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The Fall | The Story

#storychanging

The Fall | The Story

Monday God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.  Genesis 1:31 

“I can’t believe in a God who would allow such evil in the world,” Shane announced. “Exactly,” answered Monica. “If God is so great, why did He make a world with earthquakes, disease, and murder? Why would a good God stick us on this planet where there’s cancer, pneumonia, and birth defects? Then we die. Doesn’t seem good to me.” Rudy cleared his throat. “I get what you’re saying, but I’m wrestling with these questions: If there is evil, there must be good. But how do we know the difference? Some people think cannibalism is good. Doesn’t the existence of evil mean there is ultimate good? Wouldn’t that be God?

An atheist is a person who says, “There is no God and I hate Him!” Most people realize it is ridiculous to deny the existence of a Creator, but they want to decide what He’s like. We struggle to reconcile the evil in the world with the Bible’s claims that God is good. So we end up in a conversation like the one above. We forget that God did not create the world like this. He created everything perfect. He established the moral standard of good and evil. Human beings were created perfect, in God’s own image, and He gave us a free will with which to choose good or evil. When Adam chose evil, he brought sin into God’s perfect world. And sin has consequences. God did not break the world, sin did. Sin still breaks the world and it breaks God’s heart.

Final Thought:  God created a world that was very good. Sin created a world that was very broken. Jesus was God’s solution.

Prayer: Father, I sometimes get mad at you because of all the evil in the world. But I need to remember that you didn’t create the world like this. Sin did. Adam’s sin. My sin. Only you can fix it. Help me be part of your solution. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Tuesday  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 3:1

He arched a dazzling eyebrow at her. “Seriously, Eve? How awful for you. I pity you humans, under the rule of such a tyrant. Why, if I was running the universe, I’d give you everything you wanted.” The serpent’s smile was the most beautiful sight she’d seen. He seemed so kind, so concerned for her. Maybe he was right. Maybe God was keeping something from her that was good. Something she needed to be happy. God had been wonderful, but maybe the serpent had a point. She would try it.

That’s where it starts. Most of us don’t break commandments to be evil. We listen to the serpent. He sounds so sweet, so convincing, we think, “Maybe he has a point.” Sin begins in the heart the minute we entertain the idea that God is keeping good from us. When pursuit of happiness becomes our main goal, we displace God, just like Eve did. We think we know better than God does what we need and sin is the result. It can happen in a nanosecond, but it goes like this: God’s word says, “You shall not”— The serpent whispers, “Seriously? That seems harsh”— We think, “God said no to something I need. Therefore, I will make my own decision.” So we try it anyway…and Satan locks the cell door behind us.

Final Thought: Sin begins the moment we listen to the serpent’s challenge of God’s word and His authority.

Prayer: Lord, it’s easy to see where Eve messed up, but I’m no better. Too often, I listen to the serpent questioning your word and your goodness. And I disobey. Please forgive me. I want to do better. If you say, “Don’t,” I won’t.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Wednesday During supper…the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot… to betray him.  John 13:2

In the 1970’s, Flip Wilson introduced a phrase that quickly caught on with the American TV-watching public: “The devil made me do it!” It was a guaranteed laugh. Unfortunately, that phrase also wormed its way into American theology and a generation began to declare themselves victims instead of sinners. The 21st century version of Wilson’s mantra sounds more like this: “My addiction made me do it.” Or, “My loneliness made me do it.” Or, “My financial stress made me do it.” In other words, “The devil made me do it.” Can the devil make us do anything? Did the devil MAKE Judas Iscariot betray Jesus? Of course not. The devil can hint, suggest, urge, plant ideas that sound like our own, and orchestrate circumstances that make us more prone to fall. But we have an even more powerful force inside us. The devil exploits it, but we choose it— SIN.

Satan is crafty, but he has limitations. He cannot read our minds. He cannot control a person filled with the Holy Spirit. He’s a pest, a destroyer, and a hater of all that is good, but he cannot MAKE us sin. No one has that power. Sin is a choice. Addictions cannot MAKE us sin. Lust, greed, envy, and a poor self-image cannot MAKE us sin. Sin lives in us. It’s part of the DNA we inherited from Adam. Wise people live with conscious awareness of their own tendency to sin, and stay as far from temptation as they can get. The devil did NOT make us do it. We did it of our own free will. That’s why we need repentance. 

Final Thought:  Are you blaming someone or something for sin choices you made of your own free will?

Prayer: Lord, search my heart. Do I make excuses for my sin? Do I blame the devil, other people, or addictions? I’m not a victim. I have free will and I am determined to bring that will under your control. Sin will not rule me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Thursday By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin; so death passed to all men, for all have sinned. Rom. 5:12

You may have inherited your grandmother’s eyes, your dad’s nose, or the family short-gene. We learn in middle school science that genetics plays a huge role in forming who we are. We learned about dominant and recessive genes but nobody taught us about the single most important trait every human being inherits from their parents: a sin nature. That sin nature is the reason we die. It’s why we choose bad when we wish we’d chosen good. It’s why we lose our temper, steal and lie when it suits us, and pursue sexual exploits devoid of morals. One man. One sin. One moment that spread like a disease, ravaging us all.

Theologians call Adam’s first sin “the fall” because it was that one moment that plunged humanity into Satan’s territory. Adam had walked and talked with Perfection itself. He lived on a loftier plane than we can imagine. But sin jerked him out of that utopia and pulled him under the way an ocean current traps a swimmer. He fell from a perfect relationship into a world of broken relationships, from a carefree existence into a fight for survival, from the heights of ecstasy to the depths of despair. And he took us with him. Romans 5:12 spells out the bad news, but verse 19 gives us hope: “Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.” Adam’s one act condemned us forever; but Jesus’ one act offers to restore all who trust in Him. Faith lets us inherit Jesus’ DNA.

Final Thought:  We inherited sin from Adam, but we inherit righteousness from Jesus when He is our Lord of our lives.

Prayer: Father, whose DNA do I carry? Do I resemble Adam more than Jesus? I’m ready to change that. Because of Jesus, I don’t have to live like fallen Adam. I can live the way you created me to live. I want to resemble you. In His name, amen.

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Fridaymy righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.  Isaiah 53:11

Love Wins by pastor Rob Bell created a firestorm when it was published a decade ago. In his book, Bell suggested that since Jesus died for everyone, His sacrifice saves us all. He claimed that Hell was temporary and, in the end, everyone will be saved. William P. Young, author of The Shack, shares this idea which is called Universalism. This twisted idea is not, nor has it ever been, supported by scripture. Thousands of years before Jesus was born, Isaiah had already prophesied that the coming Messiah “will justify many.” Not all. Many. Many will entrust their lives to Him. The ones who won’t will pay for their own sins.

It is popular to believe that Jesus died to save us all from our sins so we don’t need to worry about judgment. Our good will outweigh our bad and Jesus already cleared away all that unpleasant Hell stuff, so we don’t need to give it another thought. If that’s the case, then what did Isaiah mean by “many?” Why did Jesus warn so strongly about Hell (Matt. 10:28)? If Heaven is forever, then so is Hell. Sorry, Rob and William. Your attempts to be kinder than God have no basis in reality. Every good offer has a cut-off date. No use applying after that date. It’s over. And death is our cut-off date. Until then, the offer stands open to “whosoever will.” God’s justice demands that sin be paid for. But He didn’t throw the book at us. He actually paid for it Himself. So we either allow Jesus to pay our debt, or we pay it ourselves forever in Hell. We choose whether to be one of the “many.”

Final Thought:  Are you certain that your sin debt is paid? Does your life indicate such a transaction has happened?

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sin. Thank you that I don’t have to pay for it myself. I choose you. I choose Him. I choose to surrender my life and future to your control. I want to be included in the “many.” In His name, amen.