Tag Archives: Morality

Responsibility

Studies in Genesis 3

The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12 ESV)

How can we blame God for our rebellion? Can we blame God for the temptations which befall us?  God could have stopped the Deceiver from tempting the Woman but did not. God could have intervened in the discussion between the Deceiver and the woman, but did not. God could have made known His will, as she was reaching out, to not eat the fruit, but did not. When the man ate the fruit, God could have made Himself known and stopped him from eating, but did not.

Does this mean that because God did not do all of these things He is to blame for the actions of the Deceiver, the thought process and decision of the woman, or the unthinking actions of the man? Or, as creatures capable of making decisions, are each responsible for their own thinking, motivations, moral understanding and actions?

Part of being created in the image of God is the freedom to learn and act normally within the natural boundaries God set for the creature. Scripture does not suggest the Deceiver was created in the image of God. Scripture tells us Man was created in the image of God. With His image is the ability to act and behave like God, constrained only by the physical limitations of a created being. God gave His image so Man would know intimately their Creator, as well as having intellectual and moral knowledge of Him. Man would act in a manner which emulates God’s eternal character by knowing God intellectually, morally and intimately.

When the man blamed God and the woman for his rebellion, for his actions, he not only refused to take responsibility but his heart froze toward both his wife and God. Intimacy was destroyed. No longer could either God or the woman trust the man to make righteous decisions based on a wholesome moral understanding of right and wrong. The image of God in him did not change but his ability to know God and act in a manner which emulated God in the physical world was bent and broken. His obedience was natural to him. Now, rebellion and separation from others is natural. That which is bent cannot be unbent. It can be straightened but will always have been bent. That which is broken can be mended but will always have been broken.

Who Told You?

Studies I Genesis 3

He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11 ESV)

God continues asking questions, with the purpose of drawing a response out of Adam to force him to honestly face his rebellion. Yet, God’s questions reveal more about eternity than is apparent.

“Who told you” begins the next question. It is apparent God’s intent is to show Adam he needs to repent through confession. God knows everything, including the answer to this question. Still, there are four personalities present. God, the Creator of all. Adam and Eve, the first people, created in His image. The Deceiver, inhabiting the serpent, also a created being, but without the image of God, yet intelligent, with an emotional understanding of morality, and a will to act. As far as we know, the Deceiver did not have dominion over anything. His deception was a grasping at dominion.

No part of the conversation recorded between Eve and the Deceiver suggested they were naked. It is likely the conversation was not short but long, possibly over a period of days. We do not know. We do know, from the evidence, that Eve and Adam were prepared to rebel against God. Rebellion is never spontaneous.  Misdirected thought and emotion, a looking for alternatives by thinking about self, turning needs into wants, always comes before rebellion.

“Who” is a pronoun for persons. We know God did not tell them they were naked. He created them naked and did not want them wearing clothing. The Deceiver, as far as we know, may have told them they were naked. We do not know because that part of the conversation is not recorded. Did they tell themselves? Somehow, they learned they were unclothed, naked to the world, exposed and vulnerable. This is a consequence of sin and rebellion. Everyone sins and everyone hides because everyone feels vulnerable and exposed to the dangers of the world and others. Being exposed is shameful until the conscious is seared and deadened and what is shameful becomes something which brings pride.

If we cannot hide from God then we must somehow change the rules to either exclude God or make the rebellious act legitimate.

 

Authority

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 ESV)

Dominion does not mean ownership. God created all things, which means God is the owner of all things created. This includes Man. Though created in His image, no person created has absolute, autonomous ownership of themselves. Ignoring God and acting like He is not there will not dissolve the connection any has with their Creator.

God tells us what it is over which people have dominion, control, responsibility and privilege. His list follows the days of creation, beginning with the sea creatures and the birds of the air. He then states in verse 26 that people have dominion over the “livestock” and every “creeping things” which includes reptiles and snakes. God repeats His direction of authority given people in verse 28 when He includes everything that lives. It is not that God forgot to include all living creatures then remembered in His next declaration. His second declaration of authority given people is an affirmation, a statement for us that tells us He is not going to change His mind. It is a sure thing. Throughout Scripture God will make a statement two or three times telling us His mind and will are set.

People are given authority over the Earth as God’s physical representative. With His image we speak and act and judge for Him. This does not mean He is not present, distant or completely absent. He is everywhere. This does mean when we speak and act based upon the moral standard embedded in the image of God we uphold and reinforce His purpose and intent. God views our speech, acts and moral decisions as if He Himself was speaking and acting based on His moral attributes and will uphold and stand by our speech, acts and moral decisions.

Again, I do not want people to misunderstand. Those given the image of God are given all they need to fulfill His purpose by functioning as He designed. There is no thought of rebellion built into the image of God. His eternal knowledge of the coming rebellion, knowing sin will happen, does not change God’s purpose and intent for people, nor their place in God’s created order. Sin affects how people relate to God and to Creation but does not change God.

All God is doing in these verses happens in eternity but before sin and rebellion in the space-time universe. Sin and rebellion change Man’s position and authority before God. We are seeing Man the way God intended.

 

Dominion

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 ESV)

God gave Man dominion. No other creature has dominion. Only God has absolute dominion because He is the Creator.

Man is a replica of God, created in His image, embedded with specific characteristics and qualities inherently God’s. Every person born has these characteristics. God’s image is not an exact duplication of His characteristics but working facsimiles, limited but true.

Man is created in physical space and time and is given a spiritual nature so that, once the physical ceases to exist, the spiritual will continue to live. God is spiritual and uncreated, living fully in eternity, able to enter His creation but unconstrained by anything created.

Some of the characteristics of God given Man include intelligence, the ability to be consciously aware and rationally understand the truth of creation. Yet, Man’s understanding does not come all at once but grows gradually in knowledge as each person examines and studies both God and nature.

People have a moral compass or standard, which includes intimately and emotionally knowing what is good, righteous and just. Conversely, people are able to differentiate that which is not good, righteous and just. God’s moral standard is interpreted for Man through the emotions. Morality and emotions are implied through God’s declaration of “good” when He finished creating a specific thing. What He creates is not only excellent but pleases Him.

People are also given a will to act upon that which they think and know is morally good. Man, like God, works and builds and makes and is pleased with what is accomplished.

God embeds another defining characteristic of Himself in Man which, to this point in creation, only He owns. He gives Man “dominion” which means to tread down or subjugate, prevail against, reign or rule over. Man is given ownership and responsibility over the Earth and everything on and in it. God has absolute control and ownership. He delegates to Man the power and authority over this piece of creation, not over all creation. There is no other created thing or being we know of from Scripture given dominion.

Volition, or, Our Will

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Genesis 1:26 ESV)

Man is conscious and rational, intellectually aware and able to understand truth. Man has a moral compass, knowing the difference between right and wrong. Combining these pieces of the image of God given with the will gives Man the ability to act in a manner consistent with his function and purpose. Just as God acted upon His determined will so Man is able to put his creative abilities into action and do that which he determines. This is another part of the image of God given Man.

God creates everything with a designed purpose and intellectually precise function. God’s works all have moral excellence and goodness. God acts according to His eternal being which includes perfect intelligence guided by justified and righteous morality.

Through each of the six days of creation, God worked, building a universe specifically designed to show His greatness to Man. We can know only what God has told us about the universe and Man’s place in creation. But, that He created the universe and built the environment of the Earth to sustain and encourage life to prosper, shows willful intent.

God made light. On the Earth, He separated the elements making an environment. He made water, rain, oceans, lakes and rivers. He made vegetation, grasses, trees and plants which needs light and water and an environment to grow. He made the Sun and Moon and determined the days and nights and seasons, showing the progression of time. He made sea creatures and the birds of the air. He made animals. Finally, he made Man.

Man is not an accident of nature.

Giving people a will means they have freedom to act according to the determination of their intelligence and guidance of their moral compass. With the image of God comes the freedom to exercise that image according to the purpose and function of the Great Designer.

Many great people have made deliberate statements about freedom, from Augustine to Peter Marshall. They all talk about doing what is right, not deciding to do that which is wrong. Freedom is not the ability to choose between what is right and what is wrong. Freedom is the predisposition to always choose what is right. We are free to fulfill the purpose and function for which we are designed. Divorcing our wills from our created purpose and function will never give more freedom. For those created by God there is no such thing as more freedom. Our actions are determined by what we think and our understanding of morality.

Moral Image

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Genesis 1:26 ESV)

People are conscious of their surroundings and themselves, capable of knowing their own thoughts and remembering with detail their experiences. But, people also have a conscience, knowing the difference between right and wrong, or between what is good and what is not good. Each person has a moral compass and this moral knowing is integral to the image of God given.

God uses the word “good” seven times in the first chapter of Genesis. He declared what He had done, what He created, as “good,” fulfilling His standard of excellence. Before He began shaping the universe out of the material He initially created, He formed “light” and separated from it, darkness. Physical light is a type of moving energy necessary for life. Darkness is the absence of light and is detrimental to life. God created both darkness and light and by implication determined darkness not good when He judged, or declared light, “good.”

God has an objective standard for “good.” This standard is based upon Himself and His eternal characteristics. There is no other creative force in the universe.  When He created all things and began shaping all things, He designed the universe and all in it with function and purpose. By declaring what He created “good” He declared His created design and purpose fulfilled His eternal intentions.

Part of the image of God in Man is the ability to consciously know the difference between right and wrong and to know what is good. Man cannot create in the same sense God created but Man can make and fashion objects with specific function and purpose. Man’s standard of excellence is not found in himself but in God. With the image of God embedded in people they will know when what they have done is good and meets God’s rule of excellence.

God’s image in Man gives everyone the tools needed to know what is morally good and excellent. As created by God, people are also given the absolute ability to fulfill their created function and purpose in a righteous and holy manner. Yet, as we will discover, because of sin none do or want to do that which is righteous.

Facing Suffering

I am faced with a dilemma. How am I to face suffering when my life and expectations are to not suffer?

Throughout our world Christians face persecution and suffering because of their relationship with Christ. We tend to view persecution as overt and physical suffering, such as a government condemning to death a Christian who converts from Islam to Christianity. We, sitting in our safe, comfortable homes, feel little conflict when a man 12,000 miles away stands firm in his faith even to the point of death. Our consciences have been so seared with the blatant lies of the world which surround us we feel nothing, or perhaps only a simple, easily ignored, minor discomfort, on hearing such a story. We have no experiences with which to relate to those facing daily the hatred of the world.

Or do we? Persecution is also subtle, as innocuous as a boss or friend demanding unethical behavior and compromise from a known Christian. We are faced with an even more subtle attitude of tolerant intolerance. We are lulled into complacency by embracing the desirable things of a world at complete odds with God. Each desire is filled with a temptation which then coerces us to compromise a known value, revealed to us by the Holy Spirit but never jammed down our throats. God asks for obedience then expects us to exercise our minds, emotions and wills to do what He wants, think as He thinks, recognize His moral truth as His standard and act in obedience. We don’t because we do not comprehend the value of suffering for righteousness’ sake.

Worldly attitudes devalue Christ’s sacrifice, the gift of suffering experienced by the persecuted and our own worth. Christ told us we were worth His deep, agonizing suffering. He told us that to follow Him we also would suffer. We grieve and mourn over sin and grieve and mourn when those who are part of the Body of Christ endure intellectual abuse, emotional oppression and physical trauma because of Christ. With Paul we can say “if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” [1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV].

Do we not?

No one wants to face suffering but such suffering for righteousness’ sake is the fertile ground God uses to grow the Church. We are not prepared in this country, or many places, to face or stand against someone, anyone, who has something against us because we belong to God. Instead of correcting our thinking, challenging and changing the way we think, we accept the thinking of the world which encourages through a skewed philosophy biased actions and unjust decisions.

When we think and act like the world we show how insignificant is our relationship with God. He created us in His image so our thinking would conform to truth unaffected by sin and rebellion. When confronted by the philosophy of the world our spirit, counseled and directed by the Spirit who resides within, knows there is something wrong. We may not be able to articulate the wrong, or explain how it is wrong, but we know.

However, when anything we do is perceived by the world as wrong when we know it is God’s express will, bringing the world’s displeasure from our righteous actions and attitudes, do we then submit to the world and agree we are wrong? Are we not convinced of God’s will? If we do no wrong why do we allow the world to convince us otherwise?

All who are His are owned by Him. This is an unpopular position. Our words, actions and attitudes are to focus upon Him who strengthens us, directs us and who gives us grace and a peace. This confounds the world. Do we compromise His moral will and character in order to please the world? Or do we please God and face with peace and grace the hatred of the world?

Only those operating under the same standard of justice can be reconciled. We are reconciled to God because we come under His justice and righteousness not the worlds. Being judged by those in the world will bring God’s judgment upon those in the world. Those who hold to a standard bent away from God will never be able to comprehend the actions, attitudes and words of a Christian. They may be curious, though.

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. [1 Peter 3:14-16 ESV]

Live the gospel. All are called by God to obedience. And maybe those who persecute you will see Him.