DID GOD SET US UP?

Frances Williams

t just isn't fair! Why should we thank God for forgiving us of all our wrong-doing, when He made us so weak and imperfect in the first place? As helpless children, we are subject to imperfect parents, and only learn to love others to the extent that we ourselves have been loved. Faced with a corrupt environment sickness, death, war, and cruelty what real chance do we have of keeping God's law of love perfectly? Did God set us up to fail?

To answer this question, we must look back to the beginning of time. Adam and Eve were made in the image of God, the crowning glory of God's creation. God was the only parent they knew, and He loved them with a perfect love. They were placed in a magnificent garden, with none of the corruption that we find today in the world. They were given free choice, and a moral test to make this free choice meaningful to them. God's command was not ambiguous or severe. He simply forbade them to eat of the fruit of one tree. He was careful to explain to them the just consequences of disobedience: "In the day you eat thereof you will surely die."

The fact is, whether the tree was there or not, Adam and Eve would have been faced ultimately with the same choice. Just as we want to know and be known by those we love, so too God's desire has always been to make himself known to his people. There comes a time when we must all choose to know God as perfect in love, or to believe Satan and his lies. Satan simply asked the question. "Has God said?", but in so doing he cast doubt upon God's Word. Satan wants us to doubt the Bible as the revelation of God. He wants us to doubt the Word that was made flesh. He wants us to doubt the perfection and love of Jesus Christ.

In answering the serpent's first question, Eve incorrectly quoted God, making the command more strict and the penalty lighter. God said nothing about "touching" the fruit, and He had warned of immediate death ("in that day"). Satan's next step was to call God a liar: "you will not surely die". From there, Satan went on to say that God just wanted to keep them ignorant and less powerful than Himself. He represented God as selfish and self-serving, and how many times has Satan whispered this same thing in our ears? So, Adam and Eve were faced with a choice: To believe in the loving care of God, or to trust in Satan the deceiver.

Satan used a partial truth to entice Eve to disobedience. He said she would know good and evil. However, he did not tell her that she would not have the power to do good, nor the power to resist evil. God loves us, and He cannot lie. He always tells us the truth, no matter how difficult it is for us to accept. He tells us the penalty for disobedience is death, unless we accept his free gift of forgiveness. He tells us that Jesus did not come to condemn us, but rather to pay the price for our sins. He tells us that no further payment is necessary, no further punishment will be meted out to those who have accepted the love of God.

Adam and Eve were given the same moral test that all of us face in this life. The fruit looked "good for food ... pleasant to the eyes" and seemed desirable "to make one wise". Thus we are led into all kinds of unloving behavior by the lust of our eyes, our flesh, and the pride of life. It is this same moral test that Jesus was subjected to by Satan, and which He withstood by quoting (and believing) the Word of God.

Adam and Eve ate of the tree and disobeyed God. Immediately they felt overwhelming guilt and tried to hide their guilt with fig leaves. It wasn't good enough, and they did not dare face God. Yet isn't this so often our first reaction to our own wrong-doing? We would like to cover our own sins with promises, good deeds, and excuses, but these cannot satisfy ourselves, much less God. Adam and Eve severed their relationship with God when they doubted his Word and goodwill. They were already hiding from God, before He ever formalized the lack of relationship by driving them out of the garden.

Did God set us up to fail? The Bible tells us that Christ was crucified (in God's heart) from the beginning of creation. Adam and Eve had all the advantages of a perfect parent, and perfect environment, but they still failed to know God and love Him. We are born into a corrupt and dying world, so that we may appreciate by contrast all the blessings and joy that God longs to give us. Adam and Eve had a natural innocence, but they soon fell. Jesus offers us an innocence that can never be shaken, for He became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. There can be no failure for those who are trusting in Christ's blood, only the honor of being called the children of God.

God promises eternal life to all who believe in Jesus. He wants no one to perish, yet life is empty and useless without a close relationship with Him. He desires that all may escape death, but that is the just reward for unloving persons. God is love. He does not demand gratitude. Yet the hearts of all believers pour forth their love and respect for the One who sacrificed His own Son, so that mercy might triumph over justice. Here is the power of God to enable us to do good and resist evil. Trusting in the Word of God, the Word that became flesh, we recognize the limitless depths of God's love, and respond with obedience. Let us always seek to love others, as He first loved us.