Thursday, July 31, 2008

God's Plan for Us is to be Perfect - But Did it Get Messed Up in the Garden?

I have been guilty of saying it along with others. I will say something like "God's plan was for Adam and Eve (thus the rest of mankind) to be perfect, but Adam and Eve messed it up." Today I was doing discipleship with Adam and Ryan and I realized that though the statement may be true to a certain extent, it is also false.

You see, to say that God created Adam and Eve to be perfect and then turn around and say that they messed up God's plan is to give the impression that God made a mistake of some sort. The idea might come to mind that God's plan wasn't fulfilled the right way and so he had to come up with a back up plan: send Jesus. If we say something like this then we are on the verge of accepting what is called Open Theism. Basically Open Theism says that God doesn't know everything: he is limited in his knowledge. This is also akin to the worldview known as Finite Godism.

As Christians we believe that God is omniscient. What we mean by this is that he is all knowing. If God is all knowing then he obviously knew that Adam and Eve were going to "mess it up." So was God's plan really for Adam and Eve to be perfect? God's plan is that eventually all who accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will be perfect and be forever in His presence, but to say that God's plan for Adam and Eve in the Garden was for them to live forever on earth in a state of perfection and sinlessness is somewhat of a false view.

Adam and Eve were born with the "sin nature" just as we are. God knew from the beginning, because he knows everything, that Adam and Eve would give into that sin nature. In fact, the only way for us (and Adam and Eve) to fully love God is for us to be given the opportunity to sin against him.

There are a lot of Christians who believe that God's laws are still in effect today. They reverently and religiously follow these laws, at least that is what they believe. I have often found that people choose what laws to follow and ignore those which they don't want to follow. Next time someone says to you "The Bible says...we are still bound by the law" then you say back "What kind of material are you wearing right now? Did you know that one of the laws says not to wear clothes that are made out of two types of material!!!"

God gave us the law because it is by the law that we understand what sin is, and when we understand what sin is we can fully understand God's love for us. When we fully understand the love God has for us we can choose to fully love him back. In a sense we are bound by our human nature (selfishness) which is opposite from God's until God's nature is revealed to us through the law. This in turn gives us freedom, and that freedom is freedom from the selfish nature. We now have freedom to love others and most importantly love God.

Imagine, if you will, the world that Adam and Eve lived in. A world that was seemingly perfect. Everything was provided for Adam and Eve. They never suffered, they never desired, they didn't know the pain of selfish decisions because they had every need met. If you were in their situation would you love God to the fullest extent? At first I would want to say yes, but the more I think about it the more I would have to say no. How could I love God when I couldn't fully appreciate what he had done for me?

So God gave Adam and Eve on rule: only one very simple and basic rule. Do not eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why did he give this one rule? Because if they were ever going to experience true freedom, the freedom to choose to love, they had to experience the freedom to turn from God and disobey.

God's law was not put in place to give us a way to earn his favor. God's law was put in place to help us understand how much he loves us and how much we need him. How much did God love us? He died for us!! He took the punishment we deserved for sinning upon himself. The law was/is the means by which God helps us to see his love and experience true freedom by choosing to love him back.

So what does this have to do with God's ultimate plan for us. God's plan for us is to be perfect, just like Jesus. It is his ultimate plan for Adam and Eve, but it was not his plan for them to be perfect in the Garden. God knew what was going to happen from the beginning. He knew that they would make the choice they did. He understood that by them doing this they would separate themselves from him. He foresaw the opportunity to eventually show the world how much he truly loved it through the sacrifice of his son. God's master plan was established from the very beginning.

So this is just an encouragement, not only to you, but to myself. We need to be careful how we say things, or more correctly, we need to be careful that we fully understand what we are talking about. God's wonderful plan is for all of us to eventually be like Jesus. He expects us to start trying right now. Paul said that he is constantly perfecting us or completing us. We are in a constant state of change. We need to be constantly transforming into his likeness because one day we will be like him. We obey God because we have the freedom to obey, not because it will earn us some kind of favor. Our freedom is a freedom to be more like Jesus everyday. So let's do it!

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