In our practical Christianity God is not known; He is used. As a society we are driven by what we are able to consume. We want things now, if that means we need to be fast tracked, so be it, we never seem to see a higher cause. Therefore practical preaching has become the norm for our self centered consumer and pop driven society. We are often driven by one-liners because we are consumer driven and we do not have the time or the capacity to think of a higher cause than ourselves. The popular question often asked is, “What would Jesus do?” Instead of, “What Has Jesus done?” Harvard philosopher William James championed religious pragmatism as part of his general philosophy: “God is not known, He is used”. He said of pragmatist principles: “If the hypothesis of God works satisfactorily in the widest sense of the word, it is true”. Pragmatism leads to God being a means to the end of self-fulfillment³. So often modern preaching is like going to a do-it-yourself store filled with motivational one-liners such as; you are a king’s kid, your destiny is in your hands, you can do it. This kind of preaching was first perfected in the Garden of Eden to make self-full of wisdom and to be like God, knowing to discern between good and evil.
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Self-help preaching will take our focus off God and place it on self. Knowing God is walking in obedience and faithfulness toward His Word and carrying out the task. When God created man in His image and likeness He gave Adam a command that if he walked in obedience he would enjoy greater success or blessing.
GENESIS 1:26 & 28
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Adam knew God’s will as expressed in His Word of command. (Gen 2:16-17). So we as Christians today know God’s will by the Word of His command and not by self centered words that make us feel good about our self-centered Christianity. Adam knowing God’s will Adam was able to reflect on God making him in His image. You see my friend; Christianity is all about glorifying God. According to the Westminster Confession: Man’s chief end is to glorify God¹, and to enjoy Him forever². This is what Adam enjoyed before the fall. Adam as a son with God as Father was always the role that was set out for us to emulate. A son can never be Father God; he can be an image bearer. Adam, as the first image bearer, was responsible to keep sin out of the garden. He failed to act in faith and obedience to God’s word or command. So the same is true of our own lives when we fail to act on God’s commands we allow sin to enter our lives.
In conclusion, man was created as a responsible creature, in God’s image and likeness; he is never his own maker.
Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?”
7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself
No one of us should ever live for himself or die to himself. As created beings, the moment we live for ourselves and not for God, we place ourselves in the dubious position of allowing satan to corrupt us. No one of us should ever live for himself or die to himself.
¹Psalm 86, Romans 11:36, Revelation 4:11
²Psalm 16:5-11, Isaiah 12:2, Philippians 4:4
³ Extracts Michael Horton, A Better Way (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2002): 63.