From The Second Half of the Cross
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.
The Christian Salvation Experience
Lucifer attacks the pivotal Christian salvation experience, as would be expected, with one of his most deceptive and malicious lies. Lucifer accuses the newly born-again Christian, through family, friends, and people at work or school, of being weak in character and “copping-out” by turning to Jesus Christ as a crutch to lean upon in life. The world accuses the Christian of not being individually strong enough to go-it-on-their-own, without outside assistance from God. This attack upon the Christian salvation experience subtly attempts to confuse and obscure the real truth behind going-it-on-our-own.
The real truth is that there cannot be a journey of faith with God while we are in the condition of being our own god. There cannot be two people effectively acting as sea captains aboard the same ship. There cannot be two people acting as main chefs working in the same kitchen. There cannot be two kings on the same throne. There cannot be two leaders of the spiritual expedition of faith in a God-directed life. By definition, an adventure of faith presupposes man in a subordinate position following God. If we are sitting atop the throne of our lives, the only god we can follow, in that condition, is ourselves.
A journey of faith similar to any of the people of faith in the Bible, in which we can experience the ultimate God-composed life script leading to the discovery of eternal truth and purpose, necessitates first being in the correct spiritual condition of subordination conducive to being able to follow God. We are in our highest natural condition as human beings, not as gods. Born-again Christians, who have stepped down off the thrones of their hearts to make room at the top for God, can now venture out into genuine walks of faith following Jesus Christ wherever He leads, precisely because they are now operating as human beings and not as a gods.
The Christian salvation experience, of stepping down off the throne of our lives, and regaining through Christ the correct position of spiritual balance, is the crossroads turning point of all of human experience. Both God and Lucifer know that two kings cannot occupy the same throne. Lucifer deceptively tells man to remain in his fallen nature as gods on the thrones of our lives. Lucifer’s appeal is to the individualistic pride of man as independent rebels, sitting in the seat of power, freely exercising our God-given talents on the throne of our lives as gods. God’s alternate appeal to man through the gospel message of salvation is to come down off the throne of our lives and to enter into a walk of faith in fellowship with Him.
Man’s eternal destiny hinges upon grasping and acting rightly upon this concept. Get this fundamental issue right, and the redeemed Christian man or woman is poised to go forward into a God-composed life-script of trust and faith following Jesus Christ, utilizing the human gifts and abilities each of us were created with. Get this fundamental issue wrong, reject the offer of pardon and restoration through Christ, and man is doomed to the hopeless individual pursuit of trying to validate himself as the god he is not, and was never intended to be.
One of the exceptional attributes that demonstrates the divinity of God in our world is His ability to take spiritual opposition and craft it into eternally beneficial lessons for the people of faith. God did not create evil (Jas. 1:13). But God is so intelligent He can take spiritual darkness and turn it around for His purposes. The story of Joseph in Egypt is a clear illustration of this principle.
The crucifixion of Christ is the most powerful demonstration of God’s ability to take spiritual opposition, in its most deadly and threatening form, and shape it into a beneficial outcome on a massive scale. God is so intelligently masterful over events and circumstances that He can even recruit death itself, the universal symbol of defeat and despair resulting from sin, and reshape it into a substitutional atonement from the penalty of sin, purchasing eternal salvation for us through His life, death, and resurrection as the divine Son of God in a human body.
Through the temptation in the Garden of Eden, Lucifer unknowingly handed to God the opportunity to inaugurate for man a faith-propelled search for truth involving the knowledge of good and evil, that is so richly illustrated in the life stories of the Bible. By introducing sin into the world, Lucifer unintentionally brought into existence the major underlying ingredient of spiritual darkness for God to work with, whereby God can compose the fuller and deeper life-script callings of faith previewed for us in the Bible.
It is actually the existence of spiritual darkness in this temporarily broken world that enables us to experience in our own lives the invaluable lessons that expose and clarify the issues that lead to discovering the key to our everlasting peace and happiness (Rom. 8:18). The Spirit-led Christian of today has the opportunity to understand the fundamental issues of eternal truth recorded in the Bible and developed through first-hand experience, which Adam and Eve would never have been able to comprehend even after thousands of years living in the idyllic environment of the Garden of Eden.
The ingenious creation by God of the vehicle called a walk of faith, through this physical environment of a four-dimensional world of space and time, enables the God-led man or woman to discover first-hand a fundamental eternal lesson. This lesson is that true fulfillment lies in being unselfishly content in the inspired role of being who and what each of us were created to be, within a trust-filled and loving friendship with God our Father. A biblical-quality walk of faith restores true reality by allowing God to fill the very large size shoes that only God can fill.
When viewed in this light, the decision to repent and to accept Jesus Christ into our lives is not a sign of character weakness, of supposedly taking the easy way out, of conveniently dumping our problems off on God. It is instead the most clear-headed, rational, and sensible decision a person in their fallen and spiritually unbalanced condition can make.
A journey of faith in our natural intended role as a human being, with Jesus Christ leading the way, is actually the zenith of all of human experience. It is at the height of what human beings can achieve. The decision to accept Christ and to embark on a biblical-quality adventure of faith through life is the pinnacle of our very existence, not a compromise or a cop-out. The fact that a world mired in spiritual rebellion would scoff, revile, and ridicule the Christian walk of faith following God, should actually be interpreted as an unintended confirmation that laying down our arms as rebels, and taking advantage of God’s current offer of redemptive pardon, is the one true right course of action.