The Common Doubt

Bible Focus: Genesis 3

“No! You will certainly not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

     The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Genesis 3:4-6 CSB

Even the most common things in our life had a first occurrence. Almost fifty-two years ago, I took my first breath, although I have no memory of it. Nor do I have memory of my first solid food, my first steps, or my first time comprehending a written word; yet in a typical day I can eat several times, walk thousands of steps, and read tens of thousands of words.

On a more negative note, I also cannot remember when I first doubted God’s good intentions towards me. Nonetheless, that doubt must have quickly become commonplace. I remember, as a young kid, being afraid of the mere thought of meeting God. I knew I didn’t live up to his standard, so I wasn’t sure what he thought of me or what intentions he had for me.

After I understood and believed the good news of Jesus, much of my unease about God subsided. But I still found myself thinking and acting as if I couldn’t trust God with everything. Doubting God’s good intentions came easy. Trusting him was hard.

Many years later, I still have this impulse to doubt God’s good intentions towards me, more often than I’d like to admit. These knee-jerk doubts suddenly arise and question God’s motives, even though I ought to know better.

Doubting God’s good intentions is easy. Trusting him is hard.

The first two humans in the Bible lived in a perfect garden, in a perfect world, created by a perfect God. There were no previous patterns of wrongdoing. They enjoyed God’s creation, watched over it, and walked with God in the cool of the day. They had one prohibition, a tree in the middle of the garden from which they were not supposed to eat, because its fruit was deadly. Other than that, they could do anything they wished. They could eat every other kind of fruit. They could manage the garden however they thought best. As long as they stayed away from the forbidden fruit, everything they did was right and pleasing to God.

But you know the story. They ate the forbidden fruit. Why did they yield to the temptation? God had shown himself to be nothing but loving, caring, and generous towards them. But when the serpent introduced the idea of doubting God’s good intentions, that doubt took hold. Maybe God only appeared to be loving, caring, and generous about them. Perhaps what he really wanted was to keep them in their place, to keep them from becoming all they could become. Maybe if they were bold and ate the fruit anyway, they could realize a fulfillment that God would never give them.

After hearing the serpent utter his twisted statements about God, the woman suddenly found herself swayed. The Biblical text indicates no more argument from her (or the man) from that point. She took the fruit and ate; she gave some to the man, and he ate. It was easy…and terrible. As they both ate, they had their eyes opened to a horrible reality that God would have never chosen for them. The curse of their sin brought toil, pain, suffering, and death to God’s creation.

But here’s the good news. God also had a plan to bring salvation to the world. And he revealed this plan, just a bit, as he announced the curses that would take hold of the serpent, the woman, the man, and the creation itself:

So the LORD God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.

Genesis 3:14-15 CSB

The offspring of the woman, the man who would strike the serpent’s head, is Jesus. His suffering on the cross would be agonizing but temporary, while his defeat of death would be eternal. Jesus would forever loosen sin’s curse on all those who trusted in him.

In a way, this good news is the opposite of the temptation in the garden. The serpent urged innocent humans to doubt God’s good intentions and take what God had forbidden them to have. But the good news urges sinful humans to trust God’s good intentions and take God’s gift of eternal life in Jesus. Every one of us have yielded to the temptation. Each one of us must decide what we’ll do about the gift.

Featured image by Phil Botha on Unsplash

This post is #2 in The Truly Good Book series. Subscribe to more posts below.

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