The Effects of Humanity’s Fall

 
 
            The entire world is profoundly broken.  Everywhere people are ‘messed-up’.  Anywhere one goes, whether it is school, work, home and even church, there is institutional brokenness expressed in systems or organizing structures that contain elements of bondage instead of freedom.  It does not take a Christian to observe and know that things just do not seem right.
 
            The Bible’s description of this reality goes back to the fall of humanity.  Satan, the devil, led the original persons, Adam and Eve, into disobedience of God.  Satan tempted Eve to doubt whether God really had her best interests at mind; to question the truthfulness of God’s Word; and, to wonder about the wisdom of listening to God (Genesis 3:1-5).  Adam just flat out chose to disobey God, and, so, the entire world changed (Genesis 3:16-17). 
 
            Immediately, everything was different in the world and with people.  The choice to disobey God brought feelings of fear and shame; a loss of fellowship with God; hiding from God; a bent to pervert the truth; the propensity for the genders to try and dominate each other; expulsion from the garden; and, physical death (Genesis 3:7-24).  That is quite a list of downright icky stuff.  No wonder the world is messed up.
 
            The fall of humanity still affects us all.  It has brought not only physical death, but spiritual death.  That means we are alienated from God, in rebellion against him, and enslaved to our own passions and desires (Isaiah 1:2-6; Romans 2:14-15; Ephesians 2:1-3).  We are alienated from one another as persons by having continual bents toward discord, suspicion, and jealousy instead of love and trust (Romans 1:29-31; James 3:14-16).  We are even alienated and totally out of touch with ourselves by either loving ourselves as gods or hating ourselves with inordinate emotional masochism (Philippians 2:21; 2 Timothy 3:2-4).  In short, we are selfish people who experience separation from God, others, and self.
 
            If this is the true reality of humanity, then it is depressing, discouraging, and damaging.  Who, then, will rescue us from this death?  Thanks to God who has given us victory through the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 7:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:57).  The good news is that through the death and resurrection of Jesus the curse has been reversed.  He has brought us restoration to our original place of fellowship with God.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  Only through him is there hope for humanity (John 14:6).  Freedom, therefore, involves knowledge, honesty, and sincere decisions of faith and love whereby truth is applied to life.
 
            Jesus offered himself for us so that we might live and no longer be separated from God, others, and self.  He has brought us reconciliation.  In him we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (2 Corinthians 5:16-19; Ephesians 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3).  Jesus is the rightful ruler of the universe, and is able to make all things work together for good in the life of his people (Philippians 2:9-11; Romans 8:28-29).
 
            The essence, spirit, and purpose of church ministry, therefore, is to come alongside people trapped in their cycles of  brokenness and tell them of the good news of Jesus to deliver from all the crud.  Anything short of this is not really Christian ministry; it is just doing stuff.  The church is, then, to call out sin where it resides in sinful structures and not only within individuals.  But we are to do this with all the graciousness that behooves children of God, and always with the remedy of the cross of Christ.
 

 

            Yes, the world is terribly askew.  But God demonstrated his love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  We need a Savior.  God provided One.  Jesus is the answer.  Are you in touch with the ways you are separated from God, others, and self?  Are you aware of the ways in which your church has an unhealthy separation from the world?  In what ways can you and your church apply the love of God to broken people and systems in your community?  What will it take to reach the un-churched and de-churched in your families and neighborhoods?  
 
            Having the church ask the right questions is the first step toward bringing true Christian ministry to bear upon the great need of the world.  Don’t express your fallen nature by wasting your time debating personal preferences in the church; spend your energies and prayers in reaching people for Jesus.  The fall does not have to define us; we can get back up again because of Jesus Christ.

Hiding from God

 
 
Our human nature tends to look at the one thing we cannot do, instead of seeing all the range of possibilities that we can do.  The serpent, the devil, was successful in getting Adam and Eve to focus on that one tree they needed to avoid (Genesis 3:1-7).  Instead of seeing all the prospects of life with God, in our fallen condition just tell us what we cannot do and we will probably be sure to do it.  More than that, the devil subtly planted a terrible and untruthful idea in the heads of Adam and Eve – that God was somehow holding out on them and was not providing everything they really needed and wanted in life.  Sin looks really good, and even initially tastes really good.  Yet, sin has an awful aftertaste and reeks inside us.  Sin always over-promises and under-delivers.
 
            We all face temptation, sin, and the effects of sin.  Perhaps the greatest impact of sin is sewing fig leaves for ourselves and hiding – hiding from God, hiding from one another, and even hiding from ourselves.  All this hiding causes us to be spiritually blind, and to sleepwalk through hell unaware of our true spiritual condition.  Because of this reality, we all need a Savior to deliver us.  Apart from God we are only dust.  We need God’s Spirit to breathe life into us.  We need God’s Spirit to breathe life into the church.  We need God’s Spirit to grace us with conviction of sin, and breathe new life into us so that we may again enjoy him in Paradise.  Just as we did not give ourselves life and cause ourselves to be born, so we cannot give ourselves new life but must be born again by God’s Spirit.
 
            Hiding with fig leaves is the symbolic way of demonstrating that Adam and Eve were acting independently, and were now going to operate on their own apart from God.  Our fallen spiritual condition does not want to acknowledge our need for the sheer grace of God.  Instead, we hide our true motives and desires.  Through The Fall we are inclined to look for ways to deal with problems in our lives apart from God.
 
            We want to return to Paradise, and we devise all kinds of thoughts and ways of doing that.  Paradise always seems to be “out there” somewhere.  In our fallen condition, we buy into the “if only” syndrome instead of dealing with the sin in our own hearts.  If only we had that one thing, then we would be happy and be in Paradise.  Single people may look for that special someone, believing that Paradise will come if they meet Mr. Right or Miss All That.  Married persons may think that if only their spouse would be more like _____, then Paradise will come.  Kids might believe that when they grow up, then there will be independence and they can do whatever they want and there will be Paradise.  “If only” we had more money.  “If only” we had a bigger house, another car, or more power and influence.  “If only” other people would stop being jerks, care more, serve more, love more.  “If only” I had my way then, we think, there would surely be a restoration to Paradise.
 
We often expect way too much of relationships with others.  A woman will never find a man who completes her because no man can fix what is broken within her heart.  Even If every woman had a man who thought of nothing but her, how to romance her, how to love and encourage her, she would still be empty.  No man is enough.  Every woman needs a Savior.  And a man will never find a woman that takes care of everything in his life.  Even if every man came home each evening to a woman who was all dolled-up with a freshly grilled steak on the table for him, he would still be empty because no woman can fix what is broken within his heart.  Neither red meat nor any woman can provide for a man what he really needs.  Men need a Savior.  We all need a Savior.  We all need deliverance from our disordered loves and misguided attempts to find Paradise in this life apart from God.  The temptation after The Fall is to try and find Paradise outside of God through perfect relationships and ideal circumstances.  Yet, what we really need is to repent of the sin of our own hearts, and deal with the brokenness of our own lives.  And that is what the season of Lent is all about.
 
In this season of Lent, we must repent of our hiding and wishing for everything and everyone else to be different without any cost to ourselves.  What do you need to repent of in this season?  Who are the people that you look to do for you what only God can do?  Have you forsaken your first love of Jesus Christ?  Has your relationship with God been non-existent?  Has it been stale, dull, and lacking passion, desire, and energy?  Has distance replaced intimacy between you and God?  Do you avoid the spiritual disciplines of bible reading and prayer because you believe something else will satisfy the real needs of your heart?  Are you keeping up appearances and hiding, while on the inside you have doubt, depression, and despair that things will never change? 
 

 

May you have the courage to face the empty places of your heart and allow the unconditional grace of Jesus to cleanse and fill your soul.  Soli Deo Gloria.