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The Paradise Lifestyle

Where is Paradise? - Life without Paradise Standards - Man's Sevenfold Mandate

Where is Paradise?

Referring to the paradise lifestyle brings to mind different things to different people. Those who are taken up with this world's enjoyments might think of a life of ease upon some sunny island clothed with palm trees and surrounded by golden sands. Work would be unnecessary and the hours could be spent in ceaseless leisure. Some might feel that they could enjoy the whole of their life that way but most of us would not. We find meaning in life through responsible commitment to worthwhile goals. It is this latter lifestyle that is presented to us in the Bible. The Bible opens with Paradise. This paradise lies in the distant past. In the Garden of Eden everything was perfect, but when man fell that perfection disappeared and the creature was made subject to bondage. The Bible also closes with paradise as it will be in the future with its pure river of water of life, clear as crystal proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb. But on the cross Jesus also spoke of paradise as a present reality, beyond this world. When the dying thief sought to be remembered by Jesus in his kingdom at the end of the world Jesus replied: 'Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.' (Luke 23.43) Though paradise was lost upon earth it continues in heaven awaiting the regeneration when there will be 'new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.' (2 Peter 3.13) It is this latter that defines the paradise lifestyle. Paradise is where the standards of Heaven prevail and the closer that an individual or society approaches to that perfect righteousness, the greater the experience of true life and contentment.

Life without Paradise Standards

It is this that accounts for the desperate condition of human society. The departure from the standards of paradise has not created the hoped for Utopia but has produced the sad degeneration described by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans. ' For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;  Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,  And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1.18-32) This explains why all need Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life. Only through faith in him can anyone, as a forgiven sinner, come to the Father. To know God is eternal life and it is only in his Christ that he can be known (John 17.3). Although the paradise lifestyle can be defined in terms of a specific content prescribed by God, it can only be in our living experience as a result of spiritual rebirth. Even this living experience falls far short of perfection in this world. But what, we may ask, where the standards for life that God gave in paradise?  

Man's Sevenfold Mandate

Moses' record of the creation furnishes us with a sevenfold mandate given to man in his integrity.

1. 'Be fruitful, and multiply.' (Genesis 1.28)

2. 'Replenish the earth.' (Genesis 1.28)

3. 'Subdue it.' (Genesis 1.28)

4. 'Have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.' (Genesis 1.28)

5. 'God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.' (Genesis 2.3)

6. 'The Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. (Genesis 2.15)

7. 'The rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.' (Genesis 2.22)

This sevenfold mandate must be received as an integrated whole. We must take the whole package and may not granulate it so as to select what may be to us the palatable parts. Governments want to encourage hard work, which leads to material prosperity, but think that they can undermine the institution of holy matrimony with impunity. Such selectiveness in the interests of the promiscuous society just will not work. God's prescriptions are given in order to a unified lifestyle where each part interlocks with all of the others. The essential components are: work (6 above), marriage (7 above), worship (5 above), procreation and parenting of children (1 above), respect for life (1 and 2 above), and stewardship (3, 4 and 6 above). Most people are aware of the fact that these components must held in balance. It is necessary to work in order to provide for one's family but if work takes up too much of our time it is our family that suffers. Interaction with the environment is necessary in connection with our work but when environmental exploitation takes over from the caring dominion involved in stewardship the effects for the world around us are very serious. The material benefits of productive work are important but if the worship of God is neglected it leads to damaging materialism. As was said above, it is the whole package that is important. Living according to all of these ordinances, by the power of the Spirit of Christ, results in true contentment. Thus the apostle could write: 'I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.' (Philippians 4.11) The paradise lifestyle requires that we give attention to:

Work

Marriage

Worship

Procreation and Parenting

Respect for life

Stewardship