Monday, March 10, 2014

Genesis 3:1-7 (ESV)

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”  But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.  And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

“No sooner had they transgressed the commandment, than they were inwardly stripped stark naked, bereft of the grace which they had offended against by a kind of feverish delusion, and by the proud love of their own independent authority.”

Thus wrote St. Augustine on the fall from grace of our original parents.

Augustine contends that they did not believe that God would really introduce death into the world to punish them.  Thus, a “feverish delusion” drove Adam and Eve into thinking that the party could never end.  How could serious consequences emerge for daring to think like God, thinking with a knowledge of evil?

How indeed.

“They became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened,” observes the Pilot Paul (Ro. 1:21).  Note that it is just here in his text that the Apostle underscores that the lust in men’s hearts leads them, through self-indulgence, to have “worshipped the creature rather than the creator.”

This is what Augustine calls “the proud love of (our) own independent authority.”  Again taking his lead from Paul, Augustine stresses that man’s primeval loss of innocence first registered as an awareness of sexual shame.

The language of the General Confession in the traditional Prayer Book Office also locates the essence of sin in self-assertion.  The following of our own “devices and desires” is the crux of the matter, instead of living “to the glory of (God’s) holy name” by following His will and purposes for us.

Almighty and most merciful Father; We have erred and stayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s