Sin & Judgement
Latest posts by Pastor Viju Mathai (see all)
- Discernment vs. Judgment – V (God’s Guidelines for Discerning) - April 4, 2016
- Discernment vs. Judgment -IV (How do we Discern) - April 4, 2016
- Discernment vs. Judgment -III (Diakrino, Dokimazo) - April 4, 2016
- What is original Sin?
- Is the doctrine of original sin biblical?
- What was the forbidden fruit?
- Who was the serpent in the Garden?
- How did Adam’s sin harm us
- “Sinful” at birth
- The lost man
What is original sin?
Original Sin was the decision Adam and Eve made to follow Satan’s blandishments instead of God’s Word (Genesis 3:1-5). From that initial mistake, all other sins have derived, including war, illnesses, diseases, and the wrath of nature we mistakenly call “acts of God” (including death — the ultimate result of sin in this world) including condemnation, the ultimate result of unforgiven sin in the next world.
With far more grace than Adam, Eve ruefully admitted that the serpent deceived her (Genesis 3:13); she didn’t intend to fall. However, the historical biblical account contains a truth we can’t overlook: she allowed Satan to diminish the distinction between God and humanity so she could be tempted to eat the fruit. Falling to the lie that no unbridgeable difference existed between her and the Creator, she believed that wisdom could be gained where only knowledge accrued. Satan’s continuing success in diminishing God by elevating mortals explains the basis of temptation and the fountain of sin.
Sin is first and foremost rebellion against the God who is different from all His creation (Psalm 51:4).
Original Sin: Why Creation and Evolution Cannot Coexist in Christianity
“Original Sin” is one of the core theological reasons that a Christian cannot embrace the theory of evolution. Regardless of the scientific issues that now plague the evolutionary belief system, the whole message of Christianity starts with mankind’s fall from paradise into death through Adam’s sin. With evolution, we envision millions and millions of years of death, decay and disease before Adam even came on the scene. However, this picture is not consistent with the “very good” earth created by God. More importantly, as one can thoroughly investigate, death before sin is theologically inconsistent with the rest of Christian doctrine.
Original Sin: An Atheist Evolutionist Got it Right
“Original Sin” and its relation to evolutionary theory was discussed by an outspoken evolutionist, Richard Bozarth, in the American Atheist magazine. The following excerpts come from “The Meaning of Evolution” (September 1979, p. 30):
“Christianity is – must be! – totally committed to the special creation as described in Genesis, and Christianity must fight with its full might against the theory of evolution. And here is why.
In Romans 5:12, we read that “sin entered the world through one man, and through sin – death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned.”
The whole justification of Jesus’ life and death is predicated on the existence of Adam and the forbidden fruit he and Eve ate. Without the original sin, who needs to be redeemed? Without Adam’s fall into a life of constant sin terminated by death, what purpose is there to Christianity? None.
Even a high school student knows enough about evolution to know that nowhere in the evolutionary description of our origins does there appear an Adam or an Eve or an Eden or a forbidden fruit. Evolution means a development from one form to the next to meet the ever-changing challenges from an ever-changing nature. There is no fall from a previous state of sublime perfection.
Without Adam, without the original sin, Jesus Christ is reduced to a man with a mission on a wrong planet!”
Original Sin: A Genetic Defect we all Share
Original Sin is the genetic defect we all inherited from Adam and Eve. Through this genetic defect we all inherited death — both physical and spiritual – and were separated from God. Through Jesus Christ, we all have the ability to conquer this genetic defect – sin and death – and be reconnected to God eternally. Paradise was the original state of Adam’s garden on God’s “very good” earth, not millions and millions of years of death, decay, disease, and naturalistic trial and error. Jesus Christ picked the right planet – and thank God for that!
Is the doctrine of original sin biblical?
The doctrine of original sin is the identification given to the concept of the entrance of sin into the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. God had prepared a perfect place for man and then gave them the gift of volition (the act of practicing free will). Volition comes with responsibility and consequences. God had placed trees in the midst of the garden. Adam and Eve could freely eat the fruit from any tree except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. “But the LORD God gave him this warning: ‘You may freely eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of its fruit, you will surely die’ (Genesis 2:16-17).
The Hebrew literally says, “dying you shall die.” Adam and Eve did not physically die when they ate of the tree but they were spiritually separated from God, which meant an eternal separation — death. With the choice to disobey God’s command came the first sin, and the consequences of that sin was spiritual separation and eventually physical death. Because of their sin, all those who were born into their union were sinners and that has continued to the present. The only offspring that human beings can bring into the world are children with the sin nature and that requires a remedy. God in His grace provided Adam and Eve a covering (Genesis 3:21) made from animal skins as the first picture of the sacrifice that had to be made continually to cover sin looking forward to that day, in the fullness of time, when the promised Redeemer would come (Genesis 3:15).
This doctrine of original sin is cemented in the New Testament through the writings of the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth. “So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, Adam, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man, Christ. Everyone dies because all of us are related to Adam, the first man. But all who are related to Christ, the other man, will be given new life” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
“The Scriptures tell us, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living person.’ But the last Adam — that is, Christ — is a life-giving Spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).
What is being taught here is the “headship of Adam” versus the “headship of Christ.” All in Adam are born dead or separated from God spiritually and eventually die physically. However, the remedy for original sin and the consequences of separation are found in the “second Adam”; the Lord Jesus Christ. When the sinner trusts in Christ and in His “once for all sacrifice” then we are “crossed from death unto life.” “I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life” (John 5:24).
The sin of all those who trust in Christ are not just covered, but paid for once and for all. There is no other sacrifice needed to satisfy a just and holy God. The believer’s “headship” is changed and we are no longer spiritually separated from God. Because of Christ’s victory over physical death in the resurrection, so shall all born again believers receive victory over death in our resurrection from physical death. “When this happens — when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die — then at last the Scriptures will come true: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
The question, “Is the doctrine of original sin biblical?” is answered by a confident yes. Our thanks is to God that His love and grace did not leave us in our original state, but gave us an opportunity to use the gift of volition to choose eternal life in the Lord Jesus Christ.
What was the forbidden fruit?
The forbidden fruit grew as a real fruit on a real tree God called the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It stood as one of many beautiful trees God created on earth in an extensive Garden of Eden. “Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he placed the man he had created. And the LORD God planted all sorts of trees in the garden — beautiful trees that produced delicious fruit. At the center of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:8-9).
The forbidden fruit served as a test of Adam and Eve’s willingness to live within God’s will. Obedience demands the equal possibility of disobedience, hence volition or free will. One cannot exist without the other. In particular, obedience to God cannot exist until what He wants from us is contrary to what we want for ourselves.
The forbidden fruit meant that God expected humanity to live without the knowledge of good and evil. Adam didn’t need such knowledge to live eternally, but only to obey God. Continuing to eat from the tree of life would have extended his life increasing the awareness of righteousness and the virtue of obedience.
God forbade Adam to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We cannot have God’s knowledge of good and evil. He knows the difference and can never be tempted by evil. “ And remember, no one who wants to do wrong should ever say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else either” (James 1:13).
We know the difference, but knowledge invariably leads us into sin. Our moral intention and mental determination are no help in saving us from sin’s influence once we are accountable for our actions. That’s why God commanded our common parents to avoid, ignore and shun the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The forbidden fruit, once eaten, demanded their removal from innocence to experience. Adam and Eve’s lives did not mirror Eden’s wholeness anymore and God necessarily expelled them from the sanctuary. They were prevented from returning, but even then, God’s mercy began the restoration process through the Holy Spirit’s renewal of man’s salvation.
The forbidden fruit brought death, once eaten, that only Christ could bridge to save humanity. Spiritual death occurred immediately with separation from God. That’s why God immediately sacrificed an animal from whose hide he made clothing to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. God’s sacrifice of the animal, the precursor of the sacrificial system under Moses that Jesus perfected at Calvary, established the seriousness of sin. It demanded that death and blood to be remitted.
The physical death occurred hundreds of years later, but both meanings followed, and neither has ever been contravened. Every generation pays the penalty. As King David on his deathbed reminded Solomon, “I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man” (1 Kings 2:2).
Once banished from the garden, Adam undoubtedly fixed his attention on the physical consequence of his spiritual disobedience: It was a jungle out there! His progeny has certainly fixed their attention on the natural consequences of sin — sickness, tragedies, natural disasters, disease, suffering, etc. — not on our spiritual betrayal of God’s word. It’s always “why does God allow this?” not “how greatly we have sinned against our merciful Creator.”
Who was the serpent in the Garden?
The serpent in the garden originally was merely a created being: intelligent, attractive, and perhaps vertically erect. The operative word is created. As created, the serpent was lesser than Adam and Eve and named by Adam. Adam would have given it instructions, not accepted instruction from it. As created, any suggestion from the serpent should have been instantly suspicious for two reasons. Firstly, Adam had informed Eve of his God-given command over the creatures. And secondly, God had always spoken directly to Adam and Eve.
The serpent in the garden became a willing conspirator with Satan in deceiving Eve. No other animal served his purpose so well. From thoughtful and discreet, it became conceited and duplicitous. The original Genesis context stresses the duplicity of the serpent. The Devil’s use of the serpent portrays the serpent’s consent and cooperation. God cursed the serpent for its part in Eve’s deception.
The serpent in the garden proved Satan’s perfect instrument in deceiving Eve by:
- Firstly, appearing to her as a lesser being and not in an intimidating manner.
- Secondly, Satan merely raised doubts in Eve’s mind about God’s person.
- Thirdly, Satan used the serpent’s indirect, suggestive nature to cast doubt on God’s command.
Satan insinuated that God was not protecting Adam and Eve, but merely protecting Himself from competition from mortals. He enticed Eve to deny God’s word and slander God’s motives. Instead of safely replying with what God had stated to the serpent, her mistake was trying to reason Satan’s subtlety into a positive result.
The serpent in the garden ultimately became so thoroughly identified in Scripture with Satan that John referred to him as that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan. He wars against God. But he cannot succeed, because creation itself aligns with God and Christ. He will suffer eternal punishment as a result of his rebellious deception of humanity.
“He seized the dragon–that old serpent, the Devil, Satan–and bound him in chains for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:2).
“Then the Devil, who betrayed them, was thrown into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 2:10).
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons!’” (Matthew 25:41).
How Adam’s fall into sin has harmed us
(Genesis 3:1-4:7) A further study of Genesis provides a parallel of how Satan (the serpent) deceived Adam and Eve and, through demonic strongholds, continues to deceive us today.