“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness, I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.” Jeremiah 31:3-4a
Last week we began examining obedience. Sometimes we can learn more about a subject by studying its’ direct opposite. Disobedience is a subject most of us know, maybe too well.
The dictionary defines disobedience as “refusal or failure to obey; lack of obedience.”
Let’s take a fresh look at the familiar first example of disobedience.
Genesis 3:1-6a “Now the serpent was more crafty that any of the wild animals the Lord God has made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden but God did say, ‘You must not eat from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be open and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”
Eve disobeyed God. God told her (and Adam) not to eat from that tree and she did. I love how God spelled it out for us: Who tempted Eve?
Who tempts us?
Who loves it when we are caught in disobedience?
So, how should we deal with him? Let’s examine the snares of Satan in Genesis 3.
1) He approached Eve when she was alone. She did not have any back-up. God was not walking with her in the garden, and Adam was away.
I know the draw I feel to a nice box of chocolates sitting on the counter in an empty kitchen. Oh, temptation!
However, if one of my daughters is at the table doing homework, I may not even hear that chocolate calling my name!
When you are alone- be it physically, emotionally, or spiritually- watch yourself. When you have no back-up Satan may be poised to strike you from behind!
2) Satan questioned Eve. Now, he was not merely trying to glean information, oh no! He was trying to engage her in conversation.
James 4:7 instructs us what we should do when Satan comes knocking, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Do not stop and talk to him! Resist him, order him away. He must flee when ordered away in Jesus’ name.
Note too, when Satan questioned Eve, he used false information. (Genesis 3:1b, Did God say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?”) Sometimes that false information is stated. Sometimes, it is simply stated inside my head. Philippians 4:8 tells us to focus on what is TRUE. If it is not absolute truth, do not entertain it.
3) Eve focused on earthly things: the fruit looked good to eat, it also was supposed to provide her with wisdom. She was not thinking of any possible spiritual consequences and often, neither do I.
Yet our every word, thought and deed can serve either to glorify God, or not.
Just as the people fo Israel were physically enslaved, we often make choices to spiritually enslave our souls to Satan.God promised his people in Jeremiah 30: 8b-9a that “no longer will foreigners enslave them. Instead they will serve the Lord their God.”
John 8:32 empowers us with this reminder, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Free from lies.
Free from regrets.
Free from Satan’s grasp.
What if I paused before every choice I make each day? Instead of only gazing at the physical- is it pleasing to the eye?, or hoping for some magical revelation I desire- wisdom!? What if I contemplated the spiritual significance of my choices? What if I paused, prayed, and practiced obedience with not only the “BIG” stuff, but with life’s little mundane choices?
Keep in mind, the enemy does not usually suddenly slap a blatant “BIGGIE” in front of you, expecting a “good Christian” to take the fall. No, he often tried to get us gradually, one small seemingly insignificant step at a time.
If you know God’s promises and cling to them, Satan can’t touch you. Oh, he will try! Send him packing! Refuse to entertain him! This is one case where you are permitted, even commanded, to be rude.
Stay connected with God. Read His word. Talk to Him. Listen for Him. Know what He expects. Ask for His help determining your actions, your words, your thoughts.
He wants to lead you on a lifelong journey of obedience. The more obedient you are, the closer your heart will grow towards His.
Why start this entry with Jeremiah 31:3-4? Obedience is important, obviously. But we need to not be so preoccupied with the “rules” that we are blinded from the big picture: God’s love. Israel has a history of turning from God, and turning back, several times over. Even when they disobeyed Him, He welcomed them back with open arms. Every time. Their actions had consequences, like Eve’s. But that did not change God’s love for them.
My actions do not change God’s love for me. Your actions do not change God’s love for you. Your obedience or disobedience will not alter His love in any way. But, your life will be altered by the choices you make. God always honors and reward obedience, and punishes disobedience.
1) How has your view of “The Fall”, Eve’s disobedience, been altered?
2) Identify times when you were somehow alone, and challenges you did not expect suddenly arrived.
3) Pray and identify ways to ensure you are not often alone, especially spiritually; pray on how to strengthen your knowledge and committment to Christ’s teachings.
4) Read through Jeremiah 30 and 31. What can you glean from Israel’s experience?
5) Identify the rewards for obedience in your life. Thank God specifically for those. Identify the punishments you have received. Thank God for loving you so much He expects more from you and is willing to punish you so you learn and can draw closer to Him.
Thank you for reading! Please send your thoughts, reactions, and experiences back to me. If you want to respond, but do not wish to share with the world, simply state that in your message, and I will not post it. Thank you! Please return by Monday, February 24, 2013 for the next post.