Summary: Do you want to live forever, there is a way!
God had a problem.
This may seem improbable for a Being who’s capable of speaking galaxies into existence, but the fact was that two of His latest creations had just made the decision to reject His authority and go their own way. And the penalty for that was death.
So God did what any loving, all-powerful, all-knowing parent would do. He let them go. But just before He did, He performed a little mental surgery on them. It was quick and painless, and the rebellious couple didn’t feel a thing. Later, that neurological nip and tuck would mean the difference between eternal death and living forever.
To Adam and Eve, the closing of the gates behind them as they walked out of the Garden of Eden for the last time, signaled a sea change in their relationship with their Creator. No longer could they maintain a personal, face-to-face friendship with Him. No longer could they stroll by His side in the cool of the evening. There was now a separation—a physical divide between God and them, placed there by the new force driving their lives: sin.
This is why the Creator did something radical just before the banishment began. Speaking to the devil who, in serpent form, had convinced Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit—He announced, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers” (Genesis 3:15; italics added). Time would reveal exactly what God did. Somehow He hardwired this “enmity” into the very fiber of the human psyche. From that moment on, His errant children would never feel totally comfortable in the presence of sin. There would always be an uneasiness, an awkwardness, and even a degree of anxiety anytime a man or woman allowed evil into his or her life. This enmity would not only provide a conduit through which God could communicate with His wayward family, but it would also serve as a built-in lifeline that humans could use for Jesus to pull them back into the arms of their Creator.
The seeds of salvation
The plan for saving lost humanity was in place long before there was humanity. God the Father, in close consultation with His Son Jesus, determined that buying back any future man or woman who’d sold out to sin would require that God Himself pay the death penalty for our sins. Since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), someone would have to die. That someone, it was decided, would be Jesus.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,” writes the apostle Peter, “but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” Then the writer lays it all on the line. “Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:18–21).
Sin required death. Jesus paid the price. God raised Him. What’s next? That’s where the Creator’s long-ago surgery kicks in. I’ll illustrate.
The story is told of a shopkeeper who noticed a little boy standing on the sidewalk staring down at his display of freshly picked and succulently sweet apples. The lad would occasionally lick his lips, look around nervously, and then return his gaze to the shiny fruit. It was a warm day, and the store owner knew how inviting those apples must be to a kid who’d played baseball all afternoon and supper was still an hour away.
Moving slowly to the front door, the shopkeeper studied the child for a long moment. Then he spoke. “Are you trying to steal one of my apples?” he asked.
The little boy shook his head slowly from side to side. “No, sir,” he said. “I’m trying not to steal one of your apples.” God’s hardwired enmity takes on many forms. It’s that quiet voice that whispers “No!” when our brain is shouting “Yes!” It’s that feeling in the pit of our stomachs the moment we realize that we can get away with doing something we know we shouldn’t do. It’s the projector that shines images of our spouse and kids when we’re tempted to be unfaithful. It’s the sudden realization that we’re not alone—that Someone is watching over us—when we’re feeling abandoned. It’s God, phone in hand, moving with us through the vicissitudes of life saying over and over and over again, “Can you hear Me now?"
Part of the plan
That same lifeline that follows atheists into foxholes, criminals into prison, and agnostics into operating rooms remains attached throughout our lives. Sure, it can be mitigated with drugs, alcohol, stubborn mind-sets, and the bitterness of anger, but it never really leaves us unless we persistently refuse to listen. It’s been part of us since Eden. It’s part of the plan, so we might as well accept that fact.