Yesterday I finished a project that I began back in January of this year. I have been doing a theological study of spiritual gifts and compiling my thoughts on the subject in book form. My writing on the subject comprised 70 pages of arguments, reasoning and conclusions. Fortunately, I had a computer to aid me in my composition, unlike my days in bible college when my wife typed my papers on a manual typewriter (no, we are not that old that we chiseled our writings in stone tablets). Microsoft Word is a good word processing program that has an adequate spelling and grammar checking aid. So, I was hopeful, that, when I was finished, I might have, a composition, that was, relatively, free from, spelling, and grammatical error (some, have said, that I need some instruction, on the use of commas). Last night I began to proof-read my work. I didn’t get farther than page five before I found my first grammatical error. Two pages later I found another. So I quit proofing the book for a time because my excitement about my work had been spoiled by the grammatical inaccuracies in it. How could my computer be so faulty?
Obviously, the problem was not with my computer or Microsoft Word, but with the person who was entering the data into it. As the old adage goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” But who wants to admit the possibility of personal failure? It is far easier to blame error on someone or something other than yourself. This is nothing new, in fact, way back in the beginning of time, our primal parents did exactly that when they failed to obey God in the Garden of Eden. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent for their failure, rather than recognize their own culpability.
So why did Adam and Eve fail? They failed for the same reason there are grammatical errors in my writing. It wasn’t that they reasoned incorrectly, but that they put garbage into their minds and consequently garbage came out. Consider just one instance of the error their minds processed. God specifically told Adam, “… Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:” (Genesis 2:16). Now notice how Satan, through the serpent phrases his question, “… Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1). The difference between what God said and what the serpent asked is very subtle but also very significant. God states His words in the positive, “you may freely eat.” Satan asks in the negative, “you shall not eat.” While the essence of what God said and what the serpent asked is the same, the exactness is not.
Whenever anyone seeks to make decisions concerning life, it is vitally important to consider exactly what God has said. Changing the attitude of a positive command into a negative question allowed the serpent to then forthrightly deny the certainty of God’s word of consequence for failure (“…You shall not surely die”). Once this was considered, it was only a matter of time until failure occurred. Things have not changed at all since this failure in the Garden. Satan is still as subtle today as he was then. He is still making subtle changes in the Word of God and seeking to deceive people in their pursuits of accomplishing the will of God. And whenever anyone processes his garbage, garbage will result.
An extra or missing comma or two may not significantly impact the value of my writings. The essence of what I want to communicate to the readers of my work may still be conveyed. But that is not sufficient when it comes to the Word of God. Be careful when making decisions in life that you understand, not just the essence of what God has said, but that you might understand exactly what He has said.