Tag Archives: Adam and Eve

An Incongruent Life

Grace 101

 

And if when I died fully
I cannot say,
And changed into the corpse-thing
I am to-day,
 
Yet is it that, though whiling
The time somehow
In walking, talking, smiling,
I live not now.

– Thomas Hardy, Dead Man Walking

 

Although it is a popular phrase today, used by some even to mean people about to be fired or let go from their job, “dead men walking” seems gruesome to me.  But it is a particularly accurate description of the existence Adam and Eve had after the Fall.  In fact, it is a description of anyone’s life apart from Christ.

Obviously we won’t get far trying to convince those without Jesus that they are dead.  But they already know that something is off, something is not the way it should be.  The life/existence of the lost person is incongruent.

Congruency is agreement or harmony.  It is a description of things working together to perform or be identified as a unified whole.  But the lost person, apart from life in Christ, is not whole.  How much of our art and music has come from the deep longing of the soul?  How much sin has come from the search for fulfillment?  How many good works have been done in the search to bring wholeness to human life?

But, apart from life in Christ, we are the walking dead.  Our first parents were unable to pass on to us the life they shared with God in the Garden.  That communion that fulfilled their lives, that brought them into harmony with God and each other, was lost.  The grief they felt has reverberated throughout humanity to this day.

And we use hard words to describe those who remain apart from Jesus.  They are lost; they walk in darkness; they are under condemnation and shame; they are in sin and in Adam; they are doomed to hell.  Words of pain and struggle and grief.

This is the death that God warned them about.  It was their choice, but this death was the consequence of their sin.  It was more than separation from God.  It was separation from life.  And there was no going back.

No matter how hard or what they tried, they could never regain that life.  It could never again be theirs.  Good works, striving, even religion couldn’t bring it back.  It was gone forever.

And the only answer was new life from outside themselves.  Their only hope was in something that wasn’t theirs.

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Free Will is not Free Ability


Grace 101

The other day I mentioned the Calvinist vs Arminian debate.  If there is any way to kill a blog like this, getting into that discussion would be it.  No, I am not going there.  I just want to clear up something that puzzles many people.  Yes, I have my perspective on the theological issues, but I am not planning to write about that.

When Adam and Eve sinned, it was a one way deal.  They could choose to sin, but they couldn’t come back.  Why?  Because they died!  That’s what God told them would happen.  If they ate of the fruit, in that very day, they would die.  And they did die.  Because they were dead, there was no way for them to return to the life God wanted for them.

This really isn’t hard for us to understand.  If you have ever stood on the edge of a cliff, you should understand this.  You have the freedom to throw  yourself off the cliff.  But once you do, you don’t have the freedom to fly back up to where you were standing.  That opportunity is gone once you “die” to the security of the cliff.  When you take that forbidden step and submit your life to gravity, you have to suffer the consequences.

Now, let’s push that illustration a little further.  Suppose, on the long way down, you change your mind.  Are you free to do that?  Of course!  You can change your mind.  You just can’t do anything about your circumstances.  You still have free will.  But you no longer have free ability.

In the “Fall” (pun more than intended) Adam and Eve chose to step into sin, but they had no ability to step out of sin.  No matter how much they regretted their choice and wanted to get back to the Garden, the Scripture says that the way was closed.  The choice was made.

Notice that God set up a system of sacrifice even then.  He told them that the life and blood of another would cover their sins.  He still loved them, but there was a distance between them and Him.  Somehow, and it is a mystery, that blood covered their sins and allowed them into the presence of God.  But not back to the Garden.  He would speak with them and care for them, but it would not be the same.  No matter how well they obeyed from that point on, it would never restore what they had lost.

And when the Law was given, with all its rituals and rules, it was not given to restore the people and give them life.  It was to cover their sins and point them to another day, when their sins would be gone forever.

So those who are lost in sin can still desire communion with God.  They can feel a sense of what has been lost.  They can live in awareness of their sin and fear of their future.  Apart from the Lord, people can still feel empty and alone and anxious.  Something is missing, but they don’t know where to find it.  And, no matter how much they might discern or how much they might desire, their will is not enough.  They simply do not have the ability to save themselves.

That’s why we needed a Savior.

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What Happened?

Grace 101

If God made us to live in relationship with Him through the very life He placed in us, what happened?  How could that have changed?

The subject of sin is broad and deep and complicated, I suppose.  So let’s just assume the fact of sin, the action and attitude that Adam and Eve had when they stepped outside the will of God.  Remember that it was their choice to move into a territory or state of being apart from God.  God had told them something and they chose to disobey.  In fact, He told them very clearly that they would die.

But did they die?  They didn’t fall down and stop moving.  They didn’t stop breathing.  They don’t seem to have died at all.  So we reinterpret the simple words of God.  What He meant, we say, was that they would die eventually.  It took Adam 900 years to die, according to the Scriptures.  900 years later, the words of God happened just as He said.  Really?

No.  God told them something very specific.  He said, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but 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.”  In the day.  What day?  A day lasting 900 years?  I don’t think so.  I think it was in the same day, at the same time, the very moment.  When Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, the spiritual life of God that connected Adam with the Lord died.  The light went out.

Since both Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, stepped outside the will of God, they both lost communion with Him.  The life died in both of them.  And they were no longer able to pass that spiritual life on to their children.  What was supposed to be a wonderful uniting of all people to the heart of God didn’t happen.

The physical life continued, of course.  What we see after the Garden is a testimony to the love and mercy of God.  He did not destroy the people.  He did not end humanity as a failed attempt at love.  He had a wonderful plan in place that would welcome people back to a real and lasting relationship with Him.  And He would use that plan to show us what love was all about.

But in the meantime, the only relationship any human could have with God was as two separate beings seeking to relate through the walls of sin and unbelief.  We were the “walking dead.”  The heart of God was something foreign and the love of God was so difficult to see.  All we knew, apart from Him, was that something was seriously wrong.  And many of us simply forgot even that.

So the life that was supposed to be in us, supposed to define us, was lost and we were lost.  Adam and Eve, our ancestors, entered into that realm called, “Apart from God,” and humanity has been there ever since.  The purpose of our existence, the reason for humanity, was lost on that day.

But God had a plan.

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