Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The Angry Rut of Adam & Eve
It's not difficult to imagine that God is displeased with how people behave, is it? When you consider all the wickedness, greed, murder, deception, heartlessness and arrogance going on today, is it a stretch to think that God is at least bothered?
He is. But with a twist: those things are the evidence of His displeasure. They are how He is showing His wrath today. I'll explain. (And this is going to be a bit thick, so hang in there.)
As I have written in chapter four of my book, when Adam and Eve left the perfect existence they enjoyed in union with God while in the Garden of Eden, they lost life. In the garden, God was their very life. But when they passed through the gates they were severed from life and left to walking "in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God. . ." (Ephesians 4:17,18 NAS) Outside of Eden, Adam and Eve were left to a quasi life of independence from God, an existence without real life. In other words, they had lots of stuff to do, like building shelter, gathering food, clothing themselves, etc., but they didn't have God's life working in them in order to do it. They had to muster up something else, which would never really work because it wasn't God.
That was the beginning of humanity's frustration and failure at living without God. He was around, but He wasn't within.
Fast-forward through the records of thousands of years of existence, and how has mankind done without God? It's not difficult to see. But what if we tried harder? What if, in light of the past, we developed better strategies for making life go better? How about we cook up some new reasons and ways to treat each other well? No more fighting. No more bullying. No more selfishness. Will we succeed? No. Why not? Because we'll still be stuck in Adam and Eve's rut of trying to navigate our days without the life of God working in us.
They didn't do real well--neither have we.
With 100% accuracy, history's track record shows that the attempt to live without God results in failure and frustration, and that God is displeased or angry that we make the attempt. The evidence of His anger, how we see it clearly in our lives, is not that He rains fire upon us nor that He inflicts us with various calamities; the evidence IS our ugly and ungodly behavior. The manifestation of God's wrath is that we do lousy.
Now let's get biblical so you can see it.
Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20, italics mine.)
See it there in verse 18? God's wrath is already on display.
But because this LifeNote cannot be 63 pages long, let me venture to make my point in a summary manner in the hope that you will later read Romans 1:18 - 2:16. There is a sequence found through these verses that goes something like this:
1) All the way back to Adam and Eve, people have resisted God as God--sovereign and supreme. Because of it, they went sort of nuts, and exchanged what God would mean to them and do for them for something else--the delusion that, without God, they could make living work on their own, without life. (Romans 1:21-23)
2) So, long ago God essentially said, "Okay then. You're going to have lots of proof that your attempt at living without life won't work and makes me mad. Lots and lots of years with lots and lots of proof, like sexual impurity, wickedness, greed, envy, strife, deception, gossip, slander, disrespect, boastfulness, disobedience to your parents(!), and faithlessness. This is how you'll look and do without me. This is the obvious evidence that I am not in you doing what I alone am able to do. I'm all about sharing my glory with you and showing my glory through you to a wondering audience. But if you don't believe me and resist me, my anger will be apparent and on display in your ugliness and frustration." (Romans 1:24-32)
This is the wrath of God that is being revealed ever since Adam and Eve chose their rut--independence from God. Those of us who choose to navigate our days without Christ in us will feel and act like they did--ugly and frustrated. Look at history. Or look at mine.
When I use deception on a salesman so I can get a better deal, what is revealed? The wrath of God. I'm not living in Christ, I'm not giving Him anything to do with me or in me because I've chosen another way--deception. And I look awful. When I resist God and choose the leading of the flesh to get what I want, what's happening? The wrath of God is on display. It's being revealed. Ralph's not acting like a son of God.
This should both relieve you of the fear that God is in the business of causing calamities to show His wrath at you (He isn't), and it should explain what's happening when we attempt life without Him. Really, it's more simple than you may have thought. He doesn't break your car, get you fired from your job (or passed-over for one you want), make you sick, induce the IRS to audit you, or make your investment portfolio go south because He's mad at you. Those things might happen, but not because God wants to get His angry point across.
This is one of the main reasons why many Christians don't know and enjoy and count on the love of God. They believe He is still mad at them, and that He is actively working to punish them. Have a look at 1John 4:
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1John 4:16-18)
If you're still afraid of God's anger at you (and at times, I still am), then you and I can look forward to growing in God's love. That's not so bad, is it?
One more thing: there are primarily two kinds of anger that God has. One kind is a sort of long-term displeasure (Orge). It's just sort of there, simmering. It doesn't do very much. The other kind of anger (Thumos) is the kind that gets agitated and is quick to blaze. It does something.
Today, God's long-term wrath is evident in how we look and by how we're doing. It's simmering, but on the ultimate judgment day it will mean an eternity of failure and frustration for those who have rejected Christ entirely, just as it did in the short duration of this present life. (Romans 2:5) That's hell. The sons and daughters of God have not been appointed for this kind of anger (1 Thessalonians 5:9), but we can still feel the affects of it whenever we attempt to live apart from the life of God. For us, life is by the Spirit, and not by the flesh. We don't live by the principles, standards and strategies of this world, we live from Christ in us. Him! (Colossians 2, and Galatians 2:20) The strategies of this world do not work. They're not supposed to, and we're figuring that out.
Today, God's quick-to-blaze anger has been poured-out on Christ at the cross. In this age, we won't see it and we won't feel it. It's not for today since Jesus endured it on the cross already. That was last week's LifeNote.
I could write a lot more about all this, but you have already read the longest LifeNote in history. Congratulations! I got into this because I've heard so many false reasons for fear attributed to a supposed angry God concerning our present predicaments. That always bugs me. I hope I have assisted you with some clear reasons to rest and chill out--in Christ.
So that's that. Rant over.
We're better off than we think.