You know, the oneness we are to have with God and with one another is truly a remarkable thing. In Genesis 1 and 2 we see that God created man and woman in His image. And the text says that Adam and Eve were one flesh. And this wasn’t just figurative. The woman (as we see in 2:22) is quite literally taken out of the man. Their relationship with one another is that they are one. In fact, they are so one that when the serpent asks Eve about what God had commanded to Adam before she was even created, she implies that she also is not to eat of that one tree. Though the command was never given directly to her but to Adam, it extended to her because she was Adam; she had been taken out of him. Therefore what is commanded to Adam extends to her because they are one. That is how close their relationship is. And in many ways their one-fleshed-ness mirrored what their relationship with God was to look like. It says that when man was created God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. And that word breath in Hebrew is ruach, which is the same word used for the Spirit of God. So their relationship with God was as close as the very air they breathed.
A Vulnerability-- And the Genesis 2:25 says that they were both naked, and they felt no shame. This means they were completely vulnerable with one another. There was intimacy; there was trust, just as there was vulnerability, intimacy, and trust between them and God.
A Broken Trust-- Now it is interesting to me how the serpent approaches Eve; how He tempts her. And what he basically does is he attacks that trust. He says to her that God (rather than being loving) is being selfish. He is holding back from her. He gets her to question His goodness and His love for her by inciting distrust between her and God. And once that distrust had been created, she takes of that fruit and eats; and gives some to Adam as well, who also eats. And isn’t it interesting what the text says. It says: then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Vulnerability Lost-- The vulnerability and trust is lost. They withdraw into hiddenness. They hide themselves from each other and then they proceed to hide themselves from God. And then it says in…
Genesis 3:8-13– 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Adam Turns on Eve-- Now here we see clearly what sin does to the human heart and to human relationships. Adam, who had said of Eve: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; now turns on her; and even places the blame back on God, saying: “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
So we see that their relationship implodes from self-less, outpouring, one-flesh love inwards to self-preservation; to a placing of their needs before the need of the other person. And from that moment onwards mankind has never recovered from that self-orientation. Sin is more than an action; it is an orientation of the heart. And 6,000 years later we still find ourselves wrestling with this same implosion of the heart.
Selfishness Revealed in Marital Counseling-- I am telling you, in every pastoral marital crisis counseling situation I have witnessed, either one or both persons have been turned inwards on themselves; on gratifying their own needs to the neglect of those of their spouse. And there’s little or no trust because there’s no selfless love, only an enslavement to personal wants and desires.
Marriage Reveals our Selfishness-- I remember when I got married, I thought that loving and serving my wife in the way that she needed would be any easy thing. But the funny thing about marriage is that it reveals just how selfish we really are. And if there doesn’t come a point of surrender of both spouses in love to one another, there will always be tension.
After the Honeymoon Stage-- And the same is true in our relationship with God. When we come to faith in Christ, we are filled with excitement and emotion. We are in the honeymoon stage with God. But soon after that initial emotion wears off, we find that often times our nature is at odds with God more often than not. There is a struggle in us. And even after we come to Christ, there is still often times this war going on inside of us. We know we ought to love God a certain way, but find ourselves incapable of doing so. We have two natures that are at war with one another. We want to love God but cannot love Him the way we ought. Because we have divided hearts. The Psalmist senses this in his own life when he cries out to God in…
Psalm 86:11 (NIV)— 11 Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
Now many Christian do not believe that we can have a united heart this side of heaven. They trust in Christ to forgive them; but not to transform them.
Coke in the Face-- Once [A man entered a restaurant, bought a glass of coke and then immediately threw it into the waiter’s face. Quickly grabbing a napkin, he helped the waiter dry his face while he apologized with great remorse. "I'm so sorry," he said. "I have this compulsion to do this. I fight it, but I don't know what to do about it." "You had better do something about your problem," the waiter replied. "You can be sure I'll remember you and will never serve you another drink until you get help." It was months before the man faced the waiter again. When he asked for a coke, the waiter refused. Then the man explained that he had been seeing a psychiatrist and that his problem was solved. Convinced it was now okay to serve him, the waiter poured him a coke. The man took the glass and splashed the coke into the waiter’s astonished face. "I thought you were cured," the shocked waiter screamed. "I am," said the man. "I still do it, but I don't feel guilty about it anymore.”]
Free from Guilt, Not the Power-- Now this may seem ridiculous to us, but that is how many of us often times approach salvation. We believe that Jesus came to set us free from the guilt of sin, but not its power. It’s like that bumper stick you see all the time on the back of cars, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” In other words, “I’m no better than anybody else; no more holy; it’s just that Jesus forgives me constantly.” I wonder what they do with Jesus’ command in Matthew 5:48…
Matthew 5:48 (NIV)-- 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Christ’s call is for more than just a receiving of His grace for forgiveness; it is a call to follow Him in holiness of heart and life. In looking forward to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, God says through the prophet Ezekiel…
Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NIV)— 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
“Comforter”-- And of course God is talking here about that day when He will pour out His Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which we see in Acts chapter 2. And we see in scripture that the primary title given to the Holy Spirit is “comforter”. But the actual Greek word doesn’t mean comfort in the sense that the Holy Spirit makes us feel good. A better translation is “empowerer” or “the one who strengthens”. Empowers us and strengthens us to do what? To be holy. And this is what we see here in Ezekiel 36:27: And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. That is the primary role of the Holy Spirit in our lives; to empower us to be holy.
God Supplies A Power-- [Ludwig Nommensen traveled to begin mission work with a tribe in southeast Asia. The village chief welcomed Ludwig and said, "You have 2 years to learn our customs and convince us you have a message worth hearing." After 2 years, the tribal leader asked the missionary how Christianity differs from the moral rules and traditions of the tribe.
"We already know what is right," the chief explained. "We too have laws that say we must not steal, or take our neighbor's wives, or tell lies."
The missionary replied, "That's true. But my God supplies the power needed to keep those laws."
This startled the chief. "Can you really teach my people to live better?"
"No, I can't," responded Ludwig. "But if they receive Jesus Christ, God will give them the strength to do what is right."
The chief invited him to stay another 6 months, during which Ludwig preached the gospel and taught villagers how the Holy Spirit works in the lives of Christians.
"You can stay as long as you want," the chief finally announced. "Your religion is better than ours, for your God walks with men and gives them strength to do the things He requires.”]
THE TRANSFORMED LIFE— Now I don’t know about you, but that is encouraging to me; to know that Jesus can end the war inside me. That God can change the orientation of my heart; that He can unite my heart to fear Him; that I don’t have to remain in bondage to myself and my way of doing things. I can be empowered to treat my wife right; to treat my kids right; to make the right choices. My relationship with God can be made whole again; His breath can be breathed anew in me. And God wants to breath new life into your marriage; into your work. He wants to unite your heart to fear His name; He wants to give you true freedom. But that freedom only comes through surrender; through a decision you make before Christ to live a life fully surrendered to Him. And in and through that surrender, you will find a new life and a new heart. And your life will never be the same. Give your life to Him today. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Ury graduated from Asbury University in 2007 with a B.A. in Bible and Theology. From there he continued his studies at Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, MS. It was there that he met his wife Tanya, who graduated from WBS with her M.A. and M.Div. degrees. Cameron and Tanya got married in 2009. Cameron then graduated with his M.Div. degree with a pastoral concentration in 2011.
After shepherding churches in both Mississippi and Ohio, they joined the ministry team at Renton Park Chapel in January of 2018, where Cameron serves as Senior Pastor and Teacher.
Cameron is also the founder and host of Lechem Panim, a weekly radio show that airs on KGNW 820AM "The Word Seattle". The ministry of Lechem Panim is centered around leading people into the life-giving presence of God in and through Bible study, prayer, and active discipleship with the aim of ministering to a world that is in desperate need of the healing touch of Jesus Christ.