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Different by Design (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
May 4, 2022 4:00 am

Different by Design (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 4, 2022 4:00 am

Scripture teaches that God designed men and women to be different to promote harmony. So why is there so much antagonism in the world, even in Christian relationships? Find out what went wrong when you listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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The Bible teaches that God designed us as men and women to be different so that there would be harmony. So why is there so much antagonism, even in Christian relationships?

Today on Truth for Life, we'll find out what went wrong. Alistair Begg is teaching from Genesis Chapter 2, we're in verses 15 through 25. We're going to accept what the Bible says. It says we're different by design. It says that the design is put there in order that we might live in harmony. I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, okay?

I'd like to buy the world a Coke, and so on. But any perceptive person says, This thing is messed up. I mean, if that's what you're telling me, that this God made this different by design, and the reason that he made it in this way for harmony, goodness gracious, something very badly has gone wrong.

The machinery is not doing what it's supposed to do. Statistics tell me that. Life tells me that.

My own feeling as a woman tells me that. The struggle that I have within my marriage, the fearfulness that I have as I look upon my children, all manner of things around me are saying something is dreadfully wrong. Well, yes, something is dreadfully wrong. But again, if you want to go to the Bible and allow the Bible to answer the question, then you will be able to discover that that which has gone dreadfully wrong has not taken the designer by surprise, and that he has already written into the process the mechanism whereby his design, which is a good and perfect design that has been flawed, may actually be recreated.

So think with me. What did go wrong? What went wrong? Well, you just need to read what happened here. God gave them instructions. He said, Now, I want you to do certain things, and there's only one thing that I don't want you to do.

And the one thing that he didn't want them to do was the one thing that they decided to do. The Lord God took the man, verse 15, to put him in the garden, work it, take care of it, and he commanded the man, You're free to eat from any tree in the garden. You mustn't eat from the tree of the knowledge of good or evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die.

So here is this wonderful, phenomenal environment in which to live. And man turns his back on what God has said, doesn't want to know, is unprepared to do the one thing, and suddenly what God has made, different by design, with all of the harmony and wholeness that is represented in that design, is now marred. It is spoiled. And suddenly, into the story comes guilt, comes alienation, comes suspicion, comes shame. One of the children kills the other kid, and the family becomes a battlefield.

How did it go so wrong so quickly? Look at the end of chapter 2. And the man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. They were naked, and they felt no shame. In other words, they just lived in this fantastic harmony with one another. They didn't have to have a book on anything, you know, no big thing written up on the wall for them to do or not to do, or, Make sure you do this or make sure you don't do that. He said, Look, just do your thing and have a fabulous time in the garden.

Have a fabulous time. But don't do that. So rebellion comes in. Embarrassment comes in. In verse 7 of chapter 3, the eyes of both of them were opened. They realized that they were naked, and so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. What do you mean? They didn't know in verse 25 of chapter 2 that they were naked, and then they only realized they were naked in chapter 3?

Yeah. Because it never occurred to them to be anything else other than naked. I mean, where would the idea of clothes come from? Suddenly, rebellion, sin, shame, awareness, alienation, guilt, hiding are all part and parcel of the experience. We do not need the Bible to understand that our circumstances today as men and women are marked by personal fragmentation, by social tension, and by spiritual alienation. We know what it is to feel a sense of angst, that we're not really even comfortable within our own skin, that we can't fully explain who we are or what we are. We don't understand why it is that we feel the way we do towards other people. Sometimes we feel kindly disposed to them. Other times we could kill them. And this idea of a God who has made us and has plans for us, frankly, we don't have time for it.

And then the occasions that we do think about it, we usually think of it in very sentimental terms, as if he was a gigantic Santa Claus waiting for the children to come and sit up on his lap. But our worldview cannot explain why we are as we are. Whether we accept this explanation of the Bible or not, I think we have to be honest enough to say that the Bible is prepared to give an explanation as to what went dreadfully wrong. God made it, and he said, This is really, really good.

All of a sudden, it's not as good as he made it. The world that you and I know today—the world of sexuality, the world of family, the world as we know it today—is not the world as God made it in all of its pristine beauty, but is the world as spoiled by man, who determined to turn his back on God and to try and formulate the plan in his own way—to take the things that God had designed for our good, namely our sexuality, our masculinity, our femininity, and to turn them to our own selfish ends. And as a result of that, you see exactly what happens. The woman is created second, and yet she sins first.

She's intended as a helper—what kind of help is this? To lead him into sin? And yet, interestingly, Adam, elsewhere in the Scripture, is held absolutely responsible for sin. It doesn't say, As in Eve all die. It says, As in Adam all die. Adam, who was supposed to be the leader, supposed to be responsible, is found to be irresponsible, found not to take the lead. The order of events is completely turned upside down, and the consequences are tragic.

In fact, the consequences are judgment. In verse 16 of chapter 3, to the woman he said, I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing. With pain you will give birth to children.

Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. And to Adam he said, Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, you must not eat it. Cursed is the ground because of you. Through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.

It will produce thorns and thistles and dandelions, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken from dust you are, and to dust you will return. But you see, but wasn't work one of the gifts? Wasn't work there in all of its pristine beauty?

Yes, work that would never be drudgery. In other words, he could have, well, I was going to say he could have raked leaves till his heart's content, but he wouldn't have had to rake leaves, presumably, unless God fashioned into it the cycle of the seasons. If he did, then he would have said, I'm out raking leaves. Raking leaves, I'm raking leaves. Oh, I love to rake my leaves. Oh, diddly-doo-dah. And Eve's coming and going, Can I get you a sandwich?

I'd love to get you a sandwich. Now all of a sudden he wakes up and he goes, If I see another stinking leaf, have you seen my hands? And she's saying, you know, when you're raking leaves this afternoon, if you shout on me one more time, bring me a Coke, I will take the rake. And the children says, Mommy, don't you love Daddy?

Yes, I do. Isn't it great having babies? It's great having babies, but not as great as it would have been. Is it great going to work? Some days. But the fact of the matter is that under the sun, work is ultimately drudgery. It's just the same old, same old, same old. You work to get enough money to buy food so that you can stay alive, so that you can go to work to get money to buy food, to stay alive, to work, to get money, food, stay alive, and so on, and make money the old-fashioned way, and make sure you have enough before you finally keel over in your nursing home and hit the hearse.

Doesn't sound great, does it? It's a judgment of God. It's a judgment of God. So the characteristics of life, the elements of distinction, the provision for harmony, wasn't removed. It wasn't changed in the sense that the God gave out different deals.

The same things were present, but now they were spoiled. Pain in childbirth, sweat in labor, and Adam in this context now names Eve. Adam names Eve. Now, there's something in this, I think—we can't stay on it—but, you know, Adam had named the animals.

It was a picture of his domination. And now he names Eve. Let me tell you who you are. You're Eve. You're a living thing.

You're gonna produce other living things. And so, from now on, in place of intelligent understanding, intelligent submission, intelligent leadership, the thing goes south. The wife's submission then, if you will note clearly what I just read to you, tends to be characterized by one of two experiences, and often the simultaneous experience. One, the desire to reverse the roles and thereby take the lead over her husband.

Her desire was for. It's the same verb that is used, incidentally, in chapter 4, where it says that sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you. In other words, it desires to control you.

It desires to dominate you. And as a result of the fall, the principle of harmonious distinction within the marriage bond is now messed up. And the affinity of man and woman in the harmony and wholeness of their nakedness and in all of the bliss that God has intended is now jeopardized as a result of sin. And so the woman's experience is in part to say, You know what?

I'll take control of this. Or her experience of submission is the experience of unjust subjugation as a result of the wrongful domination of her husband. And what happens is that the marriage simply becomes one of struggle and conflict. As a result of the fall, as a result of sin, man now rules over woman in a way that wasn't true beforehand.

The woman has effectively taken leadership in eating. It was contrary to God's plan. It had disastrous results.

Man has failed in his leadership and shares in the disastrous results. While their relationship with God was intact, there was no need for emphasis upon the principles, the roles, and the submissions. They rejoiced in turning towards one another. There was a wonderful harmony about their lives.

Clearly, that's what the whole picture is in the garden. But as soon as sin enters, then there is the need to articulate, to teach, the juxtaposition of what it means to rule and what it means to submit. Somebody's sitting out there saying, Ah, yes, but tell the people, tell everybody here that once you become a Christian, that fixes it, you know.

No, I'm not gonna tell you that. I spent years in pastoral ministry dealing with people who both follow Christ and those who don't follow Christ, and frankly, in my experience, I've dealt with as many people within the framework of following Christ, whose marriages are a royal shambles, as I ever have with those who profess no interest in Jesus. So you see, my dear sisters and friends, that's why I'm saying to you, you don't need ten principles about how to do this and how to do that. You need to come to a convinced understanding of what it was supposed to be and what it actually is. Because when you realize what it actually is—because I'm a sinner, and you're a sinner, and your husband definitely is a sinner, and that your whole marriage is one ugly person married to another ugly person trying to make their way through one ugly journey in life with a bunch of ugly kids—then you can have a far more sane and realistic estimation of what's going on, rather than the silly nonsense that is held out either in periodicals that are produced in a secular environment or is held out, frankly, in periodicals that are produced from Christian publishing houses which are not true to life.

They're just not true. Because regeneration, the new birth, the transformation brought about by Christ, does not eradicate my fleshly instincts, my desire for selfishness, my propensities to go my own way. I am no longer before God held to account on the basis of what I have trusted in the work of Christ, but the fact of the matter is that my wife knows that she's still married to a saved sinner. And the saved part may sometimes be lost in the sinner part as she tries to make her journey through her days. So the new birth doesn't fix it all. If you've got problems in communicating with your husband, the answer is not to sit around singing, you know, I'm so glad that Jesus lifted me.

I mean, you can do that. But the fact of the matter is either your husband needs to speak up or he needs to shut up. You need to either speak up or shut up. This isn't rocket science. It's so funny. We don't talk anymore.

That was Cliff Richard. In sexual terms, the answer to the erosion of physical intimacy is not found in some strange esoteric abstraction in relationship to what it means for me to be a Christian. Not that what it means for me to be a Christian is not directly related to all of that.

Not that my own perverse human spirit is not wrapped up in all of that. But the idea for our non-Christian friends that the answer is Jesus to every question is something that we've got to be very, very careful in saying. Yes, ultimately, the answer is that. But the issues that confront us in the living of our lives are real issues, and that our sense as men of priority equaling superiority rather than responsibility erodes confidence and trust. It ends up putting us in a position where men and women are living as rivals rather than different by design, of suggesting that our gifts and our personalities were there so that we could fight with one another rather than that we could complement one another.

And again, I say to you that if we just look around us, we can see the evidence of it everywhere. I'll just finish with a couple of quotes here. "'Women are increasingly to be found succeeding in the workplace while their menfolk who cannot get jobs stay home and look after the kids. Writer Shirley Conran was not far from the mark with her ideal of superwoman, but they face the agony of tension between career and home. They spend years earning degrees and doing professional training, and it seems absurd to stop and give it all up. But it seems just as absurd to have a child and then leave it for someone else to raise. Despite the massive advance of the women's movement in the last half-century, the haunting question remains, how am I best to deploy my life?

Who on earth am I? Currently,' says this author, it's even more difficult for men. The swinging sixties changed women, but the nurturing nineties are changing men. The young men of this generation are the first to be raised on an equal basis with women. They are expected to be sensitive as well as manly, to cook as well as play sport, to bath the kids and spend time caring for them and not leave it all to their partner. They are to be strong, yet to be totally rid of male aggression and the overbearing arrogance that has, alas, been so common down countless centuries.

And the change is all supposed to happen now, in one generation, a generation moreover, when the woman may prove to be the better breadwinner as well as the better homemaker, thus causing the man to say, Who in the world am I? Where do I fit into this? And the answer of lesbianism is you don't fit in at all. I do not need you.

I don't want you. And I am free to design my own package. God says, no, you're not. No more free to design it than is a man to step outside the framework of his marriage and be involved in multiple relationships with other women.

You're no more free to do that than we are to recreate marriage to our own design. Now, the wonderful thing in the story is that although everything has gone so dreadfully wrong, God in his mercy doesn't say, Well, you know, you did what I told you not to do, so therefore you're done. No, he actually comes to seek them out. He comes to seek them out.

He judges them in justice, because he must. This is how it's going to be, he says. There are implications of this.

You will surely die. Death, which was not the design from the beginning, enters into the world. But the fabulous thing is that having now discovered themselves to be shameful, aware of their nakedness, he comes along, and in verse 21 of chapter 3, he says, The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and he clothed them, and he clothed them. And that, of course, is the picture of the unfolding story of Jesus—that we turn our back on God in rebellion against his plan and against his design. God sends his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in order that he might provide a covering for us, in order that by his death we may be covered over by all of his righteousness, that all of that mercy and all of that grace may become ours, something that we don't deserve, having turned our back on him. All the love of God, all the mercy of God, all the goodness of God, to come to our rebellious hearts, to come to our family battlefields, to come to our upside-down lives, and say, Here, I've got a covering for you. I've got an answer for you. I have a future for you. You've been trying it your own way.

How about you just try it my way? Father, we pray that as we think these issues through, that the Spirit of God will be our teacher. Help us to examine the Bible, to see if these things are so. For we pray in Jesus' name, amen. God uniquely fashioned men and women to complement each other, but sin corrupted his perfect design and often makes us rivals.

You're listening to Alistair Begg, and this is Truth for Life. To go along with our current study about women, we've selected a book we're recommending titled Women and God. This book gives us a survey of women throughout biblical history. It begins in Genesis, considering how and why God created both men and women. Next it takes us to some of the darker days for women, described in the Old Testament in books like Deuteronomy and Judges. Finally, we see how Jesus interacts with women in the Gospels. All of this historical exploration leads us to a better understanding of God's plan for women today in marriage, in single life, and in the Church. Request your copy of the book Women and God when you give a donation to support the ministry of Truth for Life.

To give, click on the image in the mobile app or visit us online at truthforlife.org slash donate. Now today is the last day for the Basics 2022 Pastors Conference at Parkside Church. Please continue to pray for the men who attended in person or via live stream. Pray that as they leave the conference, they will be refreshed and recharged, ready to return home to their churches and to embrace the lessons they've learned.

I'm Bob Lapine. Just mention the word submission and watch how women and men begin to feel uncomfortable or maybe even angry. Tomorrow we'll learn why genuine biblical submission isn't something to be feared or resented, it's something to be embraced. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-23 12:23:55 / 2023-04-23 12:32:27 / 9

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