Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Fall of Man (Part II)

This series has 3 parts, namely:

Part I – The Need for understanding of the topic, background, and the fall
Part II – The Consequences of The Fall
Part III – Controversial Issues on the topic

In this part II of a 3-part article we are covering the consequences of The Fall.

The key text for this portion, apart from those in Genesis 3 which were typically cited for the Fall of Man is this:

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Gen 2:16-17)

Because it was first stated for us in Genesis 2, and not repeated completely for us in Genesis 3, often times, not enough emphasis is put on it as the primary consequence of The Fall. Even though Genesis 3:22-24 captured God’s saying that man could not be allowed to reach for the fruit from the tree of life, and God’s banishing of men from the Garden of Eden, these verses did not quite reflect the penalty of death curse in Genesis 2:16-17; although it was necessary, in fact, quite imperative that men be kept away from the fruit from the tree of life so that God’s word in Genesis 2:16-17 shall stand.

Primary consequences for man

Destined to Hell, eternal separation from God. This is a punishment but how do we come to this conclusion? To understand this, we have to look at Genesis 2:16-17:

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Gen 2:16-17)

God’s word must stand. God gave a command/prohibition/law, the penalty of which is a curse or damnation. God said that if man broke that command, he would surely die. Did man break the command? Yes; and so man must die. If man could still live forever, just like that, God’s word was of no effect, empty threat, or worse still, it implied God lied.

But then, even so, did man die? No; not in the natural or physical sense. We know from Scripture that subsequently God put man out of the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve lived to give birth to 3 sons, Cain, Abel and Seth. So, did God lie? No, the death that God was referring to was not the natural or physical death; it was referring to the separation from God, or commonly being referred to as the 2nd death. And this 2nd death is the living forever in Hell, in the lake of burning fire. Man, because of his spirited soul, can never die in the sense that it will become nothingness. I believe a spirited soul lives forever, either in Heaven or in Hell. Having to live in Hell is an eternal separation from God, and is a spiritual punishment, on the spirited soul. If you have read my article on the Tripartite man (or Man is body, soul and spirit), you will understand my reasoning here.

The punishments listed in verses Gen 3:16 -19 were in addition to this death condemnation or curse (of the law). People who preached on the Fall of Man without making reference to this death penalty was really doing injustice to the Gospel of Jesus Christ for if there was not, this death curse or condemnation, there was no need for Jesus’ (primary) justification.

Of course God could have let Adam and Eve die the natural or physical death immediately after the disobedience, but He did not. He was acting in grace but not in contradiction to his own law or commandment, for the penalty of that law was not natural/physical death, 1st death but the 2nd death. God’s plan from the very start was to have man populate the Heaven, to live with God in Heaven, and his allowing Adam and Eve to live on, on earth was in keeping to that plan, God was still desirous of man to populate Heaven despite The Fall. I believe since God allowed man to live on, on earth, God decided there must still be some form of punishment (listed under verses Gen 3:16-19) for the bodily/physical man (the spirited soul was already subjected to eternal damnation because of the disobedience, by the eating of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil).

In line with His word in Genesis 2:16-17, God had to disallow man to reach for the fruit from the tree of life, and banished man from the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:22-24). The detailed exposition of this point I will leave it to Part III.

Loss of righteousness. In the Book of Romans, the God’s appointed apostle, Paul said in Rom 3:10, that there is no one righteous, not even one. Indeed, after The Fall, no man was ever righteous without God imputing it on him. This is also a primary consequence of The Fall. This is not the same as the damnation to Hell. The damnation, as a curse, was referring to a future event; meanwhile man still lived a natural life on earth, and he is not righteous, not even one is. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – this is commonly quoted to encapsulate the effect of The Fall of man. In essence, man has lost the original righteousness that he has when God first created him (Anyone wants to dispute this? Obviously God created man righteous. Why wouldn’t He; man was the pinnacle of His Creation? Furthermore, we read in Genesis, it was as if it were daily affair that God would just come looking for man and to fellowship with man in the Garden of Eden.).

What does this loss of original righteousness mean?

1. Worthless. It means that starting from The Fall, man has turned away, and they have become worthless [Rom 3:12] (worthless, because God always looked at the “end-result” {“” used because really there is no end for God, only eternality (end-result, talking in man’s perspective of time).} Without help from God, fallen man is destined to Hell, eternal separation from God – what use is there of man, to God, when that happens? No use, and therefore, worthless. Even as an object of love, man’s sinfulness is offensive to the holiness of God. Yet, God still cometh for Man in love, and this is pure grace.

2. Deeds also worthless. Because of the fallen nature of man, no deeds of man are ever good, not even one. The deeds of fallen man (unrighteous man; a fallen man is an unrighteous man) can never be good in the eyes of God (although it does not mean that God will not consider them or accept them by grace – by grace, meaning that they are considered or accepted undeservingly).

3. Man started to become wicked. Also, when man lost his righteousness (through The Fall), what it meant was that man had become wicked or wickedness had been found in him. Romans 3:13-17 talked about the inclinations and the motivations of the hearts of wicked men. From those thoughts of the hearts birthed forth the actions – practice of snaring and deceits; slandering, cursing and embittering speech; harm, bloodshed and murder; life ruining and misery inflicting actions; violations of peace; and no fear of God. Of course, the degree of wickedness found in man varied over the history of men. At one point during Noah’s times, it was so bad that God had to bring on The Flood. It suffices here, to say that the seed of wickedness, Iniquity (or Sin), came into Man at The Fall.

Before I go into the punishments listed in verses 16-19 of Genesis 3, which I term as the secondary consequences for man, let me say that the redemption of man from the damnation or curse, and the reestablishment of the righteousness of man, we now know, can only be achieved through the faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul went at length at this in Romans 3, particularly verses 9-11. Very briefly, there are 2 dimensions to the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are firstly, justified by his blood. Justification is about reestablishing the original righteousness of man, lost in The Fall of man, by Jesus’ paying for the death penalty curse with his own life. With that payment, we are no longer condemned or cursed to eternal separation from God, in Hell (which was the original curse/penalty for The Fall). We are secondly, always having the sacrificial atonement, Jesus, to cleanse us of all our sins. How it works, is the same as the primary justification except that we are not referring to the original sin or the original curse or penalty. All sins subsequent to salvation or born again are covered here, and all sins must to be paid for, the associated curse or penalty needs to be paid for. It is Jesus’ sinless blood (similar in a sense, the blood of unblemished sacrificial animals used in the Old Testament) which is paying and cleansing us from our unrighteousness resulted from a sin. Sins incur God’s wrath. It is through Jesus, that our sins are forgiven us, and the wrath of God set aside, and the peace of God with us, be restored.

Secondary consequences for man

To the woman he said,
"I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband,and he will rule over you." (Gen 3:16)

For the woman, God said her childbearing pain would be increased as one punishment. As a punishment the woman’s desire would be for her husband, and her husband would rule over her. I will not go into my expositions of this verse here, but to leave it to part III of this series.

17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,'
"Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Gen 3:17-19)

To the man, he disobeyed a direct command or prohibition by God. For that, God pronounced a curse on the ground with the result that it would not be so easy for the man to satisfy his food need from the ground; he would need to toil painfully for his food all the days of his life. The soil would not be yielding good food for man all the times, at times all man would get, would be thorns and thistles, and man would need to sweat for his food until he dies. For further comments on this punishment, I am leaving it to Part III of this series.

Consequences for Satan

Before we end this part, on the consequences of the Fall, we need to know there was also punishment for the serpent or Satan.

14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this,
"Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Gen 3:14-15)

The serpent, of course, being the mastermind, deserved to be cursed, from being the most crafty wild animal, it became the most cursed animal. {Added 15/11/2010 - You should remember that this part was talking about secondary consequences, consequences related to the continuing existence of both Man and Satan, as opposed to the primary consequence of living in the burning lake of fire, in Hell, which was of a future time; Satan was already destined to go to Hell, because of his earlier (first) sin {Eze 28}, apart from this; and therefore, there was no relevance of primary consequence for Satan here, in this sin of tempting Man in the Garden of Eden.}

God said He would put enmity between the serpent and the woman, and enmity between the serpent’s seed and the woman’s offspring. The offspring of the woman would crush the head of the serpent, and the serpent would strike the woman’s offspring’s heel. The detailed exposition of this, I leave it to Part III of this series.

Anthony Chia – God punishes because God is Holiness. God punishes because God is Justice. God grants grace and mercy because God is Love. God grants grace and mercy because God is Compassion. But God is Holiness, first.

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