Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Forfeiting Paradise

Go ahead and put yourself there. You are in a paradise! A paradise so filled with splendor, comfort and beauty that it so far surpasses any office cubicle vacation getaway fantasy you have had. This is a lush garden filled with every fruit imaginable. You will never go hungry, you will be surrounded by beautiful scenery and animals which will never harm you, and yet you choose suffering, hard work, thorns, thistles and carnivorous animals instead.

Now of course by now anyone familiar with Scripture at all knows the famous Biblical couple which I am referring to; our distant ancestors Adam and Eve. This couple was placed in the Garden of Eden, such a wonderful paradise. They were told by God (which by the way was the One who created them, this paradise, and oh yeah came down and fellowshipped with them on a regular basis), that they could eat freely from every tree of the garden except one.

Not only do they have all of these blessings, but there was also some attributes of this paradise which you and I can never imagine. Like no sin nature, no corruption, no curse, no ‘flesh’; there was only purity, innocence and eternal bliss. Picture all of this in your mind, yet somehow, according to Gen. 3:1-8, the serpent was able to lure them out of this paradise. I submit to you that if he was able to tug on the heartstrings of a man and woman with no sin nature, with no corruption, never knowing what it was to give into the flesh, then how much more are you and I in danger of his attacks today?

You see you and I are in a paradise spiritually speaking. We have been brought from death to life, blindness to sight, emptiness to filling, old to new, etc. We have been made complete in Christ (Col. 2:10) and we have all spiritual blessings given to us by Him (Eph. 1:3). This paradise Satan cannot take us out of, as a matter of fact no outside force can take us out (Rom. 8:35), but we run the same risk of falling prey to Satan’s lies as Eve did and we can forfeit this wonderful paradise of God by following in her footsteps (2 Cor. 11:3).

Today I want to focus on the methods in which Satan uses to lure us out of our paradise. Let’s take the text of Genesis 3:1-8 and look at some points as to how Satan comes at us.

First of all we see in the very beginning of our passage how he questions what the Lord says. At this point he’s not actually attacking God’s Word, simply causing doubt to rise in the mind. But notice how cunning he is. He asks Eve, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” First of all, notice how this conversation begins, it at least alludes to the fact that there was a previous conversation, either Eve had with the serpent or Eve had with herself. But notice what Satan does, God had told them (Gen. 2:16-17) that they were given every tree in the garden to eat from freely except for one; Satan flips it and basically says, “Has God really put you in this garden filled with all of this beautiful, delicious looking fruit and hasn’t allowed you to partake of any of it?”

This is the way he works. His first step is to cause you to lose sight of all that God has blessed you with and get you focused on what you will feel you are deprived from. He will cause the man in the cubicle who keeps getting denied the promotion because he’s the only one that refuses to cheat & lie to get to the top to see his position as a failure and begin to question why God is keeping him from better things. He will cause single guy or girl in their 20’s who has remained pure, waiting for the one that God will send to be a life-long companion and yet has been trampled on, mistreated, used and abused to question this life they have chosen.
When the enemy is successful with his first approach, you will begin to view this wonderful Christian life as restrictive, burdensome, hard, etc. You will see God as a taskmaster and not as the Loving Father, Lord and Savior that He truly is! You will stop seeing the “joy unspeakable and full of glory” and the “peace which passeth all understanding” because all you can see is the “much tribulation” (1 Peter 1:8; Phil. 4:7; Acts 14:22). Don’t lose sight of the trees we have been given to eat freely of.

The second thing Satan then does is he will completely deny the Lord’s claims. God had said in reference to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17), “…for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Satan in Genesis 3 says in verse 4, “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:”. He completely denies the assertion from God that in the day they eat of the forbidden fruit death will come.

How often is he successful at spreading that lie today? I find it absolutely astounding the number of people that will profess to know Christ yet they are living in blatant and obvious sin. People that are committing fornication go to church in many circles as if everything is ok with them spiritually. They are lifting their hands in worship, praying, reading the Scriptures and sometimes giving out an “amen” during the preaching. Yet Scripture is very clear on the destination of those committing this sin, and all sins for that matter. Scripture after scripture God has given us to tell us that we must live holy lives. That when we surrender to Him and live by faith in Him and His power and ability, that we can rest assured His grace is sufficient to conquer sin, the flesh and Satan. If you want to anchor that thought in the Word, these are just a few which you can look up, Heb. 12:14, 1 John 3:8, 1 Peter 1:16, Gal. 5:16-26, Romans 6:14, Romans 8:1.

So then why are so many people deceived into thinking they are ok when they are not (Matt. 7:22-23)? The answer would have to be they have given into this lie that Eve did so many years ago, “Ye shall not surely die.” When God’s Word is so clear, why would we run the risk of going contrary to it? Why would we choose to fall short of God’s clear commands? Do we too believe the lie of the enemy, that although God said death would come, that’s not really what’s going to happen? Oh God never let it be so!

Lastly, Satan comes and replaces God’s clear commands with one of his lies. Here in our passage of Scripture, he not only got Eve to question God’s Word, he not only told her that what God said actually isn’t going to happen, but he now tells her in verse 5, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil.” What a petty, selfish, finite god he tries to paint our Lord as. He portrays Him as one who would actually be jealous of his own creation.

Satan will always try to convince you the grass is greener on the other side. He will flood your mind with thoughts of how better off you would be if you wouldn’t live that ole’ restricted Christian lifestyle. Go back to the examples used earlier, he will tell the cubicle worker to tell a few white lies, God doesn’t really mean “all liars” in Rev. 21:8, no you will be so far advanced if you do this. You will advance in your career and that will increase your income, and hey you can even give more to the church then so it’s a win-win. He will tell that single boy or girl to give into temptation, what’s the point anyways and besides, you will then be socially acceptable and you will be so much better off.

Whatever you do don’t allow his lies into your mind. Just stay focused on the Lord Jesus Christ at all times. You can never go wrong with Him.
I want to encourage everyone out there to keep walking with the Lord. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He has promised that He will be with us always, even unto the end of the world! He has promised to draw nearer to us as we draw nearer to Him (James 4:8). So do that! Take advantage of all of the wonderful blessings God has given you and never lose sight of them. He has blessed you beyond measure and you have access to fellowship with him! Don’t forfeit your paradise for the lies of Satan.

God bless and keep you!

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