The Law, Morality, and Knowledge of Good and Evil

(Here’s one of the unorganized posts I warned you about in an earlier post…)

God never wanted the Law

Story illustrating God didn’t want Law in chapter 4 of “Imagine” by Andre Rabe
“Marriage is meant for intimacy and enjoyment – suspicion and distance undermine the very purpose of marriage. One can never replace the spontaneity and freedom of being in love, with formality and obligation and still maintain the same quality of relationship.
Let’s imagine a scenario in which a husband and wife have had a fight, and seeing that it’s just a fantasy, lets say it’s all the wife’s fault! The husband tries to converse, but the situation is so tender that the wife can’t face any further confrontation. Silence and distance become her only escape.
Through the days and weeks that follow the situation only gets worse and this results in a separation. The husband observes his wife sinking into a pit of depression but she is not willing to face him or converse with him. However the husband still loves his wife and believes that the relationship can be restored, so he makes a practical interim arrangement. In order to prevent her from falling into absolute destitution and despair, he commits to support her and provide for her if she keeps to some basic and reasonable obligations. For instance: remain faithful to him, no other lovers allowed! Very reasonable. A few other ‘boundaries’ are agreed – about 10 in all. All this is done for her protection.
The only thing these arrangements are supposed to reveal, is that the husband still believes that the relationship can be saved. These arrangements were never meant to replace the original intimate relationship. They were only put in place for her protection and provision until the original relationship is restored. By no means can this situation compete or compare with the spontaneous, intimate relationship they once enjoyed.
And something terrible happens in this arrangement: It gives validity to the distance! The very distance that needs to be destroyed, finds an opportunity within this temporary arrangement to make itself legitimate. This new law-system gives validity to the distance!
And the wife, instead of trying to find a fundamental solution to the problem, now hides behind the fact that she is keeping the rules and therefore deserves the provision. She actually finds this new system very convenient, because she does not have to deal with her husband directly. She feels justified in keeping the rules, and even when she breaks the rules there are ways of correcting the situation without direct contact with him. Her hearts grows even harder!” – Andre Rabe

Law not given by God but by angels to Moses, then Moses to the people

I first believed (as my parents taught me) that God wanted to give the Law and he indeed give the Law. Later, I came to understand that actually, God didn’t want to give the Law, but he did so reluctantly as a kind of compromise (as you explained). Currently, I’m of the opinion that God may have communicated some parts of the Law but that he did not do so in its entirety. Part of the reason for that is the violence inherent in some laws. Another is because I don’t believe the scriptures are inspired in the way most christians would define inspiration. I wrote a series about inspiration on the blog, and actually one of the posts deals with the topic of the Law specifically. I point out a number of scriptures that seem to indicate that the Law was in fact not given by God (at least in its entirety). You can read it here: https://supernaturalgospel.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/what-does-biblical-inspiration-mean-really-part-5/

Temples, priests, sacrifice, prophets, seers, kings and laws (even specific ones) were not unique to Israel by any means.

“Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” (Galatians 3:19-20).
Acts 7:52-53
Hebrews 2:2-3
“The moral standards by which Israel’s first ancestors were expected to act seem to come not so much by God’s unique commandment but by expectations of the surrounding cultures. The behavior of Israel’s ancestors is not a matter of direct revelation by God, but of the accepted cultural norms of the day.

In John 8:17 and 10:34 Jesus refers to the Law as “your [the Pharisee’s] Law” and not “our Law,” thus refusing to identify with their way of thinking.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person…” (Matthew 5:38-39; Jesus is directly quoting Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21). Here Jesus gives ways of living that are opposite to that of the Law. “You have heard it said…But I tell you…” In essence, Jesus is saying that he did not say that part of the Law and is now telling them what he really thinks (as opposed to what they thought he, that is God, was saying). After all, if the Law was perfect (which it would be if it was given by Jesus), Jesus would have no need to correct it and show a better way.

This raises the question: was the Law really given by God? An answer of “no” is what Paul seems to imply in Galatians 3:19-20. “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” Even if the original was given by God, what if the human and angelic elements modified it in the process of transmission and transcription?

Jesus seems to imply this in Mark 10:2-5. “Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. And He answered and said to them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.'” Jesus makes it sound very much like Moses was not only the writer but also the author of this commandment. “Moses permitted [it],” not God.

Law

Is saying “this is grace and that is law” eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

Connection between conscience and tree of knowledge of good and evil
They didn’t have a conscience (consciousness of sins; see Hebrews) before eating of that tree.

“Grace cannot prevail until law is dead…until morality has been bound, gagged, and stuffed unceremoniously in the trunk.” – Robert Capon

It’s interesting how there are many things that the world doesn’t feel guilty about that believers do. This makes me think that the guilt that believers experience in such areas is merely from the Christian culture surrounding them.

“Grace means that God does something for me; law means that I do something for God.” – Watchman Nee

Undutifully fulfill your duty

The only times Paul mentioned the Law to the Gentile churches that he wrote to was when he needed to emphasize its unnecessity in our new lives in Christ. Most of the time he simply didn’t mention it at all.

The fear of not preaching and requiring Law: without Law, the only motivator becomes desire based on joy, not fear. Law followers know nothing of desire, only fear. That’s why they can’t trust getting rid of the Law. “People will start sinning because that’s what they desire!”
We don’t want to be led by our feelings, but we want to be led by our new and holy desires. The distinction is important and it takes lots of trust in what Jesus did and is in you.

“The Law revealed the sin in you. The Gospel reveals the Son in you.” – Jeff Turner

The meaning of God putting his Law on our hearts isn’t getting a conscience or consciousness of sins but the divine nature of naturally desiring that which brings life, what the Law pointed to.

Test to see if you are legalistic: Think about what you would think and feel (or actually try it out if you’re not sure) if you stopped reading the Bible, stopped going to church, quit having set times for prayer, etc. If there is any fear, guilt, shame, or condemnation, then you are legalistic.

The moral principle of the Law (love) is still true, but we don’t derive our morality from the Law anymore. We don’t ever need to read it to know how to live morally because we have Holy Spirit as our guide.

The Law is a part of the Old Covenant which is now obsolete; Hebrews 8:13.

Living by Law is slavery (Galatians 5:1)

Hebrews 7:11-2, 18-19, 9:10, 10:1 (All of Hebrews lol)

Ephesians 2:15

Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
In this new covenant, good and evil are things we sense, not figure out through the Law. It’s in our hearts.

Galatians 3:24-25
The Law was our tutor that led us to Christ, but no longer

“Grace and sin can coexist, but grace and legalism can never coexist.” – Jeff Turner

2 Corinthians 3:6-18

Titus 3:9

The curse was a natural consequence of eating of the tree and of submitting to Satan. God wasn’t putting junk onto people – they chose it. Just like the Law.

“The fall didn’t change God; the fall changed you. The cross didn’t change God; the cross changed you.” – Jeff Turner

We know we are not justified by obedience to the Law (by the works of the law shall no man living be justified). But many Christians feel that they are still somehow bound to obedience to the Law.

To understand our prior and current relationship with the Law, it is important to know its purpose. Paul says that the Law given so that we would know our own sinfulness (Romans 7:7). When we try our best to follow the Law, we find that our efforts are futile. Thus God administrates his grace to us through the Law because it makes evident our need for a savior. God imposed an impossibility on us to reveal our self-insufficiency. It sheds light on the fundamental error made at the fall – that we could do life alone. The Law causes us to turn to Christ.

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56).
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” – John 1:17
“But we know that the law [is] good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for [the] lawless and insubordinate, for [the] ungodly and for sinners, for [the] unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,” – 1 Timothy 1:8-9

But what about after we have turned to Christ? Paul communicates a complete shift in our relationship with the Law that took place at the cross. We used to be joined to the Law; now we are joined to Christ (v. 1-4). We were bound to the Law; now we have been released (v. 6). We served in the oldness of the letter; we now serve in the newness of the Spirit (v. 6).
The law brought with it a curse; Christ has set us free from it
“Ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ”
“having abolished in his flesh the enmity, the law of commandments contained in ordinances”
“blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross”
“Christ is the end of the Law”

Ultimately the Law is good (v. 12). Yet it is through it that sinful passions are aroused in us (Romans 7:5). That’s why when, after believing in Jesus, we continue to make efforts to follow the Law we will inevitably fall into sin. It is through God’s commandments that sin produces its actions in us, for without the Law sin is dead (v. 8). Through the Law sin deceives us and kills us.

The Law can neither condemn nor punish us anymore.

“Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16)
Law and the effort it requires will kill you, literally!

Glory/No Glory – The Jesus Trip
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VscdMoNS-Q&feature=plcp

There can be no distinction between “ceremonial” and “moral” laws

Galatians 3:10-14
Obey whole Law or none of it. Obey part of it and you are cursed! We don’t live by Law but by faith in Spirit

The division of Moses’ law into three categories is a “totally arbitrary distinction between aspects of the law” (Walter Martin).

“The Mosaic law is viewed by the Scriptures as a unit. The word torah (“law”) when applied to the law of Moses is always singular, although it contains 613 commandments” – Arnold Fruchtenbaum

“It should always be remembered, however, that the distinctions Christians make between ‘moral’ and ‘ceremonial’ laws in the Old Testament, was hardly perspicuous to the Hebrew mind. In the Old Testament, cultic and ethical, moral and ceremonial, religious and civil enactment’s are all worked together, with no sense of impropriety, since they all express the will of Yahweh for his covenant people Israel.” – Paul K. Jewett

“In the epistles that have been preserved to us, nowhere is a distinction made explicitly between the moral and ceremonial, particularistic parts of the law.” – Herman Ridderbos

The Mosaic law-covenant was a unified code which had a beginning and end in history.
The Law of Moses (as a totality) was connected to a particular covenant people that it not us.
In the ultimate purpose of God, this Mosaic economy was temporary, destined to exist “until the time of reformation” (Heb.9:10) when God would speak in a final way in His Son in the last days (Heb.1:1-2).

This doesn’t mean, however, that it is okay to murder, for example. I’m not saying that we should now do the very things the Law forbade. I am saying that the Law is not needed as a written set of instructions for any moral purposes because it’s been placed in us and written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).

Morality, good & evil

http://newcovenantgroup.com/sections/general/alan-darley-on-morality/

There is no good and evil, just wise and foolish

Behavior modification

We are made in God’s image. God wouldn’t implant in us conceptions of good and evil that are different than his. He made the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Thus if something intuitively seems evil (especially to many people), it most likely is.

“Ultimately the Gospel has little to do with morality and much to do with Love – Love, in which morality finds its true context. Meaning, it’s possible the moral person may be in worse shape than the immoral.” – Benjamin Dunn

“When we operate out of the “knowledge of good and evil”, we have nothing to say and nothing to do unless their is a scapegoat to blame for the world and the Church’s problems. We have to have an enemy, or we don’t know what to do with ourselves. We can only recognize good when we have evil to compare it with, and vice versa. Paul, upon beholding the beauty of God’s grace, however, emerged with a different view of things. He concluded that since “one died for all, all died”! In light of this revelation, he could “know no man according to the flesh”. (2 Corinthians 5) He no longer needed evil in order to enable him to see the good, he simply saw good through the light of what Christ had done for all men.” – Jeff Turner

Drop “sin” from vocabulary.
This word now has the connotation of offending God. But God is not offended by our sin. https://supernaturalgospel.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/unoffendability-and-the-relativity-of-sin-part-1/
Replace with miss, error, deviation, mistake

Adam and Even were at their best when they were ignorant of good and evil and were totally fixated on one thing – life.

Christianity is not about a new morality
“The church is not in the morals business. The world is in the morals business, quite rightfully; and it has done a fine job of it, all things considered. The history of the world’s moral codes is a monument of striking unity and beauty. As C.S. Lewis said, everybody who thinks the moral codes of humankind are all different should be locked up in a library and be made to read three days’ worth of them. They would be bored silly by the sheer sameness.
What the world cannot get right, however, is the forgiveness business — and that, of course, is the church’s real job. She is in the world to deal with the sin that the world can’t turn off or escape from. She is not in the business of telling the world what’s right and wrong so that it can do good and avoid evil. She is in the business of offering, to a world that knows all about that tiresome subject, forgiveness for its chronic unwillingness to take its own advice. But the minute she even hints that morals, and not forgiveness, is the name of her game, she instantly corrupts the Gospel and runs headlong into blatant nonsense.” – Robert Capon
“There is nothing intrinsically contrary to the church’s mission, of course, in the suggestion that an upright life might be a good thing for Christians to attempt. But she that suggestion reaches the point at which it becomes a test of membership in the church, it comes smack up against a radical peculiarity of the Gospel: Jesus was not a teach of ethics. The Sermon on the Mount, for instance, is not a string of sensible lessons in morality: it’s a paradoxical presentation, in the form of ethical advice, of recipes for getting yourself creamed. And the radical Gospel of grace and forgiveness that is the church’s deepest message isn’t ethics either. It’s an outrageously unethical offer not to count anybody’s sins at all, because the Lamb of God simply stopped count in when he drew everybody to himself on the cross. At its root, therefore, the Gospel is immoral not moral: it lest scoundrels in free for nothing.” – Robert Capon

Jeremiah 7:22 “For in the day that I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
(NIV adds “just” to completely change the meaning lol)

Ethics is the attempt to rationally discern good and evil apart from God, just like in the garden.

“Does this mean there is no room for discussions of morality or ethics within the Christian community? Not at all. But al lot these conversations that name certain behaviors as ‘sinful’ must stem from whether or not said behavior is harmful to others, not whether the Bible has certain verses that condemn the behavior. Certain behaviors are both condoned and condemned in Scripture.

You don’t need religion to have a basis for morality, and any basis, even the scriptures, will be subjective.

There is even a science of morality

*****

Also see:

http://www.charismaministries.org/the-12-commandments/
http://www.charismaministries.org/holy-living-vs-moral-living/
http://www.charismaministries.org/descriptions-of-the-mosaic-law-in-the-new-testament/
http://www.charismaministries.org/do-christians-need-to-fulfill-the-law/
http://www.charismaministries.org/law-abiding-vs-under-the-law-vs-gace/
http://www.raptitude.com/2009/04/there-is-no-good-and-evil-just-smart-and-dumb-part-1-of-2/
http://www.raptitude.com/2009/04/there-is-no-good-and-evil-just-smart-and-dumb-part-2-of-2/
http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/bible-clear
http://jimpalmerblog.com/2013/11/04/6-lies-and-6-truths-about-sin-2/
http://jmarjoram.blogspot.jp/2013/05/the-knowledge-of-good-and-evil.html
http://jmarjoram.blogspot.jp/2013/05/more-about-living-loved.html
http://pathux.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/morality
http://pathux.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/moralizers-are-the-new-judaizers/

Are Demons Really Personal Beings?

Modern christianity takes it for granted that demons are personal beings – creatures with wills (in that sense just like human beings). I’ll be challenging this notion in this post both scripturally and logically. (If you want to know how beliefs about demons developed historically, see the youtube video at the end of this post titled “The History of the Devil.”)

In the scriptures

In all three cases that the satan is mentioned in the OT, the satan is always an obedient servant of God; the satan was the guy who did the dirty work for God. But the Jews often didn’t interpret passages literally; to them, interpretation was (and still is) more like an art than a intellectual endeavor. Thus just because the satan is personified in certain passages doesn’t mean it is asserting that it is a personal being.

Indeed, in the OT, the “satan” is not a name (which is why I don’t capitalize it), as it is commonly confused to be nowadays. Rather, it is a function or title. The word literally means “the adversary” or “the accuser.” Thus, the OT doesn’t conceive of the satan as a personal being.

The word “lucifer,” another word mistakenly used to refer to “the devil,” appears only once in the OT in Isaiah 14:12-14 – “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning [lucifer], son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” This is the passage (and the only one at that) that is commonly cited to support the theory that the devil is an angel who rebelled against God and was thus cast down from heaven and now wreaks havoc on the earth as God’s enemy.

When read in context, however, it is abundantly clear that this passage is by no means referring to “fallen angels” but, as the passage plainly states, the king of Babylon. Furthermore, the image of the morning star fallen from the sky was borrowed from a legend in Canaanite mythology. (Ironically, in Revelation 22:16 lucifer (“the bright morning star”) is used to refer to Jesus.)

Simply put, there is absolutely no biblical evidence that demons are rebellious angels.

Yet such poor theology has had a noticeable effect on biblical interpretation. It’s effects especially emerged after the reforms of Josiah, within a few centuries of the exile – this is when the satan began to be understood as a fallen angel thrown out of heaven, an idea directly carried over from the dualistic religion Zoroastrianism.

For example, it is most often assumed that the serpent in the garden of Eden is the devil, even though the text never makes such a claim. The same is done for characters in Revelation, as if human beings are not options that its figurative language points to. (Some will point to Revelation 12:9 as evidence for thinking this way, but that is merely one interpretation of one verse. That’s a measly amount of evidence to base your demonology on if you ask me.)

One of the main reasons people often believe demons to be personal beings is that they lack knowledge of the meaning of idioms. This is especially pertinent concerning idioms in Aramaic, the language that Jesus and the characters in the four gospels most likely spoke, because the gospel accounts are the NT sources most frequently cited to claim that demons are personal beings.

Here are some Aramaic examples. “Cast out” is a phrase that means “to restore to sanity.” The term “satan” is derived from sata, which means “to mislead” or “to miss the mark” (think of when Peter rebuked Jesus about predicting his crucifixion). The word for demons is shedy, the cause of insanity and wrong thoughts. Shedana, demonic, is one whose mind is deranged; it also refers to sinners and those who act queer or make mistakes. The words rohka tamtha mean “the unclean spirit,” a person who is unruly, insane, or has an evil inclination. The term “spirit” also means “inclination,” “temper,” or “a person.” (See more here.)

The point I’m making is that just because we read in the scriptures that demons talk and do stuff to people (as well as the fact that you have most likely been taught that demons are personal beings) doesn’t mean that a literal interpretation apart from a proper linguistic understanding of the relevant historical languages is a good idea at all. In fact, such ignorant interpretations are utterly defective. It doesn’t matter if tradition says otherwise as long as the tradition has developed in an equally ignorant manner (which it generally has).

Yet even if the NT writers meant that demons are personal beings, that would have been their only available explanation; they didn’t know about mental illnesses, that consciousness can affect physical reality (e.g. the placebo effect), etc. People back in the day would not have been able to make a conceptual distinction between demon possession and mental illness. This doesn’t necessarily mean they were wrong, but it does show that they did not take into account what, now, we indeed are able to take into account.

A logical problem

If we want to conceive of demons as personal beings, we have to accept some assumptions (at least in an evangelical christian framework).

God created them, so they couldn’t have started off evil (otherwise we would have to say God created something evil, thereby showing himself to be evil). Furthermore, they are personal beings, but they are not human beings; the only option seems to be that they are angels. So they are theorized to be “fallen” angels, that is angels turned evil.

This gives rise to a logical problem.

How were fallen angels tempted? 

The most common explanation is that Lucifer became jealous of God and, wanting to take his place, rebelled against him, turning a third of the angels against him as well. But if God created everything perfect, how could such thoughts originate in any angel’s mind? The idea is utterly illogical! Knowing God to be omnipotent and themselves created by him, angels would know that any rebellion was bound to fail, even if they had converted all angels to their cause. Was God’s perfect creation really so foolish?

An alternative understanding

But how else could we understand demons to be, you may ask.

In my previous post it was explained how evil has no real substance or ontological reality, but rather is simply the absence of love. We can say that evil doesn’t exist because all God created is good, and he didn’t create evil. It’s like blindness, which doesn’t really exist and rather is the absence of sight.

It is generally agreed that demons are being referred to with words such as powers and principalities that we find in the scriptures, especially in the NT. But why?

What if the satan just refers, as it did in the OT, to evil principles?

An objection

It is often thought, especially by those who are more charismatically oriented, that anyone proposing that demons aren’t personal beings are simply ignorant of demonic manifestations (like the ones recorded in the scriptures) that take place even today. It is thought, “if there are no demons, how can demonic manifestations be explained?”

This line of reasoning hinges on the assumption that demonic manifestations are always caused by something other than the person who is manifesting. How can we be so sure that people themselves cause such manifestations? I understand that people who are manifesting will do crazy stuff such as writhe, scream, make animalistic sounds like hissing or barking, speak with what seems to be a totally different personality, seem to be physically stronger than normal, etc. Yet none of these require resorting to possession by demonic personal beings to be explained. (The reason you may never have heard any such explanation is because such manifestations are probably believed to be fake by most people and most people have simply never witnessed such manifestations.)

What we think can never be explained anthropologically and scientifically today may well be explained thus tomorrow. Just a few hundred years ago, people with disorders such as multiple personality disorder would have been labeled as demon possessed merely because there was no other known explanation.

I propose that “demons” (mindsets, habits of thought, beliefs, physical conditions of the brain, perhaps even some “spiritual” reality) are created in people, which then take on a life of their own.

This idea is supported by the fact that manifestations vary according to a variety of factors in one’s upbringing (for example, people in Africa and in America are known to generally manifest differently; some people explain this by saying there is more demonic activity in Africa, but I don’t buy it).

In general, people act the way we treat them (for example, if we treat someone like they are stupid, they will perform poorly academically, regardless of whether they are naturally talented or not). It is the same for demonic manifestations.

They are treated and thus perceived personally because they are generated anthropologically.

The reality of manifestations today is by no means evidence that demons are personal beings.

The blame game

Some might object that if there is no evil, personal being that can be held responsible as the originator of evil in the world, we cannot account for evil at all. We feel like we need something other than ourselves, and ultimately humanity, to blame. Thus has the religious scapegoating mechanism continued. In this paradigm, instead of singling out certain individuals as scapegoats, the concept of “Satan” was created as the ultimate embodiment of evil.

Perhaps it’s about time we take responsibility for the evil that we actually do in the world.

Perhaps we are the originators of evil.

the satan

The primary problem occurs when the satan is made otherworldly, made into some kind of power almost, but not quite, as powerful as God. Evil then is something that originates outside human history. This creates all sorts of theological problems (the technical term is “theodicy”). – Michael Hardin

In any case, as Karl Barth observed, the scriptures only mention the satan to dismiss it. The satan has been overcome.

*****

Also see:

“the satan” with Michael Hardin and Brad Jersak
http://www.beyondtheboxpodcast.com/2013/02/the-satan-with-michael-hardin-and-brad-jersak/

Michael Hardin’s “the satan” free ebook
http://www.preachingpeace.org/2013/08/10/the-satan-free-e-book/

The Devil You Know
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/the-big-picture/8735-The-Devil-You-Know-Part-I

The Origins of Evil

I really liked, and so decided to share, the following extract from Andre Rabe’s book Imagine on the origin of evil:

When God considered all the possibilities and all the options in creating the environment in which His love dream for man would be fulfilled, there were many possibilities that He rejected. Evil is all the possibilities that God rejected. Evil is everything God chose not to create. Evil is not eternal; it is not to be compared with God or even God’s creation in any way. Evil does not have an eternal past nor an eternal future – it is doomed to pass away.

So, if God did not create evil, how did it come into being? It is useful to look at the symbolism used in the scriptures to describe evil.

Darkness is used to describe evil, ignorance, lies, and all that has no substance in itself, no eternal significance. Light is used to describe God Himself, understanding, truth and that which has substance; that which has eternal significance.

Darkness has no substance in itself – it is the absence of light. It only ‘exists’ in the absence of substance, which is not a real existence at all. It only has a form of existence in its opposition to that which truly exists. It’s only content is nothingness. God never created darkness – He created light. Darkness is the uncreated opposition to that which God chose to create.

Before God created, there was no evil. In a sense, evil is the potential by-product of creation – it is everything that God did not create.

Everything that is good: love, joy, peace, have their basis within a person … the person of God. Evil, however, does not have its origin in a person, but in that which is impersonal, that which apposes the person of God and all He has made. Obviously, evil can find expression through a person, whether angelic or human, if it is given opportunity to do so. If an angel gives place to evil, evil finds a demonic expression through that personality. If a human gives space to evil, inhumanity is the result. Evil is not a natural attribute of humanity – it is inhuman to its core.

All of this might sound very theoretical and abstract, but evil found a very real and concrete opportunity to express itself in our world. But how can it, if it has no real existence, if its very nature is unreal and uncreated?

When God planned the end even before the beginning, He knew that man, created in His own image and likeness, would have the creative abilities and the power to choose the possibilities that He rejected. However, there was no other way in which to create the ultimate companion, except by giving man this power of choice and the freedom of creative will.

Man would be capable of choosing the possibilities that He rejected, choosing to give time and space to that for which God has no time nor space; that which He did not create. Man, represented by Adam and Eve, did exactly that. They chose to believe a lie, to embrace what was unreal, uncreated, and in so doing, became untrue. They let go of their true existence in God and instead clung to the nothingness of separation.

This alternative is called the kingdom of darkness. It represents an unreal existence; self-importance without substance; living in ignorance, death and separation; accepting an identity that is not authentic nor original. The ultimate goal of this kingdom is to reduce man to the same nothingness from which it came.

In the real existence of man, evil found opportunity to express its opposition to everything that God made. Man, as the ruler of creation and the ultimate companion of God, gave darkness – the uncreated and unreal, the absence of light – a very real opportunity to manifest its opposition to everything that is good and created by God. Adam’s fall gave evil a very tangible existence in this new world of illusions and deception. All of creation was subjected to corruption as it was drawn towards nothingness.

Adam and Eve were given stewardship over all creation. Their actions would affect all of creation. When they gave evil space in the created world, all of creation became subject to corruption, drawn towards the non-existent nothingness that is evil. Man himself was drawn towards this opposition to all that is God and of God, meaning that man even opposed himself, resisted himself and denied his true existence in God.

Man embraced illusions as his reality instead of allowing reality itself to embrace him. The possibility of self importance tempted man into an existence without substance. Living in death and separation was preferred above discovering the secret of life in our union with Christ in God. Instead of living out of the reality of I AM, man succumbed to the suggestion of ‘I am not’.

The knowledge of good and evil is the alternative to simply and spontaneously living from the source of all life. This moral awareness offers an alternative to direct and intimate relationship with God. It promises an independent way of living a good life. God was clear about the consequence of eating from this tree: “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” The death God spoke of here was not only physical, but spiritual. This death is not creasing to exist, it is separation from the source of life.

This alternative only seemed attractive because man never fully grasped the intimacy, the knowledge of oneness, that was available in God. Ignorance makes sin attractive. So the core problem was not the deed of sin nor the act of disobedience. These were simply the symptoms of the core problem which was: man did not know the Father in the intimate way in which He wanted to be known. Later we’ll see that Jesus’ mission was not only to deal with sin and the guilt of sin, but to solve the core problem, namely: to make the Father known. For in doing that, sin loses all its attraction.

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http://www.amazon.com/Imagine-2nd-Edition-Andre-Rabe/dp/0956334660

Original Innocence

OS

Original sin is the doctrine that humanity is in a state of sin because of the fall in the Garden of Eden. This is the basis for other doctrines such as everybody having a sinful nature (the idea that humans are all basically bad and naturally inclined toward evil), total depravity (that every human is so enslaved to sin that, apart from God’s control, they are utterly unable to refrain from evil or fellowship with God), and automatic guilt (that all humans are guilty of sin because of Adam and Eve sinned).

–______–original sin

What if we refused to place our faith in original sin and instead place it in our original innocence effected by the lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), which affected all of humanity even before it had a chance to try and mess it up.

What if we gave up our faith in the total depravity that supposedly resulted from Adam’s actions and instead placed our faith in the original goodness of humankind made in the image and likeness of God and the total finality of what was revealed in Christ’s actions?

What if we retract our faith in the so-called “fall” and “curse” and instead place it in God’s perfect redemption?

Jesus was born into humanity, born through a woman―born fully human―yet was without sin. This reveals to us a very significant truth: Sin is not the default nature we are born with. If it were, then Jesus himself would have been a sinner simply because he was human…This alone shows us the human experience does not start with original sin, but original innocence…It is the overarching structure of the world within society, culture, secular institutions and religious affiliations, that pulls us all into a false sense of who we are―that deceives us (exemplified in the story of Adam) to give up our original innocence; it makes us reject our true humanity, and embrace a man-made version of who are expect to be, what we are expected to be like, and how we are expected to think about ourselves, God, and others. – Mick Mooney

Contrary to pop-Christian beliefs, there is nothing wrong with the human condition. The story of humankind’s relationship to and with God begins (Book of Genesis) by telling us that we are born out of the image, likeness and being of God. God’s being is the ground of our being. The image and likeness of God is the underlying, unchanging, and fundamental essence of who we are. At the core level of our being we are one with God. Can God be damaged, diminished, or corrupted? Can God be made better or improved upon? Of course not! And so it is also with each of us as sons and daughters of God…Jesus unmasked the false notion that our humanity separates us from God by demonstrating that the two can be one. – Jim Palmer

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