One of the most devastating results of the fall of Adam and Eve was that their absolute trust in the Creator’s goodness and love for them was shattered. Instead of believing that God was their Father who cared for them and always wanted what was best for them, they believed the lie planted in their hearts and minds by Satan—that God had ulterior motives and a secret agenda that was keeping them from achieving their true potential. Instantly, God became their biggest enemy instead of their protector and friend. Everything that God said became suspect in their minds.
That thinking permeates our hearts and minds even today. Many of us learned in Sunday School that when God sent the angels and the flaming sword to keep Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, it was God’s punishment for their sin. But Scripture makes it clear that God sent them away from the Garden to prevent them from eating of the Tree of Life and thereafter living in an eternal state of corruption and sin. How could we get this wrong? It’s easy. Our natural way of thinking after the fall is to believe the lie rather than the truth. If there is a way to interpret Scripture to make God the bad guy, we will find it.
However, when God breathes life into us through the power of his Word as his Spirit calls us to himself, the scales that blinded our understanding begin to fall away. We now see that what God says has always been good and true, and that he has always been loving and gracious to us. Unfortunately, that doesn’t prevent our old nature from thinking wrongly about God and his intentions for us. We are, in a real sense, of two minds, that compete with each other and battle for dominance in our hearts and affection.
The faith that God gives us to believe in him as our Savior is also the faith upon which we are to live, breathe and comprehend everything. The world, Satan and our old Adams (and Eves) continue to whisper the lies that Satan whispered to Eve (and Adam) back in the Garden. It is no wonder that it is often so difficult for us to live by faith. Most of what we see and hear around us and the whispers from our old nature constantly tell us, “There is a better way…we deserve more…the one who dies with the most toys wins…”
God invites us to live by faith as good stewards of all that he has provided to us, to give generously and sacrificially. In reaction, the world shouts, “You earned it! It’s yours! You’ll regret giving it away! You may need that money in ten years! What if…?”
But the Good News is that the “What if…?” has already been answered by Jesus himself. He lived perfectly for us, died our deserved death, and was raised to the right hand of the Father as proof that there is no “What if…?”
We have been freed to live by faith, in a new paradigm not dominated by the “What if..?” of the world, Satan and our old natures. The new word that now prevails is the “It is finished” of the cross. Jesus himself whispers in our ears, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another” John 15:15-17 (ESV).
Roy Heggland is Associate for Biblical Stewardship for the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.