In his classic autobiography Confessions, Saint Augustine, a theologian of the early church, narrates an incident which happened when he was a teenager. There was a pear tree near his family’s vineyard loaded with fruit that wasn’t even attractive in appearance or taste. Yet he and some friends stole pears from the tree. They did so not to eat them themselves, but to throw them to the pigs. He says that he and his friends committed the theft simply because they had pleasure in doing something that was forbidden, a tale as old as that of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Many generations earlier, when God brought the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt and led them to the Promised Land, the people initially believed in and feared the Lord.1 But when they faced difficult circumstances in the course of their journey, they had a crisis of faith and turned away from God and Moses. While Moses was at the top of Mount Sinai receiving God’s Law, they made a golden idol of a calf to worship and sacrifice to.2 In the following centuries, the people of Israel and Judah continued to anger God with their idolatry and sinful actions, in spite of His goodness, miraculous protection and promises to them.3
Since the time of creation when the Bible tells us that God sought out Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God has desired intimate communion with mankind.4 But sin caused a breach in our relationship with the Creator, and we are unable to keep His commandments no matter how hard we try. As the Apostle Paul said, “When I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.”5 The Bible says that the breach between God and mankind has been bridged through Jesus Christ.6 Jesus’ life on earth, His death, and His resurrection paved the way for reconciliation and a new relationship with our heavenly Father. And having that relationship restored means new hearts that are responsive to God’s will for our lives.
“If you love me, obey my commandments. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them. All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.”—Jesus, John 14:15,21,23 NLT
1. See Exodus 14:31.
2. See Exodus 32:1–6.
3. See Jeremiah 7:9.
4. See Genesis 3:9.
5. Romans 7:21 NLT
6. See Romans 5:1.