Is Satan involved to influence people to resist God’s way of forgiveness? Let’s look at the question right from the beginning of Biblical history. When Adam and Eve sinned, God clothed them with animal skins. With that God demonstrated His way of forgiveness,
‘…and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.’ Hebrews 9:22b
God never deviated from it. How would people react to it? We have the examples of Cain and Abel.
Abel sacrificed according to God’s way,
‘…Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.’ Genesis 4:3
Cain sacrificed contrary to God’s way – a bloodless offering,
‘In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.’ Genesis 4:3
‘The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favour.’ Genesis 4:4b-5a
The question is, does the devil influence people to disobey God’s word? The answer is, yes,
‘Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.’ 1 John 3:12a
Since then, humanity has been divided in two groups:
- Those who, like Abel, follow God.
- Those who, like Cain, follow Satan.
The word ‘suicide’ does not recall pleasant memories for most because it is so final. The dead person cannot come back to life. Does it work like that with ‘spiritual suicide?’
# The example of Adam
- God gave Adam a command not to eat from the fruit of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil. Both he and his wife ate. The result was banishment from the Garden of Eden.
- The Garden was the place where God met with them. 1 There they had a relationship with Him. So that was broken. They committed spiritual suicide when they broke off their relationship with God.
# What God did
- Did He just leave them outside and let them suffer and struggle till they died? Not a chance. Before He expelled them, He clothed them with animals skins. The animals skins means God killed innocent animals. ‘…it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.’ 2 That points to the innocent Son of God, Jesus, who died in our place to pay for our sins.
- God overturned their spiritual suicide and gave them a second chance. We see that they took the lesson to heart because their sons, Abel and Cain, both sacrificed. Abel did it the right way because he sacrificed ‘fat portions of some of the firstborn of his flock.’ The result was that ‘The Lord looked with favour on Abel….’ 3
# Away from God’s presence
- We do it at times. When we sin we feel we just want to get out of God’s sight, like Cain. Genesis 4:16 says, ‘So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.’
- Note that in Bible language, ‘moving eastward’ gives the idea that they moved away from God’s presence. Genesis 11:1-2 repeats, ‘As men moved eastward…’
# The miracle of grace
- We err, but God forgives. It is remarkable that even before creation, God, in His omniscience, knew what would happen to Adam and Eve that would affect all their descendants.
- Peter was warned, yet betrayed Jesus three times. He committed spiritual suicide. Yet Jesus came to him and restored him. Surely these wonderful words apply to Peter and to us, ‘This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time….’ 4
In Christ, we can ask forgiveness again and again. He is always willing to forgive when we repent. So while physical suicide cannot be overturned, in Jesus, the ‘dead’ can come back to life in the Lord. How marvellous, brilliant and merciful is the God we serve!
- Genesis 3:8
- Leviticus 17:11
- Genesis 4:4
- 2 Timothy 1:9b
Many churches and individual Christians shy away from Genesis 1. They either claim it is not an important issue, because it is a divisive element in the Church, or they believe that it is not possible that God could be the Creator (or whatever).
# What happens when one denies God as the Creator?
- The foundation of faith for forgiveness is wiped out. The most important aspect of the Christian faith is forgiveness for one’s sins by Jesus Christ, the Messiah. But, the right to forgive is linked to creation.
# The Forgiveness creation link.
- Jesus demonstrated this connection between Creator and Saviour when they brought the paralysed man to Him. He said to him, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ The teachers of the law thought by themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ (Note: only God can forgive sins.)
- Jesus immediately knew what they were thinking, and said, “Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, …He said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’” What Jesus did was to prove that as Creator (the paralysed man was healed), He can be the Saviour (forgive sins). The logical question is where did He get the right to forgive sins?
# God and Jesus have the right to
- Define what sin is;
- Announce the penalty for sin, namely death;
- Present a remedy, namely the exchange of an innocent animal’s blood for the guilty;
- To find in Jesus’ death on the Cross a permanent Sacrifice, the Lamb of God.
# Why do they have the right to define sin and forgive?
- God created the heavens and the earth. Therefore He is the Possessor of heaven and earth.
- God as rightful Owner of this creation has the right to decree what offends Him. It is just like the leader of a country who decrees the laws for the citizens.
- God also has the right to declare what the punishment is when people break His laws. (Remember Jesus is also the Creator according to John 1:3, Hebrews 1:2, Colossians 1:16.)
# God, the Owner, decreed forgiveness.
- His own Son, Jesus, paid the penalty of sin on the Cross. Jesus gives new birth and eternal life through His resurrection. He opens the way to heaven through His ascension.
- God is able to save humanity out from under the yoke of the evil one, because He as Creator and Owner can decree salvation for those who want it.
One cannot spread the message of forgiveness of sins by Jesus, but deny creation by God. That is one of the reasons many reject the Christian message. They realise that without God the Creator, there can be no God the Forgiver. No Jesus the Creator, no Jesus the Redeemer.
1. Mark 2:4-12