“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 thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6).
While the essence of sin remains a theological and practical mystery, what is better known is how individuals are able to sin. I do not mean the forms they choose to use to express the evil they do; I am referring to how it is possible for a person to do what they do, when they know it is wrong, and will hurt self and others.
For understanding, we begin with why people sin. There are two guiding impulses.
First, there is the will to power. The apostle James explains. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1). When God created man in His own image, man was created with intense desires. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with basic felt needs and desires. The Bible teaches that even the Holy Spirit has strong desires (Gal. 5:17). What wrong is when our desires want to prevail against the known will of God. When the Lord told Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, a natural impulse to have something became an unholy will to power.
If the first guiding principle in sin is the will to power, the second is the principle of pleasure. God created individuals to enjoy His creation. The majestic twilight movement of the heavens at night, the blue sky in the day, the joy of love, the delight in trying new foods, the sweet-smelling fragrance of flowers, have all be given by God to individuals for pleasure. The sound of music can transform the soul and produce escasty in the heart. Art can move a tender personality to tears. Literature can bring characters and events to life in such a realistic way, the wide range of human emotions are interwoven with the narrative, and experienced as the story unfolds.
When people do what they do, it is because they will to do what they do, and it is because whatever is done brings them pleasure. This includes acts of moral transgression.
But how did it all start. How were Adam and Eve to exert the will God gave them in an inappropriate manner? How were Adam and Eve able to push natural impulses beyond the divinely ordained boundaries?
The answer to that is rooted in deceit, for Eve, leading to doubt, then unbelief, which led to a loss of the fear of God.
The Bible says that the FEAR of God is the beginning of wisdom. When God forbid Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, He said they would die (Gen. 2:16-17). The Lord God said there would be the most severe of all penalties possible for disobedience, death. Initially, Adam and Eve believed God, and so they naturally feared Him. They were wise.
Then came the serpent casting aspersion on the integrity of God. “Hath God said?” asked the serpent (Gen. 3:1). Indeed, God had spoken, and the serpent knew it. Adam knew what God had said, and so did Eve.
But something was now taking place in the spiritual realm, in the heart of the woman. In an instant Eve began to doubt the Word of God. Then, she boldly embraced unbelief, being encouraged by the serpent who said, “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4).
In that moment, there was a cosmic shift in her soul. Because Eve no longer believed God, she no longer feared Him, and because she did not fear God, “she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
For every professing Christians, this question comes. “Do you fear God?” “If not, why not?”
Some people do not fear God because, they too believe the lie of the serpent as it comes to them today through the speech of the Agnostic, the Atheist, the Skeptic, and the Secular Humanist. Biblically, such individuals are known as, “The Fool”. “The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). Since there is no God, there is nothing to fear.
Some people do not fear God because they believe the false teaching of religious leaders who postulate that God is so loving, so long suffering, and so forgiving, He will not punish evil people in a place called Hell. Their unbelief takes away any fear of God.
Some people do not fear God because they have no self-awareness. People have been educated not to believe they were made in the image of the divine Creator, but came from a cosmic germ, which in turn came from an accidental explosion of matter into everything, through an evolutionary process. What caused the eternal and unmovable matter to move is inexplicable. The fact is self-evident; it happened, so says the evolutionist. Therefore, eat, drink, be merry, for tomorrow there is death, and a return to the cosmic nothing, and the primordial soup. That is the pessimism of unbelief.
For the thoughtful person who knows that something is wrong in their soul, for the individual who realizes there is a moral facet to the universe, for that struggling heart that experiences the shame of repetitive wrong choices, know how you sin, if you would be free from the cycle of your struggle.
Simply enough, you do not fear God. You do not fear God because you do not believe God. You do not believe God because you were taught to doubt His existence, His sincerity, and His hatred of evil. Your teaching has encouraged you to manifest your own will to power in pursuit of pleasure.
Would you be free from the bondage of sin, and shame? Then do this. The next time you are tempted to lie, cheat, or steal, to engage in an inappropriate relationship, watch pornography, or eat like a glutton, the next time you are tempted to vent the hatred in your heart, be honest with yourself and admit, “In this moment, for this act, I do not fear God for I do not believe God will punish me. If He does, it will not be severely. I want what I want. I do not want to do good. I want my way, the way of death, and self-destruction.”
With these honest thoughts in mind, if you proceed, you will be allowed to exercise your will to power, you will experience a moment of pleasure, and you will be judged for God, does not lie, no matter the falsehoods others articulate, and no matter what erroneous thoughts self-embraces.
Arresting any temptation to engage in wrongful behavior comes from understanding what is happening from a divine perspective. Knowing how sin operates is to know how to cease from sinning.
Generally speaking, psychologist and secular counselors will not be of much help to people who are spiritually minded, for even non-Christian professionals know the last thing individuals want to do, or will do, is to accept personal responsibility. Eve blamed the serpent, Adam blamed God, and Sigmund Freud has taught numerous generations to blame their childhood for a life out of control. Or, if you have a mouth out of control, blame society, and America in particular, like seven-time Super Bowl superstar quarterback, Tom Brady.
When Brady was asked about his habit of using profanity during games, he said:
“I wish I did have a better mouth out there at times, but there’s nothing that quite expresses the way I feel like that [very egregious] word,” Brady said. “It is, it is [a great word], especially in the heat of the moment. … Blame CBS and NBC for putting it on TV. Don’t blame me.”
Brady went on to explain that perhaps he is not the only one swearing on a football field, something we had not previously considered.
“We’re not choirboys, I know that,” he said. “You bring us up to a certain level of intensity to the game, your job is to go out there and physically, emotionally, mentally dominate the game. You don’t do that at church on Sunday. You’ve got to go to the football field for that.”
That is right. We are America. We have God and trucks and football and Tom Brady and awesomeness. (NBCSports; Posted by Darin Gantt on December 8, 2014, 10:58 AM EST)
If a Christian will realize they need to fear God, that is a good beginning. But in order to fear God, there must be a firm belief that He does not lie. The heart must believe there is a heaven to gain, and a judgment to endure for unbelief.
So come now to the Cross if you would cease from repetitive sin. Come now you who would be free from your addiction. Come now you who would be forgiven. Be honest with your God, and with yourself about the matter of unbelief, and no fear of God. Come now and confess your unbelief, and your absence of fear of God, and then come and find mercy at the Cross.
“Come, ev’ry soul by sin oppressed-
There’s mercy with the Lord,
And He will surely give you rest
By trusting in His word.
Only trust Him, only trust Him,
Only trust Him now.
He will save you, He will save you,
He will save you now.
For Jesus shed His precious blood
Rich blessings to bestow;
Plunge now into the crimson flood
That washes white as snow.
Yes, Jesus is the Truth, the Way,
That leads you into rest;
Believe in Him without delay
And you are fully blest.”
—John H. Stockton