“What God says doesn’t matter! What God declares to be off-limits isn’t really off-limits if you don’t want it to be off-limits. You have just as much right to decide good and evil for yourself as God does. If you want to listen to him, that’s totally up to you, but you don’t have to. You can decide for yourself.” That’s what the serpent told Eve in Genesis 3:4-5. And she believed him. And so she took that piece of delicious-looking, freedom-offering, God-forbidden fruit and sunk her perfect teeth into it. “Hey Adam, you gotta try this!” And he did.
The immediate result of their decision was anything but the liberating self-awakening they had been promised. Instead a tidal wave of negative self-consciousness, fear, and shame swept over them. The nakedness the man and woman had experienced without shame in Genesis 2:25 gave way to nakedness accompanied by shame in Genesis 3:10. This new feeling was not caused by God but by the actions of Adam and Eve. They were already stitching together the fig leaves and hiding out in the bushes before God ever came looking for them. When they chose a good and an evil that were contrary to what God had said, they were immediately filled with shame and it was their shame that created the fear and it was their fear that caused them to hide. All of that happened before God ever called out to Adam, “Where are you?” If it’s true that they had the right to choose good and evil for themselves regardless of what God said, then why were they ashamed, fearful, and hiding from God instead of cavorting in their new-found freedom? “Hey God, look at us!”
God is a startling reality check!
It didn’t take long for the initial shame of sin to subside and for humanity’s discovered freedom of choice to accelerate at full-throttle. In Genesis 4 an older brother murders his younger brother, and a man marries two wives. In Genesis 6:3 God accuses humanity of striving against Him at every turn. No shame. No restraint. Just self-indulgence; man choosing good and evil for himself regardless of any threatened consequences (Gen. 6:5).
Fast-forward a couple thousand years to the apostle Paul’s written explanation of the lost condition of humanity in Romans 1:18-32. What he describes is the result of the choice Adam and Eve made back in Genesis 3. The results of their freedom of choice are listed by Paul, not comprehensively, but quite specifically. Some of those results include: a denial of reality, glorifying everything but God, futile thinking, darkened understanding, believing lies, and lifestyles contrary to nature; nature being defined as that which God created and ordered. By the time you arrive at the end of Paul’s litany of indictments, the shame evidenced by the first sinners in Genesis 3 is nowhere to be seen in Romans 1, for the ones guilty of living by their own God-defying rules aren’t hiding in shame but are actively encouraging others to do the same (Rom. 1:32). It’s as if they’ve come out of hiding, torn off the fig leaves and are cavorting shamelessly, defying God to do anything about it.
The choices men and women make regarding good and evil do not nullify the enduring laws of God that define what is good and evil. Man cannot write laws that overturn God’s laws. Man can either write laws that correspond to and cooperate with God’s moral laws or man can write laws the compete with or contest God’s laws. Man cannot nullify God’s laws.
A philosopher has observed that if a real tree is in the middle of a real road and you are driving a real car and run into the real tree, you will feel its real impact even if you denied all along that the tree was ever there. Denying the existence of something that is real does not make it unreal. Our nation continues to ignore God’s laws. Our culture is pushing the gas pedal to the floor acting as if the tree we’re heading straight toward at 90 mph isn’t really there. But it is.
The Congress can pass any law it pleases; the President can sign any bill he chooses; the Supreme Court can render any judgment it wants; the electorate can support any of these they decide to support. All of the preceding can treat God and His laws as imaginary. But if man’s laws ignore God’s, there will be a collision, and when the smoke from the fiery crash dissipates, you will find man’s laws a total wreck and God’s laws unmoved.
God is a startling and a sobering reality.
I’m sure glad He’s gracious and merciful toward lawbreakers like me!