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The Fall

Why the mysterious paradox in human experience? Why in the same generation the noble idealism of a Schweitzer and the depraved philosophy of a Hitler? How could the author of the 23rd Psalm be the murderer of Uriah the Hittite? The problem runs through all human history. The question clamours for an answer. Why the paradox? Human reasoning has offered various explanations - speculative, theoretical, unsatisfactory. The first three chapters of Genesis reveal the cause of the problem - authoritative, in harmony with the facts of known experience.

For Gen. 1:27 summarizes man's unique creation: "God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them". As to their wonderful endowments of spirit and intellect, emotion and will, there was reflected in Adam and Eve the image of their Creator. From that noble origin derives all that is admirable in human experience. The inspired narrative of Gen. 3 then discloses the tragedy of Adam's disobedience, as a result of which all his descendants have been born with a sinful nature (Job 14:1-4; Psa. 51:5; Rom. 5:12; John 3:6). So every individual, however noble his ideals or brilliant his achievements, is subject to the mysterious and evil compulsion of "the law of sin" in his members (Rom. 7:23). God's answer to the paradox is that He created man perfect in the beginning, but that perfection was marred through rebellion against the divine will. Man therefore "fell" from his original glory and dignity, from the enjoyment of perfect harmony with his Creator.

It was the Son of God Himself who confirmed the truth of Adam and Eve's original creation by directly quoting from Gen. 1:27 - see Mark 10:6 and also His general confirmation of the truth of Moses' writings (e.g. Luke 24:27,44; John 5:44-47). Apostolic teaching also referred to Gen. Chapters 1 to 3 as factual narrative (e.g. Ram 5:12; 1 Car. 15:22; 2 Car. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:13-14). Indeed the whale structure of God's redemptive purpose in Christ is built upon the premise that through Adam's disobedience the entire human family became involved in sin and subject to condemnation.

Human history is in itself further confirmation of man's fall. As presented in Scripture, each fresh epoch of God's dealings with men has led only to a climax of increased sinfulness and the need far divine intervention in judgement. The "age of conscience" ended with the Flood; the period after Noah with the judgement of Babel; the dispensation of the law with the scattering of Israel. Following the age of grace will be the high watermark of human iniquity in the person of Antichrist. Even the glory of the millennial age will close in rebellion and summary divine judgement. God puts man to the test under a variety of circumstances, but inevitably the inherent sinfulness of the human heart has resulted in ruinous failure.

Details given by the Holy Spirit in Gen. 3 are replete with truths which run an throughout all Scripture. The sinister personality of Satan, using the serpent through which to communicate with Eve, is seen in his character as a liar and the father thereof (John 8:44). We are left in no doubt about this, far the "old serpent" is identified in Rev. 20:2 with "the Devil and Satan". So the fearful impact of evil on the Adamic race resulted from Satanic initiative in drawing away Adam and Eve from their allegiance to the Creator. Impenetrable mystery enshrouds the earlier origin of sin, although Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 give some indication of Satan's self-exaltation and consequent judgement. But this we see as in a glass darkly. God has not chosen to reveal mare fully the origins of evil. His divine wisdom commends to faith's acceptance the plain declaration that "through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, far that all sinned" (Rom. 5:12). In each fleeting generation the realities of sin and death confirm the truth of the Fall and explain the dilemma of the human race. Man's deep need is met by God's far-reaching development of His great salvation plan, while from Genesis to Revelation "the god of this world", Satan, is seen to pursue relentlessly his opposing policies.

The adversary's methods in Eden were characteristic. The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field, so was accordingly chosen as the instrument of deception. The woman was "the weaker vessel" so the approach was made to her. Bible-wide, Satan's ways are stamped with subtlety. "I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ" (2 Car. 11:3). Essentially evil, he nevertheless fashions Himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). At the time of the end the coming of his false Christ will be with "lying wanders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness" (2 Thess. 2:9,10). His last mention in Scripture describes his as "the devil that deceived them" (Rev. 20:10).

Typical of his methods also was Satan's successful undermining of Eve's faithfulness to the word of Gad. It has always been God's way to commit His truth to men to believe and keep, even though they may not fully understand the reason why. The command about the forbidden fruit was definite. It aught to have been respected. It was a focal paint of spiritual proving. Satan effectively lured Eve from her only safe position - to stand in absolute faith in God's statements and obedience to His commands. There would seem to be an element of carelessness in her treatment of God's word if we compare verses 16,17 of chapter 2 with 2,3 of chapter 3. Her quotation in reply to Satan's enquiry added to and altered and took from what God had actually said. There followed Satan's denial of the truth of God's statement: "Thou shalt not surely die". Then came the suggestion that a higher knowledge was being deliberately withheld by God through forbidding them to eat of the fruit. The wide range of philosophy which sets aside Scripture as something less than the inspired ward of God is in essence merely a development of the method used by Satan in Eden.

Eve's decision was partly influenced by the appeal of the fruit to her natural senses - "good far food and ... a delight to the eyes". But there was also an appeal to her mind, far the fruit was to be desired to make one wise. How clearly we can recognize the skill of our adversary in assailing the citadel of the human will! By appeal to bodily appetite, to aesthetic taste and to intellectual attainment he engineered the yielding of Eve's will to his deceitful suggestions. Throughout succeeding centuries he has used a similar pattern of appeal, with the result that far mast of mankind life has been "according to the prince 6f the power of the air", "doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind" (Eph. 2:3).

There was, of course, same truth in the Devil's statement that Adam and Eve would be as God, knowing good and evil; but it was not wholly truth. They would know good and evil indeed, but not as God knew it. " Instead of perceiving the evil from the free height of the goad, he perceived the goad from the deep abyss of the evil". We can trace a similar pattern of truth misapplied when Satan tempted the Lord in the wilderness. In that arena of acute spiritual conflict the last Adam foiled Satan's guile by the power of the written word. In modern spiritual controversy we find this method of Satanic deception widely illustrated. The man of God furnished completely thr6ugh Spirit-taught understanding of the inspired Scriptures will discern the error despite its wily presentation.

Immediate results of Adam and Eve's disobedience were a consciousness of their need of clothing, and a sense of guilt towards God. They sewed fig leaves together far a covering and hid from the Lord's presence when they heard His voice in the garden. Confronted by God, the guilty pair heard spelt out the solemn consequences of their sin. Yet two rays of hope shone through the gloom of their condemnation. First was the promise that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent's head. However faintly Adam and Eve may have understood the outworking of this promise, it nevertheless gave them assurance of God's ultimate intervention to retrieve the disaster of the Fall. Secondly we note the clothing of skins provided by God in replacement of the inadequate fig leaves. Enshrined in this act lay the truth that human guilt would be dealt with by the shedding of blood, painting an to Calvary and the One who would there make propitiation far the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

However, many centuries must pass before the promised Seed would be barn in Bethlehem or deal the blow to the serpent's head at Calvary. The history of those centuries ran true to the pattern of judgement pronounced on Adam and Eve. Far the woman there was multiplication of sorrow and conception, sorrow in bringing forth children. The man tailed laboriously because of the cursed ground, until ultimately he returned to the ground; "far dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return".

Scripture reveals that the creation over which Adam had been placed was sadly affected by his transgression. His awn physical being was itself affected by his spiritual rebellion against God. In a spiritual sense he died when he transgressed; his spiritual communion with God was immediately broken. This was followed in due course by physical death; spiritual death had its physical counterpart. The creation had been placed under his authority (Gen. 1.28). His renunciation of the Creator's authority led to serious consequences throughout the creation of which he was head. As it is put in Rom. 8:

"The creation was subjected to vanity, not of its awn will, but by reason of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption

"...for we know that the whale creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (vv. 20-22).

As for fallen man, let us face and accept the Bible truth that sin has invaded and spoiled every part of his being, spirit, soul and body. It is a false concept that in every man there is a "spark of the divine", an element of absolute good which may be nurtured far the individual's acceptance by God apart from the redeeming work of Christ. God's word analyses accurately our deep human need as a result of the Fall. As to our body, it is the "body of our humiliation" (Phil. 3:21), subject to the "law of sin" which is in our members (Rom. 7:23). As to our thoughts, "the mind of the flesh is death", "the mind of the flesh is enmity against God" (Ram. 8:6,7). As to our spiritual capacity, "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: far they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged" (1 Cor. 2:14). Indeed, all are under sin, as it is written, "There is none righteous, no, not one ... there is none that doeth goad, no, not so much as one" (Rom. 3:9-12). In such uncompromising terms God describes our state before Him as a result of the Fall and apart from the reclaiming power of His salvation in Christ. Yet through faith in His San and by the quickening of the Holy Spirit the regenerate man may dedicate his body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God (Rom. 12.1). He may be spiritually transformed from glory to glory into the image of Christ (2 Car. 3:18). He has in prospect the glorious assurance of being conformed to the body of His glory (Phil. 3:21). How wonderfully our all-sufficient Saviour has restored that which He took not away!