Tag Archives: Obedience

God Commands

Studies in Genesis 3

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:5 ESV)

The Deceiver is telling Eve, and Adam, that eating from this specific tree will give them knowledge they do not yet have. They will know good and evil. God called all He made “good.” He called nothing “evil” other than naming a tree. God named two trees. He called one the tree of life and the other the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9 ESV)

There was nothing magical about any of the trees. All of the trees that bore fruit were food for Man. Every tree was pleasing to the eye and the fruit of every tree was edible and would not damage or hurt anyone who ate the fruit. Yet, God forbade Man from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as part of His teaching them about obedience and disobedience, about good and evil.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)

God does not have to explain to anyone why He gives a command. Remember, God commanded Man to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He did not ask. God never asks anyone to do or not do something. Man’s obedience to God’s command is expected. If I am correct in my thinking God would have eventually allowed Man to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Adam and Eve were in training. They were growing in the discipline of knowing and serving God. They were not told to refrain from eating from the tree of life. Once they were mature in the thinking of their hearts they would eat from both trees.

Knowing the difference between good and evil is intimately knowing the reason for obedience and the consequences of disobedience. Why would those created for service to God even think or feel they could, or should, not serve Him? Either the seed of disobedience and rebellion was already planted in Man by God or it was planted in Man by a force other than God. That force other than God need not be the Deceiver. It could be Man, themselves. Some will say that inherent in the image of God given is the possibility of rebellion. But is this true? None living now are perfect. We cannot know the state of being of Adam and Eve. We can know that they had the tools needed to make specific decisions and the freedom to carry out those decisions. They could choose to obey out of intimate love for their Creator or to rebel and begin hating Him by focusing upon themselves. Genesis is telling us they were influenced to think of rebellion by the Deceiver and they listened to him. Their actions will either finish his deception or show that it failed. We know what happens.

Touching and Eating

Studies in Genesis 3

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Genesis 3:2-3 ESV

When Eve added her own words to God’s, “neither shall you touch it,” what was she saying? God said when you eat the fruit “dying you will die.”

To “touch” means to reach out and grasp to oneself. “Touch” can also mean to strike or to be defeated. For Eve, the word may mean either deliberate or accidental physical contact with the fruit of a tree. Eating the fruit would automatically demand touching the fruit. Yet God does not say “do not touch.” His command is, do not “eat.”

It would appear there was, within the makeup of Eve, a desire to eat that which was forbidden. She had the will to resist that desire, and the intellectual ability to reason why she should not eat. Instead, she built, in the thinking of her heart, a reasonable boundary to keep herself from doing that which was forbidden. Her thoughts may have been if I don’t touch it then I definitely will not eat it. She built her own tool to help her keep God’s command. This suggests her faith and confidence in God was wavering. There was an apparent weakness of which the serpent took advantage.

Did she understand what God meant by “die”? To “die” means to be separated from that which sustains life. Physical death is separation from that which sustains physical life. In the same sense, spiritual death is separation from that which sustains spiritual life. God sustains all life whether physical or spiritual.

Yet, God does not simply say “die.” He says “die, die.” “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (dying you will die)” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV). The implication of this statement suggests there was already physical death, as a natural part of life, and that disobeying His command would bring a different kind of death. Eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and after you physically die you will experience another death. You will die spiritually.

Man was not created to rebel against God but for obedience and relationship. Given the image of God, Man was designed to learn over a period of time what it means to know each other and to know God. Part of the process of learning and maturing was to know the difference between good and evil as a natural, created part of His image. Obedience to God’s authority is part of that maturing process. Disobedience is in His face rebellion.

Accurate Answer

Studies in Genesis 3

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Genesis 3:2-3 ESV

We do not know how long Adam and Eve lived in the garden. Let us not make the assumption it is either a long or short period of time. But there was enough time for both to think through the prohibition of God.

When whatever squatted in the serpent asked the question “Did God actually say, ‘You   shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Eve initially responded correctly. Of course they could eat from the trees. There is only one tree’s fruit which they are prohibited from eating. There are several things wrong with her answer, though. Had her response been the actual words of God it would have stopped the lie completely. Although, most of her answer is true, part of it is not true and none of it is accurate.

God did say every fruit from every tree was good for food and could be eaten. “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food” (Genesis 1:29 ESV). This statement includes the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. There was nothing wrong with the fruit. It was not poisonous. Eating the fruit would not kill the body. Nothing God created was dangerous to Adam and Eve.

It is the act of disobedience that will bring the condemnation of God. They were designed for relationship and disobedience would break that relationship. They were given the image of God and disobedience would corrupt the vessel containing the image but could not corrupt the image itself. His image cannot be corrupted any more than He can be corrupted. However, the person with the image can become bent and broken, twisting their view of His image into something not true.

Yet, Eve twisted her view of God’s words when she didn’t identify the tree as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and then added they were not even supposed to touch the fruit of the tree. Adding the prohibition to not touch adds a false boundary to what God actually said. He did not say do not touch the fruit of the tree. He said do not eat it. They could place catch with the fruit if they wanted. Did Adam give her this extra boundary or did she come up with it herself. I’m not supposed to eat the fruit so I better not touch it to make sure I don’t eat it. We do not know who added the boundary. We do know it was either Adam ore Eve.

Yet, I think it more damaging that she did not identify the tree as that of the knowledge of good and evil. God was teaching them that there was good and there was evil and that they needed to know the difference. They needed to know what was good, obeying God, and what was evil, disobeying God. Had she identified the tree as that of the knowledge of good and evil she would have used that knowledge to counter the lie of the serpent. Removing the self-imposed boundary and identifying the actual tree would have placed her squarely within God’s known will.

God Questioned

Studies in Genesis 3

Nowthe serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You   shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1 ESV)

The serpent asks a question which assumes God is not trustworthy, that Adam misheard or is willingly misrepresenting God, and that God does not mean what He says. The question is unreasonable. “Did God actually say, ‘You   shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” is a direct contradiction of God’s eternal being exhibited in all of creation, including the serpent and that which is inhabiting the serpent.

God created Man in His image, creating them male and female which suggests Eve may have known His words. In Genesis chapter 1 He gave them food. “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food’” (Genesis 1:29 ESV). God gave them a large variety of food. Then, in Genesis chapter 2, God placed them in a garden, their home, and gave a specific instruction. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV). He told them they could eat the fruit from all of the trees in the garden but one. He identified that one tree as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Whatever is inhabiting the serpent may have known what God actually said. This also is something we cannot know. We can assume some knowledge of God, how He works, and what He said. We also know whatever is inhabiting the serpent was initially created by God but was in active rebellion against Him. God did not just create the physical but also the spiritual. Of all the physical creatures created by God only Man has the image of God. Genesis covers the physical world not the spiritual. It is not unreasonable to suggest something created by God in the spiritual world was allowed into the physical by God.

Why would God allow this? We do not get to know why. We can know that He allowed it because it happened. This is a test to see whether or not the people He created in His image would obey Him. There is more to obedience than simply doing or not doing. Obedience and disobedience involves the thinking of the heart, the whole person. A person will do that which their head and heart tell them to do. The question of whatever was inhabiting the serpent was designed to confuse and bewilder the thinking of the heart of the woman. This is what lies are designed to do. Lying confuses the hearer and is meant to alter the thoughtful and emotional direction of the one hearing so they cannot draw a correct conclusion steering their actions in a wrong direction. The only way to counter a lie is to know, and correctly express, the truth.

We have already assumed God knows everything including what will happen in the history of the universe He created.  He knows what is inhabiting the serpent and the motivations behind the question. He also knows what Eve, and then Adam, will do. He cares because He values them but He will not direct them against their will in this matter. The test is designed to expose who they are in their innermost self.

Adam’s Charge

Studies in Genesis 2

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)

Here is the first and only negative given to this point. Everything else God has said or done is positive. Even the tree, though named declared as “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” is not negative. It is pleasant to the sight and good for food. It is not ugly or evil in itself because nothing God creates is ugly or evil. It is probably not a unique tree, with different characteristics than any other tree. It is probably like every other tree, of a particular species bearing like fruit.

God does not tell us why He singles out this specific tree. It is not the tree that is special but the command given by God who created the tree and the Man He commands which carries weight. God gave man dominion over the world He created. However, Man is ultimately not in control. God is. Created by God and bearing His image, Man is under God’s authority as His representative over the created world.

God places only one prohibition upon the first man created. He commands the man, Adam, to not eat from that specific tree. To command means to give a charge or an appointment, laying the responsibility upon the shoulders of the person charged the absolute necessity of keeping and fulfilling the elements and particulars of the command. Adam will need to use all of himself, his intellect, emotions, moral understanding and will to complete the task given.

God never asks anyone to do anything. He commands with the full and reasonable expectation of obedience. Having the image of God Man is made for obedience. For Man to not obey would work against the divine principle found in the image of God. Nowhere in Scripture, that I can find, does God every ask people to do His will.

The silly Western suggestion Jesus asks to be let in as He stands knocking at the door of the Church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:20 is not true. We in the western world knock on doors when the house does not belong to us and we wish to speak to the owner. As an illustration of Jesus begging to save people it ignores the fact Jesus owns the door, the building, the people in the building, and everything in creation. He is sovereign. Besides, why would anyone knock on their own door unless someone on the inside locked the door to keep out the owner. Jesus is not asking to come in. He does not beg people to accept His gift. He demands they follow and obey Him. Those who obey show they love God and are loved by Him. Those who do not obey sin against God and are rejected by Him.

God did not ask Adam to refrain from eating the fruit. He commanded Adam to not eat the fruit of that particular tree with the full expectation of obedience.

Obedience is a means for Adam to show his love and devotion to God who created him in His image. God created people with His image so they might have an intimate relationship with Him. Adam will learn to worship God in a unlimited variety of ways as he grows and matures. Having His image gives Adam the freedom to act according to His will and design as a natural consequence of who he is built into the fiber of his being. Though loving God is integral to Adam’s being he must still learn to chose to love and obey God.

Righteous Judge

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. [Matthew 5:25 ESV]

Your adversary is the one who has collected and examined the evidence against you and is ready to present this evidence to the judge for determination of guilt or innocence. In many places throughout Scripture our adversary is Satan, the accuser. Here, our adversary is the prosecuting attorney who is God and all of the evidence of our sin shows guilt. What is the evidence the Judge will examine? This Judge peers into the heart, knows the thoughts of all and sees everything whether done, possible, probable, hidden or blatant. He sees and knows the absolute corruption of sin.

Sin has bent away from righteousness the thinking of the hearts of those made in His image. Just as God wants to have a relationship with the complete person so too, Satan, the world and sin wants to corrupt the whole person. We associate the world with sin though sin is internal, coming from within the person, and not external. Eve was tempted by the Serpent when she “saw that the tree was good for food” and that the food “was a delight to the eyes” [Genesis 3:6 ESV]. Her adversary used the pleasures and attractions of the things of the world to tempt her internal self to rebel against God.

God made nothing which wasn’t good, declaring all He made “very good” [Genesis 1:31 ESV]. This includes the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and its fruit. As part of the world this tree, like every other tree and its fruit, was good. It was not sinful. There was nothing in and of itself which made the fruit of this tree poisonous or bad. It was made delicious. And it looked delicious. But the fruit of the tree was forbidden to them as food. Adam was told to not eat the fruit from this tree.

When we cling to the world we become vulnerable to the temptations of the world. Not everything in the world is wrong or sinful. It is our desires, when attached to the things of the world as having more personal value than they should rightfully have which develops sin in the thinking of our hearts. Rebellion is a condition of the thinking of the heart, not just the “thinking” which is the intelligence and not just the “heart,” or the moral emotional self. Living in the presence of the forbidden demands we obediently trust the Object of faith. That which is forbidden by God, whether a thing or person, may not of itself be sinful. It is desire which uses the thing or the person as a catalyst to bend us away from obedience to God’s command which is sinful. Desire unencumbered by discipline, responsibility and obedience twists our motivations, encouraging disobedience, which causes distrust, which kills faith.

Is desire wrong? Are we not created with desires? Desire to love, be loved, have meaningful relationships? Desire for anything forbidden by God is not automatically sinful. Yet, desire moved to action gives birth to sin which grows and takes over life and is stopped only by death. Eve’s desire was to have what God forbade. She had everything else. Sin and rebellion destroys relationships between God and others.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. [Genesis 3:1-6 ESV]

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions — is not from the Father but is from the world.

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [1John 2:15-17 ESV]

God is the eternal Judge with authority to render sentence against all who rebel against Him. He sees the evidence of disobedience and has published the sentence for sinful rebellion. He then placed that sentence upon His Son and executed sentence fulfilling His eternal just and righteous requirements.

Now His command is all eat from the tree of Life and live. God’s will is all receive the grace given through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Rejection of His grace is rebellion, sinful, and brings judgment and sentence.

Testing Love for God

Rebellion begins when we listen to a lie and believe it is truth and then repeat it as truth. We do this because we do not test the lie against truth, or better, allow truth to expose the lie.

When Eve spoke with the Serpent she heard what he asked “did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” [Genesis 3:1 ESV]. Instead of answering his lie with the truth she answered by adding to the truth her own lie. She told the Serpent God did not want them to touch the fruit of the forbidden tree. God told tem to not eat. He did not prohibit touch. I believe Adam was standing there listening to the exchange. I have no evidence for this other than she ate then gave to him. In either case he witnessed her eating the forbidden and then himself ate.

These two are intelligent, morally straight servants of God with dominion over the earth. What could possibly influence them to believe a lie and not the truth? Inexperience? Forgetfulness? Perhaps they had never heard a lie before.  Why would any created by God, who cannot lie, not tell the truth? Why would they lie to themselves? Why would the set a boundary so they wouldn’t even be tempted? Maybe they didn’t understand the boundary God set for them. In any case, Eve added to the truth her own brand of lie and Adam did not stop or reason with her.

Notice the progression of events as the Serpent piles one lie onto another. Notice the thinking of the heart of Eve.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened,

and you will be like God,

knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food,

and that it was a delight to the eyes,

and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,

she took of its fruit and ate,

and she also gave some to her husband who was with her,

and he ate. [Genesis 3:1-6 ESV]

The serpent lied when he told them they would not die. In fact, he called God a liar. He attributed to God a personality and characteristic which was not true. He said God did not want them to be like Him, even though God made them in His image. God did tell them to not eat from the tree because He did not want them to know good and evil.  The serpent suggested to them that knowing good and evil was desirable and powerful and a way for them to emulate the One who created them. They were His children and children do want to be like their parents.

God allowed the Serpent, Satan in a skin, to tempt Adam and Eve. He knew they had already added their lie to His truth and He did not stop them or the Serpent.

Satan had already fallen and been ejected from the Presence. He had already shown his disdain and hatred for God. God uses him, the fallen one, to test those He loves, beginning with Adam and Eve and extending to all people. He tests people’s love for Him. We cannot force anyone to love us but know when they do and when they do not. God will not force us to love Him but will strengthen our love for Him once we recognize its truth.

Now, notice the progression of thought in 1 John 2:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

For all that is in the world —

the desires of the flesh

and the desires of the eyes

and pride in possessions

— is not from the Father but is from the world.

And the world is passing away along with its desires,

but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [1John 2:15-17 ESV]

God showed His love for us through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, whose blood covered our sin. When we see the extent of His love for us, recognize it and realize the consequences of it, we begin an intimate relationship with Him. Our relationship with Him grows as we fight and struggle to control sin. We have His strength in us under His control used by us for Him, to show our love for Him.

If we love anything in this world we do not love God. He tests us asking bluntly if we love Him more than we love the world. We must answer honestly and realize and recognize how strong is the tug and pull of the world, our own flesh and the lies of Satan. We cannot control the world and Satan. We do have, with God’s strength, the tools needed to fight and overcome our flesh.

We must not add to God’s truth our lies or the lies of the world. The only way to purge the lie is to have an intimate relationship with Truth.