Understanding “the fall of man”

It is very important for us to understand the fall of man as described in Genesis 1 to 3. To understand concepts such as salvation/consciousness, faith or repentance we need to know what went wrong, what are we saved from and what do we become conscious to.

In Genesis 1 & 2 we see God creating man in His own image and declaring over man that they are “very good”. Man is instructed to reign over all the earth and may use all his eyes behold, except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Man is warned that eating from this tree will result in death. We are not told why but, as so often happen in scripture, sometimes what is not said is just as important as what is said.

So we see this pattern in Gen. 2 & 3. Life starts off with us resting, simply being, which then flows into a meeting with God, a relational act. Out of this being and relating flows activity which then culminates in spending time in the presence of God in “the cool of the evening” and then rest again. This is life as it should be with man being deeply connected to his true nature and through that to God and this activity leading to life-giving activity.

It is vital to remember that our true self is a spiritual one. We were made in God’s image and God does not have a physical body. Even concepts such as male and female cannot truly be ascribed to God, He is a spiritual being and so are we. We are the manifestation of God in the physical world and in order for us to do that effectively we have been created with a mind capable of interpreting the connection that flows from God at the centre of our being and translating it into meaningful action in the physical world. The mind, as an extension of the physical manifestation of the spiritual “Iam”, serves the true self and the world we live in.

NB! To understand what follows it is vital that we understand that the mind, our thinking processes, is simply chemical and electrical impulses stored in cells of fat. It is the operating system, if you will, that translates instructions from the user into actions on the screen. It is nothing more and nothing less.

Into this peaceful, holistic lifestyle steps temptation, represented by the snake. (Why this needed to happen, and it did, is a topic for another time). We read in Genesis 3 that the snake asked Eve whether God really said that they could not eat from the tree. This is a general, non-threatening question designed to reveal what they thought about the topic. From Eve’s response, “you may not touch it or you will die”, we can see that the tree of knowledge was indeed a topic they discussed. Perhaps Adam, seeing the glint in Eve’s eye when she looked at it, expanded the “thou shalt not eat” to include “thou shalt not touch” as an added incentive.

As so often happens, the temptation comes hidden in half-truths and innuendo. The serpent tells her that she will surely not die but become like God. The silent implication is that they are not like God in their present state but, should they eat from the tree of knowledge, it will give them a source of life that will enable them to live for ever, like God. This temptation is an idea, a verbal construct that enters not through their spiritual true self but through the mind. The idea is simple: If you know with your mind what is good and bad, right and wrong then you, and by you I mean your physical body, can ensure your own physical survival. It is a sort of palace revolution except that it is literally the palace revolting against its inhabitants, or a virus that hijacks the operating system of a computer.

The result of this shift from the physical body being in service to the spiritual true self, to becoming its own source for life results in the eating of the tree of knowledge. The eating is simply a consequence of a mindshift.

The result? As soon as they ate they realised that they were vulnerable, “naked”. When physical existence becomes the focus, the reason for living we very quickly realise what a dangerous place this world is. Others, strangers, the unknown becomes threats to our survival. Resources “becomes” valuable because I would rather have it than see others have it. Time, past and future, becomes more important than the ever present now because now only has value if it is ensuring my future or avoiding a painful past. Even God becomes a threat as we cannot control him and somehow know instinctively that His primary concern is not focused on my physical existence but on my eternal, spiritual true self.

So, when God comes in the cool of the evening Adam and Eve hides. When God calls to them He asks the question, “where are you?”. He is not asking behind which bush they are hiding but rather where they are relationally. Adam’s response is to tell God that they are naked, ie they are feeling vulnerable and exposed in His presence. When God asked them if they ate from the tree of knowledge we see Adam blaming his wife and his wife blaming the snake.

Full circle.

From living out of a deeply connected self that saw itself as part of the very essence of life, man has become separated from his true self, God, others and even the world he lives in. Everything destructive in this world today is a cause of this separation from self. Every form of war, disease, addiction, violence, deceit, every conceivable “sin” is merely a fruit, a consequence of this split between the physical and the spiritual.

In order to suppress the pain of this separation the mind creates a false self or ego based on external factors. From being simply “I am” we move to being clever or fast or rich, beautiful or not, rich or poor, successful or not, happy or sad. We see the world not as it is but as it should be or ought to be. Life becomes fair or unfair, good or bad all depending on how it impacts this false self. And this is what we need to be saved from, we need to be saved from believing the lie that I am who I think I am. Salvation is in essence God intervening in our lives and restoring our awareness/consciousness to the true self. Salvation/consciousness is the process whereby the eternal, connected, spiritual “I am” is restored to its rightful place as the source of life for the physical body.

Today, modern evangelical Christianity finds itself engulfed by a western society that is tearing itself apart in its quest for pleasure, thrills and excitement. The old message of repentance and moral living has failed dismally. Why? Because the focus has been on the fruits of the mindshift and not on the mindshift itself.  The very institution that was intended to represent the call of Jesus back to the true self has embraced the deception that led to the fall. By focussing on what Jesus had done (the fruit) and making the understanding of that a prerequisite for salvation the church has embraced the fallen self as the vehicle for salvation.

The message is that we are deficient, sinners saved by grace, and if you know and do the right things then you will be saved! Can you hear the deception in this? It is an exact repetition of the temptation in the garden which suits the false self imminently. In a sense no one is lost for the true self is eternal and incorruptible. We are created in the image of God and it is good, no, very good. God’s words, not mine. What we need to be saved from is not lying but “the lie” that who we are is not enough.

My Prayer is this, that God would give you and me the faith to trust that who we think we are is not who we are, that nothing in this world can define or limit who we are. The trust that who we truly are is good, whole, indestructible and eternal. I pray that God would teach us to become quite again in order to allow our physical bodies to be restored to communion with our true “I am”. And as we do that our physical bodies will be restored to their full glory as the physical representation of the Divine in the world.

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