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Pride leads to destruction; a proud attitude brings ruin. (Proverbs 16:18 NCV).
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NIV)
WHAT IS YOUR ENDURING IMAGE OF THE GARDEN OF EDEN?
The Bible gives us so much richness to imagine. There’s the image of perfection, of a world created in God’s image for His glory, with perfect conditions, and a rich food supply.
There are two young adults — one male, one female, both sinless — enjoying the goodness of God’s love and His many blessings.
You can almost hear the music track in the background — now soft and melodic, now upbeat and bouncy.
But then, imperceptibly at first, the music changes. There’s a riff of danger, a hint of evil, the sense that something is about to go horribly wrong.
We hold our breath and wait.
There it is! We can see it now.
Eve — beautiful, vulnerable, sensitive Eve — is standing next to That Tree. We watch her gaze at That Tree, examining it from every angle.
That Tree is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:17), and God has placed it smack dab in the middle of this luscious garden.
God told Adam not to eat from the tree, that violating that order would usher in death.
Off-scene, we know Adam told Eve about God’s warning because, when the talking serpent suggests she might want to taste from the tree, she informs him that she and her husband were warned against eating its fruit — even warned against touching the tree — although God never said anything about touching the tree, and Eve had not been created when God warned Adam.
So, what’s happening here?
WE’RE WATCHING THE END of man’s harmonious relationship with his Creator.
We’re watching what is called “The Fall.”
Eve is about to snap an apple (or some similar fruit) from a low branch, studying it with growing interest, and then — “Don’t do it, Eve!” we scream — she bites into it, the juices streaming down her chin and onto the ground.
“Here,” she says to her husband. Adam, perhaps drawn by his wife’s beauty, has come alongside her, but, unfortunately for the human race, fails to admonish her.
He takes the apple she offers and bites into it.
There’s a sinister snort from the snake — has anybody any idea where he came from! — and then we watch in horror as our two ancestors with the movie-star good looks discover their nakedness and become ashamed!
Respect for the Lord will teach you wisdom. If you want to be honored, you must be humble. (Proverbs 15:33 NCV)
Now, really, there’s no one else around, and it’s not like they didn’t know they were naked before this moment, nor any indication they thought anything of it.
But, now, their eyes widen, and they instinctively — this is a new instinct for them — cover themselves in shame and then hide from God.
OH, IF WE COULD JUST RUN THE TAPE back and stop Barbie and Ken from eating from That Tree, but we can’t. Even if we could, we sense we wouldn’t. There’s something captivating about that tree and about eating its fruit.
We want what that tree offers.
Didn’t the serpent tell us? The fruit would give us knowledge. Knowledge! Wisdom! Insight!
Why, with knowledge, we would know everything. We’d be like … dare we say it? … like God!
So get rid of all immoral behavior and all the wicked things you do. Humbly accept the word that God has placed in you. This word can save you. (James 1:21 GW)
How awesome would that be?
Apparently, it was not to be.
For in that moment, Adam and Eve learned the same lesson the talking snake had learned much earlier — there’s only one God. The position is taken. The kingdom belongs to the Creator.
WHAT CAUSED THIS DESIRE to emulate God even while our forebears (who were stand-ins for us) disobeyed Him?
The Bible tells us that pride is the original sin and the greatest sin. Pride caused Satan’s fall, and it led to humans’ fall.
Pride robs us of the joy of seeking God’s favor in our lives; it blinds us to God’s will; it keeps us from living out His plan; it destroys our relationships with our spouse, our co-workers, our neighbors; it leads to conflict with those around us and within our own hearts.
Even when we see the truth of that evil and how it harms our lives, pride keeps us from doing anything about it.
Pride kills life. God wants us to seek Him and His plan for us. Pride stops us from seeking Him.
FORTUNATELY FOR US, God purposed from the beginning to find a way for sinful, rebellious, prideful men and women to find their way back to Him.
He sent His Son to live a perfect life as a man and then endure God’s unspeakable wrath on our behalf, that all we need to do is believe in Him, confess our sins, and accept Him into our hearts, and He — by His gracious will — will reconcile us to Him.
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. (1 Peter 5:6 NLT)
That undoes Adam’s disobedience and Eve’s deception. Unfortunately for us, because sin — and death — have entered the world, this dance goes on every day of our lives.
We have invited the talking serpent into our lives through our rebellion, and whenever he sees us slipping away from his grasp into the loving arms of our Father, he finds another way to ensnare us.
Our pride will keep him coming back.
But the redeeming work of the Holy Spirit prompts us to throw our pride away, if only for the moment, and seek God’s grace and forgiveness, and turn from sin, knowing that, as we draw nearer to God, God will grow nearer to us … and the serpent will slink away (James 4:7-8 NASB).
God be praised!
THERE’S ANOTHER IMAGE we can take away from the Garden.
God’s promise that He would rescue us through His Son. It’s there in the Bible. You can see it now. God is speaking to Adam and Eve. They are hiding behind branches, afraid God will see their nakedness — this is not the nakedness of the flesh, but of the heart. It’s not their bodies they are ashamed to show God; it’s their sin.
Lovingly, He rebukes them and dishes out the punishment they have incurred on themselves — Adam will work hard for his provisions; Eve will suffer in childbirth — but God promises to restore the promise, telling the serpent that God has put “enmity” between the devil’s seed and Eve’s, because Eve — or another Eve down the line named Mary — will bear God’s Son, who will “crush” Satan’s revolting head (Genesis 3:15).
After this admonishment, God “made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21 NIV).
God wins again.
God’s plan will not be thwarted.
Not even Adam’s and Eve’s pride — or ours, for that matter — can stop the one real God from showing up.
PRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, we are so grateful — eternally grateful! — that You will forgive us our sinful pride and hold us close, keeping us safe from Satan’s power. Lord, we, like Adam and Eve, are ashamed of our sin, but we know, because You told us, that You will accept our repentant hearts and cherish us for eternity. Lord, be praised for Your infinite mercy. In Jesus’ Name. Amen