Series: Origins of Innocence
“I want the world to sing in her native tongue, to sing it like when we were young, back before the pendulum had swung to the shadow.”
(©️Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman, Brent Kutzle)
WHO GOD MADE US TO BE
That is the hope. We’re in a new series called Origins of Innocence. We’re trying to look back at what God intended for humanity, for creation, for you and for me, before there was a fall, a rebellion, before there was a mistake, a sin made by our forefathers—Adam and those guys. If we can see what God intended for us there, maybe we can get a better picture of what God intended for us in Christ Jesus. The concept that in Christ Jesus we are now the righteousness of God. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. We are made to be holy and blameless in his sight in Christ Jesus.
We have so much in Christ Jesus. So we’re looking back toward the beginning to see what did it look like there. What did it look like when God first created the world? Maybe that will give us a picture of what we’re trying to find even now in Christ Jesus.
That’s the concept. That’s the hope that we learn to sing like when we were young, in that native tongue. I wrote it this way: I want all of us to be who God made us to be, which is who we really want to be. So that we can do a lot of good for our people—the people that we love and the people that God has asked us to love. We just want to grow more into who we were made to be.
We all know that there’s a part of us—a sinful, broken nature—that we don’t want to live out of. We’re tired of living out of that and producing what it produces. Not only in our own lives, but in the lives of the people that we love.
So we’re trying to figure out what is this new nature that God has implanted in us in Christ Jesus. And how can we begin to live out of that nature, which produces things very different from what our sinful nature produces. This is the concept.
This is what I felt the Lord was saying during our worship time. That it’s hard for us to believe, but this is what Jesus is speaking over us. That he can change your stars. He can change your stripes. He can bring new wine out of that cold, hardened, broken heart inside of you. You can’t do it. With all your will power, with all your clever scheming and strategizing, you just can’t seem to squeeze anything that good, beautiful and live-giving out of that heart that’s been battered and broken by your sin, the sin of humanity, by the sin of those who were supposed to care well for you.
GOD KNOWS WHO YOU ARE
But if you’ll place that broken battered heart into Jesus’ hands, he can begin to transform it, re-form it and begin to bring new wine, living water out of that heart that he made in the first place, and knows exactly how it’s supposed to be, how it’s supposed to feel and what it’s capable of. But you have to trust him with it. Day in and day out. Storm or nice weather. And it’s tricky to do that. But take his hand and walk with him. He alone knows who you are, who you were made to be, and who you can be.
That’s the premise of this series that we’re going through. We’ve got some sermon notes for you because I’m so serious about this sermon series. That one section, “I want the world to sing in her native tongue, sing it like when we were young, back before the pendulum had swung to the shadow.” That’s kind of a backdrop as we’re moving through the series.
We have a little timeline that we had gotten last week. (See last week’s notes.) A timeline of innocence. We were created in innocence. God created humanity in innocence. Adam and Eve were naked and not in shame. That’s the picture that God inspired the writer of the book of Genesis to give us. It’s what it looked like if you were to picture this. Naked and not ashamed.
But then, at some point, there was a fall. We call it the Fall of Adam or the Fall of Humanity. It was basically Adam’s rebellion. It was Adam deciding to go with what the serpent said, with what Eve had said. To go against what God had spoken to him. And it created this fall. And now humanity, each one of us born of the seed of the first Adam are now born into shame.
See that gritty little line down there? Yeah. That’s what we know. That’s what we’re most familiar with. We are never naked and unashamed. We are naked and ashamed. We are born into shame. We’re so familiar with it. You don’t teach your kids how to sin and do wrong and try to cover up and be selfish. They just are good at it naturally.
SHAME VS. INNOCENCE
So we’re born into shame. Yet, what the Scripture teaches is that God’s plan for humanity, his good intentions for creation, his innocence that he wanted us to know and experience and live in—it never stopped. The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable, the Bible says. So what he created for humanity, it wasn’t like, “Oh, we lost it!” No, we actually begin to know something else, but it never stopped.
So there were guys like Abraham who believed God and it was accounted to them as righteousness. They began to experience both. Yes, they were men of shame, wrestling with the sinful nature. But at the same time, they were also able to breath in the abundance skies in their lives. They were able to rise above for these moments and do something that was very, very godly. And they experienced a friendship with God like what was experienced in the Garden of Eden at the same time of living in this midst of shame. And that is our reality, our situation.
Then we have the cross. The cross helped us understand all of this. There was a second Adam who came. He was Jesus Christ. He was God’s son. He came and he lived this life of righteousness. We learned in the book of Romans that he was the second Adam. And those who are born of his seed - those who are created in him, in Christ Jesus, are now born into this innocence and have this new nature living inside of them.
Yes, it’s crazy and frustrating that we have these two natures inside of us. A sinful nature that wants things in opposition to God, that we got from Adam; and now we have this nature that has been born in us through Christ Jesus that wants the things of God. And it’s this wrestling match. We read about it in Romans 7 last week, where even Paul, this mighty man of faith is like, “The things I don’t want to do I keep doing. And the things I really, really want to do, I don’t even do them. And I find this struggle within me, this battle between shame and innocence. Who will save me from this body of death?” Is what he says.
JESUS CAME TO SAVE US
Then we get to Romans 8 and he says, “Now here’s the good news. Jesus Christ can save us. Because in him there’s no condemnation for the shame, for the sin.” No matter how grievous or horrible it is, when you stand before Jesus Christ, there’s no condemnation. It’s amazing. Not only is there no condemnation, there’s no consequence for it anymore for those who are in Christ Jesus. Because Jesus actually paid for it on the cross. He took it for you.
And then, he not only tells you “This is the right way to go,” but he puts his Spirit inside of you to help you war with that sinful nature, to help you overcome that sinful nature. It takes a while. It’s like riding a bike. You start trying to live after the Spirit and you’re like, “Come on, come on!” And you’re crashing all the time. But over time, all of a sudden you’re getting one hundred feet, two hundred feet, you’re riding with no hands.
Until the end of shame, we’re going to deal with this innocence and shame combination. But at that point, Christ returns. We’re going to talk about the last Sunday in this year. We’re going to talk about this innocence that has been promised to us, where there is a time, a day, an hour set by our Father where there will be no more shame. Our sinful nature will be no more. We will only have the innocent nature that Christ has given us. What a day of rejoicing that will be!
In the midst of this, we’re trying to learn how to live with shame and innocence all at the same time. Native tongue. Timeline of innocence.
Here’s a question for you: How are you doing today, guys? How was your week? How much alone time do you spend with God, every month, every week. And when you spend that alone time with God, how close do you feel? Do you feel far away? In the same neighborhood? Or hand in hand? And yes, feelings are not 100% trustworthy. We all know that at this point. But feelings do help us. They are one way we can discern what’s happening physically, emotionally, spiritually. So those are okay questions to ask.
Obviously, the goal is that we would spend most of our lives feeling very hand-in-hand with God. And some of you, at this point, are saying, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.” And that’s fine too. Hopefully it will make some sense by the end of this message.
WE WERE CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD
So, what are God’s good intentions that he created in the beginning? First of all, I think it’s important for us to check out Genesis. That’s where we get the story, the poem of Creation, the biblical account. In Genesis 1:24-27, I want you guys to notice something here that is very important as you begin to understand who God made you to be.
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds:
So God has created a lot of living things and now he’s saying, “I want all of the creation to produce after it’s own kind.
the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
And the word ‘kind’ here is likeness. So, obviously, we understand that when a snake has a baby, it looks like a snake. You know? It doesn’t look like a monkey. It looks like a snake. In their own likeness, in their own image.
26 Then God said,
[paraphrase: “However, with this next part of creation…]
“Let us make mankind
[check this out]
“Let us make mankind in our image,
Something very, very different is taking place in creation now. God made all the plants to create after their kind. God made all the animals to create after their kind. And then God said, “You know what? I want to make something that looks like us. I want to create something in our image. Imago Dei. Something that has our likeness.
That’s wild. You. You have the image of the Creator. You were made in the likeness of God himself. All of the rest of creation, God had an idea, “I want it to look and feel and act like this. And then I want it to make everything after that likeness.” But when it came to you and me, God decided to make you and me look, reflect, act, know, be in His likeness. It’s amazing. So
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
He didn’t create man in his image. He created male and female in his image.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
And as they were created in His image, he gave them dominion over the rest to care for them, to nurture, to bless with dominion.
So that’s the first thing. We were created in the image of God. You were created in the image of God. Whatever you feel about yourself right now, no matter how marred or broken you might be because of this world and the storms and the sin that come, you will never and can never lose the image of God that God created you in. You were made in His image.
WALKING IN THE IMAGE OF GOD
Second thing that we have is walking in the image of God. What’s so interesting to me is what we see pictured for us in the Scriptures about what it was like when people were living and experiencing innocence. In Genesis 3:8 we have this little allusion where the fall actually happened. We have God showing up in the cool of the day to meet with Adam and Eve. To be with them, to walk with them, to interact with them. I don’t know what they did. If they just ate some food, or if God taught them some things, or they just enjoyed each other’s presence and laughed. I don’t know what it was. But it seemed like once a day there was a time where God and Adam and Eve hung out.
It’s so interesting because, here in this innocence we’re trying to get back to, some of us think it’s like, “Oh, we have to be like spending time with God a thousand hours a day and working so hard and striving…” But when you look at what innocence was, it was not like that. It was spending time with God once a day, Taking time to remember the Creator and breathing in what he has to breathe. And hear his words and know his heart. And remind yourself of what your image is to look like.
Not only that, but in that moment they walked with God daily they didn’t hide from God. When the presence of God showed up, they didn’t feel the need to hide. They could just be who they were before God. And hopefully some of you are getting to a point in your relationship with God where when you sin, when you blow it, when you have a bad attitude, when you do something worse, it’s quick and easy for you to go to God and say, “Sorry.” That can happen, where your relationship with God is easy in that way.
I’m not saying it’s easy when you’ve got to go to your wife and say you're sorry that you were a big jerk. I don’t know how to make that easy. It’s always hard. But I have come to a place in my relationship with God where I feel I really can come to him with anything. And that’s a big change.
That’s what innocence was. It was not being afraid of God ever again. Not only that, but they were not ashamed of their imperfections. They weren’t comparing themselves. “Well, should I go to God today?” “Well, I’ve had a good day, so let’s go be with God.” They were naked. They knew they were not actually the image of God. God was still much more vast and broad and beautiful and everything, yet they were okay with who they were.
Just like a child, a child doesn’t compare himself to me. Like my nephew I was talking about last week. He doesn’t compare himself to me because I’m way better than him in everything. I wish he was here to hear that. He’s very okay when I beat him at anything or I’m better. He’s like, “Whatever. I’m getting better.” And that’s a great attitude to have. And that’s what they had.
They enjoyed and cared for creation. That’s interesting because we think about what God has created the world—there’s so many bad things out there. That’s the shame teaching us that. When God created the world, he created it with everything for them to enjoy except for one tree. God doesn’t want to limit your life and make you into this very safe, secure, small-minded, tiny, little person who is only able to enjoy church. I’m sorry, but if church is the only thing in Christ that you enjoy, you’re probably not fun to be with. Don’t call and ask me to hang out. I would rather hang out with somebody else.
God is not interested in making you good at church. That has never been his plan for your life. And church is - what? A few hours a week, maybe. For some of you, a couple of hours every year. God is trying to make you good at life, and is teaching you how to enjoy all of the creation he has for you without you being mastered by any of it. He wants you to enjoy everything. He made it for your enjoyment. But we kind of get it backward sometimes.
TRUST GOD WITH THE RESTRICTIONS
The last thing is that they trusted God about their restriction. When it came time to wrestle with, “Something inside me really wants this thing.” “Something inside me is drawn to this one tree.” Or “I have this question in my mind of ‘maybe this is a good thing for me.’” That’s going to happen to all of us. And we have to trust God even more than our own heart. And they were able to do that and it helped them to experience innocence.
We’ve got to trust God about the restrictions. No matter what the Supreme Court is telling us; no matter what the law of the land has changed in this way or that, for the good or for the bad—whatever. We’ve got to trust God about the restrictions. He knows your heart. And he is so interested in seeing it, like the Grinch, becoming ten times bigger that day. He would never restrict something from you that was good for you.
HOW TO RECEIVE YOUR IMAGE OF GOD
So that’s innocence. And this last thing, Receiving our image of God. So we’ve go to do a little work now. Go to Galatians 4. It’s time for a little Bible study. Giving you a lot of freebies here. But now you’ve got to engage your brain and get to work. Because this is Paul and his run-on sentences.
4:1 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world.
Basically, he’s talking legal terms here. He’s talking about you, as a young person, have an inheritance from your guardian, your parents. But a lot of times those parents have an age set to where you won’t get the full inheritance until you come of age, at a certain point. And until then, they usually put a guardian or some sort of caretaker for you until you get to that point where you’re able to receiving everything.
And that’s what Paul is saying. That was all of us. All of us were born into this situation but the inheritance has always been there. And God is constantly trying to teach us about this inheritance that we have in Christ Jesus. But all of us have lived under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. That’s very deep waters right there. We don’t have time for that. But it’s all these things that can master us. And Paul is specifically saying that one of the things, legalism, the law is what was a master for the Jews until the fullness of Christ came, where they no longer need the law as a guardian. Because now they have the Spirit of Christ that can teach them the way to go.
For us, there’s all kinds of elemental spiritual forces, but it’s basically the lies that we believe, or the guardians that are over us that are keeping us from the fullness of Christ. And he’s saying that, once we come of age we don’t have to deal with that anymore.
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b] 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
Paul’s saying that there was this time where you were in slavery. But in Christ you have been set free so don’t go back and settle for slavery again. Learn to live as a free person. And it’s hard to live as a free person. It’s like living left handed for those of us who are right handed.
There is this time when Christ came and he changed things so that we no longer have to live as slaves to the elemental forces. We can live in this innocence and learn to walk in it. But it takes time.
Go to chapter 5 and we’ll see how it looks in practical life.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
So he’s saying when you’re living out of the nature that Adam gave you it’s going to look like all of these things. But when you’re living out of the nature that Christ has born in you through his Spirit, it’s going to look like these things.
And I love this line. He says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” That’s it. How do you learn to walk in this innocence? How do you learn to overcome shame and the strongholds and the lies in hour life? You continue to walk in the Spirit.
TAKE GIDEON, FOR EXAMPLE
One of my favorite pictures of this in the Bible is a guy named Gideon. Gideon was a guy who we find in Judges 6 & 7. All of a sudden the movie camera pans over to this guy Gideon You can picture him. He’s kind of shrunk down, hiding out, he’s built these things around him and he’s trying to make himself a little bi t of food. The problem was, the Midianites had come and destroyed all the weapons in Israel and they had stolen all their food. They wouldn’t even allow them grain to make themselves food. And Gideon had snuck a little bit and was making himself a cracker.
And this angel of the Lord shows up to him and says, “Gideon!’ I’m sure he hid even more. And the angel says, “Gideon!” And he kind of moves away. “Gideon!” And he’s totally freaked out by this angel. And the angel says, “You are a mighty man of valor.” Now Gideon is cracking up. He’s like, “You are insane.”
And they go through this whole process with Gideon where God says, “I want you to set all my people free. I want you to overcome the Midianites.” You fast forward through multiple steps and then you have Gideon doing just that. It’s just a couple of chapters. You can read the story in Judges 6 and 7.
This is a story of how God took someone who was living out of this nature where he didn’t realize that he was created in the image of God. He didn’t know how to walk in the image of God. He didn’t know what God had in store for him. He didn’t know all of those things. Or maybe he did and he was just having trouble believing them.
But this angel shows up to him and says, “You’re a might man of valor.” And it’s so funny because Gideon does a bunch of weird stuff right there, just because he thinks that if he sees God he’s going to die. Which is just that same shame. It’s like, “If God shows up I’m going to die. I have to run. I have to quick make a sacrifice.”
He actually says to the angel, “Hey, could you wait right here? I’m going to go get a sacrifice.” And he runs away. And he gets the sacrifice and the angels is still there, and the angel’s like, “What is happening right now?”
And he makes a sacrifice and he says, “There. Now can I live?” And the angel is like, “You’re not going to die. You never were going to die.” But then the angel gives him one job to do. He says, “I want you to go into your father’s house, where he set up that idol in the middle of town, and I want you to tear it down.”
So how is Gideon going to get to become a mighty man of valor? Is it through strategy? Is through strength? Is it through striving? Did he start doing push-ups saying, “Here it comes. Here it comes.” No. He just learned to walk in step and stride with the Spirit. And the Spirit said, “First thing I want you to do. Take my hand and I want you to go and I want you to tear down that idol in your father’ house.”
So Gideon, this mighty man of valor, goes at the darkest time of night, in the sneakiest way possible, and does it, and goes and hides again. And the town is in an uproar, because “Somebody just tore down this idol and that god is going to be mad at us. And the Midianites are going to be mad at us. Who did this?”
And they go on a search. And Gideon never once says, “I did it.” He just hides out until they find out he did it. But then they don’t do anything to him. And step one is complete.
With Gideon it took a lot more steps. The Lord said, “Ok. Now come do this one.” And then, “Go do this one.” “Now do this little thing.” And he did all of those things so sheepishly, fearfully but it was enough for God to work it out.
And then, this is the image on your sermon notes. Right before the big battle is about to happen, Gideon is still so freaked out, even though God has met him so many times along the process, he’s still so nervous, so unsure of who he is, so doubtful of what God can do and what he can do. God says, “Gideon, I know you’re still freaked out. This is what I want you to do. I want you to get up and walk at night into the Midian camp, where they’re all camped out. And I want you to go to this one tent.”
It’s scary, but he says, “Okay, God, I’m going to walk with you.” He does one more step that God asks him to do. He gets up and he crouches next to this tent. And inside this tent, there are two men. One of them wakes up and he says, “I had this crazy dream.” And the other guy says, “What happened?”
He said, “I saw this biscuit of barley and it started rolling down and destroying all the tents. And it destroyed all of Midian.”
And the person next to him goes, “That’s got to be Gideon.”
That’s it. And then Gideon walks back. “Well, that was interesting.”
And there are a couple of things. One: God was still so willing to work with all of his fears, and all of his shame, and all of his doubts, and continue to take him step and stride across. But he had to keep taking the little steps God was giving him. But here’s what’s so interesting: Even his enemy knew his identity before he did.
GOD KNOWS YOUR IDENTITY
The truth is, God knows your identity and he wants to get you there. And the truth is that the enemy of your soul knows your identity and he wants to block you. But what you can do to get to that place where you become a mighty man of valor—or whatever women like to be—I don’t know, maybe women like to be mighty women of valor?—Polemeo? Really, whoever God has made you to be. You—exactly as God intended.
You just take his hand and you keep taking the steps he asks you to do. It’s not a matter of coming up with a better strategy, a better striving. It’s just, “Okay, God, what do you want me to do next?”
The picture I have in my mind is when my dad would take us across these big rivers and I was just this little dude. I was looking at some pictures on November 2, what would have been my dad’s 69th birthday. I remember this picture where he’s holding my hand and we’re in this big river. And there are these rocks that we have to jump to. He’s just got my hand and I’m not worried about anything. Even though this river could just destroy me, he’s got my hand. And he’s like, “Okay, jump to this rock. Jump to this rock.” And I’m not worried about it at all because I know he’s going to get me to the other side.
That’s what walking in the Spirit is. If you will invite Christ into your life, his Spirit will come and live in you and then his Spirit will say, “Hey, I want you to go talk to this person.” “I want you to go throw that thing away.” “I want you to …” and he’ll give you the steps. And he’ll give you the provision for those steps. And as you take those steps, you will be very afraid, but once you take those steps, the goodness of God will show up. And after you do that for a while, you begin to trust those things more and more. But the thing is, they keep getting bigger and bigger because God is making you bigger and bigger.
That’s all it is. It’s learning to not live out of this self anymore, but learning to live out of the Spirit and follow the things that he gives us to do. And that will get us back to where we are living and experiencing the innocence that God has intended for us from the very beginning.
Lord Jesus, we thank you very much that you have good intentions. You always have and you always will. I thank you that the fall of man and our own sin and depravity can’t keep us from your good intentions. Because what Jesus has done is far more powerful than any wrong we could have ever done. Please help us believe it, Lord. Please help us keep taking steps with you. Please help each of us to know what is the next step. We’re hungry for the next step, Lord. We’ve been fearful, but right now, today we are hungry for the next step because we want the freedom, the fullness that you’ve intended for us. So please bring it, Lord.