In my time hanging around churchood and various different men and women of faith, I have noticed a rather worrying trend within The Church currently; that they are slightly fake (note the title). I am going to compound and expand this- show what is happening in detail, and why it is happening (and what we can do about it as a fellowship of believers).
First things first, before we can explain anything, we have to go back to the beginning of it all. So let’s have a quick peek at Genesis:
2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3“It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5“God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. (a)
The key denominator here is how the problem started, before we ascribe what the problem actually is. Here we see a serpent sweet talk Eve into going against God’s will; the first sin ever commited. So it started with the serpent; which we can safely assume is a symbolic reference to Satan.
The interesting thing to note before we blame a fallen angel for all our woes is what Eve does next. He gives some to Adam. After she sins, she immediately passes the sin onto another human being; almost like it was a disease or an epidemic of sorts. After they sinned, they hid. They felt shame in their nakedness, in this example, and made the first clothes ever made by a human being to hide it away. On a deeper level, they began to hide from God.
8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. 9Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
11“Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”
12The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
13Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”
“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.” (b)
Note that God didn’t come in all guns blazing to throw judgement upon them- he would have known that they sinned the second they grabbed hold of the fruit and gave into their desire for knowledge. The first thing God does portrays a loving picture of him; he walks up to them and lovingly asks them a few questions within conversation. We have to understand that at this moment they had basically made themselves their own gods, so this would have been really hard to bear to do; even for God.
The first thing humanity starts doing is blaming each other, passing the blame away from themselves. The man blames the woman, and the woman blames the animal here. So we see a cycle of sin that I can picture as this:
Temptation > Surrender > Realisation > Shame > Suffering > Blame
Another thing to note before I move on is that sin seems to be a pandemic; something that affects everyone and moves between human beings like wildfire.
So, what has God got to say about it? Did Jesus mention anything about sin during his teachings here on Earth? Actually, he did:
17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (c)
Note the language he used- he used the metaphor of a doctor. In his mind, it is almost as if sin is an illness; an enchantment which cannot be broken for all time. Unless there was a sacrifice to balance it all back out again:
14 Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.
16 We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested (d)
Sin‘s power, the “devil’s power, who had the power of death,” was broken by a matching sacrifice which covers the entirety of the human race. To even out our sins, God had to become one of us, live a perfect life and die for us- this is the core belief in the Christian faith. God literally for a brief moment took on the entirety of sin and suffering in the entire world; past, present and future. God created a vaccine for the sin- a cure to stop it from spreading.
But, it is more complicated than that- even if you believe in Christ and have pretty much ressurected with him in mind, body and soul, there is still the problem with the body that you live in. This could not be fixed as you were born within it. This is defined as flesh in the Bible- lets see what Jude has to say about it:
16 These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want. (e)
To put this into context, Jude is talking about false teachers who still happen to be dead in their sins. I am using this in this context because it gives us a great insight into what the flesh is like; it is selfish.
11The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.
12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. (f)
So, temptations come from our own desires; which in part entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. Basically, if in reading here that God is good and the people of God are trying to follow him, all our temptations come from the flesh; which in the part proves that the flesh is bad. By reaching out and trusting God in everything we drift further and further away from these desires; which in essence means going completely against our nature.
The flesh is corrupt, it is the main precursor to sin (the other one being Satan, but I think some Christians give him too much credit for the amount of sin in the world). Sin leads to death, thus in part following the flesh and its variety of desires puts us to death. If you think this is drastic, look at Michael Jackson or Charlie Sheen. They followed and/or are following their desires, their flesh, and it is safe to say that their very lives were/are corrupt. I feel bad in mentioning this in part, but it is a perfect example of what I am teaching here.
22 The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife.23The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise.
24 These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. 25 And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery to the law. 26 But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother. 27As Isaiah said,
“Rejoice, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into a joyful shout, you who have never been in labor! For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband!”
28 And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. 29 But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit. (g)
To continue with my argument, let us look at verse 28 and 29 first. The “children of the promise” as Paul so poetically puts it here, are people birthed from the Spirit. The child born by human effort tried to persecute the child born of the Spirit. In the same way, false teachers and believers who are still worldly, or even the very flesh and bones of the true & genuine believer, is completely and utterly against the Spirit. This is because it is, in part, corrupt; as soon as the sin pandemic began to spread from Eve in the garden many years ago, only God himself could come down to break the power of it.
If we look at verse 22, we get some more insight; as we can see here, God uses situations to explain to us in terms we understand- in the Gospels these are called parables. Right, what we see here above is the unbeliever and the believer or even the flesh of humanity and the spirit of humanity. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus’ flesh was perfect; but he was born of the Spirit from day one- his conception was incorruptible. He had no sin in him, no corruption, no trace of the pandemic which affects the rest of us during the day to day.
I know that I have left this completely wide open; but that is what parts 2 and 3 are for. To summarise what I have said here, all human problem forms from this pandemic called sin; only God within his perfection had the power to break it, and everything that is in God is sinless and everything that is corruptible is not. This may sound oh so very mystical and a bit blase, but read on and it will all make sense.
a- Genesis 3: 1-7, b- Genesis 3: 8-13, c- Mark 2:17, d- Hebrews 2: 14-18, e- Jude 1: 16, f- James 1: 11-18, g- Galatians 4: 22-29
- God It Is Not What You think (crispysea.blogspot.com)
- In the Garden of Eden – Part 4 (fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com)
- The Temptation and Fall of Man: Genesis 3:1-24 (New King James Version) (egrejeen.wordpress.com)
- All Scripture is Useful For… (goldenbible.wordpress.com)
- In the Garden of Eden – Part 2 (fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com)