A Perennial Temptation
Anyone familiar with planting a garden, or flowers in general, will understand the concept of a perennial. It references a type of plant which comes up again every single year. Of course, as it pertains to flowers, most individuals like this occurrence, however, perennial weeds are a little less enjoyable! So also, as we examine Scripture, we see perennial issues which arise over and over again. These temptations and sins are not isolated incidents, but repeated occurrences that perennially show up throughout the generations.
One of these particular sins mankind falls prey to is that of rejecting the commandments of the living God. You need not go further than the opening chapters of Genesis to see this particular sin demonstrating itself in an ugly fashion. A.W. Pink comments on this reality:
“The command not to eat of the fruit of a certain tree was now made the decisive test of his general obedience. The prohibitory statute was a ‘positive’ precept. It was not sinful per se to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but only so because God had forbidden it. It was, therefore, a more suitable test of faith and obedience than a ‘moral’ statute would have been, submission being required for no other reason than the sovereign will of God. At the same time let it be clearly observed that, disobedience of that ‘positive’ precept certainly involved defiance of the ‘moral’ law, for it was a failure to love God with all the heart, it was contempt of divine authority, it was coveting that which God had forbidden.”1
Notice how Pink points to the reality that Adam’s defiance was illustrative of his contempt of divine authority. When Adam disobeyed God and ate from the fruit of the tree, it was not merely an act of ignoring what God had said. Rather, it was full of flagrant defiance and rebellion against what He had specifically commanded. As the sovereign Ruler over His creation God had legislated no one eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and it was perfectly His right to do so. Yet, Adam and Eve, creations made from dirt, decided to rebel against the living God, thus in Adam humanity fell (Romans 5). Consequently, we must ask ourselves the question of whether or not we continue to make the same mistake as well?
The Heart of The Issue
Ultimately, so much of our lives comes down to a simple question, will we submit to divine authority? Adam lacked no understanding in terms of what God had required, He fully understood the divine commands, yet He walked forward in disobedience. So also, the revelation of the wrath of God is clear to all mankind who suppresses that truth in their sin (Romans 1:18). The Scripture is the clear special revelation from God and all of this universe testifies to Him. Mankind does not struggle to understand whether or not they owe obedience to God, every human is left plainly without excuse (Romans 1:20). However, humanity loves sin, lost individuals cling to their depravity. That reality is why the Bible describes those who are lost as being dead in their sin (Ephesians 2:1). The issue is not that God has failed to be clear, rather, the issue is that humanity is depraved in their sin seeking to rebel against the God who gives them breath.
Perennially, there is no hope for mankind to be found in humanity. Putting it plainly, mankind cannot save himself, nor does he want to do so (Romans 3:9-11). The heart of the issue is that we are born in depravity under Adam and on our own, we would simply continue there. Lost human beings reject God, it is their nature, it is what they do and what they will continue to do and will ultimately be held accountable by God for doing. However, we can praise God that the last Adam came. Just as all in Adam die, so also all who are in Christ are made alive (Romans 5:12-15). We are set free from our bondage to sin and enabled to live as new creations in Christ Jesus. However, the heart of the issue which comes into play as to why men reject God is essentially the sinful nature and rebellion of human beings who believe they can defy God by living in their depravity.
Such Should Not Be Named Amongst Believers
Needless to say, since Christ has redeemed us as His followers, we must not live in rebellion against the commands of God like the lost world. Our goal is to set forth the truth of Christ, live according to it, and grow in our desire for it. This reality comes from a transformed heart that has been changed and is no longer dead in sin, but alive in Christ. Therefore, what we should see amongst believers is an increased pattern of sanctification whereby the Christian lives in submission to the truth of Scripture. We do not look to Adam in his disobedience for how we want to live, but instead, as followers of Christ, we lock our eyes upon the Lord as our example. He perfectly submitted to God’s commands, lived for the glory of the Father, and was focused on both living and teaching what was good as revealed by Holy Scripture.
This attitude of obedience versus rebellion impacts every area of our life. How do we view our finances? We must not think for ourselves alone on the issue but go to God’s Word to see how He has called us to manage our possessions and financial means. Whenever we are involved in legislation, education, family matters, or whatever else, we must seek to be humbly obedient. To cast off God’s Word at any point, and to walk our own way, is to eat fruit from the forbidden tree. Rebellion is the way of the old man, obedience is the way of the new. It is our joy to walk with our God knowing the perfect righteousness of Christ has atoned for our sin. On that basis, we now go out as transformed creatures not seeking to rebel, but to bring glory to God!
1 Pink, Divine Covenants, ch. 2.