Do you ever think about how much time might have passed between Bible verses? Sometimes the authors were kind enough to let us know, but we aren’t always given that luxury. History can lend us a hand with some verses, but not always. When reading the Bible, I have to constantly remind myself to take time into account—just because two verses are right next to each other, doesn’t mean one happened immediately after the preceding verse. It’s possible that there is a gap in time between some of the stories.
Genesis 1 and 2 are absolutely incredible reads! We see the immense creativity and glory of God displayed within these chapters. Reading through those verses always gets me excited and leaves me in awe of God’s amazing character. And I think the story of the fall of humankind is equally fascinating.
In Genesis 2:16, God tells Adam that he can eat from every tree in the garden, but he couldn’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Can we just take a moment to appreciate how specific God’s rule was? Talk about setting up a clear boundary!
We just don’t know how much time passed between this declaration of God’s boundary and Eve’s temptation.
I have always found it interesting that Adam and Eve hung out around this forbidden tree. Just think about this for a moment. If you had a giant garden of paradise to play in and explore, why would you set up camp near the one tree that you couldn’t eat from? If I didn’t have a sinful, fallen nature, I would’ve picked up camp and built my life on the other side of the garden, as far away from that temptation as I could. Or at least that’s what I hope I would do.
Reading through this story again, I can’t help but wonder if Mr. and Mrs. Adam started out that way. What if they set up camp elsewhere, but over time they lost their vigilance. Maybe they gave in little by little. Maybe they compromised and scooched themselves over toward the tree a tiny bit every day.
What if Adam and Eve weren’t ruthless in killing the idolatry that was starting to fester in their hearts?
I am so incredibly susceptible to the sin of idolatry; it often pops up in my life in unexpected ways. It’s so easy for me to ditch vigilance in favor of choosing the path of least resistance. I can compromise, again and again, allowing my love for God to be dampened and even overtaken by something that has been created.
“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Romans 1:25 (ESV)
Adam and Eve exchanged truth about God for a lie—isn’t that exactly what idolatry is? Where we serve and worship something that was created instead of the Creator himself?
Idolatry doesn’t always look like worshiping the golden calf like we see in the book of Exodus. My guess is that the Israelites’ love for God began to be overtaken far earlier than that—the golden calf was a symptom of the roots of idolatry already growing in their hearts. Just like Adam eating the forbidden fruit likely started with the alluring lies and whispers of idolatry long before.
As I pray about this particular sin, I just keep hearing the words “vigilance” and “ruthless.” We are called to be a people who vigilantly guard our hearts and ruthlessly kill the idolatry within us. Thankfully, we can’t do this by our own strength—but it’s the love of God that fuels this desire within us. When we know God and seek him, it can be a joy to forsake those things that aren’t of him. It is that beautiful dance of sanctification that God invites us into as he restores, heals, and frees us.
May we be a church that is vigilant and ruthless in uprooting the sprigs of idolatry in our lives.
How can you be vigilant in monitoring the state of your heart?
Do you think complacency and idolatry go together?
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