Scripture reference: Genesis 1:26-2:25
The reality regarding the broken relationship
When you think about what is important to you, what brings satisfaction to life, what is a matter of comfort, and what gives you some hope for the future, begin by thinking about who you are and what God has put you here for.
These two issues—who you are and what you are created for—get at the heart of the importance of the question before us. Are you where God put you? Are you doing what God put you here for?
An effort to be something else
When Satan determined to tempt man, by means of a conversation with Eve, he posed this concept: “If you don’t just do as God said, but do your own thing, you can be like God.”
What is he actually offering? What is at the core of Adam and Eve’s sinful rebellion? It is not very complicated; it is fairly straightforward. They determined to do something else, thus attempting to be something they were not created to be. They decided to take on the role—which they were not made for—of creator. They did what they thought best, rather than what God said.
This disobedience placed them outside the intended place and reality of who man is, and they suffered the consequences. You can take the simplest object in life, or the most complex, and if you seek to use it or operate it differently than the way it was designed, it does not work.
And yet God is still God. Man is still created in the image of God. By being outside of that God-designed realm, the fundamentals of life and the relationship are no longer satisfying. It is no longer good and pleasant. Nothing in creation will really meet our deepest needs when such a break has occurred.
A life apart from God
It is interesting that Adam listened to the serpent, which indicates he thought the serpent had a good idea, yet as soon as the rupture took place and the relationship broken, he recognized a problem. He realized the relationship was broken, and he was hiding from God. He was ashamed. Adam and Even could no longer live in the garden, in the presence of God.
Even worse, when Cain followed up with life outside of God’s direction, following the desires of his own heart and killing his brother Abel, God’s punishment was to send him totally away from the presence of God. It is most interesting that even Cain, who hated God, complained that total separation from God would be too much to bear. Why so? Because he still bears the image of God. He tries to live outside of who he is, as created—so he is in misery. There is no comfort there. With the fall, by the sin of Adam, man is now not in the presence of God, yet needs to be because of who he is. So he is miserable.
Let me be careful to point out this lack of comfort, this misery, is not just about a time in the future when he will suffer in eternal hell fire. The misery is now. The unbeliever can convince himself in any number of ways that he has found some comfort in life. He only fools himself, because apart from Christ, nothing satisfies. All too often believers fall into the same trap, thinking, Yes, I need Christ as my Savior for the future, but right now I am more interested in the things of this world.
Accountable to God
Not only has this led to a miserable life, but mankind is also at odds with God. If all humans are created image-bearers of God, it follows that the Creator will ask for an accounting. As soon as Adam sinned, he hid from God, but God called to him. And God said, Where are you? What did you do?
No one, no one, no matter how much they seek to convince themselves otherwise, can say it is totally up to themselves to be what they want to be and do what they want to do. Everyone is accountable to the Creator.
God came to Adam and Eve and dealt with their disobedience. In addition, there are numerous Scripture passages which make it clear that all must give an account. Basic references to judgement can be found in multiple passages, including these:
- John 5:28-29 “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgement.”
- Acts 10:42 “And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.”
- Romans 2:5-8 (and following) “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”
This is the reality the rich man faced in the account in Luke 16:19ff of the rich man and Lazarus. But more to the point, this is the reality raised in the question, What is your only comfort in life and in death?
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.