The Hurdle & Hope of Manhood
Men are made for, redeemed by, and mature in Christ alone.
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We face no greater crisis as a culture than the confusion surrounding Biblical manhood. When men abdicate their God-given responsibilities, nothing goes unaffected. It’s not limited to just the culture; there’s as much confusion in the church as there is outside of it.
Men – especially young men – are abandoning church in staggering numbers. Studies show us that 70% of the boys being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties … and most will never return.
To understand how this crisis among men began and see how God wants to redeem manhood, we must go all the way back to the creation account and the fall of mankind.
In Genesis 1 & 2, God creates Adam and commands him to
work and take care of the garden of Eden. Then He gives Adam a wife and makes
him responsible for her. They are without shame, living with and loving one another and the God who made them.
But in Genesis 3, Adam abdicates his responsibility and ruins everything. From his example, we see three sins common to all men:
1. Men DON’T do what God says to do. (v.1-5)
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’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 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.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Adam actually blew it well before he ate the forbidden fruit. Here, the serpent attacks Eve’s faith and belief while her lame-brain husband stands there. Picture this! Adam, who was responsible to care for and protect both the garden and his wife, stood passively by and did nothing. His was a sin of omission: not doing what God had said to do.
Before judging Adam, though, we need to realize that his sin is also our sin. Sadly, it’s become socially acceptable in the church to believe that Christian men are good men as long as they don’t do anything wrong. But like Adam, many of us are doing NOTHING and that’s wrong.
We are commanded and called to:
- Pursue Jesus. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Anything less than living to know Jesus and make Him known is sin. When we don’t pursue Jesus, we’re guilty just like Adam.
- Work hard. “In all toil (hard work) there is profit, but mere talk tends to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23) From the beginning, God created man to work. It wasn't intended as a punishment for sin (though after the fall work was more difficult). When we don’t work hard, we’re guilty just like Adam.
- Steward the time. In Ephesians 5:16, Paul admonishes us to make “the best use of the time, because the days are evil”. Hobbies and other diversions are not inherently sinful but anything that steals away our God-given time is an offense to God. When we don’t steward our time, we’re guilty just like Adam.
- Lead our family. Ephesians 5 admonishes us to love our wives the way Christ loved the church; Ephesians 6:4 says we are to bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Our families are our responsibility. When we fail to lead them, we’re guilty just like Adam.
2. Men DO what God says NOT to do. (v. 6-7)
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. 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’s second sin was one of commission. He did the one thing God had told him not to do. Similarly, God gives us clear commands in His Word about areas of sin we are to avoid. It’s important to identify where we are guilty of doing what God has said not to do. We can’t eradicate an area of sin we’re unaware of.
3. Men don’t OWN their actions.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Adam had already sinned by both omission and commission; here he tries to cover his own shame, first by hiding his nakedness, then by hiding from God. It didn’t work.
God holds men responsible for their actions and the actions of those in their care. Even though God knew Eve had eaten the fruit first, it was Adam He called out to. And Adam, instead of owning his actions like a man, shifted the blame like a coward, first to God then to his wife.
We do the same when we point to imperfect authorities or unfortunate circumstances as the reasons for our sin. While these may explain the sin, they don’t excuse it. Boys blame; men take responsibility.
Sin is the great hurdle to manhood and it is impossibly high, but we’re not without hope. Through the sin of one man (Adam), all men are guilty and incapable of living up to God’s perfect standard. But through the perfect obedience of another man (Jesus), all men are forgiven and empowered for obedience.
The same Holy Spirit that empowered Christ’s obedience dwells in our hearts as Christians to help us be the men God created us to be.
(Adapted by Diane Rivers from sermon entitled, "The Hurdle & Hope of Manhood")
Questions for further reflection:
What are you not doing that God has said you are to do?
What are you doing that God has said not to do?
Who or what are you blaming for your sin?