Loose threads…we all have them in our lives, you know. Some of them may be hopes, dreams, or aspirations that have never been fulfilled or, as in the case of my mother, they may have been the result of decisions that were made that didn’t turn out quite the way we had intended. But, just because they show up in our lives, that doesn’t mean that they are always bad things. As we saw last time, the loose threads in my mother’s life were the results of a decision that she had made and even though that decision didn’t bring the results that she had hoped for, in the end, the loose threads that it created were tied up in a way far better than either of us could have ever imagined.
You may not have realized it but even you and I have developed a few loose threads in our relationship in just the short time that we have been visiting together. If you will recall, way back, when we were reflecting on “The Way We Are Isn’t the Way We Were,” we found ourselves confronted by a dilemma that has been plaguing mankind since the Garden of Eden—which is, why is it that when we want to do what it is right, we so often find ourselves doing that which is wrong? As a way to try and find the reason for that dilemma, we took a little trip back to the Garden, back to the place where the human story started, and back to the place where everything started to fall apart.
Since then, we have examined the story of Adam and Eve from a number of different angles, but no matter how we have looked at it, their decision to disobey God in no way delivered the results that they had been hoping for; instead, what they ended up with was a bunch of loose threads that were passed down to their children’s children and beyond; threads which changed forever the way that we would relate to God, to each other, and to the world in which we lived. So, in order for us to tie up the loose threads that were created for us by our journey back to Eden, we need to go back and take a look at the threads that Adam and Eve left dangling for us—threads which were ultimately tied up so beautifully and completely in and by Christ.
Do you remember what we said were God’s purposes for the people that He created? In “…But Why Couldn’t We Stay the Way We Were?” we learned that His plan was for them to become His children, and for them to rule and reign over the earth in righteousness. As the righteous sons of God, they would live in harmony with Him, in harmony with each other, and in harmony with the world that He had created. Wow, what a plan that was! Unfortunately, when Adam was tested to prove that he was righteous, he failed by breaking the first law of Sonship, which was obedience to the Father. We saw this failure acted out for us in, “And Now, the Drama Begins…”, in a scene which revealed how Satan’s cunning assault on the bodies, souls, and spirits of the first humans led not only to their fall from grace, but also to the overturning of the authority and communication structures that had been put in place by God.
Remember the little diagram (see Figure 1) we used to illustrate God’s system for communicating with man: Spirit to spirit, spirit to soul, and soul to body? Well, after the fall, and the death or separation of man’s spirit from God’s spirit, that system looked something like this (see Figure 2). As you can see, once sin entered the picture, the thread that had connected man’s spirit to God’s Spirit was severed, effectively eliminating any communication between him and God. And, once that thread had been cut, the thread that had previously linked man’s spirit to his soul also became disconnected. From that point on, when questions arose about how a person should live his life, his soul and body were left on their own to come up with the answers. And when that happened, the flesh—that is, both body and soul—took over and tried to do a job that could only be done by the spirit.
What a mess this created! Without instruction coming from his spirit, instead of man’s soul telling his body what to do, his body started telling his soul what to do. Of course, the body being what it is, this lead to all sorts of physical sins; sins such as sexual immorality, gluttony, physical abuse, and even murder. And without any Godly direction or power to keep it in check, the soul also ran amok; becoming the breeding ground for such sins as pride, envy, greed, malice, and gossip. In Ephesians 2:1-3, the Apostle Paul describes the situation that these loose threads created for each of us, when he wrote…
And you were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind.
You would think that a few loose threads like these would be enough for anyone’s descendants to have to deal with, wouldn’t you? But sadly, that is not the case here; at least three other ones were created for us as a direct result of Adam and Eve’s one fateful decision to disobey God. If you will recall, in “EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!”—the newspaper article which reported the judgments handed down by God against the serpent and the couple, we learned exactly what they were:
- In His judgment against the serpent, God declared that there would be constant spiritual conflict between the serpent and the offspring of the woman—creating the thread of spiritual disharmony and warfare;
- In His judgment upon the woman, not only would her pain in bringing forth children be multiplied, but because she had usurped the leadership role of her husband, she would always be trying to take control away from him while he would always be seeking to dominate and subjugate her—creating the thread of relational disharmony, and more particularly, warfare between the sexes; and,
- In His judgment upon the man, because he had abdicated his role as leader and provider, that which had previously been easy for him to obtain would now become a toilsome and difficult task, putting him at odds with the natural world that had previously been his source of abundant provision—creating the thread of disharmony between man and nature, and ultimately leading to the exploitation of the earth because of man’s greed.
Did I say before, “What a mess?” Given the pile of knots created by all of these loose threads dangling down through the generations, it is a wonder that we ever get anything right at all! Maybe now we can better appreciate some of the agony expressed by Paul in that passage in Romans 7:24-25 that we quoted back in “The Way We Are Isn’t the Way We Were,” as he cried out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! ” Yes, thanks be to God that through Jesus Christ our Lord–the One unbroken thread, the crimson cord running throughout all of human history–for He has tied up all our loose threads and woven them perfectly and completely into the glorious tapestry that He calls “Redemption!”