In the previous post in the series, we said that much of the confusion about whether or not a person is “saved” once they confess Christ comes from a problem rooted in the misunderstanding of man’s nature in relation to sin, moral ability, and the guilt of sin. In this blog, we’ll look at what happened at The Fall, when Adam and Eve sinned, and how that affects the rest of man throughout Scripture.
Sin: How Did It Become a Problem?
Most of us know the story, but perhaps a quick recap is in order. God created the world, all material and immaterial aspects, and when He created man and woman, He said that it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Adam and Eve show us what glad submission to God is like in the first two chapters of Genesis. God told them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17), and for two chapters they nail it. Then in Genesis 3 Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, and according to God’s promise, death enters the world. Until this point, the world was in perfect harmony with God, man, and the rest of creation. Once Adam sinned by committing treason against the King, death, disunity, and chaos entered the world that was once “very good”.
How Does Adam’s Sin Effect Us?
When Adam and Eve sinned, death entered the world. Death plays itself out in at least two ways. There is physical death, the separation of a person’s spirit from their body. There is spiritual death, man’s separation from God.
Romans 5:12-21 teaches us that Adam’s sin spread to all men, because he is our representative by nature. Likewise, our representative’s punishment for this sin, namely his death, spread to all men as well. All men are, by nature, by our very birth, spiritually dead. Ephesians 2:1-3 tells us that we “were dead” in our sins and trespasses. The psalmist says that he was born in iniquity (Psalm 51:5). Spiritual death and a sin nature goes all the way down to our roots, to our very core. Independent of our actions, Adam’s actions represented us and condemned us all. Many people will not like this. Many will complain about not getting a vote in falling under Adam’s headship. To them I would say, “Okay, stop sinning. Stop being like Adam.” We can’t. I would also point out that this patriarchal, federal headship style of representation is seen throughout Scripture. One instance is in Joshua 7, when Achan sins and God punishes all of Israel for one man’s sin, and then Achan’s entire family is put to death for Achan’s treason against God’s authority. Achan represented his family. Adam represents humanity.
The Effects of Death:
Under the “spiritual death” doctrine, death plays out as the inability to respond to, seek, or desire God in and of ourselves. We see this in Ephesians 2:1-3. Sin did not merely make us able to be bad, it killed us. It killed any ability we had intrinsically built within to seek, desire, or respond to God. This spiritual death does not necessarily mean that we are all as bad as we can be, but that sin so killed and corrupted every facet of who we are, that we cannot and do not pursue God. Our depravity is not complete, but it is total.
Spiritual death through sin also makes us unable to choose righteousness. We are incapable of doing anything good in the eyes of God. Even on our best day, we don’t stand a chance of measuring up. Sin has killed and corrupted our will, emotions, intellect, common sense, even our physical bodies. Sin has corrupted everything material and immaterial about us.
We are sinners by nature and choice. In and of our own accord, we have no other path but that of rebellion and treason, ending in perpetual destruction for all eternity.
So what hope do we possibly have? How can we, who are not capable of seeking God on our own, become right with Him? Keep watching for the next post to find out.