One characteristic most religions share is the necessity for man to think beyond his natural boundaries. For example, the concept of an eternal God--a being with no beginning and no end--is difficult for man to grasp. After all, man is a finite being whose life here on earth starts with birth and ends with death; man lives in a universe of births and deaths, beginnings and endings. What evidence supports the idea of an eternal God? Religion asks man to exercise faith--a belief or knowledge that something is true without material evidence as proof.
The problem, however, with many religions is that they use "faith" as a license to require their members to accept, without question, doctrines and beliefs that make no sense. These religions change the definition of faith from "believing things not seen" to "believing things which defy logic that are not seen." Does the concept of an eternal God defy logic? Paul states in Romans 1:20 that the invisible qualities of God, including His eternal power and divine nature, can be seen by looking at the physical creation. Can one look at the magnificence of the universe and everything within it and think that it all happened by accident? Can one observe the physical creation and not know that there exists an invisible God? Eternity, although difficult to grasp, does not defy logic; for example, we know that the numbering system is infinite--no matter how large a number one chooses, there exists a larger number; no matter how small a number one chooses, there exists a smaller number. Beware of religions which require you to believe the illogical; God is not the author of confusion.
The world's concept of original sin defies logic. How could God know from creation that Adam would sin and, at the same time, give Adam a free will to choose between good and evil? If Adam had a free will, shouldn't he have been able to choose good? Also, how could Adam make a conscious choice between good and evil before eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? We will examine the basis for the traditional belief that man was created a perfect creature and consider the scriptural foundation which supports a completely different view.
The Traditional View
The traditional view of Adam's original state of perfection is based upon the following:
- Adam was created in God's image. This is interpreted by many to mean that Adam was endowed with a holy disposition of intellect and will, a knowledge of God and the will to do only what God wanted.
- God, after creating Adam, called His creation in Genesis 1:31 "very good." Some say this verse is further indication that Adam was created with a perfect nature.
- God gave Adam commandments to keep (Gen. 1:28; 2:16-17). There are those who ask, "Why would God give commandments to someone who could not or would not keep them?"
- Finally, Genesis presents man as living in peaceful communion with God. Would God commune with Adam if the man were less than perfect?
Scripture states that man was created in God's image. What does this mean? If it means that man was endowed with a holy disposition of intellect and will, then man lost God's image after Adam sinned. Most agree that no one (apart from Christ) since Adam's sin has possessed a holy disposition--(Rom 3:23) "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
Paul, however, states in 1 Cor 11:7 that man "is the image and glory of God." Paul did not say that "he was," but that "he is" the image of God. Does man possess a holy disposition of intellect and will? Of course not. God's image does not refer to Adam's intellect and will; it refers to man's physical makeup.
After all, what is an image? It is a reproduction of the appearance of someone or something. For example, consider a picture or a reflection in a mirror; both resemble reality but are very different than the source. Man has eyes, ears, hands with which to see, hear, and work; God also has eyes (Ezek 5:11), ears (Ps 18:6), and hands (Heb 10:31). Our physical bodies were fashioned in the image of God's spiritual body. The physical, however, is an image (or shadow) of the spiritual; the physical creation gives us only a hint of what exists in the spiritual universe.
Adam's creation in God's image did not mean that Adam had a holy disposition.
" . . . very good."
(Gen 1:4) And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
(Gen 1:10) And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
(Gen 1:12) And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
(Gen 1:18) And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
(Gen 1:21) And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
(Gen 1:25) And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
As creation proceeded, God looked at the result of steps along the way and saw that it was as He wanted. When He had finished on the sixth day, Genesis tells us . . .
(Gen 1:31) And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Gen 1:31 doesn't say that Adam was created a perfect being. It just indicates that the entire creation was as God wanted it to be.
"thou shalt not eat of it . . ."
(Gen 2:16) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: (17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
God told Adam that he was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Does this somehow indicate that Adam had a holy disposition? Consider the following:
(1 Tim 1:9) Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers . . .
For whom are laws made? The lawless. To whom are commandments given? To commandment breakers. The fact that Adam was given a commandment does not build a case for his obedience. On the contrary, it suggests that God considered Adam one who would disobey.
Peaceful Communion With God
On the surface, this may represent the strongest argument in favor of the view that God created Adam in an original state of perfection. Would God, a totally righteous being, live in harmony with a sinful creature? Paul asks in 2 Cor 6:14, ". . . what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" The answer is obvious: none.
Then, "How," one might ask, "could Adam possess an imperfect character--a propensity toward sin--and, at the same time, live in harmony with God?" The answer to that question depends upon what God considers unrighteousness, what God considers darkness.
(Psa 119:172) My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
(1 John 5:17) All unrighteousness is sin
(1 John 3:4) Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
Simply put, righteousness is keeping God's commandments; unrighteousness is breaking God's commandments--sinning. Did Adam or Eve break any of the commandments which God had given them before they ate of the forbidden fruit? If not, God would have considered them righteous--those worthy of peaceful communion. This does not imply that Adam and Eve were without sinful tendencies; it only means that God did not hold them accountable for breaking commandments which He had not yet given them. Romans 5:13 states, "sin is not imputed when there is no law." However, God could no longer peacefully commune with Adam and Eve after they disobeyed Him; they were promptly expelled from the garden of Eden.
Most will agree that God had a master plan in mind when He created man. Did God expect Adam and Eve to live in Eden forever? When did God know that they would eat of the forbidden fruit? Was He surprised when they sinned? Peter wrote that Christ ". . . was foreordained before the foundation of the world, (1 Pet 1:20)" God knew that Adam and Eve would disobey before they existed; He created them imperfect, but innocent. Christ's sacrifice was not an afterthought; it was an integral part of God's plan. God created Adam and Eve slaves to physical sin, so that they and their offspring could learn to choose spiritual righteousness. Let us examine the scriptures that support this view.
". . . bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh:"
Genesis 2:23 explicitly states that Adam and Eve were both created fleshly beings. What does scripture tell us about flesh?
(Rom 8:5) For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
The carnal, or "fleshly," mind is by nature against God. It is impossible for the flesh to subject itself to God's commandments. What, then, were Adam and Eve's chances (having been created flesh) for remaining steadfast in the law given to them by God? Zero.
(1 Cor 15:45) And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (46) Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. (47) The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
(1 Cor 2:14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
It is important to note that Paul wrote that man was created a natural or "sensual" being. This is contrary to the popular presumption that man was created without any trace of sensuality or propensity toward evil and then "fell." Adam and Eve were created flesh; as part of God's plan, they were destined to seek gratification of their sensual desires. It was inevitable.
(Gen 3:1) Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (2) And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: (3) But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. (4) And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: (5) For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Eve was the initial recipient of Satan's lie: "You can disobey God and live." Notice what Jesus said in John 8:44: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." The phrase "speaketh a lie" should be translated "speaketh the lie." The Greek text contains the definite article indicating a very specific lie. Jesus said that Satan is the father of it (this very specific lie). To this day, Satan has managed to deceive the world into believing the lie that one need not obey God to live.
(Gen 3:6) And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Carefully examine the events that preceded Eve's sin:
- She saw that the tree was good for food -
Eve was flesh. She needed to eat.
- She saw that it was pleasant to the eyes -
The fruit looked appealing.
- She desired wisdom -
Mankind, by nature, desires to know more. Eve wanted to be like God--wise. Eve coveted.
- She took the fruit -
Eve told the serpent that she and Adam were not even supposed to touch the fruit. When she took the fruit, she disobeyed the commandment: "Thou shalt not steal." She took something that she knew belonged to someone else.
Now, let us pause for just a moment. If Eve would have stopped at this point and not eaten of the fruit, what would have happened? Nothing. She had not been given a commandment against coveting or stealing. God does not impute sin where there is no law. As long as Adam and Eve did not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they had no imputed sin. However, Eve did not stop; she and Adam ate of the tree.
(Gen 3:7) And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
The moment that Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they realized that they were naked and covered themselves.
(Gen 3:8) And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (9) And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? (10) And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
Wait a minute! Didn't we read in verse 7 that Adam and Eve clothed themselves? Adam and Eve heard God walking in the garden after they got dressed. Adam told God that he was afraid and hid himself because he was naked. What happened to his clothes?
(Gen 3:11) And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
God immediately asked Adam how he knew that he was naked. And then, we are told again how Adam knew--by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was not the tree of the knowledge of clothed and unclothed. Sure, Adam and Eve saw that they were physically naked; however, they also saw that they were spiritually naked--sinful. That is why Adam felt naked in God's presence, even though he was still wearing his fig leaf apron.
Several scriptures support the idea that sinfulness and spiritual nakedness are synonymous. The most obvious are:
(Rev 3:17) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (18) I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
First, Jesus tells the church of the Laodiceans that they are naked. Do you think that these people were living in nudist camps? Of course not. Then, Jesus counsels them to buy white raiment. Is the secret to salvation based upon the color of one's clothes? No. Jesus was speaking figuratively.
(Rev 19:7) Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. (8) And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
This verse explains the spiritual meaning behind being clothed in white raiment--righteousness. Conversely, spiritual nakedness is unrighteousness--sinfulness. Sinners who have not clothed themselves in righteousness will someday stand before their maker ashamed of their nakedness.
"And they were both naked . . ."
(Gen 2:25) And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
The man and woman were naked before they sinned. Now, how important is it that we are told that the man and his wife were wearing no clothes? It has little significance, if it refers only to physical nakedness. However, the knowledge that God created Adam and Eve spiritually naked is fundamental to understanding God's plan for man and the purpose for this physical life.
"All manner of sin . . . shall be forgiven unto men" . . . except
(Mat 12:31) Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (32) And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
God is in the process of teaching man to reject sin. He is doing this by allowing His children to experience evil. This can be likened to the process by which an earthly father will teach a child to avoid getting seriously burned. Suppose a young child is about to touch something that his parent knows is hot enough to be uncomfortable, but not hot enough to cause serious injury. The parent would probably say, "Don't touch that, it's hot!" However, parents expect that a child who doesn't know any better will usually touch the hot object anyway. What happens? The child touches, feels pain, and may even cry. Why would a parent let their child do that? Because, now the child knows what the word "hot" means and will avoid hot objects in the future--objects hot enough to cause irreparable damage.
Another example is vaccination--the greatest prevention of deadly disease known to man. How does it work? A person is introduced to a non-lethal dose of a disease in order for their bodies to experience and become immune to the disease. This is what God is doing with man. He has allowed man to experience physical, non-lethal sin (it shall be forgiven him) so that man will not participate in spiritual, deadly sin (it shall not be forgiven him).
So, what is the sin against the Holy Ghost? What is spiritual sin?
(Heb 10:26) For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (27) But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
Last Modified: 7/22/2012