And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat (Genesis 3:6).
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (I John 2:15,16).
A little girl showed her mother a drawing she was given in Sunday school of a person with a big dark spot inside representing sin; the sin that her Sunday school teacher told her is inherited from our first parent’s “original sin.”
The little girl said to her mother, “I don’t believe that.”
The mother responded, “I don’t believe it either,” and the picture was promptly crumpled and deposited in the nearest trash can.
Jews and Muslims share the same opinion held by that mother and child. One Muslim commented about the subject of original sin in an email I received. He said, “I wasn’t there.”
In a way he was, we all were, as scientists have traced the DNA of every human being on the planet back to one woman who lived in Northern Africa or the Middle East. Eve certainly was the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20), a fact now verified by science.
With that discovery we can conclude that we are all standing on the same feet of fragile clay that tripped and fell in Eden’s garden. And I assure you, we all have an "original sin" lurking somewhere in our personal histories.
The dictionary definition of Original Sin is – “The tendency to sin innate in all human beings held to be inherited from Adam as the result of the fall.”
What we have inherited from our first parents is a body of flesh, and all of us are subject to the same temptations that can cause our flesh to overcome us and propel us into sin.
When we carefully analyze what went on in that garden so long ago, we will see that those elements in the flesh that can cause us to sin, were always present in Eve, even though she was living in a state of sinless innocence. In Genesis 3:6, we see three distinct things that were influencing her to disobey God’s commandment. -
1. The woman saw that the tree was good for food. – This represents the lust to consume a desire to satisfy the flesh. This can apply to any bodily desire including sex.
2. The tree was “pleasant to the eyes.” – This is the lust to obtain for oneself that which the eye desires.
3. “A tree to be desired to make one wise.” – This is the lust of “the pride of life,” which translates into the exaltation of the self.
We can see that these three lusts that Eve succumbed to, were inherent in her flesh. And because we all inherit the same bodies of flesh as our first parents, we are subject to those same three lusts of the flesh as well.
Does this mean that God created sin, or that the first parents were not perfect? No, they were sinless as long as they obeyed God. Sin is not sin unless it is acted upon. Yet God created the flesh to love, to feel and have desire, to enjoy, all the things that make us human. These are good things. But when they are directed in opposition to God’s will, or allowed to bloom into an inordinate desire or lust, as in Eve’s case, then those good things can become sin. God also gave mankind the gift of free will that enables us to choose to obey God over these three nagging influences of our flesh.
If Eve’s love for God had been stronger, she could have resisted the three lusts that caused her fall, and she would have obeyed God’s commandment. But, alas, she did not and as a result, mankind was denied access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22), and all humans inherit bodies that are subject to decay and death.
The scriptures show us that God makes the soul/person forming it in the womb (Isaiah 57:16, Jeremiah 1:5). What God makes is perfect and sinless. But because the soul is in a body that has inherited corruption as the result of our first parent’s original sin, the soul is subject to the corrupted influences of the spirit and flesh. If the soul could resist those influences and never follow them into sin, then that soul would be perfect and sinless. Only Jesus was able to resist those influences and not sin. Therefore we conclude that everyone inherits the results of Adam and Eve’s original sin; and that is the dark spot in us that we inherit from our first parents, but we do not inherit their personal sin as each individual is responsible for their own sin.
Maybe that mom should retrieve that drawing from the trash can and take another look.
The Apostle John made the connection between our first mother’s failing and what causes our own; “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.” It behooves us to recognize and identify those three forces within our bodies when they begin to try and influence us to operate in opposition to the will of God.
In a way, that tree of knowledge of good and evil in Eden’s garden, represents the love of the world that John cautions us to avoid. If we love the world, and prefer the things of the world above God, then we will be much more vulnerable to the devil’s influences and destruction.
God wants us to be led by His Spirit and not the whims of our deceitful flesh. Lust is our enemy and it is the tool the devil uses to cause us to fail. But once the enemy and the strategy of evil is exposed and we are given the knowledge of how to overcome it, we are better equipped to protect ourselves from failure. But it’s not easy.
Jesus suffered His own battles with the flesh and He readily acknowledged that “The Spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). What enabled Him to overcome His flesh is His love for His Father God. It was that intense love that enabled Him to resist the three temptations in His wilderness encounter with Satan. In all three, Jesus would not obey the devil in order to satisfy the desires of His flesh; the temptation to use His power to satisfy His hunger, tempt God or exalt Himself. As a result He passed His tests and became the Savior of the world. And because Jesus died to the lusts of His flesh, He died for us so that we might live through Him and deny our flesh and glorify God through our obedience. Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, believers are given the power to overcome sin in our lives, and to receive forgiveness in those times when we fail.
It is our love for God that will make us successful in this life, for if we love God we will keep His commandments. “And His commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3). All of them are designed to be for our welfare and the welfare of others.
We have been shown that lust is our enemy, and the scriptures exhort us to overcome it. We need to learn to recognize when a desire for something is being motivated by lust. I know from my own experience when I put down an inordinate or out of-proportion desire for something, when the lust was subdued and removed, then God permitted me to have the thing, but only when it was not consuming the lust.
The Apostle Paul worked hard to overcome the influences of his flesh. - But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (I Cor. 9:27). It was extremely important to him to maintain his witness so his ministry would not be discredited. Every believer should emulate the Apostle’s zeal to succeed in overcoming the flesh.
The Spirit must always rule over the flesh and never the other way around. As we grow in the faith and our relationship with God, the flesh will have less power over our lives. We can stand with Jesus in our wilderness temptations and make our success the devil’s failure.
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end of the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as He which has called you is holy, so you be holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” - (I Peter 1:13-16 from Leviticus 11:44-45).
Copyright 2021 by H.D. Shively
Return to Bible Insights | Cafe Logos Homepage