OUR national mental status appears to be shaky. Depression, despair, stress, anxiety, anger, revenge, prolonged grief, jealousy, and apathy abound. Many others could be listed. These can be powerful disease triggers. The results of a national survey by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare indicated that 25 percent of the population admitted to being under a major degree of stress. One source estimated that perhaps one-third of Americans could be considered mentally healthy.
If a partial list were to be composed of physical diseases with apparent psychological components, it would look something like this: allergies, asthma, angina, arthritis, back pain, cancer, hair and scalp problems, headaches, heart disease, hypertension, insomnia, impotence, irritable bowel syndrome, skin problems, and ulcers. It has been estimated that 75 percent of all complaints that patients present are stress related.
How does our mind contribute to disease? Negative emotions trigger the release of certain hormones and stimulate the nervous system in such a way as to put stress on the various organs in the body. As these organs are subjected to this stress over long periods of time they become weakened. Once weakened they are more susceptible to disease processes invading from without or being triggered from within. Which organs are affected first, and to what degree, depends upon the person's heredity, constitution, environment, and lifestyle. By the time symptoms of disease occur it is often difficult to trace them from cause to effect and thereby to know for sure which risk factors played the primary role in the disease process.
The third chapter of Genesis in the Bible tells us the origin of mankind’s problems and God’s remedy for our situation. Genesis, chapter 3, begins with Eve being led into disobedience. She was deceived; nevertheless, she did make the decision to go against what God had said. She then proceeded to involve Adam in disobeying God. Adam was not deceived, yet he, too, chose to join his wife in disobeying his Creator.
Immediately they sensed a change in themselves. It was not the change for the better that their deceiver had promised. Instead, it was a change for the worse. For the first time they felt shame and guilt. They tried to cover themselves by making aprons out of fig leaves. They hid themselves from God and were afraid. When God found them and started questioning them, they began shifting the blame. They would not admit to any personal responsibility.
Does this little scenario sound familiar? It should. Feelings of guilt, fear, and inadequacy accurately portray the sad condition of humanity. These feelings lead us to want to escape. We blame others, all the while seeking to cover up our own deficiencies. Our futile attempts at escapism and coping, do not always degenerate to the lowest levels of physical combat-tongue lashings, promiscuity, or criminal behavior. They may assume an air of respectfulness-a little pride, a little self-indulgence, a white lie, a cutting remark that we really did not mean to be taken seriously.
Just like Adam and Eve, our disobedience to God’s will has broken our peace with Him. Unless we are at peace with God, we can never be at peace with ourselves or with our fellow human beings. The worst deception that could befall a person then, would be to think he is at peace with God when he is not-to think he has the solution to life's problems when he really does not. Many do not recognize it, but they themselves, along with the whole human family, have repeated our first parents' failure and are terminally ill. The Bible defines this illness as sin, but many seem not to be interested in the Remedy.
But for those who do recognize that they have a need and who desire the remedy, God has just the right solution. The solution is contained in a promise. In Genesis, chapter 3, God said that He would plant within us a hatred of evil, and that one day, good will win over evil. He appointed toil and suffering as a means of developing self-discipline in us, so that the evil results of sin, already set in motion, might be curtailed to some extent. And, finally, God did an interesting thing-out of animal skins He made Adam and Eve each a suit of clothes, and dressed them Himself.
Would fig leaves have worked just as well as animal skins for clothes?-Not too many people would think so today. God wanted them (and us) to realize that what they (we) had lost could not be replaced by anything of their (our) own design or devising. They (we) needed a covering crafted by God Himself. In sinning they had lost their righteousness. They had sold out their integrity. A divine plan, rather than a human plan, was needed to resolve the problems.
Now, recall that it was God who created Adam and Eve in the beginning. Therefore, everything they had, came originally from God, including their righteousness or goodness-a pure, untainted, heaven-inclined mind with no tendency sinward-with no gap between-knowing what should be done and doing it. Since what they had lost had been put in them by God, it is clear that only God could put it back. They could no more recreate their minds than they could call a world into existence. They were totally helpless and dependent upon God to restore them. And God did restore them on the spot. No sooner was there an emergency than God was there with the remedy. However, this restoration was conditional upon two things: First, faith in the Redeemer who was to come, and; Second, their own willingness to render continuing obedience in the future. Every person ever born into this world would have to meet these same two conditions laid down for Adam and Eve in order to be restored. This restoration cannot be inherited; it must be accepted by each person individually.
This beautiful truth about God's rescue efforts in our behalf is recorded all through the Bible. Prophets have seen it in vision, and poets have written about it.
“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, the Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with a change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by.” Zechariah 3:1-5.
“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.” Job 29:14.
This same truth-that God restores us to moral uprightness-is illustrated in the New Testament Scriptures as well. In the Gospel of Matthew there is recorded a parable Jesus told about a king who sent his servants out to invite everyone they could find to come to his son's marriage:
“And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he said unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.” Matthew 22:11-12.
The parable may seem absurd until one realizes the reason for the king’s displeasure. There was no excuse for the guest not to have a wedding garment on-because the king himself had provided wedding garments for all of the guests. The only thing they had to do was to put on the garment. There was no excuse for neglecting the gift.
“Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Verse 13. Just as the ungrateful guest was excluded from the king's wedding, so all of those who neglect to put on Christ's righteousness, and instead depend upon their own fig-leaf garments-their good deeds-will meet with similar tragic consequences.
All of the human inventions to make us better people are insufficient to remake one soul into the image of God, much less save an entire planet. Only Christ’s righteousness, the covering crafted for us by God Himself, is able to heal the wounds caused by sin and to change the course of our life.
There is one other aspect of God’s act in clothing Adam and Eve with skins that must be mentioned. It is the crux of the whole transaction. In fact, it is the center and focus of the whole Bible. You see, in order for God to obtain those skins, some animal must die. An innocent creature had to give its life so that Adam and Eve could be clothed. What did it mean? The lamb was a symbol of God's Son, Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul describes it simply:
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.
In order to be able to forgive our sins, to clothe us in His righteousness and to provide us the grace necessary to keep God's law, Christ had to become a Man, live a perfect life of obedience on this earth, and then suffer the punishment for our sins. Christ succeeded in His mission, just as the Old Testament prophecies said that He would. Christ’s victorious life means that we also can have victory over sin by exercising faith in Him. Christ’s resurrection is the Christian’s assurance of receiving immortality and a perfectly whole body at the resurrection of the just when Jesus returns in the near future. Anciently, these truths were taught by means of a system of sacrificial types and symbols. These “shadows” pointed forward to Christ’s incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and heavenly ministry. Now our faith can be based on the reality of an accomplished fact, not just a shadow of something to look forward to.
There are many questions that come to mind, such as “Why?” The answers are in the Bible. What we have dealt with here, in a small way, is the issue of trust-trusting God enough to surrender your life to Him. Trusting Him with your fig-leaf, band-aid, do-it-yourself patchwork of human inventions and self-help theories, let Him place upon you His perfect, royal robe of His own righteousness. Being thus clothed, means we have His mind in us. We may have His power to overcome sin, and all the problems that sin causes. The gap between knowing and doing is bridged. We can carry out our good intentions. Positive thoughts and emotions replace the negative ones.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:19-25.
God’s Son suffered intensely-more than we can know-so that He could have the joy of seeing us clothed in His righteousness. His entire life was one of self-sacrifice. Finally, He was tortured and crucified on a cruel cross. What reward does He want for this sacrifice? All He ever desired was the joy of providing a way for us to live new lives now and at last to be reunited with Him on that brighter shore of eternity! Then God’s original plan in creating Adam and Eve will be realized. We with them will enjoy the heavenly reward unhindered and uninterrupted forever.
Perhaps some of our readers will think it is too late for them-that their problems are too complicated, or that they could never be Christians. Away with such thinking! Trust Him all the way and see the salvation of your God. “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.” Isaiah 27:5.
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. . . . All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:35, 37.
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17.
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