Sunday, 4 May 2014


 The Bible defines faith as 'believing God'. Abraham is the primary biblical example of a man who believed God:
Abraham believed in the Lord, and God counted it to him for righteousness.
Genesis 15:6
For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not given to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Romans 4:13

In the verses above, we first find the definition of faith (believing God), and then secondly we are told that faith constitutes righteousness in the sight of God. This emphasis upon faith is found throughout the Bible, and is the continuing theme of the New Testament:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Romans 3:28
But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6

In order to understand the place of faith in our relationship with God, we must go back to the beginning of our relationship with Him.

When God created the human race and placed us in the Garden of Eden, He gave us one Law to live by:
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 2:17

GOD'S COMMANDMENT WAS SIMPLE: There was only one Law, not many.

GOD'S COMMANDMENT WAS EASY: It was a commandment not to do something; to simply believe God.

GOD'S COMMANDMENT WAS CLEAR: God said that righteousness cannot be achieved through learning the difference between right and wrong; to learn right from wrong would be a sin worthy of death. The way of righteousness was to simply believe God and take Him at His word.


There was a serpent in Eden who contradicted God, challenging Eve concerning what to believe:
And the serpent said unto the woman 'You shall not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.'
Genesis 3:4-5

In effect the serpent was saying 'God knows right from wrong, and He is righteous. If you learn right from wrong, you will be like God, and be able to achieve the same results that He has achieved!'

Adam and Eve were confronted with a life and death decision about whom to believe. God had said 'You shall surely die!', and the serpent said 'You shall not surely die!'. God has placed a powerful survival instinct within all of us. Because logical people will not do things that might lead to their own destruction, Adam and Eve had to be completely convinced that their decision would not lead to death. They could believe God's words, or the serpent's, but not both; there could be no middle ground. Whatever their choice, it would have to be a wholehearted one; they would have to be convinced of its wisdom.

In the Bible faith in God is also called 'the fear of the Lord'. Some people say that they don’t want a God whom they must fear. They imply that such a God must be a tyrant. Their objections overlook, however, the fact that the love of God has already been clearly manifested to us. It is He who has made us and placed us on this planet in the first place, and has opened the door to everlasting happiness for all of us, based simply upon the requirement that we acknowledge His trustworthiness and allow Him to lead us.

God wants to be a Shepherd to us. When He created us, He brought us into a dangerous universe where the forces of good and evil were already engaged in battle against each other. He created us as free moral agents, and with that moral freedom came the possibility either living forever (as a reward for righteousness) or dying (as the reward for wickedness). And God made our choice as clear and simple as it could be.

Those who discount the value of fear in our lives are really striking at the very foundations of human society. Fear is an essential part of our everyday experience. Our fear of death prolongs our lives and guides us to success in almost every important thing that we do. We generally view fearless people as dangerous, and as either uneducated, foolish or insane.

We teach our children to look both ways before crossing the street, and not to go with strangers, because we fear for their safety. Men dig down to bedrock before putting up buildings, bridges and dams because they fear the waste of wealth and loss of life that might result from carelessness. We pass laws about the proper testing and construction of planes, trains and automobiles because we fear crashes. NASA tests and re-tests its equipment and procedures, because it fears encountering some unforeseen event in space. The fear of lawsuits governs doctors and hospitals in the practice of medicine.

People who reject 'the fear of God' don't really have a problem with fear; they have a problem with acknowledging and obeying God. Fearing God is the ultimate foundation of all human success; it represents the wise path that God has chosen to someday lead people to a paradise where fear and death will be forever abolished.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10
The fear of the Lord prolongs days, but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.
Proverbs 10:27

Despite God's warning of death, Adam and Eve believed the serpent instead of Him. They disobeyed God and ate the forbidden Fruit. What convinced them that they would not die? They believed that the Fruit would give them two kinds of power:

1) The power to produce their own righteousness.
2) The power to tempt others, preventing them from being more righteous.

Adam and Eve believed that God would not be able to condemn them because they would be able to achieve a measure of goodness, while at the same time preventing anybody else from being any better. Instead of righteousness being defined by God, it would become 'a relative thing', defined by man and man's desires. Instead of man meeting God on His terms, God would have to meet men on their terms.

Why did Adam and Eve disobey God in the first place? What was the attraction that prompted them to disobey God? The Bible tells us that the Fruit was attractive in three ways:
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her, and he did eat.
Genesis 3:6

The Fruit was attractive to Adam and Eve because

1) It was beautiful to look at.
2) It was a tasty and brought physical pleasure.
3) Its knowledge would exalt them, raising them to God's level of wisdom.

The forbidden Fruit was the one beautiful thing, the one sensual pleasure and the one degree of glory that Adam and Eve were not allowed to have. But to Adam and Eve the forbidden Tree represented much more than fruit. Because of the knowledge it contained, the Fruit represented the possibility of pursuing unlimited pleasure and self-glorification without any fear of God's judgment.

Although God had created them and given them life, had given them a relationship with Himself, had given them authority over a magnificent planet, had given them marriage and the prospect of raising children, and had set before them the possibility of eternal life as well, this was not enough for Adam and Eve. They wanted more. The Bible refers to this over-the-top, unrestrained desire as greed, lust or covetousness. The apostle Peter attributed all of the moral corruption in the world to lust, and the apostle John set forth the clear distinction between loving God and loving the things of this world:
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
2 Peter 1:4
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever.
1 John 2:15-17

Why does John say that it is impossible to love the world, and to love God also? Because Adam and Eve were offered a close and personal relationship with the Creator of the universe, but this was not the most precious of all things to them. They wanted something else more than God Himself. Instead of worshipping God, they admired what the Fruit offered. Their covetousness amounted to idolatry; admiring something more than the Creator. This is why Paul equated covetousness with idolatry:
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness which is idolatry.
2 Colossians 3:5

It is interesting to observe that when the Lord Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He also was tested around these same three aspects of desire (Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-12). First, after having fasted for 40 days, Jesus was tempted to satisfy His physical desires (His hunger) by turning stones into bread. Secondly, Satan took Jesus up to a high mountain so that He could see the visual splendor of all of the kingdoms of the world. Jesus could have had all of the fine cars, fancy homes, jewelry and beautiful women that He might have wanted, but He refused it. Lastly, Satan took the Lord Jesus up to the highest point of the Temple (which Jesus Himself, the God of Israel, had instructed Moses and Solomon to build), and challenged Him to glorify Himself as the Son of God. Such a demonstration of His divinity would have been most appropriate in that particular place. But rather than claim what was rightfully His in any of these areas, Jesus chose to humble Himself and put His identity as a man obedient to God, above His identity as God Himself.
Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Who, being in the form of God (in heaven above) did not consider it a thing to be clung to, to be equal with God. But He made Himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a servant, and came (to earth) in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death; even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every other name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow; of those in heaven and those on earth, and of those under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11