In Adam there is a way that seems right to a man, but it can’t reach heaven. In fact Jesus tried to tell the people of His day this very thing, He said things like; “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:20). In essence He was trying to dislodge mankind from his own personal attempts at being “right” in order to see a better future in God.
Let’s consider how subtle a delusion our “right-ness” can be.
If mankind seeks for God by his own good behavior, performance, and image, then man is prompted to believe that his good behavior, performance, and image is enough of a savior; he won’t think to reach for Jesus (Yeshua). In error, even seasoned believers remain so comfortable with some of their good choices, that they don’t give any thought to a greater prize based on God’s own glory and goodness.
Actually this dilemma is centuries old and is a chief culprit in ruling the offspring of Adam; it has to do with how mankind follows after the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
Genesis 2:9 And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground, trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil or “the Tree,” is an important subject, due to its initial impact upon mankind’s quality of life. When Adam and Eve partook of the Tree they were actually choosing to be altered by it. Let me explain:
As man left his dependency on the Creator, he quickly began to trust “self” for all things (self-awareness). In essence, if his life is not properly supported by the righteousness that comes from above, he will think and act upon his own perceptions of good and evil. These two options for living then begin to set boundaries for how man lives and acts. He begins to think of life in terms of;
• Good vs. evil
• Right vs. wrong
• Blessing vs. calamity
• Strong vs. weak
• Truth vs. lie
• Success vs. failure
• Love vs. hate
• Mercy vs. judgment
Notice that when good is based on man’s reason, good always has an evil side. Subsequently by walking through life cultivating his own good and evil choices, man completely side steps God’s greatest provision and suffers for it.
Please don’t misunderstand, certainly we should seek to support that which is good and shun evil. However when man is in charge of his own life he is deciding for himself what is good and what is evil. Let me offer a practical scenario to help bring this matter into perspective.
Let’s say that an event in your life blesses you in some fashion. When that event took place, you made the decision to label it as a good event and it is very likely that you are still running after more of the same. The opposite may also be true; if an event harms you in some way it is likely that you will set up barriers in your life to keep such an experience from happening again. What these two opposites have in common is an attempt by man to be his own savior. Man spends his days serving bogus rules and regulations that never offer him a place of peace; in fact under such thinking, one man’s good can be another man’s evil.
These dynamics actually explain a major problem for the Christian. One of the greatest strongholds for believers is their personal attempts to prove themselves as “right” before God and men. Now most would admit that they have been failures when it comes to living a sinless life, but few understand how they are still just as sinful when they depend on their highest perceptions of “good”. It might come as a shock to some, but they still haven’t properly responded to the grace of God. Let’s explain this further by asking a simple question;
For which “good” has God offered us eternal life?
To successfully answer that question we need a frame of reference.
Three options for “good” are available;
• We can see ourselves as that standard.
• We can see someone else or something of creation as that standard.
• We can allow God to be our resource of good.
The veil that remains on most men’s hearts, whether saved or unsaved, is simply a standard of “right-ness” that begins and ends with them. Yet whoever lives or ministers by this rule is actually only doing what is right in their own eyes. To add to the madness, they often zealously want to invite others into their personal beliefs and standards.
The truth is, God has set all men over to disobedience so that He may show mercy on them all (Romans 11:32). And unless we understand that our “best good” still falls short of the Savior, we will never seek for anything greater. In fact we will make ourselves comfortable within the limitations of humanities best efforts and never come to the knowledge of the truth.
But there really is a higher life available.
Romans 1:17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.
Those that enter the Kingdom of heaven have the advantage of trusting what God knows to be true about life, love and commitment. But to even get to a point of participating in His life we need a means of transformation. In other words we need away to get past our own agendas and self righteous beliefs; that’s where the Cross comes in.
In mentioning the Cross of Christ I am not speaking of a past icon that history adopted as a religious symbol. I am referring to the work that Jesus (Yeshua) performed while on that Cross. The icon isn’t important but the selfless act of our Savior is. Hence when we refer to the “Cross”, we are talking about a foundation of Christianity which is based on every benefit delivered to us by Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
The Cross is significant because it was not only able to redeem mankind back to God, but it makes a way for humanity to be released from the ravages of a fallen world. Paul the apostle brings it all into perspective by saying;
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
What we should gain from this verse is Paul is not just talking about Christ’s death, but also our own. No, we didn’t die physically, but rather Jesus took us into His own death so that we could come to know His life. Here, take a look at a number of other verses that reinforce the same understanding;
Romans 6:2 We died to sin.
Romans 6:3 You were baptized into his death?
Romans 6:6 The old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away.
Romans 6:7 Anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Romans 6:8 Died with Christ… alive with him.
Romans 6:11 Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 7:4 You also died to the law through the body of Christ.
Romans 7:6 By dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law.
1Corintians 5:14 Christ died for all; therefore, all died.
Galatians 2:19 I died to the law so that I might live for God.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
Colossians 2:20 You died with Christ to the basic principles of this world.
Colossians 3:3 You died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God..
2Timothy 2:11 If we died with him, we will also live with him.
Colossians 1:22 You were reconciled by Christ’s physical body through death.
Colossians 2:12 You were buried with him in baptism and raised with him through faith in the power of God
By supernaturally entering into death with Him we discover a tangible and powerful separation from the world, the flesh and the devil. You see this purpose driven death not only rescued us at the time of salvation but it has properties that are timeless. Basically this one event serves all of mankind whether a person came to know Christ in the 1500′s, the 1900′s or just yesterday. And just as significant; when we identify with Christ’s death on an on-going basis, this active aspect of the gospel is able to bring transformation to our lives in so many ways.
Why is this necessary?
When we accepted salvation Jesus came into our lives and made everything new. However having once been cleansed, sanctified and set apart for God, doesn’t mean we always make right choices. If in fact we find ourselves returning to a worldly way of good and evil thinking or get owned by destructive behavior then we need away for Jesus to renew our steps. A recognition of our death with Christ is the way of escape we’ve been looking for. As we allow God to pass our good and evil perceptions thru death He then gives us an answer for life and godliness that is made in His resurrection image. In this way, we are not held captive to the good and evil boundaries once imposed upon us. Instead we are given a third option for living based on the nature, character and person of Jesus (Yeshua).
If you think about it, for as deeply entrenched as we have been in the nature of fallen man and his many good and evil schemes, God did us a remarkable favor by offering us a quick and easy solution. The truth is none of us would ever be able to leave the limitations of this fallen world, unless God had provided us a supernatural way of escape.
What we should now be searching for is simply a spiritual new life and salvation which has found its perfection in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Salvation rests in the fact that He is the beginning and end of our journey and the Cross makes sure of it.
With such a wonderful salvation set before us, we should jump at the chance to clean house and uproot the “the Adam” (the old mans nature) in all of us. Since we have common human ties there is a strong possibility that we have all made the same human mistakes. The results of some of these choices loom over us wherever we have trusted in natural reason and worldly wisdom to be our guide. Keep in mind it is not Jesus and His Gospel that have complicated our journey here;
“You died and He lives” is a very simple and effective way to live.
It is only in our attempts to handle life and faith by natural means that we add layers of complexity to our Christian walk. It is also where mounds of improper contracts (Agreements and obligations) can bind us up for many years to come. When we choose to build kingdoms by the strength of Adam, we improperly hand ourselves over to a whole gamut of natural and fallen conclusions; things which lie to us about life, love and liberty. This can alter the face of Christianity and hold us hostage to a different way in the faith. This is the place that religion is born. The tree still leads the religious man to believe that his best good is acceptable before God.
Romans 10:2-3 For I can testify about them (the Jew) that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
1 Corinthians 1: 20-23 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
Whether we recognize it or not, whenever God comes to our rescue, He does it based on what He once accomplished two thousand years ago on the Cross. This simple explanation of the Gospel (the good news) when applied to our life reveals a consistent response from our Savior and a tried and true means of separating from our “right” in order to be found in His righteousness.
Gordon Brownlee is the founder of Shadow free Ministries which teaches the importance of the Cross in our daily lives, as well as our way to freedom from spiritual error. His latest book; “The Shadow of the Spiritual” teaches how to understand spiritual worlds and the Bibles marvelous way of escape. It’s available on Kindle, Nook or paper back from amazon.com. It is also free for the asking in PDF form.
Come visit us at shadow-free.com