How did this world we live in get to be such a crazy place?
And will 2013 be as crazy as 2012? Will it be filled with fiscal cliffs, slaughter of innocents, and nations bombing other nations?
It started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent tempted Eve and Adam and they yielded. Before that, perfection was everywhere. The ground was easy to till. No one hated anyone. There were no murders, no power struggles, no jealousy, no envy. Financial resources were plentiful. And Eve and Adam communicated each day with God Himself.
But that world didn’t stay perfect. It started to get crazy when Eve succumbed to the serpent’s insinuation that God had not been fully good to her. The Bible says that the serpent was crafty; he was sly, he was shrewd and conniving (Genesis 3:1).
Eve was naïve, trusting, unaware and susceptible. She was, in a word, gullible. There they were, Eve and the serpent—sitting and talking and eating. The serpent exploited the situation, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Eve didn’t want to appear ignorant—certainly not. She knew things! She was smart and capable! She would correct him! After all, hadn’t God said she and Adam were to rule over the animals?
“We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but yes, this tree we must not eat from, or even touch it, lest we die.”
The serpent replied, “There is one thing you need for your life to be complete, and God is keeping it from you!”
And she suddenly thought, “Now, why did God restrict Adam and me from this tree? That wasn’t nice of Him. God’s refusing to give me the one thing that I really need for my life to be complete. I see now that God isn’t as good as I thought he was! I wonder what else God is keeping from me because he doesn’t want me to be happy?”
Satan’s lies to us are similar. They often begin—God hasn’t given you what you need to make your life complete.
Your husband should make more money.
You should have a husband!
You should have a better husband!
You should have received the promotion at work because you are qualified!
You shouldn’t have to raise these kids practically alone while he travels for business.
As Eve thought about what the serpent had said, she began to long to eat the fruit.
“Yes, the fruit of that tree looks so delicious. I imagine that it is the very best fruit in the garden. Better than fresh oranges just picked and eaten; better than homegrown peaches bursting with juice. And look how beautiful it is—I like to look at it and I’d like to hold it in my hand. Perhaps I’ll paint a picture of this perfect fruit. And now I know it will make me wise. I’ll know all the things God knows and then I won’t have to learn from Him. What a good thing it would be to eat this fruit! My life will be complete. I have to have it! Yes, I’m going to eat it!”
The allure of sin won.
Eve saw the ‘truth,’
she understood what to do to satisfy her longing,
she believed that her life would be complete if she ate the fruit.
But she was wrong.
The serpent pounced. She never saw it coming. She succumbed to the lies.
The Hebrew verbs for “took, ate, gave” show a rapidity in her decision. Once she thought she knew the truth, she acted quickly.
And she involved her husband in her sin.
Adam knew it was wrong to eat the fruit, but he ate it anyway. He was not deceived. He wanted to fit in, he wanted to experience what Eve was experiencing and he wanted to know what God knew that he didn’t know. His longing for the fruit overcame his good judgment. He knew it was wrong to eat the fruit, but he “listened to the voice of his wife.”
It’s certainly not wrong for a man to listen to his wife. But it is very wrong for a man to listen to his wife when he knows she is deceived.
After they ate, Eve and Adam realized the seriousness of what they had done; they knew they were sinners. To cover their shame, they made clothes out of fig leaves. Fig trees grow well in our southern California climate—in fact, one ‘volunteered’ in my back yard. The large leaves are rough and scratchy, covered with sap and ants, and quite unsuitable for clothing, but it was the best they could come up with.
In their ‘fig fashions’ Adam and Eve hid from God. They hid in their daily work among the trees of the garden. They were now crazy people living in a crazy world and they had to find a way to make life bearable for them.
But God, loving them, was not content to leave them in their leaves. He wanted to restore them to relationship with Himself. He searched for them in the garden, He called to them until they responded to Him.
First, He called Adam, “Where are you?”
Did God know where Adam was? Absolutely. But Adam needed to respond to God. He had to answer God or the encounter would have ended right there. And he did respond, and with honesty, “I heard you, but I was afraid because I’m naked and sinful and that’s why I was hiding from you.”
God asks more questions to help Adam deal with what he has done and to acknowledge it.
“Who told you that you were naked?”
“Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
Adam, brave fellow that he was, promptly blamed both God and Eve,
“The woman that YOU gave me, SHE gave it to me.”
Finally he admits his sin: “and I ate.”
Those three words began to free Adam from his sin. Admitting wrong is the first step toward repentance and redemption.
And to Eve, God said,
“What is this you have done?”
Eve answers honestly,
“I was deceived. The serpent deceived me and I ate the fruit.”
By asking these questions, and by Eve and Adam’s truthful answers, God graciously began to provide the way back to Him. Acknowledging their sin was the first step out of the sinful place they found themselves.
Then God provided a way for Adam to make his life bearable. He gave him two things: productive work and a promise of hope.
His work in the garden would be laborious. The soil would be as hard as rock—dry patches and weeds would appear. It would remind him that he had chosen to walk away from God’s requirement. But it would be productive—it would yield a crop.
The promise of hope is that though they will die, as God said, Eve’s labor of childbearing will eventually produce the One who will have ultimate victory over Satan (Gen. 3:15).
It turns out a woman’s childbearing will have a further benefit—it will guard her from future deception. In the New Testament, Paul wrote to pastor Timothy, “Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved by childbearing, if they continue in faith, love and holiness, with propriety” (I Timothy 2:14-15).
From what are women saved by childbearing? Deception is the topic Paul is addressing. Childbearing, by the actuality of its processes, has the ability to keep women grounded in reality, the opposite of deception. Nine months of pregnancy is stressful for many women, childbirth is painful for most, and childrearing is fraught with pain (and joy) for all. The process of childbearing can prevent a woman from living a life of fantasy or unreality or deception IF, and only if, she continues in the disciplines of faith (in the Lord Jesus Christ), love (for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and other people) and holiness with propriety (righteous living with self-control).
Next, God provides for them—clothing, soft and warm, not scratchy or buggy. Fur and leather clothes that cover them and mask the sense of loneliness and need they discovered within themselves upon eating the fruit. Clothing to cover their shame.
We, too, have eaten the fruit.
Because Adam and Eve did.
And because we wanted to.
That’s why the world is filled with people just like us—crazy people: selfish, self-centered and self-serving, wanting our own way, hard to please, easily offended, grumpy, and even greedy. We think well of ourselves and ill of others. We long for a deep relationship with God, but lack the stamina to turn off the TV and read our Bibles. We’re afraid of the dark and afraid of the future. We fear being poor and getting Alzheimer’s disease. We’re just normal, ordinary everyday crazy people who make our own lives hard and bother those around us.
We live in a crazy world with crazy people.
And 2013 will be more of the same.
The only solution to living in a crazy world with crazy people is to deal with ourselves—with our sin problem. Sin leaves us with a bad conscience, a feeling in the pit of our stomachs that something is wrong, an uneasiness that won’t go away.
And that’s why Jesus came. He came into a sinful world, but he chose NEVER to sin. He looked at sin and turned away—every time. He never chose to indulge Himself in selfishness, grabbing attention or power, inappropriate anger or broken relationships. He always chose righteousness.
Today He offers that choice to you and me and to every person in our crazy world: He offers us righteousness. Not based on anything that we have done—we are crazy people living in a crazy world—but based on His perfect sinless life, and His death on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. He offers us two things: to forgive our sinful self, making us pure enough to be fit for Heaven, and to forgive us day after day as we walk through this world.
Knowing Jesus doesn’t mean we will never sin and be crazy again—the disciples who followed Jesus certainly sinned every day—but it means that we know who to go to confess our sin and to ask Him to wash us clean and begin to make us less crazy. There is an old hymn that says:
Tho’ we have sinned He has mercy and pardon, pardon for you and for me.
Come home, come home, ye who are weary come home.
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling, “Oh sinner, come home.”
Jesus is the answer a crazy world needs in 2013.