Sin And The Seed
By Jan Austin Antonsson
The Glory Road,
A Kingdom Highway
"The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ." (Gal. 3:16 )
July 10, 1998
Have you ever noticed that the more you lecture people about NOT doing something, the more they are sure to do it? If you don't think so, the next time you have opportunity to be around a little kid, just tell him or her NOT to touch something and see how long it takes for the child to touch or taste or handle the forbidden object the minute your back is turned. God gives us this same picture clearly in the second chapter of Genesis. He created a beautiful garden East of Eden for Adam and Eve. The "fertile crescent" is where historians think this garden originated, (See End Note A) and as the name indicates, this well watered garden was fruitful, rich, and overflowing with edible treats for man and beast alike.
In the midst of this bountiful garden of plenty, the Lord God planted two trees that stand out from the rest of the many trees He put there. One was the Tree of Life and the other was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I've always thought that the tree of Life must have been a beautiful tree, bursting with the goodness and mercy of God himself, with twelve kind of fruits and with leaves which are "for the healing of the nations," (Rev. 22: 2) but the scripture doesn't say anything about what it looked like. However, of the forbidden tree, the one whose fruit God warned would bring death to Adam and Eve, it says, "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." (Gen. 3:6). As I said, after God had forbidden them to eat of it, and with a little help from Satan, they couldn't resist tasting the fruit. That was no accident, nor did it catch God off guard. It was as predictable as the sun coming up in the East, and God knew it would happen just that way, why it had to be like that, and most of all, what He was going to do about it. Remember that the scriptures affirm that Christ was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev. 13:8). Most certainly, though we can never understand it with our human minds, by the Spirit, we see that the cross was always in the heart of God, the centerpiece of the Father's love for us.
We all know the story, making it unnecessary to belabor the point, but I've been thinking about that tree and Adam and Eve's disobedience, especially while we're here in Neosho, MO, on our little "time out" from real estate. It seems to me that the Christians we've encountered in this town, are obsessed with sin. They rail on about it from the pulpit, in Sunday School class, on TV programs, and on radio shows. They believe in the power of sin, the wiles of the devil, and the certainty of hell! Now, you would think, wouldn't you, that there should be very little sin here when so many say they are against it, especially since the penalty for disobedience is so steep. Well, guess again, for I see as much sin around here as I do in California, which, as everyone in the Midwest knows, is where all the big time sinners live. Is this really why God has struck us so many times with earthquakes and fires and mudslides? No kidding, I've actually heard folks say that our natural disasters are God's punishment for sin. (Must be a lot of sinners in Florida right now). So, I ask, what's the deal? Why the ever present sin consciousness when it does no good at all?
In my opinion, this obsession with sin springs from the fear of hell, but that's another journal. (See "Primrose Path To Gehenna," End Note "B"). The thing I observe in some of my legalistic brethren is their inclination toward Arminianism. Ted Smith (See End Note "C") says, "Arminianism is proud and self-righteous because it claims that only those who receive the proper information, and act on it properly before they die, will avoid suffering endlessly. They claim that God is unable to successfully influence anyone's will, unless they let Him." While I doubt that my brethren subscribe to this damaging belief consciously, nevertheless I have observed them acting as though they believe that Jesus' blood was able to save us from sin when we first obeyed Him, but we are always at risk of falling back into the pit if we sin in future. They sing great songs of faith like "Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus," "Just As I Am," and "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet," but sometimes, I get the impression that they think the efficacy of the blood is mainly for the unsaved. Once a Christian sins "big," whatever that means to them, then in some folks' opinion, he is forever tainted, damaged goods, if you will. Often he is stripped of leadership positions and referred to as "a known sinner." Joe Beam, a Church of Christ preacher for whom I have enormous respect, talked about that in a sermon I heard him preach about his own experiences when he came back to the Lord after playing in the fleshpots of Egypt. He said his name was even smeared on the Internet because he, a "known sinner," was preaching heresy. What hypocrisy! Who but a forgiven sinner, one who has wept bitter tears over his or her sins at the foot of the cross, can share the full value of our salvation with another lost sheep? It reminds me of the story recorded in Luke 7, where a woman "who was a sinner," (Lk. 7: 37) showed up uninvited at a dinner party hosted by a Pharisee. You remember the story. She began to weep and washed Jesus' feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair. When Jesus read what was in the Pharisee's heart, He said, "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." (Vs. 47).
Those of us who have sinned "big," which I certainly have, know that when we stand before the Lord at the moment of our conviction, no one EVER demands justice. Instead, we are all on our faces begging for mercy, which the Lord ALWAYS gives in abundance. Because I have sinned much, I cling to grace like a drowning man clings to a raft. If God's grace and the cleansing blood is not available to me every second of my life, I'm toast, to put it in a 90's kind of a way. By their judgment of others who fail and fall short, my brethren sometimes lead me to believe that Jesus' blood was powerful enough to save me from past sins, but now that I'm saved, it is my responsibility to save myself in future by being good, by not sinning, and if I should inadvertently sin, to instantly repent and ask forgiveness. While that sounds like great advice, no one in the history of the world, since Adam and Eve took a bite out of the mango, (surely no one thinks they sold us down the river for an apple) :-) has ever managed NOT to sin by trying harder. (See Romans 7:13-25). This is the real MISSION IMPOSSIBLE!
Yet, in spite of humanity's faithlessness, frailties, faults and foibles, God has made provision for us in every age. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel were commanded to sacrifice goats and lambs as sin offerings for their individual sins. (See. Lev. 4:23,28; 5:6; 9:3,15 for details). Once a year, they performed a ritual for the sins of the people as a group. In this rite, the high priest was "to cast lots for the two goats &emdash;one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat." (Lev. 16:8 -10). For a description of how the scapegoat symbolically carried their sins into the wilderness, read Lev. 16:19-22. However, it was not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away our sin, the Hebrew writer tells us, (Heb. 10:4) making it necessary for a new covenant to be ratified. If God hadn't done something here, we would still be up to our arm pits in blood, guts, and ashes, and for sure, we would all have stayed in the sin soup forever. Thanks be to God and our Lord Jesus Christ, our sin problems are fully provided for from Adam on forward until the end of time. Listen to these glorious words: "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God." (Heb. 9:11-14). Notice that one thing we're cleansed of is DEAD WORKS!
What is abundantly clear from this verse is that the blood of Jesus paid for our ETERNAL REDEMPTION! There is no more need for us to fret and stew and worry about our sins: whether they be past, present, or future. Christ paid the price to redeem us not only from the sin itself, but from the power of the devil, and the guilt for that sin, as well. It seems to me that when people continuously wring their hands about how guilty they feel about this or that, what they are really saying is that their sin is so wide and so high and so deep and so tall, that Christ's blood can't redeem it at all. Think about it! If I'm forgiven, I'm forgiven. Why keep on carrying the load? I really am convinced that guilt is one of the big guns in Satan's arsenal of weapons he uses to defeat Christians. For if I'm feeling guilty, then I cannot enter into fellowship with Jesus. I cannot enter into the presence of the Father carrying this big bag of awful stuff on my back. We've all been there, and I'll share the best piece of advice I ever got on the subject. Once, almost two decades ago, when I was lamenting how guilty I felt about a horrible event in my life, our dear friend John Gavazzoni advised, "Take that bundle of guilt and leave it at the foot of the cross. Then, go into the resurrection life of Christ and walk free of the burden." That was good advice for me then and I think it still is for anyone else struggling with the horrible burden of guilt.
Probably nine million words have been written on the subject of sin, and I have no wish to restate what everyone knows. I think the graphic on the title page explains my point very well. When God created the world and all living things, His instructions to the plant and animal kingdoms was that they were to be fruitful, and multiply, each "after its own kind." (Gen. 1:11-12;21-22). I was thinking about God's plan for seeds to bring forth after their own kind today as I drove down town in search of vegetables. Neosho is the county seat of government, and the center of town is laid out in a square around the County Court House itself. (There's a picture of it in the Photos section of our home page). The local farmers bring their fresh picked produce there each morning to sell from the backs of their pickups. You can get crisp cucumbers, vine ripened tomatoes, fresh succulent corn, luscious peaches, mouthwatering blackberries, and whatever else is in season. Now these farmers all know that if you plant carrots, you will probably not find peppers on that plant when it starts to produce. Carrots come from carrot seeds; tomatoes come from tomato seeds; peas come from pea seeds, and so forth. When Paul wrote to the Galatians that the promises of God were to Abraham and his seed, which He identifies as Christ, (Gal. 3:16) what does that mean? To me, it means simply that out of the dust of the earth from which God created man, (Gen. 2:7) He has planted the seed of Christ in us.
In the "soil" of the human heart, by the process of the new birth, Christ is planted within our spirit. In the forth chapter of Galatians, Paul wrote, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until CHRIST BE FORMED IN YOU." (4:19). He fully understood the process taking place. He understand and articulated what happens when men and women are born again: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (II Cor. 5:17).
This verse is very clear when you see it by the Spirit. "Old things ARE passed away; behold ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW." This is not a "pie in the sky bye and bye" sort of verse, nor an "after you get to heaven when you die" sort of verse either. The verse is written in the present tense. That means right now! We are the new creation right now, dear ones, not because of anything we did, or believed, or confessed, or repented of, or anything at all which came from us. No, we are NEW because, and only because, the Spirit planted the seed of Christ within us and that seed can only produce one crop. What comes forth from that seed WILL BE Christ! We will not be like anyone else, anymore than a pepper seed will produce tomatoes. The seed planted in our hearts can only produce after its own kind, Christ! The Apostle John wrote, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, (present tense again) and it does not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as He is." (I Jn. 3:2).
"That's OK as far as it goes," you protest, "but what about sin? What about all these sinners who are running amok on planet Earth?" Well, what about them? Do you think that God, who knows the end from the beginning, (Is. 46:10) who works all things after the counsel of His own will, (Eph. 1:11) who is not willing that any should perish, (II Pet. 3:9) would overlook something as huge and black and ugly as sin, or ever abandon all those for whom He died? (II Cor. 5:19). We were all sinners when Christ died for us, you know. (Rom. 5:6). And in spite of our best efforts, we still sin. (I Jn. 1:8). So, do you really think that with our abysmal track record, God would make provision to save us from past sin but leave it up to us to quit sinning from now on? And what about holiness? Ah, now there's a topic. If we're on our own to quit sinning, are we to achieve holiness on our own as well? My impression about some fundamentalists is that they believe we can achieve holiness by abstaining from sin. This cannot be true, not only because no mere mortal has ever abstained from sin, but because only God is Holy. Only God is good. Therefore, we can only be good and holy when the seed, planted within us produces after its own kind, and Christ is formed within us. The Psalmist wrote, "All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Ps. 14:3).
Clearly, God knew what He created. He knew that we would not choose the tree of Life, but would instead, desire the beautiful and desirable tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and to make sure we didn't miss it, He sent Satan around to cinch the bait. If you don't believe that, read the first two chapters of Job. And while you are at it, read Isaiah 45:7. I'll just put it in here to save you the trouble of looking it up: "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." (Is. 45:7). And while we're on this subject, I'll throw in Deut. 32:39: "See now that I, even I am he and there is no God with me; I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand." And finally, we shouldn't overlook Amos 3:6: "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord has not done it?" Ouch, that is a tough verse, difficult to fit into orthodox theology, but troubled times call for stern truth. (A.P. Adams has an excellent article on this subject, called "The Purpose Of Evil." To read it on-line, see End Note "D").
Enough said. I rest my case here about who is the prime cause of all things, and that means good and evil. Remember that Satan told Eve that if she ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, she would be like God, knowing good and evil. (Gen. 3:5). So, instead of eating of the tree of Life, which at that time was not forbidden, she chose instead the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Actually, isn't this what all the fundamentalist preaching, lecturing and moralizing is about today? Aren't they still trying to achieve righteousness by the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, (law) rather than depending on the tree of Life (grace)? Trying to produce righteousness by knowing good and evil did not work for Adam and Eve and it does not work for us either, because the law always brings forth death. (Gal. 2:19). Remember that Paul said, "the strength of sin is the law." (I Cor. 15:46). It seems to me that all those folks who seem to think they need for the pastor to shake his finger at them and preach sin and damnation, might want to ask which tree this moralizing and lecturing compulsion came from. I'll give you a hint. It was NOT the tree of life. Focusing on the flesh with all it's flaws and weaknesses, is definitely majoring in minors! But God does all things well, actually, and even though the fall of man has wreaked havoc for millennium, and it does seem sometimes like the bad guys are winning, nevertheless, the fall is a gift to us, even though it is often wrapped up in the smelly stuff.
I call it a gift, because in the midst of the gloom of the soul's dark night, the morning star rises in our hearts and begins to shine. Light pierces the darkness; glory overcomes tribulation; and man is reborn and restored back into fellowship with the Father. The cherubim no longer stand at the gate of the garden with flaming swords to keep us out of that glorious garden. The Father stands waiting outside the gate with a robe, a ring, and a crown, (See End Note "E") saying, "Kill the fatted calf, and let us eat and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." (Lk. 15:22-24).
Let's talk about those cherubim with the flaming swords for a moment. The way back home is always through fire. That's because, "Our God IS A CONSUMING FIRE!" (Heb. 12:29). Fire is the purging element used to purify and cleanse the sons of Levi. (Mal. 3:3). Fire is part of God's nature. At breakfast the other morning, Lenny shared the following with me on this subject, and I want to include it here for it just fits.
"God has just showed me something interesting. Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire, (Matt. 3:11) and God showed me that being baptized in the Holy Spirit is necessary because God is a Spirit and he that worships him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. (Jn. 4:24). And when I asked, "Well, what about the fire?" God gave the me scripture saying "Our God is a consuming fire." (Heb. 12:29). So, when we are baptized, immersed, or dipped as the original would say, we are dipped into the Holy Spirit and we are also dipped into God as fire. Now, what I see here is that once we are dipped into God's fire, we don't have to go through the lake of fire, because God is even now purifying us in His fire; so for us, it is not necessary. Only those who have not been purified before God must be cast into the lake of fire to be purified before they stand before a holy God. Nothing impure or unclean can enter the holy city, or stand before the holy presence of the Father. Only those who have been purified by fire, and whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life, (Rev. 21:27) may stand before Him." End quote.
When we walk after the Spirit, rather than after the flesh, we are sons of God. (Rom. 8:14). The flesh cries out to us daily - not just tempting us to sin, but accusing us of being unworthy to fellowship with God and, even more insidious, suggesting that we can be good in our own strength. Lenny says that the world, the flesh, and the devil are the natural man's trinity. These three conspire against us to make us doubt our right relationship with our Father. We know that "the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom. 8:7-8). Never fear though, for He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. (I Jn. 4:4). We have the Holy Trinity living within us: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all three bear witness to His sovereign power to redeem, to cleanse, to purify, and to present us faultless before His throne. (Jude 24).
When the cleansing fires of God have done their work, we will know the truth of this glorious verse, which promises that we shall be conformed to the image of Christ: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestine to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestine, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8: 28-31).
If God be for us, why should we fear the world, the flesh or the devil? If God be for us, and the seed of Christ planted within our hearts, then we can lay down the burden of sin and guilt and fear at the foot of the cross and walk into the resurrection light of the bright and morning star. We can enter into that garden where God waits to walk and talk with us face to face, where sickness and sorrow and death never enter, and where there is no night, no need of candle, "neither light of the sun, for the Lord God gives us the light, and we shall reign for ever and ever." (Rev. 22:3-5).
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 S. Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
End Note "A": MESOPOTAMIA. The area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now Iraq is the site of ancient Mesopotamia, one of the world's first civilizations. The name is Greek for "land between the rivers." As the muddy streams flooded and receded, their silt built the rich alluvial plain. Tradition locates the Biblical Garden of Eden in Mesopotamia. (See also Euphrates River; Tigris River.) From Compton's Encyclopedia On-line v2.0 © 1997 The Learning Company, Inc.
End Note "B": "Primrose Path To Gehenna,"
End Note "C": You can read Ted Smith's testimony about how legalism and the fear of hell nearly drove him insane, until God revealed His great love for His children to him. Ted's writings, including the one called "Calvinism and Arminianism: Is Either True?" (When you get to the Tentmaker website, click on Tracts and Ted Smith's writings are there.)
"The Purpose Of Evil" by A.P. Adams
End Note "E": "The Ring, The Robe, and The Crown,"
The Glory Road!
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Last edited on 11/07/08.