Man’s Condition – God’s Solution (Part 1)
Robert Wurtz II
In an age when sin and iniquity are advancing upon the visible church from without; while the unregenerate fill up the ranks from within; it would be tempting to raise the white flag, throw in the towel, and declare all is lost. When the Western Nations are in a state of total moral collapse; and the only resounding call for revival from within the churches focuses on everything but genuine repentance- it would be easy to despair even of life. Darkness is covering the land as sure as it covers the midnight hour. However much the vexation of these facts move the saints to despair, they have not taken God off guard. He destroyed this world once already. Todays rebellion is just another repeat of wickedness in His history book. Why does it keep happening? From Satan that rebelled in Heaven, Adam, who rebelled in the Garden, and Israel that rebelled in the Wilderness- Sin has made its mark for destruction, and free moral agents have received it.
God Made Man Upright
Man was not created a sinner or with a sinful nature. (Eccl. 7:29) God wanted a creature in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26); not little gods, but sons and daughters. God’s plan to make man in His image has not changed (Jeremiah 29:11).
Adam was created innocent (Genesis 2:25). There was nothing in Adam’s original constitution that predisposed him to rebel against God (Genesis 1:27 Genesis 1:31). He was designed with good natural desires for things such as knowledge, eating, leadership, procreation, etc., that drew him to do these important things as part of God’s plan. God knew that man’s desires would result in conflict with His revealed will; so he gave Adam a couple of commandments. Understand that there are and were various ways of fulfilling those good, natural desires (Genesis 2:16-17). Temptation is an appeal to the intellect to fulfill a good natural desire in a bad way. Natural desires do not discriminate, so man must resist the desire to disobey God in the fulfilling of his or her desires. In other words, God gave boundaries as to right and wrong ways to fulfill those good natural desires. In the beginning man was not inclined to sin by any satanic force, only tempted to sin through the senses and reason. This changed when Adam opened the door to Sin in the Garden of Eden.
The Importance of a Right Understanding
Soteriology is the study of salvation. One of the fundamental elements of the subject biblically is what came to be known as Original Sin. There are various ways this doctrine is described, but typically, it is understood to mean that men and women are born into this life as sinners with a sinful nature (Ephesians 2:1-3, Psalm 51:5). Some more radical ideas suggest that the will is in complete bondage to the Sinful Nature and in a state of Total Depravity. This essentially means that man in his fallen state cannot rightly obey God at all. Man is spiritually dead and “spiritually dead people” can’t do anything spiritual.
I affirm that man, because of the sin of Adam, is born constituted a sinner; nevertheless, this constitution by no means relieved man of his free choice (Romans 5:19, Joshua 24:15). We inherit Adam’s disposition to sin just like we inherit a disposition to physical death. All people, by their first birth, are born in Adam and experience the consequences of his actions. Constitutional Sin is our inheritance (as it were).
Nevertheless, even though man cannot help but be bent towards sin, God is just in condemning man for his sin because man could have chosen at any given time not to sin (Romans 2:1). It is a resistible propensity. We can resist good, and we can resist evil. This is the essential message of Romans chapters 1-3. However, God does not want people having resist an inward propensity to sin. He wants them to have a propensity to do righteousness. This is what Romans 5:19 tells us. By one mans sin many were constituted sinners; in the same way, by one man’s obedience shall many be constituted righteous. What Adam did made people sinners; what Jesus did on the cross has the effect of making men righteous. That is, through Christ man can be regenerated into a new creature that obeys God and performs righteousness as a natural tendency. If we do not understand man’s need for regeneration, then we cannot understand rightly all that Christ has accomplished on the cross.
Two Ways Scripture Uses the Word ‘sin’ (Sin and sin)
We need to take a moment and define some of our terms so we are talking about the same thing. First, the Bible speaks of Sin (the root) and sins (the fruit). I will try to make the distinction by using upper case Sin for “Sin” the Root and lower case sin for “sins” the fruit.
Wherefore, as by one man Sin entered into the world, and death by Sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12)
If something “enters” the world, there was a time when it was not here and then it “entered.” This is common sense. What is this Sin that entered the human race through Adam?
We must stop and point out that Sin (the root) is older than the human race. Sin is a corruption of the once good nature of Satan (Ezekiel 28:15). This corruption was first manifested in Satan when he became self-conscious and self-willed. No one had ever disobeyed or challenged God, as far as we know, before Satan; he pioneered rebellion (Ezekiel 28:12-18). Sin manifests as a clash of the creatures will with the Creator’s will (note the five “I will’s” in Isaiah 14:13-15). When Satan rebelled against God, a degeneration took place inside him. Regeneration can be defined as when Jesus Christ is ruling and reigning over a person(s); degeneration is when we are ruling ourselves. This mysterious corruption of Satan’s nature is what we know as Sin, the root, or the dynamic. It is an infectious rebellious nature that we could call the law of Sin (See Romans 8:2).
Sin Entered the Human Race
Adam opened the door for Sin to enter the world and Death by Sin (Romans 5:12). God told Adam that in the day they ate of the Tree of Life literally, “dying thou shalt die” (Genesis 2:17 YLT). This is the first Death or the ultimate death. Eternal separation from God is the second Death; this is ultimate death as it passes into eternity (Revelation 2:11, Revelation 20:6-14). Adam and Eve died that day and it was a “spiritual death,” as we say. They died in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). This is important to understand. Adam and Eve did not die physically in the day they ate of the tree (Genesis 5:5). So what was the death that they died? Their God conscious spirit died and from that day forward all that were born “in Adam” would share in this condition (Genesis 3:23). This is essential to know, because all persons are either “in Adam” or they are “in Christ” (I Corinthians 15:22). Those who are in Adam are under Sin; they who are in Christ are under righteousness.
Man Loses His Relationship With God
The glory of God departed from Adam and Eve in what I would call the first great ICHABOD experience of mankind. The LORD departed. Man was no longer in fellowship with God. The face to face relationship with God was broken off. God had to forsake man or bring instant judgment (physical death, so I think), but He did not leave man alone (Genesis 3:15). I suggest that the reason man did not die physically, at the time they ate of the Tree of Knowledge, was because God had a plan. God left the presence of man so He could begin the process of redeeming man from the Sin that entered the race. He could have just wiped man from the face of the earth, but He chose to redeem us.
Keep in mind that God did not alter His desire to make man in His image and likeness; but in order to keep this plan in play, He had to leave off from fellowship. When God’s unique presence is near, typically, judgment is swift. Many examples of this such as Nadab and Abihu, Ananias and Sapphira, etc. God is omnipresent, but He is not present in the way He desires to be. That requires a place when He can be at home; a righteous and holy environment.
Initial Evidence of a Sinful Nature
Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve believed the lie of Satan and acted on it in faith. They placed themselves and the whole human race under the influence of the spirit of disobedience. They trusted in lies and came into a union with the spirit of this present evil age. These are mysterious things and we cannot speak of them particularly. Spirits are like wind, you can’t see them; you can only see the effects of their influence and presence. John said it simply, whosoever habitually commits sin is a child of the Devil (John 8:44, 1 John 3:8-10). This is strong language, but we have to face reality. Moreover, Sin entered, and Adam and Eve became by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2). They were driven from the Garden of Eden with a carnal mind at enmity with God (Romans 8:7). God placed Cheribim with flaming swords at the gate of the Garden. Why?
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: (Genesis 3:22)
God did not want man eternally ratified in a Sinful state. Man’s nature was corrupted and all of Adam’s posterity would be born “In Adam” with that same corrupted nature. This is Sin “the root.” God needed to sever the influence of Sin in man. How? The man Christ Jesus, the last Adam, would have to die to Sin for us. At death, liberation comes for slaves and wives (See Romans chapters 6 & 7). He that is dead is freed from Sin (Romans 6:7). Does one need die to reform their “behavior”? Death was needed to break the slavery to Sin (Romans 6:11). How could God do this? In His infinite wisdom He would destroy the root by The Seed (which was Christ Galatians 3:16).
You will notice that the Cheribim are always standing between man and God (Isaiah 6:2 , Exodus 26:31). This has been the case since the Garden of Eden- though it was not always this way. God walked with Adam and His glory was upon him. This is not to say, necessarily, that he was filled with the Holy Spirit. But surely Adam walked with God in innocence and fellowship. This was God’s design. However, man profaned his sanctuaries through transgression- opening the door to that alien spirit of disobedience to enter. The LORD departed and the spirit of disobedience took up residence. The Glory departed from the Temple (as it were), and since that time all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
God’s Plan for Man- More than Obeying the Commandments
God is in the process of bringing many sons unto glory (Hebrews 2:10). Men are born as children of disobedience. They are of their father the devil. How could they become children of God? Jesus said it plainly in John 3:3; you must be born again. Understand that a person is made a child of God through the process of spiritual regeneration so that they are no longer children of disobedience. This is why John says, “now” are you the sons of God (I John 3:2). There was a time when they were not sons of God, but now they are. This is an absolute miracle of God.
One cannot become something, by nature, simply by practicing. A dog cannot become a cat by practice (Jeremiah 13:23). Only if something happens of supernatural effect can the essential nature of anything be changed. In another figurative picture, the nature of man is to bring forth “thorns and briars”- are rejected, and near unto cursing who’s end is to be burned (Hebrews 6:8). An apple tree cannot produce oranges; and a thorn tree cannot produce a useful fruit. Nevertheless, because we have those things that accompany salvation, a better thing can be expected of us (Hebrews 6:9). What is it? The fruit of the Spirit (Matthew 12:33).
It is impossible for a person, by means of keeping the law, to yield the fruit of the Spirit- because in order to yield the Spirit’s fruit- one must have the Holy Spirit. A person can imitate good behavior, but God wants a change of heart and spirit. He wants us to do good by nature. We have to have the indwelling Holy Spirit to be what God wants us to be. We have to have “begun in the Spirit” (Galatians 3:3). This is God’s design for man.
The Law of Moses, though Spiritual, falls woefully short of bringing many sons unto glory because it cannot work in them to will and do God’s good pleasure (Romans 7:14, (Philippians 2:13). All the law could do was show man the standard. In the process of giving man His law, that law brought the “law of Sin” to the surface (Romans 7:13). Paul says that when the commandment came Sin revived – and I died (Romans 7:9). What is it? Sin took advantage of the commandment in such a way that Paul found that what was ordained to be of life actually became a means of death. Why? The Law gave the sinful nature something to rebel against (Romans 7:23 Romans 7:11).
The children of Disobedience
There is an alien spirit at work in the unregenerate causing them to will and to do Satan’s lusts and desires, under the guise of their own good pleasure. This nature can be restrained with institutional law, just as a dangerous animal can be trained to perform in a circus or at a zoo. This training gives the impression that the wild nature in the animal does not exist. Nevertheless, at times, the force of the animal’s true nature comes out, and people get hurt or killed. Any training based change can only ever be temporary. This is important. This is why you cannot teach a person to be a Christian. You can teach them to try to imitate Christ- but it is contrary to their nature. In time, they will make war with the things of God, because their mind and heart are at enmity with God.
Eph 2;1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Charles G. Finney in the 1800s argued against Original Sin, I believe, because he trusted more in his present experience than in the biblical revelation. The proof that men are spiritually dead is that they fall short of the Glory of God. Man cannot in himself or herself rise to the level of the Glory of God. No matter how well they keep the commandments they still have to deal with the fact that the Holy Spirit in not working in them both to will and to do God’s good pleasure. It’s not about whether or not a person can to some degree keep the law and ask God to forgive the rest; that is a horrendously low view of what Christ accomplished on the Cross. Nor through fearful judgments and threats can one bring about an end the inward rebellion that must be dealt with through the Cross of Christ.
Why Graft them in if they are already OK?
If men are not dead towards God, why did the Gentiles need to be engrafted into the vine? (Romans 11:24) If the Tree is not corrupt, why does it bring forth thorns and briars? (Matthew 7:16) Trees bring forth after their own kind (Genesis 1:12). If you want to change the tree’s fruit, you have to change the tree’s root (Ezekiel 11:19). Identifying just “where” Sin is holed up in a sinner is a matter of debate; but who can debate the fact that men and women do not bear the fruit of the Spirit of God by their own nature? Who can overlook the masses of humanity bringing forth a steady harvest of thorns and briars?
If man merely needs to repent of sins that are past, and resolve to obey the commandments in the future, why do men need the Holy Spirit in order to be Christ’s? (Romans 8:9) It is because they do not presently have the Holy Spirit in the sense that God desires. They cannot yield the Fruit of the Spirit by nature. Man’s nature is horribly corrupted; not to the extent that he/she cannot obey God; but they do not obey from the heart. They cannot because they are of their Father the Devil and the lusts of their father is their desire (John 8:41-45 see also John 4:34). That is what gratifies them. This is why Jesus said in John 3:3 “Ye must be Born Again.”
When a person becomes a New Creature, they receive a whole new desire. God works in them both to will and do His good pleasure. Regenerate man can bear Fruit. He can love from the heart like God loves. God pours out His love into their heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). This is what God wants. Anything less is Law. Anything less is why Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians. A person has to begin and continue in the Spirit in order to be made perfect. Christ is of no effect to those that seek perfection by the Law. It did not get the Jews where God wanted them; it could not change their nature. Christ through the cross can deal with man’s nature and prepare them for the indwelling presence of the Fruit enabling Holy Spirit.
Man’s Condition – God’s Solution (Part 1)