Entry Level Theological Truth [23]

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman,’Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’” Genesis 3:1

Among human beings, it is a common sin to discount the goodness of their Creator. Often when God is brought into any conversation, it is merely to complain about what’s wrong with the world. Many people live under the misconception that God wants to rob them of any enjoyment they might have on this woeful planet. This brings to mind the journalist H.L. Mencken’s definition of a Puritan: someone who fears that somebody somewhere is having a good time. Many people think God is like that. Not surprisingly, therefore, the first temptation to Adam and Eve came in the form of a question ascribing harshness to the Almighty’s provision for His creatures.

 


Biting The Hand That Feeds You



 

The serpent asked, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” The English Standard Version renders it more literally: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Emphasis mine.) This was overstating God’s prohibition so that attention would be placed squarely upon the fact that He was withholding something from them. Of course, the woman corrected him, saying that of all the trees of the garden they could eat, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Tragically, the mischief was already working within her mind, for she omitted the key adjective, “freely” (Genesis 2:16 NKJV), which emphasized the divine generosity. By dropping this word, there was a subtle diminution of God’s free provision given out of His goodness. Eve’s mind was now focused on the one forbidden tree, rather than the multitudes of delicious, nourishing, and beautiful trees that were put at her disposal by her Maker.

Similarly, today Satan, the father of lies, tries to delude people with the erroneous idea that God is not really all that good towards mankind. If God is so good, they reason, why am I not happy? Why am I not content? Why do I feel unfulfilled? Why doesn’t He give me more money or things? Why can’t I have the kind of life I want? In asking these sort of questions, humans put themselves on the throne and relegate God to the servant— to be servant of their various needs. He is relegated to subordinate status in their lives and is viewed as the genie in the bottle whom we may call upon to give us the kind of gifts that we deem worthwhile. They fail to see that fulfilment, satisfaction, relevance, and peace is only to be found in a right relationship with one’s Creator.

 


Knowing How To Give Good Gifts To One’s Children



 

The Scripture affirms that God is the Giver of every good and perfect gift. He gives out of His goodness and His grace, which means that He lavishes blessings upon those who do not deserve it. Consider the health He gives to many human beings, the mental abilities that He bestows on many people, the musical and artistic talents that others are given, not to mention the gifts of friendships and often times families that love us. Although it is true that not all human beings are blessed with all of these things, every human being, without exception, is blessed by God with life, time, and good things both large and small.

Yet instead of thanking Him for these things, like petulant children, humans say give me more! Romans 1 expresses it this way: “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify [Him] as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” If you find nothing else to be thankful for before God, remember that the goodness of God leads you to repentance (Romans 2:4) – in other words, the Lord has given you time and opportunity to turn from your sin and independence of your Creator and throw yourself upon His mercy for salvation by believing in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross as a sacrifice for your sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-3.)

Many times, God withholds things from people for their temporal and spiritual benefit. As James 4:3 describes it: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” To give a heroin addict another fix is not love; rather it is a dose of poison that brings the inevitable demise of the addict one step closer. If one’s son asked him to borrow the car so that he could go out and get drunk and then drive, would we hand him the keys? To do so would not only be foolish, it would also be the height of irresponsible hatred towards one’s offspring – on the same level as letting one’s child play with a loaded revolver. To both the lost and those who are believers, God wisely withholds certain things for their good. It is dangerous to demand that He remove restrictions that are put in place to protect us and lead us to eternal life.

 


The Truth Shall Set You Free



 

By forbidding them to eat of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil, the Almighty was not wanting to keep Adam and Eve in the dark – He is light and delights to reveal truth to His creatures. Instead, the command to abstain was meant to teach that God is the ultimate arbiter of truth. He determines good and evil and wants us to learn these categories through our relationship with Him. As one old Christian writer put it: “At the Fall, man did not realize that he would gain the knowledge of good without the power to consistently do it and the knowledge of evil without the power to consistently refrain from it.” God says “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it” (Psalms 81:10); therefore, let us seek the good things He has for us in Christ.

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