Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Fresh Insight, by Chris Taylor

Finally, a post by Chris! Actually, this one's written by his secretary, but we've been married long enough that I can not only read his mind, I can write it down too. Projects at work have been keeping him too busy to find time to post anymore. But in an economy where millions of people are out of work, we thank God for the busyness, and I can just post for him.

Chris is teaching Ephesians to a small group of men on Wednesday night and he told me about an insight from this past week.

Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
God told Adam and Eve that they would die the very day they ate of the fruit, but they didn't physically die that day. They died hundreds of years later, so what exactly did God mean?

I've heard several different explanations over the years, but all of them have seemed to fall short. One I've heard is that it was God's mercy to them that they didn't die. Even though God said they would die that very day, out of his mercy he allowed them to live a long life.

Here was Chris' excellent explanation:

Ephesians 2:1 "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins."
Adam and Eve, on the very day they ate of that fruit, surely died. Not only Adam and Eve, but the whole human race became a race of walking dead men. It was exactly as God had said. He did not make an empty threat.

So what do both Ephesians and Genesis mean by a race of spiritually dead men? Does it mean that before we are in Christ, we have no concern for spiritual things? Are we like animals without spiritual longings and desires? Does it mean that we are incapable of thinking of anything spiritual? None of these are what scripture means by spiritual deadness. The fallen race is still in the image of God, although that image is distorted. God's image in us causes us to be worshipers, with spiritual desires and longings. But our deadness causes us to constantly run after other gods. Left to ourselves, we would never run to God.

Chris' next insight is in leading us to Jesus' teaching in John:

John 15:5-6 "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned."
John chapter 15 brings into clarity what scripture means by spiritual deadness. When God says, "In that day, you shall surely die," another way of saying that is, "In that day, you shall surely be cut off from Christ, who is your life." When branches are cut off from the vine, they can neither grow nor bear fruit. Walking dead men live their whole life without ever truly growing. A boy may grow out of throwing a tantrum on the floor by kicking and screaming, only to find different and socially acceptable ways of throwing tantrums as a man. He hasn't truly grown spiritually. Without Christ's life-giving sap, each human to walk the earth will live a whole life void of genuine spiritual fruit.

Did Adam surely die the day he ate of the fruit? Not only did he die, but every human ever to be born died on that day. Thanks be to God for our second Adam.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22 "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive."

1 comment:

David Madeira said...

Thanks for taking it upon yourself to post that, Leslie. I love Chris' point about the "kind" of death that occurred upon eating the forbidden fruit.

In a related note (and to provide another potential answer to the initial question), I have read that the Hebrew word "yowm" which is traditionally translated into English as "day" in that verse and others did not necessarily mean "24 hours." It could refer to such a period, but could also mean several days, a year, even an era.

That's semantics, and of course then has implications as far as the creation timeline ("yowm" is used there too), but as far as the passage mentioned in your post, I think Chris' explanation is the best because it gets down to real "point" which goes way beyond definitions and translations.