References: Ps. 33; Ps. 8; I Cor. 6:19-20
Man and the Creator/creature distinction
God put Adam and Eve in the garden, a place perfectly suited for man to live in harmonious relationship with God. It was a situation of total comfort. The relationship was fellowship with God: they communicated and enjoyed the communion. It was also a situation of full, complete dependence upon God for life.
Our dependence on God and His presence in our lives did not originate with sin. We sinners will struggle, but God the redeemer was necessary in our lives before our struggle began. Even before Adam sinned, he and Eve were dependent upon God. For all men, attempting to live outside that relationship means attempting to live fundamentally different—actually opposed—to how mankind was created.
Confessing and understanding the words, “I am not my own,” means simply recognizing how God made me. To the human mind, stuck in life-long sin inherited from Adam, it seems too restrictive, even insulting not to be autonomous, able to decide for myself who I want to be and how I want to live. But an independent existence lacks comfort. For man, to live even just outside the garden, outside God’s control, outside of God’s hope for salvation—is a most miserable existence. “I am my own” is misery and death. “I am not my own” is the basis for hope.
In fact, the claim “I am my own” is a myth. God is the sovereign Creator who sees and directs all things. No created thing can exist apart from the Creator.
A slave to sin
“I am my own” is a myth; thus, only two options exist. God created mankind to live in a dependent relationship with God. The sinner is convinced that when he turns away from God, he will be free. But he won’t–he will discover the second option. He is still the creature, not the creator.
Freedom from God means slavery to Satan
When Adam chose to break the relationship with God, he put himself and all of mankind into slavery to Satan. Mankind chooses to recognize God or be enslaved to Satan. There are no other choices.
When the Pharisees challenged Jesus, claiming that they were of God, Jesus responded, “You are of your father the devil, and the desire of your father you want to do” (John 8:44).
You see, not only is I can be my own a myth, but its logical conclusion is I do what I want and decide to do. Without minimizing human responsibility, which we have yet to consider, it is folly to think anyone’s actions are entirely his and controlled totally by himself. All human activity comes from the heart; consequently, all activity is based on the heart’s condition. A sinner’s rebellion against God consists of his heart condition, that heart now under the control of the devil. He is a slave of Satan.
Conduct as a slave of Satan
As Jesus said, to belong to Satan means doing the things of Satan.
God loves irony. It is interesting to observe what happened after the fall: the promise of the seed leading to salvation, and man then being booted out of the garden. In essence, God offered, “You want to be your own gods and not look to me as your king? Fine, try living your life apart from Me.” God essentially just let man live as a servant of Satan. In a nutshell, that is the view of Gen. 4, beginning with the murder of Able.
From there, we see Cain building a city and naming it after his son, the height of human arrogance: “Look what I have done.” Soon after, we reach the epitome of sinfulness. Lamech raises his fist, bragging, “If anyone gets in my way, I will kill him.” When man follows Satan, the effect is destruction. It led to the need for the flood. That is what happens when man pursues life for himself.
After the flood, God implemented restrictions to keep sin in check to some extent, but here is the reality: being away from God means being under Satan. Being under Satan means living in sin, which is destructive.
You do not want to reject what is stated in the catechism and claim, “I am on my own.”
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.