Our freedom had a cost, and the cost was Jesus.
Last week, my family took a vacation to a cabin high in the mountains. We had an amazing time enjoying the sounds of the birds chirping in the mornings, the twinkling lights from cabins scattered across the mountains, the crisp and clean smell of pine-scented air, and the panoramic views from our mountain perch.
Besides all of the family connection time, I also really treasured the opportunity to sit quietly on a rocking chair with a cup of steaming coffee, cocooned in a warm blanket, and with my Bible in my lap.
They were simple times of quiet reflection — just pondering the passages I was reading, listening to what God was speaking to my heart that day, and basking in the warmth of the sun and His love.
The following Scripture is the main passage I kept reading during my devotional time last week:
15 For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
There I sat, viewing mountain peaks and reading about God’s “high and holy place.” I began to cross-reference other passages. I read the passages when the Israelites were camped at the base of Mount Sinai. Joshua and Moses were the only ones to climb that mountain into God’s Presence. The rest of the Israelites were too terrified.
Sometimes, it’s easy to be like the Israelites — to look at God’s holiness and to turn or hide in shame and to think that such an invitation is only for the “Moses’s” or “Joshuas” that we admire. The truth is that each of us are invited through Jesus to enjoy the “mountain” of His high and holy Presence.
Gazing out over the distant mountain peaks, I could hear the quiet invitation from God… He was inviting me to go “higher” with Him — to enter deeper into His holy Presence and His love. He was telling me that there is “higher” or “deeper” to go with Him.
Ascending the mountain also represented an invitation to let go of the things that weigh me down and hold me back.
God’s Presence is pure righteousness. As I enter “higher” with Him, I, at the same time, am asked to become more like Him and more like the person whom I was ultimately created to be.
Worship is the outflow of being in His Presence — His holy mountain. Holiness was required to enter His holy mountain. We need to allow God to purify us. It’s a pure heart that shall see God. At the heart of holiness is humility, and at the heart of worship is holiness.
I am not a philosopher neither do I have all the answers. There are some questions though that are important enough to find the answers.
I recently had a discussion with a friend that prompted me to ask some deep questions.
Her question was, “From where did evil come?”
God reminded me that He knows all the answers so I asked Him the question.
I believe this is the answer He gave me.
He made the angels, including Lucifer, as highly intelligent beings with special abilities. See Scripture for definitions.
31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
2 Thessalonians 1:7
7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.
Hebrews 1:7New International Version (NIV)
7 In speaking of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels spirits,
and his servants flames of fire.”[a]
14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
2 Peter 2:4
6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
The angels appear to have been given a measure of “free will”, in other words the ability to choose to obey or rebel. In II Pet. 2:4, it says God did not spare the angels because they sinned. Sin is willful disobedience, meaning there’s a will involved.
Lucifer and the other angels (demons) who followed him were created just like the good angels. Then the day came when they disobeyed. Scripture makes it clear that it was Lucifer’s pride that caused him to rebel against God. It was the sin of pride and rebellion that led to his demise.
Isaiah 14:11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave,
along with the noise of your harps;
maggots are spread out beneath you
and worms cover you.12 How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!13 You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. [c]14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you are brought down to the grave,
to the depths of the pit.
Luke 10: 18He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
God placed Adam and Eve in a perfect environment. The angels were also in a perfect environment.
The question then is, “How did they sin if there was no original sin and if they were in a perfect environment?” Where’s the source of that sin?
Here’s the profound truth!
The answer to this question really stems from understanding from where good and evil come. In other words, it’s not our environments that determine who we are or the choices we will make.
The only one who is truly good and perfect and “wills” independently to be that way from His very nature is God.
We only are sanctified through God/in Him — in His Son.
It’s our “new man” which is redeemed/created in Christ Jesus that is truly good and wills to obey God.
In other words, Adam and Eve and the angels prior to the Fall didn’t have Jesus’ nature within. They were simply humans and angels with an untested nature that was only “clean” because they hadn’t been tested yet.
“Free will” gave opportunity not only to respond to God’s gift of salvation, to be remade into new creations — into the very nature of Jesus — but also gave us the opportunity to rebel.
Love always gives a choice so God gave us a choice. That’s why Scripture says, “Choose you this day… Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ… To as many as received Him… Accept…” Each of those words describe a choice.
It’s interesting too that our very souls are composed of a mind, will, and emotions. A will means we have a choice — we “willingly” make choices.
Pride is the ultimate rebellion against God, and Satan did just that.
It’s our pride that leads us so often into sin, into distrusting God and relying on ourselves.
It was pride that caused Lucifer to rebel, and it was pride that caused Eve to desire to have the fruit from the one tree that she was told she could not have. The implication was that she thought she deserved that fruit.
The most profound truth in this discussion though perhaps is to understand that our environments do not keep us from sinning.
It wasn’t the perfect earth and “clean slates” that would keep Adam and Eve and Lucifer from sinning. It was only God Himself. It was only complete reliance on Him that would keep sin at “bay.”
God, Himself, is the only answer/antidote to sin — not an innocent state, not a perfect environment. Sin, therefore, is anything apart from God — independent from Him.
Some individuals have tried to argue that God created some people to sin, to reject Him. This though is contrary to Scripture when we see many verses that tell us God is not the Source of evil. God is righteous and holy, which means there is no sin within Him. This means evil comes apart from Him.
Sin came with a free will. A “free will” implies the freedom to make a willful choice. This means we can choose to submit to God, in response to His initiation and direction. It also means we can reject His voice of truth.
Sin, itself, is one of the best proofs that there is such a thing as “free will.”
A Living Sacrifice
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
2 Corinthians 6:6
6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
1 Peter 4:2
2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
2 Peter 3:3
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.