Bible Study July 2012
Life on the Highest Plane
Vol. 1: The Person and Work of Christ
Life on the Lowest Plane — The Entrance of Sin Into Man
It must be evident to every thoughtful person that life on the spiritual plane is God's intention for man. In God's first man the divine Spirit had direct relationship with the human spirit and through it as a channel could so control the whole being as to make and keep it spiritual. That which was God's intention for his first man was also His purpose for all mankind.
But candidness compels us to admit that the over-whelming majority of the human race today is living on the lowest plane of life that of the natural man. In all parts of the world we see man out of adjustment with God, with his fellow men and with himself. Hatred, war, discontent, restlessness, crime, lawlessness, anarchy, prevail.
What then is the reason for such a terrible and tragic fall? Was God's human creation a colossal failure? Did He initiate something which He could not execute? Or must we find a reason for the present condition of humanity in something outside of God? Does the Bible tell us how that which God created without sin and pronounced "very good " became sinful and was denounced by Him as "no good "? Scriptural study of the history of the natural man gives a clear and full explanation.
THE CONDITION OF THE NATURAL MAN
Ephesians 2:12, "That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world."
The Apostle Paul is writing to those in the church at Ephesus who were then living on the spiritual plane but who previously had lived on the plane of the natural. Paul says, "At that time" — when you were living on the lowest plane — "ye were without God, without Christ, and without hope."
1 John 5:11-12, "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."
Eternal life is in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But Ephesians 2:12 says that the natural man is "without Christ," therefore he must be without eternal l
ife. God offers unto every man the gift of eternal life which he has power to accept or to refuse. To accept it opens the way for him to the highest plane of life, that of the spiritual man; to refuse it leaves him on the lowest plane of life, that of the natural man.
Ephesians 2:1, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins."
The natural man refuses the gift of eternal life, therefore he is "dead." Every person who has not accepted from the Father the gift of eternal life bestowed upon him in Christ Jesus, the Son, is described by God as "dead."
Perhaps the reader will think instantly of some unsaved relative or friend who seems to have abounding life and he will challenge, nay, even resent this statement regarding his condition. This person may be a perfect specimen of physical strength and energy. He may be an intellectual giant, perchance a fine classical scholar, abounding in worldly wisdom and knowledge. He may be a model of morality, living his personal, family and civic life on a high plane. He may even be religious, occasionally attending divine service and contributing toward the maintenance of church or temple. Surely God's description of the natural man does not fit him for he is abounding in life! How can such a man be described as "dead"? There seems to be abounding life in his whole being.
But let a test be made in the realm of his spirit. We have seen that the human spirit is the seat of God-consciousness and that in God's first man there was a direct and vital relationship between the divine Spirit of God and the human spirit of Adam. God's first man responded to God in communion and cooperation. A spiritual man delights to respond to every outreaching of God's grace and love toward him. Does your unsaved friend respond to God?
Talk with him about God and spiritual things and your very language is foreign and unintelligible to him, to say nothing of the truth you are attempting to convey. Invite him to go to God's house and he frankly tells you he prefers the club, the cinema or the guild. Give him a Bible to read and it seems insufferably dull and insipid to him and in no measure compares in interest with the newspaper or the latest novel. Invite him to spend an evening in your home in company with God's people and he is fearfully bored and out of place, not knowing how to act or what to say, and longing for the time to depart. Speak to him of his personal spiritual need, explain to him his condition and danger, urge him to accept Christ as his personal Saviour and to ally himself openly with God's people, and he either ridicules the idea or resents it.
Something somewhere seems wrong with the man. Something is wrong with him in the realm of his spirit for there is no response whatsoever to God. There is apparently no God-consciousness. There is no sense of need of God; no desire for God. Something in the man seems dead. Something in the man is dead. Death reigns in his spirit.
ADAM, THE CHANNEL OF SIN'S ENTRANCE INTO THE HUMAN RACE
God is the Author of all life and after His creation of living things "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold it was very good." But today death reigns everywhere. No living thing is exempt from its touch or its toll. It has wrought ruin everywhere. Surely God is not the author of death. From whence then did it come? God does not leave us in darkness on this question but in language simple enough for a child to understand He tells how death came into the world of living things.
Romans 5:12, "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
This clearly teaches that death is a result; that sin is the cause. Death came because of sin.
But how did sin come into the world? Sin entered by one man. The blame then for the entrance of sin and death into his beautiful world cannot be placed upon God, for in his own Word He absolutely clears Himself from such a charge.
But who could the man be through whom such terrible havoc, such awful disaster to the whole human race, was wrought? God never leaves an honest, truly seeking soul without an answer that satisfies. In Romans 5:12 God plainly says that all mankind was involved in the disaster caused by one man's sin so he must have been a representative man, one in whom the human race was latent. The context, Romans 5:13-23, sets in sharp contrast sin and death, salvation and life, and traces each to its source in the only two representative men of all history: Adam and Christ. A study of this passage clearly reveals Adam, God's first man, to have been the one through whom sin and death came, and Christ, God's second Man, to have been the One through whom came salvation and life.
But if one has any question in his mind regarding this passage God states the case boldly and unmistakably in
1 Corinthians 15:22, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
Adam is the man through whom sin entered into the human race. The consequence of sin was death. But we have seen in our previous study that Adam was created without sin and that he was put into an environment and enjoyed a fellowship with God both of which were conducive to a continuance in such a state of innocence and fellowship.
So the question forces itself upon one: How could sin enter into such a man with its blighting curse? How was the tragedy of death ever enacted in that beautiful garden? The story is told in the second and third chapters of Genesis. This portion of God's Word spiritually apprehended and humbly accepted gives an answer which satisfies every true and sincere believer.
To answer the question we need to define sin. What could Adam do that could be called sin? The answer is simple. The only sin that Adam could commit was to transgress God's divine law, to will to disobey the clearly revealed will of God. As long as Adam continued to will to live his whole life within the circle of God's revealed will he could not sin. Adam had the right to will but he could remain without sin only as he exercised his will in perpetual submission to the higher will of God. Sin, then, is known disobedience to the clearly revealed will of God. Sin is the wilful, deliberate, resistance of a subject to the rightful authority of a Sovereign. "Sin, in the Biblical view, consists in the revolt of the creature will from its rightful allegiance to the sovereign will of God, and the setting up a false independence, the substitution of a life-for-self for life-for-God" (James Orr, The Christian View of God and the World, p. 172). Sin as God Himself defines it is "transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). God called Adam's sin "transgression."
Let us see from God's own record how sin entered into Adam with its curse of death.
Genesis 2:16-17, "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
Genesis 3:6, "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."
God gave Adam well-nigh unlimited liberty. But one commandment was imposed. But one transgression was possible. Of every other tree he could freely eat. Of only one tree was he forbidden to eat and even for this prohibition God had a beneficent reason. Adam was on trial. He ate of the forbidden fruit. He willed to have something which God for a loving and beneficent reason had willed that he should not have. By that one act he sinned for sin is the transgression of the law. By his own volition Adam deliberately transgressed a divinely marked boundary; he overstepped a clearly revealed divine limitation.
SATAN, THE ORIGINATOR OF SIN IN GOD'S UNIVERSE
But some one may ask, When Adam was a perfect man with a sinless nature, living in a perfect environment and having perfect fellowship with God how could he be tempted to disobey? With all in his own personality and all in his environment favouring his complete and continuous obedience to the will of God, from what source could temptation to disobedience and self-will come? It is a legitimate question and demands an answer which God gives.
Genesis 3:1, "Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"
"Now the serpent was more subtil . . . and he said . . ." Here we have words used which can be used only in characteristics, attitudes and acts which belong to personality, either natural or supernatural. But was there any other person in the garden besides the Lord God and his two created beings, Adam and Eve? There evidently was. But it was some one who apparently desired to conceal his identity, so he came under the deceiving cover of impersonation. Who then was this other one?
The conversation between the serpent and Eve recorded in Genesis three reveals the twofold fact that this person is an enemy of God and that he is there in the garden for an evil purpose. Does Scripture give us any clue by which this cunning, wicked impersonator may be identified? It does. his name identifies him.
Revelation 12:9, "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: and he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."
Holy Scripture is a unity and Scripture interprets Scripture. "The serpent" of Genesis 3:1 is none other than "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan" of Revelation 12:9 and 20:2.
In Revelation 12:9 he is revealed as a deceiver. His nature identifies him. The Bible tells us clearly that is the part he was playing in the garden of Eden in his first dealings with humanity. The finger prints of the arch deceiver are clearly discerned in Genesis 3.
1 Timothy 2:14, "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."
2 Corinthians 11:3, "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
There is evidence then that before the creation of Adam and Eve there was in God's universe a being who was both a sinner and a traitor. Does God's Word give us any light upon who he is and how he came into such a condition?
Ezekiel 28:11-19 and Isaiah 14:12-20 seem to give this clue. A careful study and comparison of these two passages with other Scriptures seem to indicate very clearly that the one referred to is none other than Satan.
The passage in Ezekiel reveals the truth regarding the person and position of Satan originally. It states that Satan was a created being and that he was created perfect. He was "full of wisdom," "perfect in beauty," "perfect in thy ways," "the sum of perfection was found in him."
Not only was he perfect as regards his person but he held a very exalted position in the service of God. He was "the anointed cherub that covereth" and served "in the holy mountain of God." Perhaps no other created being held so exalted a position or was so intimately connected with God.
That he also had some relationship to and power over God's created universe given to him by God Himself is seen in the two titles, "the prince of this world" (John 14:30) and "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2).
That he had been given a high position of trust to which he had been a traitor is very certain. He was a prince over a kingdom for three times the Lord Jesus called him "the prince of this world," and when he took the Lord into a high mountain and offered Him all the kingdoms of the world with their glory Jesus did not dispute his claim to their disposal.
But with all Satan's perfection and power, he was still a created being and, as such, he must be subservient to his Creator and remain dependent and obedient. Scripture, however, from beginning to end reveals Satan as God's archenemy. He is an open and avowed rebel. He is not a subject of the kingdom of light but is a sovereign over the kingdom of darkness.
When and how did this rebellion toward God take place? "The anointed cherub" who was "in the holy mountain" sinned.
Ezekiel 28:15-16, "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. . . thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God."
The sin that led to Satan's downfall is intimated in the words, "Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness" (Ezekiel 28:17). Pride led to self-exaltation which expressed itself in self-will.
Let us now examine Isaiah 14:12-20 and see to what lengths self- exaltation carried Satan in rebellion against his Creator and Sovereign.
Isaiah 14:12-14, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Self-exaltation led to self-will, self-will led to rebellion against God, and Lucifer, son of the morning, became Satan, father of the night. The moment "the anointed cherub" said in his heart "I will" as opposed to God's will sin began. The moment the subject sought to dethrone the Sovereign by saying "I will be like the Most High" sin's work in the universe commenced. But it did not end there. The sin that began in the holy mountain of God was carried into the garden of Eden.
SATAN, THE DECEIVER AND THE TEMPTER, IN EDEN
Satan, God's avowed enemy, is there. This apostate spirit is the fourth person in the garden of Eden. And what is his mission?
He is there with the definite, deliberate, diabolical purpose of tempting Adam and Eve to do just what he himself had done through an act of self-will to step outside the circle of God's will, to dethrone God by enthroning self. He is there to gain recruits for his rebel ranks; to win subjects for his kingdom of darkness and death.
It is instructive to follow the cunning machinations of this diabolical strategist as he succeeds in tempting Adam and Eve into doubt, disobedience and disloyalty. God grant that it may throw needed illumination upon the path of temptation some reader may be treading.
Let us ask and answer three questions:
What was Satan's aim in tempting Adam and Eve?
What was Satan's method of approach to them?
How did he achieve his success?
Satan's aim, let us remember, was to exalt himself to God's place of sovereignty and authority and to secure for himself the worship from God's created beings which belonged to God alone. So he was in Eden to draw Adam and Eve away from God, to persuade them into disobedience and disloyalty, which would automatically cast them out of God's kingdom into his own. To accomplish this he did not need to incite them to gross sin or vice; one act of disobedience would carry out his purpose. He needed only to destroy confidence in God and to lead them to disbelieve and disobey Him.
Satan's method of approach was very cunning and subtle. It was not the method of open warfare against God but that of undermining faith in God by malicious propaganda. Satan did not come out into the open and contest God's sovereignty over his created beings but he sought to discredit God in their sight by creating within them discontent with their circumstances and by holding before them a false Utopia, thus hoping to instigate a revolt against God.
His method has not changed from that day to this. He is attempting the same thing and using the same method now that he did 4,000 years ago. The seed germ of discontent and disorder sown in the garden of Eden has borne fruit and is reaping a terrible harvest in all parts of the world today. Churches and chapels are being demolished; Bibles are being torn to pieces; anti-Christian demonstrations are being staged; threats are being made of dethroning God in his own universe. Back of all this subtle, efficient, destructive propaganda is the master mind of the first spiritual Bolshevik who began his world revolution in the garden of Eden.
To accomplish his purpose there he put before Eve the lure of a far better condition of life than they enjoyed under God's beneficent, loving rule, and urged securing it by illegitimate, revolutionary means. Satan must reach the spirit of Adam and Eve and in some way break the connection between the divine and the human. He did this by the proffer of a knowledge even such as "the gods" possessed. Through the human spirit illumined by the divine Spirit they did know God, which knowledge was the summum bonum of benefit and blessing. But Satan intimated that there was more to be known which God was willfully and wrongfully withholding from them. They were not having their due.
To reach the spirit to which Satan had no means of access he must get at the soul. The emotions must be stimulated to desire this tree of the knowledge of good and evil which could make one wise. Their eyes must be opened to see how pleasant was this tree that they might covet its fruit.
So an indirect appeal was made to the soul through the senses. Satan gained his entrance to the inner-most being of Eve through the body. The tree was good for food so he tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. Every part of the human personality had been undermined by this Satanic propaganda. Satan had ap-pealed to the whole man, spirit, soul and body but his method of approach had been from circumference to centre; from body through soul to spirit.
Let us examine God's Word to see how Satan achieved his success.
Genesis 3:1, "And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"
A subtle insinuation is couched in these words which was intended by the tempter to arouse suspicion of God's goodness. "Did God really tell you that you couldn't eat of every tree in this garden? Wasn't the garden made for you? Are you not labouring to dress it? Then haven't you a right to its fruit?" The devil did not come to Eve at once with a glaring accusation of God's unkindness but merely with a subtle insinuation. He knew that harmony reigned in the garden of Eden and that Adam and Eve were perfectly adjusted to each other, to their environment and to God. Satan laid hold upon the only thing he could in their external environment and used it to cause disruption in their relationship with God. Satan's aim was to create doubt first and thus gain a foothold by disturbing the inner harmony of Eve's moral being.
The reply of Eve showed that the devil's insinuating question had had the desired effect. She acknowledged God's goodness in granting them the liberty to eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden and admitted the one and only restriction. But in so doing she omitted from God's gracious promise the words "every " and "freely" and added to the prohibition the words "neither shall ye touch it," thus revealing a secret acquiescence in the serpent's insinuation against God's goodness. Doubt of God's goodness was at work in her heart so the devil grew bolder.
Eve not only stated the restriction made upon their liberty but also God's explicit warning of the penalty of death in case of disobedience, varying it however by changing God's Word "thou shalt surely die" to "lest ye die." Then Satan made a bold, shocking assertion, an out-and-out denial of God's Word, " Ye shall not surely die." This was immediately followed by his final and fatal appeal.
Genesis 3:5, "For God doth know that in the day ye eateth thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
The bold blasphemy, the cunning deception, the seductive allurement of his sugar-coated lie, were worthy of the source from which they came. Satan implied in this diabolical statement that God was maliciously robbing man of knowledge which he not only had a right to possess but which would raise him to an exalted position hitherto undreamed.
"Your eyes shall be opened and ye shall know." Was not the desire to know a lawful one? Was not the ambition for self-improvement through the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge a legitimate one? Eve had been daily coming into a larger and fuller knowledge of God and his universe no doubt and now, if by merely eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil she could at once obtain a knowledge as limitless as God's own and be assured God's penalty of death would not be enacted why should she not eat of it?
Satan had reached the acme of evil when he had said, "I will be like the Most High," and now in some modified form suited to the innocence of the sinless pair he tempted them to a similar aspiration, "Ye shall be as gods." He held out to them the luring possibility of advancement in knowledge even to the plane of the divine and unseen.
In the appeal of Genesis 3:5 the tempter assailed the whole personality of the woman; intellect, emotion, and will. "Do not be such fools as to believe God's word when it is so evidently against all right and reason; do not be such dupes as to be cheated out of something you rightfully should have; do not be such cowards that you fear to assert your own will in this matter."
"Thus it is seen that at the back sf the method of the devil is an aspersion cast upon the character of God. Man was made to question the goodness of law. Appealing to the intelligence of man, the enemy created an aspersion, which was calculated to change the attitude of his emotion, and so capture the final citadel, that namely of his will. He declared that man's intellectual nature was prevented from development by this limitation. By this declaration he created in the mind of man a question as to the goodness of the God who had made the law, and thus imperilled the revelation of the will to God, as he called it into a place of activity outside, and contrary to the will of God" (G. Campbell Morgan, The Crises of the Christ, p. 33).
THE SIN OF ADAM AND EVE AND ITS EFFECT UPON THEMSELVES
Some response had to be made to such an appeal. The will must function in acceptance or rejection of such an accusation against God. There was no neutral ground. Eve must take sides either with or against God. "God said" and "the serpent said," and they said totally contradictory things. Eve listened to Satan's voice rather than to God's. She believed the devil's lie rather than God's truth. "The serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty" (2 Corinthians ll:3), and she ate of the forbidden fruit. Adam listened to Eve's voice rather than to God's. Eve enticed her husband through his affections and he ate of the forbidden fruit. He was the one to whom God had given the command. To eat of the fruit was a deliberate transgression of the divine law.
Genesis 3:6, "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."
Genesis 3:17, "And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life."
Adam and Eve had the God-given right to will and the power to will Godward. They exercised the right to will and they chose to will Satanward. The moment they so chose they stepped outside the circle of God's will and into the realm of self-will. They dethroned God and enthroned self. That one act, that one choice, that one decision, was sin. Satan triumphed, sin entered, ruin ensued.
Sin penetrated to the innermost part of Adam's being, the spirit, the meeting place of God and man. And with what result? The very result which God had predicted — death. To apprehend the magnitude of sin, one must know the meaning of death.
And what is death? Mrs. McDonough in God's Plan of Redemption gives a clear and helpful answer. "The scientific definition of death helps us to perceive his meaning. It is as follows, 'Death is the falling out of correspondence with environment.' The following illustration will help to better understand the subject. Here is an eye of a human being, apparently able to see any object placed before it; the objects of nature, bathed- in the bright sunshine surround it, but there is no response from the eye. It does not see; for the optic nerve is severed. It is dead to the beauty before it.
"Here is a person whose ears are completely deafened. Birds are singing, bells are ringing, voices speaking, but those ears do not respond to the sound waves that are carrying melody to other ears which are open to receive the same. They are dead to sounds.
"Upon the very day of Adam and Eve's disobedience sin severed the delicate intuitive knowledge of God in like spirit of Adam and Eve. They failed to respond to Him who was their Environing Presence. They were dead to God . . . the death process established in the spirit of our first parents was quickly manifested throughout the whole of the inner man and after a time the possibility of dissolution of the body, which had been held in abeyance while man remained obedient and dependent before the Fall, became an actuality" (p. 33).
Death in its twofold aspect, spiritual, the separation of the human spirit of man from the divine Spirit of God, and physical, the separation of the spirit and the body of man, came by sin. A grain of truth was mixed with the lie of the serpent.
Genesis 3:7, "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons."
Genesis 3:8, "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden."
Their eyes had indeed been opened but to behold what? Their own nakedness. They both acquired knowledge but of what? Their own sin and shame. They had come into a new self-consciousness but in that one act of sin they had lost God-consciousness. Their newly acquired knowledge served only to produce such a sense of shame that they counted themselves unfit for God's presence and were afraid to meet Him. The twilight hour of communion with God was robbed of all its sweetness and satisfaction by the sense of shame and sin. Eager response to God was changed into seeking refuge from God. Sin separated man from God and separation from God, who is Life, is death.
Physical death was the certain, even though more remote, result of sin. The judgment upon Adam included the curse of physical death.
Genesis 3:19, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
From the day Adam sinned the seed of physical death was in his body and finally reaped its harvest in full.
Genesis 5:5, "And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died."
Thus we see God's sentence of death, both spiritual and physical, meted out as a result of sin.
THE EFFECT OF ADAM'S SIN UPON THE HUMAN RACE
We have seen the disastrous effect of Adam and Eve's sin upon themselves. The question naturally arises, Did it affect any one else? Can we trace the sin in the human family back to the first sin in the first man, its federal head? Let us reason backward.
Sin is a Fact
Man is a sinner. One needs only to be closeted with himself for a single day to have sufficient proof of this statement. But if he should be loath to admit the evidence given in his own thoughts, feelings, desires, words and acts, let him listen to the gossip of a small town, or read in the daily paper of doings in town or city. Man is a sinner. To deny the reality of sin is not only to disbelieve God's Word and to make Him a liar but it is to discredit one's own experience and observation.
1 John 1:8, 1O, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
Sin is a Universal Fact
Every man is a sinner. There are no exceptions to this rule except the Man, Christ Jesus. God's Word says, "There is no man that sinneth not."
Romans 3:1O, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one."
Romans 3:12, "They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
Every truly honest man knows and admits that he is a sinner. At one time self-righteous Scribes and Pharisees brought to the Lord Jesus a woman taken in the act of adultery. To tempt Him that they might accuse Him, they asked if they should fulfil the law of Moses by stoning her. In reply the Lord Jesus said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." And "being convicted by their own conscience, they went out one by one." Who among the readers of this book is "without sin"? Men differ in the degree of sin in the life but not in the fact of sin. Many men are naturally kind, generous, genial and loving but "there is none righteous."
Every Man is a Sinner Before He Sins
Sin is far more than an act; it is a state, a nature, a disposition, a tendency. Sin is an inner reality before it is an outer manifestation. Sin is a desire before it is a deed.
James 1:15, R.V., "Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin; and the sin when it is full-grown, bringeth forth death."
Who has not seen a baby give vent to temper, self-will, stubbornness and anger before it could talk or walk. Men were born in sin. We are all of us " by nature the children of wrath." Humanity inherited a sinful nature.
By God's appointment Adam was the federal head of the human family. He owns the seed of the race, and all the coming generations were in him. Adam was not only man but he was the womb of mankind. As forerunner of the human race, he was also its representative.
Therefore Adam's sin was not his sin alone. All mankind was vitally affected by it. Adam's sin put the poison of sin in the human germ; the result was the moral and spiritual ruin of the race, collectively and individually. Adam was created without sin. By an act of his own will he became a sinner. "What man thus became, men are."
"Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" (Job 14:4). "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6). Adam fell and by that fall received a corrupt nature. Then he begat sons in his own likeness (Genesis 5:3). They inherited his sinful nature and so the poison of sin went on down through the human race until all men are involved.
Romans 5:12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
Romans 5:19, "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
By Adam's disobedience all men were made sinners and the death sentence rested upon all.
Spiritual deterioration and death began immediately upon Adam's fall and the depths into which the human race soon sank are revealed in the following words.
Genesis 6:3, R.V., "And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for in this going astray they are flesh."
Genesis 6:5-6, "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart."
Physical deterioration began immediately upon Adam's fall and death and decay were the final outcome. Adam lived and died. The sad record of Genesis five shows that the seed of death implanted in Adam was transmitted to his posterity until each human being has to pay the death toll.
THE EFFECT OF ADAM'S SIN UPON THE SOCIAL ORDER
In the garden of Eden before the tempter entered it we see the social order as God intended it to be. Adam and Eve were perfect and were living in perfect adjustment with God; therefore there was perfect adjustment between themselves. Godliness and holiness were followed by righteousness and peace.
But sin entered the human spirit and severed its relationship with the divine Spirit. Immediately man was thrown out of adjustment with God and ungodliness was the result.
Sin entered the human personality and reigned over every part of it. Man's whole being was thrown into confusion and conflict. Man was thrown out of adjustment with himself and unholiness was the result.
Sin entered the human relationship God had established between his first man and woman and produced friction. They were thrown out of adjustment with each other and unrighteousness was the result. Each had sinned in eating of the forbidden fruit but each was unwilling to bear the blame for it. Eve had tempted Adam but Adam had of his own free will hearkened unto the voice of his wife and disobeyed God's command. When brought face to face with his sin Adam played the part of a churlish coward blaming both God and Eve for his own misdoing
Genesis 3:12, "And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."
The sin that had introduced disorder into man's relations with God and into his own personality now introduced it into the relationship of fellow beings. Friction between man and man began in God's social order. "The break upward brought the break crosswise. That is the tragic Eden crisis. It touches us all most intimately today. The gloom and blight of the Eden crisis has cast its inky shadow over all the race, and over all life, ever since" (S. D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on the Crises and After, p. 56).
Its inky shadow cast gloom over that first home. The sin of the first parents was visited upon the first children. The eldest son Cain killed his brother Abel. Friction between parents bore fruit in murder between brothers. The maladjustment in God's social order begun in Eden has continued and grown apace into personal, family, civic, national and international frictions until the whole world today is one seething, struggling mass of discontent, envy, greed, suspicion, jealousy, hatred and revenge.
THE EFFECT OF ADAM'S SIN UPON THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE
The blighting, withering effect of sin was felt in the material universe for even the earth was cursed because of the sin of Adam.
Genesis 3:17-19, "And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread."
The soil should henceforth be comparatively barren, man would no longer be blessed by its spontaneous, prodigal abundance but would have to coax from it by the sweat of his face and much suffering the necessities of life.
THE EFFECT OF ADAM'S SIN UPON GOD
While the sin of Adam brought incalculable suffering and sorrow to himself and to his posterity yet the One most wounded and wronged by sin was God. The defeat of his purpose in the human race and the dethronement of Himself in his own universe was the twofold aim of Satan in Eden's tragedy. Behind the temptation was the tempter. "The fall began in heaven. Sin entered into God's house before it invaded man's. Christ felt its sting before man felt its stab" (Patterson, The Greater Life and Work of Christ, p. 82). The sin enacted in Eden immediately created two very vital issues and brought God into a new relationship both to the tempted and the tempter, to the sinner and to Satan.
The issue at stake between God and God's first man was God's union with the human race. Through Adam in creation God had become united with humanity. But now through sin that union had of necessity been broken. God, who is absolute holiness, could never countenance nor condone sin, much less dwell in its presence. Sin must be punished and the sinner banished. Adam and Eve, through yielding to temptation, had become sinners. God who had been their beneficent Creator, their bountiful Provider, their intimate Companion, in the light of their transgression of his holy law must assume a different relationship to them and the race latent in them from that which He had before.
God could never remain holy and just unless sin were punished according to its deserts and in such a way as to satisfy fully his holiness. When He gave his command regarding the eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil He had clearly stated the penalty if the command were disobeyed. To be true to Himself He must now exact that penalty for their sin. He must become their Judge and pronounce upon them the curse which sin merited.
But He had made the human race for Himself and his own glory. He could not willingly stand by and condemn it either to destruction or to eternal separation from Himself for He loved it with an everlasting love. God's holiness compelled Him to become a Judge but his love compelled Him to become a Redeemer. If his union with the human race had been broken through the first man's disobedience, He would send another Man to reestablish it through his obedience. If the race had been ruined through the first man's sin it should be redeemed through the second Man's Saviourhood. Thus God assumes a twofold relationship to Adam and Eve in their sin: that of a Judge and that of a Redeemer. The promise of a Saviour and the pronouncement of a doom were made. Both promise and pronouncement must be fulfilled.
So we see God in Eden seeking the sinner who, because of his sense of guilt and shame with its resultant fear, was hiding from Him.
Genesis 3:9, "And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?"
What a marvellous unveiling of the infinite, abounding grace of God! A wounded, wronged God seeking a guilty, ungodly sinner! The Lord God taking the initiative to bring Adam and Eve back home to Himself And this is but the opening scene in the continuous unfolding of God's infinitely gracious dealings with fallen humanity from that hour to this.
God then brought Adam and Eve face to face with the fact and guilt of their sin and gave them a fair, full opportunity to confess it. But instead of a con-trite, brokenhearted confession there came a cowardly, halfhearted one mixed with much of palliation and shifting of responsibility.
Again the exceeding riches of God's grace shone forth in his giving the promise of a Saviour. "It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" foretold to those guilty sinners who were soon to be banished from God's presence that He would open for them and for the race a way of access to Himself through the suffering of another.
Having now given vent to his infinite mercy and love in the gracious promise of a Saviour, God does full justice to his holy nature and his holy law in pronouncing a curse upon their sin. The God of all grace becomes the sinner's Judge. Sweat, suffering and sorrow are the awful consequences of sin. Then comes the sentence of death, for "the wages of sin is death," and the banishment from God's presence.
Genesis 3:19, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou."
Genesis 3:23-24, "Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man."
Having dealt with the sinner in grace God now deals with Satan in wrath. There could be no mercy manifested here. The issue between God and Satan was a far more serious one. In the Eden temptation Satan had contested God's right to the ownership of and the dominion over his own creation. Through their yielding to sin God had lost the sovereignty over the world and the race. Such insult and treachery must be dealt with according to their deserts.
THE PROPHECY OF A CONFLICT AND THE PRONOUNCEMENT OF A DOOM
God Himself declares a war against this arch-rebel that He will fight to the finish and in which He will show no mercy. God prophesies an age-long conflict and pronounces an eternal doom.
Genesis 3:15 "And I will put enmity between thee and the women, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
From this sentence of eternal enmity there could be no reprieve.