Epistles to the Cyberchurch - Su Min

To: en & others (Editorial Note: from this point the electronic circulation list grew to four)
From: Su Min
Subject: Sin

Dearly beloved,

Today's meditation is focused on Genesis Chapter 3, and the topic is "sin". Although the topic of "sin" is dark, it seems to me very necessary to study sin, our general sin and our personal sin, not so much to weigh us down and depress our mood, but to allow such an act of study to be a focal point, pivotal, that we may acknowledge our sin, confess, repent and be saved. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God says, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land:" A wonderful promise follows a specific instruction: God speaks to us recognising us as His people (1 Peter 2:9 confirms that we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God): God gives me 4 specific instructions: I am to humble myself and pray and seek His face and turn from my wicked ways: this is followed by a wonderful promise: He WILL hear from heaven and WILL forgive my sin and WILL heal my land. What a mighty God we serve!

There is no doubt that I have sinned. The Word of God in Romans 3:23 says "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". What is sin? It must be "falling short of the glory of god". My understanding of sin is "that behaviour which falls short of God's standard". It is not only murder and robbery and cheating and lying and adultery, although each of those are sin. It is every action and thought which do not correspond to how God would have us live: remember that we are made in his image. So he says "Be holy, for I am holy. What is holy?" That is a topic for another day: but in short it is a pure state set aside for the service of God. One of the big sins that we commit is that we place ourselves as our own god. We often want to do what we selfishly please, rather than actively seek out the will of God. We are too proud. And so we see the first sin was to eat the apple, forbidden by God because He did not want us to know Death and he wanted us to know Obedience. He wanted us to be Holy.

But.. In Gen 3:1 we read that the serpent was more crafty... The father of lies started with what sounds like a tiny little one but in theological sense was the mother of all lies.. "Did God really say 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'". What a monkey of a serpent. Twists the truth. Mixes truth with half truths. Mixes truth with lies. God had indeed given permission to eat from all the trees in the garden except for two trees (Gen 16-17). How do we counter this? I believe it surely helps to have a daily communication with God, talking to him and letting him talk to us in prayer time, and by studying his word, reading it and hiding it in our hearts and minds and soul. Be armed with the armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). The reply Eve gave (she was not yet called Eve, just The woman, achieving her personal name later in Gen 3:20) was indeed correct. But the serpent persists and piles on a second lie "You will not surely die" the serpent said to the woman. Then he embellishes his lie with more fabrication;" For God knows when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." This was not the reason God had banned the eating fruit of the tree knowledge", but the liar paints a different picture: he fans the ego, he tempts with knowledge of things we are not supposed to know, he offers us the opportunity to be like God. The woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food (bodily gain), and pleasing to the eye (material gain) and desirable for gaining wisdom (spiritual power gain) Gen 3:6a:

At this point we jump to the New Testament record of The Temptation, and see how the serpent was still at his dirty work, "Turn the bread to stone (bodily gain)" Matt 4:3 :"All this I will give you (material gain)" Matt 4:9 : "Throw yourself down.... They will lift you up (spiritual power gain)" Matt 4:6. The parallel of these three facets of temptation warns us of how the serpent will whisper in our ear to offer us bodily pleasure, material gains and spiritual power. But the Son of God knew the scriptures and rebuked him, and thanks be to God, with the saving Grace we can do the same... Not that all bodily pleasure, material gains and spiritual power is wrong: much of it is God given and within God's plan for us. But when we bypass God and seek for our own will, be warned, the serpent is at work again!

Back to Gen 3:6, the second half: "She took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it". Here we find a classic example of a husband not doing his duty. He was there with her when the serpent came but he did not move to protect her from the serpent, not did he speak out to rebuke the serpent for making bad suggestions to his wife and Adam failed to educate his wife to show her that choosing to eat the apple would be against the will of God. Instead of being the leader and head of the household, he behaved like the tail, like a hen-pecked husband abandoning his protective role and acting in collusion with wife to eat of the forbidden fruit. He too lusted for bodily pleasure, material gains and spiritual power. He acted against God's will. He fell short of God's standard. He committed the first sin. As a husband, this event teaches me what I must do in similar circumstances, and clearly outlines the penalties if I fail!

Gen 3:7 documents how the man and woman felt nakedness and shame, and made for themselves fig leaf coverings. Gen 3:8 tells us how they hid from God, whereas a personal direct fellowship with God was to be the expected norm if they had not sinned.

Gen 3:11-14 is a scriptural classic. "Pass-the-buck-itis". Now just as Adam was to blame Eve, and Eve was to blame the serpent, many of us have learned this naughty trick of blaming someone else for our sin. IN fact, when I sin and fall for temptation, it is I who make the deliberate choice: don't blame the serpent, do not give the serpent so much credit: for God is faithful: he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear (1 Cor 10:13). When we sin it is ourselves to blame: but if we repent, God will forgive. Thanks be to God!

So what does God do when the sin is uncovered. He metes out his righteous judgement (Gen 3:14-19). In condemning the serpent God also reveals his plan for our salvation in 3:15b where it is written "He will crush your head and you will strike at his heel" referring not only to how snakes will bite men and men will kill snakes, but in the Eternal Strife, how Jesus would defeat death even as the nail pierced his feet and struck at his heel. Praise be to God!

In vs. 20 we read of the naming of Eve. In vs. 21 we read of God's amazing provisions, even for fallen Adam and Eve, the Lord God made garments of skins and clothed them: these would be more protecting and longer lasting than the fig leaves. What a God we serves who provides for us even as we make mistakes, even as we reject him and commit all manner of sin. In Vs 22, God tells us why we are prevented from eating of the tree of life in our fallen state: to prevent us from living eternity in this state of distress: God protects us from eternal damage, banishing man from the garden of Eden, setting cherubim (plural of cherub) and flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life, and setting in motion His plan for our salvation.

I have very much enjoyed the opportunity of sharing this chapter with you: perhaps it is too much and too long to digest in one sitting: Put it aside and come back to it again one winter day. I am sure the Word of God will speak to you and meet you at your very point of need.

love dad.

For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min

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