“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” Genesis 3:6
Eve didn’t take and eat of the forbidden fruit with the intent to do harm to herself. Knowing she was made in the image of God, she took and ate convinced it would make her enlightened and better off. Her intentions were not to doom all mankind, she simply judged what God said to be of less value than her current feelings on the subject. So she ate.
Being the sons and daughters of Eve, as well as heirs of Christ, we carry with us both curse and blessing: the ability to stand firm or to fall as we choose. Our obedience to God weakens the enemy while our disobedience emboldens him and enables his schemes.
Eve was convinced there was some justification to her sin. She thought somehow God couldn’t have meant exactly what He said, there had to be a better way.
Therein lies the hook. We convince ourselves our intentions are good and we make our sin into a noble act. We push God out, convinced we’ve got everything handled. With each selfish little choice, the soil of our heart hardens just a little more, and hard soil is only good for growing weeds.
In 1 Samuel 15 we see how Saul learned this lesson the hard way when he chose to keep some of the plunder from the Amalekites instead of destroying everything as God commanded. When Samuel confronted him about it, Saul swore that her really did obey and do what God commanded, that he was simply saving some of the animals to be a sacrifice for God (v15). However, that wasn’t what he was told to do. He was told to wipe everything out.
Knowing this, Samuel says to Saul, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears which I hear?”
Saul replies to him, still confident that he hasn’t done anything wrong, “the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the Lord and the rest we have utterly destroyed (v 15).”
You can sense Samuel starting to lose it:
“Be quiet! Did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel? Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are utterly consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord? (v16-19)
And STILL Saul thinks all is well: “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people told of the plunder, the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God…” (v 20-21).
He’s justifying his actions, telling Samuel all the things he DID do, minimizing the command he chose to IGNORE completely. Which, by the way, ends up costing him his kingship, because REBELLION and STUBBORNNESS and REJECTING Gods edicts are things that are not going to work to anyone’s benefit. (Sorry for yelling…)
Samuel reminds Saul that “to obey is better than to sacrifice” (v 22-23).
This isn’t something new to us in our day, but we have excelled at taking it to another level it seems. This false gospel of self-importance and plaguing doubt about revealed truth (I used to say ‘nagging’ but I’m taking it up a notch) is growing like a giant weed in hard soil.
The past few weeks have seen not just a steady creep, but what feels like a full-on assault on specific areas of the church, namely women’s spheres. It’s not specific to certain leaders, but certain leaders have propelled it to the forefront and it deserves attention.
Jen Oshman, a missionary mom and writer addressed it perfectly earlier this week and I’d like to share some of what she said, the link to her entire piece, “A Trojan Horse in Women’s Ministry, Confronting a False Gospel Message” can be found here.
(This post specifically addresses the Belong Tour and the latest issues surrounding Jen Hatmaker, who along with her pastor husband, has given the thumbs up to same-sex unions, and Glennon Melton who is making guest appearances on the tour and recently came out as being in a same-sex relationship after the recent success of her Oprah-endorsed book Love Warrior.) She says:
“The message is one of SELF. It says we women are enough in and of ourselves, we define our purpose, we conjure up our own energy to realize our own goals. We don’t need anything or anyone – we command our destiny.
In stark contrast, the message of the Scripture is that, because of our sin we are desperately in need of God’s mercy, grace, and resurrection power. Apart from Jesus we are dead. (Ephesians 2:1)
The message of these women is a siren song. Who doesn’t want to believe that they are all they need? Who doesn’t want to live for and worship themselves? Their authentic, winsome style is leading women into idolatry and the women don’t even know that it’s a twisting of the truth.
And church, that is on us. These authors are merely exhaling the cultural air that we are breathing – the supremacy of self, the idol of autonomy. But the fact that women in churches are inhaling it deeply and without reservation is an indictment of the lack of discipleship within our very walls.”
In Greek mythology, the music of the beautiful Siren was so seductive, it lured many sailors off their charted course to their deaths. Deceptively alluring words full of good intentions are going to lead many to a rocky shipwreck because these waters are dangerously shallow. If you follow any of these women, you’ve seen the steady progression. It’s an incredibly dishonest way to sell your message. But Oshman is correct in saying that there is a bigger issue, these women are just two examples of what happens when we as a church become either ashamed of or confused about the true Gospel and desire to please ourselves more than God.
Friends, we are those sailors, navigating on a foggy sea, hearing the distant call of a beautiful voice. Listening to her means changing course.
We are Eve on the verge of that first bite, wondering “did God really mean what He said?” Listening to that serpent means eating deadly fruit.
We are Saul, returning from battle victorious deciding our way is more sacrificial, more intentional, more loving. Listening to the people who just want you to set some animals aside means losing your position.
We’ve lost our taste for boundaries and standards because they are hurting people who are comfortable in their sin, and we don’t want to hurt people. Surely there must be a less-offensive way.
We change the air by loving people Jesus’ way. If someone is hurting, love them enough to give them Jesus in His entirety. Don’t hold back the parts that may sting, let Him heal the wounds. He loves far better than we ever will.
Decide to follow Jesus even when it rubs up against those tender spots where sin is held close, that’s bravery. Following the tide of culture and feelings is not. Placing our beloved desires and selfish ways at the foot of the cross is hard, but it is freeing.
Don’t heed the siren songs, don’t embrace the serpent and don’t listen to the world Know the voice of the Shepherd and acquaint yourself with Him, His truth will always be able to stand on it’s own.