12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned— Romans 5
Separation from God is always the consequence of two things: exalting self and placing trust in self. To exalt is just to lift up or to elevate. Trust is the state of assured reliance. Let’s go way back to the story of Adam and Eve. Paul meditated on this relationship. He spent time thinking about the qualities and actions of Adam in comparison with the qualities and actions of Jesus. This is great! Because this practice is what we are called to do. In the Hebrew language the word for meditate is also used to reflect the utterances of an animal as it devours its meal. You may think that is a strange connection. I think it is amazing. A lion fills his face with his catch. Satisfying his hunger, he only lifts his head up to lick his chops and grab a breath before returning back to the catch. Paul did this. Let’s do this too.
God gave Adam terms. (“…but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:17) What is God asking of Adam? Obviously, to not eat of the tree. But even deeper, he is asking for Adam’s trust and his acknowledgement as the one that creates the terms. We may not always understand the why for the terms, but we are called to trust that they are in our best interest. He is asking for a trusting and loving relationship.
But there was a serpent:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3
The serpent attempts to confuse the terms. And failing to do so, he chips away at the trust between humanity and God. Is God really telling the truth? He works the same way now with followers of Jesus. If he fails to confuse the terms, then he breaks the trust. And if God isn’t telling the truth, then he isn’t good. That’s it. Do you believe God is good. Do you trust that God has your best interest in mind. That is the root of the story of the fall of humanity. Will I trust God and accept his terms. Or, will I exalt myself and define good by my own terms.
Let us skip forward to the wilderness temptation, to dive a little deeper in this theme.
“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me. Matthew 4
What the devil trying to accomplish in the wilderness temptation? First he asks a hungry Jesus to turn the stones into bread. I am positive the thought of bread would mess with a hungry Jesus. The devil has an agenda. He is asking Jesus to take advantage of his position of the Son of God. Take your rightful place! Take advantage of your status! Jesus wouldn’t do such a thing. Paul says it this way, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;”. The devil wanted Jesus to not live by the terms God had set for his messianic Son, but to live by his own terms. Does that sound familiar?
The devil then tempted Jesus to throw himself down. This request has the potential to plant a seed of doubt in Jesus’ mind. A seed that is planted and watered soon grows into a tree. A seed of doubt can lead to distrust. Jesus had none of it. He rebuked Satan. He was determined to put himself in a position of trust in God, not a position to test God.
The third and final request was diabolical. The devil offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world and the glory that comes along with the position. The devil was granting Jesus the position of King. Is Jesus now a king? Yes. Jesus is now king because he followed a path of pain, suffering and torture to the throne, not because he sought authority. The devil granted him the opportunity of a throne, but God’s throne come by sacrifice, humility and love. Jesus’ rebuke..
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only. Matthew 4
Ok, one more reference. Peter, which means “Rock”, comes to understand Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus goes on to tell him and the disciples that he must suffer and die. Peter responds…
“Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Peter was asking Jesus to live according to human terms. Essentially, to define good by his own terms and to ignore God’s call to carry the cross. What’s really eye-opening is the parallel between the response to the devil and the response to his friend, Peter.
“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
This is the difference between Adam and Jesus. Adam didn’t trust that God and his terms were good. He defined his own terms. His terms were based on “human concerns”. Jesus did trust God until death. And in spite of his situation, that God was good. His terms were based on “God’s concerns”.
So, what does that mean for us today? What does living by God’s terms in spite of your situations or issues look like at work today? What does trusting God look like in your family life? Are you imaging Adam or are you imaging Jesus as you participate in a kingdom that is waiting for the day when Jesus walks back into his creation?
To the Creator of All things,
give me the humility to live like Jesus, in complete trust. Knowing that you are good and in spite of my situation that you will work all things for my future life with you. In the powerful name of Jesus,