Hope In Light of the Curse

Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That verse encapsulates the problem with every person on this planet. Although many would deny the problem, that does not fix a problem that obviously exists. Paul would further write, “

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—” (Romans 5:12, NASB95)

How is it that all have sinned and thus fall short of the glory of God? Why is that the case? Because, Adam disobeyed God and thus, in him, we all sinned. Regardless of the difficulty of understanding ‘how’ all sinned in Adam, the statement remains clear. Adam’s singular disobedience inserted sin into the world that God created. Thus, since sin entered there, death followed. That is because sin is disobedience to God’s commands and Adam, the man made in the image and likeness of God, disobeyed when he took of the fruit and ate. Death, then, spread to all men through one act of sin.

So, what do we have in this summary of the entrance of sin? What is here is the reason why marriage is difficult and why childrearing is seemingly impossible. The fact that Adam sinned plunged every man, woman, and child into a condition in which sin reigns and the result of sin is death (Romans 6:23; James 1:15). Everything that God created in the garden, especially the relationship of the man to the woman and their relationship to God, is now inaccessible. The beauty, harmony, and glory is lost and cannot be regained by our own discovery. But, God, because of who He is, does not leave it there. He is a God of hope (Romans 15:13). In fact, it can be said that the entire fall occurred in order to usher in hope (Romans 8:20-21).

I have written about the fall and God’s promised redemption elsewhere. From what we encounter in Genesis 3, we understand that the wicked one has deceived Eve, Eve has enticed Adam, and Adam disobeyed God. We see that Eve believed Satan rather than God. We understand that Adam did not exercise rulership over the snake, the woman, or Satan. He simply chose to be under the sway of the deceiver. Satan was successful in bringing the man and the woman into his ‘kingdom’ and out from God’s rule. He was successful at setting himself up as god to the man and the woman and drawing the man and woman away from the true God. Thus, true to form, Satan robs God of His glory, at least it appears that way.

However, we see that God had cast sentence upon the enemy which will ultimately call for his destruction. This destruction will not simply be by a judicial act of God, but rather by the seed of a woman. In saying this, God is saying that a woman will bear the male child who will crush the head of the serpent and all his handiwork will disintegrate. Satan, from that point forward, lives in light of this sentence. Thus, God’s sovereignty is maintained. In fact, due to Satan’s diabolical work, God’s greatest glory will come to light in the redemption of sinners.

And that is what this is all about. The power and glory of God’s redemption is on display in the child of God. Both now, on this planet, and on the planet to come (Revelation 21:1). The fact that Satan tempted and deceived the woman did nothing to ruin the glory of God ultimately. In fact, his efforts were simply a key component in God’s ultimate and powerful display of His glory.

Most Christians do not see that great plan of redemption work out in their marriage. They love the doctrines of redemption and love to philosophize about it, but they don’t see that the very doctrines of redemption that they love, or say they love, are the foundation of their marriage. The home is the stage for redemption. Further, unfortunately, many marriage and home ‘ministries’ do little to identify, reiterate and explain this phenomenon. They do that to their own shame as they replace their own abilities to establish the home for the ability of God to glorify Himself in the home . As the Psalmist has said, “Unless the Lord build the house, you are wasting your time” (my paraphrase of Psalm 127:1). Thus, what is needed to make a home the stage for God’s redemption is clear. First, you need to identify sin. That might seem easy at first glance. However, truth is, many are so blind to what is expected of them in their homes, that they don’t see the sin. Thus, their minimized standards replace God’s high and lofty standard that gives Him glory.

For example, fathers are commanded to “train” their children (Ephesians 6:4). They are commanded by their Creator to be actively and profoundly training their children with all the resources of the Old and New Testaments toward the God of Scripture. This is an unending training that makes the home the training ground for children. However, how many fathers would rather fill their time with their own pursuits? How many Christian fathers would rather give their attention to their own hobbies and thus train themselves in proficiency of their own interests? The training that is called for is the truest and hardest expression of self-denial there is, next to marriage itself. Anything less than that kind of commitment is sin. Yet, we have pews filled with fathers, if they even come to church, who have decided that they don’t need to train their children. They are comfortable to let another man, or woman, do it telling himself that “they are the experts” all the while refusing to shoulder this command, take on the responsibility, and learn how to train his children.

Once that sin is identified, repentance is required. This is nothing less than an acknowledgement that there has been a failure in some area to give God glory. Maybe that father in the above example would identify that he has been lazy in his responsibilities, and he turns to God in his heart asking for forgiveness. God is quick to forgive, that is sure. However, the next step is to learn how to do what is required. He must give his heart completely to the responsibilities that God has given him. I personally have had a number of times of repentance when I would examine my own commitments in light of Scripture and see a very wide difference between the two. Obviously, the Scripture is not wrong. I was. By the mercy of God, I repented and devoted myself to the commitments God requires of me in my marriage and my family. I have never regretted turning away from the worthless things of this world and turning to the glorious provisions of God in a myriad of ways. For example, my family and I used to have Friday as our “movie night.” Of course, all week long we would be anticipating that 2 hour block of time when we dim the lights, pop in the movie and get lost in the story and action. As time went on, I began losing interest in those things less and less. At that point I began to examine why we were having movie night. Throughout the week, in the evenings, we would sit down and watch some show or some news as well. However, mixed in with the movies, the shows, and the news were some of the filthiest and most horrible pictures and scenes imaginable. Who has not had the experience of watching a show and a lewd advertisement comes on? Or, who has not watched some sporting event and the commercials introduce an ungodly habit, like drinking. Many Christians simply tell themselves, “Oh, I don’t do that so it doesn’t affect me.” Really? Job made a covenant with his eyes to not gaze at a virgin (Job 31:1). David got into trouble, initiated by looking, which affected his entire family for the rest of his life (2 Samuel 11:1-2). Jesus said that what you look at you think about (Matthew 6:22-23). That passage is especially pertinent because if you identify as light that which God calls darkness, you are really deceived! Nakedness, drunkenness, promiscuity, profanity, ungodly behavior (things that Jesus Christ would not Himself encourage), violence, and other behaviors are condemned by God, and yet we are entertained by them. What is worse, we let our children watch much of the same!

Therefore, Karen and I made the decision to get rid of our T.V. when we moved and we have never looked back. We have regained our children’s hearts, regained our day, regained our time, regained our conversation, regained our purity of mind. Our children are ignorant of many of the celebrities and superstars that are commonplace in the world and that is as it should be (Romans 16:19). They are unfamiliar with the degradation in the world around them and we are thankful. Why do I want to encourage the sin that is latent within them by placing ungodliness before them?

Once a sin is identified and repentance is sought, then conviction needs to be established. Having convictions very often is what establishes the heart. A conviction is some truth that you are convinced of in Scripture, whether by deduction or outright instruction, and thus your life now is subject to that truth (as an example see Romans 14:14). That is conviction. Paul told Timothy to be subject to the truths that he learned from Paul and those things that he has grown convinced of (2 Timothy 3:14). That is the idea. Once you become accurate in your interpretation of a passage, you subject your life under its teaching and you don’t move away from it for anything. The key, of course, is to make sure you accurately understand it. But once the Scripture is understood and rightly interpreted, obey it. Train your children also toward those convictions.

The display of the glory of God is the taking of a sinner and making him a son. When man was made in the image and likeness of God, that image and likeness most directly referred to the eternal Son, Jesus Christ. However, once sin entered in because of disobedience, something the Son would not do, the image and likeness, i.e. glory, was lost. Now, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that image and likeness is restored through faith in Him (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:10). That is the hope of Jesus Christ. And, that is the hope that resides in the home that is brought under the Lordship of Christ.

Preaching Christ From the Old Testament-Jesus and the Law of Moses-pt.6.

The last reference to Christ and the Old Testament as seen in the Law of Moses that I want to consider is the most important. In a sense, I have been waiting a long time to just get to this one reference.

Jesus said to the Jews of John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you  think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” Jesus was reprimanding the Jews for their misguided zeal and willful misplacement of Scripture. They, in their religious system, had taken Scripture, the Law of God, and believed that in bisecting and dissecting it to their own ends, they can gain eternal life. This is the heart of all their misunderstanding of Torah. Numerous times Jesus rebuked the Jews for their lack of understanding of Scripture. And, in many ways, Jesus, were He physically walking among His churches today, would say the same thing to us. Just like the days of the Jews, we too have taken the Scripture and used them to our own prescribed religious and personal ends. You know that this is the case when pastors, 1) Don’t believe that they really need to study in order to prepare for their messages on Sunday. 2) Don’t believe there is a need to know the original biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek (I would like to see a medical doctor get away with thinking, “I don’t need any specialized training.” 3) Have already convinced themselves of the meaning of the text before really dealing with the text. 4) Follow established systems of theology without subjecting that system to the exegetical findings of the actual text of Scripture. 5) Refuse to study anymore because they have been in the ministry for years and think they understand the Bible well enough by now. 6) They ridicule those who refuse to do all the above. You also know that this is the case with those attending church when, 1) They don’t carry a Bible to church. 2) They disagree with the Scripture when correctly understood. 3) They believe that they own the church because they give a certain amount of money. 4) They judge the pastor by the way he dresses, and not how he handles Scripture. 5) They expect to be entertained while in church and if that does not happen, then they threaten to leave. 6) They refuse to show love to someone who hurt them 20 years ago. 7) They make light of the sufficiency of Scripture, thinking in their hearts, “We can’t just study the Bible when we come to church. We need something more.”

The above scenarios divulge a modern-day Judaism that Jesus was essentially clamoring against. We use the Scriptures to our ends, but refuse to be taken by the Scriptures to God’s ends, namely Jesus Christ. Or worse, we build our methods and ‘ministries’ and attribute them to Jesus, when in reality they contradict and undermine His very work.

Jesus corrects the Jews. Rebukes them really. He says that they think that in the Scripture they have eternal life. That is, simply codifying the Bible like a textbook and following subsequent religious functions is what gains eternal life, and that is not so. It is true that Scripture is living and active (Hebrews 4:12; in that context, it is referring to the power of the Word of God to judge) and the “incorruptible seed” (1 Peter 1:22-25). However, the Scriptures testify of Christ for eternal life. Eternal life is the issue. The Scriptures did not die for sins. Our religious systems did not atone for our sins. Our Calvinism did not remove our sins from God’s books. My Doctrines of Grace did not permit God to justify me. Only Christ holds that supreme position. Only Jesus Christ is capable of these things, not the systems that we hold dear. I find it amazing that people are so proud of their Calvinistic leanings, their dispensational stance, their Covenantal tradition and their independent, fundamental history, and yet speak very little of the Person, work and economy of Jesus Christ. This tells me where their allegiance and worship is. And, by and large, just like the Jews, it is misplaced.

The Scriptures testify of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, they describe and define Him, His work, and His eternal kingdom. His accomplishment is the subject of Scripture. This is far more than a devotional understanding of Jesus. The depth and height to which God has gone in order to gain all the glory for redemption is breathtaking. And Jesus Christ is in the center of it all. However, we cannot breathe the air of that glory unless, as Jesus said, we are “willing to do the will of the Father” (John 7:17).

The panorama of God’s work of redemption (John 5:17), begins in seed-form. It, like a tree, begins with a small reference to the hope that God announced to the couple who plunged the universe into futility and separated man from his Creator and from their blossoms unto maturity in the arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was also an announcement to the one heavenly being responsible for the generation of sin in the first place. The declaration to Satan by God is a judgment and a warning of his impending death. The passage that we will be examining in some detail is Genesis 3:15. It is the foundation of all the redemptive revelation found in the rest of God’s Word. Its shoulders are broad and strong. It is the footer upon which the entire building of redemption, both Jew and Gentile, is built. It is all summarized in one single sentence.

    And I will put enmity
      Between you and the woman,
      And between your seed and her seed;
      He shall bruise you on the head,
      And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Having already covered the first days of creation in past posts, I won’t do so now. However, it is important to realize that at this point, the pristine glory and beauty both in creation and in the man and woman are lost. They have ‘died’, as it were. Their hearts have been darkened and their consciences seared. This is all evident from the responses that God received from Adam and Eve after they ate of the tree. God, now, has to punish all parties involved. He does so.

He begins with a curse upon the serpent, the animal. He makes the animal to slither on the ground, changing the animal anatomically into eternal humility because of its role in corruption. However, the being who inhabited the snake, he sentences him not to eternal humiliation, but eternal damnation for his role in the whole event. It is to him that the above-mentioned verse is spoken.

Notice that God continues the sentence upon the serpent, speaking to the being behind the act of the snake, by using the conjunction “and.” In doing that, it continues the curse upon him that was started with the animal. The curse upon the being, Satan, is that God will put a hostile disposition between the offspring of Satan and the offspring of the woman, i.e. righteous offspring. Their “children” will be at odds. This is the source of all spiritual struggles (Ephesians 6:10-20).

However, there is something very unique about this curse. At the end of the verse, it states, “He shall…” We need to stop and ask, “Whom?” At this point, we understand that it is a singular, masculine pronoun. This is referring to a singular, male offspring of the woman. God did not say, “it”, or “she.” God specifically said, “He.” Further, God states that this One will “bruise you on the head.” There will be a final, fatal blow to the head that will end up in the death of the Satan. This will result in bruising which indicates fatal, internal damage. This intimates that the One giving the blow will be stronger than he. Thus, this seed must not be a human, since mankind has just bowed the knee to Satan via the man and the woman. And yet, He will be a human since He will be the seed of the woman. So, this will be one who is above Satan, and yet is made of the same material as those who bow to Satan, i.e. a man. Satan, then, is told that he will die at the hands of a child of the woman.

What is interesting is the reference to the woman. This is peculiar since obviously the seed is from the man. So, for God to relegate the seed to the woman indicates a purposeful peculiarity of the Child. So, this offspring of the woman will be the One who will fatally deal with the enemy of God, and thus, undo all his handiwork (Hebrews 2:14; 1 john 3:8), and he will be powerless to stop it. At this juncture, God’s plan for redemption of sinners is begun. And what a plan it is! The central figure in it all is none other than Jesus Christ Himself. He will crush the serpent. He will pay the penalty of death for man. He will be the unique seed of the woman, and not of a man. However, He will be fully man and yet without sin, which makes Him superior to Satan.

This reference to Christ as the seed of the woman and the enemy of Satan is what feeds the rest of Scripture. It is the hope of all the redeemed. It is the purpose and plan of God. It is the magnanimous foundation upon which the whole structure of God’s redemptive plan rests. And, it is spoken in just one sentence. Truly, our God is in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3).


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