Friday, January 16, 2015

A Matter of Life and death

Our lesson included the following story:

Two brothers were left home alone, but given a strict warning by their mother not to eat the cake that she had just baked. To make sure that the boys would obey, she added the threat of punishment.

When she left, it took the boys only a few minutes to decide to eat the cake anyway. "This is not a matter of life and death," they reasoned. "Our mother would never kill us; so, let's eat!"

The mother would not kill them for eating the cake.  But, there disobedient attitude will lead to death. (Read Proverbs 28: 24 and 30: 17).  Our lesson states,

"For the teacher in Proverbs, though, the issue he speaks about is indeed a matter of life and death. His language is strong and sometimes graphic. Of course, Jesus used very strong language Himself when talking about matters of eternal life and death (see Matt. 5:21–30). And no wonder. In the end, our ultimate destiny, our eternal destiny (and what could be more important than that?), rests upon the choices that we make here now. So we should take the urgency of the strong language at face value."  

The point is that all things are a matter of life and death.  Just ask Eve whether eating a piece of fruit is not a matter of life and death.  The following commentary - published in May 8, 2009 -  addresses this point.  I hope it helps.


The week this commentary was written the local Chicago newspaper reported the finding of the body of a dead tenth grader. The youth had been beaten, killed, and burnt. This of course caused an outrage among the people in the city. "What have we come to," some asked. Others asked very concerned, "where are we going?" As the author of the lesson says our world is not where many thought it should be. He quotes,

"The solid optimism of former generations, that everything in the world will get better and better no longer rings true today. Even after the cold war the world is far from a safe place. The threat of terrorism has made us all feel extremely vulnerable. Science, which was supposed to be the harbinger of a better world, now threatens to wreak havoc on that world. The common sources of energy are being depleted. The icecaps are melting. Crime is a sad fact of life everywhere. Human beings show little, if any, signs of moral improvement over past generations. The gap between rich and poor constantly is widening. Our daily installment of news almost invariably tells us about atrocities and moral decay. No wonder someone once said that the Christian teaching of human sinfulness is one teaching that is easily verifiable. That is, that's one doctrine we don't need to take on faith."

We read in Genesis 3, how Sin came into this world.

Ge3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Ge3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

Ge3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Ge3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

Ge3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Ge3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Ge3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Why did the simple act of eating a piece of fruit bring such dire consequences to all humankind? How did such a small, trivial act constitute a great sin? After all, wasn't Eve, in eating the fruit, giving nourishment to her brain and nerve cells? Wasn't she making good blood? What made the vitamin C and the fiber in this fruit so lethal to body and soul? So we know the issue was not Adam and Eve literally eating the fruit, but following their will against God's. They chose in essence not to trust God, and trust the serpent and themselves. We could say that in rejecting God they rejected the indwelling Spirit of God, and now Sin would dwell in them and in their subsequent generations.

Who would have thought that the sinful condition of our world today came from a simple action of eating a forbidden fruit? God foresaw that the problem would grow from a "little act of disobedience" into massacres, wars, and the killing of 16 year old youngsters. It all comes from the same attitude Adam and Eve had in the garden. We could argue that it is those little unchecked indulgences that that start us on that road that lead to a life of self-righteous living. Christ had to deal with the temptation of appetite. We read in Matthew 4: 1 – 4,

Mat4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

Mat4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

Mat4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

Mat4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

By Christ conquering where eve and Adam failed in the beginning he set up a foundation to be faithful to God. We also read how Daniel and his friends refuse to eat of the Kings meal in Daniel 1:8,

Dan1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

We know now how Daniel's friends were able to stand up for God even when they were thrown in the furnace (Daniel 3). We know now that Daniel was able to stand up for God when he was thrown in the Lion's den (Daniel 6). Daniel and his friends – as well as Jesus - yielded to the Holy Spirit's leading. The Holy Spirit gave to them the victory. Conquering the little Sin of appetite was the start of a successful yielded life to God. I pray that we allow the Holy Spirit to do the same with us.

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