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Trouble In Paradise

• Greg Boyd

In the second part of our Long Story Short series Greg takes a look at what happens when Adam and Eve disobey God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and what universal lessons we can learn from them about who we were originally designed to be. Life in the Kingdom revolves around trusting God for provision and honoring his prohibition. It’s this focus that keeps us secure in our identity and not looking for life elsewhere through judging eyes. We are to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and him crucified, and this will keep us from judgment of others as well as keep a clear picture of who God is.

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When looking at the Bible as a whole it can be difficult to see the forest through the trees. It’s hard to know how to connect the dots with all the different characters, ideas, and timelines. In this series we are looking at the Bible through the dual lenses of covenant and kingdom. There are times when it can take looking at a verse the 5th or 6th time and then finally the coin drops in the slot. It’s important to never get weary of repetition and don’t assume you already know the conclusion because God is always looking to speak a fresh word to those who have ears to hear.

When looking at a passage like Genesis 3, many questions can come to mind. How literally or figuratively is the passage meant to be taken? What is the genre? How do we integrate this story with the theory of evolution? What to make of all the other species of humans? There are many thinking about how to answer these questions, but it’s also okay to say we don’t know or we’re not sure. There is no certainty test in the Kingdom and we’re not required to lose all doubt. It’s healthy to be asking questions. What we do have good evidence for and compelling reasons to believe is that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that he endorsed the Old Testament. At the end of the day we may have to conclude that the story of Genesis didn’t set out to answer 21st century science questions. That’s okay and it shouldn’t affect our belief in its inspiration.

There are a couple ideas central to Woodland Hills view of the Kingdom fleshed out in Genesis 3. The first is that the life we are to trust God for is the life we’ve been given. There are 2 trees in the center of the garden. The tree of life represents God’s provision and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents God’s loving no trespassing sign. We were created in his image and he put his imprint on us. Nothing else will fill that void in us except his life in us. We learn that life in the Kingdom revolves around trusting God for provision and honoring his prohibition. The knowledge of good and evil is about thinking we have the ability and the right to define good and evil for ourselves – thinking we can be the judge. God says, be like me in my kindness and my character, but don’t try to be like me in my judgment, because unlike God, we can’t both love and judge at the same time.

Love is about ascribing worth to another at cost to yourself. Judgment is about ascribing worth to yourself at cost to another. Judgment creates a parasitic effect where we continually walk around hungry looking to get full off our comparison to others. We can’t ascribe worth when we’re constantly trying to steal it. The fullness of the provision is what keeps us away from the prohibition. We have one job and that is to agree with God that every human being has unsurpassable worth. Paul said he resolved to know one thing, Jesus Christ and him crucified. It’s okay to discern things, separating objects and safe from unsafe, but we are never to separate ourselves from people as a way of getting life from the comparison. If we really care about sin, we should start with our own and consider ourselves to be the worst of sinners.

The second idea is that all our feelings about God are derived from our picture of him. The first thing the enemy goes after is Eve’s image of God. Unfortunately, the hungrier you are, the more appetizing rubbish looks. The beauty of our kingdom life will never outrun the beauty of our picture of God. We will take on the image of the God we worship. Jesus is not one among many images of God, but rather he is the definitive revelation. He tells his disciples that if they see him, they see the Father. If our eyes stay fixed on Jesus, we’ll know what God is like. Keeping our eyes fixed on him will both give us an accurate picture as well as keep us away from judgment. This practice often starts out of sheer obedience, but over time will lead to a life characterized by freedom.

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Topics: Creation, Identity in Christ, Kingdom of God

Sermon Series: Long Story Short

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Focus Scripture:

  • Genesis 3:1-13

    Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’”
    But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.
    Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”
    He said “I heard the sounds of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself”. And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done? And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

  • I Corinthians 2:2

    I resolved to know nothing about you when I was among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

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2 thoughts on “Trouble In Paradise

  1. Kevin says:

    Greg? Trying to decode who your radio show detractor might be. Might it be someone “Wretched”?

  2. Lloyd says:

    The Serpent in the garden
    By Lloyd Dale
    March 20, 2019

    “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” (Pr 25:2 AV)

    “Jesus Christ…hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever…Amen.” (Re 1:6-7 AV)

    “And hast made us (all true followers and servants of) Christ unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign over the earth… and they (first century saints and many others since then that have gone on to be with our Lord Jesus) lived (by resurrection) and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” (Re 5:10 AV Re 20:4 AV)

    The Scriptures declare that: “Adam was first formed, then Eve. However, they also declare that “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (Committed the transgression because she was deceived. 1Ti 2:13-14 AV)
    If you ask most modern-day Christians, “Who committed the first sin” many of them will state that Eve committed the first sin by taking the first bit from the “apple’. However, as we continue our study of the Bible, we see that the woman, Eve, never has the blame for sin placed on her; rather, the authors of the New Testament repeatedly state and confirm that all of the responsibility for sin and death was laid on Adam. Why is this the case?
    According to God, Adam, not Eve, was the first to sin and then he passed his sin on to all others born of his seed. If Eve’s partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the first sin as is commonly taught in Christian circles, then Eve, not Adam, would have been the first sinner and sin would have passed on through Eve rather than Adam; however, God clearly says otherwise.
    One of the problems that a student of the Bible must contend with is poor, inaccurate, and often misleading translations of the original languages into English. If the translators of the English Bible were more faithful to true translation our task of Bible study would be much easier. Herein, we are using what we think to be accurate translations of some words that were transliterated rather than translated into English. That transliteration is very often, if not always, misleading the Bible student. One Greek word that is usually transliterated rather than correctly translated is “διαβολου” which is usually transliterated as “devil” in most English Bibles. The true meaning of the word is “slanderer” as it is correctly/properly translated in 1Ti 3:11. The fact that this Greek word is erroneously transliterated into English as “devil” at least 12 times, has convinced me that this is done by the translators as a deliberate attempt to deceive or otherwise confuse English reading Bible students. During the days when the Bible was essentially only available in Latin misunderstandings and myths developed in the Christian community. One of these myths was the teaching of a literal fallen angel that fell deeply into sin and became known as Satan/the devil/the dragon/Lucifer and of course the Serpent of the garden. If the truth be known, the Bible, in its original languages provides no support for this enduring Christian myth. It seems that the early translators, in an attempt to appease the church that thrived with this myth, transliterated the word “διαβολου” as “the devil” rather than the slanderer as it should have been correctly translated. Thus, much to the detriment of the English-Speaking church, this deliberate transliteration of this Greek word has perpetuated a medieval myth as most modern translations continue that mythical tradition.

    Here is what a correctly translated John 8:44 states:
    ““Ye are of your father the slanderer, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (Joh 8:44)”

    “The slanderer” referenced in this passage, as is demonstrated below, is Adam, the first man created — not some mythological devil/satan/dragon or “lucifer” who indwelt a snake or otherwise took control of such a snake to deceive Eve, as so many people think because that is what they have been falsely taught to think. Adam, as the serpent in the garden, was the first liar and thus “the father of lies,” etc.! He slandered God by his temptation of Eve with these words: ““Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Really, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Ge 3:1 AV) “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Ge 3:4-5 AV)” The apostle Paul referred to this subtil nature of Adam/the Serpent and contrasted it to the “simplicity that is in Christ” as follows: ““But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty , so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2Co 11:3 AV)”

    The New Testament’s explanation of the Genesis 3 Serpent

    Below are the premises of my article as I understand them.
    1. Since Adam was the first to sin, his sin had to occur before both he and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Thus, his sin had to be something other than eating the forbidden fruit.
    2. Sin entered the world through Adam. He who commits sin is of the devil/slanderer. Since sin originates with both Adam and the slanderer, they must be one and the same.
    3. By the offence of Adam condemnation came upon all men. A novice lifted up with pride may fall into the condemnation of the slanderer. Condemnation has only one source, hence Adam and the slanderer are one and the same.
    4. Because Adam and Eve were the only two persons in the garden who could speak, and Adam was not deceived, he must therefore be the deceiver of Eve.

    The following is what the NT authors said about Adam:
    “Wherefore, as by one-man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so, death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence (Adam’s), so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one (Adam) many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one (Adam) that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one (Adam) to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one (Adam) man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as by the offence of one (Adam) judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s (Adam’s) disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover, the law entered, that the offence (Adam’s) might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Ro 5:12-21 AV, emphases added)

    At this point, we must specifically state Adam’s great “offence” — he slandered God. (More about this later)
    Now, let us compare and contrast a few verses:
    “Wherefore, as by one-man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so, death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Romans 5:12)

    “He that commits sin is of the devil (transliteration of “διαβολου”); for the devil (transliteration of “διαβολου”) sins from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil (transliteration of “διαβολου”).” (1Jo 3:8)

    Do you see what I see? Paul clearly stated that “Sin entered the world by Adam.” That clearly means that Adam was the one that sinned from the beginning. Yet, the author of the 4th Gospel (who, by the way, was not John) appears to state that the devil (transliteration of “διαβολου”) slanderer (correct translation) “sins from the beginning (apparently a clear contradiction of Paul).” This apparent contradiction is easily resolved by the correct translation of “διαβολου” which clearly demonstrates that the author of the 4th Gospel and Paul are certainly identifying the same entity, i.e. “Adam” as the devil (transliteration of “διαβολου”) slanderer (correct translation of “διαβολου”) was Adam.

    Therefore as by the offence of one (Adam) judgment came upon all men to condemnation;

    “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil slanderer.” (1Ti 3:6 AV)

    In the Romans 5 passage above, Paul states that condemnation fell upon men because of the offense of Adam; however, when he wrote to Timothy, he was concerned about the probability of a novice being lifted up with pride and falling into the condemnation of the devil slanderer. Thus, once again, we see the clear correlation between Adam and the devil/slanderer as a source of condemnation, strongly indicating that the devil is Adam and, at the least, in the first century the Apostate Jewish descendants of Adam equate to the devil/slander. Continuing his letter to Timothy, Paul wrote: ““Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil/slanderer.” (1Ti 3:7)” Therefore, it now seems clear to this writer and I trust to all of his readers that in the garden Adam was the original slanderer and his descendants (physical & spiritual), the apostate Jews, were actively continuing his legacy in the first century. As Jesus declared to them:
    ““Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers… Ye are of your father the devil/slanderer, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (selected portions of Mt 23:33, Joh 8:44”

    “For since by man (Adam) came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1Co 15:21-22 AV, emphases added)

    “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living being; the last Adam was made a life giving spirit.” (1Co 15:45)

    “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression .” (1Ti 2:13-14 AV) According to the biblical text of Genesis, there were only two persons (Adam & Eve) in the garden with the ability to speak. The New Testament texts provided herein clearly demonstrate, at least for this student of the Bible and I trust now his readers as well, that Adam was the entity that tempted Eve. Adam was “the serpent” who tempted Eve)

    “Let no man (this includes Adam, as he was the first man created and the first man to sin which brought death to all of mankind as James describes) say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man (this includes Adam) is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (this certainly describes the progression of Adam’s sin in the garden) Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (Exactly what the verses quoted above about Adam emphatically state).” (Jas 1:13-15 AV, emphases added)

    “Forasmuch then as the children (of Adam) are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself (Jesus) likewise took part of the same (flesh and blood); that through death (and His resurrection) He might destroy that which held the power of death, that is to say, the slanderer;” (Heb 2:14)

    The verses identified and quoted above clearly establish that it was Adam that was “the serpent” in the garden. He was the first liar, he was the one which brought sin and death upon mankind, and thus “had the power of death.” Jesus came to destroy the sinful work of Adam! JESUS DESTROYS THAT DEATH, BROUGHT BY ADAM, BY RESURRECTIN OUT FROM THAT DEATH! First His own (ca. 33AD, the Gospels), “afterward, they that are Christ’s in His Parousia” (ca. 70AD, 1Cor 125:23a, 1Thess 4:14-18, etc.) and finally “the rest of the dead” in the great white throne resurrection/judgment (Rev 20:12-15) which is yet in the unknown future.

    Amazed in His love and grace,


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