“For every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Many of us know this as Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion. The premise being that if object A exerts a force on object B, object B also exerts an equal and opposite force on object A. In other words, forces result from interactions.
Let’s give an even more practical example, let’s say you or I are driving down the road, and we are minding our own business, we are at peace, we are at rest, maybe we are even listening to music that Jesus would be proud of, but then we get cut off, or maybe someone honks their horn and gives you the gift of the middle finger. We, being object A, have just been interfered with by object B, the other driver.
According to Newton’s law, Object A then has to take recourse in response to the force given by Object B. So then we in turn _, what do we do in this situation? I know, I know, this isn’t the exact situation Newton was describing when he was hypothesizing this law, but it does give us a premise to wrap our minds around. If we are made in the image of God, and fearfully and wonderfully made, then there is an inherent belief that God is for us. That doesn’t necessarily mean that everything we do, how we act, what we believe or say, is ok, but it does mean that when we line up to God’s design for us and walk in obedience towards him, there is nothing that can truly stop us.
I John 3:21-24
21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and
whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do
what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his
Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever
keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he
abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
That being said, we do have outside forces that try to impede on this confidence, this obedience to God and his design for us. If we are Object A, then this outside force trying to rob us of who we are, is Object B. But here is the working premise for today’s message: Even when we have outside forces attacking us, we have the right, and the God-given authority, to respond accordingly. Let’s say it like this, “EVIL OPPOSES US, BUT GOD EMPOWERS US” To better understand this notion, let’s dive into scripture and go almost to the beginning of the Bible. Let’s start in Genesis chapter 3, and we’re going to go right to Object B, the evil force, attacking Object A, the first of God’s human creation.
Side note: We do recognize that many of us don’t necessarily agree on how the world came into existence, but for the sake of this particular conversation I’m going to ask us all to lay down our preferences for the sake of understanding a deeper truth. To better help us do this, if you’ve heard the story of Adam and Eve a 1,000 times, for today is your first time, let’s all approach this text as though we are seeing and reading it as our inaugural introduction to the story.
I think this resource will help us to do so:
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,[b] 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.
Up front, I’m going to tell you how we are attacked, as we learn through this passage, and then we’ll unpack how God empowers us to withstand these attacks. The enemy of your soul attacks with manipulation, doubt, and greed.
The enemy attacks with manipulation
“Did God really say…”
As we read about this interaction between the serpent and Eve, we see how a deceptive and crafty way with semantics begins to break down Eve’s trust with God. The snake throws out the erroneous notion that they cannot eat from any tree, and Eve clarifies by quoting God’s request of not eating from one of the trees. The interesting part of this is that the moment Eve begins to explain and say what she heard from God, is the moment she’s already initially deceived. The moment she knows that first off, a snake spoke to her, HELLO EVE, and second, it was not true, the end of the conversation needs to happen.
In 1 Thessalonians 5, there’s a charge given to the church with a list of things to do and not do,
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is
God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
So if the scheme of our attacker is to manipulate, then we are empowered by God to
Hold on to what is Good and REJECT EVERY kind of evil
The enemy sows a seed of doubt.
“Does God really want what’s best for you?”
Another way to put the lie- “God is withholding good” Or, “God is a buzzkill” when He had actually given them everything in the garden to eat and enjoy, but ONE tree- and the law was for their protection.
Satan is tempting Eve to question God’s character in this- God isn’t the good God you think He is, He’s trying to keep you from something better. The reality is, they would have come to know good and evil, but it would have been in God’s way rather than their own. When our attacker gives us seeds of doubt, we are empowered to respond with confidence.
…being confident of this (our partnership with God), that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
With that confidence we turn off the reports from the television, we stop the scrolling of our social media feeds, we turn off the notifications of our friends, and we go to scripture that speaks to the truth to us.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” James 1:17
The enemy attacks with greed
“He knows your eyes will be opened and you will be like God”
The irony is we were created in the image of God so we were already like God! The tragedy here is that we were made to rule the earth with God- to have dominion over the creation. At the fall, this was reversed. Instead of humanity ruling over the creation, the creation rules over us. We allow the creation to define us, rather than our Creator.
See Romans 1. There’s something broken in us that wants more than what God has for us which is actually more than we could ever imagine. This snake figure is no different, Ezekiel 28 alludes to the fact that although he was in God’s inner circle he still wanted more- Ezekiel 28:14-17
The enemy attacks us with half truths.
■ There are both sins of commission and sins of omission that keep us from moving forward.
■ Good gifts from God can become our gods. God may call you to get married, to have children, to start a company, or to serve. That role is not your God-given identity. You are created in God’s image and when you follow Jesus, your identity is in Christ.