Posts tagged ‘Adam and Eve’

When Knowledge Isn’t Power

Credit: Karolina Grabowska /

It was Francis Bacon who ostensibly was the first to say, “Knowledge is power.” Whoever actually said it first, it’s been repeated many times – and it’s been believed for much longer than it’s been said.

When Satan shows up in the Garden of Eden, he tempts Adam and Eve with nothing less than knowledge. He tries to get them to eat fruit from a tree that God has forbidden, because it will open their eyes to the knowledge of not only good, but also evil. But Satan says this knowledge will also give them power:

God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:5)

Satan implies that if Adam and Eve can gain the knowledge of God, that will give them power over God. And they fall for it. But instead of gaining power, their new knowledge instead results in death.

One of the wisest men who ever lived, King Solomon, sternly warns against gossip:

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts. (Proverbs 18:8 and 26:22)

We are still enticed by gossip, however. Why? Because we believe that knowledge about someone may afford us power over someone. From blackmail to shaming to even manipulating someone with knowledge we know about them that they don’t know we know about them, we still believe knowledge is power. But, like Adam and Eve, such knowledge often leads to nothing but death – death in our relationships, death in our trust of another person, and the death of our ability to talk to someone rather than about someone.

Satan gossiped about God to Adam and Eve and look where it led them. There are some things that are simply none of our business. We don’t need to know. In a culture that loves to know, sometimes, ignorance isn’t just bliss; it’s holy. So, let’s reject gossip about others. For by rejecting gossip about others, we can know God better. And He’s someone we do need to know.

October 31, 2022 at 5:15 am 1 comment

Freedom and Limits

Happy 246th birthday, America.

On this date in 1776, these United States were formed when the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence. At the heart of the Declaration was a yearning to be free:

That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.

Freedom is the bedrock of the American experiment. But freedom is also funny. Freedom is a precious gift – one that I believe ought to be granted to all people everywhere – and yet, freedom also works best when it is given limits. If you don’t believe me, ask Adam and Eve.

God gave history’s first couple tremendous freedom:

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden.” (Genesis 2:16)

But on their freedom, He also placed a limit:

“But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:17)

When Adam and Eve transgressed this limit, rather than gaining freedom, they lost freedom, for they became slaves to sin and cursed by death.

In order to be freed from this slavery and curse, a perfectly free God placed limits on Himself as He became incarnate in Christ. As the French Catholic philosopher Emmanuel Falque explains in The Metamorphosis of Finitude:

What makes Christianity is not solely the extraordinary in Christ’s revelation of His glory … It is also and indeed primarily the sharing by the Word incarnate of our most ordinary human condition independent of sin (that is, human finitude and the humanization of the divine).

The phrase “human finitude” is one of the most ponderous mysteries of our faith. In Christ, the infinite became finite. The perfectly free limited Himself for you and for me. And yet, in the apostle Paul’s telling, this finitude and limitedness becomes the basis for true freedom – our freedom:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. (Galatians 5:1)

As we rightfully celebrate our freedoms today, let us remember that our national freedom was won by men and women who willingly gave up their freedoms as they served and sacrificed for this nation. There would be no land of the free if we were not also the home of the brave. And, as we live out of our freedom in Christ, let us also remember that our eternal freedom was won by a man who willingly gave up His freedom as He served us and sacrificed His life for us on a cross.

July 4, 2022 at 5:15 am 1 comment

ABC Extra – Knowing and Being Known

In 1754, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the preeminent Genevan philosopher of his day and pictured in this blog, wrote a book titled Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men.  In it, Rousseau opines longingly for man’s primitive state.  Contrary to the restrictions and mores modern society thrusts on us, primitive man, Rousseau declares, was carefree, without any language, any personal property, and any need to live in committed relationships.  Rousseau declares, “Males and females united fortuitously, according to chance encounters, opportunity, and desire…They parted just as readily.”[1]  In other words, primitive society was the ultimate free love society, that is, minus the love part.  Rousseau continues, “Man’s first sentiment was that of his existence, his first care that for his preservation.  The earth’s products provided him with all necessary support, instinct moved him to use them…There was one [instinct] that prompted him to perpetuate his species; and this blind inclination, devoid of any sentiment of the heart, produced only a purely animal act.”[2]  According to Rousseau’s primitive, paradisiacal world, sex was only a brute, animal act, devoid of any pesky sentiments or connections.  There was no affection, no emotional warmth – just skin against skin, flesh against flesh.

Rousseau’s vision and version of primitive man, of course, is diametrically opposed to the Bible’s account of our origins.  Sex, according to the Bible, is not the result of brute, animal instinct.  Rather, sex is a gift from God, bestowed on humans to connect husbands and wives in every human way possible: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

The Old Testament uses an interesting euphemism for sexual relations.  Rather than using the word “sex” as a verb, it will speak of people “knowing” each other.  For example, when Adam and Eve come together as husband and wife, Genesis says, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain” (Genesis 4:1).

This euphemism of “knowing” for sex gives us some insight into the depth and profundity of human sexuality.  Contrary to Rousseau’s assertion, sex is not just skin against skin and flesh against flesh devoid of any commitment or compassion.  Sex unites people – not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.  The apostle Paul explains it this way: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:15-17).  As I mentioned in ABC, the city of Corinth boasted a temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and sex.  At the temple, there were over one thousand prostitutes who serviced so-called “worshippers” in wild orgies celebrating Aphrodite.  Apparently, even the Corinthian Christians developed a penchant for participating the temple’s debauchery.  Like the pagans of Corinth, the Christians too began hooking up and breaking up.  It was a Rousseaurian dream.  But Paul knows that this kind of sexual looseness is not God’s dream.  “Sex,” Paul says, “unifies one person to another in body.  Thus, if you have sex with a prostitute, you are unifying yourself to her bodily.”  But sex does not stop with fleshly unification.  Paul also speaks of being “one with the Lord in spirit.”  This too is a part of sex.  This is why the Hebrew writers use the word “know” as a euphemism for sex.  For sex creates a deep, emotional bond between two people.  This is why divorces hurt so badly.  Two people are being ripped apart who have been connected at the deepest levels of their being.

The apostle Paul writes concerning eternity:  “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).  The knowing of sexual intimacy is deep and abiding.  But it will pale in comparison to the richness and depth and breadth with which we will know our Savior in heaven.  This is the true and greatest knowledge for which we hope…and for which we wait.

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[1] Jean-Jacques Rousseau & Victor Gourevitch, The Disourses and Other Early Political Writings (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1997) 145.

[2] Ibid., 161.

October 10, 2011 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

ABC Extra – How Could God Allow the Fall?

This weekend, we continued our series in worship and ABC titled, “Five Family Fiascos!  Is There Hope For Us?”  This weekend’s topic was, “When You’re Caught in Blame.”  Blame, as we learned this weekend, is as old as the Fall itself.  God gives to Adam and Eve a single command: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).  But Adam and Eve transgress this commandment.  And when they do, rather than confessing their blame before God, they try to “pass the buck” of their sin:

The man said, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12-13)

Adam and Eve, though they ‘fess up to their sin, refuse to take responsibility for their sin.  They are all too ready to blame someone else for their failing.  Adam blames Eve.  Eve blames the snake.  It’s a tragic – if not even a somewhat comical – scene.

One of the perennial questions I receive concerning the story of the Fall is, “If God knew that Adam and Eve would break His command and bring sin and pain and death and despair into this world, then why would God create them – and, by extension, us – in the first place?  Why couldn’t God just not have created anything and saved us all a lot of heartache?”  Though I would certainly not presume to try to answer every facet of this question, for we are not called to “fathom the mysteries of God and probe the limits of the Almighty” (Job 11:7), there is an answer, I believe, that at least partially and appropriately answers this familiar inquiry.  Perhaps an analogy will help us understand God’s willingness to allow us – and Himself – to endure the Fall of Genesis 3.

Before a husband and wife have children, they are no doubt vaguely aware that raising a child can be a burden at times – both for them and for the child!  There will be problems which call for a heavy disciplinarian hand.  There will be times at which a child feels as though his parents do not understand him.  And yet, countless couples have chosen to become parents regardless of the future problems they know they will encounter!  Why?  Because parents have a strange, truly indescribable way of loving their children before they’re even conceived.  The prospect of having a son or daughter excites them.  And so they are willing to take on the pain of the future they know they will soon have to endure for the child they love.

So it is with our heavenly Father.  According to His omniscience, God knew all about the Fall and all the pain it would bring into our world long before the Fall ever happened.  And yet He created us anyway.  Why?  Because He loved us even before He created us and so was willing to endure the pain and suffering He knew we would cause.  As the apostle Paul writes:  “God chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:4-5).  God loved us before He made us, Paul says.  Indeed, God’s love for us was so deep that He even made arrangements for our salvation from creation.  This is reflected in Revelation, where we read of “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).  According to eternity, God was planning to send Jesus to be slain to forgive our sins from the very beginning of the world.  Thus is the depth of the love of our God.

The Fall of Adam and Eve was truly the greatest fiasco this world has ever known.  For from this Fall springs every subsequent fall into sin and fiasco from sin.  And living under the effects of the Fall is not always fun.  And yet, God’s love for us is stronger than the Fall.  And so, when you fall, rather than trying to pass the blame on to others for your sin, pass the blame on to the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.  For He willingly takes on your blame and takes away your sin.

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April 12, 2010 at 4:45 am 2 comments

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