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The Devil’s Basketball

“Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.”

Ezekiel 28:15 KJV

My wife, Lisa, gave a brilliant illustration to her grandson, Zane, using the game of basketball that he loves as a way to explain God’s plan of salvation. She described the necessity of the rules of basketball in making it a fair contest. As she explained, normally it is the plan and desire of each team to come away with a victory by playing the game fairly, according to the rules that define the game of basketball.

Now, what if a team shows up that doesn’t just want to win the contest fairly? Instead, they want to change the rules to their advantage so that they could never lose. Could we still call the game basketball? or is it something else? Even if this team called it basketball, it wasn’t basketball. Of course, you don’t want to play their game, you want to play basketball.

So now imagine that in order to identify everybody that wanted to play the real game of basketball, only those who chose to play by the rules of basketball would be given a unique red hoodie to wear. This way it would be easy to see who belonged to the game of basketball and who just wanted to make sure no one else but themselves could win.

In the same way, just as you would look for that unique red hoodie to see who the real basketball players are, God looks to see who has the blood of Christ applied to their soul for forgiveness of sins. By this He knows who is a real Christian. Just like those pretend basketball players, those who aren’t real Christians proudly boast that they are so good that they will always win.

C.S. Lewis states in his book, Mere Christianity, that pride is not wanting something for ourselves that others don’t have but it is that we want more of something than anyone else. This applies as we think of the root of pride.

Remember that God planted a garden and gave Adam the responsibility to dress it and to keep it. God gave Adam and Eve the rules that they could eat from every tree of the garden… except one.

Basketball According to Lucifer

Just like those fake basketball players, when Satan showed up in the garden as a beautiful serpent, he came to change the rules. Instead of loving God for who He is, Satan enticed Adam and Eve ‘to be as gods’, themselves knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5). All that they had to do to achieve this was eat the fruit from the one tree that God denied them.

It was bad enough that they wanted the glory that belongs to God alone, but Adam and Eve wanted even more….

We see that in the day that Adam was created, God gave him a great deal of intelligence. This is made clear by the tasks that God gave man to do. First he was to dress and keep the garden that God had planted (Genesis 2:15). From what I can gather, these words mean that he was to make the garden a slave to serve the needs of both man and beast. It was in this garden that man walked with God in the pleasurable cool of the day.

Also Adam was given the mandate to keep it or protect it. Since the garden was already perfect and there was no sin, it is difficult to see what the garden would need protection from. So, I surmise that this means that Adam was to keep it producing the very best. He could do this by means of combining seed that would cause it to produce bountifully with even more beneficial crops. Beyond this, by keeping the garden producing bountifully It would display God’s goodness and preserve it as the place where they could walk closely with God.

The next thing that Adam was tasked to do is to name the animals (Genesis 2:19). This was an exercise in what is called taxonomy. It requires keen observation of similarities and differences that would group the animals into categories and then identify their unique characteristics with unique names. These tasks all required an exercise of great intelligence.

The Devil Steals the Ball…

When the devil shows up in the garden, instead of glorifying God for who He is (God is always good), Satan introduces a new set of rules and turned man’s attention to what God withheld from them (Genesis 3:4-7). They were convinced that they needed this fruit to make them even more intelligent or wise. This is a direct accusation that God’s goodness is not good enough and it is at the root of pride.

It would seem to us in our sinful reasoning that eating the forbidden fruit is far too trifling of a matter to condemn all of creation to death and decay. Yet we fail in this to consider that when we deny God’s goodness, we rob God of His glory in creation. We are denying the essence of God’s glory…that is, that God is always good.

Just like those who would destroy the game of basketball by a corrupt set of rules, the defection by the creature charged with guarding creation condemns creation to decay. By this willful ignorance of God’s glory “all the foundations of the earth are out of course.” (Psalm 82:5). In other words, the very existence of all that God created is threatened by the sin of mankind. God’s intervention is required to preserve His creation with the promise of a coming Redeemer. (Genesis 3:15)

It is probably a matter of debate about Adam and Eve’s awareness of what they were doing. Nevertheless, through their denial of God’s glory, Adam and Eve effectively gave their authority over God’s creation to the devil.

So we see that pride is at its root a denial of God’s goodness. Pride leads us to not only want God’s glory for ourselves, but also to want even more glory than God Himself.

This was Lucifer’s iniquity (Isaiah 14:13,14) and it was the trap that he set for mankind. Man’s failure to keep the garden for a display of God’s goodness, meant that God could not keep man in the garden. Communion with God could only be restored through blood shed from an innocent animal. First, this would serve to be a reminder of the life with God that was lost in the garden. (Genesis 3:21) Second, it was a picture of what would be required for the Redeemer to endure when He comes.

God is Now At Center Court…

Now God has displayed His goodness in another garden. “The place called Gethsemane” is where He presented Himself as an offering for man’s sin. (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44) Gethsemane was so named because it was the place where the goodness (the oil) of the olive was pressed out for the benefit of man.

Just as crushed olives, it was in Gethsemane that Christ anticipated the crushing burden of being made sin for us (Luke 22:44). Beginning there, the suffering of Christ showed us the goodness of God for the benefit of every human soul. Christ experienced the crushing wrath of God for our sin and a victorious resurrection from among the dead. By this means mankind could once again lay hold of God’s goodness and have that close walk with Him restored. This restored communion allows each believer to behold God’s glory, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Now each of us must choose a team to join. We either follow God’s rules for the restoration of His glory and receive Christ alone as our personal Savior by faith alone, or we reject Christ and play by our own set of rules. Rejecting Christ means that we will be banished forever from His goodness into well-deserved outer darkness and torment of hell.

“He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

John 3:18 KJV

Personally, I’d prefer the red hoodie… What about you?

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smc

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