One of the more tragic developments within the Christian world is the gradual depreciation of Salvation. A single soul won is worth the praise of armies of angels, yet in many places, the value of a person’s salvation has been marginalized in favor of denominational members.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Through the effort to draw mere numbers at an altar call, the celebration of salvation and the appreciation for how it is accomplished in an individual’s life is often lost in the shuffle of religious repetition. As a result, many who believe they have been saved have either a shallow understanding of their newly discovered faith or no real conversion at all. Salvation that doesn’t last or is not authentic has never been the plan of God. Therefore, God places immense value in the process.
There are no better teachers than time and experience to instill value and build integrity within us, and the Lord applies them regularly. But as usual, Satan works to to short-circuit God’s plans within our lives by causing us to abort our growth and development. Trials and tribulation are par for the course in the live of any child of God. Though it may not be obvious, initially, the great work that patience ultimately produces in us is an unshakeable gratitude for the value of salvation and our Savior.
If you want a lesson in good parenting, observe how our heavenly Father handles us as His children. As with anything He does, His punishments have purpose, and His discipline is determined by what He hopes to produce in us.
5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Without a doubt, the thing the Lord aims to produce are righteous vessels who eternally bear His image, but such a thing doesn’t come easily. And by definition, bearing His image must include some level of freedom to make choices and experience the consequences of those choices, and that is precisely what God created in Eden. But the freedom to worship became the worship of freedom.
Freedom to worship has become the worship of freedom.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
The freedom of religion often turns into freedom is religion. In other words, the liberty that makes love possible is the same liberty people abuse in order to may sin.
Throughout scripture liberties are given through grace and they are removed through curses, and the specific application of both, by God, reveal the virtues He values and provide insight into His plans and intentions for us. Genesis, of course, is the best place to observe how the Lord gives and takes away according to His desire to produce righteousness within us.
God grants Adam and Eve freedom in the garden:
15And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Adam Names the Animals
18And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 19And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.*
God punishes man for their disobedience
16Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. 20And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
The Lord’s curses and their purpose
- The first curse is pain in child birth. As Paul later reveals the wife or bride within a marriage symbolizes the bride and body of Christ. Therefore, the pain of conception is a physical mark in the body of a woman that mirrors the trials and tribulation humanity would have to endure before being birthed into their eternal purpose. (Romans 8:21-22)
21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
- The next curse is the submission of the wife to the husband. In Keeping with the wife as the symbol of the bride of Christ, this curse reflects the submissiveness that we must have with Jesus if we are to be united with Him.
- The next punishment is directed towards the man, and the ground He was commanded to work was cursed.
This curse is a little deeper but is still connected to the revelation of marriage. Because the ground or Earth where God planted man was now cursed, the ground which Adam worked would also be cursed. Thorns and thistles are produced in representation of sinners who would now sprout forth from the Lord’s garden.
- The next punishment is man’s return to dust.
This curse further explains that we are the earth in which God hopes to grow His righteous seed. Our flesh is the outer hull that houses our spirit. It must die in order for new life to spring forth.
- The final and most significant curse was an expulsion from paradise This final measure sums up the others. It is best described as the removal of perfect unity.
Whether it is the relationship between husband and wife, the relationships between men or our most important one with God, the removal perfect unity was the curse the Lord chose to pronounce upon man. Because we failed to appreciate what we had with the Father, it was removed that we might grow to be grateful for what we are made to go without. As God must endure contentious men, then so do we. The purpose of conflict in our lives is ultimately to teach us of the pain God feels when the humans He created betrayed Him. The removal of unity, in some way, is often God’s curse of choice because unity is His gift of choice.
The removal of unity, in some way, is often God’s curse of choice because unity is His gift of choice.
Unity is restricted, it is how we were made to function—as communal beings. In the next most significant sin of Cain’s murder of Abel, notice the curse of God is the same.
9And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? 10And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. 11And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; 12When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. 13And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. 15And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
You would think that death would be God’s punishment of choice for someone who killed his own brother. No, it was again, excommunication—the removal of unity and even the ability to unify with others. God even pre-cursed anyone who would save Cain from his punishment by killing him and even put a mark upon Cain so no man would.
Cain considered this punishment unbearable, and it represents one of the greatest fears that humans still have today—the fear of being alone and unloved. Curses of God are intentional and aimed at causing us to have a greater appreciation for what we abused. This is the great lesson of parenting; punishment is most effective when it is connected to offense.
Unity is also the most powerful attribute we have as humans. Ephesians 4:13 describes the goal of God for the body of Christ
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
The unity we once had in the garden and our access to the tree of life is what God desires to restore in our unity with one another in the fulness of Christ. Unity is immensely powerful, even enough to produce great results in other unions like the Tower of Babel.
1And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 4And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. 8So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
And just like that, disunity was once again God’s curse for man’s abuse of unity. Humanity’s inability to unify is a curse designed to cause us to search for unity in Jesus, alone. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and the crux of perfect unity’s restoration.
13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Circumventing the Curse
Our liberty and freedom have changed but they have always existed. When we abuse liberty, we are curse with disunity. When we appreciate unity, we are given grace to facilitate more unity. The curses of the garden are ultimately resolved through Jesus, but Satan is always prompting man to circumvent the Lord’s curses with solutions of His own. Before the process of time and experience brings us to the love and unity of Christ, Satan provokes us to avoid the purpose of God’s curses by delivering ourselves. Convenience becomes the enemy of perfection.
Convenience is the enemy of perfection.
The inventions and innovations of men are both testaments of our creative purpose and an instrument’s of Satan’s idolatry. Sinful humans work tirelessly to prove their ability to be self-sufficient and tend to celebrate their achievements as a sign of their ability to live independent from God. If you look closely enough, you will notice that human invention is focused around reversing the original curses of the garden and replacing the purpose of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Satan will do anything to keep us from getting to Jesus.
Look at abortion and the abuse of child birth, the abuse of marriage, the abuse of food production and the abuse of religion and you will see that efforts and consequences of man’s attempts to reverse the curses we received in the garden. Technological developments which aren’t necessarily sin still cause consequences because they are imperfect without Jesus. Epidurals, overly-processed foods, science and medicine all produce harmful side effects that serve as reminders that you can’t circumvent the curse of God. The longer we persist at working around the main objective of the Lord, the worse our collective condition will deteriorate without it. The great question is this:
What does the intensification of disunity say about where we are in God’s plan?
What Should We Do Moving Forward?
Overall, the Purpose of a Curse is to forcefully show us that we need God and His Son Jesus. It is not until we accept that purpose that we are able to escape the consequences of its absence. We must understand that Jesus was and is the only shield for the consequences of sin, not our own devices, and that is the meaning of Salvation; that is the purpose of our process.
By facing and admitting the consequences that we actually deserve for our sin, we begin to acknowledge that we need a Savior, as we could never survive the consequences of sin’s curse. This is the critical component often missing in today’s messages of salvation. People must recognize the error and ultimate destruction of any plan that doesn’t include Jesus. Without suffering, how can we really appreciate a Savior?
- How are you using your liberty?
- How are you handling your grace? What are we really saying when we spend considerably them on leisure activities than we do engaging our purpose?