Tag Archives: Adam

The Futility of Religion

Religion doesn’t work.  By ‘religion,’ I mean man-made attempts to get close to God and earn His acceptance by performing rituals and following rules.  We humans feel “something” is missing  We are wired to go looking for it.  Most have a sense that what’s missing is our connection to God.  We sense He is “out there somewhere, but we can’t seem to find Him.  We know the difference between good and bad, and yet we cannot consistently be good.  Religion is our human attempt to fix that emptiness and failure.  It seeks to fill the emptiness with ritual, such as chanting, singing, saying prayers, swinging incense and the like.  It seeks to repair the failure with lists of strict “do’s and don’ts” and punishments for those who screw up.  Every religion that I am aware of is a combination of those two elements.  People who strive to connect to God and to be good by following religion are usually sincere and well-meaning, but inevitably fail.

Why is that?  Let’s take it from the top:

God knows our connection with Him is broken.  It was broken from the beginning.  The first three chapters of the Bible (Genesis 1-3) form a powerful narrative that illustrates two profound truths:  1) We were created by God to have an intimate connection and relationship with Him that depends upon trust.  2) That connection is broken when we turn away from God and trust our own ideas.  Adam and Eve had an intimate relationship with God – they could hear Him and speak to Him, and they walked with Him in the “cool of the day.”   But when they doubted God that intimate connection was broken.

God designed human beings to be connected to Him by His Spirit.  Your computer is connected to mine by the internet.  My television is connected to America’s Got Talent by means of a satellite signal.  Your cell phone is connected to your Aunt Louise by an invisible cell signal.  All of these connections are possible because of the the equipment was designed.  God designed us to connect with Him by His Holy Spirit.  When you don’t have any cell signal, you say your phone is dead.  It still lights up, it still goes “boop” when you push the buttons, but it is dead. When God disconnects us from the flow of His Spirit, we are dead.  Our bodies work, our minds still work, but we are dead.  That’s why God said to Adam:

when you eat of it [i.e. when you doubt Me and disobey Me] you will surely die. (Genesis 2:17b)

Adam’s body didn’t die, his soul (his mind) didn’t die.  His connection to God died.  Since his original act of doubt and disobedience, all people have been born  with the equipment to connect to God, but without His Spirit.  We have been born dead.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— (Romans 5:12)

Religion cannot work because nothing a dead man can do will restore him to life.  The only One Who can restore “dead” humans to life,  who can restore the flow of His Spirit,  is God.   That is why Jesus said,

…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10b)

Guess how that “life” happens?    Stay tuned…

Dead Man Walking

God says, in Isaiah 57:15, He will live with a person to revive him, to bring him or her back to life (see: “In a Nutshell”).  We asked, in what sense are we dead?  Why do we need to be revived (see: “The ‘Why?’ Question”)?   The answer has to do with the makeup of a human being, and how that makeup became damaged.

Humans are like animals in that we both have bodies and souls.  Our bodies are all the physical stuff we use to get around on the planet, our hardware.  Our souls are the software that we use to run the hardware, our minds, emotions and will.  Our minds and emotions think, “Man, I’m craving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!”  And then our will decides to make one and eat it.  Our souls (mind, emotion and will) tell our bodies (hands, arms, legs, teeth, etc.) what to do.  Humans and animals alike have hardware and software, bodies and souls.

But humans were designed by God with the capacity to be connected to Him by His Spirit.  Just as our bodies are designed to be operated by our souls, our souls are designed to be informed by His Spirit.  To use the previous example, His Spirit says, “It would be cool to go make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and share it with that hungry guy over there.”  The soul “hears” that and then controls the body to do that.  Getting hungry?  Go ahead and get a sandwich; I’ll wait…

So then, an animal has two parts: hardware and software – body and soul; humans have three parts: hardware, software and signal – body, soul and spirit.  We humans compare to animals in the same way cell phones compare to calculators.  Cell phones and calculators both have hardware, run by software.  They both do interesting things, using only hardware and software.  But cell phones also receive information from an invisible signal, process that signal, “inform” the software to make phone calls and use the internet.  When cell phones can’t receive that cell signal, we say they are dead.

Human beings are designed to be in steady contact with God by His Spirit, His invisible “cell signal.”  But our ability to receive that signal is broken.  In that sense, we are dead, spiritually dead.  Our souls, our software, senses that something is missing, something is not working right; which is why we spend so much of our energy trying to fix it.  Anywhere you go on the planet, religions tend to dominate what people think about and how they live.  But we cannot fix the connection because we are dead (and vice versa!).

How did that happen?  It is explained in the first couple of pages of the Bible.  God told Adam, “On the day you deliberately disobey Me and decide you don’t need Me, on the day you think you know better than what I have been telling you, on that day you will surely die.”  Well, He didn’t say it exactly like that; it had to do with eating the fruit and all that.  You can read it for yourself, but that is the essence of it.  Adam did disobey God, and he did die that day.  It wasn’t his body that died; his hardware didn’t die.  His soul, his software, didn’t die; he was still able to think and feel and decide.  What died was His spirit, his intimate connection to God.  He lost the “signal,” like a dead cell phone.  Adam became spiritually dead, he and all his descendants (that’s you and me).

Now go back to Isaiah 57:15, where God says He “lives with” the contrite and lowly in order to “revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”  That means He connects the cell signal of His Spirit to those people to bring them back to life – real life.  There is a whole bunch more to this… We’ll get back to it next time.