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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Thursday, November 21, 2013
Thoughts on the Fall (Part I)
Consider what the following three verses have in common:

Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, We are not blind too, are we? Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains. - John 9:40-41 [NASB]

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. - John 15:22 [NASB]

And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. - Luke 12:47-48a [NASB]

The impression I get from the words of our Lord, and from elsewhere in both the Old and New Testaments where the same sentiment is touched upon (explicitly or implicitly), is that culpability is linked to the knowledge of good and evil.

I don't hear anyone teaching on this point, and the impression I get in the absence of such a teaching is that it makes no difference to God whether you understand that a thing is sin or not - He will hold you just as guilty either way.  I can't place it, but I have heard in my time as a believer, hints and suggestions that this is just the case - so much so that I feel like I am stepping awkwardly (and fearfully) out of the crowd just to say that the scriptures actually seem to paint another story.

The scriptures clearly state that no one is righteous.  Given this: even if God does not hold us culpable for the sins we commit in ignorance He will certainly hold each one of us culpable for those many sins we all have boldly, blatantly, and willfully committed.  In other words even if God doesn't count our unknown transgressions against us, every last one of us has more than enough known transgressions to warrant our condemnation and need for a Savior.

The implications of this thought are significant when applied to Adam prior to the fall.  Adam was, as you will recall, unable to comprehend good and evil.  He did not have that knowledge, and lacking this knowledge Adam could hardly be held culpable for any transgression.  It follows then that the only manner in which Adam could have become culpable for any transgression would have been for him be acquire the knowledge that what he did was a transgression.

In other words for Adam to condemn himself he would not only have to willfully transgress a command of God, but he would have to come into a knowledge of good and evil in order to become culpable for the transgression.

When the scriptures tell us that God placed Adam in the Garden to keep it and to cultivate it (c.f. Genesis 2:15) we are forced to admit that the flip side of this responsibility was an expectation of obedience in the matter.  We don't have an explicit command, but we certainly have explicit expectations - and who will dare to argue that it is on the one hand a grave transgression to disobey God's command, but no transgression whatsoever to ignore some responsibility that God has personally assigned to you?

 In other words, although we see only one explicit command given to Adam (i.e. the command concerning eating the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) we cannot ignore the other (implicit) commands that are inescapably present in the same narrative.  What made the explicit command fundamentally different from every other command that God gave to Adam was that if Adam disobeyed this command, there would be a consequence.

The man who pays for some groceries with a twenty and who is accidentally given not only his groceries and change, but also the same twenty he had paid for these goods with, is not guilty until he gets home, and realizes that he has not paid for the groceries.  At that point he is under a debt to the store, and must return the twenty to the store.  In the case of sinful transgression, we cannot return to the store with the original money, all we can do is return to the Lord the life He has given.

When Adam ate the fruit that gave him the knowledge by which his transgression made him culpable, he could not go and return the fruit and repay his sin debt - he had to return his life to God.  That is what our sin debt is - and that is what the warning God gave Adam was all about, "in the day that you eat from it [i.e. the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil] you shall surely die."  It was a statement of fact: Do not eat from this tree for on the day that you do you will die.

I know there are many Christians better than myself who see in this command an agreement between God and Adam whereby God grants Adam continuing life in exchange for the work of perfect obedience in all matters (including the matter of the forbidden fruit) and this they call a covenant of works.

Yet I have never been able to convince myself that this was what the text was representing, nor have I been able to impose the notion contrary to my conscience for the sake of having a theology that others (many of whom I admire) would agree with.

I see the command in far simpler terms.  I am a father myself.  When I tell my child not to touch the red hot element on the stove because on the day that you do, you will surely be burned - I am not entering into a contract with my child - I am just a father giving a command and along with a command, a reason for the command: Don't do this, because if you do so, something bad will happen.  Why does a father give his child such a command?  He does so because he loves the child, and would spare the child the consequences of doing something in his or her innocence that would produce an effect that their innocence could not comprehend.

Many Christians believe that the forbidden fruit was a sort of spiritual test.  Had Adam passed the test we would all be living with God in Eden, but since Adam failed we are cursed, the world is cursed, and we can thank Adam for that.

The bible tells us that God sees the end from the beginning, meaning that He knew full well before ever He created Adam, that Adam would transgress His command in this matter, and that He would send Christ to redeem the life that Adam forfeit.  This was all known I say, before the foundation of the world.  It follows therefore that God was not testing Adam.  He knew exactly what Adam would do.

Think hard on these thoughts.  God could have stopped Adam from sinning - I don't just say that because we know that God is able to do anything.  We have explicit examples in scripture where God keeps people from committing a sin.  In Genesis 20 God personally intervenes in the matter of King Abimelech - who would have transgressed by taking Abraham's wife as his own - but God kept him from committing that sin (c.f. Genesis 20:6).  God not only can keep a person from sinning, He clearly has done so in the past (according to His own purpose) and likely continues to do so where doing so serves this same purpose.

That God did not keep Adam from sinning in this matter tells us that God intended for history to play out the way it did.  That isn't the same as saying that God made Adam sin, or that God wanted Adam to sin.  It is to say that before God created time and space, and ordained all that would be - He chose to bring into being this history which we are now living out.  God chose to create this history over and against every other possible history - one in which Adam condemns mankind, and in which He personally, in the person of Christ, redeems mankind.  It was God's purpose to bring this History (and no other) into being.

In that sense God "ordained" Adam's sin - in fact in this sense God ordains all, in that He chose this reality to be the one He would create.  He could have created one in which Adam did not sin - but  He did not - and we are forced to admit, if we are not so foolishly puffed up in pride, that God's choice was not a bad one - but in fact the most glorious one.  We haven't seen the end of this plan yet, but I suspect it will infinitely answer every doubt we may have the audacity to hold in this lifetime.

I close this post - which I intend as the first part in a small series - by summarizing my thoughts thus far:
  • The only sin Adam could have committed that would condemn him was to come into the knowledge of good and evil through an act of disobedience - that until and unless Adam did so, any other (real or hypothetical) acts of disobedience would not condemn Adam as his innocence was assured by his lack of knowledge of good and evil.
  • That God's command was not a covenant, but a warning - the kind of warning any loving father gives to their child when the child lacks the necessary understanding to fully comprehend the consequences of an action: Don't do this, because if you do, you will suffer for it.  Not a contract, not a covenant, just a loving command intended not as a test, but as a simple, even plainly stated deterrent.
  • Adam's fall (and especially the way in which it played out) was purposely ordained by God.  This in no way suggests that God was manipulating the will or motives of Adam.  It means only that God, who created every moment, every place, and every thing in the same act of creation - who knows the beginning from the end, chose to create this reality and only this reality from among an infinitely number of possible realities - one in which our history would play out in exactly this way, such that Adam by his own hand brought the condemnation of death upon us all.
In the post(s) to follow I hope to show that there is something very practical for us (as pertains to our walk with Christ) in understanding these things I have set forth here and again in some further things I hope to add in any follow up post(s).
posted by Daniel @ 9:15 AM  
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