Conditions During The Fall
AGONY TO ECSTASY!
II. CONDITIONS DURING THE FALL
A. Man's Creation
Man is different from all other creatures because he is made in God's own image. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7) God is a Tri-une Being of intelligence (Omniscience), and so man is created a rational being. God is a Being of temperament (Love), and so man is created an emotional being. God is a Being of action (Omnipotence), and so man is created a volitional being with the capacity to act. God, whose dominance is supreme, has shared that dominance with mankind.
Look at Man's dominance. God is Creator and Lord of the earth, but God put Man in charge of the earth. Man must exercise his dominance over the earth with a constant sense of his stewardship before God. (Genesis 1:28, "God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. '") God gave man dominion over all things, not to abuse the world of nature, but to govern and creatively to use the world of nature to serve mankind and to glorify God. Man is not to use his call to domination over the world as an excuse to exploit the world's natural resources, such as lumber, coal, oil and the soil. God is the giver of all good and perfect gifts. Man is to receive those gifts gratefully and selflessly. God's creator-hood reveals His grace and love.
B. Man's Unique Freedom
We are looking at the nature of Man from various perspectives, as recorded in the early chapters of Genesis.
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Look at Man's limitation. God placed one limitation upon Man. "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.'" (Genesis 2:16-17)
This tree represents God's sovereign knowledge which belongs to God alone. Man must depend completely upon God and not try to assert himself as God's equal. The tree reminds Man that God alone is all-knowing, and that Man must acknowledge his utter dependence on God, who as Creator, is infinitely greater than the creature.
Look at Man's freedom. Only as man could freely choose to obey and to serve God, could man's love for God be proved and developed. A slave is forced to obey and serve his master even against his will. The attitude of the slave's resentment for his master is vastly different from the attitude of love with which a son willingly performs duties for his father. Only the son, who has the power of choice, can prove his love for the father.
Love could not be tested without the presence of a standard by which to determine obedience or disobedience. God's commandment forbidding Man to eat from the tree was the standard by which to either praise Man for his obedience or to condemn Man for his disobedience.
Obedience or disobedience means nothing if there is no objective standard by which to judge. The tree in the Garden provided that standard, making possible the exercise of Man's frightening freedom!
Notes Elton Trueblood, "Always men have broken laws; that is nothing new. What is new is the acceptance of a creed to the effect that there really is no objective truth about what human conduct ought to be. The new position is not merely that the old laws do not apply, but rather that any moral law is limited to subjective reference ….. If
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there is no objective right, then there is not even the possibility of error, and intellectual and moral confusion are bound to ensue ….. Failure to honor particular moral standards is one thing; rejection of the very idea of an objective moral standard is another." (A Place to Stand; Elton Trueblood; page 15-16)
Is it not ironical that our contemporary society which prides itself for its moral freedom and its total liberations from any so-called legalistic restraints, is the same society that is withering and dying socially and even physically? Note the "AIDS" epidemic which threatens to destroy the very fabric of our society! Thousands will die because they want to throw off all moral restraints and do their own thing. With the denial of an objective moral standard by which to judge the rightness and the wrongness of a moral decision, there does not come a corresponding moral freedom. Instead, there comes intellectual confusion and moral bondage. When everyone does that which is right in his own eyes, social chaos and anarchy are the eventual consequences.
God's command regarding the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden symbolizes forever God's objective moral standards by which we will be judged for obedience or for disobedience. Later in history, the Ten Commandments provided God's objective Moral Standard (Exodus 20). The New Testament introduces an even higher objective moral standard: "Pay all your debts except the debt of love for others never finish paying that! For if you love them you will be obeying all of God's laws, fulfilling all His requirements. If you love your neighbor as much as you love yourself you will not want to harm or cheat him, or kill him or steal from him. And you won't sin with his wife or want what is his, or do anything else the Ten Commandments say is wrong. All ten are wrapped up in this one, to love your neighbor as you love yourself; Love does no wrong to anyone. That's why it fully satisfies all of God's requirements. It is the only law you need." (Romans 13:8-10, Living Bible).
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Wrote James, "If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself', you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers." (James 2:8-9, NIV)
Man is free to choose because there is the presence of an objective moral standard (or law). Without such an objective moral law, there would be no such thing as right or wrong. In such a situation – the situation of moral relativism – everyone does what seems right to him, and in such a situation, no one has any authority to judge the actions of another person or another group of persons (a nation). It seemed "right" to Hitler to eliminate the Jewish people. If there is no objective moral law – i.e., if there is no law such as "Thou shalt not murder" and "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" then no one can justly condemn Hitler's actions on the basis of moral injustice and "sin"!
If the Genesis story of Man's Fall teaches anything clearly, it teaches most clearly the fact of God's objective moral laws, with attending rewards for obedience and attending punishment for disobedience! To deny the fact of objective moral law is not only to reject the revelation of Holy Scripture, but it is also to forfeit all possibility of clear intellectual understanding and moral freedom!
C. Man's Fatal Temptation
Consider Man's rebellion. Man, possessed with the freedom to choose, determined his own destiny. Man yielded to the subtle temptation of Satan and was enticed by Satan's allurements.
Satan implanted the seeds of doubt into Eve's heart. Appealing to the gratification of Man's desire, Satan succeeded in getting Man to overstep his God-imposed limitation, and thus to challenge God's sovereignty.
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Satan, whose own fall is attributed to the drunkenness of pride (Ezekiel 28:1-10), became the instigator of Man's pride, which caused Man's fall. When Man ate of the tree, he declared his independence of God and his desire to "run his own life".
When Man invaded God's territory of personal knowledge through eating from the tree, Man yielded to the temptation to play the part of God. Man's relationship to the Creator was made to be one of servant to master. Man attempted to usurp God's mastership when he yielded to Satan's evil suggestions.
Let us look again at the nature of man's temptation. "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God really say, "You must not eat from any tree in the garden?" The woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, "You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die." 'You will not surely die,' the serpent said to the woman. 'For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and was pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it." (Genesis 3:1-6)
What approach did the serpent take in plotting mankind's fall into sin? Satan was successful in causing Eve to question God's Word (Doubt), to overstep God's clearly-defined limitations (Disobedience and Rebellion), to gratify selfish desires (Self-centeredness).
It must be said that there was no sin in Eve being tempted. In fact, what was from Satan's viewpoint a temptation intended to destroy the woman was from God's viewpoint a test – intended to perfect
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the woman. Eve had an opportunity, during the temptation, to demonstrate her loyalty to God and to mature her walk with God. But Satan's temptation of Eve was fatal, for Eve yielded to the temptation. Look more carefully at this fatal temptation.
(1) Questioning God's Word (Doubt)
"Right away the serpent insinuated a doubt into Eve's heart: 'Did God (really) say …. ?' (This is like the doubt insinuated with the words 'If you are the Son of God …. ' in the story of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, as reported in Matt. 4:3-6) A deadly chink is opened up in the creature's love for his creator. And into this chink a little wedge is thrust in the form of the assertion: 'You will not die. For God knows that when you eat (the fruit) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil' (Genesis 3:4-5)." (God's Unfolding Purpose; Suzanne de Dietrich; page 37-38)
(2) Overstepping God's Clearly Defined Limitations (Disobedience)
Temptation tends to magnify man's desires for the forbidden and to erase the clearly-defined boundaries of God's laws. Satan seeks to befuddle the mind and, at the same time, to stimulate the lower desires of human nature during the hour of temptation. The forbidden tree did not look so forbidding after Eve began to rationalize! The Bible says, "There is a way that seems right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death!"
To the man who has learned to rationalize, it "seems right" for him to live with a young lady who is not his wife, or to date a young lady who is still married to another man, or to "fudge" on his income tax returns, or to tell a "white lie", or to take a "pleasure trip" on Sunday when he should be worshipping at church, or to glance at the center page of a "Playboy" Magazine when no one is looking, or to use the tithe money to pay an overdue bill, or
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to watch an "educational program" on television instead of spending time praying and reading the Bible!
(3) Gratification of Desires (Self-centeredness)
This temptation to Eve was fatal, for the temptation appealed to the desires of body, soul, and spirit. "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it." (Genesis 3:6)
(a) "Good for Food" (Appeal to Body)
Sin can be defined as fulfilling a legitimate desire in an illegitimate way or at an illegitimate time. It was not wrong for Eve to desire food, for food is a basic necessity of physical life. But it was wrong for Eve to desire the fruit of this specifically forbidden tree.
There are many physical desires, all of which are God-given and legitimate. For instance, there is the strong, God-given, physical desire for sexual gratification. But seeking to fulfill this legitimate desire in the wrong way (through adultery or through homosexuality) and at the wrong time (before marriage), results in sin.
When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger after a forty-day fast, it was an attempt on the part of Satan to get Jesus to fulfill a legitimate desire (satisfaction of physical hunger with food) through illegitimate means (by Jesus' use of His extraordinary power to perform a miracle at a time which was incompatible with Jesus' mission of full identification with mankind).
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(b) "Pleasing To The Eye" (Appeal to Soul)
The forbidden fruit was not only good for food (physical appeal), but it was also pleasing to the eye (aesthetic or soul appeal). Man is created to appreciate beauty. To appreciate the beautiful in life is not sinful. Seldom does Satan offer that which is ugly and repulsive to a person. Satan seeks to deceive people by appealing to their aesthetic nature in order to get them to partake of the forbidden. Much of the so-called "sex therapy" today is based on the desire of man for the beautiful, the shapely, the attractive, the affectionate, the romantic. Just as the fruit on the forbidden tree was most beautiful to behold, so there is much of the forbidden today that appears as beautiful. That which does not belong to us, and that which we are tempted to covet, appears as emotionally appealing and as aesthetically attractive. Someone else's beautiful woman, or beautiful house, or beautiful car, or attractive job – these are some of the more obvious objects of covetousness, all of which can (like the fruit in the Garden) appear to be most "pleasing to the eye". Many are ensnared in sin because of the aesthetic attraction of the temptation. Again, seeking to fulfill a legitimate desire (enjoyment of a beautiful object or subject which appeals to our aesthetic nature) in an illegitimate way or at an illegitimate time is what constitutes sin.
(c) "Desirable for Gaining Wisdom" Appeal to Spirit)
The fruit was appealing to the Body, for it was "good for food". The fruit was appealing to the Soul (or aesthetic nature), for it was "pleasing to the eye". Also, the fruit was appealing to the Spirit, for it was "desirable for gaining wisdom".
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There is an insatiable quest for knowledge and wisdom in our world today. To gain wisdom is to gain a most wonderful possession – a possession which will protect you throughout your life. The writer of Proverbs considers the possession of wisdom to be all-important: "Wisdom is more precious than' rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her …. My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice si1ver . . . . For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But who ever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death." (Proverbs 8:11, Proverbs 8:19, Proverbs 8:35, Proverbs 8:36)
Surely, to desire wisdom is a good thing. Eve cannot be faulted for wanting wisdom, any more than she can be faulted for wanting physical food or aesthetic enjoyment. What was wrong was Eve's attempt to find wisdom through a forbidden means (by eating the forbidden fruit). As in the case of Eve, there are many today who wish to be wise and understanding, but who are attempting to find wisdom and insight through forbidden means – such as spiritism and witchcraft and horoscopes and mediums. Others seek to be wise through the study of worldly philosophy or psychology. Still others seek to be wise through their involvement in false religious systems – cultism or the occult or oriental religions. All of these above-mentioned examples are "forbidden fruit".
'What, to the world, appears as "wisdom", is to God as "foolishness", and that which is the essence of true wisdom – the "cross of Christ" is utter foolishness to the world. Wrote Paul, "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand mi-
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raculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (1 Corinthians 1:21-35)
Seeking wisdom is a natural and legitimate desire. But seeking wisdom in the wrong ways and in the wrong places is both folly and sin. Say "No" to the "forbidden fruit" of the world which promises to make you wise if you eat of it. Christ alone is the source of all true wisdom! "Christ Jesus has become for us wisdom from God that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, it is written, 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'" (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)
It is not religion or philosophy or education that can give you wisdom; it is Christ alone who can make you wise unto salvation! Boast alone in Christ who is the Wisdom of God!
D. Man's Tragic Fall
Notes Suzanne de Dietrich, "The third chapter of Genesis tells, in story form, of a three-fold break in relationship: between God and the human couple, between man and wife, between man and the world that surrounds him. The essential theological truth revealed in this chapter is that all the tensions and disruptions of mankind go back to a fundamental disruption produced by the will to autonomy of the creature as over against the Creator. 'You will be like God.' (Genesis 3:5) In snatching at equality with God, in wanting to be their own masters and to stand in their own right, woman and
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man destroy the child-like trust that makes them open to God's love and purpose and to one another. Lust for power has entered the world and will henceforth be at the root of all antagonism between sexes, between brothers, between groups, nations and races. Having lost our at-one-ness with God, we become like self-centered tops, turning round and round upon ourselves. We do this as individuals; we do it collectively on a world scale." (The Witnessing Community; page 23)
Adam disobeyed a direct command. God created Adam with a free will, and with the ability to love. Love is the property of free will. As was noted in the introduction of the message, "The thing that makes us uniquely human is that, unlike the other creatures, we are able to say both 'Yes' and 'No' to God. The stars in the sky follow their prescribed orbits, the animals of the field obey their instincts, but man has this unique and frightening ability he can refuse to be obedient to his Creator. For God does not want slaves, but sons." (God's Unfolding Purpose; Susanne de Dietrich; page 36)
Love must be tested. God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 2:17)
Adam disobeyed a direct command and overstepped his God-imposed limitations. Adam took things into his own hands, and set himself up as a "little god". Adam's sin was the sin of playing the part of God.
Adam's sin is the central sin of all humanity — the sin of making one's self into a god, placing self and selfish desire at the center of one's universe.
"The person who plays the part of God makes himself into the center of his universe, whether that universe be large or small; he seeks his own glory rather than the glory of God, he wants to 'run his own life'; instead of recognizing it as a gift from the hands of God. In briefest terms, he wants
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to be his own master rather than God's servant; he wants to dominate rather than to serve." (Ibid; page 38)
Notes Donald Joy. "Since our first parents' crime was treason – for the purpose of putting themselves up as their own masters – the infection shows up in us in much the same way. Its symptoms are violent independence, selfishness. self-assertiveness pride – anything which puts oneself on the throne". (The Holy Spirit and You; page 84-85)
Noted Donald Demaray, "What do we mean when we say the nature of sin is pride? We mean that man commits no wrong which is not traceable to pride; to put it another way, every sin man commits is the product of a desire to protect ego or self. Murder, adultery, stealing, falsifying, and any and every sin that man has ever committed or ever will commit is the result of pride. It was so with Adam and Eve. It has been so with every man since that time." (Basic Beliefs; page 51)
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What evidence is there that man is uniquely created in God's own image?
Practically speaking, how is man to exercise his God-given dominance over the earth and at the same time practice his God-required stewardship in the earth? Cite practical examples of how this dual responsibility is carried out by sensitive believers.
Why did God place a limitation on man's freedom in the Garden of Eden, according to Genesis 2:16-17?
Was the exercise of man's will in the Garden of Eden an authentic exercise of freedom, or was it simply an apparent exercise of freedom which was really predetermined by a sovereign God?
What is the most distinctive feature of man that makes him a creature uniquely created by God, different from all other creatures of the earth?
What made Satan's temptation in the Garden of Eden so appealing to our first human parents and what is there about that first temptation that is common to all subsequent temptations which all humans face?
What is the essence of all sin, as seen in the actions and attitudes of Adam and as seen in the actions and attitudes of all of Adam's fallen race?
Do you agree or disagree with Donald Demaray's statement: "Every sin man commits is the product of a desire to protect the ego or self." If you agree, then share some illustrations demonstrating the truth of this statement.
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