commentary: God's Simple Commands
What's So Hard to Understand?
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 28-Aug-10; 14 minutes
Are you aware that God puts His instructions and commands, and even many of His judgments, into such simple terminology that anybody with a normal mind should be able to understand? By "understand," I mean, "to comprehend its meeting," not "to be converted."
An example was in Romans 1:20, where He says that His existence is so clearly seen by the things that He's made—that is, by the creation—that mankind is without excuse for knowing that He is. So anyone with normal mental ability should be able to see from that example also that He has already judged those who do not believe that He is. There is also no justification available to those of normal intelligence that He will accept. There are going to be no, "Yes—buts" about whether or not He really is.
You have heard both Richard and I mention in times past the "law of first mention." This law is almost invariably the first time that something is mentioned in Scripture, that one should pay particular attention to it because it's probably the beginning of a very important storyline that's going to run throughout the Bible. Most frequently, these appear in the Book of Genesis.
The first sin is one such example, because God clearly instructs Adam and Eve that there was one tree that was in the middle of the garden, whose fruit they were forbidden to eat. Pretty simple, pretty clear, was it not? But when Satan came calling, Eve made a judgment and she took of the fruit of the tree. Her judgment, it says right there, was based on what she could see. Bad judgment for her.
There are a number of firsts in that sin, but I want to focus on just one of them. This example shows us clearly that sin is not complex. Sin occurs when we do not do what God says we should do. God told them, "Don't eat of that tree." Again, that's very clear.
Paul tells us that Eve was deceived by Satan. Thus, there is a small measure of justification for her, but the bottom line is that she still sinned. She did not do what God said. On the other hand, Adam was not deceived, and his measure of responsibility was greater because he was not deceived, because he apparently saw right through where Satan was heading in his sales pitch, and he sinned because he wanted the please Eve, and he did it deliberately. That was much worse, because he, in effect, made an idol out of her. He knew that the snake was lying. Another bad judgment, because we find that each person is responsible for sin. We really can't shift the blame to somebody else.
From this brief episode arises of broad and simple conclusion in regard to why all of mankind sins, and why we, too, continue to sin even after God reveals Himself to us. It's not complex at all. I will tell you what it is in just one brief sentence, and that is that we do not really believe in His personal reality, and we really do not believe what He says, either.
Consider the setting of that sin, and it will show that even though they actually saw God—He was not hidden in any way. They actually saw Him, probably working about the garden. They knew that this Person that they saw created them and had given them life, and they still did not believe Him to the point of being convicted to not sin ever. In that little episode, there is no sign of resistance to Satan that is given. They just went along with the flow.
We sometimes think that being able to see God would be a help. But this experience contradicts that. There is something else that is working within us that makes us shut our minds to the fact that He is. Even though we claim that we believe, there is something that shuts off that belief and we go and sin anyway.
I can understand this: that their act in the garden was preceded by thoughts in which they clearly did not think like Him. When Satan said, "For God knows that in that day that you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil," they went right ahead and sinned, regardless of what He said, because they preferred what Satan said to what God told them not to do. There was an appeal there to their vanity. They wanted to be like God, and this was a shortcut to getting there. Very simply stated, we continue to sin because we do not believe God to the depth that we should.
There is a second factor that hinders us from submitting to God as we should, and that is that we are still not convicted that sin is all that bad. Adam and Eve at least had one small justification for their sin, which we do not have. They had no point of reference from the world about the depth of sin's evil as we do. There were no lessons that they could draw from. There were no wars going on because nobody was making war. There were no murders being committed. No marriages were breaking up. The culture was not having a serious drug problem, and people weren't rioting in the streets.
Compare that to what we see going on in this world through the media, TV, radio, the printing press, and movies. We see sin's effects all around us. This world witnesses sin's evil to us, and still we allow ourselves to be persuaded by its allure. "Oh, it will not happen to me."
All of these ethical and immorality problems we witness are the direct result of idolatry, Sabbath-breaking, dishonoring of parents, murder, stealing, marital infidelity, lying and coveting. Sin is the cause of all these illegals streaming over the border in an invasion force. And to make matters worse, we have a President for leadership who will not do his job because there is a political agenda that means more to him.
Sin is the cause of so many people's debt—they are up in up to their nose. And sin is the cause of this nation's economical bankruptcy. Sin is the cause of war. Sin is the cause of sickness and disease. Sin is the cause of divorce. Sin is the cause of unmarried women with children. Sin is the cause of children born with horrible defects. Sin is the cause of abortion.
We are not talking rocket science here. This is easily understandable. Can we make the connection of how bad sin is, even though it may not touch us right at the moment that we do the dirty deed?
God says it's so simply. He says, "The curse causeless does not come" (Proverbs 26:2), and God explains it so simply. The cause is sin. It's simply not doing what He says to do. Can it get any simpler than that?
In all of history, no sin has ever made anything better. It's an impossibility for it to do that. It may give relief for a little while. It may give a feeling of exhilaration for a while, but the end is always the same: Death.
In the final months before Israel was about to enter the Promised Land, God gave them a direct, hard-hitting instruction regarding that warfare that they were going to meet. The instructions were, "Drive the Canaanites right out of the country—every man, every woman, every child." And He told them in simple language why: "You can't pull them up to you. They will pull you down to them." There is nothing to hard to understand about those instructions. They did not follow through, and sure enough, the Israelites were pulled down. The Canaanites and their religions were constant irritants, keeping things stirred up.
Now we have a President who claims that he is a Christian, but brethren, he is showing almost daily that he has almost no notion what a Christian believes and what a Christian does. If he did, there would be no argument about an Islamic mosque being built in New York City. If we had a David, a Josiah, a Peter, a John, a James, a Paul as our President, there would be no Islamic mosque being built there, because they know God's will.
He is acting so strangely, so contrary to what even previous unconverted Presidents have done that highly respected 'Christian' ministers are saying that this man is an enemy of this country, and they are ashamed of his ties to Christian roots because of the way that he is disregarding our Constitution.
So hang on to your faith, because these things are going to get worse. We are witnessing the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy that we are sick from the top of our head—that's where the leadership is—all the way down to the feet (Isaiah 1:5-6).