There are probably plenty of reasons why God waited till He had created everything else, before He created man. Obviously the environment was not inhabitable for mankind earlier, but I would like to suggest another reason. If man had been around while God was creating the earth, he might have come up with the notion that he actually had a part in creation.
It is the same with Calvary. Sure, mankind was there, but everything that was good was because of God. Think of all the things that could have gone wrong. Jesus could have turned Pilate to dust. He could have called for tens of thousands of angels to set Him free. Yet everything concerning my redemption went absolutely perfectly, and you know why? Because I wasn’t there to mess it all up! Paul sums up sound biblical theology for us in four words, “Not I but Christ.” Galatians 2:20.
The theory of evolution has the same problem as religious legalism because it involves man bettering himself on his own. This is impossible.
Nevertheless, some Christians, including Adventists, have a theology in which Jesus forgives us, but then we grow spiritually on our own. We get better on our own. It’s a “me plus Christ” theology instead of a “not I but Christ” theology. Anytime “I” become a part of my theology, my theology becomes corrupt because “I” am corrupt. The struggle to perfect self makes “I” part of the solution but it cannot be. The only way salvation can work is if “I” am crucified.
The Sabbath is a sign of rest, both at creation and redemption to remind us that we are not saved by the works of the flesh, and therefore the works of the flesh, sometimes known as legalism, must be put to rest. Only God Himself could first create me in His own image, only God Himself can re-create me in His own image. Let’s take a careful look at the gospel as opposed to human self-development or legalism.
The Gospel or Self-development (i.e. Legalism)?
Legalism: We make sacrifices so God will love us.
The Gospel: God provided a sacrifice to obtain OUR love. Romans 5:10-12: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” In pagan religions the sacrifice enables the god to love the humans, while in Christianity the sacrifice enables the humans to love their God.
Legalism: We keep the commandments in order to be saved.
The Gospel: We keep the commandments because we love Jesus. John 14:15: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
Legalism: We want to get sin out of our lives because of the judgment.
The Gospel: We want to get sin out of our lives because sin crucifies Jesus. Isaiah 53:4-6: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Legalism: We want to give our heart to Jesus today because He is coming soon and we don’t want to be lost.
The Gospel: We want to give our heart to Jesus today because He loves us. 1 John 4:19: “We love him, because he first loved us.”
Legalism: Good behavior is motivated by a hope of reward or fear of punishment.
The Gospel: Good behavior is motivated by our love for Jesus regardless of consequences. 2 Corinthians 5:14: “For the love of Christ constraineth us.”
Legalism: God’s grace is a response to our faith.
The Gospel: Our faith is a response to God’s grace. Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Legalism: Me plus Christ.
The Gospel: NOT I, BUT CHRIST. Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet NOT I, BUT CHRIST liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Legalism: Self- centered obedience according to my own standards, in my own power, for my own glory.
The Gospel: God- centered obedience according to God’s standards, in His power for His glory. Philippians 1:11 “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”
Legalism: All about pride and rewards.
The Gospel: All about love and humility.
My prayer is that if any of you, dear readers, find your attitudes reflected in the “Legalism” statement, you will resolve to get to know Jesus for yourself and surrender to Him as your only Lord and Savior.