Somebody asked me this question recently and it involves more than I thought it did.
If you remember, I previously discussed the temptation of Eve in the garden. And the allegorical seduction that occurred diverting her from her spiritual self to worldliness. And This is why they were ashamed. A fair reading of genesis 2: 25 through 3: 10 shows clearly that this is not about following rules, but is about spirituality, sight, and our relationship with God.
Paul understood this.
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppressed the truth by their wickedness. Since what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—has been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
“Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They became filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; They invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:18-30, in part.
You see, what has happened is that people have been diverted in their attention and in their interests away from the Spirit to the worldly and the physical and those things that are made from the earth, and away from God who is spirit. In this, man has lost spiritual sight and the ability to connect with God.
Man has in effect sold the spirit cheaply, exchanging it for things that are worthless and dross and rags instead of that which is gold and silver and precious stones. Spirit is a much more precious than anything in this world, even gold and silver and precious stones. In fact, the things that have been created in the world that is physical are nothing compared to the things in the spiritual realm which are eternal and glorious beyond comprehension.
And we can be in that spiritual realm not only after we die in the flesh, but here and now at least in part. When we are obedient and following God and listening to God and the Holy Spirit is flowing through us like streams of living water in John 7: 37. We do not have to wait to be able to walk by faith and not by sight. With God's help, we can do that now. Not all the time not every minute of every day but God does send the Holy Spirit to help us as we are obedient and as we follow him.
Back to Jesus. Jesus was offered everything to sell out the spirit in Matthew 4, when he was tempted by the devil in this way. He could have had all the kingdoms of the world, all the gold, all the jewels, all the food, all the women, anything, and everything he wanted forever and ever. Matthew 4:1-11. Because he was the son of God, it was all his from the beginning. He was the heir to God. Galatians 3:15- 16.
Christ passed the test. He chose to die on the cross, hands and feet spiked to the wood. Hung up over whole world in shame. No comfort, no one taking his side, this is how he died. And he did it for us, for you and for me. In this, he showed us the way to exchange this world for what is spiritual and enduring and worthwhile and heavenly and permanent; to exchange what is temporary and unworthy for that which is worthy and permanent.
In all of this we see why Christ had to die. People become more excited about football than about Jesus. They wear football jerseys and host parties and talk about football at the water cooler at work. They scream at the television watching a football game. Where is that passion for Jesus Christ who died for you? Would you scream for Jesus? Would you skip a football game in the playoffs for Jesus? If you did so, would you be unhappy because you missed an opportunity to watch football with your friends and drink beer? These questions are not frivolous! I know that many people think if I go to church, if I tithe, if I serve on committees, if I help with a food drive or some other charitable activity, that I am covered.
Remember Ananias and Sapphira. Acts 5:1-11. This story is included in the book of Acts in order to show us that halfhearted efforts and token gifts are not going to get anyone into the Kingdom of heaven.
Jesus Christ himself will judge the world. John 5:22 and he judges the heart. You can't fool him. “For the word of God is living and active Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13. See also Revelation 3:14-21.
Therefore, Christ demands of us who call ourselves Christians that we have a true heart for him. That we are more passionate about him than we are about anything in the world. Fortunately, if you are reading this it is not too late God accepts latecomers with a true heart. And he puts them first. This is God's way. There is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner saved than overall the righteous. Just like Scrooge on Christmas morning we realize that it is not too late our heart can be changed, we can be the person Christ is calling. He will send the Holy Spirit to hold our hands and help us and he will never abandon us. This is the good news—all we must do is to take our first step to Christ with a true heart and he is there waiting for us where he's been waiting all along. He is the great high priest, and he always intercedes for us. But he doesn't accept lukewarm efforts, half efforts, or reserved efforts. He doesn't accept tokens. He wants us to be all in for him.
So, this is a hard teaching, but it is also a hopeful teaching. Hopeful that every one of us remember at all times that we owe Christ absolutely everything. That we cannot put anything above him or beside Him. That we cannot scorn the Holy Spirit which will come and help us and fill us up and give us the power to do God's will even when we are certain that we can't do it.
I hope that everyone reading this is encouraged and happy in the knowledge that it is Christmas morning and there is no reason we can't show forth the glory of Christ in it.