Genesis: The Book of God’s Kingdom – 13 (“Man and his Rebellion- Sin”)
For the sake of orientation, let us look at where we exactly are regarding our study of the book of Genesis. When we’ve started our series on this foundational book, I said that our exegetical outline for the rest of Gen.2 and Gen.3 can be summed up as follow:
· Man – His image (2:5-7).
· Man – His habitation (2:8-17).
· Man – His responsibility (2:18-25).
Then we diverted for a few weeks when we looked at the first Covenant in Genesis – the Covenant of Creation, with its three Ordinances – the Ordinance of the Sabbath, the Ordinance of Marriage and the Ordinance of Labour.
Last week we started looking at the fourth point of our exegetical outline, namely…
· Man – His rebellion (3:1-24).
After man’s rebellion, we will be looking at the second Covenant, i.e. the Covenant of Redemption.
Last week we looked at man’s rebellion and man’s fall and today I want us to look at “Man’s rebellion and the resultant curse.” For that I want you to turn with me to Gen.3.
2. SCRIPTURE READING:
Gen.3:6-24 (ESV) ~ “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. 20The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. 22Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”
3. SPIRITUAL DEATH:
Paul says in Rom.5:12 ~ “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” It was through Adam that sin entered the world. When Adam sinned, he immediately died spiritually – his relationship with God was broken – and he also began dying physically – his body began the process of growing old and dying. From that point on, every person born has inherited Adam’s sinful nature and suffered the same consequences of spiritual and physical death.
We are born physically alive but spiritually dead. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (Joh.3:7). Physical birth provides us with a sinful human nature; spiritual rebirth provides us with a new nature… ~ “…created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph.4:2).
4. ORIGINAL SIN:
Let us now look at what sin is. Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God (1 Joh.3:4) and rebellion against God (Deut.9:7; Jos.1:18). Sin had its beginning with Lucifer, probably the most beautiful and powerful of the angels. Not content with his position, he desired to be higher than God, and that was his downfall, the beginning of sin (Is.14:12-15). Renamed Satan, he brought sin to the human race in the Garden of Eden, where he tempted Adam and Eve with the same enticement (Afrikaans: “verleiding”), “you shall be like God.” Genesis 3 describes Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God and against His command. We call this sin by Adam, the original sin. Since the Fall (“original sin”), sin has been passed down through all the generations of mankind and we, Adam’s descendants, have inherited sin from him. Rom.5:12 tells us that through Adam, sin entered the world, and so death was passed on to all men, and the consequences… ~ “…the wages of sin is death” (Rom.6:23).
5. IMPUTED SIN:
Through Adam, the inherent inclination to sin (Afrikaans: “inherente of innerlike geneigdheid tot sonde”) entered the human race, and human beings became sinners by nature. When Adam sinned (“original sin”), his inner nature was transformed by his sin of rebellion, bringing to him spiritual death and depravity (Afrikaans: “verdorwenheid”) which would be passed on to all who came after him. We are sinners not because we sin; rather, we sin because we are sinners. This passed-on depravity is known as inherited sin or imputed sin (I personally prefer the term “imputed sin”). Just as we inherit physical characteristics from our parents, we inherit our sinful natures from Adam. King David lamented (Afrikaans: “betreur”) this condition of fallen human nature in Ps.51:5 ~ “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
The terms original sin and imputed sin, therefore, refer to the two main effects that Adam’s sin had on the human race – let me explain again:
· First, as a result of Adam’s sin we all enter the world with a fallen nature. This is original sin – the sinful tendencies, desires, and dispositions in our hearts with which we are all born. Thus, original sin is something inherent in us – it is a morally ruined character. The original sin that we are all born with manifests itself throughout our lives in actual sins – the actions, thoughts, and feelings we have that violate God’s moral commands. So, our sinful hearts (original sin) cause us to make sinful choices, think sinful thoughts, and feel sinful feelings (actual sins). We are all born totally imprisoned in original sin. There is no island of goodness left in us.
· Second, the guilt of Adam’s sin is credited not just to Adam himself, but to us all. We are regarded as having sinned in Adam, and hence as deserving of the same punishment. This is imputed sin. Thus, we not only receive polluted and sinful natures because of Adam’s sin (original sin), but we are also regarded as having sinned in Adam such that we are guilty of his act as well (imputed sin). Imputed sin is the ruin of our standing before God and is thus not an internal quality but an objective reckoning of guilt, whereas original sin is the ruin of our character and thus is a reference to internal qualities. Both original sin and imputed sin place us under the judgment of God.
6. PERSONAL SIN:
A third type of sin is personal sin, that which is committed every day by every human being. Because we have inherited a sin nature from Adam, we commit individual, personal sins, everything from seemingly innocent untruths to murder.
7. THE WAGES OF SIN:
After Adam fell into sin, we fell into sin and as Adam, we are all three times condemned due to inherited sin, imputed sin, and personal sin. The only just penalty for this sin is death as we have already seen in Rom.6:23 ~ “…the wages of sin is death.” Not just physical death but eternal death (Rev.20:11-15).
What happened to Adam and Eve on the day that they fell into sin? The answer to this is that they died on that day in some sense (i.e., relationally, covenantally, judicially, spiritually, or positionally). And that spiritual death meant that unless a redeemer (the Son of Adam) died in their place, they would ultimately be cast into the Second Death, or eternal death in the Lake of Fire. They obviously did not personally die physically on that day, but from the conversation between Satan and Eve it is clear that she understood the threat to include physical death, since she connected physical death with eating the physical fruit. Where did she get that idea? From Adam. Where did Adam get it? From God.
We know that during the Old Testament period there were believers – think of Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Jeremiah, David, etc. and they all died as a result of their imputed sins.
I also referred to the term “Second Death.” The question then is, what is the second death and what happened to the Old Testament believers when they died? I don’t want to elaborate too much on this topic, but in short, the Old Testament believers went to a place of comfort and rest called “paradise” when they died. The Old Testament taught life after death and that everyone who departed from this life went to a place of conscious existence. The general term for this place was Sheol, which could be translated “the grave” or “the realm of the dead.” The wicked were there ~ “The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God” (Ps.9:17) and “Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell” (Ps.49:14). The righteous however, were also in Sheol ~ “For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?” (Ps.6:5). Job said in Job 14:13 ~ “Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!” The righteous Jacob said in Gen.37:35, when he heard of the “death” of Joseph ~ “Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!”
The New Testament equivalent of Sheol is Hades. Luke 16:19-31 shows that, prior to Christ’s resurrection, Hades was divided into two realms: a place of comfort where Lazarus was (“Abraham’s bosom” or “Abraham’s side”) and a place of torment where the rich man was (hell). Lazarus’s place of comfort is called “Paradise” in Luke 23:43. The place of torment is called “Gehenna” in the Greek in Mark 9:45. Between paradise and hell (some people call it the two districts of Hades) – between paradise and hell, there was according to Luke 16:26, “a great chasm” (Afrikaans: “’n groot kloof”). The fact that no one could cross this chasm indicates that, after death, one’s fate is sealed.
Today, when an unbeliever dies, he follows the Old Testament unbelievers to the torment side of Hades. At the final judgment, Hades will be emptied before the Great White Throne (Rev.20:11), where its occupants will be judged prior to entering the lake of fire ~ “And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev.20:13-15).
On the other hand, when believers die today, they are “present with the Lord” in heaven ~ “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him” (2 Cor.5:6-9). In heaven, believers join the Old Testament saints who have been enjoying their reward for thousands of years. “Sudden death, sudden glory” – It will be like breathing – you die and depart this world when you exhale air and with the next inhale of air you will be inhaling “the fresh air of heaven.”
8. THE SOLUTION TO SIN:
We have seen that the wages of sin is death and that unbelievers go to hell and believers go to heaven. The essential question to answer however, is how does it happen that a believer goes to paradise and the unbeliever not? For now, I don’t want to go into the topic of election, etc. but just in short, the following: When God killed a sacrificial animal to provide skins for Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness (Gen.3:21), that sacrificial Lamb died in their place. They died “with” that lamb on that day, and “put on” the skin of that lamb to cover their guilt and shame. They also died relationally, covenantally, or judicially in the sense that they were now condemned, separated, and mortal (subject to death and destined to die). All humanity who were in the loins of Adam at that point “died with Adam” on that day. When the lamb died physically on that day, sinful Adam and Eve “died with it.” They knew that the death which the lamb suffered was what they themselves deserved. The innocent lamb died in their place.
We find the very first utterance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Gen.3:15 ~ “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” God promised a Redeemer, and the sacrificial system was instituted on that very day to bear witness to the coming Son of Adam who would be the Lamb of God to take away the power of sin and death. They “died with” that lamb “on that day,” and thus began the redemptive rituals through the substitutionary sacrifice system. Adam and Eve still had to die physically, but a human substitute would come to actually die in their place and give them real covering for their spiritual nakedness and the very kind of immortal body that they needed to live in heaven with God.
Christ was not just a physical sacrifice. He was also a spiritual sacrifice, slain to provide not only a covering for our guilt and shame here in this life, but also to provide eternal clothing (new immortal bodies like His) to cover our sins forever in heaven. Those skins proved that a sacrificial death had taken place to cover their sin. They were testimony to both their guilt and their forgiveness. They were signs of a covenant based on substitutionary sacrifice.
Also, Jesus crushed the serpent’s head by dying physically to atone for their sin. His physical death on the Cross as the substitute for Adam and Eve would make little sense if the death threatened against Adam and Eve did not at least include physical death.
When the lamb died physically on the day of the Fall, Adam and Eve “died with the lamb,” just like we “die with Christ” on the day of our conversion. We are united with His death, so we can “put on” His new life. Adam and Eve “put on” the skins of the sacrificial lamb in the same way we “put on” Christ in our conversion, which points forward to the time when we will “put on” our new immortal bodies and go to heaven.
The skin of the lamb pointed to their new immortal bodies which God would provide through the death of His sacrificial lamb, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. God provided the Lamb, His own dear Son, just like He provided the ram to Abraham on Mount Moriah. When we “die with” Him and “put on” the garments of Christ, we are given hope of life in heaven with a new immortal body like Christ’s. Our old bodies return to dust permanently and God gives us new bodies. The Bible uses all this language in reference to Christ, implying that He fulfilled the original “lamb typology.”
9. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION:
We as believers must see the whole problem of imputed sins, or the principle of imputation in a positive light, because, if God did not establish this principle, salvation would never be possible. God used the principle of imputation to benefit mankind when He imputed the sin of believers to the account of Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for that sin (death) on the cross. Imputing our sin to Jesus, God treated Him as if He was a sinner, though He was not, and had Him die for the sins of the entire world (1 Joh.2:2).
Those who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ must pay the penalty for these personal sins, as well as inherited and imputed sin. However, believers have been freed from the eternal penalty of sin (hell and spiritual death) but now we also have the power to resist sinning. Now we can choose whether or not to commit personal sins because we have the power to resist sin through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, sanctifying and convicting us of our sins when we do commit them (Rom.8:9-11). Once we confess our personal sins to God and ask forgiveness for them and turn away from them, we are restored to perfect fellowship and communion with Him ~ “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Joh.1:9).