Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Being Grateful for Banishment

Suggested Reading: Romans 7:13-25

An odd thought struck me the other day. I had been reading through Romans where Paul, expressing his frustration with the sinful state of our lives, asked the question, Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24). Not long after that, I read Genesis 3, where Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and sin entered into the world.  Genesis 3:22-24 reads, The Lord God said, “Since man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.”  So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life (HCSB).

Quite often, I have heard those verses described as God's punishment for sin. But having just read Paul in Romans, I thought about the verses a little differently. Paul seemed to view sin as something that lives in our fleshly bodies. In fact, while God's grace negates the power of sin, the death of this body seems to be the thing that finally, truly sets us free from the influence of sin. If that is the case, then banishing Adam and Eve from the garden where they could have eaten from the Tree of Life was not a punishment but an act of grace. If God had not banished them, preventing them from eating from the Tree of Life, they would have lived in their sin forever, without the benefit of death to break sin's hold on them, and their separation from God would have been eternal.  God's decision to banish them from the garden, though I'm sure it felt like a punishment, was really an act of grace.

Sometimes, we experience things that feel like punishments, the loss of a relationship, the end of a time of privilege, a downturn in our financial circumstances. And though we might be able to draw a direct line between these events and our own bad decisions, while discipline may well be involved, remember that God is not a vindictive God. God's hope is to rehabilitate us and to save us, not to beat us down because we provided an opportunity for God to punish us. And the very thing we view as a punishment may really be an act of God's grace, keeping us from something worse down the road or clearing the way for something wonderful.

Yes, God does discipline those who belong to Him, but God's discipline is redemptive in nature. When you feel like you're being punished by God, fix the appropriate part of your life and thank God for the grace you've been given. God's discipline is an act of love for the children of God. Don't be discouraged by discipline. Learn the lesson God is teaching and be grateful for God's grace.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What Did You Think Was Going to Happen?

Suggested Reading: Judges 16:4-21 or Judges 16 (the whole Samson and Delilah story) I may lose some readers over this statement, but.....