There is a word that disturbs so much that it has almost disappeared from our modern vocabulary. People want to make it seem obsolete, old fashioned, out-dated, but the reality is that it inspires fear and rejection. Why? Because just like a mirror, it brings man face to face with his own shortcomings and invites him to question himself. Ignoring this word also comes down to denying the existence of a perfect Person, whose sole desire is our best interest, but about whom many people are definitely not keen to hear about. For, in the name of freedom of expression and with the liberalisation of morals, man cannot bear to be reproved, warned or told that the path he is embarked on puts him in danger. The word we are is referring to is “sin”, which consists in the conscious and voluntary transgression of God’s law. Sin! God! Many are those who, after reading or hearing these two words, will instantly turn a deaf ear and quickly move away, fearing that their conscience be twinged to the point of preventing them from doing what they want. And yet, questioning oneself about the consequences of sin is essential as our future in eternity is at stake. It is therefore well worthwhile taking a few minutes of reflection.
THE FRUIT THAT GIVES KNOWLEDGE OF EVIL
The Bible says that God is the Creator of the universe, the heavens and the earth, and of all living creatures. Some people would rather believe that their existence is the result of a haphazard explosion that supposedly took place in the space, and the fruit of a slow evolution that is equally random. One may find the biblical account of creation far-fetched and naive, but it is no more than believing we are the product of chance. Be that as it may, the Scriptures tell us that God created man and woman in his own image and that He placed them in a garden called Eden to till it and keep it (Genesis 2:15). As clearly suggested by the name of the garden, which in Hebrew means “delights“, Adam and Eve were in a heavenly environment. They lacked nothing and had all the necessary ingredients for happiness. The only thing God prohibited them from was the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to dress it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:15-17).
The biblical account then tells us that the devil got into the Garden of Eden and seduced the woman into eating the forbidden fruit. As a result, she gave in to temptation and so did her husband.
“The serpent was craftier than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. He told the woman: Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? The woman answered the serpent; we may eat fruit from the trees of the garden. But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat it and neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said to the woman, ye shall not surely die ; but God knows that the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and it was desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; she gave also to her husband, who was with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:1-6).
Let us consider this scene for a moment. Why did God place the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden if He did not want man to eat of it? First, you must know that God created us out of love (1 John 4:8). As a matter of fact, it is for the very same reason that human beings have children. Love is not selfish or self-centred, but is meant for sharing and fellowship. God created us to flood us with His love and for us to love Him in return, “You shall love the Lord your God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy strength” (Deuteronomy 6: 5).
But His love for man also implies respect, notably for his free will. God did not make us robots programmed to obey Him. He created us in His image and gave us the ability to choose to love and obey Him or hate and disobey Him. In that respect, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a tool allowing the man to fully exercise his free will. Likewise, when you decide to have children, you have them knowing that they could potentially disappoint you by rebelling against you. We all know that in a house, there are various objects that, although useful, can be harmful to children, and to which parents deny access. Just because parents bought these dangerous objects does not mean that they want to use them to harm their children. Now let us take a closer look at this tree. The Bible calls it “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil“.
Remember Adam and Eve were placed in a garden called “delights”, and that they were lacking nothing. “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! In the shadow of your wings the son of man seeks refuge” (Psalms 36: 7 (or 8)). As such, Adam and Eve, who were living in endless blessing and used to continuously see God’s face, already knew good. In fact, what they wanted was to experience evil. But God specifically warned them of the consequence of this choice: death. What tempting offer did they give in to? Satan told them that if they ate the forbidden fruit they would be like “gods” knowing good and evil.
But the Bible says that Satan is the father of lies (John 8: 44). Indeed, God has never experienced evil. This is how the man and the woman preferred to listen to the enemy who had excited their pride and lust rather than staying faithful to God who had filled them with countless blessings. What were the results of this disobedience? In accordance with the warnings of the Lord, Adam and Eve opened the door to the reign of death. They first died spiritually, and were as such separated from the presence of God (Isaiah 59: 2). They were no longer able to fellowship with God, which is why they hid themselves when God looked for them. “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the evening, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called unto Adam, and said, where are you? He replied: I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I am naked and I hid” (Genesis 3: 8-10).
This spiritual death became even heavier when Adam and Eve ended up being driven out of the Garden of Eden. Indeed, instead of asking God to forgive them for their disobedience, they denied responsibility. Adam even went so far as to accuse God, thus aggravating his situation. “And the Lord God said: Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat? The man said, the woman you put here with me gave me the tree and I ate. And the LORD God said unto the woman: Why hast thou done this? The woman said, the serpent beguiled me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:11-13).
Because the man was the head of creation, his fall also led to the decline of all that was under his responsibility, that is, the earth and everything thereof (Genesis 1:28-30; Genesis 3:17-18). Lastly, the end result of spiritual death was physical death, whereby man had to return to the ground from which he came (Genesis 2: 7; Genesis 3:19). The worst thing is that all of mankind inherited from this sinful nature and still suffers the consequences.
THE SAME STORY IS REPEATING ITSELF
“You shall have no other gods before me; Thou shalt make thee no graven image, or any likeness of things which are above the heavens, who are down on earth, and who are in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, and you serve them […] Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy […] Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kil l. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:3-17).
The Ten Commandments are a summary of the divine law. Far from being limited to ten precepts, it encompasses everything that has to do with morality. In Leviticus 18 for instance, we discover the laws regarding the prohibition of incest and sexual immorality. The whole Bible is a type of code of conduct that one is to follow to find eternal life. Every man knows it, even if they never read the Bible, because God took care to place his law in our conscience. Which one of us never violated any of these commandments? We all did, and many times. Sin has taken such proportions that we became slaves of it (Jean 8:34).
The problem is that many people are aware of it and love this slavery. This is how what used to be considered as shameful and done in secret yesterday, is now openly assumed and valued. Man has reached such a state of perversion that the order established by God has been reversed. Just as Adam and Eve, man keeps on considering himself as a little god by wanting to make his own law and set his own rules.
“Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for the light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5: 20).
Since the fall of man, God has always made the same observation about man.
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and all thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6: 5).
“All are lost, all are perverted; There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psalms 14: 3).
Some will protest, saying, “what about people who do good deeds?” The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3: 23). You may therefore be generous and give away all your money to the poor, and yet be living in adultery. But before God, a sin is a sin and the consequence remains the same: death (Romans 6:23).
Charity without holiness is worthless because it does not save anyone. Sin has thrown the earth into chaos. Despite all the science and technology acquired by man over the centuries, things are far from improving. Every day, the news bombards us with a never-ending flow of negative news bulletin, while reporting unspeakable acts of violence and wickedness. Man has truly become wolf to man. But just as Adam who made God responsible for his fall because He gave him Eve to wife, many men blame God for the misfortunes for which they are responsible. If God exists why are there illnesses? Why rape? Why paedophilia? Why famines? Why war? Why does God not step in to put an end to this chaos? Let’s be realistic. Did God show anyone how to make a bomb? If you want God to step in, are you really prepared to let Him act on his initiative and obey Him?
You must know that God has set a time for men to live their lives as they wish so they may see for themselves how disastrous it is to disobey Him. But He has also set a time to judge all those who knowingly and voluntarily lived in sin. The question is: Are you going to be found guilty or not guilty?
“I the LORD have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I relent; according to your ways, and according to your doings, shall they judge you, says the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 24: 14).
WHAT SHALL WE DO?
Have you ever wondered what the weight of your sins will be at the end of your life? Let us make a quick calculation. Just take for example lust, lie and blasphemy. Let’s say that during a day you coveted 20 times, lied 8 times, and blasphemed 5 times. That makes 33 sins a day, 231 per week, and 12,012 per year. If you live for 85 years, it means you would have sinned 1,021,020 times! And we are only talking about of three types of sins here. I am sure you will agree that it would take all eternity to serve such a sentence.
French singer Michel Polnareff dared singing, “We will all go to heaven”. If there is a matter on which one should avoid making risky statements, this is it. You must know that it is not what the Bible says. Honestly, can you imagine that a righteous God would let the wicked go unpunished? Would He let the cruellest murderer cohabit with an innocent child? As you will have understood, man is not able to pay his debt to God by himself. On judgment day, he will have difficulty finding arguments to defend himself. Men will flee from the presence of the God whose eyes are too pure to behold evil, just as Adam and Eve did before them (Habakkuk 1: 13).
“And said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne […]” (Revelation 6:16).
Fortunately, God was determined not to leave us to fate. He became man in the person of Jesus Christ, and came on earth to preach the Gospel, the Good News. He came to offer us reconciliation by simply inviting us to repentance.
“For God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and he committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5: 1-9).
Jesus Christ came to offer eternal life freely. All He asks is that we have faith in Him, trust Him and let Him be the ruler of our life. Should we let Him, He will be a good shepherd to us, one that will keep us from evil and lead us to a safe place (John 10:10-18).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17).
Moreover, Jesus Christ paid the debt of our sins by dying on the cross in our place.
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53: 5).
“For while we were still powerless, Christ in due time, died for the ungodly. No sooner do we die for a righteous someone perhaps he would die for a good man. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
Jesus Christ, who rose again from the dead, also promises those who would place their trust in Him that they too shall rise again from the dead and have eternal life. This life is accessible to everyone regardless of their past, the number or seriousness of their sins.
“Jesus said: Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11: 25).
And that’s not all, all those who would have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, will be sealed with the Holy Spirit and will thus be able to live a new, holy life in accordance with the moral law of God (Ephesians 1: 13; John 16: 13; 2 Corinthians 5: 17). Isn’t it wonderful to know that God never stopped loving us? Would you be willing to grasp the hand offered by the Lord towards you? Then Again, it is a matter of choice for whoever wants to follow Christ must first decide to abandon sin.
“This day I call to witness against you the heaven and earth: I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed to love the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and hold fast to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days […]” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
The Bible teaches us that the soul will still exist after physical death and that there is nothing worse than dying without God (Matthew 13:41- 43). Remember that you would need eternity to serve the sentence of your sins. Are you ready to face such a possibility? Our prayer is that you choose life. Do not neglect the grace of God.
“Jesus said: I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).