It was stated earlier in this series, in reference to when God created Adam and Eve, that “everything that was needed to sustain, enhance, and enrich human life was available in the Garden of Eden.” In order for a person to experience the kind of life that God was offering Adam and Eve, one would need to accept and then exercise personal responsibility over whatever fell under their control within the environment they lived – to dress it and keep it.
By now, it should be clear that this means an individual is to work and labor, even to work to have a willing spirit of servitude toward God (to dress), and an individual is to observe, to take heed to, and to keep, even to protect and guard, God’s way of life (to keep).
So what were Adam and Eve to work and labor to observe and keep concerning God’s way? What did God place within His garden that was given to them as their personal responsibility within that environment?
The Spirit of God’s Ways
When a person first begins to learn of God’s way of life and then decides whether to begin living it, choices have to be made as to whether to begin obeying the laws of God and to begin repenting of sin. If a person begins to make such choices, then they will begin to focus upon the outline of the law contained in the Ten Commandments. They will begin to address basic instruction on how to live life in one’s relationships.
As the first four commandments reveal how to have a right relationship with God, a person will generally begin to see that if one is going to follow God’s true way of life, it begins with obedience in keeping the seventh-day Sabbath and the annual holy days of God. One also begins to make choices of obedience to the last six commandments that directly concern all human relationships.
This is where major change first begins to take place in one’s life after being called by God. As an example, when a person is called within an environment of traditional Christianity, they begin to make such decisions as to cease observing false holidays like Christmas and Easter and to begin embracing God’s true holy days. They also have to address turning away from any observance of Sunday worship to that of the seventh-day Sabbath, which also means that a person has to take a stand on not working on God’s holy days.
In addition to these changes that involve a right relationship with God, a person will have to begin addressing changes in their life that must be made so that one is in unity of obedience with those last six commandments. This may involve matters of sexual misconduct, and/or matters of stealing, lying, hatred, and other wrong conduct and loose lifestyles that must be repented of and changed.
These are the “primary areas of life” that one focuses upon as they enter into a process of repentance, baptism, change (conversion), and spiritual transformation that begins to remold the very thinking of one’s mind. Indeed, obedience to these laws are the primary means whereby a person can be transformed in spirit (in thinking) in order to grow in unity and oneness with God’s spirit, ways, and His kind of love. As one grows in transformation and stronger obedience to God’s laws, one can grow in ability to see, understand, and come into greater agreement with “the spirit” of the law.
So from the very beginning of one’s relationship with God, a person must learn to “dress and keep” God’s laws. One must work to apply God’s law to their life, and most of that work involves an active battle against one’s own human nature and own ways of seeing and doing things that are based on selfishness. This work involves an active participation in keeping, guarding, and protecting God’s true ways and God’s truth. It is a matter of holding fast to the tree (the source) of life that God sets before us so that we can be changed from the way of selfishness – of get – to the way of God’s love – of true giving.
However, there is really much more to this process of transformation that can now begin to be added to one’s thinking regarding change and learning to think differently. God is now beginning to magnify a deeper understanding of the spirit of His way of life. This has to do with other areas of life in addition to a generalized focus on obedience to the Ten Commandments and upholding and living by the truths of God. These other areas of life also need to be at the forefront of one’s focus concerning how to live God’s way of life more fully. This is because there is more to God’s way, which reflects right thinking, soundness, balance in life, and a healthy focus toward life itself. Once a person begins to more fully grasp and then exercise such thinking and living, then one will come to see an even greater magnification of “the spirit” of God’s laws and way of life. This is further “spiritual refining” that God is offering us in which we can grow and experience much greater healing within the mind.
This is a matter that concerns the instruction to “dress it and keep it.” This instruction most certainly includes what was just covered about working and laboring to keep (observe and protect) the Ten Commandments and how one lives in all relationships, just as from the beginning in all that was given to Adam and Eve, this was the primary focus God gave through the tree of life in their midst that they were to dress and keep; however, it includes much more. This instruction is leading us to understand the need to address that which is physical around us (in our environment) that is actually our responsibility to care for and dress and keep as well. God created mankind as physical human beings within a physical environment. Such responsibility to care for that environment is often overlooked or underrated in importance when it comes to exercising a right relationship with God and Christ, and a right relationship with others in the world around us. Yet these are vastly more important than anyone has generally recognized. Focusing upon this will indeed help lead one to see and capture a vision of a greater magnification of God’s laws and way of life.
When Christ first came and began to teach about God’s ways and His law, he began to “magnify” the law, which primarily could only be seen on a physical plane, but he began to reveal a spiritual plane and intent.
Christ stated the following: “Do not think that I have come to destroy [to do away with] the law, or the prophets. I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Mat. 5:17).
He went on to explain his words by giving examples of a greater purpose and intent in living by the law that was more than just a matter of what was largely perceived as a physical system of “do(s) and don’t(s)” for human conduct. Instead, he revealed that obedience – living God’s way – begins in the mind, in the spirit, and is a matter of how one thinks.
“You have heard that it was said by them of time long ago, You shall not commit adultery. But I am saying to you, that whosoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart [in the mind and thinking]” (Mat. 5:27-28).
The Next Step
Once again, after nearly 2,000 years, Jesus Christ is revealing a spiritual magnification of God’s word and way of life. He has chosen this time just before his second coming to do so. This is being accomplished by learning what happened from the very beginning and the response of mankind to dress and keep what God had given.
It bears repeating that apart from God Himself being in their midst, that which stood out the most before Adam and Eve were the two trees which were described as being in the midst of the garden. They were to have nothing to do with the one, and the other they were to follow the instruction to dress and keep it. We know the story well and the outcome of their disobedience.
Adam and Eve did not begin a process of true spiritual growth and development in their life as they quickly became cut-off from ready access to God and His spirit that otherwise could have dwelled in them. So they never progressed to experiencing the fullness, richness, and kind of joy in living God’s way within the environment of all that God had placed within the garden, not even in each other. They never experienced the kind of full life offered to them by dressing and keeping all that God had placed within their personal control and responsibility. Instead, they were separated from God and removed from the Garden of Eden.
The tree they rejected was the Tree of Life. It revealed God’s laws and how to have strong healthy relationships with God and with others. It was the means to a continual revelation of God’s “way of life” that would lead to becoming at one “in spirit” with God Himself. It would take them beyond the need for “law” that is necessary to regulate human behavior in order to experience right relationships with God and mankind. Instead of a continual need for law to regulate human behavior, one can actually grow spiritually in thinking and come into greater oneness, agreement, and unity of spirit with God’s spirit – His mind and His Word – with all life and with all that is created, both physical and of spirit. Law is needed to regulate human behavior, but in God’s Family, behavior that is in agreement with God is just a way of life that functions at one with God’s holy spirit.
Besides the Tree of Life that Adam and Eve were to dress and keep, what else did God place in their environment that was their responsibility to also dress and keep? Stating this in another way, what else was in their environment that they were to dress and keep that reflected God’s being – His mind, thinking, purpose, and spirit?
All of their physical surroundings, and all of our physical surroundings cry out to the greatness, glory, majesty, and beauty of the very mind and thinking of the Almighty God. We can learn more about the very mind, thinking, and spirit of God by those physical things that surround our lives. Certainly, the laws that God gave to regulate human behavior reveal much about God and His way of life that is based on true peace, true family, and a true “giving” kind of love. However, there is more that also reflects God’s very thinking, His ways, and His mind that is contained in our physical surroundings and in how we are to “see” such things.
From the very beginning, God revealed that He did not create the earth in the condition it was in when He came upon the scene, a second time, to once again make the earth orderly, beautiful, and perfectly synchronized in balance, time, and cycles in order for vast varieties of life to exist. However, between the time of the original creation of the earth that was first made to be inhabitable for life, and the time God refashioned, remolded, and reestablished the earth back to its original condition, Satan and the demonic realm had tried to destroy all that they could and the earth became waste, desolate, and void of all ability to sustain any kind of life.
“For this is stated by the Eternal, who created the heavens [universe], God Himself who formed the earth and made it, He established it and He did not create it in vain [Heb. word ‘tohu’ meaning desolate, to lie in waste, in emptiness, in confusion], but He formed it to be inhabited [habitable], I am the Eternal and there is no one else” (Is. 45:18).
Clearly, God first created the earth in perfection and to be habitable for life.
Genesis 1 is the account of God correcting what Satan had done and of Him putting the earth back into its original state and of then creating vast varieties of life that had never existed before. In the first verse, the story begins with the original state of God’s creation. “In the [should be ‘a,’ as there is no definite article ‘the’ in Hebrew] beginning God created the heaven and earth” (Gen. 1:1). The earth, moon, sun, and rest of the universe had long before been created by God.
However, from the time of the literal creation addressed in this verse, Satan set out to destroy what God had created. By the “time” mentioned in the following verse, we are thrust ahead to when God comes on the scene to reestablish the proper condition of the earth following the aftermath of Satan’s destruction.
“And the earth was without form and void [Hebrew words ‘tohu’ and ‘bohu,’ meaning in chaos and confusion, in waste and destruction, desolate], and darkness was upon the face of the deep [the sun did not reach the surface of the earth]. Then the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2). This begins to describe how God started to refashion what was already here so that light from the sun could once again shine on the earth.
So the Almighty Eternal God set everything back into perfect harmony in order to provide for an incredibly abundant life to potentially be experienced by that which was the focus of His greatest creation yet – mankind. After creating Adam and then Eve, God placed them in His specially prepared environment (His garden), and they were told to dress it and keep it. They were then given responsibility of caring for His creation.
The Creation Reveals God
It should not be a difficult thing to grasp how the creation around us cries out to the greatness of God and of that which reflects His being – His mind, thinking, and very spirit. There are numerous words that should jump out at us as they cry out and declare such thinking and spirit which are of the Great God who created everything. Consider some of those words, such as: order, harmony, balance, planning, productivity, work, healthiness, liveliness, true beauty, expressive creativity, design, quality, discipline, life-giving, cleanliness, completeness, replenishing, joyful, timeliness, organized, attentive, and so much more.
Such words help define and reflect the very thinking and spirit of God Almighty. This is the kind of spirit and thinking we need to embrace and seek to develop more fully in our life in a balanced and sound manner, as this is what needs to be reflected more in our actions in life as a result of how we think, as we seek to come into greater unity and oneness with the ways of God and Jesus Christ. Such balance and soundness can only come from God through the power of His spirit. The human tendency of far too many, as one focuses on any one of these particular words and how such can be applied to their life, is to go to extremes and to be “unbalanced” in how they apply such quality to their life. Some of these will likely be addressed in the next post.
There are also words that cry out and reflect just the opposite, which can reveal a wrong kind of thinking and spirit – the kind that brought this earth to a condition of destruction, waste, confusion, and desolation. These words tend to reflect thinking that is contrary to God’s ways and His spirit. So it should be rather easy to see what is reflected in that which is just the opposite to the actions and ways of God’s spirit. Such words are those like: destructive, wasteful, chaotic, disorderly, uncleanliness, confusion, disarray, ruin, sickly, clutter, neglectful, unfruitful, flawed, cheap, disorganized, lethargic, lazy, nonproductive, unsound, discord, reckless, unhappy, murderous, inactive, etcetera.
God’s instruction to dress and keep His creation should have great meaning for us as we consider what it means to work at caring for what He has placed within each individual’s personal control as one’s own responsibility. It does indeed include some of the smallest things in life, and that is why it is so important to begin learning such things at a very young age. The reason for this is because such things have much to do with the very formation of one’s thinking and spirit. This is why it is so important to begin teaching children about areas of responsibility that are theirs. These are small in the beginning, but highly important for aiding the formation of right thinking and focus toward life for the future.
A child can begin to be taught about qualities of cleanliness, discipline, order, organization, and work ethics by learning to care for the smallest of matters in their personal surroundings thereby they can begin learning to take on the positive and productive quality of “personal responsibility” in life. To serve as only one example, a child can begin at a very young age to be taught to pick up their own dirty clothes and put them in a laundry container and then hanging up their own clean clothes.
Sadly, there are many who never learn such traits and qualities in life as they were never taught them and/or never had such responsibility enforced in their life. This is especially true concerning boys who far too often “learn” to rely on mommy to do everything for them. There are many married men who shamefully grow up having a wrong vision and deep lack of understanding of the right and true role of a female in a family. In reality, they (females) tend to be viewed as “less” than them (the male). Wives then are “expected” to clean up behind a husband (who hasn’t been taught) as he leaves his dirty underwear and socks on the floor.
To such a man, this is a very small and relatively unimportant thing. But in reality, it is a symptom of a very big thing that is not right in one’s thinking. It compounds the problem by distorting how to love others as well. If this applies to anyone in the Church, that person needs to see that this involves a “spirit” in thinking that is resisting an area of healthy change that needs to come into greater harmony with God’s spirit, His way of thinking, and way of life. This specific symptom also reveals wrong thinking toward women. This is only one small example of a far greater problem that is so big and it has been perpetuated to the extreme for nearly 6,000 years now, just as the example given here is multiplied many times over in all kinds of instances and occasions in life.
Hopefully, this very small example alone can begin to help magnify the importance of going beyond the “laws” of God, which indeed must be lived, to that which involves “right thinking” based on qualities that are in God and are revealed through His very creation. As one grows and understands these qualities as being godly in nature, they will also grow to see that these are based on God’s kind of love (agape) that reveals the true nature of His spirit.
It is not the purpose of this writing to go into all the vast numbers of examples in life that exist where characteristics are reflected in creation which reveal the mind and thinking of God. This is something for individuals to examine in their own life, and begin to build upon, and then to grow more spiritually in oneness and unity with God. This is just the beginning of building blocks that can be used to spur greater spiritual oneness with God as individuals build upon this understanding and how to apply it to themselves individually and their families.
That which needs to be understood in all this, at this point, is that each individual’s response to some of the smallest of things in life reflect their mind – the way they think, which is of one’s very spirit. Wrong thinking in many of the small things of life need to be addressed in order for greater transformation of the mind to take place for it to come into greater unity and harmony with God. This is needful so that as members of God’s family we can rightly deal with the bigger things of life in an ever-growing godly manner. If we learn to become more faithful in the little, then we are learning to be able to be faithful in much.
[Pt. 4 will follow.]