What Christ Does For Us, Part 2: Broken Roots

Yesterday we saw that God created humans to have great dignity, and superior value and worth, above every other created thing. We were in fact created for relationship with God. He has always intended to love us, and for us to love Him. This is not love between equals, though, for God created us to be dependent on Him. The food, the air, the very ground that every human has walked upon–all this has always been provided by God.

And so it was once that humans enjoyed intimate, unmarred fellowship with God. This has been the design from the start. Our ancestors seriously messed it up, though, by pursuing independence from God, which separated them from Him. We each ratify that decision through our own independent attitudes and actions daily. The rest of the story of what Christ does for us tells how God is restoring people to that intimate, properly dependent and at the same time highly dignified relationship with Him.

Let’s slow down again, though, and look at how our roots of relationship with God were broken. The story is in Genesis 3. The first part tells of Adam and Eve’s fateful decision.

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. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

The lie that Eve accepted was that she could have her own independent wisdom, apart from God’s; she wanted to “be like God” herself. Adam’s error included all that as well as placing his wife ahead of God. Both of these were moves of independence and rebellion. The result was a break in their relationship with God. God had warned them that disobedience would mean death. They did not physically die that day (although it was at that time that they first became subject to death). That day marked their separation from God, though; it was an immediate spiritual death. They hid from God. We’ve been hiding ever since.

This had no effect whatever on God’s love for us. It did not decrease our worth in God’s eyes one whit. Later we’ll see that even before the foundation of the world He knew this was coming, and He planned the sacrifice of His own Son on our behalf, even before we were created. He would not do that if we were of no value in His eyes.

This provides more background for a question doctor(logic) asked two days ago:

I don’t see how it can be both ways. On discussions on this blog, humans have been described as infinitely evil compared to God, worthy of suffering, death and eternal torture. How is something worth a lot, and yet worthy of death and suffering?

Aaron answered this already:

This is where basic philosophical categories and distinctions come in handy. Something cannot be both A and non-A in the same way and at the same time, right? Well, the sense in which humans have worth (in virtue of what they are and were created to be) is different than the sense in which they are worthy of punishment (in virtue of what they have done).

Our value in God’s eyes is undiminished. But we who were created to live in loving, close, dependent relationship with Him chose to try an independent route, and death was the consequence. It’s quite a natural one: it’s impossible to live separated from God. It’s impossible for us to be our own gods, as if we could sustain ourselves apart from His creation and provision. And to cut oneself off from the only true source of life and love is to walk into one’s own death.

I have not yet spoken of God’s holiness and justice, which also enter into this equation. That will come up in a future post in this series. The groundwork laid so far shows what God intended, and how the first humans turned their backs on His intent. We all do the same, still, today. There’s no understanding of what Christ does for us without this background.

Part of a Series: What Christ Does For Us

Related: How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions — a post that elicited a short question, to which I’m writing a long answer