- Religion and Philosophy
Lessons for today from the Old Testament - no 2: The fall of mankind
Playing the blame game
The question about the battle between good and evil is a theme that runs throughout literature in every age and in every society because it lies at the very essence of our quest of being human. Human behaviour is either good or bad and today’s newspaper is testimony to that fact. Every day we are faced with choices to make. Sometimes we choose the good or honorable way; sometimes our choices could be considered simply neutral (neither good nor bad); and then sometimes they are plainly either bad or even evil.
Where does this ability to choose, come from? Why do we, as humans, sometimes do the right thing and at other times mess up so badly? Why, if God created us, did he not simply make us good? What a wonderful world that would be; or would it? The next Chapters of Genesis tells us that God gives us freedom of choice with all its implications.
So as the story of Adam and Eve unfolds, the problem of choice comes to the fore. In the next powerful garden scene in Genesis, Satan, in the form of a serpent, approaches Adam and Eve with an alternative to doing what is right, namely to choose rather to do what is not good. God did not create us as humans to be like puppets on a string. This is not a story that is meant to be understood in the context of ancient history, but rather it is the story of our lives today.
Unlike animals we are not governed simply by instinct but by the knowledge of the difference between good and evil. So we can choose! Choose to hate or love; choose to help or refuse to help; choose to make the world a better place or choose to make it a worse place; choose to obey God or to disobey him; choose to just be or to make a difference. It is really as simple as that! That is the main difference between us and the rest of the animal world - the freedom, and with it the responsibility, to make the right choices. The Apostle Paul describes it in Romans as the ability that all humans have, to know what is right and what is wrong; “… since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts.” (Romans 2:15) So we have no excuse, because the knowledge between right and wrong is in fact, part of who we are.
When Adam and Eve had that choice they made the wrong decision and then blamed someone else. That is exactly what we still do today! We are after all, the children of our first parents, Adam and Eve. We are still adept at playing the blame game. As Eve blamed Satan, Adam blamed Eve and we blame anyone who we can find. “Satan made me do it!” comes the cry and if that is not the way we choose we look around for someone else to blame. Parents, friends, partners and anyone else we can think of, becomes the reason we messed up. Then like the guilty pair in the garden we also try to hide from the consequences of our sin and so try to hide from God - a rather futile exercise as Adam and Eve found! The result of their bad choice was to lose the relationship that they enjoyed with God. That is after all what sin does, “but your iniquities have separated you from your God.” (Isaiah 59:2)
Today the truth of human behaviour is based on the God given ability that we have to choose. As humans we unfortunately follow the example of our original parents in the garden. God however offers us another chance. The first prophecy about Jesus occurs in this passage in Genesis 3:18. It is again the Apostle Paul who explains it so clearly to the Romans and in so doing also to us today; “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23, 24) Who are you blaming today and so avoiding your responsibility to accept the remedy that has been offered in Jesus?
(Scripture used is taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version: Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.)