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Life on the Highest Plane
Vol. 1: The Person and Work of Christ


Chapter Four

Life on the Lowest Plane — The Rule of Sin Over Man


Sin is a despot and the Bible shows very clearly that man came under the despotic rule of sin. Sin not only "entered" and "abounded," but it also "reigned" in man (Romans 5:12, 20-21). He lives under a threefold bondage, from which it is impossible for him to extricate himself.

He is in bondage to sin.


John 8:34, R.V., "Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Every one that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin."


He is in bondage to self.


2 Corinthians 5:15, "And that he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."


He is in bondage to Satan.


2 Timothy 2:26, "And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."


The natural man is in helpless captivity to sin, self and Satan.




Not only were all men drawn into the whirlpool of sin but all of man was ruined by its pollution. Man's personality was corrupted at the very centre and the dry rot of sin contaminated his whole being from center to circumference. Death breathed upon spirit, soul and body its destructive fumes. Sin stalked over the human being, that beautiful thing created in the image of God, and left its deadly trail everywhere, marring it until scarcely a trace of Godlikeness could be found. Sin caused civil war within the human personality.


Sin Made The Human Spirit a Death Chamber

The blasting breath of death first touched the human spirit. Sin closed the windows of the spirit Godward and made it a death chamber. Sin severed the human spirit's relationship with the divine Spirit.


Ephesians 4:18, "Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart."


Sin also dethroned the human spirit as sovereign over the human personality and made it a captive, nay, even a slave. Both soul and body were permeated with sin and were brought under sin's control. Each claimed and sought an equal right to the rule of man. The immediate effect of sin was the complete inversion of the relationship between the spiritual and the physical in human nature. The fall of man from the plane of the spiritual to the plane of the natural took place.

"In the fall the soul refused the rule of the spirit and became the slave of the body with its appetites. Man became flesh; the spirit lost its destined place of rule, and became little more than a dormant power; it was no longer the ruling principle but a struggling captive. And the spirit now stands in opposition to the flesh, the name for the life of soul and body together in their subjection to sin" (Andrew Murray, The Spirit of Christ, p. 34).

So the natural man "who is born of the flesh" is flesh. He is of the earth, earthy, and dominated by the flesh rather than by the spirit. The human spirit is darkened, deadened and dethroned.


Sin Made the Human Soul a Ruin

Sin invaded the realm of the soul and laid hold upon the intellectual, emotional, and volitional life.


1. The mind of man was blinded.


2 Corinthians 4:3-4, "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."

Titus 1:15, "Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled."

Colossians 1:21, "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works yet now hath he reconciled."


God's first man was made with the capacity for knowing God and one cannot help but believe that had Adam continued to live his life entirely within the circle of God's will that capacity would have been enlarged and enriched. But he sought knowledge God had willed he should not have. By that one act of self-will he placed his intellect outside the circle of God's will. He had the knowledge of evil but he had neither the wisdom nor the power to resist it. As a result sin wrought such ruin in the mind of God was compelled to say "that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). He even calls evil, good and good, evil.

Separated from God man's mind became so darkened that his thinking is materialistic. "God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." God is eternal and spiritual and can never apprehended by what is merely temporal and natural. Apart from living union and communion with God the operation of the human intellect is entirely within the realm of material things.

Separated from God man's mind became so darkened that his thinking is sensual. The soul, unaided by the spirit, in its struggle with sin is open to continuous and terrible temptation through the body.

Separated from God man's mind became so darkened that his thinking is rationalistic. Being outside of God's will his thinking is inevitably outside of God's thought. His wisdom is not God's wisdom: in fact God draws a clean-cut line between His wisdom and that of the natural man.


1 Corinthians 1:20-21, "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."


The wisdom of the natural man has its source in himself. He rejects anything and everything which cannot be apprehended and explained by his own unaided reason.


1 Corinthians 2:14, "But the naturel man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."


Sin has so twisted and perverted the intellect of the natural man and Satan has so blinded his mind that he often thinks he knows more than God. Pride leads him to exalt his own mentality to such an extent that, if God says anything which his tiny intellect and puny reason cannot comprehend, then he declares God's saying "foolishness." He boldly proclaims God's sacred truth to be fable; God's eternal Word to be an earth-born myth. His endeavour to fathom God's ocean of truth with his little teacup of a mind is pathetic, and his arrogant method of casting aside God's supernatural revelation when it goes contrary to his sin-saturated reason is pitiful indeed.


2. The heart of man was defiled.


Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked."

Mark 7:21-23, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man."


What a picture of the human heart! Yet it is a true one because it was taken by the divine Photographer "who knows what was in man." Who can look upon this awful picture and others given on the same divine authority, such as Romans 1:29-32, Galatians. 5:17-21, Psalm 14:1-3, and not call man's case absolutely hopeless except somehow a miracle be wrought?

Man was made to love God with all his mind, heart, strength and soul. His heart was created with the capacity to respond to the love of God with love. Man was made to love his fellowmen. God wishes man to love his neighbour as himself.

But what is the condition in the world today both as regards man's relationship to God and to his neighbour? It is an awful but a tragically true prediction which God made in His Word of the present world condition.


2 Timothy 3:1-4, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God."


When did man fall into such an evil state as is here described? The moment God's first man stepped outside of God's will by his own voluntary choice and carried the human race with him, that moment he dethroned God and enthroned self in his own affections. From that moment man left to himself has been inherently and incurably selfish.


3. The will of man was perverted.


To will to do God's will is man's highest privilege, his most godlike prerogative. To live wholly within the will of God is to have righteousness, peace and harmony reign everywhere. This was God's intention in His universe. All angelic beings, as well as man, were made to be obedient subjects of God the Creator. But in Satan pride led to self-will; self-will to rebellion; rebellion to refusal of authority; and the refusal of authority to lawlessness. Satan, having stepped outside the will of God and become a rebel, tempted Adam and Eve to do the same. They yielded to his temptation and ever since the will of mankind has been off the main track.

But if man has not been willing to submit to the will of God which is always kind, beneficent and loving, surely he will not submit to the will of his fellow-man which is often selfish, tyrannical and despotic. So the world of politics, commerce, industry, education and even religion, is intersected with side lines built by the ingenuity of masterful minds who wish to satisfy their unquenchable thirst for power over other men's lives or their insatiable thirst for other men's possessions. A heaven-inspired description of the perversion sin made in man's will and of the lengths of lawlessness into which it led him, is given in these verses:


Judges 17:6, "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

Romans 8:7, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."


G. Campbell Morgan, The Crises of the Christ, sums up the ruin wrought in the human soul by Adam's fall as follows: "Thus in the spiritual part of his nature, man by the fall has become unlike God, in that his intelligence operates wholly within the material realm, whereas the divine wisdom is spiritual, and therefore explanatory of all material facts; his emotion acts from wrong principles of self-love, whereas the divine love ever operates upon the principle of love for others; and his will asserts itself upon the basis of passion for mastery, whereas the divine will insists upon obedience, through determination to serve the highest interests of others."


Sin Made the Human Body a Battlefield

Sin not only invaded the realm of the spirit and the soul but also that of the body and made that which was intended to be the spirit's congenial home its prison house. That which should have been spiritual tends to become sensual. That which God purposed to be the channel through which the spirit within man could touch the external world and bring blessing to it was turned into the instrument through which Satan reached the spirit with his defilement. The body became Satan's broadcasting station.


Romans 7:23, "But I see another law in my members, warring, against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."


In Paul's exhortation to those who had accepted Christ as Saviour, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof," he implied that the body of the natural man had been sin's territory. The members of the body became Satan's tools and instruments of sin.


Romans 6:13, "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God."

Romans 7:5, R.V., " or when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were through the law, wrought in our members to bring forth fruit unto death."


The human body defiled by sin is corrupt, dishonoured and weak and it awaits deliverance from a bondage under which it groans (Romans 8:23).


2 Corinthians 5:4, "We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life."




Sin began to do its deadly work at the core of Adam's being. This core, his human nature, became sinful. Sin became its native atmosphere. Sin became its governing, impelling principle. The fountainhead of his thoughts, emotions, attitudes, instincts and purposes, was vitiated by sin.

The word we commonly use today to express this sinful root is self. The core of the natural man is self. Scripture gives us another name. That corrupt human nature, that inborn tendency to evil in all men received by inheritance from our first parents, is called "the old man."


Colossians 3:9, "Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds." (Cf. Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22.)


But man is not a silent, inactive creature. His thoughts are expressed in words; his instincts are translated into actions; so if the fountain is corrupt, then that which flows out from it will be correspondingly corrupt. This inner nature manifests itself in outward acts. The hidden desires of "the old man" come to the surface in deeds. Covetousness grows into theft; deceit becomes falsehood; impurity of thought and desire manifest themselves in sins of the flesh; unforgiveness and hatred crystallize into revenge and murder; fear becomes fretting; unbelief shades off into worry; dislike degenerates into backbiting; impatience becomes nagging; dissatisfaction and discontent clothe themselves with murmuring and complaining; self-righteousness slips into censoriousness; pride takes on the colour of boastfulness; envy becomes slander; ambition arms itself for war; selfishness grows into oppression; and jealousy attempts to end its torment in suicide or homicide.

This truth is made very plain in the Bible in the clear cut distinction between sin and sins.


1 John 1:8-9, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."


Leon Tucker in his Studies in Romans states the difference as follows:


"Sin is character; sins are conduct.
Sin is the centre; sins are the circumference.
Sin is the root; sins are the fruit.
Sin is the producer; sins are the product.
Sin is the sire; sins are his offspring.
Sin is the fountain; sins are its flow.
Sin is what we are; sins are what we do."


Sin then is the old nature itself; sins are the manifestations of the old nature.

This picture of the ravages of sin in the life of the natural man is an exceedingly dark one but a thorough, prayerful study of God's Word on this subject together with an honest observation of human life as it is must convince an open-minded, humble man that it is a true picture. It does not mean that each person has committed every one of these sins. There is a difference in the degree of sin manifested in the natural man but not in the fact of inherent sin. God who knows what is in man says, "There is none righteous; no, not one." It does mean that every man is a sinner in the sight of God and that the whole world is guilty before Him (Romans 3:19). It does mean that man who was made in the image of God has become flesh.




God and sin cannot dwell together; they cannot stay in the same place at the same time for they are mutually exclusive. They are exact opposites. Perhaps you are now sitting in a room full of light; a few hours will pass by and it will be filled with darkness. Where has the light gone? It has been displaced by darkness. Again a few hours pass by and the room is filled with light. Where has the darkness gone? It has been displaced by light. Light and darkness cannot dwell together; they are exact opposites; they are mutually exclusive.


1 John 1:5-6, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth."

Ephesians 5:8, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light."


God is light, sin is darkness; therefore God must displace sin or sin displaces God. God and sin cannot stay in the same place at the same time for they are mutually exclusive.

Sin separated Adam from God; it made him want to hide from God's presence. Sin separated God from Adam and compelled Him to pronounce the sentence of death and to send him forth from the garden of Eden.

If God cannot dwell with sin in the sinner on earth neither could He dwell with sin in the sinner in Heaven So if the natural man persists in his sin and rejects the way of salvation which God provides in Christ Jesus, by that very choice he debars himself from the presence of God throughout eternity. His own unrighteousness will then shut him out of the Kingdom of God.


1 Corinthians 6:9, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? "

Revelation 21:27, "And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life."


Let us now sum up the truth we have studied thus far. God's first man, Adam, was without sin; he was created in God's image on the plane of human life. He was made with the capacity for life on the highest plane, the spiritual, and with the power to choose such a life. God made man with his face turning Godward. God's will was both the centre and the circumference of his life: consequently he lived in righteousness and peace because in perfect adjustment with God, with himself, and with all created beings.

But Adam chose to disobey God's command. He used his power to choice Satanward, and placed his life voluntarily under Satan's sovereignty. He stepped outside of God's sphere of righteousness, light and life into Satan's sphere of sin, darkness and death. He dethroned God and enthroned self. He ceased to be spiritual and became flesh. Sin made him a sinner with his face turning Satanward and his course tending downward. Self-will became both the centre and the circumference of his life; consequently he lives in ungodliness, unrighteousness and discord because there was maladjustment with God, with himself, and with all created beings.

Adam himself was the father of children. He was not merely an individual creation of God but he was the appointed federal head of the human race. All the evil consequences of sin in him were transmitted to all men so that by nature all men are guilty and defiled. The most awful consequence of sin, however, was not the moral and spiritual ruin of the human race but the denial of the Godhood of God in His own universe.

This view of the origin and the consequences of sin, even though it is so clearly taught in God's Word, is not accepted by all. Sin even in many pulpits today is treated very lightly if not passed over altogether. Nevertheless every one knows that humanity is saturated with sin and that sin is really at the bottom of all the world's trouble. But many people are unwilling to admit the real nature of sin. They treat it like a superficial skin disease rather than like a malignant cancer.

Men are unwilling to acknowledge the truth of God's estimate of the natural man, that left to himself he is hopelessly, incurably bad. They place the blame of his misconduct onto his environment or limited circumstances and by seeking to improve these external conditions and to afford him larger opportunities through education and civilization they believe he can be evolved into what God intended him to be.

Such thinking is due to a fundamental misconception of what sin is. The essence of the first sin in Eden is clearly defined in God's Word and it is the essence of all sin from that day to this.


1 John 3:4, R.V., "Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness."


The exceeding sinfulness of Adam's sin lay in the fact that it was high treason of the created against the Creator; of the subject against the Sovereign. Such at heart is all sin. The natural man is a spiritual Bolshevist.

Man is not only guilty and defiled but he is rebellious and lawless. He is not only separated from God by sin but he is unreconciled by enmity. In God's sight he is a sinner, an enemy, an outlaw. (See Diagram 4.)




                                     the sinful adam






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