February 14, 2022

Let’s Talk About Sin

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

— Ezekiel 36:26

Earlier this week, I was revisiting some old journal entries. One entry from late 2020 caught my attention. It dealt with the hardening of the human heart. I was asking God about the process that unfolds in Adam and Eve’s hearts in Genesis 3 from the moment sin and shame enter the picture on through the next generation when matters have already progressed to murder. The corruption of the human condition is shockingly swift.

The actions of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 began a process that only God could fix. Entering into temptation and eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil unleashed a torrent of blame, shame, and shattered identity that would impact humankind throughout the course of history. As Christians, we are often taught that Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden was a result of God’s judgment and wrath—a harsh punishment to match the depth of their sin. But this understanding of the fall is wrong. Yep. You heard me. Wrong.

Before you dismiss me as a heretic, let me explain. Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden was an act of mercy. If God had allowed them to stay in the Garden and continue to eat from the Tree of Life, they would have spent all of eternity in a state of perpetual degradation. (Think Smeogol becoming Gollum in Lord of the Rings.) God loved Adam and Eve, so he chose to enact a plan of redemption, which necessitated them being temporarily barred from access to the Tree of Life. Reintroduction to the Tree of Life comes through union with Jesus. This plan of redemption is the story that unfolds throughout the entirety of Scripture.

Degradation:

“The process in which the beauty or quality of something is destroyed or spoiled.”

Redemption:

“An occasion when someone is saved from evil, suffering, etc.”

~Cambridge Dictionary

Consider what happens when Adam and Eve leave the Garden. Their experience of intimacy with God and living in his perfect peace is lost. They suddenly enter a completely foreign existence. Within one generation, bitterness, rage, and murder have come into play between their own children, Cain and Abel. I can only imagine how painful that must have been. The human heart has gone from perfect union with God to being so hardened by sin that brother is killing brother.

This is why God hates sin. Not simply because he is holy. Yes, he is holy, but he is also love. Everything he does is motivated by love. He loves us so much that he doesn’t want to see our hearts hardened by sin. A hardened heart has no capacity to experience his love, and he truly wants us to experience his loving presence. Why? Because we are his own children. Humankind is the product of the overflow of love within the Godhead. We were created from love, and we are meant to exist in love. When we are separated from that source of love we experience abandonment, isolation, fear, despair, lack of true identity…the list is long.

The enemy loves to exploit that feeling of separation. His voice tells us we aren’t good enough, that we’ll never truly be loved. He hurls shame at our hearts and attacks our very identity. But he’s a liar. The truth is you are already loved. You have been loved since before the creation of the world. You have always been known by your heavenly Father, and He wants nothing more than to draw you back to his heart—to experience intimacy with Him for all eternity. That is the whole purpose of the Gospel, and I would go so far as to say that is the meaning of life—to learn to be loved and to experience the overflow of that love in our lives.

As a consequence of their sin, Adam and Eve felt the pain of separation. And I also believe they would have experienced that pain as rejection, even when God had not truly rejected them. How often do we experience the same? Our hearts might feel disconnected from God, and even as believers, we can wonder whether we have been rejected. I’ve been there. Maybe you have too. But let me encourage you with some promises:

I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrew 13:5)

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (John 15:9)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

Jesus is our savior because he is the way back to the Father—back into the embrace of love, our true home (John 14:6). He showed us what love looks like, the perfect image of His Father (John 14:9). His perfect act of sacrificial love, enacted upon the cross, makes it possible for each of us to become a new creation. (2 Cor. 5:17) But do you believe this in your heart? Or is this truth merely something you choose to believe with your head? Be honest with yourself. There’s no condemnation.

If you have trouble believing you are unconditionally loved by a good Father, simply ask Him to reveal more of his love to you. Ask him to touch those places where your heart has become wounded or hard. He’s more than willing, and he’s a perfect heart surgeon. He wants you to thrive!

For years, I read Scripture through a lens of wrath and judgment—because that’s what I thought I deserved. Consequently, I served a distant God—one I couldn’t entirely trust. The relationship was more like that of master and servant than parent and child. Intimacy and comfort were not part of the equation. This had nothing to do with who God was but everything to do with my own brokenness.

Your identity is not slave, servant, or sinner. It is beloved child.

God has shown me that His story is one of love, mercy, and redemption. Yes, there are challenging passages in Scripture (and I am NOT saying we should ignore those), but when we come to God with an open heart and ask Him to give us understanding, we begin to see things from His perspective. What a wondrous journey it is!

Sisters and brothers, I encourage you to ask God to open the eyes of your heart to the truth of his love. As you read His Word, ask him to give you revelation into His heart for his children. This is his heart for YOU!


‘Sometimes healing comes by waving

the white flag of surrender when everyone

else is telling you to stay in the fight.’

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