2003-05-07 - The Path Back
Originally Published 1998-09-30
Genesis 3:9 (NIV) But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" 10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." 11 And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" 12 The man said, "The woman you put here with me-she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
Last week, I talked about the deadly path of Sin, this week I want us to see God's grace and look at exactly what His grace is. The bad news is that the deadly path to sin is very slippery; the good news is that the restoration process, the path back to being in the Light, is laid out for us in this wonderful chapter of Genesis. Come with me as we walk back through the Garden, and watch and listen as God relates to Adam and Eve after their sin.
Some people see a God of harsh judgement, just waiting for an opportunity to strike us down when we sin. I see a God of great unconditional love and mercy in the way He deals with Adam and Eve after their sin. Similarly, I see a God of great unconditional love and mercy when He deals with you and me today. Notice God seeks out Adam, "Where are you?" It is like a loving parent, looking for the child hiding out, after pouring out all of mom's favorite perfume on the bathroom floor. God certainly knew where Adam was, but he wants Adam to realize where Adam is. God stills call out for us today. "Where are you?"
Notice in the above passage God is not being a prosecuting attorney; He is giving Adam and Eve the opportunity to admit their sin. This admission is the first step in the reconciliation process. Although, Adam and Eve play the proverbial game of "pass the buck", notice that they do admit to eating the fruit with a simple, "I ate it." Nothing frustrates me more than when one of my kids will not admit to a wrongdoing, when I know good and well they did it, and likewise nothing softens my heart and warms me more, than when I confront one of them and they freely admit to their wrongdoing. I am sure God was pleased when they said, "and I ate it."
The next step in the path to forgiveness is simply asking for forgiveness from God. It is pouring your heart out in prayer to Him, admitting your failure, and then repenting from your sin. Repentance is simply turning away from the sin. It is changing directions, getting back on the right track and running from the temptation that led you into the sin in the first place.
Genesis 3:1 (NIV)The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
The final step is when we accept God's grace. What is God's grace? God's grace is God providing for a need caused by our sins. This final step is the hardest step for me to do and to understand. Why in the world would our Holy God provide a way out for my sins? Why does God meet my needs, which are caused by my own doing? It is because He loves us unconditionally, with a love that is so contrary to our worldly standards, that it is hard for us to understand His grace and His love.
Do you know what is harder than understanding His love? It is accepting His love and His grace. I think a lot of you know this. I really don't think I am alone with this. We have the first three steps down pat: admission of sin, asking for forgiveness and then repenting. It's the fourth step that throws me. Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves to cover their sins, and so do I. What we are saying to God by not accepting His forgiveness and His grace is this, "Hey God, I can take it from here" or "I can work this out on my own, God. If I need You, I will call on You."
Grace is about letting God love us. Accepting His grace and forgiveness is putting on God's garments of love. Grace is accepting from God that which we can never do on our own. Acceptance of His Grace is when we stop holding ourselves accountable for what Jesus died for. Acceptance of His Grace is when we stop playing God, and start letting Him do His part. Let's put on His garments and get out of these silly-looking fig leaves.
Psalm 103:8 (TLB) He is merciful and tender toward those who don't deserve it; he is slow to get angry and full of kindness and love. 9 He never bears a grudge, nor remains angry forever. 10 He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins, 11 for his mercy toward those who fear and honor him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. 12 He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west. 13He is like a father to us, tender and sympathetic to those who reverence him.
Father, Thank You for the ultimate covering of our sins, Your Son Jesus Christ. Help us, Father, to let go of our past sins, to stop playing You -- and to let go and accept Your grace, love and forgiveness. In Jesus' name, Amen.