8:12, Mt 22:13, Mt 25:30). Hell will be anything but a big party with your rebellious friends (as some describe it). Should you ever bump into an old acquaintance while bobbing up and down in the lake of fire, there will be sheer and utter hatred – one toward the other. Hell is for eternity because there is no chance of reformation there. One will only become more corrupted as the endless time (which loses all meaning) goes by in a place of hatred; bitterness; hostility; strong unfulfilled desires; incredibly foul language; putrid smells; agonizing screams; unbearable pain; unrelenting discomfort; haunting thoughts of what might have been; tremendous hunger and thirst; nausea; utter hopelessness; intense fright, terror; total darkness; isolation; increased hatred toward God; despair; and on and on. They will be held by the cords of their own sins (Prov 5:22).

 

 

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