Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Fall of Man (Part I)

I have decided to do a series on this topic. The parts will be as follows:

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

Part I

The Need for understanding of this topic
Christianity is about God, Satan, and man, about man’s sinful nature, and sins, about the Gospel, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, about salvation, and born again, about the Way of Holiness, about the Kingdom of God, Heaven and Hell. As a Christian, as we mature in the faith, we must get to know enough about these things or are sure in our beliefs concerning these things.

To understand why we need to be saved, we need to understand what is wrong with us, and to understand what is wrong with us, we need to go back to the beginning, and in the talk about the beginning we necessarily need to cover topics such as The Creation, Nature of Man, Fall of Man. Those who have missed my article on the tripartite nature of man may want to read the article at “Man is body, soul and spirit”. For this series, we will look at The Fall of Man.

Particularly, we need an understanding of this topic to gain a fuller understanding of our need for the works of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

As Christians, we must know that sin first got committed with this Fall of Man. The sinful nature of man was acquired with this fall. This sinful nature gets passed down the lineage of man. It is from here, that all men are born sinful. This Fall of Man captured the first disobedience of man towards God and so, the first sin commitment by man in God’s eyes. The stain of sin on man can only be washed clean by the Blood of Jesus Christ, hence the need for the Salvation Plan of God for Mankind.

Background to The Fall
The background of the story is in Genesis 2:8-25. In essence, the background is this:

God, having made man, also planted a Garden – the Garden of Eden (v8). God placed man in the garden to work it and to take care of it (v 15). Verses 16 & 17 are particularly important and I reproduced them here:

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)

Notice that God gave the commandment to the man directly, and not to the woman. The creation of woman is recorded in verses 21 & 22. According to my Bible, woman was created as a helper to man (v 18 & 20). I would not ignore this fact if I were a woman. As a man, I want to point out to the men that God gave the commandment directly to you, not your helper.

The other relevant and interesting verse is verse 25 - The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

The Fall
The Fall itself was recorded in Genesis 3. Before I go any further, I must say that because of the brief account and because the event is ancient, there are many schools of thought concerning various issues like the Garden of Eden (What and where is the Garden of Eden?), how come the Fall happened? Was there a purpose for the Fall? Was it predestined, etc? Some of these issues are not really important but there are some fundamental elements that are important as they would determine how we view God and what He was and is and will be doing. I will try not to dwell too much into those that are not fundamental and at the same time controversial, at least not here, in this part.

We read in Genesis 3:1 that the serpent was involved – the crafty serpent. But haven’t we all heard that the one who tempted Adam and Eve was Satan. Nowhere in Genesis 3 was there a mention of Satan. Oh, you are told that the serpent is Satan. How did people come to this conclusion? First, let’s look at the temptation:

4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:4-5).

Genesis is the first book of the Bible, Revelation is the last book. It is from Rev 20:2, that we conclude that the serpent is Satan. Rev 20:2 –

2He [the angel with the key to the Abyss and a great chain] seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

Let us look at the two subsequent verses to verses 4 & 5 above:

6 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. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves (Gen 3:6-7).

I feel some Christians have unfairly blamed the woman, Eve for seeing that the fruit was good for food and pleasing to the eye. Look, the trees were so, it was stated in Gen 2:9 –

9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Gen 2:9)

There are also those who speculated on why Adam ate the fruit when given to him by Eve. One speculation was that he did not want to be separated from Eve because he knew that she would be thrown out of the garden, so he joined her. I think we have to be careful and not find excuses for the man. Men like to do this, don’t we – make everything sounded like we are being loving, considerate and therefore should be forgiven even if we were wrong?

In addition, we read that the man, Adam tried to push the blame -

The man [Adam] said, "The woman you [God] put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." (Gen 3:12)

In the first place, the commandment was given to the man; we saw this in Gen 2:16-17 earlier on. God gave the person in charge, the man, Adam, the commandment. Adam should know better, yet he did not stop his helper, the woman from disobeying God, on top of that he joined her to disobey God.

Isn’t this familiar, today, men are still doing this. I cannot claim I have not been guilty before; men, we must be aware of this. Actually, in a larger context, we (men and women alike) are also prone to doing this - commands were given to us (in some sort of leadership positions) but when things go wrong, we push the blame to those in subordinate positions to us. The man, Adam, was in leadership position over the woman, Eve; yet he tried to push the blame down.

We saw what the man said when confronted by God. What did the woman say when confronted?

Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"
The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
(Gen 3:13)

It sounded like “I can’t help it; I was deceived or misled what!?”

To me, these are plain about the Fall:

1. The woman did not trust God enough. She chose to trust the serpent more than God. God said, “You will surely die” (Gen 2:17) but the serpent said, “You will not surely die” (Gen 3:4). It is not correct interpretation to say that the woman’s lack of trust is not in God but in the man. I tell you why. The woman told the serpent the words which were supposedly God’s words told to her by the man (verse 2 & 3). She did not say anything different. The serpent did not say anything implying that the man had misquoted God or that the woman should doubt the man. Instead the serpent said, “You will not surely die, for God knows ……. (Gen 3:4-5).

2. The woman chose not to obey God. Trust and obedience are different things. To be obedient means that you do the things you are instructed to do, or you do not do the things you are instructed not to do. God said that Adam and Eve were not to eat of the fruit; obedience meant no eating of the fruit, full-stop.

3. The man is guilty just the same, as the woman. In fact, he failed God in another count – He had been a poor steward, God gave him a helper, he did not look after the helper well. He should have stopped the woman from disobeying God. She was under his charge. Actually, the man was responsible and rightly so; and throughout the Bible, reference was rightly made to Adam and not to Eve, for that fall or sinful nature of mankind. Teaching that tries to absolve the blame from the man is suspect.

4. Man(kind) was with choice or free-will. Men chose to do what they did when tempted by Satan. They fell. I believe God did not plan it, and God did not predestine it.

5. I believe God was aware of the possibility that man could disobey and eat of the fruit but I also believe it was not the intention of God for that to happen. And when it happened God dealt with the situation, and planned accordingly. (If I go any further, it will go into full-blown controversial discussion, which is best left to the last part of this series).

Before I end this Part I, I just want to point you to a separate article on the modus operandi of Satan (The Modus Operandi of Satan). In this article, you will see how the same modus operandi was at work in relation to The Fall, The 3 Temptations of Jesus, and The Triple Sins of King David.

Anthony Chia – Right from the beginning man was with free-will, and in the exercise of that free-will, man fell.

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