Saturday, January 2, 2016

Innocence?



Genesis 3–5, Luke 18:17, Romans 16:19, Philippians 2:15, Revelation 12:10-11

One of our family members questions why people choose evil. She rejects sin as the reason because that diagnosis comes from the Bible, and in her mind, the Bible is irrelevant. However, after considering all the options, God’s Word is the most rational (even though sin is not rational at all).

Genesis describes how sin entered our world, but the focus is more on the consequences. The list is long. It includes such things as hiding from God in shame and in fear. When the Lord called, “Where are you?” Adam said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

As God questioned him, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the woman. Sin makes us shift the blame and less likely to take responsibility for our actions.

God asked the woman about what she had done. She answered, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:8–13) Sin brings a sense of guilt, but this also points to the deception that is at the root of it. Every time we sin, it is the result of believing a lie.

Sin leads to death. In Eden, it started the process of physical death, but it also separates humanity from God which is spiritual death. It also resulted in the death of an animal when God made garments of skin to cover Adam and his wife. This became a visual aid pointing to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God at Calvary.

Sin also introduced human effort to please God. Cain offered the results of his labor instead of what God asked for. This typifies the core of all religions that teach we must earn God’s favor rather than accept His salvation by faith.

Eve was lured by the idea that she would be more like God, but she was already made in His image. Instead, sin gave her a knowledge of good and evil, soon to be experienced when one of her sons murdered the other one.

Another consequence was the resistance of the earth in human efforts to make a living. God told both Eve and Cain that sin’s desire is for us (to own us), yet also against us (to harm us). But we are to rule over it. (Genesis 4:7) Thus began the battle between our desire to do the will of God, and the conflicting desire to do whatever we please.

There are more consequences of sin, but today I’m thinking about lost innocence. Because of sin, I cannot imagine pure innocence, pure ignorance of good vs. evil. Perhaps a baby might know it better, but even a child is self-centered and wants what it wants.

When Jesus said, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it,” (Luke 18:17) was He referring to the relative innocence of a child? Or was He talking about the transformation that happens to those who experience the new birth, the regeneration and new life that comes to all who put their faith in Jesus Christ? Could it be that a Christian ought to experience at least a taste of what it would be like to not know sin, to be innocent?

Another NT verse says God wants His people “to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil” (Romans 16:19). We are not to grumble or quarrel that we might be “blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:15)

I cannot imagine being completely innocent, not so much in the sense of never doing anything wrong, but being like a child who is oblivious to bad stuff. Now that sin is here, I can only cling to the faith that Eve abandoned. I must affirm what God says, and continually remind myself that His standards are not intended to deny me pleasure but to protect me from harm. I cannot allow that serpent to dupe me into assuming God does not love me and sin will have no consequences.

The Bible refers to the spiritual battle Christians fight, but Revelation 12:10-11 tells me how to win it. I need to remember that “the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down.” He is already defeated, even though he still works day and night to accuse me before God, and try to convince me that God does not want the best for me. His lies are designed to draw me away from the truth and into sin. He promises all sorts of desirable things, but God says he has been conquered by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of my testimony, and by being willing to die for what I believe.

Total innocence will not be experienced in this life, but Jesus has defeated the power of sin. He lived a perfect life for me. He died to pay sin’s price for me. He defeated sin and death for me. Because of Jesus, one day I will stand before Him in totally innocence. 


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