Monday Jul 25, 2022

Tares Among the Wheat - Part 4 - The Historic Fall of Mankind

     According to Scripture, all mankind is fallen, corrupted by sin, and our natural proclivity is to think and act in conformity with Satan’s world-system, which is everywhere and always at odds with God and His plan.

     The book of Genesis reveals that God created Adam perfect and assigned him to serve as His theocratic administrator over His creation. This meant Adam was to exercise responsible dominion over the creation (Gen 1:26-30; 2:7-8, 15-17), and Eve was created to help him, to stand with him to do God’s will (Gen 2:18-25). But Satan, possessing a serpent—a subordinate creature that would have posed little threat to Adam and Eve—tempted them to act contrary to God and His commands. Henry Morris says, “Demonic spirits evidently have the ability, under certain conditions, to indwell or ‘possess’ either human bodies or animal bodies (Luke 8:33); and Satan on this occasion chose the serpent as the one most suitable for his purposes.”[1] The serpent here is identified as “the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9; cf. Rev 20:2).

     Satan was shrewd and intentional in his attack as he approached the woman and questioned her understanding of God’s command, asking, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’” (Gen 3:1). And Eve answered, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” (Gen 3:2-3). According to Allen Ross, “Eve disparaged the privileges, added to the prohibition, and weakened the penalty—all seen by contrasting her words (Gen. 3:3) with God’s original commands (2:16-17).”[2]

     When Satan heard Eve misrepresent God’s instructions (Gen 2:16-17), he boldly advanced his argument, saying, “You surely will not die!” (Gen 3:4), calling God a liar, stating, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:4-5). Satan’s argument was that God was withholding divinity from Adam and Eve, and if they were willing to eat the fruit, they could be like God, which was the same mental attitude sin committed by Lucifer at his fall (Isa 14:12-14). Here, Eve was confronted with an antithetical claim to what the Lord had told her, but rather than seek the Lord about the matter, she let Satan convince her to abandon faith in God and operate independently of Him. The influence of Satan brought an epistemological shift in Eve’s thinking, and rather than seeing the tree from the divine perspective as harmful, she saw it as attractive, that is “was good for food…a delight to the eyes…[and] desirable to make one wise” (Gen 3:6a). Being deceived by Satan’s argument, “she took from its fruit and ate” (Gen 3:6b; 1 Tim 2:14). Eve then “gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen 3:6c), and Satan’s strategy to advance his kingdom of darkness and take possession of the world and humanity was complete.

     Adam and Eve became aware of their failure, as “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings” (Gen 3:7). Remembering they were to “multiply and fill the earth” (Gen 1:28), According to Morris, Adam and Eve “realized that the very fountainhead of human life had now become corrupted by their disobedience and they became acutely aware of their nakedness. Their children would all be contaminated with the seed of rebellion, so that their feeling of guilt centered especially on their own procreative organs.”[3]

     Spiritual death (i.e., separation from God) brought an irrational shift in their theology as well as their behavior as they sought to hide from the Lord (Gen 3:8-9), saying, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” (Gen 3:10; cf. Jer 23:24).

     When confronted about their sin (Gen 3:11), Adam blamed his wife as well as God, saying, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate” (Gen 3:12), and Eve blamed the creature, saying, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Gen 3:13). Hiding from God and shifting blame for sin are common characteristics of mankind’s fallenness.

     The serpent was judged by God and physically changed to crawl on its belly as a perpetual reminder to mankind about the fall (Gen 3:14). Here, the curse was actually against Satan, who possessed the serpent, as the Lord declared, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen 3:15). Having brought Adam and Eve under his control, it is possible Satan thought he would gain total control over all their children, but the Lord had other plans and made it known to Satan there would be “enmity” between him and the woman, as well as his “seed and her seed; [and] he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” This verse is commonly referred to as the protoevangelium—the first gospel—because God promised there would come a “seed” from the woman’s line who would defeat Satan and disrupt his kingdom.[4]

     God pronounced judgment upon Adam, Eve and the creation. Eve’s judgment was that she would have increased “pain in childbirth” and that her husband would “rule over her” (Gen 3:16), and the ground that Adam was to cultivate would be cursed, and “in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life” (Gen 3:17-19).

     Though atheists and liberal theologians treat the first eleven chapters of Genesis as myth, the NT writers treat Adam and Eve as historical persons and the fall as literal. Luke traces Jesus’ genealogy back to Adam (Luke 3:38), and Jesus based His argument on marriage on the first human couple (Matt 19:4-6). Paul also states, “I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Cor 11:3). And Paul wrote, “it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Tim 2:14). Paul argued that through Adam “sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom 5:12; cf. 1 Cor 15:21). And all humanity is said either to be in Adam or in Christ, and this determines whether we are spiritually alive or dead, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). Adam’s sin brought corruption and decay into the whole universe, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Rom 8:20-22). We now live in a very flawed world with sinful people and all sorts of problems. Henry Morris comments:

  • "Things are not 'very good' in the world now! In the physical realm, everything tends to run down and wear out. In the living world, each animal is engaged in a perpetual struggle against other animals and against disease, as well as the universal process of aging and death. Culturally, one civilization after another seems to rise for a time, then decline and die. In the spiritual and moral realm, each individual invariably finds it easier to do wrong than right, easier to drift downward than to struggle upward. The world is full of hatred, crime, war, pollution, selfishness, corruption—evil of all kinds. Something has gone wrong with God’s perfect creation."[5]

The Effects of the Fall

     The historic fall of Adam and Eve fundamentally changed the human race and the world, resulting in disease, decay and death among all living things, and that the tendency of humanity is to behave in a spiritually and morally corrupt manner, suppressing God’s truth and rejecting His solutions to life’s problems. Understanding this helps us make sense of the world in which we live and why people behave the way they do.

     Sin is a dominant theme from Genesis chapter three to the end of the Bible, at which time God will do away with sin and its effects, creating a “new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13; cf. Rev 21:1). The word sin is found throughout Scripture, and both the Hebrew and Greek share the same basic meaning. The Hebrew word חָטָא chata means “to miss the target, or to lose the way,”[6] and the Greek ἁμαρτάνω hamartano is defined as “miss the mark, err, or do wrong.”[7] Sin is when we transgress God’s law and depart from His intended path.[8] The apostle John states, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Merrill Unger writes, “The underlying idea of sin is that of law and of a lawgiver. The lawgiver is God. Hence sin is everything in the disposition and purpose and conduct of God’s moral creatures that is contrary to the expressed will of God (Rom 3:20; 4:15; 7:7; Jam 4:12, 17).”[9]

     Sin impacts all things including family life, nature, economics, society, law, politics, science, education, etc. All sin and evil exist in connection with the willful creatures who manufacture it, and its effects can be short or long-lasting. Even the creation is cursed because of Adam’s sin, as the Lord told him, “Cursed is the ground because of you” (Gen 3:17), to which Paul added, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Rom 8:20-22). Sin negatively impacts everyone and everything, and no one was impacted or hurt more by sin than God. On several occasions we read, “The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (Gen 6:6), and though God loved Israel, their ongoing sin “grieved His Holy Spirit” (Isa 63:10). As Christians, we are commanded, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). Sin ultimately cost God His Son, who came into the world and died on a cross in order to atone for it (Mark 10:45; John 3:16; 10:14-18; Rom 8:32; 1 John 4:10), and to set us free from spiritual slavery (Rom 6:6; Gal 5:1; Heb 2:14-15).

     The Bible reveals we are sinners in Adam, sinners by nature, and sinners by choice. To be a sinner in Adam means we sinned when he sinned, that his fallen position is our fallen position, and his guilt is our guilt (Gen 2:16-17; 3:1-24; Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21-22). This is commonly referred to as original sin. Since the fall of Adam, every person is born with a sin nature (except Jesus),[10] and it is this nature that internally motivates people to rebel against all legitimate forms of authority, both human and divine. More so, the sin nature is not eradicated from the believer during his time on earth, nor is it ever reformed, as though it can be made to love God. To be a sinner by nature means it’s our innate tendency to sin (Jer 17:9; Matt 7:11; Rom 7:18-21; Eph 2:1-3). To be a sinner by choice means we personally choose to act contrary to God and His revealed will (1 Ki 8:46; Prov 20:9; Ecc 7:20; Isa 53:6; Rom 3:10-12; 1 John 1:10). Cumulatively these reveal that we are totally depraved, which means sin permeates and corrupts every aspect of our being, including our mind, will, sensibilities and flesh. Though we may be moral to the best of our ability and others may applaud us for our good deeds, our best efforts are tainted by sin and have no saving merit before God (Isa 64:6; Rom 4:1-5; 5:6-10; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5).

     One of the major areas where sin impacts us is in the mind, which theologians refer to as the noetic effects of sin. This means sin impacts our ability to think rationally, especially about God, who has made Himself known through general revelation (Psa 19:1-2; Rom 1:18-20) and special revelation (1 Cor 14:37; 1 Tim 5:18; 1 Th 2:13; 2 Tim 3:16-17). The majority of people throughout history think evil thoughts and are consumed with themselves and their own agendas rather than God’s will. Of Noah’s generation it is said, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5). Later, Solomon declared, “the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives” (Eccl 9:3). And Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9). And Jesus Himself spoke of the human condition, saying, “for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, [and] slanders” (Matt 15:19). One would think that when Jesus came into the world that mankind would rejoice in His light; however, Scripture provides a different picture, telling us, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19; cf. 1:4-5). When talking to religious Pharisees, Jesus declared, “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word” (John 8:43). This is true of all unbelievers, for “the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor 2:14). Even something as simple as the Gospel message is “foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Cor 1:18), in whose case “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:3-4). The tendency of fallen people who operate on negative volition is to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18), and to operate by a worldly wisdom that is not “from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic” (Jam 3:15).

     At the moment of salvation, God the Holy Spirit indwells us and gives us a new nature that, for the first time in our lives, has the desire and capacity to obey God; however, the sin nature is not removed, and so we experience ongoing internal conflict between these opposing natures (Gal 5:17; Rom 7:14-23). As Christians, we are directed to “lay aside the old self…and put on the new self which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph 4:22, 24). Since we have been “born again” and given new life (1 Pet 1:3, 23), the sin nature no longer has domineering power over us, and we can choose a life of righteousness (Rom 6:5-13). As we grow spiritually, we will be transformed from the inside out and gradually become more and more righteous as we walk with God. Sinless perfection will not be attained until we leave this world, by death or by Rapture, and are “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom 8:29), who will “transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Phi 3:21). Until then, we are commanded to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Rom 13:14). We do this by choosing to live according to the Spirit’s guiding, and starving the monster that is our sin nature. To “make no provision for the flesh” means we stop exposing ourselves to the things of the world that excite the flesh and lead to sinful behavior. The positive action is to grow spiritually with biblical teaching (2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18), Christian fellowship (Heb 10:23-25), selfless living (Phil 2:3-4), prayer (1 Th 5:17), worship (Heb 13:15), and doing good (Gal 6:10; Heb 13:16). It is only by spiritual growth and drawing closer to God that we learn to glorify the Lord and live in righteousness.

 

[1] Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1976), 108.

[2] Allen P. Ross, “Genesis,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 32.

[3] Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record, 115.

[4] Of course, we know this to be Jesus, the Messiah (Luke 1:26-33), and His victory occurred at the cross, where “the ruler of this world has been judged” and defeated (John 16:11; cf. Col 2:15; Heb 2:14; 1 John 3:8). Satan and his angels will eventually be cast into the Lake of Fire (Matt 25:41; Rev 20:10).

[5] Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record, 105.

[6] Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000), 305.

[7] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 49.

[8] In Judges 20:16 the Hebrew word is used of skilled soldiers who do not miss their target, and in Proverbs 19:2 of a man who hurries and misses his way.

[9] Merrill F. Unger and E. McChesney, “Sin,” ed. R.K. Harrison, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988), 1198.

[10] According to Scripture, Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), and “in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). His sinless life qualified Him as a perfect sacrifice to go to the cross and die as a substitute for others (Rom 5:6-10; Heb 10:1-14; 1 Pet 3:18).

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