Have you ever done something that you were really not proud of? I have a list of stuff like that. And I am going to share with you one of the things today.
I wasn’t a bad teen but there were times that I made some bad decisions. This was one of those times.
I was hanging out with someone who wasn’t the best influence, and he got this grand idea to take this “thing” (“take”, by the way, can be a watered down version of the word “steal”, and “do not steal” is one of the 10 commandments). It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal, and I am also still baffled by the fact that I bought into the thought that breaking a commandment wasn’t that big a deal, and maybe even a good idea.
So we did it, and thought it was funny, but it wasn’t so funny when the story of this “thing” that was stolen was on the front page of the paper, with the hope that whoever took it would return it. It’s true, I can’t make this up. And we were guilty. Apparently this “thing” held a lot of sentiment to its owner. Whoops.
I am really happy that I was a teen in the 90’s, because I can only imagine what would have been said if social media was around.
What awful people. I hope they are found so they can be arrested. What heartless people! I hope you find them so that they get what they deserve.
So that night, we brought this “thing” back.
But my heart didn’t feel so good. It kind of felt unclean, and pretty bad. Yes, we brought it back, but we never should have taken it in the first place.
And this holds an important lesson for us all.
Let’s go back to the beginning…
But before we go there, let us go back to the garden. The garden where Adam and Eve walked with God. They were enjoying life, in what I imagine to be the most beautiful place that ever existed. It would have been perfection, because at this point, sin hadn’t entered the world.
But then we have the serpent (Satan) who comes in and messes it all up.
Let me go back a little further, and share who Satan actually is. He is a fallen angel. He had once possessed beauty, until pride got a hold of him, and he rebelled against God (never a good idea). He then gets cast out of heaven, and his goal is to deceive God’s beloved into sin, and believing things that are not true.
But the Lord God warned Adam, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Genesis 2: 16-17
So here we are in the garden, and Satan shows up and asks Eve a question that he still asks to us today.
Did God really say…?
It is a simple question really. Are you sure that is what God said?
At first Eve stands her ground, and repeats back all that God said. But Satan continued, and this time he didn’t pose a question, he stated a lie.
Surely, you won’t die. God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.
And that is all it took.
Surely. Truly. Verily.
Surely. That is a word that precedes a statement of truth. But Satan didn’t state the truth. He stated a lie, like it was the truth.
Let me say this a simply as I can. Satan is not your friend, but he will pretend to be. He will get you to doubt God’s word and if He has your best interests at heart. He will make disobedience look like a really good decision (you know, like taking that “thing”… cough cough… stealing), and God’s commands to seem like a burden and not a blessing.
And you know what else? Satan made it sound like God was holding something good from her and Adam. (I mean, why wouldn’t God want them to eat from a tree that was so incredibly beautiful right?…. and the right answer plain and simple would be, just because God said so.)
Did I mention that he also tried to undermine God’s authority by calling Him “God”, and not “Lord, God”?
And I bet that Adam and Eve couldn’t fathom what would follow their disobedience, just like when we can think that disobedience isn’t “that big a deal”. I mean what’s the worst that can happen right?
So then what happens?
So they eat the fruit, and immediately their eyes were opened. They felt shame. Knew their nakedness, and hid from God. And this was what God was protecting them from in the first place.
And I want to point something out here really quick. Where did the serpent go after they ate the fruit? Honestly, I don’t know, but later on in the chapter it says that God cursed him.
But I will tell you what he wasn’t doing. He wasn’t coming to Adam and Eve’s rescue. He wasn’t coming to their aid, defending them, or asking God to give them another chance. He got what he wanted, and he basically abandoned them to their shame, and the grave.
It was so long ago, but I remember what happened when I saw the story on the front page of the paper. I felt guilt and shame. I wanted the situation to disappear, hide what we had done. And I will tell you that after we gave the “thing” back, the shame didn’t go away.
But a couple days later there was another story on the front page of the story about the “thing” being returned, how happy they were, and that the people who returned it “had good hearts”. They didn’t want to know who did it, and their was no condemnation, just gratitude. In a way, it was kind.
There were consequences for Adam and Eve eating the fruit, just as there are consequences for our sin today. But still, God didn’t abandon them, He came to them, and even made clothing for them to cover their nakedness.
Fast forward til today.
The same kindness is available to us through belief in Christ, because in our disobedience, we still deserve separation from God, shame, guilt, etc. Yet He will respond to us with kindness, open arms, and love when we come to Him in heartfelt repentance.
Jesus received the most undeserved death sentence that should have been given to us, and with that we are given the most undeserved gift that we could ever receive. Grace. Forgiveness. Peace with God. Unconditional love. Eternal security. A God who doesn’t abandon us to the grave.
And I really want to get something across to you, because it is important. Satan’s tactic isn’t to only get us to be disobedience, and break His commands. He wants us to be separated from God. And he will do that by any means that he can, including getting you to believe that you are too broken for God to ever love you, that this world would be better without you, and no one would ever miss you if you were gone. That you are worthless, and a failure, and nothing good can ever come from your life.
But this is what God says, this is HIS truth:
You are beautiful and wonderfully made (by Him)
Truly, Truly, He says, anyone who believes in Me will have eternal life.
Your faith has healed you.
You can endure all things in HIM who gives you strength.
Take heart, because I (Jesus) have overcome the world.
Nothing can separate you from His love.
God will never get us to question His own word, or command, or lead us to doubt Him. He will never lead us to believe that He does not love us, and that we are not completely valuable to Him. When Jesus says Surely, Truly, Verily… those are strong statements of truth (and sometimes repeated twice, so we can be assured that the words that follow are truth, from the One who comes to us, offering us loving kindness, and forgiveness. His love will always lead us into eternal life with Him.
We don’t have to sink in our guilt and shame, when we can experience His freedom, when we believe Him at His word, and walk in obedience. We can stand on the solid rock of Christ, when we call out to Him in confidence that He will rescue us, and never leave us.