Gleanings In Genesis
6. The Fall (Concluded)
The philosophy of life as interpreted by the Darwinian school, affirms that sin is merely a present imperfection and limitation which will gradually disappear as the human race ascends the hill of life. The evolutionary hypothesis, therefore, not only denies the teaching of Genesis one, but it also repudiates the facts recorded in Genesis three. And here is the real point and purpose of Satanís attack. The specious reasoning of our modern theologians has not only attempted to undermine the authenticity of the account of Creation, but it has also succeeded in blunting the point of the Gospelís appeal.
By denying the Fall, the imperative need of the new birth has been concealed. For, if man began at the bottom of the moral ladderóas evolutionists ask us to believeóand is now slowly but surely climbing heavenwards, then all he needs is education and cultivation. On the other hand, if man commenced at the top of the ladder but through sin fell to the bottomóas the Bible declaresóthen he is in urgent need of regeneration and justification. The issue thus raised is vital and fundamental.
V. The Fall and Human History
While we are entirely dependent upon the revelation which God has given us in His Word for our knowledge of the beginnings of human history, and while His Word is absolutely authoritative and to be received with unquestioning faith, and while the Holy Scriptures need no buttressing with human logic and argument, yet an appeal to history and experience is not without interest and value. This is the case in respect to the "Fall." And we would now submit that the teaching of Genesis three is substantiated and vindicated by the great facts of human history and experience.
1. The Teaching of Human Experience
Read the annals of history, examine the reports of our police courts, study life in the slums of our large cities, and then ask, How comes it that man, the king of creation, designed and fitted to be its leader and lord, should have sunken lower than the animals? Illustrations are scarcely necessary to show how low man has sunk, for all who know vice as it really exists beneath the thin covering provided by the conventionalities of modern civilization, are only too painfully aware of the degradation and desolation which exist on all sides. A beast will not abandon its young as is now so frequently the ease with the parents of illegitimate children. The beasts of the field put multitudes of human beings to shame, for in the breeding season they confine themselves to their own mates exceptions being found only among those animals which man has partially domesticated! No animal will drink foul and poisoned water, yet thousands of well educated men and women are annually poisoned with alcohol.
But what is the cause of these effects. What is the true explanation of these sad facts? How comes it that the king of creation has sunken lower than the beasts of the field? Only one answer is possibleóSIN, the FALL. Sin has entered the human constitution; man is a fallen creature, and as such, capable of any vileness and wickedness.
2. The Discords of Human Nature
Man, the unregenerate man, is a composite being. Two principles are at work within him. He is a self-contradiction. One moment he does that which is noble and praiseworthy, but the next that which is base and vile. Sometimes he is amenable to that which is good and elevating, but more often he abandons himself to the pleasures of sin. In some moods he seems closely akin to God, in others he is clearly a child of the devil.
Whence comes this conflict between good and evil! Why this perplexing duality in our common make-up? Only one explanation meets all the facts of the case. On the one hand, man is "the offspring of God"; but, on the other, sin has come in through the Fall and marred the Creatorís handiwork.
3. The Universality of Sin
Why is it that the kingís son in the palace and the saintís daughter in the cottage, in spite of every safeguard which love and watchfulness can devise, manifest an unmistakable bias towards evil and tendency to sin? Why is it that heredity and environment, education and civilization are powerless to change this order? Why are all sinful! Why is it that there is no nation, no tribe, no family, free from the taint of sin? Only the Word of God solves this problem. All have a common origin (Adam); all share a common heritage (the Fall); all enter into a common legacy (Sin).
4. The Existence of Death
"There is one event that happeneth to all," but why should it? We have been created by the Eternal God, we possess a never-dying soul; why, then, should not men continue to live on this earth for ever? Why should there be such things as decay and destruction? Why should man die? Science can furnish no answer to these questions, and philosophy offers no explanation. Again we are shut up to the Word of God. Death is the wages of sin, and death is universal because sin is universal. If any inquire, Why are sin and death universal, the answer is, "By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned."
5. The Present Paralysis of the Human Race
Every being and organism is subject to a necessity of becoming other than it isóin a single word, it must grow. Not only the animal and the plant, but the crystal, too, obeys this law, and it is difficult to see why humanity which, as history shows, forms an organic whole, alone does not follow it. The only solution of this problem is, that man is not now in his original and normal state: he is no longer as God created him. He who denies the Fall has no light upon this profound mystery. It is beyond doubt that had man never fallen, he would have continued to grow in knowledge, goodness and happiness: in fact, would have become more and more like to God. Enoch, the man who walked with God, and whom He took to Himself after he had lived the great cycle of three hundred and sixty-five yearsóa year for a dayóis an example of a human being who had fulfilled his destiny, and most probably a type of what the destiny of all men might have been. But alas! man fell, hence progress and advancement in the final sense became impossible.
The fact that man has not progressed, or rather, is not now progressing, may be seen by comparing the products from the various fields of human enterprise of today with those of two or three thousand years ago. In literature, nothing has appeared which equals the Book of Job, or which rivals the Psalms. In Philologyówhich is a sure test of the intellectual development and mental life of a people there is no modern language which matches the Sanskrit. In Art, all that is best we borrow from the ancient Greeks. In Science, we are still far behind the designers and builders of the Pyramidsóa recent examination of some mummies has revealed the fact that the Egyptians were ahead of us even in dentistry, in Ethics, the marvellous system formulated by Confucius is superior to anything we have today outside of the Bible. In gigantic civilizations, none have outstripped those of the Babylonians and Phoenicians, which flourished hundreds of years before the Christian era commenced. In legislation, forensic and organizing ability, the Romans have never been surpassed. While physically we compare unfavorably with the ancients.
Here then is a fact fully demonstrated, that as an organic whole, our race is making no real progress and evidencing no signs of growth. And we repeat, it is the only one among all living organisms which is not growingógrowing, not evolving. What, then, is the cause of this mysterious paralysis? How can we account for it except by the explanation furnished in the Word of God, namely, that this organism has had a terrible fall, is marred and broken, is not now in its normal and original state!
If then the Fall is a historical fact and the only adequate explanation of human history, what follows! First, man is a fallen creature; second, he is a sinner; third, he needs a Savior. This then is the foundation of the Gospel appeal. By nature, man is alienated from God, under condemnation, lost. What then is the remedy? The answer is, A new creation. "If any man be in Christ he is a new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). It is not the cultivation of the old nature which is needed, for that is ruined by the Fall, but the reception of an entirely new nature which is begotten by the Holy Spirit. "Ye must be born again." Anything short of this is worthless and useless.
VI. The Fall and Christ
No study of Genesis 3 would be complete without meditating upon it with the Lord Jesus before the heart. Several passages in the Word link together Adam and Christ, and therefore it behooves us to carefully compare and contrast them. In thinking of Christ and the Fall a threefold line of thought may be developed. First, a contrast between the first man and the second man in their characters and conduct. Second, Christ Himself bearing the Curse of the Fall. Third, Christ reversing the effects of the Fall and bringing in the "better thing." Let us take up these thoughts in this order.
It has been suggested by another, that in eating of the forbidden fruit Adam cast reproach upon Godís love, Godís truth and Godís majesty. Created in the image of his Maker: vitalized by the very breath of Deity: placed in a perfect environment: surrounded by every blessing the heart could desire: put in complete authority over the works of Godís hands: provided with a suitable companion and helpmeet: made an example to all the universe of Jehovahís goodness and love, and given one single command that he might have opportunity to show his appreciation by an easy observance of itóyet, he gives ear to the voice of the tempter and believes the Devilís lie.
"And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil." What did Satan wish these words to imply? They were as though he said: Did God tell you not to eat of this tree? How unkind! He is withholding from you the very best thing in the garden. He knows full well that if you partake of this fruit your eyes will be opened, and you yourselves will become as God. In other words, it was an appeal for them to distrust God, to doubt His grace, and to question His goodness. Thus in eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam repudiated and dishonored Godís love.
Moreover, he questioned and dishonored Godís veracity. God had plainly warned him. In unequivocal language He had threatened, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Adam knew nothing of death. He was surrounded only by living creatures. Reason might have argued that it was impossible for death to enter such a fair land as Paradise. But there rang the Word of Him who cannot lie, "Thou shalt surely die." The serpent, however, boldly denies Jehovahís Word "Ye shall not surely die," he declares. Which would Adam believeóGod or Satan. He had more confidence in the latter: he dared to doubt the former, and the fell deed was done. Thus, in eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam repudiated and dishonored Godís Truth.
Further: he rejected Godís authority. As the Creator, God possesses the inherent right to issue commands, and to demand from His creatures implicit obedience. It is His prerogative to act as Law-giver, Controller, Governor, and to define the limits of His subjectsí freedom. And in Eden He exercised His prerogative and exprest His will. But Adam imagined he had a better friend than God. He regarded Him as austere and despotic, as One who begrudged him that which would promote his best interests. He felt that in being denied the fruit of this tree which was pleasant to the eyes and capable of making one wise God was acting arbitrarily, cruelly, so he determined to assert himself, claim his rights and throw off the restraint of the Divine government. He substitutes the Devilís word for Godís law: he puts his own desire before Jehovahís command. Thus, in eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam repudiated and dishonored Godís Majesty. So much then for the character and conduct of the first Adam.
In turning to the last Adam we shall find that everything is in direct antithesis. In thought, word and deed, the Christ of God completely vindicated the love, truth, and majesty of Deity which the first man had so grievously and deliberately dishonored. How He vindicated the love of God! Adam harbored the wicked thought that God begrudged him that which was beneficial, and thereby questioned His goodness. But how the Lord Jesus has reversed that decision! In coming down to this earth to seek and to save that which was lost, He fully revealed the compassion of Deity for humanity. In His sympathy for the afflicted, in His miracles of healing, in His tears over Jerusalem, in His unselfish and unwearied works of mercy, He has openly displayed the beneficence and benevolence of God. And what shall we say of His sufferings and death on the cruel tree! In laying down His life for us, in dying upon the cross He unveiled the heart of the Father as nothing else could. "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Ď In the light of Calvary we can never more doubt the goodness and grace of God.
How Christ vindicated the truth of God! When tempted by Satan to doubt Godís goodness, question His truth and repudiate His majesty, He answered each time, "It is written." When He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day it was to read out of the Holy Oracles. When selecting the twelve apostles He designedly chose Judas in order that the Scriptures "might be fulfilled." When censuring His critics, He declared that by their traditions they made void "the Word of God." In His last moments upon the Cross, knowing that all things had been accomplished, in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled He said, "I thirst." After He had risen from the dead and was journeying with the two disciples to Emmaus, He "expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." At every point, and in every detail of His life He honored and magnified Godís truth.
Finally, Christ completely vindicated the majesty of God. The creature had aspired to be equal with the Creator. Adam chafed against the governmental restraint which Jehovah had placed upon him. He despised Godís law, insulted His majesty, defied His authority. How different with our blessed Savior! Though He was the Lord of Glory and equal with God, yet He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon the form of a servant. O matchless grace! He condescended to be "made under the law," and during the whole of His stay here upon earth He refused to assert His rights, and was ever subject to the Father. "Not My will" was His holy cry. Nay, more: "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Never was Godís law so magnified, never was Godís authority so honored, never were Godís government claims so illustriously upheld, as during the thirty-three years when His own Son tabernacled among men. Thus in His own Person Christ vindicated the outraged majesty of God.
We turn now to contemplate Christ Himself bearing the Curse of the Fall. What was the punishment which followed the first Adamís sin? In answering this question we confine ourselves to the chapter now before us. Beginning at Genesis 3:17 we may trace a sevenfold consequence upon the entrance of sin into this world. First, the ground was cursed. Second, in sorrow man was to eat of it all the days of his life. Third, thorns and thistles it was to bring forth. Fourth, in the sweat of his face man was to eat his bread. Fifth, unto dust man was to return. Sixth, a flaming sword barred his way to the tree of life. Seventh, there was the execution of Godís threat that in the day man partook of the forbidden fruit he should surely die. Such was the curse which fell upon Adam as the result of the Fall.
Observe now how completely the Lord Jesus bore the full consequences of manís sin. First, Christ was "made a curse for us" (Gal. 3:13). Second, so thoroughly was He acquainted with grief, He was denominated "the man of sorrows" (Isa. 53:3). Third, in order that we might know how literally the Holy One bore in His own body the consequences of Adamís sin, we read "Then came Jesus forth wearing the crown of thorns" (John 19:5) Fourth, corresponding with the sweat of his face in which the first man was to eat his bread, we learn concerning the second man, "And His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44). Fifth, just as the first Adam was to return unto the dust, so the cry of the last Adam, in that wonderful prophetic Psalm, was "Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death" (Ps. 22:15). Sixth, the sword of justice which barred the way to the tree of life was sheathed in the side of Godís Son, for of old, Jehovah had said, "Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, and against the man that is My Fellow" (Zech. 13:7). Seventh, the counterpart of Godís original threat to Adam, namely, spiritual death (for he did not die physically that same day), which is the separation of the soul from God, is witnessed in that most solemn of all cries, "My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). How absolutely did our blessed Savior identify Himself with those which were lost, took their place and suffered the Just for the unjust! How apparent it is, that Christ in His own body, did bear the Curse entailed by the Fall.
In conclusion we shall now consider Christ reversing the effects of the Fall. God alone is able to bring good out of evil and make even the wrath of man to praise Him. The Fall has afforded Him an opportunity to exhibit His wisdom and display the riches of His grace to an extent which, so far as we can see, He never could have done, had not sin entered the world. In the sphere of redemption Christ has not only reversed the effects of the Fall, but because of it has brought in a better thing. If God could have found a way, consistently with His own character, to restore man to the position which he occupied before he became a transgressor, it would have been a remarkable triumph, but that through Christ man should actually be the gainer is a transcendent miracle of Divine wisdom and grace. Yet such is the case. The redeemed have gained more through the last Adam than they lost through the first Adam. They occupy a more exalted position. Before the Fall Adam dwelt in an earthly Paradise, but the redeemed have been made to sit with Christ in heavenly places. Through redemption they have been blest with a nobler nature. Before the Fall man possessed a natural life, but now, all in Christ have been made partakers of the Divine nature. They have obtained a new standing before God. Adam was merely innocent, which is a negative condition, but believers in Christ are righteous, which is a positive state. We share a better inheritance. Adam was lord of Eden, but believers are "heirs of all things," "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." Through grace we have been made capable of a deeper joy than unfallen spirits have known: the bliss of pardoned sin, the heaven of deep conscious obligation to Divine mercy. In Christ believers enjoy a closer relationship to God than was possible before the Fall. Adam was merely a creature, but we are members of the body of Christó"members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones." How marvelous! We have been taken into union with Deity itself, so that the Son of God is not ashamed to call us brethren. The Fall provided the need of Redemption, and through the redeeming work of the Cross, believers have a portion which unfallen Adam could never have attained unto. Truly, "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."