Sunday, February 3, 2013

What we lost in the Garden we gained at the Cross





Can't Never Did Anything, Can Did It All! (from my days as a gymnast)

See you later Alligator, After while Crocodile (the way my grandpa and I would say goodbye

Enough (the word God gave me this year to remind me there will be enough money, enough food, enough time.....)

Don't Worry, Be Happy (my dad would crank the record player and make the house shake as we all were reminded every little thing was going to be alright)

Don't let your circumstances define your God, but let God define your circumstances (something God spoke into my life a few years back)

These five are just a few of the phrases and words that make up a little bit of who I am today.

Certain words and phrases carry meaning and power. Just the mention of them brings us back to a memory or a familiar feeling. They send us forth with renewed courage and hope. On the flip side there are probably plenty of words and phrases floating around within that make us want to run and hide.

I hope that as I abide in God's love and presence I will experience less and less of the words that make me hide and more of the words that send me forth with courage and hope.

What we lost in the Garden...we gained at the Cross is the newest phrase that sends me forth with an extra bounce in my step. This title to my Sunday school message came as I reflected on all I learned while studying Genesis 3. I instantly fell in love with the phrase and all the hope it carries with it  Genesis 3 can be a little depressing, considering all that was lost with the fall of man but to realize that we gain it all at the Cross makes me want to leap with joy and dance around with praise.

Genesis 3 starts out with the crafty serpent questioning Eve about whether or not God had really forbidden her from eating from the trees in the garden. Eve quickly responded that the only forbidden tree was the one in the middle of the garden and that she couldn't even touch it (exaggeration on her part) or she would die.

Being the craftiest of all the creatures, the serpent followed Eve's response up with "You will not surely die...for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." He definitely lied about the dying part, but the trickery he used on Eve is one he still uses on us today. He told her the truth but not the whole truth....he told her what she would gain but left out the part about what she would lose. She would gain the ability to be like God, knowing good and evil, but she would lose so much more.  His tactics haven't changed as today we are often quick to see all we will gain by giving into temptation, only to realize the loss once it is too late. Satan is good at accentuating the "gains" and leaving out the losses. And the truth is we find out the gains are really not gains at all.

There were so many losses that took place when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit....life has never been the same.

Loss of holiness/righteousness
v. 6-7when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves

Instantly they felt shame and did something they had never done before. They sewed fig leaves together making a covering to hide their nakedness. I tried to think of how to describe what shame feels like and the best I could come up with was "not okness". That awful feeling of when you just feel/know that things are not ok, the sinking feeling of dread coming over you, wanting to blend into the scenery and disappear. Shame and guilt makes you wish you could time travel and redo whatever has been done or said. There are so many different levels of shame we experience...getting caught stealing the cookie from the cookie jar...getting found out that you wet your pants in 2nd grade, gossiping, cheating on your spouse...no matter how big or small the offense a level of guilt and shame follows and the desire arises within to cover up.

That guilt and shame is rooted in the loss of holiness and righteousness before our Creator. At creation Adam and Eve stood before God in purity and holiness but ever since the fall man is born with a sinful heart that longs to cover up before a Holy God.

Loss of Peace with God
v. 8 then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

They found a way to cover up and lessen the dreadful feeling of guilt and shame but now a new feeling arises within, fear. A fear so strong that it has them scrambling to get behind the nearest trees. The familiar sound of God walking in the garden no longer brings a sense of peace.

v.9-10 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.

The ability for Adam and Eve to delight themselves in the presence of God was exchanged for a sad conversation had while they hid amongst the trees. To this day many of us are still in hiding. The natural peace that existed between God and man at creation has been destroyed and man is now born with a heart far from God, a heart that is continually going astray.

Loss of Freedom
 v. And God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said,” The woman you put here with me-she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate”

They had become slaves to sin; their freedom from knowing only good had vanished. Now their eyes were open and they knew evil. The crushing feeling of being questioned for the wrong he had done led Adam to pierce Eve’s heart by blaming her for this dreadful mess they were in. Eve turned around and cast the blame on the serpent. And so began the painful path we are born into, slavery to sin

Eve knew that eating from the tree would bring about death but it’s as if she took on the “I will find out for myself mentality”. Trickery that Satan still uses today, getting us to believe that maybe just maybe the one thing that everyone warns us about won’t be so bad for us. So we seek to find out for ourselves. We do what we don’t want to do and fail to do what we long to do, we live as slaves to sin.

Loss of Home
v. 22-24 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. he must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

What a sad day. I wonder how many times they cried and mourned over the loss of their perfect home in the garden. The garden had been a place of complete joy, peace, freedom, love, beauty. But now they lived and worked the land with much toil. Suffering became a part of everyday life.

I believe there is a longing and groaning within each of us for that perfect home. No matter how much peace and love we find there seems to be a yearning for more. The loss of the garden leaves us crying out, “My life is for much more than this!”

Now for the part that sends me forth with that extra bounce in my step….all that is lost is gained at the cross.
We no longer need to hide. We no longer need to cover up all the wrongs we’ve ever done. We no longer need to live as slaves to sin. We can experience peace, freedom, joy, hope and love.

Righteousness and holiness is restored at the cross
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Colossians 1:21-22

Peace with God is restored at the cross
Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ Romans 5:1

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace Ephesians 2:13-14

Freedom from slavery to sin is restored at the cross
Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather off yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law but under grace…..you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. Romans 6:11-14;22

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

A New Home awaits us because of the cross
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you  also may be where I am. John 14:1-3

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelations 21:1-4

There is a day coming when we will no longer experience shame, guilt, pain, fear or loneliness. Jesus has promised that he will come to take us to the place he is preparing for us. Seriously can’t wait to see what he has been preparing. But as we wait we can have hope because Jesus has come and his death on the cross and his rising to new life has brought us new life. 

We will still experience shame and fear when we sin but we can look to the cross and remember that our Savior died so that we might live. We can claim the victory that is ours in Jesus and we can let the shame and guilt be washed away by His grace and mercy. We can revel in the truth that there is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus.  

Far too many of us are still trying to make our own coverings and hiding out from God when the door has been swung wide open and His grace, mercy and love awaits us if we will only come and drink often.

Daily we are invited to drink of God's grace and remember that we are made holy, pleasing and acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. What we lost in the Garden...we gained at the Cross.

Hallelujah!

I wonder what would happen if these words stuck with us each day, "What we lost in the Garden...we gained at the Cross"

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