Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Fall

I started our Bible storyline of creation by emphasizing that God created all things and is the Sovereign King over all things for His glory. He created us to be God’s people living in God’s presence under God’s rule and blessing. This is what we call being in the kingdom of God. Adam and Eve were in God’s kingdom, as God’s people, in God’s place or presence (the Garden), under God’s rule and blessing. As a result, they were at rest or peace. They had a good relationship with God, with others, and with the creation. However, the incredible creation of God has been corrupted by sin. It was corrupted by the Fall. As a result, man is no longer in God’s kingdom---he is not God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and blessing.

We find the story of the Fall in Genesis 3:1-6. Satan starts with a half-truth and questions God’s Word. After being properly corrected, Satan tells a flat lie. Satan tempts Adam and Eve with the promise they will know good and evil. And they will know evil in that they will participate in it. God knows evil in that it is the opposite of all He is. He abhors it. Satan also tempts Adam and Eve with the promise of being like God---self-exaltation. Eve was deceived. She thought it would make her wise and her lusts got the best of her (1 Timothy 2:14). Adam was flat out rebellious. He was in the garden, with all God’s good gifts around and he thought I will disobey God and eat from that tree. We are told that as a result of this sin everything changed!

So what all changed? There were 3 relationships effected by the Fall: our relationship with God, our relationship with others, and our relationship with creation.

Our Relationship with God

When sin entered the world we were lost or alienated from God’s presence. We are no longer the people of God in the presence of God under the rule and blessing of God. We are no longer in God’s kingdom. Certainly, God is still ruling this earth but to be in His kingdom in the biblical sense is to be his people, in his presence, under his rule and blessing. This is perhaps the worst part of our spiritual condition because we lose the joy of knowing and being in the presence of God, we are in a state of eternal separation from God, we lose him as our treasure. There are at least 12 effects of the Fall on our relationship with God:

1. We are unable to do any spiritual good or truly seek God.

Rom. 3:10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;

Rom. 3:11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.

Rom. 3:12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

This is not a reference to our ability to be good in relation to other men, but in relation to God. God can no longer look at man and give the moral judgment “very good.” We were made to reflect His glory---we were made to bear His image---to reflect his holy character back to Him. As sinners, we are now a walking lie.

2. We are those without spiritual understanding.

1Cor. 2:14 ¶ The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

This is not a reference to our ability to understand anything. We are unable to understand things pertaining to God---we cannot really know Him. We can try to seek him on our own but we are just groping in the dark.

3. We are those who suffer shame. (Genesis 3:7, 3:10 cf. 2:25)

Adam and Eve attempted to over cover themselves for shame. How do we try to cover-up? What are our fig leaves? We try to cover up our sin by hiding it, lying about it, or minimizing it. We also cover up by talking about sin corporately, rather than personally. We say things like, “all people look at pornography,” to avoid saying, “I looked at pornography.” We cover up by assuming enough time has passed to make our sin go away. We cover up by assuming everyone does it, so I don’t have to feel too bad.

4. We are those who are now hiding in fear. (Genesis 3:8-10)

How do we hide from God? We hide behind intellectual arguments against the existence of God or behind some conception of God in our imagination---that He is not holy and angry about sin. We hide behind busy schedules and the noise of life. We hide behind excuses that others are keeping us from God.

5. We are those who are now experiencing guilt and tend to blame-shift. (Genesis 3:11-13)

We feel guilt because we are guilty. We don’t like to feel guilt so we either minimize our sin, or, most frequently, we find someone to blame. It is the fault of our parents, or spouse, or children, or church, or government. “The man is keeping me down.” We are just like Adam and Eve, saying to God, “It is this wife, or husband, or parents you gave me.”

6. We are faithless and unbelieving as Adam and Eve were and as Cain was.

7. We are prideful and decide we know better than God just as Adam and Eve decided they knew better than God.

8. We are disobedient and rebel against God just as Adam and Eve rebelled against God.

9. We are idolatrous and give glory to other people or things, especially ourselves, because we want to be “like God.”

10. We are lustful and driven by passionate desires for something just as Eve when she saw that the fruit looked desirable.

11. We are liars just as the serpent in the Garden was.

12. We are filled with ingratitude and do not give God thanks for what we have, but desire something more.

Our Relationship with One Another

In Genesis 3:16, we are told there will be strife between the man and the woman due to the curse. There is a role reversal. The woman desires to dominate the man and the man no longer lovingly leads. Instead of a marriage of where the husband humbly and lovingly leads his wife as she joyfully and humbly submits, marriage is degraded to constant conflict between a wife and her husband. This social conflict shows up in all human relationships. We see it first with Cain and Able, but it continues to show up in Genesis 6 and 9 with murder being discussed.

Our relationship with Creation

The curse of the Fall also includes physical ramifications. There is pain and suffering through child-bearing and through hard work and toil (Genesis 3:16, 17-19). Ultimately there is physical death as man is swallowed up by earth (Gen 2:17, 3:19 cf. 5:5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 27).

The Fall of the created order left man in a desperate and terrible condition. He is without God and without hope in the world. If I left you there at the Fall, you would be tempted to either despair and say “forget it, I may as well run after my sin,” or, try to clean up your act and assert your own righteousness. Either way, you would be missing the Gospel---the good news! You would be missing Jesus!

A couple of years ago, I sat at high school graduations and I saw people who were lost all around me. I saw students and teachers and administrators and parents (1000’s of people). And, I realized that when I get up to speak to these crowds I will breaking the law if I say the one word they all need to hear. I thought about saying it. I wanted to say it. But, I did not want the district to suffer a lawsuit if I did. So, I did the “mature and responsible” thing and kept my mouth shut. I kept from them the one name that they needed to hear. I joined the chorus of voices that told them to go out there into the world and try hard! I knew this was going to be the case, and I sat there thinking how crazy is it, how indicative of the Fall is it, that in our society “JESUS” is the one word it is illegal for public officials to say to students! Yet, what people need to hear is Jesus! They need to hear of their only hope out of their spiritual death and lostness. They need to hear the gospel. Jesus is our only hope out of the fallen mess we are in. We do not despair and we do not try to clean things up ourselves, because we have Jesus!

The Fall brings unrighteousness, Jesus is our righteousness!

The Fall brings us spiritual ignorance, Jesus is our Wisdom!

The Fall makes us lost, Jesus seeks and saves the lost!

The Fall makes us guilty, Jesus takes our guilt upon himself!

The Fall leaves us naked and ashamed, Jesus is our covering!

The Fall leaves us fearful of God, Jesus reconciles us to God and gives us boldness to approach the throne!

The Fall leaves us faithless, Jesus is our Faithfulness!

The Fall leaves us full of pride, Jesus humbled himself!

The Fall leaves us in disobedience, Jesus was obedient even to death on a Cross!

The Fall leaves us as idolaters, Jesus glorified only the Father!

The Fall leaves us in lust, Jesus was tempted in every way, yet without sin!

The Fall leaves us in our lying, Jesus is the truth!

The Fall leaves us in broken relationships and conflict, Jesus is our peace!

The Fall leaves us in racism and social strife, Jesus makes one new man!

The Fall leaves us in pain and suffering, Jesus suffered for us and is the ultimate healer who will restore all things!

The Fall leaves us to physical death, Jesus is our resurrection!

The Fall leaves us blind, Jesus opens our eyes!

The Fall leaves us deaf, Jesus gives us ears to hear!

The Fall leaves us hard-hearted, Jesus gives us new hearts!

The Fall leaves us in slavery to sin, Jesus gives us freedom!

The Fall leaves us in darkness, Jesus is the light of the world!

The Fall leaves us groping for treasure in this world---and awaiting certain eternal punishment, Jesus is our treasure and our eternal reward!

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