Usually when "one of those passages" keep coming back to my mind, I have found that God is trying to teach me something very important. I have been thinking about the Free Will question. In order to understand Free Will, we need to study what happened in the Garden.
God created Man and he created Woman. He called His creation Good. This is important to completely understand because at first everything was pristine and good and without sin.
We don't know what kind of fruit the Tree of Knowledge had on it. Someone somewhere decided that it was an apple (shrug) go figure.
Let's look at the Scripture verse by verse: God created the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 2:8-9) Then God put Adam into the Garden of Eden that He had made for him so he could work the Garden and keep it in order.
Then: 16 GOD commanded the Man, "You can eat from any tree in the garden, 17 except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don't eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you're dead." The Message
Here is the very first commandment. God had not commanded anything of Adam before. Nor had He commanded light or stars or birds. He just spoke and it was. But to Adam, God gave intelligence to understand it was a command, and God expected obedience from him. Not only obedience, but also to have obedience one must understand the "rules" to obey. One must understand the authority that commands obedience, and one must understand there be consequences for rebellion.
Adam had the intelligence to understand all of these things. He was most likely the most intelligent man to ever walk this earth. His actions perfectly illustration that massive intelligence doesn’t always help you walk wisely with the Lord God Almighty.
Let's consider two things at work in the garden, and two results:
Unbelief was at work. Idolatry was at work. Rebellion took place. Consequences followed.
1. God commanded Adam not to eat of the fruit or you will surely die. God commanded Eve through Adam.
We know that Adam did eat from the Tree. We also know that Adam did not physically drop dead from eating that fruit. So what happened when he took that bite?
Here is something to consider when we study what God did to bring Adam and Eve to life.
Breathed means Naphach -- breathe give up or lose (life). That means that God gave His Spirit to Adam. God poured part of Himself into Adam and Eve. Adam was the first created human being and he was created saved. His own spirit was given life by God's breath.
Breath is the Hebrew word Nashamah and means breath of God, spirit of man. So God gave Adam and Eve not only a soul, but a spirit as well. Some people believe the soul and spirit are the same. That's a complicated discussion for later. For now, when the couple rebelled/disobeyed God, He removed His Spirit and the separation was intensely felt; they were bereft of God's presence. Spiritual death.
Life is the Hebrew word Chayay which means to live, have life, be quickened to life.
But more than that, God created Adam with a perfect fellowship with Himself. Adam knew God intimately and Adam had God's Spirit abiding within Himself.
Let's remember that Adam and Eve were the only flesh and blood that ever entered God's presence. They could revel in His presence because they were innocent of any sin. They didn't even know what sin was. They did not know what evil was and did not experience evil.
Okay... let's go back and look at another verse.
Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.NASB
Genesis 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
2. God is the authority over all things both in Heaven and on Earth.Short and sweet: God is the Creator and He is all powerful, all knowing, omnipresent, and has control over all things. God is God and greatly to be praised. Isaiah 6:1 ...the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.
3. Rebellion (disobedience) sets in when humans don't believe, forget, or fail to acknowledge #1 and #2.
The serpent asks with a sneer: Did God really say you can't eat of every tree in the garden? (Raising doubt with tone and increasing doubt by suggesting God was withholding something precious.)
Eve says: He told us we may eat the fruit of the trees, but the one in the middle we can't eat from it (true), nor touch it (false) lest we die (true).
Serpent sneering more: Oh, come on. You won't die. (Lie) God knows (presumption) that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God (Lie, lie, lie), knowing good and evil (to a degree, but having no real ability without God to resist the evil and embrace the good).
Eve was deceived, but she also didn't believe God's word (unbelief). She also thought it would be a great thing to be a god (idolatry). She disobeyed the command (rebelled).
Now, Adam was standing right there beside her during this whole intercourse with the serpent. He didn't say a word against the deception going on. He, also, didn't believe God, thought it would be a good thing to be a god, and he ate the fruit that Eve gave him. Adam chose Eve over God. He didn't trust God to give him another helpmeet. So he chose to disobey God's command and he ate the fruit.
This fruit was from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Basically, it wasn't solely the fruit that gave them the knowledge, it was the act of disobedience also that gave them the knowledge. They were no longer innocent and they knew they were naked. Consider chapter 3 in Genesis... A lot of finger pointing went on, but if we follow God's leading...we'll see who God considered the real culprit.
3:14 -- The serpent is cursed more than anything created. The woman's seed will bruise its head with His heel... 16 -- The woman's pain in child birth was greatly multiplied and in spite of the pain of childbirth, her desire would be for her husband. She would be ruled by him.
3:17-19 -- The man's labor is greatly increased in order for his family's needs to be provided for; and here is where God decrees Man will physically die. "sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk, Until you return to that ground yourself, dead and buried; you started out as dirt, you'll end up dirt."
3:23 -- God sends Adam out of the Garden, away from His own presence. Spiritual death was immediate. God quickened them to life with His own Spirit, now they had to live, work, procreate without that Spirit inside.
Thus are the physical consequences of the first sin--the sin of unbelief, idolatry, rebellion--was established. Adam and Eve were given Free Will from the very beginning, otherwise they would not have been able to defy God's command to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge.
It was always God's intention for humans to have Free Will because He has never desired Forced Worship. He desires us to desire Him above all things. He desired Adam & Eve to make Him ruler of their hearts just as this is His desire for His children. They exercised their freedom of choice. The sin was disobedience to God's command.
The consequence was loss of the Holy Spirit of God abiding within their hearts. Therefore, Adam & Eve Spiritually died the instant they took that bite of the fruit. They eventually physically died, however the Spiritual death was much more trumatic because God banished them from His presence and set an angel with a firey sword to guard the entrance.
4. The consequence of this was that all humans ever after are born with a God-sized hole.
Man was created to be Spiritually alive with God's Spirit. When this was taken away, the God-sized hole gives Mankind this intense craving to be filled. Mankind does all kinds of crazy things to fill this hole. He tries everything from work, to money, to drugs, to self-mutilation, to pursuit of knowledge (Ecclesiastes is a good example of all of this) to pursuit of perfect physical appearance, to having as many children as possible, to all kinds of church work, to buying as many toys as possible, clothes, shoes, possessions, big houses... the list goes on and on.
Nothing fills that God-sized void except the Holy Spirit. It took the willing sacrifice of Jesus to reconcile humans to the Living God again legally. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweated drops of blood in His anxiety but He chose to obey God's will. Now, we can freely choose to either accept Jesus as our Savior or to reject Him. (Proof of this choice is in Acts 12--you might note that we are not given a reaction from Drusilla whose father was Herod Agrippa. He's the one that was eaten alive by worms because of his pride and refusal to bend to God's will.)
Here's the wonderful thing about this kind of Freedom. When we accept Jesus as Savior -- That's the last decision we ever have make on our own. (Foolishly, we sometimes make decisions on our own, but we don't have to.) We have much greater wisdom at work in us than mere human wisdom after the Holy Spirit resides in our hearts. Choosing Jesus means choosing Him as Ruler of the Heart and Mind and Body and Soul.
This is how a Christian is known to other Christians...True Believer to other True Believers. The True Believer will desire to obey God and will be convicted by the Holy Spirit when he/she sins. Does this mean we won't have periods of rebellion and/or times of seduction into doing ungodly things? No. We most certainly will have those times because we are not perfect and we still reside in our fleshly, carnal, physical bodies.
What it means is that we will be convicted of our sin when we sin and we won't be able to sleep at night or have peace in our minds or be content. We will worry. We will fret. We will do all manner of running away from God until we recognize the sin for what it is. When we confess that sin and repent from that sin...Then God cleanses us, refreshes us, gives us peace in our hearts and minds. Our witness is restored from the shambles it was in and we are stonger in the Lord than ever before.
Our Free Will becomes a trophy for Jesus, a crown at His feet. It is the free will offering that we bestow upon Him.
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