News and Views
The Problem With Humans
At each step of creation, God considered what He had made, and pronounced it good (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25), but after He created a man and a woman in His own image, "God saw all that He had made, and it was very good." (Gen. 1:31 NIV) The first home for humanity was truly a paradise where those humans had open communication with God and, it appears, with the animals.
However, evil was already lurking. The archangel Lucifer, the most resplendent and finest of all the angels, archangels and heavenly beings created by God, had already made his claim to be equal with God, and had been joined in rebellion against God by about a third of the angels. To rebel against God was also to rebel against good and the source of goodness. So evil began as rebellion against goodness and the subsequent absence of goodness in the rebels. As a created being, Lucifer, now also known as Satan or Beelzebub or as the devil, was limited in his abilities and could not create anything, but he did and does have limited intellect and power, and he applied all of his abilities against God. Anything opposing God is opposing goodness, and is therefore evil, and Lucifer developed many strategies to attempt to undermine God and expand the impact of evil. Jesus said of him, "The devil... was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44 NIV)
The first humans were innocent, inexperienced, and naive when the crafty serpent approached to tempt them with Satanic insinuations and lies. The woman is reported to have carried the conversation, even adding her own exaggeration about not touching, but the man was with her and said nothing. When the woman succumbed to doing as she wanted instead of as God wanted, the man willingly joined her, and thus disobedience to God, rebellion against God, sin, and evil became part of the human psyche.
The consequences of that first rebellion showed, in part, immediately and have expanded in scope and diversity ever since. The first change that the man and woman noticed was their recognition that they were naked, which probably suggests that the good gift of human sexuality is one of the areas most vulnerable to blatant misuse and abuse, as is so obvious in our sex-soaked world today. Related are God's pronouncements to the woman that childbearing would be painful, and that she would desire her husband who would rule over her. God condemned the man to harsh toil in coaxing food from cursed ground that would now produce prickly weeds.
God had said that the consequence of that first disobedience would be death, and thousands of years later, Paul wrote, "For the wages of sin is death." (Rom. 6:23 NIV) God immediately condemned the physical human body to return to the dust from which it had been formed, but those first people lived physically for hundreds more years. God also drove those first humans from their special garden and set a guard against their return, saying, "Now that the man has become like one of us in knowing good from evil, he must not be allowed to reach out his hand and pick from the tree of life too, and eat and live for ever!" (Gen. 3:22 NJB) This would seem to be another kind of death also affecting those first people, the kind Paul meant when he wrote to the believers at Ephesus, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient." (Eph. 2:1-2 NIV) That spirit at work in the disobedient is the same spiritual enemy that misled that first woman and who is still actively influencing us to ignore or rebel against God, do our own thing, and mistreat each other. It is uncertain exactly what "death" means here, but it certainly is other than physical death. Some theology simply says that it is separation from God. In Genesis 2:7, God breaths life into the newly formed man. Paul states that sin results in death, and that we are dead in sin before we believe. Jesus said, "the Spirit gives birth to spirit," in John 3:6 and promised to send the Holy Spirit to His followers in John 15:26 to 16:15. Luke describes the dramatic giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2. In Revelation 2:7, we find the risen Christ promising to give to the believers in Heaven the right to eat of the tree of life. Putting together these Bible concepts, humans are in some way spiritually dead unless they accept Jesus and the eternal spiritual life only He offers.
We can conclude that the problem of humans is the two-fold result of our wrong choices.. Human choice brought into our world the so called "problem of evil". We can readily see how devilish and human effort have expanded the simple evil as the absence of good into many aspects of evil to produce the horrors of our time. However, it is also a reality that to eliminate evil would be to eliminate freedom, because it is out of our free-will choices that evil is present as the rejection of God and His goodness, and that evil expands to methods of huge cruelty and abuse. Human choice also brought on the consequence of human death. So out of our free-will choice to rebel against God, we experience the absence of His goodness and continually choose to be the problem of letting the resulting evil proliferate in and through us, and we have the problem of death. We are a problem and we have a problem.
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