The Battle Belongs to the Lord: Part 1, Creator, Alternative Worldviews, Death and Victory
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
This world was created as a place in which we could constantly receive from the love of One who remains committed to His amazing plan of blessing even though humanity has, in many ways, become a rebel. God has always been committed to our salvation and the restoration of all things (Eph 1:4 Titus 1:1-2, 1 Peter 1:19-20, Rev 13:8) and therefore, Scripture is primarily His story - a story of His love.
In Genesis 1:1, the word ‘God’ (‘Elohiym’) is the plural form of ‘El’ (God) which speaks of the supreme God who is more powerful than any man-made or demon-initiated god. Note also Gen 1:2 and John 1:1.
There are two pictures in the Hebrew lettering behind this word ‘God’. The first is that of an ox head which symbolises strength and power. Think of a barren field during a drought and then imagine trying to dig the field with a spade. Now think of an ox pulling a plough and we see strength and power in action. God is the all-powerful One who constantly reaches out to us.
The second picture contained in the word ‘God’ is that of a Shepherd’s staff, which signifies authority, guidance and protection. In Numbers 6:24 we read, “The Lord bless you and keep you.” The word ‘keep’ speaks of being hedged in (like a fence around the flock) and of watching over the flock. In Job 1 we read of Job’s life being hedged in (Job 1:10). In all that Job went through, Satan was not allowed to take his life.
When we find ourselves struggling, we need to start with the One who says, “In the beginning” and spoke a world into existence. He is the powerful Shepherd who has all authority. He knows the stars by nature and composition (Ps 147:4) and the number of hairs on our head (Mt 10:30). Heaven rejoices over one sinner that repents (Luke 15:32); God has not given up on us.
The world we live in was specially made for humanity and at each stage of creation, God steps back and says, “it is good” (Gen 1:10,12,18) like a father preparing a home for a soon-to-arrive child. In other words, it is fit for the purpose for which it has been made and that purpose is as a place where we can experience God’s love and His blessing. The world is God’s gift to us, yet His greatest gift is His Son.
God Created Adam
Adam is the result of a divine conference in the unity of the Godhead and a decision to create a being which would be capable of knowing God and receiving His love (Genesis 1:26-27). God wants to share who He is with us as a loving parent reaching out to children. From this we see that humanity is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and in reading Genesis we can note that the creation of man differs from the rest of the created order in that God ‘formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being’ (Genesis 2:7).
Considering this, it is apparent that the essential features which distinguish human beings from the rest of creation are not primarily anatomical or physiological, but God’s in- breathing of life. We have been made in the image of God which means, in part, we have been made for a relationship with Him and in God alone can we find our true hope and security.
As Scripture reveals, there is a vast immaterial world and a realm beyond death. There is a Kingdom of God and out of that kingdom, God reaches into our world with the offer of forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus. Jesus showed us what a true relationship with God looks like and how far unconditional love is prepared to go in order to reach us.
One recent testimony from a person writing into a Christian radio show speaks of the reconciliation and blessing that God offers through Jesus in this way:
“I was rejected at conception by my father, abandoned by my mother as an infant soon after birth and was abused, condemned, despised, rejected and scorned. I can only say that my life was filled with despair and darkness and tremendous efforts to let go of my hurts and pains which added to my misery without any success…
I owe my sanity, healing and deliverance to the discovery of Premier Christian Radio. I shall die with the gratitude to Premier for making it possible for people like me to have a hope and believing that people like me have a hope that God is not a partial God. He loves the unlovable, to God be the glory.”
Many of us have heard the story of the ugly duckling that was really a swan but didn’t know it, or of the puppet Pinocchio who longed to become human. We have also seen or heard of the child who wants to be a prince or a princess – as if there is a deep longing within and an understanding that maybe this is not all there is to life. The truth is that there is more to life and we are not an accident. We have been created to be royalty (1 peter 2:9) yet live in rags and stand in ashes, not knowing our identity or calling. So, at this point, it is important for us all to see something. We need to see that our family roots and our history does not start with our parents, grandparents or in this century or even in the first century. Our origins are found in the foundation of the world; the soil from which we have been created to grow is the love, power and presence of God as a heavenly Father.
We need to remember that humanity was given supremacy over God’s creation because we were created to be with God and to have dominion over creation (Gen 1:28). It is only in being with God that we are able to exercise our true God-given power. In Isaiah 64:8 we are reminded that, “O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter, we are the work of your hand”
Due to the fall, we have moved from a position of positive creativity (dominion) to that of negative domination where we often seek to control and manipulate our environment for our own purposes and a greater sense of community protection. We rebuild Eden, as it were, in order to protect ourselves but in doing so, we build a wall between us and our Creator. We are not merely earthbound creatures; we are physiological and spiritual beings. There is a need to break down the walls of our own activity and thinking. This ‘breaking down’ clearly ties in with one of the pictures behind the word ‘repent,’ which speaks of destroying the house behind us as we move forward into the protection and care of the Lord. The house we destroy is what self has become - the way we view life the wrong way, build to protect ourselves, ignore others or use them to help us get to where we think we should be going, and so on. The ‘house’ that we build ourselves is our own prison cell and we are a slave to what life has become at the hands of humanity. In Christ alone, we can leave the house of slavery and enter the home of our heavenly Father.
Adam – A Man of Insight and Power Through God’s Grace and Love
In Genesis 2:19ff we see that Adam is called upon to name the animals as a continuation of the creative work of God – Adam is to be a participant in creative work through God-given abilities. In naming the animals we gain a small hint at the power of Adam’s mind.
Firstly, Adam could both name the animals and retain those names within a memory which must have been amazing, to say the least!
Secondly, in Hebrew thought, names convey something of the nature and character of that which is named. For example, today we gain an indication of a person’s job by one of the names they are given (e.g. Bank Manager), however in Hebrew thought a name conveyed nature and character. In a modern-day example of this, we see that in the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Dopey is called Dopey because that is what he is and Grumpy is called Grumpy, and so on. In Adam naming the animals, we are being shown that he understood God’s creation.
Another point we can note is that in naming the animals, we see a sign of power and authority, since naming is an act of dominion. For example, in the book of Daniel we see that Nebuchadnezzar renamed some of the Israelites - this being an act of ownership and dominion. Yet in the subsequent events in Babylon, God clearly revealed who Daniel really belongs to.
Finally, in looking into the nature of all animals and naming them, Adam became aware that there was no-one in the world like him. We then read of God creating Eve out of a rib in Adam’s side.
Adam and Eve were created as both physical and spiritual beings of immense power, strength and insight when compared to modern-day men and women. Adam was instructed not to eat the fruit of the tree (physical testing) and as a spiritual creature was also expected to withstand any attempt to draw him away from his trust in the love of the Lord (Genesis 2:17).
The Ability to Make Right Choices
Adam and Eve were not created in such a way that they would be irresistibly drawn to God as a plant is drawn to sunlight. Mankind was created with the ability to make the right choices and grow into maturity through making informed decisions – a move from innocence to righteousness. Man’s inclination was towards God (as a child to a parent), but the possibility of choosing the opposite course of action was always present.
As has already been said, humanity was not created as an automaton that would live for the glory of God without any choice in the matter. There is no love without freedom of choice because love is an act of the will to give out of self for the benefit and blessing of another.
By means of a command (do not eat the fruit from a certain tree), God taught Adam that He had the right to make demands of mankind and expect to be obeyed as the One who knows what is right and good for us. Nor was Adam left in ignorance regarding the seriousness of the matter; there was a penalty for wrong doing. A final point to note before continuing is that the tree itself is not spoken of as being evil but is “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Gen 2:9). The ‘fruit’ is the act of man’s disobedience which is clearly seen in how we often treat both fellow man and the world in which we live.
God created man with freedom of choice, yet we must remember that this is within the confines of a much larger framework. At no time is God not in control, as is clearly indicated in Him being spoken of as the ‘Alpha and Omega’ (Rev 1:8).
‘Alpha’ and ‘Omega’ are the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet and the term ‘Alpha and Omega’ is what is known as ‘merism.’ A ‘merism’ is a figure of speech where a phrase or statement refers to one single thing. So, for example, “Lock, stock and barrel” which originally referred to parts of a gun is now a phrase used to speak of the whole gun. As the Alpha and Omega, God holds all history in His hands.
God is before all things and, as the Creator, He will bring all things to their true eschatological fulfillment. He is the origin and goal of all history; He spoke creation into existence, and he has the last word concerning creations’ final destiny. God is the One who is beyond the horizon of the horizons and the One who is here right now in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit with all believers. The sole reason we live is because this world is founded on His sacrificial love. This world has a beginning and an end, and the beginning and end are found in Him.
It is in Christ alone that we fulfil our true calling as sons and daughters. Jesus clearly revealed the love of God and, in the weakness of the flesh, He showed Himself to be the absolute Master of every single situation. Even whilst undergoing extreme pain and humiliation, Jesus reached out to those around Him, as can be seen in His words to a penitent thief on the cross next to His:
‘Then he (a thief) said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”’ Luke 23:42-3
Faith is not simply a matter of intellect but becomes just that if we do not seek to engage with the movement and the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. He is the One who energises our lives and strengthens natural abilities so that we can live the life that we have been called to. Adam could know and understand God because God wants to be known and understood so that we can experience the blessing of His presence in all things.
Throughout Scripture, we see that it is God who reaches out and communicates with man (Gen 3:9) and that man can respond to this in faith (Rom 10:17). For example, in Numbers 12:7-8 we find Moses being spoken of as ‘faithful in all God’s house.’ Yet without the burning bush (Ex 3:2ff), subsequent conversations (Gen 3:5ff), and God’s disclosure of Himself, (Gen 3:14) Moses would have remained in the desert. Whilst it is true that Moses had to put his trust in God, he could only do so because God was about His work of grace, mercy and reconciliation in the first place; He shows us someone we can hold onto – our heavenly Father.
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
In Psalm 46:10 the word ‘know’ comes from the root ‘yaada’ which means to know relationally and experientially. Knowing is ‘the door of the eye’ in that you can see and understand through experiencing what you know. This same root for ‘know’ (yaada) is also found in Genesis 4:1 where we read, “Adam lay (knew) with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.”
God does not seek to be known in only an intellectual way as one would, for example, the Prime Minister. Those who have no more than a general basic knowledge of God and do nothing about it are no match for the enemy (note Mark 4:15 from the parable of the Sower). God wants to be known (Prov 3:5-6, Jer 9:24, 2 Cor 4:6) as one would know a close relative or friend, and it is this knowing (experiencing) that enables a strong relationship to develop.
The Fall: An Alternative Worldview on Planet Earth
“Now the serpent was craftier than any of the wild animals the Lord God had 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 fruit 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 opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."” Genesis 3:1-5
In Genesis 3:1-8 we find the first alternative worldview on planet earth being presented to Eve through the words of Satan. His purpose was to persuade Eve to doubt what God had already clearly stated (and ultimately doubt God’s love for both Adam and Eve). The serpent sought to encourage Eve to contemplate and accept a different worldview as a valid alternative.
The temptation brought to Adam and Eve, by a supernatural being indwelling a snake (Genesis 3:1ff), was to doubt God’s word and become a reference point to self instead of looking away from self to the heavenly Father – the provider of all blessing and security.
“The essence of deception is to speak 90% truth and 10% error. If I were trying to deceive a decent-minded person, I should employ the tactics of Lord Haw-Haw in the Second World War By speaking a great amount of truth, I should hope to receive acceptance of vital errors.”
Dr J.K. Van Baalen in, The Chaos of the Cults, page 390
Adam and Eve were tempted to redefine what God had said; Eve was encouraged to do so by Satan, a fallen angelic being, and Adam then deliberately rebelled against all he knew to be true (1 Timothy 2:14). Yet a decision had already been made within the Godhead that there would be a future King, veiled in flesh, whose sole purpose in coming was to do the will of His Father (Jn 5:19, 12:49, 14:10, Heb 10:7). This King would conquer sin and death and destroy Satan; He will put His enemies under His feet (Eph 1:22, Heb 2:8) and seat us in heavenly realms.
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…”
The name ‘Satan’ is the same in both Hebrew and English and is derived from the verb meaning, ‘to lie in wait’, ‘to oppose,’ and ‘to be an adversary.’ In the New Testament, Satan is spoken of as the Tempter (Mt 4:5), Beelzebub (Mt 12:24), the Evil One (Mt 13:19, 1 Jn 2:13-14), the Deceiver (Rev 12:9) and the Dragon (Rev 12:3).
In piecing together information from both Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-19, we see that ‘Lucifer’ (‘helel’ meaning brightness, morning star Is 14:12-14) is spoken of as an angelic being (cherubim) who sought to take the glory and praise due to God for himself in a failed attempt to ascend to heaven and make himself like the Most High. Despite his failure, Satan speaks to Eve through the physical body of a serpent and plants seeds in her thinking which lead to doubt and separation from God because of sin.
In Satan we see a desire to live an autonomous life which is free from the restraints of God. Satan wanted to take what rightfully belongs to God and sought to make it his own; he desires to destroy all that is good, right and true. The subtlety of Satan is seen in how he seeks, at times, to work behind the scenes, as we see in his attempt to dominate Peter (Mt 16:21-23, 2 Tim 2:25-26).
Through engaging in conversation with Eve, we see Satan seeking to present an alternative image of God which would place immeasurable distance between humanity and God. The seeds that are sown into the mind are, “Is God someone you can really trust?” This is his attempt to make God out to be someone who wants to curtail freedom and to make Adam and Eve question whether God really loves them. The enemy knew that it is far easier to ignore someone who you think is curtailing your freedom than it is to ignore those who genuinely love and care for you.
The serpent only refers to God by the name ‘Elohim’ (Gen 3:1) and, in doing so, seeks to obscure the fact that God is the Lord (this is a covenant word, therefore a relationship word) who desires friendship and fellowship. In a modern-day setting we could liken this to a man who complains to a work colleague about the boss, even though the boss is the father of the one he is complaining to. In using the phrase, “the boss” he seeks to avoid the father-son relationship that is there which could cause the colleague to more readily challenge what is being said.
After subtly seeking to cause doubt, the serpent moves on to a direct denial of the truth saying, “Surely die: you shall not? (tamutuwm mowt Lo).” According to the Hebrew scholars, Keil and Delitzsch, ‘Lo’ is placed before the infinitive absolute, as in Ps 49:8 and Amos 9:8; showing us that the meaning is not so much, “will not die,” but “positively will not die.”
We need to remember that all of God’s commands proceed from His love (1 John 4:8); forgetting this puts us in danger of making God out to be someone He is not. If we doubt God’s word then we consequently doubt His very character and move out of the protective place of relationship (Psalm 23:1 PS 116:6) from an environment of love to an environment of separation (a life dominated by wrong-thinking, unnecessary suffering and out and out rebellion). This is often seen in how we exercise power in our world; give someone power and you’ll soon see what they are really like.
“Our power has become poisoned power. We discovered the ultimate physical power in the universe, the power wrapped up in an atom – and the very first thing we did with it was to blow whole cities and their citizens into oblivion. And, instead of gaining security by it we are filled with an increasing dread that it may be used on us – on us all. Our power has become power to ruin ourselves. Our very light has turned to darkness. Man has gained control over nature, but not over human nature.”
Dr E.Stanley Jones in the introduction to his book, The Way to Power and Poise.
Unfortunately, there are many Christians who portray God as little more than a curtailer of freedom as they live their lives more like moral policemen/women than anything else. Such a person speaks at length about that which is wrong in the world and the lives of others but they have little or no desire to help people see the awesome grace and mercy of a relationship-building God who is in the business of reconciling a world to Himself.
Our Real Problem
Humanity’s main problem is not sin first and foremost as sin is the fruit of something else. Humanity’s first problem is a broken relationship with God. Considering this, we need to be drawing people’s attention to the true nature of Man and our calling to live as sons and daughters of the living God. It is in this developing relationship that sin is rooted out. We are made for God and this is where our identity and wellbeing come from.
As covenant beings, we are not to view our lives as little more than a pile of different ideas indiscriminately thrown together (eg. parent, bank manager, golf player, etc.) as if this were the means by which we define ourselves. Instead, all of these things express something that is much deeper. Covenantal beings were never made to ‘go it alone’ or to live as if one area of our lives (such as being a parent) were our whole identity. As those in covenant, we need to be telling people about who they really are and whose they really are, recognising that we all need a heavenly Father. This is completely different from simply telling people which areas of life they are going wrong with; we need to be talking about relationship.
A friend of mine died a couple of months ago and her sister, who is not a Christian, asked me where God was in all of this, if He was in fact there at all. In response, I told her that her sister had two Fathers – an earthly one and a heavenly one. The heavenly one had seen her being knit together in her mother’s womb, watched her being birthed, seen her first steps and heard her first word. His Son, Jesus Christ, had died so that she could come to know her heavenly Father and receive eternal life. This Father, her heavenly Father, had every right to either heal her instantly of cancer or take her home to be with Him - it really was His choice. I told her that this Father also wanted to be a Father to her. I don’t think that everyone would have talked in this way, and neither am I saying that they should do so the way I did, but this girl – the non-Christian sister – understood and accepted what was being said and told me she was really going to think it through.
Not only have we been given a world to live in, but we have also been given the hand of friendship - friendship from the One who seeks to uphold true justice and judgement. He knows exactly how everything should be in our world, He is not distracted from what He is doing in reaching out to us, He sees every sparrow fall to the ground (Matthew 10:29) and He is aware of a glass of water given in His name (Mark 9:41).
The World Lives Under a Different Worldview
As has already been mentioned, in accepting the words of Satan as a valid alternative, Eve was placing herself under a different worldview. Within this worldview, she was not focussed on whose she was (created to benefit from a loving relationship with God), but who she was, defined by her own thinking and therefore dependent on her own abilities alone. Yet Dr Breeze writes the following in his book, Satan’s Ten Most Believable Lies (pages 20-21) …
“When man starts to think negatively about God, he finds himself in the beginning of his real trouble. In his bitterness, he no longer feels God’s warm sunshine or His gentle rain. The beauty and blessedness of all that is permitted to him gradually turns to the ashes of resentment. He becomes a total cynic.”
In today’s society, many live with a god or gods that have been fashioned in their own image and developed through a mind-set that has been seriously damaged by their personal experience of the fallen world around them. This experience can stem from vulnerability through absent parents, taking on board negative comments and allowing them to define one’s life, truth-twisting, the world of supernatural darkness, and so on. We need to recognise that sin proceeds from the mind (Titus 1:15) and moves out into action; there is an enemy out there who seeks to lead us astray.
Humanity has become a sinner and sin speaks of the refusal to live as a son or daughter. Sin destroys our real identity, nature and character; it causes us to miss out on the life that our heavenly Father desires for us. This is why one of the Hebrew pictures for sin is “the fire that destroys the name”. The way in which we deal with our lives (spoken of as ‘name’ – nature and character) ultimately destroys the very life we seek to protect. We are made in the image of God, but we are fallen, and the effects of the fall are all around us. This is succinctly revealed in the following words from Dave Chittick in his book, The Puzzle of Ancient Man (p71):
“By having a bent toward evil and assisted technologically, man in rebellion against his Creator can turn his habitat into a living Hell. I was born before World War 2 and remember how technology was used to torture and murder and mutilate human beings. The Nazis in Germany performed horrible “scientific” experiments on people. Philosophical justification for these atrocities came from their naturalistic, atheistic view of origins.”
The Bible speaks of our human problem as failure before anything else – failure to live in a right relationship with our Father. Sin is offensive to God and is the failure to live in the way that we were created to do so (Isaiah 59:14-17, Rom 3:23). Therefore, in its essential nature, ‘sin’ describes our inability, or even our set refusal, to fulfil God’s design for us – our refusal to live as sons and daughters. Dr Stanley Grenz comments on this when he writes…
“In sin, the self rather than God becomes our criterion of value. We may simply refuse to see ourselves as God’s good creation or we may actually elevate the creation rather than Creator as our sovereign…we miss the mark of participation in the community of God which the Creator desires for his creation…It (sin) has an active, pernicious dimension, for it is also actually opposition to God’s intent.”
Dr S. Grenz in, Theology for the Community of God, p 243-244
Consequences of the Fall
The first consequence of sin was that an idyllic community life was shattered. When Adam and Eve heard the voice of the Lord in the garden, they went and hid. They ran from God, indicating the breaking of fellowship with God. They also became vulnerable and covered themselves, demonstrating that their sense of guilt and shame had marred the former sense of human community. So far everything is going just as the enemy had planned.
“Sin is always a departure from the norm and is assessed accordingly. Sin is deviant and perverse, an injustice or iniquity accordingly. Sin in the Exodus literature is disorder and disobedience. Sin is faithlessness, lawlessness, godlessness. Sin is both the overstepping of a line and the failure to reach it – both transgression and shortcoming. Sin is a missing of the mark, a spoiling of goods, a staining of garments, a hitch in one’s gain, a wandering from the path, a fragmenting of the whole. Sin is what culpably disturbs shalom.”
Alvin Plantinga in his essay, God, Evil, and the Metaphysics.
As already mentioned, as far as Satan was concerned, everything must have seemed to be going as planned. Yet, what Satan had not taken into consideration is that God is a gracious and merciful, covenant-keeping God who was willing to make man’s sin His personal responsibility. Adam and Eve’s way of dealing with their problem was to hide from God. God’s way of dealing with man was to approach with the offer of life. From all of this we see that true religion begins with God’s approach to man.
Grace and Mercy
In Gen 3:21, we read that God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve and in this we see the idea of substitutionary sacrificial death. The word garment (‘kuttoenet’) speaks of clothing worn by one in authority. When we receive, in repentance and faith, that which is provided by God alone, we are in Him and we can walk in His power and authority. As believers, we are clothed in the work of Christ (Gal 3:27), in power from on high (Luke 24:49, 1 Cor 3:16), and in that which is imperishable (1 Cor 15:54).
Scripture tells us that sin entered the world through one man and that death came through sin (Rom 5:12). The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) and death is seen as the cosmic enemy of mankind and the whole of creation, however God offers the gift of eternal life (quality of life and not just quantity) through Jesus Christ.
Death: Separation from God
In the western world, we tend to think of death as no more than the cessation of biological life, yet in the Bible it refers to much more than this. Death (taamuwt) speaks of the weaker end of life and the continual reaping of the harvest that comes from being separated from the Author of life. Death is a change of place or conditions in which conscious existence continues; it is separation from a Father and it is existing with our own worldview gleaned from using self, or the society we live in as a reference point. This is why Paul writes, “to set the mind on the flesh is death” (Rom 8:6). In this context, ‘the flesh’ is not simply referring to the body (seen as good in Hebrew thought) but that which is transient and passing. So what Paul is pointing out is that, due to the fall, our minds are directed towards what is earthly, physical and passing away – this is the state of death which characterises the present age as opposed to the age that is to come. Death is the loss of good – the loss of relationship and the loss of God, yet God has always been prepared to come looking for the lost rebel and to stand in our place.
The experience of ‘living death’ began at the fall when death acquired power over humanity through humanity’s sin; it was through the law that sin was seen for what it really was – an already present rebellion against God and an inability to live life in the way we were created to.
“For before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many”!
The full ‘maturity’ of death results in a lost eternity without God. Therefore, death speaks of ‘the end time for what has died’, and points to eternal judgement in a lost eternity, separated from God (hence “second death” Rev 20:14). Death entered into humanity through sin which was seen for what is was though the law; the law speaks of the hand of a loving heavenly Father who directs His children concerning how life is to be lived. In rejecting God and failing to be like our Father, we reap the full harvest of death.
As has already been said, ‘death’ speaks of the end time for what has died, and it is the ultimate penalty for disobedience to God’s command in Gen 2:17;3:19. The finality of this judgement is seen in that death also carries the idea of going to the eternal home of our own choosing (Ecclesiastes 12:5-7). However, it does not have to be this way because through God’s gracious intervention (which does not compromise His holiness), the power of death has been overcome by the victory of Christ through whom we receive grace and mercy in abundance (1 Cor 15:55-7).
The Hebrew word for grace is ‘chen’ and portrays the amazing picture of working for somebody who deserves nothing and of bringing this person into a place of great beauty and freedom, even though they have done nothing to deserve it. The heart of the word ‘chen’ carries the picture of fencing in and protecting life. All of this captures something of what God seeks to do for us.
Through Christ we are now dead to sin (Rom 6:11), which means that sin does not have to have a hold over our lives; the power of sin has been broken. When we fall, as we invariably do from time-to-time, we do so because we have given power to that which is wrong. We are no longer those who are chained to that which is fading away, but those who are learning to engage with new life in Christ, which finds its fulfilment in future transformation.
Having seen who we are called to be and what has gone wrong, along with looking at God’s sacrificial love for us, we now turn to look at how God deals with our adversary, Satan, and the supernatural forces of darkness.
End of part one.