Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened,and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
No Independence for You!
I was raised in a family where everyone was encouraged to be independent. With sun streaming in Aunty Jackie and Uncle Den’s picture window, we talked with a view of ships setting sail from Plymouth Sound to various destinations around the world. My cousin Tim left for Bath University at 18 and graduated in mechanical engineering. Not satisfied to work domestically on British Rail, he worked for the Egyptian and Ethiopian railways. His sister, Sally, went to live in Hong Kong and set up textile lines for famous fashion houses in China. I went to Japan and Pakistan and taught in schools. I first lived in Gujranwala for a year when I was 18. I was only back in England long enough to get my degree, but soon I was being independent again and flying far from home.
As parents we want our children to grow up and be independent of us. We wrestle with teenagers who want freedom from the rules of home at the same time as expecting the use of the family car and a well-stocked fridge. However, at age 18 we classify the children as adults and if they haven’t left the fold by age twenty we start having ‘failure-to-launch’ conversations. However, in this life, the desire is not to be free from EVERYTHING. The freedom we seek in this life is never actually freedom to do ANYTHING. Our freedom is always limited. We are never truly independent. Those who are most independent of others are the most isolated.
It is the myth of self-determination and the illusion of independence that leads mankind astray. Of course, we should be self-starters and we should not be codependent. But God is not like our earthly parents. He does not raise us to be less dependent and finally leave him. He raises us to be more aware of who he is and more consciously dependent upon him. We are dependent on him for air, water, food and clothing. Independence from God means death. We are also dependent on him for emotional well-being, laws for a healthy society, and the salvation that he provides in his Son. Independence from God in these ways is equally lethal. Dependence on God actually brings life, liberty, and the pursuit of godliness. Independence from God brings a false dependence on humanity, self, and lies. We are never independent. The real choice is, what will bring us most freedom?
In the Garden, the delusion of the serpent is that God has limited freedom. The grass is greener when I choose to wander where I will. The pastures are better beyond the horizons of home. The only part of my boundaries that I am truly grateful for is the exit door. We leave God. We leave marriages. We leave friendships. We leave countries. We leave neighbourhoods. Our belief is that we will find hope elsewhere. Our belief is that we will find the freedom that the serpent has promised. Then we sit in silence in the darkness of our own depravity. We blame others. We blame God. We become angry, depressed and anxious as we journey East of Eden. However, wherever we go we take our own heart with us – a heart that is broken.
May I accept that independence is not the goal. May I accept that my life was given to me to be dependent upon You. May I find freedom where I am rather than believe the myth that freedom is always elsewhere. May I choose you over myself. Please silence the serpent.
- What is the accuser/adversary asking in the passage?
- What is Eve’s reply?
- What is Adam’s role?
- How do your adversaries (spiritual and physical) oppose your dependence on God and his people?
- How do you combat the myth of total freedom and independence?