“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,
for the Lord our God is holy!”
Did God, who is Holy, allow the sin, which is not? Is He the author of it? Why or why not? These are the questions we seek to address today.
My answer would be “yes and no”. How can that be?
Throughout scripture, here is the picture I see. God has chosen to have a vital and growing relationship with mankind. He has chosen me, and, whether or not you choose Him, He chooses you. He gives His all to the growth and development of this relationship He desires and designed to be. But “relationship” is two-sided. There is no relationship without both parties giving themselves to it. Therefore, in order to have the relationship of His heart’s desire, God had to make a way for man to choose Him as He chooses us. For choice to be true, there must be something else from which to choose. Thus God planted two trees in the earth.
The first tree, known as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, supplied us with choice. The second tree, that upon which the Savior hung as the sacred Lamp of God, provides us assurance in our choice. The choice of those who had it in the beginning was to choose the tempting fruit of the lie over the truth of God and unhindered relationship with Him. Before going to our focal passage in James, let’s take a quick look at Adam and Eve.
In the story of Adam and Eve’s fall found in Genesis 3, first enters the serpent. The serpent back then could speak, and it says that he “was more crafty than any beast of the field.” He came to the woman, asking, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman replies, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”
Now my question, before we go further, is why did the serpent approach Eve rather than Adam? I believe we get a clue in the response given by Eve. Her response is that of second hand knowledge. God told Adam, “Don’t eat that or you will die.” He never said, “Don’t touch it.”
How often do we see someone who has been warned of danger carry the warning of “do not taste” to a level of “don’t even touch it.” Eve was not even around when God gave warning to Adam. To our knowledge at this point in the story of God, she did not have this one on one instruction of the Lord in her experience, from what we are told in scripture.
I don’t know about you, but for me it is much easier to believe a truth from God when we are instructed on it personally by Him. So the serpent came to Eve, who most likely, as many of us would do, was wondering about the truth of the warning because the fruit of that tree just looked too good to be harmful. And what did he do next?
“You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (vs. 4-5).
Now we know that this serpent is being instructed in what to say by Satan, most likely possessed by him, because we are told of Lucifer’s desire to be God in Ezekiel 28 and other passages. He often works to lead others to desire to be their own god, and he does so by causing us to question the truthfulness and integrity of God. Satan, through the mouth of the serpent, caused Eve to doubt further the truth about God she was taught by Adam, and caused her to question the veracity of her God. The fruit of that tree being appealing to the eye, and the words of the deceiver sounding good to the ear, she was tempted and did eat. The serpent, being the pawn of evil, lied to Eve, who believed the lie and she made her choice regarding relationship with God.
She, then, carried the lie further as she offered the fruit to Adam. We are not told what occurred between Adam and Eve in that moment, but I can just hear it now, can’t you? “Look, Adam! It is luscious. I did eat, and I did not die! God lied.” So Adam, enamored with Eve and always desiring to please her, as is often the case in male-female relations as we seek to please one another: Adam forgot his God, and seeing Eve still breathing, doubted God’s veracity and he ate.
Note something important here, the eyes of their heart did not open to the knowledge of good and evil until Adam bit the proverbial bullet and it exploded. It was Adam that God gave charge to in the Garden to tend it and care for all living creatures in it. He had not only the authority to rebuke the serpent, but I believe that if he had grabbed the hand of his wife and dragged her running to the Father, things would have been different. Instead he too, fell, and their eyes opened to see evil.
Death was not the expected instantaneous death from life, though their bodies began the process of decay in that instant—aging little by little, leading to that final breath in this life to enter eternity with, or without, God. The death experienced in Eden was worse than instant cessation of the life of their body. Instead the death that came was instantaneous separation from intimacy with God. As the voice of God came to them, Him searching the Garden for their presence, I believe because He sensed the disturbance of their intimate connection that occurred, hearing Him calling, Adam and Eve knew they sinned against God and were afraid, so they hid themselves. In an instant, their relationship with Him was never the same.
Thus we find ourselves in the wake of sin still today. Sin is deceptive, leading to belief of lies that destroy relationships. Unlike Adam and Eve, we come into this world in a flesh of sin with the seed of sin ruling, causing us to doubt the truth and trustworthiness of God. From the day we are born, unless our parents or someone else tells us of Him, we do not know there is a God to acknowledge. We are separated from Him, knowing only our own fleshly desires as ruler and master. And sensing the emptiness left by His absence, though not knowing what is missing, we run to our lusts for fulfillment.
James 4:1-5 ~ “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that FRIENDSHIP WITH THE WORLD IS HOSTILITY TOWARD GOD? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’?”
Our intimacy with God is our spirit united with His Spirit. Yet even today our lusts and desire for the pleasures of this world wage war within us, drawing us by the lie away from the Truth. That pleasure we seek says to us, “Take me and you will be satisfied and made complete. If you can just have me, you will have all you need for life more abundant and full.” But only One can fill that place in us.
Note the Capital S in this verse, “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.” James here is speaking to Christians who have chosen God through the second tree. This second tree, the tree of Calvary, where the Savior gave His life to purchase all who will believe, gives us assurance of eternity with God, as we take the fruit of that tree with faith to believe Him who provided it. Even Christians, who have trusted and believed Him, receiving His Spirit that quickens our own to bring Life to us again through eternal relationship with Him, even we can be drawn away by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the boastful pride of life. Look at verse 5 in the Amplified version of scripture:
“Or do you suppose that the Scripture is speaking to no purpose that says, The Spirit Whom He has caused to dwell in us yearns over us and He yearns for the Spirit [to be welcome] with a jealous love?”
As long as we are in weak flesh that is perishing, living in a weak and alluring world of deceptive desire, we can be tempted away from the sincerity of our relationship with God. Though we do not lose our relationship with Him as before, the intimacy can still be hindered, weakening us as His witnesses, His ambassadors, His holy priesthood in this life. We must grow day by day and opportunity by opportunity to continue to choose relationship with Him over the ways of this life.
Our spirit is made to unite with His. It is our choice whether we will believe God and choose Him over the fleeting pleasures of sin’s lie. Anything that brings separation from intimacy with Him destroys all we can be and have in this life. Still today the serpent of old robs us of our abundance by way of his lies that lure us to choose other things over the goodness and glory of our God.
So yes, God allows the opportunity for us to choose to sin against Him, because every opportunity to choose sin comes with opportunity to believe in and choose God. However, no, evil is not set before us by God, nor is it created by Him. God is truth and always deals with us out of His integrity. But there is loosed upon the earth His arch enemy whose desire is to destroy all God cares for. God cast him out of His kingdom and he allows him to tempt us so that we have choice, the lie, or The Truth. Sin, first in the fall of Lucifer, and then in the fall of man, unleashed evil in the world and in the flesh of every person, making it slave to its lusts. God is not evil and no evil comes from His hand, but He allows evil to reach out to us so that we have choice in our relationship with Him.
Choose truth, Beloved, and walk with God in unity of faith to believe Him over the lie before our eyes. God gives us the plumb-line of His word. If the desire of our heart does not stand up to the truth of God’s word, it is sin, and sin separates, hindering a right and true relationship with a holy God.
“Choose life, that you may live, you and your children with you” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19.