Choosing God Or Good

The English language has always fascinated me in a number of ways. There are several words that are spelled the same but have different meanings. Read can be both present, past and future. “Read the Bible” is future. “I read my Bible yesterday” is past and “I read my Bible everyday” is almost past, present and future all rolled into one. We write on a “pad”; kids sleep on a “pad”; we “pad” our pockets; we type on key “pads” and frogs rest on lillie “pads!” We put a “bolt” on a nut; a tailback bolts to the left and a lightning “bolt” lights up the sky. “Nuts” have bolts on them; “nuts” grow in trees and “nuts” walk our streets! There are hundreds of words like this.

Then there are unique words that are pronounced the same but spelled different and have different meanings. One that stands out to me is “sun” and “son”. The sun lights the daytime sky. It provides power and warmth and it is essential to life. The Son is Light and He provides life. The Son created the sun for our benefit. Consider another interesting characteristic of English words; there are a number of words that are only one letter off… Good and God stand out in my mind here. It has always amazed me that one letter separates these two words. Even more important than this is the fact that God and good have been at the center of man’s problems and troubles since the creation.

Here is a question to ponder; “Is good always good? Can good ever be bad?” At first glance, one might say, “Good is always good and good is never bad.” Let’s look at the ramifications of that statement a little closer. On one hand, good is always good and good can never be bad. If someone is out of work, a hundred dollars is always good! If someone is thirsty, a drink of water is always good. If someone is hungry, a hamburger is always good! But is it possible for these “good things” to be bad? If someone is out of work, what if receiving a hundred dollars kept that person from going to an interview that would have gotten him a job? Which is better, receiving a drink of water or getting a well? For someone who is hungry, which is better a hamburger or a garden?

These may seem like simple statements but they lie at the root of man’s problems since the creation of Adam and Eve. Look at the Genesis account of creation. In the first chapter, on the second day of creation, the Bible says that God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. “ Each day God looked at what He had done and repeated His assessment; “It was good.” On the sixth day, God modified His statement significantly; “31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” When God says it is good, make no mistake about it is always good! When it is very good, that is the best that it can possibly be!

In chapter 2 the Bible tells us that God planted a garden and he placed man in it to live. Notice what God says to Adam concerning this garden, “15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” I do not believe it is an accident that this tree is called the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I maintain that this is the source and substance of the constant struggle that men and women have faced since the fall of mankind in the garden.

Look at what the serpent told Eve in chapter 3. “4 Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’.” Here is a question. What did Adam and Eve already know? All they knew was good. Why is that true? The answer to that question is really very simple. All they knew was God and His provisions for them. When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the serpent was correct, their “eyes were opened and they indeed became like God, knowing good and evil.” What is the real significance of this event and this statement?

Adam and Eve willingly and deliberately chose good over God. Look at verse 6: “6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” Here is the real irony of this story. Eve looked at the tree and saw that it was good for food. She was correct. It is also interesting that she saw that it was a tree to make one wise; for once again, wisdom or more correctly a lack of wisdom is the real root to man’s sin problem. Wisdom comes from God. (James1:5) Man’s wisdom and the wisdom of the world are no match for God’s wisdom. “18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come — all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (1 Cor 3:18-23)

Adam and Eve made the mistake of settling for what seemed good to them as opposed to standing on the Word that God had given to them. When their eyes were opened, basically what they found out was this: there are two choices to make in every decision; there is the perfect choice, which comes from God (Deut 32:3-4; 2 Sam 22:31-33; Psalm 18:30; Ps 19:7) and there are ALL of the other choices out there and they always fall short of the glory of God, resulting in sin. (Romans 3:23) Anytime anyone makes a choice that is less than God’s best, it does not matter how good that choice may be, it is not the BEST choice, which is what God has planned for that individual in their specific circumstance. Eve thought in choosing good over God, she was also gaining wisdom.

Here is another though concerning Eve’s sin; she thought she was getting something she did not already have. The truth is, evil is not something in and of itself but actually it is the lack of good. So instead of gaining something, what she lost in good left only evil. Evil is actually the absence of good just like darkness is the absence of light. This is an interesting concept for the Bible tells us that sin separates man from God. (Is 59:2) If God is the ultimate good, then choosing anything less than Him separates us from Him, and that is what the Bible calls sin. So what the serpent was really saying to Eve in the garden, was this; in the day that you eat of the tree, “your eyes will be open and you will be like God; knowing good and evil.“ They already knew good; in fact; all they knew was God’s presence and His power and provisions. Now they would experience separation from God and a lack of God’s ultimate good, which is called evil and sin. Evil and sin are the absence or separation from God and that was Satan’s ploy in the beginning.

Now with this in mind, how does original sin effect mankind and what has God done in Christ Jesus to correct what sin has damaged? The Bible tells us that in Adam all have sinned. Paul says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death. (Romans 3:23, 6:23.) Separation from God results in death. In fact, since God is life, the absence of God is death. In Adam all have sinned and in Christ all live. When an individual comes to Christ in saving faith, the Holy Spirit takes up residency in the new born Christian’s heart. God’s presence is once again restored and life takes God becomes the source and substance of the born again child of God and God once again walks with us.

Look at the first and second Adam. The first Adam chose good over God. The first Adam found the knowledge of good and evil; Adam and Eve did what seemed right in their own eyes. Jesus, who had every right and opportunity to do what He wanted to do the way He wanted to do it; did what God sent Him to do with no exceptions. In a sense, knowledge stands in opposition to obedience. So instead of having a contrast between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man, human knowledge stands in contrast to Divine obedience.

In fact the whole Calvinist argument concerning the sovereignty of God in contrast to human free will is not even rational. The Calvinist teaches that free will stands in contrast to God’s sovereignty. The truth is, God’s sovereignty is not hampered by human free will in any way whatsoever. The statement has been made, “If God’s Word says it, that settles it I believe it.” Here is the real truth in that statement: “If God’s Word says it, that settles it, whether you believe it or not.” What man believes or does in no way has any cause or effect on the veracity of neither God’s Word nor His Divine sovereignty.

Life itself is nothing but a series of decisions, one after the other. The challenge is really very simple. It is not a matter of a totally depraved individual who needs to be regenerated in order to even respond to God but rather an ongoing process of one decision after another depending on human knowledge or surrendering to Divine obedience in saving faith and repentance so that the presence of God might once again move into one’s heart and with that presence comes His power and His provisions and the potential to once again experience fellowship with the God who created us to give Him glory.

In closing this brief article, what does it mean to give God glory? Well, Rick Warren made the following phrase popular in his book, The Purpose driven Life; “It is not about me, It is all about God.” The basic thought in Warren’s statement is that we were created for God and He deserves our all. This is a very true statement. However, I am convinced that this is only part of what it means to “give god glory.” I do not believe that God created us to worship, honor and praise Him as so many see it. All of these things are elements of why God did indeed create us. However, I believe God’s initiative goes so much deeper than that.

In Leviticus 26:12, God says, “I want to be your God and I want you to be My people.” This is what I like to call God’s purpose statement of the Bible. It is also found in variations in the following verses: Jere 7:23; 11:4; 24:7; 30:22; 31:1, 33; several times in Ezekiel and then in 2 Cor. 6:16 and He 8:10. The real focus in this statement is with God and with us. God is the initiator and man is the respondent. So when Warren writes, “it is not about me it is all about God” he is absolutely correct, where we are concerned. However, I believe God’s real purpose is not what I bring to Him but rather what He is allowed to give to me. So the real purpose of life is for Bob Hadley to say to God… “God it is not about me; it is all about You. However, when Bob Hadley is able to say it is not about me; It is all about God THEN God is able to say to me, Bob it is not really about Me at all; it is all about you. God created us to be outlets of His love. He created us so that He could do for us all the things that we cannot do for ourselves. This is what I believe God meant when He looked at all that He had created and said, “It is very good.” When I give my best to God, He is able to give His best to me and His best is always better than what we can do for ourselves.

Ain’t God good!

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Good post brother. I enjoy your blog!

    Reply

  2. As another observation concerning the similarity between “Sun” and “Son”:

    Mal 4:2 KJV
    (2) But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

    * 2 Peter 1:19: “day star”
    * Revelation 2:28, 22:16: “morning star”
    * Jeremiah 23:6: “the LORD our Righteousness”

    The “Sun of righteousness” makes a nice bridge between those names, doesn’t it?

    Reply

  3. Posted by Cindy Sandifer on December 10, 2011 at 11:47 am

    exceptional !!
    “In a sense, knowledge stands in opposition to obedience. So instead of having a contrast between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man, human knowledge stands in contrast to Divine obedience.”
    and expounding on the theme that knowledge is not always a good thing, think about this…
    when a child is repeatedly told that she is fat, ugly, annoying, etc… what does she come to KNOW about herself? and will this “knowledge” stand in the way of her obeying the Creator? yes.
    and Jesus said, “woe to those who lead little ones astray” (paraphrase on my part 🙂
    i believe that God can break through those barriers, but it may take years before a person with a broken spirit/heart can “hear” Him over the lies. the child has not CHOSEN to believe lies, but instead simply acts on the knowledge she has of herself, spoken over her by others. it is almost impossible to obey God when you hate yourself. thank God that He sees us in our despair and gives us more than one chance to turn to Him.

    Reply

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