17. Back to the Garden
What should Eve's answer have been? It should have been: "I don't know what you're talking about; I'm already just like God." Eve was created in the image and likeness of God. She was already more like God than she, beholding His glory inside of her, could ever comprehend. Satan's offer, was pure, unadulterated nonsense.
17. Back to the Garden
Adam, where are you?” God’s first words spoken to a wayward Adam.
“Here am I, I and the children whom You have given Me.” Jesus, during the last three hours on the cross, as expressed in the first part of Hebrews.
God did not ask Adam “What did you do?” That was not nearly as important as “Where are you?” Adam, of course, continuing in his plummet to the cliff bottom gave the worst possible answer. He found fault with himself and blamed Eve and God for his misery.
The cross of Jesus is that which is always true in God, revealed within the confines of space and time. Jesus did not “become” my sin in a moment of time. In His eternal nature, He bears me, all of me, within Himself. When Jesus became my sin upon the cross and said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me,” God asked the same question of Him that He asked of Adam, “Where are You?”
Jesus’ answer reverberates to the very center of our human weakness and fearful vulnerability: “Here am I, I and the children whom You have given Me.”
Here is Jesus, bearing within Himself all the sin of humanity, all of my sin and fleshiness. But when God asks Him, “Where are you?” He is immediate and direct with His answer, though He feels, in Himself, the awfulness of all that God hates, all rebellion and murder and lechery, all cruelty and perversity, yet He will not stand anywhere but in the Father. Jesus takes Himself, as He is in that awful condition, and places Himself fully in the light and center of Almighty God.
But Jesus is not alone. “I and the children whom You have given Me.” Adam blamed the woman whom God had given him, seeing his own self as separated from God, alone in the darkness. Jesus included you and me and placed Himself fully inside the light of God.
I was feeling very vulnerable for a short time the other day, alone and frightened. The sense weighed on me that if this thing were up to me and my ability to be a good Christian, then how could I be saved? In my fear and vulnerability, I saw myself utterly inside of Jesus. I am in Jesus. I, in all of my weak humanity, with all of my sin, I am utterly in Jesus. And Jesus is utterly in the Father.
In that moment of vulnerability, I knew that I was completely in Jesus. He carries me inside of Himself. I knew there was no possibility that any part of myself could ever be found outside of Him. Then, I could see, just as certainly, that I have always been inside of Him, all of me, my entire life, from conception until now. All of me has always been inside of Jesus. There is no other possibility.
This gospel that Paul preached raises the question, “If I sin, does that make Christ the author of sin?” The answer, of course, is very simple. “Certainly not! If I sin while seeking to be found in Christ, then I make myself a transgressor.” But even that sin which I birth myself, He has already taken into Himself and become. I see myself utterly in Him; I place even that sin upon Him. His blood cleanses me from all unrighteousness.
Jesus, even when He became all sin, walked in the light. “Here am I, I and the children whom You have given Me.”
Never does God ask “What did you do?” Always, He asks, “Where are you?”
Jesus said to us in John 14, “that where I am, there you may be also.” The disciples were deeply puzzled by this statement of Jesus, but Jesus gave the answer a few minutes later.
In that day you shall know that I am in the Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
Notice the order. First, Jesus places Himself utterly in the Father. No part of Jesus is or has ever been outside of the Father. In His humanity, when He became our sin, when He was cursed of God, hanging upon the cross, when He felt a chasm between Himself and God, Jesus still was utterly in the Father.
Second, I am completely and always in Jesus. Understanding that Christ is in us, that Jesus lives His life in our lives, comes third, after we see ourselves in all of our humanity as being utterly in Jesus. When I am at my worst, still, He carries me inside of Himself and He has never offered to place me back upon me.
. . . beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.
When we spiritualize this word “mirror,” or try to see it as a metaphor of something, then this “place” where we are to see Christ in a seeing that transforms us always remains at arm’s length. What if? What if this is not a metaphor, but literally, the mirror into which we gaze upon our own face in the morning, or in the middle of the night, or whenever we look our worst?
We have always heard it this way, “Stop looking at yourself, look at Jesus.” That sounds very good, but it is humanism to the core. The very fact that “YOU” are deliberately turning away from “yourself” to look at another establishes the existence of yourself as separate from Jesus, and in truth, this is how most Christians see themselves, and how I saw myself for most of my Christian life.
It doesn’t work. Self never dies. You will never die to self. “Dying to self” is a continual affirmation of self separate from Christ; it only ever exalts self.
At the very center of who and what we are as existent beings is how we see. We see what we believe. The idea that “seeing is believing,” that we believe what first we see, is pure baloney. Whatever I first believe about God, about myself, and about this world in which I live, that is what governs how I see everything that happens. For all men, believing comes first, seeing comes out of believing.
When I look at that face in the morning, that fat, fleshy face, with the bald top and hair plastered in every direction, with sleep in the eyes and weakness and tiredness written all over it, with awfulness and yuckiness and shoddiness looking back at me, what do I see? If I have to look away from that face to see Jesus, then I do not believe the gospel that Paul preached.
When I look at that mirror, do I see Jesus in all of His glory – in all of my weakness? I cannot convey the importance of this truth for us right now.
Here am I, I and the children whom you have given me.
We have this treasure in an earthen vessel.
May God make these words real to us in all of their meaning.
The way of the wicked, He turns upside down. Solomon
No Christian is an any danger whatsoever of becoming deceived. But all of us are in great danger (not really) of remaining deceived. (When I say, not really, I mean that Jesus is our Savior and He is well able and certain to finish the work He has begun.) As believers in Jesus, we are coming out of a world of deception. If we continue seeing as we have always seen things, then we stand in great jeopardy.
Right now we see as never before. We are discovering that all of mankind, and all of the church in this world has had this whole thing backwards, upside down, completely wrong. Should that surprise us? It’s not hard at all, for me anyway, to accept the idea that the years of my seeking after God have been guided by a completely erroneous understanding of everything. Backwards. Upside down.
Here is the problem. When God begins to turn us right side up, everyone else, including most of our brethren, and even, our own rational thought, are now convinced that we are standing on our head, falling into deception.
“This is crazy!” I tell myself. Why don’t I listen? Because the closeness of Jesus I have come to know is everything I have ever longed for. He fills me with His gladness, and no argument will entice me away from living in the full consciousness that I am in Him and that He is in ME. I am simply not interested.
Let’s go back to the garden. Always, we must go back to the garden to understand the place from which we fell. The garden is not our destiny, but it is where we began. We understand our destiny as we see it written in our beginning.
Adam failed to eat of the tree of life.
“Look, look,” they cry. “You are trying to be like God, this business of claiming that you have no life other than God’s life in you. That’s the same lie that Satan tempted Eve with in the garden.”
What is this argument of the religious man really claiming? It is really claiming that Satan was telling Eve the truth, that he was, in fact, enticing her to “want to be like God.”
May I suggest to you that Satan was offering a crock of bull.
What should Eve’s answer have been? It should have been: “I don’t know what you’re talking about; I’m already just like God.” Eve was created in the image and likeness of God. She was already more like God than she, beholding His glory inside of her, could ever comprehend.
Satan’s offer, was pure, unadulterated nonsense.
The church teaches that Satan’s sin was that he wanted to be like God. Isaiah did not say that Lucifer wanted to be like God. If Lucifer had wanted to be like God, to love as He loves, to show mercy as He shows mercy, to be kind as He is kind, God would have been thrilled.
Rather, Isaiah said that Lucifer said in his heart, “I shall be like the most High.” At what point is Satan not blowing smoke?
The life that was in Adam was the very life of God breathed into him. Adam had no life of his own. He was not a “self” separate from God, operating out from his own existence. Adam was not manifest as a son of God because he had not yet eaten from the tree of life; he was in the place of development. But Adam had no life of his own. The life that filled him was God Himself. It was not possible for Adam to become more like God than he was, except in this way – to eat of the tree of life and to step forth in all the revelation of the God who was in him.
Satan cannot stand this whole business of God living His life inside of human flesh. The triumph and victory that God is after is this: God forever revealed in and through human flesh.
The last thing the serpent wanted was for Adam and Eve to continue being like God. His goal was to get them to think in their own minds that they were a being, an entity, a “self” separate from God and that the burden of being good instead of bad now rested on them. Any Christian who believes that they are one and God is another, and that God (up there) has told them what to do and now it is up to them to do what is good and not to do what is evil, has bought the lie of Satan and is living in the realm of death. This is the carnal mind. This is the way of thinking that is always at war with God. This kind of thinking is a repudiation of the gospel, it is a mockery of the cross and resurrection of Jesus.
The moment that Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of knowledge, the first thing that changed was their minds, the seeing of their minds, their imagination. Suddenly they saw themselves, and the idea that they were one thing and God another seized their thinking. For the first time, they thought about choosing to do what is good and choosing not do what is evil..
Instantly, they were ashamed.
They had not become like God, they had become like Satan, imagining in their minds that they were a “self” separate from God and that now, the issuance of life must proceed out of them. And all of this was imagination only. “Alienated from the life of God in their minds.” as Paul said.
And so, falling back into that same imagination, Christians convince themselves that they are a “self” separate from Jesus. That Jesus is up in heaven, and not their life, right now, filling not only their hearts, but all of their being. That their “own life” is bad and must die. That they should always be weeping before the cross over sin. That they must hear something from someone outside themselves so they can be sure to do it.
Again, it’s a crock of bull. It always has been and it is still so today. It never has been true. At what point has Satan ever said anything that was true? This way of thinking is completely contrary to the gospel.
I am dead. Christ is my life; I have no other life.
The lie is not something in itself, it is simply nonsense. It was not true then, it did not become true when Adam believed it, and it is not true now. The concept that I am a self separate from Jesus, that I must “decrease that He might increase,” that I must bring myself into alignment with God, this is nothing more than fiction conjured up in our imaginations. It opposes everything the gospel says.
[When John the Baptist said, “I must decrease that He might increase,” he was not giving us a formula for Christian living. John the Baptist was speaking of himself as the ending of the Old Covenant.]
Let’s look more closely at the lie Satan offered Adam and Eve, specifically the words he chose: “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.” First, God knew nothing of the sort, second, they became blind, third they were instantly no longer like God, and fourth, God is love, not knowledge. But we will not find all of Satan’s lie in these words. Adam and Eve received something from the serpent. We must look at what they received to understand what he really offered man.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings . . . and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:7-8
Earlier, I talked about the importance of what God asked Adam, “Where are you?” The ensuing conversation tells us exactly what the lie is that man has believed from the serpent.
“I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And God said, “Who told you that you were naked? — That is one of the most important questions in the Bible — Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
The entire question here is what do you do with the “I,” the ego, the self? We have two options. The first is the lie of Satan. We can hide it, cover it over, drag it to the cross, die to it, suppress it, get it under foot, make it obey, make it look good, make it do good instead of bad, etc., etc., etc.
Or we can place the “I” right in the center of Almighty God. I am in Jesus and Jesus is in me. “But there is sin in the ‘I,’” we might protest. Jesus became my sin. He took all of my sin into Himself and has never offered to place it back on me.
Between us and this disaster stands the fullness of the death and blood of Jesus inside of us. Everything we embrace as truth comes out of His sacrifice as it is in us. I am clean by Jesus’ blood and nothing more need be said. If we fudge on this point, where is our salvation?
My entire Christian experience and the Christian theology under which I lived my life until these last few years was inside of option ONE. I abandoned that whole way of life a few years ago because I had come to the utter end of the uselessness of wearing masks, putting on faces, trying and pretending. What a hell! I had thought it was radical Christianity, I did not know it was gross unbelief.
“Who told you that you have a carnal mind, I told you, you have the mind of Christ.”
“Who told you that you are in the flesh, I told you, you are in the Spirit.”
“Who told you that your heart is evil, I told you that Christ lives in your heart and that My love overflows from your heart.”
“Who told you that you have a life separate from Jesus?”
“WHO? WHO told you that?”
“I told you that Christ is your life. I told you that all things are brand new, that all things in you are of God. I told you that your life is hid with Christ in God.”
Let God speak to you.
We can spend our Christian lives trying to do something with the “I.” Or we can take the “I,” the ego, the self, and boldly place it in the very center of the light and life of Almighty God. Is that a dangerous thing to do? Absolutely! God is a consuming fire. But everything is now God’s problem. Everything.
And out of the center of God, we do that which God created us to do. We show His creation just exactly what God is like. God reveals Himself through us.