It seems like I see something new every time I read the first 3 chapters of Genesis. It shows us God’s original plan for mankind and how it was never God’s intent for us to be in the situation we’re in. I want to spend a few weeks discussing some of the major lessons we can gleam from the Garden of Eden.
When we look at the Garden of Eden through the lens of grace, we can’t help but see a loving Father who provided everything His children would ever need. It’s important to realize that God didn’t create Adam until everything was already provided for him. Adam didn’t have to work hard to get God to do anything, it was already done! All Adam had to do was rest in the finished work that God had provided. That’s how God intended for things to be–How awesome is that!
When God made Adam He said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.” Right from the beginning, God’s plan was to make man in His image and likeness. (It uses the phrases “our image” and “our likeness” because of the Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.) Genesis goes on to say, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them…” (Genesis 1:27)
In just two verses, Genesis 1:26-27, God tells us that mankind was created in His image! Why? Because He knew the only way His creation would be separated from Him is if they forgot who they were created to be. When you’re not confident in your identity, you will always question what God’s plan for you is.
God gave Adam one rule, don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That’s it! He could eat from any other tree in all of the Garden of Eden, just not that one (Genesis 2:9). It’s significant to see that God only gave Adam this rule because Eve wasn’t even created until later in Genesis 2:22. Since Eve wasn’t around when God gave Adam the command of not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we can come to the conclusion that Adam was the one who told her what God said.
“Has God Indeed Said…”
One day the serpent, who was more crafty than any of the other animals that God had made, said to Eve, “Has God indeed said ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden (Genesis 3)?” Satan was testing Eve’s knowledge of God’s word! That’s exactly how the enemy approaches us today. Since the beginning of mankind, his tactics are exactly the same! “Has God indeed said that He loves you unconditionally? How could He love someone who acts the way you do?” If you don’t know what God has indeed said, the enemy will be able to sway you in any direction, talking you out of the things God has promised to you in His Word.
Eve answered the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die (Genesis 3:2-3 Emphasis mine).’” God never told them they couldn’t touch the fruit; His only command was they couldn’t eatthe fruit! Now the enemy knew she didn’t know what God had actually said and he easily persuaded her to eat the fruit. I imagine it going something like this:
The serpent steps closer to Eve and says in a low, smooth voice,“You will not surely die. God just knows that when you eat it, you will begin to see things the way He sees them. He’s holding out on you! Don’t you want to be more like God?” He tosses her the fruit.
The fruit falls into Eve’s hands. Nothing happened! She thinks, “I thought God told us we couldn’t touch the fruit, but here it is in my hand. Why hasn’t anything happened? Maybe He was lying to us after all!”
“See? He’s been lying the whole time. What else do you think He’s been lying about?” says the serpent. “Go on, take a bite.”
Eve can’t take her eyes of the fruit. Her hands are shaking as she slowly raises it to her mouth and takes a bite.
Immediately, her entire world changes, but not for the better. She suddenly feels the shame of being naked. Eyes wide, she looks at her husband who was there the entire time and holds the fruit up to him, still shaking. He eats the fruit. The world is forever changed.
I will go into more detail on why I believe Adam ate the fruit in a future blogpost, but for now I want to emphasize how vital it is that we know what God has indeed said. Eve received the word from Adam, but since it was from a second-hand source, she added to it.
What other people say about God’s Word is not what’s important; it’s your understanding of His Word that produces real transformation in your life. Am I saying that you should ignore what teachers and ministers tell you about God? Absolutely not! If that were the case, I’d be out of a job! But, it’s important that you don’t base your entire belief system on another person’s revelation. That’s how mankind got in this mess to begin with.
In Matthew 16, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” They respond with all sorts of answers, but Jesus doesn’t seem satisfied because He goes on to ask one of the most important questions in the Bible, “Who do you say that I am?”
When Jesus asked this question, He was ensuring that they weren’t making the same mistake that Eve made in the Garden of Eden. When we only go by what other people say about God, we miss out on a much better life. Over the centuries the church has added so much religion to God’s original plan that most people, including christians, have no idea who God is anymore.
In my very first class in Bible college, one of my instructors said something that caused me to put everything I had into learning who God really was for myself. He said, “An idol is a false representation of God. If you believe God is angry, punishing you, and causing all the bad things in your life, you are worshiping an idol.” The moment he said that, it sparked something in me. By discovering God’s true nature through the Word, my family and I have experienced more than we ever thought possible! If we had followed what other people were telling us about God, we would continued in a life of defeat.
It’s dangerous to live by second-hand revelations; we must get to know God for ourselves. Like I said, we need ministers and teachers to point us in the right direction, but we can’t base everything we believe on something someone has told us. Study to show yourself approved (2 Timothy 2:15). That means we need to learn for ourselves that we’re approved, healed, redeemed, and righteous.
Don’t take my word for it. Take His.