A devotional from Central Presbyterian Church. Find a previous day here.
Monday June 29, 2020
1 John 5:18-19
We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
“How far is too far?” It doesn’t take long in youth ministry before you begin to start hearing many of the same questions. Since long before the advent of “youth group,” inquiring teenagers have been asking some form of the question above, which can essentially be interpreted as, “Where is the line between sin and not sin and how can I get as close to it as possible?” Long-time youth minister and author Doug Fields, speaking to a large gathering of youth workers, once jokingly noted that the two most popular topics to discuss with teenagers were sex and the end times, and the quickest way to grow your youth group would be to advertise a series on whether there was sex IN the end times. All jokes aside, teenagers aren’t the only ones interested in attempting to walk the fine line of simultaneously obeying the commands of God while enjoying the things of the world.
In the very beginning, at the climax of creation, God created Adam and Eve in His own image and gave them dominion over the entire earth. Every beast and bird, every fish and fruit, everything that had breath of life, were put under the authority of the man and wife, and it wasn’t just good, but God declared that it was all “very good.” They literally had the entire world at their fingertips, given by God to use and enjoy as they saw fit, all except for one tree in the garden: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of which the Lord told Adam, “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Sounds reasonable enough, no? Unfortunately, we know the rest of this story. Adam and Eve were not alone in the garden, but the enemy of God was there as well, who deceived them, planting within them seeds of doubt about the goodness of their Maker. The enemy told them that in His prohibition, God was keeping the very best of the garden away from them, and if they would only taste the fruit, they too would become like God. The man and woman listened to and believed the lies, and in the first act of human disobedience, instantly brought sin and death into the world. They did not physically die on that day; instead what they experienced was something far worse: expulsion from the garden and separation from their Maker.
But God did not leave man on his own forever. Immediately after the fall of man, God made a promise of hope, that things would not always be so. He declared to the enemy, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Many years later, in a common stable in an out-of-the-way town, the promised Child at last was born: the One who would not just bruise, but crush, the head of the enemy once and for all. As Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature, He was perfect, without sin of any kind. Just as Adam, Jesus also found Himself alone with the enemy, face-to-face with the prince of deception. Knowing the rejection and pain that lie ahead of Him, the enemy made an audacious proposition to Jesus as well. In vain, he attempted to convince Jesus that there was another way to glory aside from obedience to God’s plan. If Jesus would only bend the knee to the enemy in the wilderness, He would not have to bow His head at Golgotha, suffering ultimate agony and humiliation. But Hebrews 12 tells us of Jesus, “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Humanity sinned in the garden, and humanity has been entangled in sin ever since. We too, like our first parents, often find ourselves in the position of doubting the goodness of God, looking with lustful eyes at the ways of the world. But the good news is that those who have placed their faith in Jesus are given His power and strength to withstand the temptations of the evil one. Jesus taught His followers that they should regularly pray to be delivered from temptation and evil, and Galatians 1:4 tells us that He “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age.” While the age may be evil, and the world lies in the power of the evil one, the believer can take great comfort in knowing the one who has ultimate power. In the greatest display of strength ever seen, the God of the universe humbled Himself, condescending to His creation, giving up His own life so that the sins of many could be forgiven. We find life in His death, may He protect us as we live in Him today.
Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, You are the Author and Maker of all that there is. All of Your commands and all of Your ways are good, and You have called us to live our lives in surrender to You, as You surrendered Your life on the cross. We cannot thank You enough for what You have done for us, and we pray that You would guide our steps and guard us from temptation as we live to declare Your wondrous gift of grace to the world that You long to save. We ask this in Your precious name, Amen.