A few mornings ago I woke up in the middle of a dream in which I was watching a movie. I have since completely forgotten what the movie was about, but I remember vividly what the movie looked like.
The moving pictures were in negative film, just like the negatives that were always included with the positive prints in the package we would received back from the film developer, but in my dream they were in a movie film I was watching. What should have been light was dark and what should have been dark was light, and it was very difficult to recognize or understand what I was seeing.
As I woke up, it dawned on me that what I had just dreamed was a perfect illustration of an idea that has fascinated me for the past few years as I have ruminated on its implications. We live naturally and unconsciously viewing all of life as a negative of reality. We are living in a movie that is a negative film. We see life just the opposite of reality!
This way of living began, of course, in the Garden of Eden when Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptation to “be like God, knowing good and evil.” With Satan’s “help” she realized that she and Adam were doing nothing but what God told them to do. He was making all decisions for them. They were completely dependent on Him for everything.
“We are nothing but God’s puppets,” she thought. “We want to be free to choose for ourselves what we should do and then the freedom to do it.”
The Bible says when Eve presented Adam with her new desire to be independent, along with the forbidden fruit that would bring this change about, he was not deceived as Eve had been—he knew exactly what he was doing.
However, he still gave up the leadership of his family, followed his wife’s new fantasy, and ate the forbidden fruit anyway (1 Timothy 2:14). In so doing, Adam and Eve moved from living by complete faith in Daddy, always doing exactly as He instructed them, to now living on their own, deciding for themselves what was good and bad for them, i.e., living by the law.
The results were incredibly far-reaching. Most obviously, because of their desire to assume God’s own job of directing their lives, God placed a curse on Adam, Eve, and the earth, making physical life now temporary and much more difficult.
But equally as importantly, all mankind, in Adam, adopted a brand new way to live, in a world now turned upside down, inside out. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:2). All mankind began to live in a negative film, opposite reality, qualifying us all to suffer Isaiah’s “woes.”
Today, in 2017, we are living in that upside down world. We are trying our best to live by following God’s law, rather than by faith in Daddy as we were designed to live and as Adam and Eve lived before the Fall. We come out of the womb with this post-Fall way of viewing life, and to us it is normal, “positive.” We are totally unaware that it is, in reality, a negative film.
In true reality in God’s world, in positive film, I must die (to my ever-present self-seeking, self-promotion, self-aggrandizement and self-preservation) in order to truly live; I must be a servant in order to be a leader; I must be weak in order to be strong, and I must be last in order to be first. These are all characteristics spelled out clearly in the Bible, but viewed with scorn by the world’s opinion leaders, both secular and spiritual, the “shakers and movers” in both spheres.
Strangest of all, trying to be obedient to God’s law and not sin only makes me sin more (Romans 7:5-11), because in God’s reality, you must be a sinner in order to be righteous.
Furthermore, if that were not strange enough, to be the “most righteous” (keep the greatest of all the commandments—to love God and your neighbor with all your heart), you have to be the “greatest sinner!” What else could Jesus mean in Luke 7:47? “So I’m telling you that her sins, as many as they are, have been forgiven, and that’s why she has shown such great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven loves little.”
This is madness, but only to those who are still trapped living in a negative film. Others like the apostle Paul, are realizing that they too are “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
It is in our DNA, since the Fall, to live by trying to be “good,” and the more successful we have been in what is actually a negative endeavor, the more difficult it is to renounce it for the way of faith. This counter-intuitive message is threatening to them and their position of prominence.
For example, how would the author of the following admonition, a popular, dynamic, well-known Christian author, respond to this message of an opposite reality? Here is what I received in my inbox a few days ago:
“I choose joy. I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical, the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.”
The average Christian is challenged by this exhortation, knowing his performance has been mediocre at best in these five areas of biblical Christian living, and now, after reading this, “vows to do better.” Read the conclusion of this posting for my analysis of what appears to be a very positive statement.
Can you see that this is a classic demonstration of living in a negative film, directly opposite of reality, by the law? Notice the author makes five statements, four beginning with “I will,” and one with “I choose.” The author is imitating perfectly Eve’s desire to “do it herself” in the Garden. I was immediately reminded of a similar series of five “I wills,” prophesied by Isaiah in 14:12-14. This passage is Isaiah’s words of prophetic judgement on the King of Babylon, but an eerily similar description of Satan’s attitude as he led the angelic rebellion against God.
At the resurrection the way of faith, the life Adam and Eve lived before the fall, just trusting Daddy with everything, is restored (Romans 9:30-32). At the cross the way of trying my best to be obedient to laws I can never keep in my heart was ended (Romans 7:6).
Next week we will look at a foolproof way to tell if we are living at any given moment in a negative moving picture (the law) or in the positive reality of the cross (by faith).