“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:1-2)
From The Second Half of the Cross
The first half of the cross is obviously vitally important. Eternal salvation and the Christian life begin with repentance and being spiritually reborn (John 3:3). But it is the second half of the cross which sets up the framework for the Christian life after conversion. It is the second half of the cross which enables the Christian disciple to enter into a genuine adventure of faith following Jesus, to match the lives of faith previewed for us in the Bible. It is the second half of the cross that opens up the great lessons of truth to be discovered first-hand by the willing disciple, following the promised leading of the Holy Spirit (John 16:12-15).
The second half of the cross identifies and exposes the basic human problem. When we are sitting atop the throne of our lives as our own god, we are in an unnatural condition. When we are living as our own god, we are spiritually out of balance (Ephesians 2:1). God created us with the capacity to be human beings. God did not create us with the capacity to be gods unto ourselves, outside of a relationship with Him. In our unsaved condition, when we push God away and usurp the unearned and unqualified position of being a king atop the throne of our heart, we are in spiritual rebellion. When we are in charge and in control, we have broken away into our own individual spiritual fiefdoms within the borders of the realm of the king. This is the basic definition of the spiritual condition called sin. Only by stepping down off the throne of our lives, and reinstalling Jesus Christ in His rightful position as God and King in our hearts, is spiritual balance restored (Matthew 4:17).
This is one of the explanations for why newly born-again Christians experience an inward sense of joy, peace, and release. Christians no longer have to continue the unnatural fiction of attempting to be the all-wise and all-knowing god that we were never created to be. The blood that Jesus shed on the cross not only washes the repentant believer clean of the ill-effects of the rebellion of sin, but also sets in proper order and balance Jesus Christ on the throne of a person’s life.
Genesis 3:5 records Lucifer’s classically deceptive statement to Eve in the Garden of Eden: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” This was the start of the human problem. Possessing the knowledge of good and evil has no correlation to the capacity to be an autonomous, independent god. Knowing the difference between good and evil is indeed one attribute leading partially toward becoming godlike, but having this knowledge alone falls far short of the requirements to make a person a god. This is the full-disclosure portion of the half-truth of Lucifer’s recruiting campaign that he deceptively left out of the temptation in the Garden.
The resume for being God runs much deeper than merely having one’s eyes open to know good and evil. Trying to be a god is much more difficult than anyone thought. Rebellion by itself does not equate to having the elevated capacity to adequately fill the top leadership position that a rebellion creates. Mankind has been learning the reality of this difficult lesson the hard way for thousands of years. The basic problem with our planet earth is that there are multitudes of people trying to be junior gods-in-training on their own, who do not have the super-intelligence, wisdom, and divine character to fulfill that job title.
When Adam and Eve rejected the council of God and ate the fruit from the tree in the midst of the garden, which God told them not to eat, by their willful action they unwittingly said “we do not know or love God well enough to take Him at His word alone.” By this distancing action they pushed God off His rightful place on the thrones of their lives, moved away from the bond of friendship with God built upon mutual trust, and thereby damaged the basis of their relationship with God. In unspoken words, Adam and Eve said loudly by their action: “we will trust the word of this seemingly better informed serpent instead.” This fundamental, ill-fated decision left mankind “high-and-dry”, having eyes now opened to the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:8), but without having the divine character capacity to independently be able to cope with the new position of being our own gods.
Lucifer successfully got mankind to join his rebellion, by cleverly tempting us with the seeming allurement of the power of possessing an upper management position over the destinies of our lives, which we are not qualified to occupy. Because none of us comes with the Operator’s Manual of how we are individually and uniquely supposed to function, the knowledge of good and evil without the Manufacturer’s Instructions is essentially worthless. The long, sad history of mankind struggling unsuccessfully to achieve peace, harmony, security, and happiness as the sole managers of the purpose and direction of our lives is a manifestation of the unbalanced spiritual condition of mankind trying to live above ourselves as gods, instead of as the potentially wonderful and remarkable human beings that God created us to be.
The Genesis 3:5 temptation in the Garden of Eden had pinpoint accuracy. Lucifer crafted a cleverly designed temptation of mankind that is still functioning well even today. Sitting atop the thrones of our lives is still as strong a temptation as ever. Lucifer knew where to attack non-divine human beings created with free-will. Intellectually convince someone today that the gospel is true, and at the end of the discussion that person can still decide to reject Christ because they do not want to give up control over their lives.
The in-built drive for excellence that God placed within each one of us, lies at the center of the enticing temptation Lucifer offered in his deceptive short-cut around God to obtain the position of being gods onto ourselves. If our God-created inner drive for excellence was not so strong, this temptation to eat the forbidden fruit would never have gotten traction with Adam and Eve. If the opportunity to jump at the chance to possess a knowledge of good and evil as our own gods was not so appealing, Adam and Eve would have brushed off this whole encounter with Lucifer in the Garden as nothing immediately important, and would have simply remarked that they would discuss this issue with God and then get back to Lucifer in the near future.
The temptation in the Garden of Eden was a brilliantly aimed, well-executed assault using genuine insight into the nature of superbly crafted human beings made in the image of God, possessing free-will. This is why spiritual rebellion on earth is as alive and well today as ever.