Friday, July 30, 2010

"Ye Shall Be As Gods": Sin and the Re-Enthronement of God

Genesis 3. In the beginning...

1 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'?"
 2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "

 4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Now fast-forward to I John, writing just after the central event in history.


15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

There is a striking similarity between the passage in Genesis and the one in I John. The Bible -- including Genesis -- is true and relevant to our lives today. It is relevant as long as human beings are sinners who fall short of the glory of God, in whose image they were once created.

The fundamental sin humans commit is to dethrone God from his rightful place in our lives. All sin emanates from God dethroned and self enthroned. The sin of idolatry is therefore central. You don't have to believe in God to be an idolator.

Idolatry encompasses:

* false views of God -- i.e., false religions and false self-conceptions of God (of which Christians themselves are not immune), including the ultimate whopper -- that the I AM "is not". What could be a more effective deception than that?!

* God-substitutes - either self, "they shall be lovers of self, rather than lovers of God" -- as in all the anti-Christ figures in the Bible, or

* Coveting things - money, sex, power, objects. (As one minister once remarked, seeing his next-door neighbor washing his car as the minister headed off to church, "he was busy worshipping".

Everyone has a god. It will either be himself, or some external thing he "worships". We are all worshippers. It is just a question of what object we place the highest value on. For many, the most worthy object we find is ourselves.

If sin is the dethronement of God, the remedy, is the re-enthronement of God as God in our lives. This re-enthronement began when Christ came. He lived the God-enthroned life. The merits of this life are  appropriated, and this life itself is begun to be lived out, when we accept Christ and the beneficial merits of his God-enthroned life.

Sin is something a person can empirically self-assess. We either acknowledge that we fall short of the what we really ought to be, or we do not. This self-assessment was part of my journey to faith.  Jesus upped he ante of the OT Law by making it clear that true righteousness is of the heart -- motive -- and not merely outward acts or behavior.

Having been on this journey many years, I still do not measure up to the standard -- which is a perfectly pure heart lived out in perfectly pure actions. That is why my hope for forgiveness, built on  the blood of Christ shed for me, is also firmly planted in his resurrection, and the assurance that this body will one day be replaced with a glorious body, not subject to sin's temptations.

Which brings us full circle to Genesis 3.

The Bible is a grand over-arching story in which we are all either witting or unwitting participants.

21 comments:

xn--hrfn-woa said...

A couple of very tenuously related Bible quotes, an over-active imagination and a long string of unsubstantiated assertions -- this is the ephemeral narrative we are "unwitting participants" in.

No, my nose is not 'pressed against the window' in envy, I am sitting back, looking down my nose, and chuckling. But then, I'm no atheist (merely a non-theist), and not as clever as some of them are -- so maybe the magic pixie dust doesn't work on me.

jonathan said...

I, having stated previously on, have never read the bible. I have read passages that have been presented to me and I always find them in contradiction or not making any sense. Hopefully the questions I pose can be answered logically in a rational way without envoking the 'god' clause.

1. If the LORD God made all animals, then why is the serpent more crafty then the rest of his other created animals?

2. How did the 'woman' know what tree was in the middle of the garden? Was there only one tree? If there wasn't, was there a boundary surrounding this garden to where the 'woman' could get a reference point to find the middle?

4. Why did God create a fruit that would open their eyes and let them know both good and evil? Are we all offspring of Adam and Eve?

6. How could the 'woman', not having the knowledge of good or evil in any aspect prior to eating the fruit, know that the fruit was good for food, pleasing to the eye, or able to give wisdom?

15. If we are not to love the world, that was supposedly created specifically for us by god, then why are not more believers attempting to get to god faster by other means? Doesn't this also mean that you sin by eating, since you are essentially eating a piece of the world?

This is why I don't read the bible or anything related to it. I believe it was a manuscript for humans attempting to create a reason for the things they did not understand; they felt alienated in a largely incomprehensible world.

"The fundamental sin humans commit is to dethrone God from his rightful place in our lives. All sin emanates from God dethroned and self enthroned. The sin of idolatry is therefore central. You don't have to believe in God to be an idolator."

Why is it his rightful place, do we the people not have any say? Doesn't that sound like a dictatorship to you? You can say that the answer is no, that it doesn't sound like a dictatorship because anyone can choose to not believe, but if you don't believe or do what he says then you forfeit your chance to live eternally next to his side and instead get a first class ticket to some form of eternal torture.

jonathan said...

"Idolatry encompasses:

* false views of God -- i.e., false religions and false self-conceptions of God (of which Christians themselves are not immune), including the ultimate whopper -- that the I AM "is not". What could be a more effective deception than that?!

* God-substitutes - either self, "they shall be lovers of self, rather than lovers of God" -- as in all the anti-Christ figures in the Bible, or

* Coveting things - money, sex, power, objects. (As one minister once remarked, seeing his next-door neighbor washing his car as the minister headed off to church, "he was busy worshipping".

Everyone has a god. It will either be himself, or some external thing he "worships". We are all worshippers. It is just a question of what object we place the highest value on. For many, the most worthy object we find is ourselves."

I have always thought that this train of thought is BS. In this scenario idolatry is completely black and white, there is not grey area; unlike other aspects of the belief where things are considered in a grey area. What about the individuals who neither believe in a god nor consider anything else a god including themselves? Are they to accused of idolatry because of this?

"Sin is something a person can empirically self-assess. We either acknowledge that we fall short of the what we really ought to be, or we do not. This self-assessment was part of my journey to faith. Jesus upped he ante of the OT Law by making it clear that true righteousness is of the heart -- motive -- and not merely outward acts or behavior."

Sin is NOT something a person can empirically self-assess. What you consider sin may not be considered a sin for me and NO the sins listed in the bible cannot be considered the definitive sins of man because a definitive belief in god cannot be aggreed upon by men. Why such a fetish for sin anyway?"


"The Bible is a grand over-arching story in which we are all either witting or unwitting participants."

I have never read the bible and I can already tell you that the way this entire belief system was conceptualized creates only one path if you believe in a god or not; everyone is unwitting.

P@J said...

Gen 3
1: Seriously. A talking snake!?!
4: Seems the snake was more truthful than God. Adam ate the fruit, but managed to live another 900+ years, didn’t he?
6: So Adam was standing there the whole time? And he didn’t say anything?

Why stop at 7? The next few verses have a great part where Adam and Eve play hide-and-seek with God, calling into question whether God really can see all…

Now fast-forward to I John 2

15, but according to John 3:16, God loves the world, and according to I John 2:6, we are supposed to be Christ-like. So what gives? love the world, don’t love the world, which is it?

since you raised those specific verses, another contradiction arises: in Gen 3:8 Adam and Eve clearly see God, but according to I John 4:12, “No man hath seen God at any time”.

Wha?

P@J said...

You just know I am going to be trumped by the "over-arching narrative" argument...

Argumentum over-archium…

Joe said...

Out of ignorance the people laugh.
Out of blindness the people joke.

Jesus was famous for using the expression 'He who has ears let him hear'. In other words there were those in his listening audience who did not have the ears to hear the spiritual words Jesus was speaking.

Things haven't changed a bit. The ignorantly blind still laugh and joke which shows only their ignorant blindness.

Hoarfrost said...

"Sin is NOT something a person can empirically self-assess. What you consider sin may not be considered a sin for me and NO the sins listed in the bible cannot be considered the definitive sins of man because a definitive belief in god cannot be aggreed upon by men."

The traditional Catholic Church, as I know it, would agree with that statement. If a person TRULY believes in his own heart and self that what he is doing is righteous then there is no sin. (e.g. as an extreme example---cannibals.
I could say a whole lot more but in the interest of brevity I shall leave it at that.

RkBall said...

Jonathan. Thank you for all your interesting comments. I will respond to a few, and maybe more as I have time.

RkBall said...

15. If we are not to love the world....

You have to have a feel for language and how various authors use words, and what their words mean in context. When John talks about not loving the world, this would be in the sense of the fallen world we live in with its allures and temptations, e.g., becoming famous, becoming rich, powerful, possessing "things", controlling people, etc. We should love the "praise of God" rather than the "praise of men". Etc. Jesus said, "he who loves his life [in this world] will lose it.

So, the Christian can enjoy God's good creation, and enjoy the good things in it, but is not to be part of the fallen world system, not be "owned" by it.

A key concept in Xy is "sanctification", which basically means "being separate".

The apostle Paul concludes, "in the world, but not of the world".

RkBall said...

Questions 1 through 6....

We get into difficulty when we try to apply 21st cc. ways of thinking and reading to an ancient text written by an ancient author originally for a different audience (we did not exist!).

To "get into" the meaning of Genesis, we need to ask "what did the author wish to communicate?", and "how would the original hearers have understood this passage?".

To simplify things, it would probably be better for 21st cc. readers to think of this story more like a parable or an allegory. There are profound points of correspondence between, e.g., the snake, the tree, etc. and spiritual realities (which are with us to this day), but we get into trouble when we try to assess it with a 21st cc. mind.

RkBall said...

4. "Why did God create a fruit that would open their eyes and let them know both good and evil?"

God structured reality in a way to make temptation real and sin possible.

RkBall said...

"Are we all offspring of Adam and Eve?"

Yes.

RkBall said...

"6. How could the 'woman', not having the knowledge of good or evil in any aspect prior to eating the fruit, know that the fruit was good for food, pleasing to the eye, or able to give wisdom?"

I don't know. Fascinating question. I would need some good commentaries to see what wiser men than me have said, and I don't have any here with me. Sounds like the temptation involves some kind of awakening of desire.

RkBall said...

"Why is it his rightful place, do we the people not have any say? Doesn't that sound like a dictatorship to you?...

It's like arguing against gravity.

God is the greatest of all possible beings, the greatest of all possible things, the most good, most powerful, most holy, most loving being who is utterly, utterly, utterly worthy of praise and worship.

Furthermore, like gravity and the laws of physics, God is a moral Agent. Someone has to be in charge. The devil thought he should be in charge. Men think they should be in charge. God -- who does he think he is -- thinks he should be in charge. It's more than that. It is right that he be in charge. It is part of the fabric of reality.

All of created reality is God's reality. Of course he should be in charge. But still he gives us a choice -- that makes him worthy of yet more praise!

When Xns pray, "thy kingdom come", they are basically praying that God will come and take charge of things. Regrettably, to do this, he will have to destroy his creatures who prefer to continue in rebellion against him. So, we are in the period of the patient long-suffering of the Lord. He is giving us time to repent.

RkBall said...

"What about the individuals who neither believe in a god nor consider anything else a god including themselves?....

It's not a conscious considering, it's how they live their lives, what regulates them, drives them.

If you follow the demands of your libido, sex is your god. If you follow the demands of your stomach, your stomach is your god. If you follow the demands of your eyes for "things", money is your god; if you think so highly of yourself and your thinking capabilities, your own reason is your god.

RkBall said...

"1: Seriously. A talking snake!?!

Seriously: A molecular clock!?!

RkBall said...

"Adam ate the fruit, but managed to live another 900+ years, didn’t he?"

He lost his spiritual life on the day he sinned, and became a lifeless sinner with a death-sentence in his body. He has passed this spiritual deadness on to all his offspring.

Christian regeneration restores what Adam lost. We become, once again,"alive unto God".

First Adam/Second Adam.

(overarching narrative!)

RkBall said...

in Gen 3:8 Adam and Eve clearly see God, but according to I John 4:12, “No man hath seen God at any time”.

And this. Jesus said, "he who has seen me has seen the Father".

See what I said to Jonathan about words, language, authors, context.

Also, re: some of your Genesis questions, you might want to read up on anthropomorphisms in the Bible, where God is described in human terms.

RkBall said...

Hoarfrost: please see my new post.

xn--hrfn-woa said...

"We get into difficulty when we try to apply 21st cc. ways of thinking and reading to an ancient text written by an ancient author originally for a different audience (we did not exist!)."

Why is it any better to 'apply medieval ways of thinking' on the same text?

I see little or no indication that evangelical readings of the text apply its cultural and historical context to any substantive extent.

P@J said...

Wait, you are equating belief in a bronze-age myth about a talking, legged snake with the repeated and verifiable observation of radioactive decay? How do you square that circle?

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"