Serpent: “Did God really say, ‘You are not to eat from any tree in the garden?’”
Woman: “You are not to eat from it or touch it, or you will die.”
Serpent: “It is not true that you will surely die; because God knows that on the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil [for yourselves].”
Ever wondered why philosophical ideas and humanistic social constructs such as Mikhail Gorbachev’s, ‘Perestroika’, to take one example, just don’t work out? If you read his book you will soon comprehend the good intentions he had for his people and that he is no idiot. Nevertheless, the true nature of humanity once again proved to be a spanner in the philosophical works. There are some very insightful books around that explore humanity and its inability to deny its self-serving nature. Who could forget studying George Orwell’s, ‘Animal Farm’, back in high school?
You would, I believe, struggle to find a more profound text capable of explaining the broken state of our world and the condition of humanity than in Genesis chapters 2 and 3. In the Garden, human beings first did what they have continued to do ever since. Creating God in their own image they continue to live in the delusion of their self-constructed truths.
Peter Vardy in his book, ‘Being Human’, suggests that postmodernism has led us to lose confidence in the very concept of truth, and as such its impact has been devastating. The Western world suffers from the perceived lack of meaning brought about by the so-called ‘death of God’. Humanism has become aligned with the idea that human beings result from a universe evolving through random events with no meaning. Could this lack of real purpose lie at the heart of many of modern society’s problems?
Putting the broken condition of the world aside, there is still an important truth that we as humans need to confront. God is God and We are not. There is no religious or philosophical construct within which we can work to save ourselves and become right with God. After all, we are all born with an innate desire for a bite of that forbidden fruit that leads to death as the story goes. Fortunately, Jesus reminds us in Luke’s Gospel that what’s impossible with man is possible with God. In other words, God has worked out a way to make things right.
John Stott in his book, ‘The Cross of Christ’, exposes the human heart well. He suggests, ‘We insist on paying for what we have done. We cannot stand the humiliation of acknowledging our bankruptcy and allowing somebody else to pay for us. The notion that this somebody else should be God himself is just too much to take. We would rather perish than repent, rather lose ourselves than humble ourselves.’
In the end we can’t hide from God. We can’t hide by clinging to so called ‘alternative truths’ that deny our humanity and God’s divinity. We, like Adam and Eve, cannot hide and avoid standing naked before God.
But thank God that we can be confident to stand naked before God with the knowledge that we are justified in Christ, and not ourselves.
The great theologian Martin Luther teaches that faith in God is passive, “in that we allow God alone to work in us and we ourselves, with all our powers, do not do anything.” “Faith is a divine work within us that changes us and brings us to a new birth from God and kills the old Adam; He makes of us a completely different human being in the heart, mood, mind, and in all powers.”
So take heart in the truth that humanity’s saviour is not humanity. We can now live in God’s Grace, fully confident to stand naked before God and no longer hide in the Garden.