“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
Going back to the Garden of Eden, we get a story of how the Lord intended things for humanity. He created a world that man and woman could live in, enjoy, and tend to. He gave them stewardship over all that He had created. And in that creation, He walked with them. He listened and encouraged them. He gave advice. He made suggestions. He reasoned with them. God and man worked together in His creation.
Only when Adam and Eve were seduced into the arrogant notion of gaining the “knowledge of good and evil” for themselves, did they cut God out of the picture, and fall into the terrible temptation and condemnation of sin. They no longer reasoned with God over what was right or wrong, they decided for themselves.
The battle between right and wrong entered into the world of man, and with it life and death. This perversion of God’s plan started a series of events that would culminate into the Salvation and Restoration of God’s people to Himself through Christ.
With it also came the tragic perceived contradictions in scripture that often play havoc with our intellect. If we are not clear and precise in our understanding of the character and transformative power of Jesus, we will question and doubt God, or worse, only consider ourselves in regard to our interaction with the world and God’s plan for it and us.
The knowledge of good and evil broke our dependence on God to show us right from wrong, and brought into question every future act committed by man. Right or wrong, man got to choose, and in so doing, his perspective might or might not line up with God’s. Man had been shown in the Garden that obedience and partnership with God brought life and happiness. Unfortunately, man also learned that life apart from God would bring death.
To man, the human existence is life, followed by death. Comprehending the reality of what life and death mean to the human condition is best explained by the Lord himself.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Death comes before life. Jesus proved this point through His own body. He allowed himself to die, be buried, and then resurrected, to give us the ultimate picture of the obedient sacrifice and what it would bring. He gave up His own “right” to life in order to receive the fullness of His deepest most joyful desire: the salvation of the lost (Hebrews 12:2). His was a perfect sacrifice with perfect obedience. His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, right before being arrested was this:
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Too often I think our church culture suggests that we beat down who we are and what we think in regard and response to Jesus: that beating down our own thoughts is how we “die to self.” We tell ourselves and each other that we must consider “what Jesus would do” and forget that Jesus might want to actually have a conversation with us about it. Jesus had a conversation with God in the garden of Gethsemane, not a silent robotic command.
We don’t give up our self to “live as Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). We let ourselves shine by sharing our thoughts with God and then letting him tell us how best to proceed, knowing that His decisions will lead us on a course of life. We die to having the “final say” on what we will do. We let Him tell us what is right for us and what is wrong.
I’d like to add, though, that as we muse and ponder and plan with the Lord, though, we should act with care and caution. Otherwise we open ourselves up to the attack of the enemy, who prowls around at all times, looking for ways to exploit our weakness and stir our insecurities.
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8
In our obedience to God, and our active intention to put to death our sinful desires, we find peace. Peace and joy and power come from walking in the Presence of the Lord and reasoning together with Him. When we follow our own hearts without God’s input, we are submitting to the death of this world instead of receiving the life of Jesus that we are promised.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.