A Wrong View of God
For a long time, the end of Genesis 3 was a starting point for how I looked at God.
“Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:23-24)
At the surface level, He seemed like an angry, resentful God who didn’t allow for mistakes. I mean, He sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden for doing one thing wrong. So I just couldn't wrap my mind around how the God who called Himself “Love” would exile His people for making a wrong choice.
This was in the early stages of my faith journey with God. I believed He was demanding and unappeasable. From Genesis 3, I found myself filtering nearly every word I read about Him through the tone of cruelty.
Missing God in Scripture
Unfortunately, this sent me down a long road of misinterpreting Scripture, misunderstanding God, and honestly—just not really knowing Him well at all. As a believer, not knowing who God seemed contradictory, but that’s where I found myself for many years. And I think Satan really liked having me in that place. Not only was I confused about who God was, but I also felt like a fraud who didn’t always believe what I read or heard about the Lord I believed in.
But through prayer, biblical counsel, and maturity, I am beginning to see God in a new light. The temptation to hear His tone as angry and disapproving still lingers, but His grace is sufficient in showing me who He truly is and what He’s really about. A friend recently pointed out, when we approach the Bible with the question, “How does this affect me?” we close ourselves off to learning about God. We’re essentially seeking to know more about ourselves, whether due to a lack of understanding who we truly are, or in order to combat the guilt and shame we feel, and we’re not seeking Him at all. We’ve cut God out of the picture in an effort to “find ourselves” through Scripture.
Scripture is All About God
What we fail to realize is that Scripture is not about us. When we approach the Bible to find out more about who we are, we come up empty-handed almost every time. We find commandments in Scripture that seem to be impossible. Or we find a God who is perfect and holy and good, which is a major turnoff because we, ourselves, are none of those things. So we can’t relate to a God of that nature. Then we either walk away from the Bible feeling worse about ourselves and live in a cycle of hiding and shame, or we live in the cycle of works-based faith, striving at every turn to prove our worth and goodness.
Instead, when we approach the Bible with the question: “What does this teach me about who God is?” the narrative begins to shift. We still see God as a perfect, holy, and good King—but we see His kindness, gentleness, and love as well. Although His commandments seem impossible for a sinner like me, there is hope! “The God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever” (Hebrews 13:20–21).
Obeying the God of Scripture
God equips us to do His will. He gives us what we need to accomplish His commandments. There is nothing inside of us that is good enough, strong enough, or hard-working enough to please God. Not the Bible verses we have memorized, our church attendance record, or our abstaining from drinking or smoking or cussing or gossiping. None of that makes us good enough to please the Lord.
Approaching the Bible solely to discover how Scripture applies to our lives or to learn how to be a better Christian will always reinforce a works-based religion. We will not see the freedom, abundance, and grace of Jesus if we only approach Scripture in this way. The doubt, insecurities, hiding, shame, and guilt will cycle until we’re so far removed from the truth that we don’t even realize it. Again—right where Satan wants us.
But instead, if we approach the Bible desiring to learn more about God—who He is, what He does, and what He’s about—then we will see the Spirit transform our lives. As we understand Him more, we will then understand ourselves more. We’ll see ourselves rightly compared to God. We won’t hold ourselves higher than Him. Instead of basing our faith in what we do, it becomes based on what He has done and is continuing to do.
Meeting the One True God
Using this new way of reading Scripture, I see Genesis 3 in a completely different way. Reading those verses again with the question, “What does this teach me about God?” I see His kindness, graciousness, and faithfulness in sending Adam and Eve from the Garden. His heartache for what happened is clearly evident, as well as His just anger. He loved Adam and Eve. They were His children. And they not only disobeyed Him (which now as a parent I can see how much that hurts), but they essentially said they loved something else more than their Creator.
If God had allowed Adam and Eve to remain in the garden after eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they could have eaten from the Tree of Life. This would have secured an eternal separation from God in their sinful state. Yet, when He removed them from the garden, He secured a new future with an opportunity for eternal life in unity with Himself through Christ. That act of removal was one of grace, provision, and protection.
Sending Adam and Eve out of the Garden was God’s way of eventually bringing us back into the Garden. By closing the entrance to Eden, He opened the way back to Himself as He hung on a cross. From the beginning, He has been that God. He has always been the One who seeks us, protects us, and saves us. From our sin and from ourselves.
Let us not be tempted to “find ourselves” in Scripture. In a culture that’s obsessed with personality tests and numbers and labels, we have to deny the urge to seek more of who we are and begin to seek more of who God is. By doing so, we will find what our souls are ultimately searching for, and that is and always has been Jesus.
Your friend, Logan
Logan Hahn is an unlikely pastor’s wife and girl mama. She stays home and raises her babies, taps away at her computer, and talks a lot about Jesus. Her experience in marriage and motherhood has been both refining and forgiving. God likes to play jokes on her, but they always end up being part of a better plan than she dreamed. Logan leaves laundry in the dryer and her quiet time is rarely quiet. Find her at Plant & Prune.