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From Chris's Heart

September 2007
Opposing the Lie
by Nick Harris
In John 8:31-59, Jesus found Himself surrounded by people having three competing opinions about Him. One of the three groups of people truly believed that Jesus was Israel’s long awaited Messiah and followed Him avidly. The people of the second group were undecided. They were not sure about Jesus. The people in the third group were neither for Jesus or unsure about Jesus. They solidly opposed Him. In fact, they detested Him so violently that they were plotting to kill Him.

Without question, Jesus was not blind to any of this: He was well aware of the varying opinions of those listening to Him that day, so He decided to address the issue, head on. He began by telling His hearers that human beings will always fall into one of two categories, distinguished from each other by the way these people think.

He explained that these two ways of thinking are shaped by what people choose to believe or not believe. One group of people are those who will choose to believe the words of Jesus, words that are true, words that set people free. Then there is that group of people who will choose to believe the words of Satan. His words are untrue, and believing his words will place those people in chains. Every person on this planet belongs to one of these groups or the other.

Those in this second group, are ignorant. They do not understand that Satan lies, and his lies flow from one huge falsehood. I refer to this falsehood as “the lie.” This lie was first uttered by Satan in the Garden of Eden. He suggested to Mother Eve that all human beings possess the possibility of becoming “as God” themselves. By that he meant that all of us can reach our fullest potentials only if we make a conscious decision to live independently of God. That way we can play God over our own lives.

As we all know, Father Adam and Mother Eve made the choice to believe this lie. They even based their futures upon that lie. This would, of course, prove to be a disaster. They did not “become as God” at all. Instead, by believing “the lie” they discovered that their minds had suddenly been filled with guilt and fear. They found that a new emotion was dominating their lives, an emotion they had never experienced before. They were now afraid. Especially they were afraid of their Maker.

This feeling should have alerted them to the fact that they had not become gods as Satan had promised. If they had actually become gods, themselves, they would have had no reason to fear their Maker. As gods, they would have been co-equal with Him. But since they were feeling fear they began to question themselves. They asked themselves, “Have we really become gods?” The answer was, “No!”

Their dilemma was obvious. They had staked their entire futures on the words of Satan. He had not only said, “You shall be as God,” he had also said, “You shall not die.” If Satan was lying about them becoming as gods, then he was also lying about death, as well. This thought also made them afraid.

However, the presence of fear was not the only thing that bothered Father Adam and Mother Eve. Once they had eaten the forbidden fruit, an oppressive sense of guilt began to assault them as well. By eating the forbidden fruit they found they had divorced themselves from God and joined themselves to His enemy. In one instant of time they had become traitors, therefore, they could no longer look their Maker in the eye.

Certainly these feelings of fear and guilt were totally alien to Adam and Eve. Up to this point in their existence they had been absolutely perfect beings. No flaws were found in them. Think about this for a moment: there are no degrees of perfect, are there? Perfection is a superlative. By accepting Satan’s lie and believing that they could “be as God,” they seem to have believed that they would become even more perfect than they had been prior to eating the forbidden fruit, which was ridiculous. So, to do what they did, believing “the lie,” indicates that they believed they could achieve divine perfection.

When that deeper level of perfection, divine perfection, failed to appear after having eaten the fruit, Adam and Eve said to one another, “Something is wrong with us; we are not perfect; we are flawed.” This was not supposed to have happened. They were supposed to be acceptable to God by their own efforts now that they had become “gods.”

But, again, they both realized that they were not perfect! They could sense their imperfections and they gave their imperfections a name. They called their imperfections “nakedness.” As a result of this knowledge of their imperfection, their “nakedness,” Adam and Eve were quickly overcome by a deep sense of shame and worthlessness.

The double tragedy of their action was this: they passed that condition of shame to all those who succeeded them, and now a condition of toxic shame hangs over the entire human family like a lethal fog. We call this, “the human condition,” the condition of sin.

The human race has tried to overcome these feelings in a variety of ways. One of these ways has been by entertaining sinful pride; this sin is the pathetic attempt some people make to restore a sense of self-worth to their lives by elevating themselves over other people. Those who use this tactic can only feel good about themselves as long as they can have others around who make them feel superior. They will then push their feelings of worthlessness onto others around them.

Another way some people attempt to overcome these feelings of worthlessness is to seek self-worth outside of oneself—to find it in a significant other person who will give them approval and validation, and some people will go to any extreme to get that approval and validation. These persons desperately need others to need them to have meaning in life.

To be continued next month:

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