All Posts Tagged: Eve

Monster of life—delusion

They sensed their vulnerability and rushed to hide their naked bodies, stitching fig leaves into crude loincloths. The man and his wife took cover among the trees and hid from the God. (Genesis 3:7-8)

This is part three in our Monster of Life series. Check out the first two posts: Disconnection and Disease.

Self-improvement represents a $10 billion per year industry in the U.S. alone. The New Statesman’s Barbara Gunnell forecasts a secure future for positive psychology, noting that ‘never has an age been so certain that it deserves not just freedom from distress, but positive well-being’” (Matthew Gilbert, in Self-Help Books and The Promise of Change).

Satan’s success produced dis-ease in humankind. A primary symptom of the ailment is delusion—“The sin underneath all our sins is to trust the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and must take matters into our own hands” (Martin Luther). This belief is lifted from the Monster’s playbook: “How you’ve fallen O morning star, son of the dawn! Remember how you thought: ‘I will make myself like the Most High’”? (Isaiah 14:14)

Genesis 3 reveals SELF-HELP to be the default setting of dis-eased humanity! After disconnecting from their Creator, Adam and Eve immediately attempt to heal their dis-ease. The therapy is covering and hiding: “Many of us strive to ‘fix our sin.’ We try to hide it and pretend like it isn’t there. But this only leads to more hiding, pretending and despair” (Bill Thrall, in TrueFaced). This is the delusion: the belief that hiding is an adequate remedy for dis-ease—that hiding can produce healing! Charles Spurgeon said, “The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.”

The ancient Greeks loved their theater. But the immensity of their amphitheaters made it impossible for many to see the actors’ faces. So, some director came up with the idea of having the actors deliver their lines from behind giant masks. The mask was always a caricature—an overdone, generalized, or idealized portrayal of the character. The actors played their roles behind a façade. The performers were called ‘hypocrites’ (literally ‘one who wears a mask’) rather than actors. We are all performers, and like the actors in ancient Greece, we don’t show our true faces. Because of sin, we’ve lost confidence that we can please the audience, so we feel compelled to hide and put on a mask. We have dozens of masks in our wardrobes!” (Thrall)

A simple illustration reveals the preposterous nature of our self-help therapy. In Hospice, morphine is often administered to terminally ill patients experiencing excruciating pain. Morphine acts directly on the central nervous system to decrease the feeling of pain. Notice: Morphine does nothing to address the source of the pain; rather, it merely hides the pain from the brain. So-called “pain killers” are a delusion!

Jesus showed the disciples his hands and feet” (Luke 24:40). “We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not, ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our wounded-ness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers”  (Henri Nouwen).

Snapshots of the Cross in the Old Testament—the curtain

Whereas the whole earth was given to humankind to inhabit and rule (Genesis 1:28), the Garden of Eden was specifically designed as a Meeting Place for God and man. “The truth is clearly set forth that Life comes from God, that for man Life consists in nearness to God and that it is the central concern of God’s fellowship with man to impart Life” (Geerhardus Vos).

The Creator’s plan was diverted. Disobedience produced disconnection. Fellowship was fractured. Consequently, “God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden and stationed angel-cherubim and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life.”

tabernacleFortunately, the story didn’t end there. After God delivered His people from 430 years of Egyptian bondage He gave this order: “Let them make a Dwelling Place for Me, so I may live among them. Make the meeting tent like the plans I will show you.” The design called for three sections oriented to the east: the Courtyard, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, the latter two separated by an ornate curtain. “Make a curtain of blue, purple, and scarlet material and fine twisted linen. Have a design of angel-cherubim woven into it by a skilled craftsman” (Exodus 26:3-33).

Did you catch it? Just as at Eden angel-cherubim guarded the eastern entrance (the curtain) to the place of God’s Presence, the Holy of Holies. So, how would disconnected humankind be able to have face to face fellowship with God? How was God able to have a Dwelling Place in the midst of disobedient traitors? It seems as if God changed His standards!

arkOnce a year on the Day of Atonement (see last Lenten post) the High Priest entered God’s Dwelling Place with the blood of a slaughtered lamb. The High Priest walked around the throne (i.e. the Mercy Seat) of God’s Presence seven times, sprinkling blood on it as he moved. So, for a brief period the High Priest had fellowship with God because of the blood. God and sinful man were ONE through the blood. OOPS! Don’t forget this: The High Priest bore on his shoulders and over his heart the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. One might say that the entire nation was in long distance fellowship with God during that period.

Centuries later the real Lamb of God was dragged to Calvary to be slaughtered. As His blood oozed out, His life was depleted. Finally, Jesus said, “It is finished!” After that “the curtain in the Temple was torn into two pieces. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom” (Matthew 27:50-52). Brothers and sisters, because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the Most Holy Place. Jesus has opened a new and living way for us to go through the curtain, His own body” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

The door is open! Just walk into Father’s Presence via the blood of the Lamb of God!

Monster of life—dis-ease

Jesus healed many to make come true what the prophet Isaiah had said, “He Himself took our sickness and carried away our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17)

Satan’s goal is DISCONNECTION from our Creator.
He employs DECEPTION to accomplish this end.
The result is DIS-EASE!

 

Disease,” a word of English and French derivation, has two parts: “dis and “ease.Dismeans “apart,” “away from,” or “a negative or reversing force.” “Ease” means “comfort, pleasure, well-being, tranquility.” William Councilman, an American pathologist, captured the point: “Disease may…be thought of as the negation of the normal.”

Remember—“LIVE” spelled backwards is “EVIL”! Sin is a reversing force that drives us away from NORMAL. Cancer provides a vivid illustration. “Cancer is a disease of cells, the basic building blocks of our bodies. Their lives and behavior are controlled by genetic instructions that are present in every cell of the body. Those instructions tell our cells when and how to grow, reproduce and die. If those instructions get garbled, a cell might behave in an uncontrolled way. When that happens, we call it cancer” (American Institute for Cancer Research).

Satan employed deception to “garble the instructions” of the Creator. “The serpent (satan) said to the woman, ‘Is it true that God has forbidden you to eat fruits from the trees of the garden?’ The woman answered, ‘No, serpent. God said we are free to eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. We are granted access to any variety and all amounts of fruit with one exception: the fruit from the tree found in the center of the garden. God instructed us not to eat or touch the fruit of that tree or we would die.’ The serpent responded, ‘Die? No, you’ll not die. God is playing games with you. The truth is that God knows the day you eat the fruit from that tree you will awaken something powerful in you and become like Him.’  The woman approached the tree, eyed its fruit, and coveted its mouth-watering, wisdom-granting beauty. She plucked a fruit from the tree and ate. She then offered the fruit to her husband and he ate as well. Suddenly their eyes were opened to a reality previously unknown. For the first time, they sensed their vulnerability and rushed to hide their naked bodies, stitching fig leaves into crude loincloths” (Genesis 3:1-10).

Plato was right: “Sin is disease.” Adam and Eve became DIS-EASED because their disobedience reversed and negated the Creator’s instructions for normalcy! They immediately sensed the vacuum. Of this St. Augustine said: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” Similarly, Meister Eckhart described our state as “unceasing restlessness.”

Sadly, this disease is 100% genetically transmitted! “Everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence” (Romans 3:23). Without the right medicine we are a doomed species. Fortunately, Jesus came to deliver the Medicine of Life. “Jesus healed many to fulfill what the prophet Isaiah had said, ‘He Himself took our sickness and carried away our diseases.’”

Monster of life—disconnection

The woman took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, and he also ate it. Immediately they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves. That evening they heard the Lord God walking in the garden, and they hid from Him among the trees. But the Lord God called out to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard You in the garden; I was afraid and hid from You, because I was naked.” “Who told you that you were naked?” God asked. “Did you eat the fruit that I told you not to eat?” The man answered, “The woman You put here with me gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:1-12) 

We’ve previously noted that Satan has many strategiesPut on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against ALL strategies of the devil.” His primary method is DECEPTIONYour father, the devil, is the father of lies (John 8:44). In this post we’ll explore the primary goal of deception: DISCONNECTION.

By embracing the lie of the Monster the first couple detached themselves from the Creator: They hid from Him among the trees. God says, It is your sins that separate you from your God. A.W. Tozer describes our situation like this: We have broken with God. We have in guilt and fear fled as far as possible from His Presence. So the life of man upon the earth is a life away from the Presence, wrenched loose from our right and proper dwelling place, the loss of which is the cause of our unceasing restlessness.

Second, the God-designed self was replaced with a false fabrication—Realizing their nakedness, they sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves. After severing connection with his father, the Prodigal Son traveled to the far country. Note these words: And when he came to himself, he said, ‘I will return to my father.’” You see, the young man lost his authentic self by separating from his father. We don’t know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox’s or bear’s, cover the soul” (Meister Eckhart).

Third, the relationship between Adam and Eve became disjointed. When confronted by God, Adam resorted to self-protection via blame shifting: The woman You put here with me gave me the fruit. Timothy Keller observes, There are many ways to cover up our sin. We justify or minimize it by blaming other people.

Finally, by disconnecting from the Creator, humankind also severed the bonds of harmonious connectedness with nature: The ground will be under a curse because of what you did. As long as you live, you will have to struggle to grow enough food. Your food will be plants, but the ground will produce thorns and thistles. You will have to sweat to earn a living.

But remember, this is the Father’s heart revealed in JesusWhen the son was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.

Mental Health Monday—escaping from your prison

The Spirit of God is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, to announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace! (Isaiah 61:1-2)

With this passage Jesus commenced His ministry. One word encompassed His goals: FREEDOM! Since Adam and Eve disconnected themselves from the Creator the human race has been in prison. We’re all born with a Woodstock mentality: “if it feels right, it must be right!” Paradoxically, our prisons are constructed in this manner: no boundaries, no limits, and no restrictions. “In those days there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing” (Judges 17:6). Fyodor Dostoevsky uncovered an even worse condition: “The best way to keep a prisoner from escaping is to make sure he never knows he’s in prison.

He sent Me to preach, to heal, to free, and to pardon.” “God is not a celestial prison warden jangling the keys on a bunch of lifers—He’s a shepherd seeking for sheep, a woman searching for coins, a father waiting for his son” (Clarence Jordan).With Jesus, God’s rescue operation has been put into effect once and for all. A great door has swung open in the cosmos which can never again be shut. It’s the door to the prison where we’ve been kept chained up. We are offered freedom: freedom to experience God’s rescue for ourselves, to go through the open door and explore the new world to which we now have access” (N.T. Wright). “The past does not have to be your prison. You have a voice in your destiny. You have a say in your life. You have a choice in the path you take” (Max Lucado).

ESCAPE YOUR PRISON! Listen to the story of Paul Wood. “At the age of 18, Paul was a high-school dropout in prison for murder. While spending time in maximum security he discovered the life enriching quality of learning. This led him to voraciously pursue both formal and informal means of education. He acquired both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Psychology and Philosophy while in prison and by the time he was released he was two years into a Doctorate in Psychology. Paul is now a respected coach and consultant who uses his knowledge and experience to assist individuals and organizations to achieve their developmental goals. Paul will be using his own journey to illustrate and discuss the universal ingredients of successful personal change and growth.”