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Maybe, you are familiar with what has been going on in me lately. Imagine, after careful consideration aka prayer, you finally do something of which you are convinced that it must be God’s will for your life. I am not thinking of big things here, only of some small obedience of ours. As long as you are indecisive, you might feel weak, even confused. But as soon as you decide to give in to God’s tender ‘nudgings’, you sense some supernatural strength coming back to you. As you follow His leading and do what was needed, eventually, His peace surrounds you to show you His pleasure. How wonderful an experience! 😊 But then…

Sooner or later, doubts and fears arise as you are being tempted to abandon yourself to mental re-runs of what has been happening. What if it was not God, but only your flesh that made you do THIS? You may think that way because all positive feelings and strength are gone now. What will be the consequences of your (humanly speaking, ‘unkind’) behavior? Does following Jesus really mean to appear to be ‘mean’ at times, not rather always meek and lowly in heart? 🙄

Dear reader, I am speaking of drawing lines here, lines toward people who, unawares or not, suck all energy out of you if you only let them. Whether it is a stranger, a friend, or a relative, just recently I found myself pretty often in such situations where I, who had felt God’s peace before, sensed anger welling up inside me as I kept listening/doing what others wanted me to hear or to do. More and more it began to dawn on me that this particular anger was a sign from God to listen TO HIM immediately, instead. Day after day He brought me into similar situations so that I could practice what He wanted me to do. In fact, it was NOT easy! But meanwhile I see that the earlier I follow His promptings, the easier it gets! If I, however, start to ponder on the consequences of my behavior (read the offense) it must assuredly mean to the other person, then I feel accused. And this accusation feels REAL! As if I was judged and condemned of never doing the right thing. Well, I might often fail, but sometimes I sense that it worked out well as the simplicity of God’s language confirms.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,

17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen 2:15-17 ESV)

To my ears, this seems to be a clear commandment, easy to understand. But as we know, not so easy to follow and to obey.

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’?”

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,

3 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.’”

4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 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.

7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Gen 3:1-7 ESV)

Interesting development…

At first Satan questions God, or at least, man’s memory regarding the commandment God has given him. This is always the point where we decide to quickly run back to God and ask for His help or, which might happen more often, where we open the door to poisonous thoughts that will attack and weaken our faith and trust in God. When we are already weakened, and more and more doubts have been raised, the devil begins to lie. Indeed, he mixes the truth (“Your eyes will be opened”) with a lie (“You will surely not die”), a proposal of sorts which is VERY confusing to the natural mind. Alas, if we do not stop here and then run back into God’s arms, the next step is deception and delusion since the woman now was convinced that what God had forbidden “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.”

Oh well, that reminds me of an old German song by Swedish singer Zarah Leander “Can love be a sin?” (“Kann denn Liebe Sünde sein?”, 1938) When Satan has eventually drawn us away from the Living God, we can even ‘enjoy’ some good feelings in our soul and body as our flesh has been titillated by worldly desires, by the desires of the eyes, and by the pride of life (see 1 Jn 2:16). For instance, have you ever met someone who would be a faithful believer (even a regular churchgoer) who on the outside seemed to be a good Christian, who out of the blue fell in love with someone who was not their spouse, and then they claimed that it was God who wanted them to divorce their spouse?? Why? Because it felt so good! 😦 Big deception, indeed. The god of this world is always mighty when he is allowed to rule our old nature, isn’t he…?

I do not know how I got side-tracked from listening to God’s vs. Satan’s voice regarding tiny everyday decisions to falling into temptation and being fully blinded by Satan… 🙄 But perhaps it makes some sense to someone who reads this.

All images © 2017 Paul and Susanne Schuberth (Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg)