Posted in adam, encouragement, Eve, garden of eden, genesis 3

The Sin of Discontent

Everything was perfect. The Garden was perfect. The two humans were perfect. The animals were perfect. God declared His creation “very good”. The humans’ relationship with God was perfect.

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We do not know how long Adam and Eve were in the garden but no matter how long it was, there was absolutely nothing to be discontent about. Adam and Eve had full run of the Garden, the animals were submissive, they had plenty to eat, they were neither hot or cold.

When did Eve become discontent? John MacArthur said in his sermon “The Fall of Man,”

“She falls rather innocently into the conversation and the solicitor’s strategy is progressively deceptive. It begins with what appears as this very innocuous question by just this interested observer. Here’s just an animal in the garden like a lot of other animals and this animal comes up and says, “Indeed, has God said you shall not eat from any tree of the garden?” This is the first question, by the way, in the Bible. Before this there were only answers. There weren’t any dilemmas because there was nobody to introduce a dilemma. And the question is designed to start Eve on a path, a path of questioning God, a path that leads from questioning God to doubting God, to distrusting God to disobeying God. It’s a very clever plan and it’s the essence of all sin. All sin follows the same pattern. You have a right to question God, you have a right to doubt God, you have a right to distrust God that leads to disobedience.”

Along came satan, and here we find the first question in the bible. “Hath God said?” by that question released into the world…and it is this deadly force, the assumption that what God said is subject to our judgment.”

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Once that assumption that we have the right to judge what God hath said, and Eve entertained it, it turned Eve’s mind in a new direction. With every human afterwards, in sinful flesh, born into a cursed world, we make room for discontent. We must cling to God in order to squeeze out the disgruntledness we tend to feel. Abel was content, and he was close to God. How do I know? Abel sacrificed rightly. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice. Cain was not close to God and he offered a wrong sacrifice that God did not accept. His discontent was expressed in his incorrect sacrifice.

With Eve and Adam though, what was there to be discontent about? Nothing. So how does a person go from complete contentment to utter sin in just a few moments? Drift from God’s word, that’s how.

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The Hebrew word for pleasant in verse 3 is ‘avah’, or ‘taavah’ and it means “exceedingly, greedily, lusting.” There is a parallel event in the bible that talks about lust of this kind. The parallel is in Numbers 11:34, 35; 33:16. The place is named Kibroth-Hattaavah. It translates to “the graves of lust.” The graves of lust, one of the encampments of Israel in the wilderness, where the wandering Israelites desired to eat flesh for their sustenance, declaring they were tired of manna. God became angry, and He sent quails in great quantities; but while the meat was in their mouths, God smote so great a number of them. So many were killed, that the place was called “the graves of those who lusted.” Sin always leads to death.

Psalm 78:30-31, a series of verses to warn mankind against the sin of discontent, also records the historical incident and presents the warning in its title “Tell the Coming Generation”:

he rained meat on them like dust,
winged birds like the sand of the seas;
he let them fall in the midst of their camp,
all around their dwellings.
And they ate and were well filled,
for he gave them what they craved.
But before they had satisfied their craving,
while the food was still in their mouths,
the anger of God rose against them,
and he killed the strongest of them
and laid low the young men of Israel.

What was it that the coming generation needed to know? Do not be discontent with what God has provided. Trust His word, His promises, and do not look elsewhere to satisfy any earthly craving.

1 Corinthians 10:5-6 repeats the warning. The heading to this set of verses in the New Testament is “Warnings from Israel’s Past”-

Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.

Desiring something different than what God promised or is already delivering is evil. It is rebellion against Him. It is the sin of discontent. Discontent will bring us to “the graves of lust”.

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The evil that Eve did was exactly that- discontent. She didn’t want this fruit, she wanted THAT fruit.

The Israelites didn’t want this manna, they wanted THAT quail.

Paul taught us to be content no matter what, with whatever the Lord is doing in our lives.

for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12b-13)

Jesus Himself is the source for all the strength we need to persevere, to resist sin, to rejoice, to be content.

From whence does the sin of discontent arise? It arose in Eve the moment she separated from God’s word. Eve had a relationship with God, we presume. We know she had a relationship with His word. She repeated His word to the serpent. She was fine with standing on His word until the serpent came along.

So it is the serpent’s fault? No, he was just a vehicle. The sin in Eve began the moment she failed to adhere to God’s word, and in that little sliver of separation, the serpent got in and widened and widened it and widened it, until the sin inside her was manifested in the action she took, bringing on the Fall.

Eve had a moral choice, she could have said-

“Who are you and where do you come from?”
“Adam, what is this serpent really saying?”
“Yes, God said that, now please leave me in peace.”
“[Falling to her knees in prayer] God- help! I need to understand and the best Person to help me understand You is You!”

Eve did none of those. And her discontent grew with each subtle and crafty comment of the serpent.

Ultimately, what happened? Eve and Adam went down to the graves of lust.

We are commanded not to covet. Coveting is a sin. Why should we covet? We have no reason to!

If you then, who are 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, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17).

What He gave Adam and Eve was good and perfect. What He gives us is good and perfect. Why not be content with that?

Just remember, satan was successful in instilling discontent into Eve by separating her from God’s word. Learn to be content in whatever circumstance you find yourself in by reveling in His revelation of Him self to us. Whatever circumstance you find yourselves in, (even in persecution – Paul was writing from jail) know He is working, (John 5:17) and know that this work He is doing is for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28).

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Posted in discernment, false doctrine, genesis 3, satan

Discerning The Circle Maker’s advertising techniques and how they match Genesis 3

Just two days ago, I published a piece about the book, The Circle Maker, written by Mark Batterson and released in 2012. I’d left the issue alone until then, choosing not to do a book review or a discernment essay on it because it seemed so obvious that this was something Christians should not be involved in. But at the end of 2012 it became clear that Batterson’s concept of casting a circle to claim God’s promises to unleash our dreams was saturating even the most stalwart bastions of the faith, when the organizers and participant of the True Woman conference including Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Joni Earicksen Tada, promoted it. These are elder woman who should be leading us women into a deeper faith, not into occult and pagan practices that originate from outside the bible. I was pretty shocked.

Many other fine essays exist on the internet that show you in biblical terms why Batterson’s circle making is unwise and even dangerous, including a review by pastor and Christian book reviewer Tim Challies. In the piece I linked to above, there is a set of links at the bottom to some of those writings.

So I developed a piece from an angle that demonstrated in pictures that the practice Batterson promotes is not new and it is not Christian.

However I’d like to write about it one more time, this time as a discernment piece to unpack the way he presented it. Something that Mr Batterson said sticks in my craw, and though I’d planned a piece today examining an uplifting verse from Matthew, I am switching to get this down first. It’s like what Jude said,

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3)

I am contending. Hopefully this will help someone be discerning, not just of The Circle Maker but in general and armed for the future by unpacking the techniques used to attract people to the book and its premise, and how they are the same that satan used in the Garden against Eve.

See, in his promotional video and in the book’s advertising blurb, Mr Batterson said:

“Do you ever sense that there’s far more to prayer, and to God’s vision for your life, than what you’re experiencing?”

This is how successful advertisers always begin their pitch.

It is how satan began his pitch. He approached Eve and made her doubt what she knew, so she would be open to hearing a solution to a problem she didn’t know she had.

“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’?” (Genesis 3:1)

Then satan, taking a cue from Ron Popeil, said, ‘but wait, there’s more!’ And satan presented to her a solution to her problem she didn’t know she even had until satan pointed it out.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)

Eve wanted to fill the lack that she now understands she has in her life,

“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”, (Genesis 3:6a)

And like all false doctrine, it spreads quickly, corrupting others right away.

“and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6b)

So there was Eve, the only sinless woman to ever live and she dwelled in utter perfection. The air temperature was perfect. Her surroundings were beautiful. Her body was perfect inside and out. The animals were perfect. She was never hungry or cold or angry or had any ache whatsoever. She had perfect harmony with her husband and perfect unity with God.

And yet satan was able to convince Eve that somewhere out there, there’s more. He told her that her life lacked something, and she believed it. Taking the fruit, she ate, rationalizing all the way. Now read Mr Batterson’s pitch again:

“Do you ever sense that there’s far more to prayer, and to God’s vision for your life, than what you’re experiencing?”

I mourn daily that so many Christians forgo the praise that is due the Lord and forget how glorious a life we are actually living. Though we do not dwell in perfection like Eve did, we have perfection inside us.

First, let’s stop a moment and thing of how full our lives really are. We have been saved by grace. This is monumental! As Dr MacArthur preached, we should be “adoring God for our eternal inheritance.” When did we become discontent with the universe’s most glorious act, the salvation of a sinner to the holy breast of God!?

But wait, there’s more! God dwells inside us!! Wow! What a gift!

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (Romans 8:9)

Jesus Himself deemed that He would send us a comforter, teacher, friend, and guide. Jesus said,

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”… (John 16:7). “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26).

But wait, there’s more! If all that wasn’t enough, we have the opportunity to pray to Him, and He listens. Have we become inured to the fact that God is God, He who calls Himself I AM, will listen to our petitions and pleas? Far from being disinterested or inattentive, Jesus is monumentally interested in bringing about Good for our sakes. He didn’t save us just to wander off and sit on another planet contemplating His navel. He is involved with His people. He accepts praise and worship, and He ordains good for us. He listens to our prayers!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26).

But wait, there’s more!

Jesus sent the Spirit to inspire men to write His words down, so that we could always have its wisdom and comfort to guide us also. The Spirit makes the words come alive and since they are eternal and come from the holy place, the words in the bible are eternally good.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16).

There is so much more, too. We are justified, sanctified, have the privilege of prayer, have the incredible word, have the daily opportunity to serve Jesus, have treasures stored up in heaven, have an eternity awaiting us in glory…and yet satan comes along and says-

“Do you ever sense that there’s far more to prayer, and to God’s vision for your life, than what you’re experiencing?”

My answer is no. No, I don’t sense there is far more to prayer. I trust that there is and I trust the Lord to take care of things whether I “sense” it or not. No, I do not sense there is far more to God’s vision for my life, I know there is. I trust Him to unfold it in His timing and in His way. No, I do not sense there are more experiences to have, I know that there are. I trust the Lord to bring me along in sanctification whether I ‘feel’ it or not. I trust the promises in the bible about what my daily life will be like.

I trust what God hath said.

I get sad when adults are so undiscerning. I get upset undiscerning adults taint the children.

Jesus is very protective of the children. They are the means by which the successive generations carry the faith. (Joel 1:3).

“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:2)

“but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

And yet on August 6, 2013, The Circle Maker for Kids will be released. An undiscerning generation will be teaching the next generation to rely on sensing, personal experience, and wiccan circle casting for their worship.

Within two years of the original book’s release, do you see how quickly we have been made merchandise of? For kids, for students, the daily journal, the curriculum, prayer challenge, it goes on and on.

Do you see the original book’s cover in hardback, ‘the solution to 10,000 problems”? Did you know there were 10,000 problems that Mark Batterson can help you solve? I thought the bible was the solution to 10,000 problems!

A classic advertising technique- you have a problem, and here is the solution. My prophet’s heart cries out, why, o why, aren’t the bible’s solutions good enough for people?

The blurb says “The Circle Maker will help you bring your God-given dreams into being through tenacious prayers that honor God and make the impossible come true.”

Youyour my prayers will make my dreams come true…let’s cut the middle part from the sentence and just say what is really his truth: “The Circle Maker will … make the impossible come true.”

It is God who answers prayer a God who does the impossible. Not my prayers, not my faith in my prayers not my method of prayer, and not my tenacity.

Jesus, please come soon and save the children from this ruinous generation!

Below I’ve pasted “Efficient Advertising Techniques“. Be aware when you are being sold a bill of goods and being made merchandise out of. It begins with a question, and intimating you have a problem you didn’t know you had.

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“Advertising techniques can be of many kinds. All creative advertisers use some of the following techniques and tricks to grab the potential consumer’s attention and turn it to sales.”

Arouse Curiosity
“Nothing works better than this technique. Humans, by nature are always drawn towards the unknown, or in this case something new and advanced. Arousing curiosity with words, prints, images or visuals will definitely make an impact. On an average, an individual spends less than 5 seconds to go through an entire ad. If your subject does not arouse curiosity immediately, it is a lost opportunity. A well-crafted ad should be eye-catching, and difficult to ignore.”

“Do you ever sense that there’s far more to prayer?”

Hath God really said?

Promise a Benefit
“Most brands are associated with some pre-defined character, and they need to be re-emphasized with every new service advertised. The headline must promise a benefit for the consumer, because in most instances it is the headline that sells the product more than the copy, images or the celebrity. Advertisements should also carry general information about the service center address, phone numbers, credit cards that the business accepts, and the name of a person to ask for when calling for more information.”

In this powerful booklet, excerpted from THE CIRCLE MAKER, Batterson helps you uncover your heart’s deepest desires and God-given dreams and unleash them through the kind of audacious prayer that God delights to answer.”

Emotional Appeal
“Many advertisers attract attention by pulling at the heart stings and triggering emotions. An emotional response is by far the most powerful reason for making decisions. Emotional and rational thoughts are interdependent, as the ability to decide rationally is determined by issues that drive the emotions. We get more attracted to products and services that make us feel good and safe. The concept of emotional appeal are best seen in insurance ads made world over, and also companies that associate their sales with social upliftment causes.”

How big is your God? Bigger than a positive MRI or a negative evaluation? Bigger than your secret sin or secret dream? Is He big enough to heal your marriage or your child?

Children
“In most houses, children have a say in every big or small purchase made. Most parents just give in to the tantrums, a fact well-known to the advertisers. Out of ten commercials one sees through any medium, 8 have children featured in them who are generally a little more perfect than the target audience. These perfect children then go on to become role-models that have to emulated by other children.”

The Circle Maker for Kids: Basing this story on his adult bestseller The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson shares the ancient Jewish legend of Honi the Rainmaker with children to teach them about the power of prayer. Ages 4-8.