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The Two Deadliest Sins We Almost Never Discuss

Here's a question to consider: What really caused Eve to fall in the Garden of Eden? People often discuss the fall of man using the phrase original sin. This original sin is usually refers to the general disobedience to God and the partaking of the fruit. Partaking of the fruit was the literal act which disobeyed God, but what actually caused Eve to make that decision?

To understand this, we have to examine what the serpent suggested to Eve. In the previous blog, we covered the dialogue that happened between them. We learned that the serpent never actually commanded or requested for her to eat the fruit. He simply influenced her through conversation. Now, I want to focus on what was happening inside of Eve that led to the fall. What was the tagline, slogan, or money shot sparked something within her?

Right before she made that decision, the serpent spoke these words:

Genesis 3:4-5 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

This was the last thing the serpent said to Eve. So, why was this statement so effective? Well, the real selling point to Eve was that she could be as God, knowing good and evil. The idea of being like God stirred up two very dangerous things within Eve: Ambition and Independence.

Ambition was birthed because Eve became selfishly motivated to become her own God. She wanted to strive to obtain God's level. Independence was birthed because if she can become her own God, then she no longer needs God. It didn't take a long conversation for these two qualities to be ignited within Eve and that's what makes them so dangerous. There's something within the human ego that almost naturally gravitates towards these qualities.

Inspiration and Motivation

Ambition is an attribute that seems great, on the surface. If you go to a job interview, the employer is probably looking for someone who is ambitious. If you ask women what type of man they are looking for, they'll often say they want an ambitious man. Ambition is an attribute that inspires productivity, creativity, and progress. Had it not been for ambitious people, we would not have the technological, industrial, and social advancements that we enjoy today.

According to Merriam-Webster, ambition is defined as, "an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power" or a "desire to achieve a particular end". Oftentimes, certain things only becomes sinful when they are abused. For example, there is nothing sinful about eating, but overeating becomes gluttonous and sinful. Resting is a great thing; even God rested. However, too much rest basically amounts to laziness and slothfulness.

Ambition is the same way. By itself, ambition can be a good quality. The real question we must ask is: What is the inspiration (and motivation) behind the ambition? The word inspire is of latin origin, and the root word is "spirare" which means breath or spirit. So, when we feel inspired to do something, the first question we should ask is: What spirit is inspiring me to do this? Is this something that God wants me to do? Or, is this a desire that is being birthed out of my own personal desires?

When Jesus was near the time of his crucifixion, he and his disciples were headed to Jerusalem. While on the way, they entered into a Samaritan village, but the Samaritans did not receive Jesus. James and John were not happy with this:

Luke 9:54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

At face value, James and John appeared to be doing something noble. They loved Jesus and saw that these people were giving him a hard time. They knew they had the power to change the situation because of all the miracles they had performed, as well as the prophet Elijah calling fire down from heaven in the old testament. So, the situation is perfect for them to do something about it. Right? Not so fast:

Luke 9:55-56 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

Jesus actually rebuked James and John and told them that they don't know what type of spirit they are under. Their decision seemed good. They had pure motives. They even had a scriptural precedent for doing it. The problem is that they were being led by the wrong Spirit. This is the difference between a good thing and a God thing.

This is not the first time that these brothers were ambitious. In Mark, James and John came to Jesus asking to sit with Jesus on the throne in glory. Jesus basically explained that they didn't understand the magnitute of what they were asking. There is a ton of sacrifice required and it's ultimately up to the Father to determine. Jesus went on to say that whoever wants to be the greatest must be servant of all. (Mark 10:35-44)

As we can see, selfish ambition is one of the sneakiest sins when it has the wrong motive. It can be a pure motive that is misguided or a malicious motive for selfish gain. The point is, neither is led by the Spirit of God. Most of the time, ambition is motivated by the idea of making yourself great, becoming some great one (Acts 8:9), or building your own kingdom. The bible doesn't call selfish ambition by name, but it does mention vainglory, emulation, and covetousness. That's what the serpent birthed in Eve - the motivation to build her own kingdom apart from God. Ambition, when mishandled, is nothing more than an offsprings of pride.

Independent or In-Dependence

Another offspring of pride is independence. Independence is often herolded as a great quality. People are taught by their parents to grow up and become independent. We have songs about independent women and how wonderful it is to be independent. Many people who have their livest together will boastfully tell you about their independence when you didn't even ask! As great as all this seems, it's usually nothing more than a well packaged rendition of pride.

Independence implies that one is self-sustaining and not in need of anyone else. A quick Google search defines independent as: "Not governed by a foreign power; self-governing."; "Free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others; self-reliant."; and "Not determined or influenced by someone or something else; not contingent."

When you read those definitions, do they seem to include or exclude God? When Eve believed that she could be like God and know good and evil, it eliminated her need for God because now she can live and make decisions based on her own understanding. We generally associate independence with being a fully functional adult. Let be clear. We should all strive to be fully functional adults. However, the mindset of a believer needs to be that without God, we cannot make it on our own.

One phrase I use to express this is, "I'm not independent; I'm in-dependence." If we wake up in the morning, it's because God allowed it. If we graduate school with honors, it's because God blessed us with intelligence and drive. If we are successful at work, it's because God has blessed the work of our hands and caused us to prosper. People absolutely work hard for accomplishments, but we can never lose site of the fact that God is the source of every good and perfect thing.

Who's Kingdom Are You Building?

In closing, selfish ambition and independence are a part of the family of pride. The reason why they go unchecked so often is because they are usually veiled as good qualities. If I say call myself prideful, the red flags will immediately go up. However, if I describe myself as ambitious and independent, some will call it a "good" thing. Eve and the serpent have demonstrated to us our inherent propensity to want to do things on our own. Accomplishment is a wonderful feeling and when you think you're doing it by yourself, it means you get all the glory. Let's be mindful to focus on building the kingdom of God and not our own.



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