Did God really say?

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Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 (Read Genesis 3)

The paradise which God created (Genesis 1-2) did not last long, for Genesis 3 tells of the temptation of the devil, a fallen angel, who came to Eve in the form of the serpent.

“Did God really say that that you should not eat from any tree of the garden?” he asked, creating a question in the woman’s mind.

And when Eve said the prohibition and warning that disobedience would bring about death – alienation and separation from God – was only in regard to the tree in the middle of the garden, the devil distorted the truth by saying, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Thus, he caused her to think that perhaps God was somehow holding out on her, keeping from her and her husband something good and desirable.

Of course, this still happens every day. The devil comes to us through friends and coworkers, through the media and entertainment industries, and in our own thoughts and minds, and says, “Does God really expect you to keep all those commandments in the Bible?” And he works hard to convince us that God is trying to keep us from having fun and enjoying life, or that He is placing an impossible burden upon us, that He really doesn’t expect us to keep all of His commandments, or that breaking just a few of the commandments now and then won’t really alienate and separate us from God – after all, everybody does it.

And, like Eve, when we look at the thing we are being tempted to do, it looks good and desirable to us. We think it will be fun or pleasurable; it will work out for our good; it won’t hurt anything; no one will know.

And so, we rationalize and give in to the temptation and to our own sinful desires, and the result is death! We recognize our nakedness and guilt before God. We may attempt to cover it up or even learn to cope with it, but the guilt remains. We are afraid to stand in His presence. We would rather not hear God’s Word or walk into His house of prayer.

Why? Because our sin and disobedience, though it may have appeared to be good at the time, brought about spiritual death and separation from God. When confronted with the presence of God and His truth, we hide ourselves. When questioned about our sin, we make excuses and blame others.

As a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, we are all born into this world sinners – our very thoughts and desires are turned away from God and His holy commandments. What David wrote is true for each of us as a result of that first sin: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). Instead of loving God, trusting Him and desiring to honor and glorify His name, we think only of ourselves, disbelieve God’s Word and seek our own honor and glory. We are born in spiritual death and are alienated from God.

That is why we so desperately need God’s pardon and forgiveness. We need Him to find us, forgive us and give us life again. And God has come to us and reached out to us in love and forgiveness. He desires to free us from our guilt and shame and give us life everlasting with Him.

He did this by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to overcome temptation and sin for us and then go to the cross to be condemned, forsaken of God and die in our stead that we might have God’s pardon and forgiveness and not be afraid of God or troubled by guilt and shame any longer. In Christ Jesus, the sin of the world has been taken away; and through faith in Christ Jesus, your sin and mine is pardoned.

O dearest Jesus, Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, have mercy upon me, find me and wash away the guilt of my sin in Your shed blood. And, dear Jesus, grant me a place in Your everlasting kingdom. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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