by: Lonnie Lane
The serpent told Eve she’d be more God-like if she did something to make it happen. But in the doing, she lost the godlikeness God had already given her. He told her she’d be wise if she did what he suggested, but instead she lost the wisdom she already had. The same lie works today. The devil is behind thinking you’re not good enough as you are and that you need to do something (or a lot of ‘somethings’) in the hope that it will “work” to make you better than you think or feel like you already are. Maybe that’s why we call such efforts “works.” The devil stirred up in her a dissatisfaction that made her desire to satisfy the new feeling of lack. But Adam and Eve were already as godlike as they could be, having been fully created in the image of God. The devil lied about the wisdom and they actually lost in the doing what they were already endowed with. So the works didn’t work! And they still don’t.
This is not a new topic, needless to say. But perhaps there are a few new insights to glean even still. I went on a word-looking-up binge this week and found out some interesting facts. Adam and Eve were naked but unashamed, right? There being no sin, there was no sin-awareness before their apple-eating episode, not to mention they were undoubtedly emanating the glory of God that was imparted to them so they were cloaked in light. Only after they sinned did the glory depart (Ichabod!) from them so that they knew they were naked.
“The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). This word naked means partially or totally naked, bare, nudity. Words in Hebrew all stem from or are root words. The root word for naked can also mean cunning or crafty. Who does that sound like? The next sentence says, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made” (3:1). This would also mean he/it was the most naked or bare. Of what? Of God’s glory, which is to say naked of God’s character (as holy) and His nature (as love), His primary characteristics from which all else is derived. (Selah.) For whatever reason, this serpent was naked of both holiness and love and was open to the devil’s collusion (conspiracy, secret agreement, intrigue, complicity, cahoots, deceit, scheme, fraud). The nature of sin is that one’s compliance is necessary, so we must consider that the devil lied to the serpent and he/it believed the lie even before the devil lied to Eve. At any rate, he/it paid for it and has been a belly-crawling dust-eater ever since (:14).
The point here, though, is that having believed the lie and acting in sin, our ancestral parents entered into a state in which they not only knew of their nakedness but they also entered into the state of being cunning or crafty, like the serpent! It happened immediately. Cunning or crafty means to be deceptive, artful, guileful, foxy, and sly. Isn’t that what was going on here? They’re trying to duck out of their own guilt by passing it on. Sounds pretty manipulative to me. “The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate” (:12). Not only did he blame Eve, he indirectly (or not so indirectly) made it God’s fault for giving him “the woman” in the first place. And she blamed the snake (:13). That they were “ashamed” means to be pale, to be disappointed, to make, cause or put to shame, to be confounded or confused. Can you imagine this? What were her expectations when she believed the serpent? What did she tell Adam? “The fruit will make us wise!” They ate, and BAM! The glory – gone! Naked. Ashamed. Confused. Confounded… and I would imagine disappointed beyond anything we can grasp. What agony they must have undergone. All because they believed the lie that they needed to do something to be more like God!
The devil’s tactics are still the same, to get us to “do something” to make ourselves more godly or God-like...
The devil’s tactics are still the same, to get us to “do something” to make ourselves more godly or God-like, as if faith in God through Yeshua’s “finished work” on the cross isn’t enough to make us as godly as we can ever be. Is it possible that God has made us as fully acceptable to Him through faith in the Blood of Yeshua as Adam and Eve were originally created to be? If so, then both mankind’s created state and the restoration to God through Yeshua’s atonement are entirely of God’s doing and there is nothing to be added to His imparted righteousness. Our part is to trust in God’s perfect care for us, to rest in His righteousness which He has freely given to us and to obey His word to us in love, knowing His will is always best. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
The devil is behind any sense that we must be “doing more” because, as he did with Eve, he makes us feel as if we’re insufficient in ourselves to please God or be God-like. But the sufficiency can never be within ourselves, it’s only in God. There is no lack in God. The lack comes when we trust in our own efforts or think we should; then we become lack-conscious. If we measure our worth based on ourselves, which has to mean on our performance, we’ll be constantly frustrated and feeling as if we didn’t do enough. We feel that way because doing is never enough. It can’t be because that’s not what our relationship with God is based on so “doing” can never satisfy us, or God. There is only one way. “We have peace with God through faith” (Romans 5:1). There is no P.S. to that. We all know this verse: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” It goes on to say, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5,6). In other words, we do the trusting and acknowledging Him as Lord of every area of our lives and He will take care of making us holy. David said, “He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Ps. 23:3). We look to God and rest in Him and He will see that we walk in paths of righteousness.
If David, who was not “born again,” how much more can we who are rest in God to lead us in paths of righteousness? The New Covenant, which God gave to Israel, is this:“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…. This is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My Torah within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people…, declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”(Jeremiah 31:31, 33, 34). Is this true or not? If He is our God, then God has put His Torah, His teachings and instructions, on our hearts. This happens when, though Jeremiah obviously didn’t have this prophetic revelation, the way God would forgive our sin is through the atoning blood of Yeshua. And if He has forgiven our iniquity and our sin then, as He said, He will remember it no more.
“Remember” in Hebrew means that He does not ever count it as part of our relationship – ever. When Scripture says that “God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb” (Gen. 30:22), it doesn’t mean He forgot all about her and then said, “Oops, oh, right. Rachel.” It’s a Hebrew idiom meaning He will act on her behalf. So to forget sin, is also to act on our behalf and have it no longer count against us. If that’s what God said, then that’s what God meant. If you have taken as yours the Blood of Yeshua and made Him Lord of your life, then He says to you today, “I will forgive your iniquity and your sin I will remember no more.” As long as you look to Yeshua and only to Yeshua as Lord, this is your status with God. Can you walk away and forfeit your relationship with God? Yes, He has given us free will. God’s love always exists in freedom. If you loose your freedom for some reason, it’s not God’s love and it’s not from God. Flee!! Beware that there are forces in the earth today that would have you believe that the Blood of Yeshua is not enough or is of no effect, or even that He is not the Son of God, let alone the risen resurrected Lord. Such beliefs will surely rob you of your peace and freedom in God. They will tell you of all that you must do to earn God’s favor because that’s the devil’s ways. Such “works” will take you outside of God’s protection and into the devil’s domain of lies.
But if sin is no longer an issue between you and God because you have made Yeshua Lord of your life, then there is no more need to try to be righteous and right with Him, is there? What remains is resting in His righteousness and love. We can have power in God as we are confident in our standing with God and that He is for us, with us and backing us up as we act on His behalf as He told us to. For those of you who want to shout back at me, “Yeah, well, that just makes it sound like if you believe in Yeshua you can do…whatever, and God will just wink at it and it doesn’t matter.” That is far from what I mean. If you knew me personally you would know that’s not what I mean. What is now written on our hearts? His Torah, His Word. And what else has He given us that now resides in our hearts? His Spirit. His Holy Spirit. In Hebrew, Ruach haKodesh, or Spirit of Holiness. He’s not just a Spirit, He’s holy! If you have the Spirit of holiness residing within you and His Word is written on your heart, you are going to want to live righteously and will fear violating your relationship with Him in any way. Rather than see what you can get away with, most believers I know are troubled by anything that might be even the least transgression and quickly make it right with God. That’s one of the most precious things of having the Blood of Yeshua being ever available to us. We can call upon the Lord and ask for forgiveness and immediately receive it and be restored to Him — because we’re already forgiven. If you are really His, sin that would separate you from God is probably the last thing you want in your life. You’re more likely to agree with God against your own flesh. I remember when I came to that conclusion years ago. I stopped arguing with myself (and God) when I realized that my mind, that is to say my flesh which is a combination of our natural thoughts and desires, was not likely to want to agree with God. The flesh is still a part of the fallen nature. But God had given me a spirit that wanted God more than I wanted what I wanted!
...trying to work at being right with God only leads to frustration.
Trying to do it myself, trying to work at being right with God only leads to frustration. The only way to be right with God is to love Him and trust Him and put yourself in His loving and tender hands. Whatever we do for God or to be closer to God must be out of love for God. If we try to “do” because we’re not sure of His love or because we fear being left out of heaven at the end, and we’re trying to convince Him or earn a sure place with Him by our good works, then these are acts of futility. Nothing but our faith and trust in Him will avail us of anything from God. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrew 11:6). Rewarder!! Many think He is preoccupied with watching to keep track of whether we sin or not, to see if we might really be worthy of Him (as if our worthiness comes from who we are) when by His very nature He watches to see how He can reward us and bless us. God IS love!! And sin, from Eve’s forward, is unbelief in His total love and commitment to give the best of Himself to us. At it’s core, sin is ignorance of His goodness and that He has done everything to bring us to Himself in Whom alone is ultimately found all satisfaction. When we know that, we just want to obey Him, to please Him, to be one with Him.
young man in my life was raised in a somewhat restrictive Christian
environment. While some people thrive in this environment where the emphasis is
on love and holiness, he did not and came away from it feeling like he failed
God and everyone else. He was pretty broken by the time he arrived here with
us. It’s a matter, as I see it, of whether one lives in such an environment by
the spirit or by the law. If by the law, then you can only ultimately fail and
the pressure of the frustration of being “under the law” and continually not
making the grade is likely to eventually lead to rebellion, even if you don’t
want it to. Paul even agreed with that (See Romans 7). “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law” (Gal. 5:18). I wondered how long and how many
Bible studies it would take to have Him understand he was already loved by God
and God didn’t see him as a reject or a failure. He was here only a few days
when on Christmas Eve he came to church with us where a wonderful
God-sent-His-Son message on grace was delivered. Our young man turned to me and
said, “So if we just trust in what Jesus did, we’ll want to be good and be close
to Him. It’s not really that hard?” He posed it as a question, seeming rather
awed. I said, “Jesus already did the hard part.” He said, “I get it!” with
great joy. He’s been loving God ever since. What a Christmas present that was.
“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom 8:3, 4). Amen.
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2012.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.