by Jeannette Haley
Down through the centuries, since the creation of Adam, man has conducted himself according to his belief system. For example, Adam himself based his decisions on what he believed. And, you and I base our daily decisions on what we believe too. Even our perception of the Fall of Man as recounted in the Book of Genesis greatly influences us.
“Whoa! Wait a minute there,” you might be saying. “Poor Adam was seduced by his wife. He didn’t really mean to eat of that tree!”
This idea that Adam was a helpless victim causes me to imagine a scene like this: Eve, after gulping down the forbidden fruit, turns to Adam, (who stood by her side according to Genesis 3:6). Her eyes glow with a strange, inner light. Juice from the sweet delicacy trickles slowly down her chin. Stunned, Adam begins to back away, then turns and runs as Eve gives pursuit. Panicked and confused, he becomes entangled in the vineyard.
A look of triumph crosses Eve’s distorted features as she cunningly stalks her helpless prey. Adam screams as she pins his head back among the vines and leaves. He knows its curtains for him, that his relationship with God is forever abolished. Laughing wickedly, Eve forces Adam’s mouth open and crams the forbidden fruit inside.
While this imaginary scene may be amusing, nevertheless, it is impossible to calculate how many lives have been detrimentally affected by the belief that Eve was undisputedly to blame for Adam’s fall. The reason is, us humans tend to create ironclad creeds for ourselves and others to live by—creeds that dictate what we are to think, believe and do.
The definition of creed according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is “A formal statement of religious belief; confession of faith. A system of belief, principles, or opinions.” This all sounds good and noble; however, we need to realize creeds are man’s attempt to stabilize religion into a modem of conformity for both man and God. In other words, creeds are designed to be (1) the basis of defined faith by which man is to conduct his affairs and, (2) the basis of man’s intellectual understanding of God.
While creeds may be comprised of truth, it is impossible for them to reveal the whole, or total, truth. God is Truth, His Word is Truth and what man is there who can encompass and comprehend all there is to know about the eternal Godhead? For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. (1 Corinthians 3:19, 20)
I like to compare the confinement of creeds to a cup that has been dipped in the ocean. It can be confirmed that the contents of the cup contain pure seawater. However, on the other hand, it is ludicrous to assume that the entire ocean is present in the cup! What if one were content to idolize the cup and the water within it rather than set sail on the vast sea itself? Yet, Christians, down through the centuries, have willingly allowed themselves to be confined to the creedal dictates of organized religion, man-made dogma and superstitious rhetoric. The tragic result is the souls of God’s people have been sold into religious idolatry and slavery. Many, who have understood the snares of this subtle form of idolatry, are nevertheless themselves ensnared in various forms of creedal bondage. These can be as numerous and as varied as there are people, because each of us, either consciously or subconsciously, develops our own creed, or belief system.
This brings us back to Adam. God specifically instructed Adam concerning the maintenance, (protection), of the Garden of Eden and concerning the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam may have known God’s instructions very well, but he deliberately chose to establish his own set of beliefs, or creed.
Job 31:33 says, If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom:” According to Strong’s Concordance, the Hebrew definition of “hiding” in this instance means lay privily, in secret. The word “iniquity” in Hebrew means perversity, moral evil, fault, mischief, sin. Hosea 6:7 also refers to Adam transgressing and dealing treacherously against God.
Adam is an example of a human being who has a “creed”, but whose heart lacks integrity. Because his heart lacked integrity, (love for God and fear of God), Adam’s belief system was powerless to keep him from falling. Think about it, here was a man who lived in a perfect environment; a man who lacked nothing; a man who had the opportunity to fellowship and commune with His Creator. Here was a man who had no worries about how he was going to provide for himself and his wife; a man who had no idea what sickness and suffering were; a man who did not have to fear war, famine, pestilence or any of the million and one things we have to contend with in our day-to-day life. Yet, in spite of all this, he hid iniquity in his heart. In other words, he rebelled inwardly before he sinned outwardly.
Adam basically sacrificed Eve to test God. He watched Satan beguile her into tasting the forbidden fruit and when she did not die on the spot, he partook of it himself. Adam disrespected and discarded God’s instructions, thereby developing and adhering to his own wisdom. Of course, we all know the result: Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Romans 5:12)
On the other hand, God sacrificed Jesus to test the world. God’s question to mankind is, “What have you done with my Son?” Notice, the question is not, “What have you done with religious creeds or belief systems or rules of conduct established by your church?
You see, belief in our beliefs, or belief in our creeds, doctrines and religious rules gives us a false sense of security. Faith in our faith, dependency upon our religious conceptions and doctrines has a tendency to puff us up with religious pride. Infatuation and blind allegiance to the church of our choice blinds us to the true will and purpose of God for our lives. Obsession with one’s church and related activities is a subtle form of idolatry.
Unfortunately, in every life, sooner or later, problems arise. Trials and tests have a way of stripping us down to the very core of who we really are and what we really believe. Trials also have a way of wrenching us out of our credal comfort zones. God wants us to recognize where our dependency is—whether on Him or on our belief about Him. It comes down to our vital, personal, relationship with God. If we insist on understanding and defining God based upon our own perception of Him because of our ingrained creeds, then we risk missing Him altogether.
When the storms of life exceed our definition of God, then we have a choice. We can either allow God to be God in spite of our limited understanding, or we can slander His character because He does not conform to our religious dogma concerning Him. This is what Adam’s attitude conveyed when he answered God thus, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. Genesis 3:12)
It takes a certain type of courage to fight to enter into the reality of God. There must be true repentance, humility and devotion to the King of Glory. There must be confidence, faith if you will, that God is and operates outside of man’s comfortable religious creeds. There must be uprightness of heart and integrity. All of one’s desire, focus and attention must be toward the One true God. If the believer is to truly enter into the Holy of Holies, then they must be free of all religious, preconceived credal limitations, restrictions and bondage and willing to allow the Holy Spirit to usher them into the presence of the Lord.
As Oswald Chamber’s wrote in his excellent book, BAFFLED TO FIGHT BETTER, Job and the Problem of Suffering, “A moral person, that is, the one who will do the right thing and be the right thing in actual life, is more likely than anyone else to recognize God when He manifest Himself. If I become a devotee of a creed I cannot see God unless He comes along my line. It takes the whole person—conscience, intellect, will, and emotions—to discover God as reality. The one who is standing well within his own right, whose conscience is not yet awakened feels no need of God. ‘I did not come to call him,’ said Jesus. But let a man come up against things, and he will find not a creed or a doctrine, but the Reality of God. The elemental facts we come up against transform our stubbornness into amenableness to reality.”
Friends, God wants us to get past ourselves and our preconceived ideas about God so we can enter into the reality of who He really is. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)
To understand scriptural reasons why Christians suffer, go to:
God’s Will and Suffering.