Free Will and The Great Deception
I will digress here for a few moments to set up the back story on sin:
This is exactly what Eve said when God asked her what happened in the garden. She said “the Serpent deceived me, and I ate”, (Genesis 3:13). What she answered was absolutely true, though at the time of her being seduced to eat the fruit, she had no clue that she was being tricked. And though she did choose to directly go against God’s command to “not eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”, she did so because she did not ascribe wicked motives to the Serpent who had come to destroy her. Therefore, because she did not discern his motives as evil, nor did she even know what evil or wickedness was, she disobeyed God. And though she could legitimately argue to protest her innocence upon the grounds that she “had been tricked”, she had no clue as to what had just happened!
She knew nothing of deception, evil, or what was at stake here. She did not know how serious this violation was, nor the rules under which this war between Heaven and Hell was being waged, or that she had just fallen for the persuasive argument of the Devil and believed his lie.
In her defense, she argued that it was the Serpent who deceived her. God did not correct her or disagree with what she had said, not did He ascribe guilt to her for sinning, though the consequences for sinning were huge. To our knowledge, and to their credit, neither Adam or Eve seemed to have any previous awareness of the effects their choice would have on anything.
We do not need to justify, nor are we trying to deny that the two did not disobey God. They committed a sin. They disobeyed. But, let us not get hung up on blaming them and forget, as so often we do, that there was a Deceiver who had deliberately plotted against them to steal their authority and the kingdom that God had put under them to manage.
That Deceiver is still active in the world today, where he rules as the “evil genius and prince” until God expels him. (See John 12: 31 AMP). He still operates his agenda through the cooperation of mankind. His only desire is to devour us, body, soul and spirit, defiling the image of God in the process. The consequences, (defined as “to follow after, a result; effect, the relation of effect to cause”), that happened as a result of believing the lies of the Deceiver and the sin that came out of it, are called curses and judgments. It was the sin of Adam and Eve that initiated “the Fall” and what is often referred to as “Original Sin”.
This Original Sin itself brought some very specific consequences or judgments to those involved. But the curses, (defined as wrath, or a calling on God or the gods to send evil or injury down on some person or thing), did not rest exclusively upon Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. All creation, including men and women and snakes everywhere still bear the marks of those who first sinned. The consequences continue to rule even today, as a “body of death” that operates in the soul of every human being (see Romans 7:14-24). We all still must toil to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow and experience all kinds of pain, including pain in child bearing. Snakes still crawl on their bellies and must eat dust.
Sin and the consequences of sin, including the curses began to dominate the earth and its affairs. The domination of sin obscured our first nature, that of being created in the image of God, and super-impose upon us what we now refer to as “a sinful human nature”. Our “sinful human nature” is the same as what many call the “second nature” or the “carnal man”. And though this “sinful human nature” is real, it does not, as some would suppose, cancel out our original, “made-in-the-image-of-God” divine nature, though it does create in us a predisposition or tendency toward choosing darkness rather than Light. This is the whole dilemma that must be reckoned with in the redemption of mankind.
We can find no place or passage in the Scripture where God retracts His statement of creating man in His Own image. The divine nature of man is not canceled out by sin though it seems to have marred the physical content of the DNA considerably. In Genesis 5:1-3, written after the Fall, God reiterate that He made man, male and female, in the “likeness of God” and called them Mankind. It also says that Adam lived 130 years and begot a son “after his own image, and named him Seth”.
From these passages we see that God restates the case, that mankind, both male and female, are made in His Image and that all human beings also take on some of the particular human characteristics of their parents. Without getting into the idea of DNA, God endorses the fact that we are both made in His Own Image and in the likeness of our particular parents, who God chose to use as instruments to assist Him in bringing us forth. The truth of being created in the image of our parents does not mutually exclude or cancel out the truth that we were made in the Image of God. In other words, the truth of the one does not cancel out the truth of the other.
Because of sin, however, we are now subjected to carry the marks of sin as described by Adam’s second, sinful human nature. We are now caught in two conditions, the one of being made in the image of God, the other, being enslaved to the “lusts and cravings and evil passions” (Romans 6:12 AMP) of the evil one. The Bible calls us enslaved not depraved (Romans 6). Being captured by the powers of darkness does not change our identity as the created sons and daughters of God though it greatly hinders our freedom to experience the love and truth of our Heavenly Father.
Nor does our second nature cancel our first. We are the expression of God, brought forth by His will and truth, (James 1:18) bearing the original divine nature and identity expressed in God’s specific creation of us individually. Sin and even separation cannot alter the fact that we are made in the image of God any more than being captured and held behind Enemy lines can cancel out our citizenship or our identity as Soldier of our own Country. Being kidnapped and held hostage by the Devil cannot take away our identity as the son or daughter of God any more than being abducted makes us no longer a child of our parents!
Sin blinded us and covered over our first nature with a black coat of darkness. Sin and unrighteous behavior were the fruit of that blindness. The Deceiver uses it to promote the lie and convince us we are bad. He uses our “bad choices”, made under the influence of his deception, to confirm our fallen nature to persuade us we are “bad”. If we agree with the lie that we are what we do, he simple calls our attention to all the bad things we do to prove his point. If we allow our self to be defined by what we do, as so much of the world does, we have no choice but to agree with the Devil when he says we are bad and guilty and deserving of punishment.
And though it is true, that we are known by the things we do and judged or justified by our behaviors, there is a deeper side to the truth. We must realize the great value the Enemy sees in obscuring our true nature and identity. If he can get us to believe we are hopelessly separated from God Who is so mad at us that we might as well just give up, then what is the use of believing salvation is for us? What is the point of walking in holiness or desiring the things of God if it is of no use?
By tempting us to reject our selves, our very nature and divine identity, we come into agreement with his lie. The Devil comes into our minds and hearts to set up the test to separate us from the love of God. He makes God look like the bad guy, and we feel like there is no hope for reconciliation. He is using our behavior to redefine our true identity to “be” what we “do”, i.e., I sin, therefore I am a sinner. I therefore embrace my new identity as “a sinner”. And though it is true, I do sin, sinning is not who I am. I am the child of God, bought and paid for by His Precious Blood.
So he gets us to believe we are sinful and wicked and depraved which more thoroughly obscures the truth about who we are and our “divine nature”. But he does not stop there. His plan is to blame and guilt us into “feeling bad” and “trying harder to be good” to set us up on an eternal “torture wrack” of guilt and condemnation. If he can get us to accept his “try harder” “never enough” scheme, he can load us with all kinds of trouble and unnecessary calamity.
None of this maligning and condemnation would EVER work if we were not created by God to want to be good and holy and pure and righteous, in the first place. We feel guilty for sinning because our spirit, built by God, knows what is right. We were not built to sin and know that it is contrary to and in opposition to, our divine, made-in-the-image-of God nature.
Many do not believe they are who God says they are, and have allowed the Devil to redefine them and the whole human race as depraved!! Now we must understand that all of this conflict is set in motion as the usual fare, in the life of ever newborn child, even at the moment of conception. The moment they are conceived they have entered into the arena and come under the influences of the “god of this world”.
If the understanding or “interpretation” of who “I am”, is tainted or slanted, or not true, the decisions and definitions I make based upon what I have learned about myself from the past, will be biased and unreliable. If I do not factor in the spiritual dimension of demonic influence and the fact that these spiritual forces are not at all beneficial to me, nor do they ever voluntarily reveal the truth, that the war we fight is for the souls of mankind, I will never be successful or fruitful for the Kingdom of God.
Living contrary to the truth of who we are brings anxiety and oppression of every kind. It destroys our peace. Using mankind is “depraved”, as an explanation for our sin and all the wickedness in the world, not only sets us up for more punishment and destruction in the form of bad things happening to us, but it also creates a tangle of theological problems about the nature of God, as well.
The “depravity of man” doctrine gives the Devil any number of serious arguments against us and why he should have the right to punish us. It allows him to push his agenda to separate us from the love of God and convince us that God is in agreement with his plan. We are distinctly told “to submit to God and resist the Devil”, (James 4:6-7). We are not to give the Devil any place or agree with who he says we are. (For a more in depth study on the depravity of man see The Cravings Manual – why do I do what I don’t want to do).
Living life without acknowledging the truth will always bring us into bondage. Denying the concept of Spiritual Warfare as fought by the forces of Good and Evil, as expressed in God and the Devil respectively, gives us no means with which to make sense out of the battle down here. Jesus, and the Bible that tells of Him, tells the story of our capture and the great battle that has been waged for our rescue. It is the greatest story every told, though no other story has been so hidden and maligned as His.
Failing to understand the dynamics and depth of the spiritual attack and how the Enemy insidiously penetrates into and infects the souls of humans to literally “program” them, is the greatest single cause for people going to hell. When we believe the lie, we become enslaved by the lie. Rejecting the truth denies us the freedom to exercise our authority or our free will in such a way as to maintain our freedom.
We balk at the insult of anyone telling us what to do because we have been given a free will. But, here in is the dilemma. How can God be free to act in His Perfect Will, which we are required to obey, in order to benefit from it, when He Himself has given us the free will to act contrary to Him? And if we choose to act against Him, how can He rightfully be mad at us for exercising our free will, even if it goes against His Perfect Will, since He is the One Who gave us a free will in the first place?
The only answer is that God has two wills: a Perfect One and a Permissive One. Consider the simple example of the parents of a teenager who just got his drivers license. The parent’s perfect will is to not let the teen drive over to his friend’s house that evening to celebrate, but to stay home and finish he homework and use the car on the weekend. The newly licensed teen begs. The parent gives in. The child hits the mailbox backing out of the driveway and cuts a gash in the side of the car. The parent must now call their insurance company and pay for the repair. Or the kid pays, but in either case, no body’s perfect will happened and neither got what they really wanted.
The parents are now forced to act in their permissive will and get the car fixed when their perfect will was that it would not have gotten scratched in the first place. Because God lets us exercise our free will as He did with Adam and Eve, He is now forced to act in His permissive will until the earth chapter of our story is finished.