Something Wrong With This Picture

If you ever travel to Concord, New Hampshire, you might see a
friendly, older fellow who is excited to share his faith in God. The more I discussed spiritual matters with
him, however, the more I felt like something was missing from his
thought-process. Something was
definitely wrong with this picture.


That’s when it came up. Genesis 3.




“I don’t believe that should be taken literally,” he
explained.


Now, I’ve met plenty of people who refuse to believe Genesis
1 and 2, the chapters related to the creation of the world. But Genesis 3 explains the “Fall of Man” into
sin, the choice Adam and Eve made to go out from under God’s authority. I’d never heard someone single that out as
the part of the Bible they don’t believe.


“Evil is more of an illusion than a reality,” he went on to
say. “The physical world is not the
‘real’ world; the spiritual world is. And no one sins in the spiritual world, only in the physical world.”


What?


This guy has lived a long time; he even told me he fought in North Africa during World War II. And he doesn’t believe evil is real? He doesn’t see the effects of Genesis 3 all
around him, every day? Doesn’t he read
the news?


Perhaps denying evil is a way of coping with suffering. Perhaps it’s a way of excusing some personal
sin habit. Perhaps it’s a way to shirk
responsibility to follow God’s instructions. Or, perhaps it’s what this guy grew up believing, and never became
convinced of what most of us assume is obvious.


Upon further study, I found that there are a good number of
people out there who deny or redefine evil in one way or another. Rarely, however, do any of these folks live
in a way consistent with their beliefs. This is illustrated well by Steve Kumar, author of “Christianity for
Skeptics”: “If evil is an illusion, it
is pointless to try to improve the conditions of life. Hence, the destitute would be left to starve,
the sick left to die, there would be no need to have hospitals, schools, and
universities. Learning would cease and a
new dark age would descend upon the earth. Thus, we reject this view [that evil is an illusion] as inhuman,
impossible, and irrational.”


My New Hampshire friend might counter that he’s not actually denying the existence of evil, he’s
denying the significance of the physical world in which evil occurs. That’s a nice philosophical work-around, but
it doesn’t deal with issue.


Here’s what the Bible has to say:


1. God views sin as a real, serious
condition.
  “Take your evil deeds out of
my sight!     Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.” (Isaiah 1:16-17, NIV)


2. Evil is the cause of death and
suffering.
  “…sin entered the world
through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men,
because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)


3. Jesus came specifically to deal
with sin in the real world.
   “Everyone
who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that [Jesus]
appeared so that he might take away our sins. . . The reason the Son of God
appeared was to destroy the devil's work.” (1 John 3:4-5, 8)


4. While the physical world is
temporary, it is not insignificant.
  God
is the creator and owner of this physical realm, and he cares about the “body”
in the same way he cares for the soul. “Do you not know that your body is a
temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You
are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your
body.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)


When God looked at the post-Genesis 3 world, he saw something radically wrong with "this picture."  He saw how
evil was twisting and ruining the lies of the people He had created.  That's why
he sent Jesus.

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