So much in one small verse. He is our dwelling place.
What is your house to you? Surely it's protection, warmth, provision. It's where you eat, sleep, commune with your family; it's where you relax. It's where you conduct a considerable amount of your day's work. It's your storehouse, where you keep everything you need tightly under lock and key. It's where you keep everything from your daily bread to your most treasured possessions.
It's where you raise your children. It's where you share intimacies with your spouse. It's where you experience your greatest heartaches and your most profound joys.
Is this who God is to me? Have I made Him my dwelling place, or have I turned Him into a spare room that I drop in on from time to time?
Much ink has been spilled on the first sin; but whatever else it is, it's a lack of faith on the part of our Edenic parents.
Adam and Eve have the run of creation. They have the blessed calling of our Lord to subdue creation and make it their own, to their hearts' content. They have frequent and constant communion with the Lord of all creation; they lack nothing. And yet, the one minor sacrifice that He asks of them, they cannot do. Why?
The serpent persuades them to abandon their trust in God; he persuades them to abandon their faith. "God's not being honest or forthright with you at all!" he says, "He's holding out on you. If you trust His command, you'll miss out".
Has anything changed to this day? Isn't all sin, when it comes right down to it, a lack of faith? What is greed but a lack of trust in God's provision, sexual immorality but a lack of faith in His design? What is selfishness but a rejection of our created purpose, a willing decision to go our own way?
One ought not be too hard on Adam and Eve. What is their sin but ours? As gladiators spill real blood to recreate gruesome war - murder and depravity to celebrate murder and depravity - so we recreate that infamous day in the garden, over and over again, by our lack of faith.
Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.
- 2 Peter 3:17
Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?
- Acts 15:10
In one place in the New Testament, Peter condemns the lawless. In another, he rebukes his brothers for trying to yoke gentile believers with a law that his own ancestors could not bear. What are we to make of this seeming incongruity?
Let's be careful not to get tied up in a fruitless debate on the mechanics of salvation. We know that we're saved through Christ's redeeming work on the cross, through no effort of our own (Ephesians 2:8-9). We also know that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Since we trust the bible not to contradict itself, we must conclude that salvation is God's work, but obedience is ours; and a faith that does not lend itself to obedience must be questioned, tested, and brought before our Lord.
Obedience to what? Obedience to the clear teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If I find myself in a place where the seed has been sown and no good fruit has been produced, what might I conclude except that I'm not good soil? And if I'm not good soil, what choice do I have but to throw myself on the mercy of the cross and plead "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me!" (Psalm 51:10).
Colin McComb lives in Edson, Alberta with his wife, Gail, and their three lovely children.