Ravi Zacharias, this century’s indisputable leading Christian apologist, said in a video recently that the greatest lie mankind believes today is that unbridled pleasure is the means to the greatest happiness. As I listened to him, I realized that believing lies (particularly that lie) produces the world’s most rabidly anti-Christian beliefs.
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Why is that?
Let’s back up a minute and see why people so eagerly believe this particular lie.
Zacharias told the story of a journalist asking Tiger Woods during the time of his great discretion, “How could you lie to so many people for so long?” Putting aside the obvious irony here, Woods’ answer was eye opening. He said, “Because I lied to myself first.”
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If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any amount of time, you know that my go-to solution to most problems is allowing Christ to shine His light on them. Exposing anything to His light will accomplish one of three things. It cleanses, or heals, or dissolves. Anything from the enemy dissolves when exposed to His light, exactly like when you turn on a light in a dark room. Suddenly what seemed true in the dark is shown for what it truly is in the light.
We often tell ourselves lies. It’s not always the enemy’s thoughts we’re listening to so much as it is our aligning our own thoughts with his.
Eden (as in the garden of Eden) means pleasure, and God placed Adam and Eve there. Didn’t they have unbridled pleasure? Didn’t God want them to be happy?
Let’s look more closely at that idea.
In the beginning, Adam and Eve had perfect pleasure. They had perfect, immortal bodies, they had each other, they had a pristine universe, and they had God’s fellowship. But their pleasure had limits. They could enjoy the bounty of their perfect lives so long as they did not do one thing: eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So why weren’t they happy with what they had?
Enter the serpent.
That wily snake knew something Eve didn’t know. He knew that disobeying God in this single command would bring down the whole of humanity, even those not yet born. But that’s not what he told the woman. Oh, no! He said that eating the forbidden fruit would give her unbridled pleasure. The serpent said that she would be just like God, implying that God was holding something back from her.
Debate abounds on whether or not Adam knew better and chose the approval of Eve over the approval of God. I tend to think that is so. He stood by and did nothing when she listened to the serpent, yet the Bible tells us in unequivocal terms that he was not deceived (1 Timothy 2:13).
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Genesis 3:6 tells us the story: So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”
Since he wasn’t deceived, we can’t blame the devil for Adam’s sin. Notice that it was HIS sin that brought humanity to its knees. And that’s where we need to stay, figuratively speaking, on our knees before our Great God.
Eve, on the other hand, thought the snake was telling her the truth. It sounded like it could be true. It certainly looked like it could be true. And she was sure it would taste as wonderful as it looked. That’s what gets us, every time we align our thoughts with the devil’s suggestions. We look for the bits of truth in his lies and ignore the flaming red flags trying to get our attention.
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Eve’s sin was the exact same sin as Adam’s. She willfully chose to disobey God. Her being deceived by Satan does NOT in any way mitigate her sin before God. She knew that He had said they were not to eat of the fruit from that tree, but she aligned her thoughts with the devil’s because she liked his outcome better than God’s. Her Maker had said that in the day that they ate of that fruit, they would surely die (Genesis 2:17). Trying to make Eve less culpable because she wasn’t there when God told Adam not to eat of it is not an excuse. Either God told her or Adam did, because she told the snake. She knew the rules.
Adam and Eve both sinned equally by disobeying God. Even if Eve didn’t know why she shouldn’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she did know God had said not to. That should have been enough.
But the devil came in with a “mixed truth” statement. He told her that when she ate of the fruit, that “your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” That much is true. But he also said she would not die, and that was a blatant lie.
Satan always holds out on the entire truth. He didn’t tell her that the good and evil she would know would condemn her, just as God had said it would.
So she aligned her thoughts with the serpent’s, and then she acted upon them. And things went downhill from there.
Eve was under the impression that embracing the serpent’s “version of the truth” would make her happy. It would give her complete fulfillment and ultimate pleasure. In this case, aligning her thoughts with the enemy’s was devastating, not only to her and her husband, but because all of their future children would bow down to Satan’s hand.
So, as to the question “Doesn’t God want me to be happy?”
The answer is a resounding yes! He wants you to be ridiculously happy and filled to overflowing in joy. But true, everlasting happiness doesn’t come through getting our own way. We need God’s way.
To wrap it up, let’s look at 2 more things.
First, Satan wants you to believe his lies so you will never be happy. He wants to destroy you body, soul, and mind.
Second, the Dictionary of Bible Themes defines happiness as “a state of pleasure or joy experienced both by people and by God.” He wants you to experience His happiness and joy and He has given you an eternity to enjoy it with Him.
Even if you have to drag them kicking and screaming into the light of God’s presence, submit your thoughts to the purifying Light and let it cleanse you, heal you, and make you happy. Only in His presence is there fulness of joy!
“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)