Redeemed or Forgiven?
Part 3 of 8
This Part 3 will cover the concept of original sin along with the supporting scriptures and also the fall in the garden.
It’s my opinion that the verses that coincide with the concept of original sin are sufficient enough to constitute a theology and not just a doctrine. I believe there is plenty of scripture concerning this issue that it could justifiably be called the “theology of sin”.
As I said earlier, my intention is not to put the concept of original along any specific denominational slant or conclusion. I don’t agree with every interpretation or conclusion about it but the core revelation of it is not up for debate in my opinion.
I don’t contend with or argue over minor doctrinal distinctions and differences so this whole article is not about trying to get anyone to agree with me on a specific doctrine, but the scriptural basis remains undeniable when looking at the whole plan of redemption.
My position on original sin has more to do with understanding the Redemption than just original sin. Original sin is what puts a context, purpose and timeline to the Redemption. Since the HRM wishes to blur the significance and importance of time in relation to Jesus Christ; I will be using the concept of original sin to show that the Redemption of Jesus Christ is indeed subject and confined to time. Original sin deals with the distinction between what is foreshadowed and what is fulfilled, and between what is purposed and what is secured.
I am simply going to throw out a whole list of scriptures but before I do, I need to define some terms concerning original sin. Most Christians and myself included, consider original sin to be synonymous with these terms or topics:
1) The Sinful Nature
2) The Carnal Mind/Carnality
3) The Flesh
4) The Old Man
5) The Outer Man (occasional usage)
6) The Heart (occasional usage)
7) The Body (occasional usage)
This first passage is the main platform that I will be working from but the subsequent verses and examples are just as important to the overall concept.
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned-(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come…Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”(Romans 5:12-21)
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God.”
“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made…But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith…”(Galatians 3:19-26
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
“And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.” (Galatians 5:24)
“I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (Galatians 5:16-17)
“For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.”(Romans 7:5)
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” (Romans 7:18)
“I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:21-24)
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
“Knowing this that our old man was crucified with Him that the body of sin might be done away with.”
There are at least 4 examples in scripture that give us an indication that before Christ, man was in an unsanctified and impure state of being. Lets take a look.
THE VIRGIN BIRTH-
The position on original sin is that mankind is born into sin and its effects which were brought about by the fall in the garden. This does not mean that babies or youths are held accountable for what they do not know, but it simply means that a nature resides in man from birth that inclines him towards sin and self rather than God and benevolence towards God and man. Lets read:
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam…”
The purpose of the virgin birth is so that Jesus was not born from the lineage of man who was under the curse and the effects of sin. Women are also under this curse but women were never considered the chief stewards and possessors of dominion over the earth. Adam was given possession and dominion, therefore the curse falls upon the lineage of who was in charge and that was Adam or man.
The virgin birth bypassed this lineage so that Christ would be born of an uncorrupted nature in order to confront sin just as Adam confronted sin and temptation in an uncorrupted state.
THE TEMPLE VEIL-
I may elaborate more on this later but the temple veil being torn in two is probably the greatest example which proves there was a separation between God and man that could not be breached by the Law. No one was permitted to enter into the Holy Place in the temple except the for the high priests once they had undergone all the purification ceremonies and rituals. The presence of God resided in the Holy Place and it was off limits to anyone except the priesthood. Death was instantaneous to anyone who was not a priest, and also to any priest who was not properly purified.
When Christ was crucified, the veil that separated man from God was torn in two. This proves that there was something unsanctified about man that was not, and could not, be cleansed by the forgiveness of sins through the sacrificial means under the Law. It proves that there was a transgression in mankind that was far greater than the transgressions of the Law. This was the transgression of Adam. Jesus did NOT simply offer a sacrifice for the transgression of the Law that was better or permanent. His sacrifice paid for a transgression that exceeded the transgressions of the Law.
BOUNDARIES AROUND THE MOUNTAIN-
“You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. Not a hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot with an arrow; whether man or beast, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain.”
This is more of a general non-specific example of unsanctified man but the whole chapter of Exodus 19 is essentially about God making a separation between man and the mountain of God. There is nothing that indicates that this was due to any specific sin so it points out that man is unclean and unsanctified regardless of any transgression. It simply shows that God is Holy and man is not.
TOUCHING THE ARK-
“And when they came to Chidon’s[a] threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God.”( 1 Chronicles 13:9-10 )
“Then He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the Lord had struck the people with a great slaughter.” (1 Samuel 6:19)
Ok, so we cant touch the mountain. We cant touch the ark nor look upon it, and we cant enter the Holy Place of the temple where the ark was, but yet the temple veil was torn in two when Christ was crucified revealing the ark and the Holy Place.
Why was everything off limits but now it is not? The pieces are starting to come together, aren’t they?
PHILOSOPHY OF ORIGINAL SIN-
The concept of original sin has been reasoned out from the scriptural basis and philosophy which is presented in questions such as these:
Is a person a sinner because they break the commandment, or do they break the commandment because they are a sinner?
Is a person a liar because they tell lies, or do they tell lies because they are a liar?
Do we break the commandments because we are tempted from within or from without?
“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15)
Also, Jesus tells us that adultery and murder are commited within the heart of man.
“Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgment…whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has committed adultery in his heart.”
The clause, “without a cause” is very important because it shows that murder can be conceived without any provocations and it reveals that murder is not something that occurs after the fact, but before, within the heart.
Last but not least, Jesus gives us one of the best and most direct explanations of inward sin:
“Do you not understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man…”
THE TRANSGRESSION OF ADAM-
Now that we have looked at redemption and original sin, we need to go back to where it all begins.
When Adam fell in the garden, there was no one that he was in bondage to. There were no armies, no nations, and no peoples that he was in captivity to. Adam became bound to the sin within himself.
The greatest misconception about the fall in the garden is the simple belief that Adam and Eve merely disobeyed God.
It’s very true and fundamental to understand that if Adam and Eve wouldn’t have disobeyed, then they wouldn’t have fallen, but that is a given.
What we have to understand is that all of mankind and religion, from Judaism to Christianity is infected with a “do good” and “good works” mentality.
The reason that we view the Cross in the limited scope of forgiveness is because we base our theology on childhood principles and concepts that presume we are in good standing as long as we don’t disobey. It assumes that good people are the ones who do good things and bad people are the ones that do bad things. There is a Biblical basis and premise to this notion but it’s not the theology and message of the Cross and it is not the theology and message found in Genesis. This notion supposes that man is and was never in bondage to any preexisting condition. It supposes that the sum of a person’s choices and actions constitute their destiny. No one is immune to this notion.
Many people who believe we are never saved by works still view their life after salvation as a sum of good deeds outside the context of redemption and they fail to comprehend why they needed salvation in the first place.
A person needs salvation not simply because they have sinned but because they are sinners. When we become saved, it is on a very personal level, but our salvation has come through Christ who is the fulfillment of the whole plan of redemption for everyone. We are saved as individuals into the big picture of salvation because it’s not just one individual who is lost, but all mankind.
It’s not merely a coincidence that everyone is lost and that everyone needs saved. It’s that way because everyone inherited a sinful nature and disposition that is contrary to God.
How did that happen?
THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL-
One of the biggest misunderstandings about the fall is how sin actually entered the world and the heart of man.
To understand this, we have to look at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’- therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”(Genesis 3-22-24)
There were two trees in the garden that bore specific fruit. One was the tree of life, and the other was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
When we look at Genesis 3:22 we get an understanding that eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil changed Adam. He became like God, but what makes God the only God is that He possesses all the knowledge of good and evil yet He has power over it. Knowledge of good and evil is not about intellect. The word “know” in the Bible is often used in the context of intimacy or sexuality. When Adam ate of the fruit he became intimately acquainted with good and evil, but Adam is not God and therefore he does not have power over this intimate knowledge and comprehension of good and evil.
Now that Adam had ingested the knowledge of good and evil, the Bible says he became like God ‘in that manner’ but it manifested itself as contrary to God.
There is a difference in how Adam and Eve were made in the image and likeness of God and how they came to know good and evil like God. Having the knowledge of good and evil only makes us like God in that one aspect.
When man is made in the image and likeness of God, man becomes a reflection and product of God, but the knowledge of good and evil makes man his own god that will never be co-equal with the true God and therefore he can only be contrary to God by presuming himself to have the same knowledge of all things as God. Lets loom at the actual temptation to see this better.
THE NATURE OF THE TEMPTATION-
When the serpent tempted Eve, he persuaded Eve along the lines of an artificial alignment and ascension towards God and God-likeness. Lets read:
“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”(Genesis 3:5)
When man willfully sins, he usually does so when he is convinced that he has the power and knowledge that makes him invincible and immune from any consequences of that action. He also usually does so when he is convinced he will gain something from that action. This is the context of the temptation in the garden. Let’s look at it again:
“Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”
The temptation in the garden did not simply produce disobedience. It brought forth the nature of sin which is equally revealed in the nature of the temptation.
The temptation to have knowledge of good and evil also produces the very same thing.
THE NATURE OF THE FALL-
Let’s consider the nature and personality of Adam after he ate the fruit.
In Genesis 1:26, complete dominion over the earth and all the creatures is given to man, but after eating the fruit this is what we see:
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound 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 among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’
And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked?'”
The Bible doesn’t really say that Adam and Eve were ashamed of any disobedience, but rather, that they were ashamed of their nakedness. Adam and Eve, who were given dominion over the earth, were now afraid and ashamed of being naked with no one else around.
The nature of Adam is also revealed when he is confronted by God. When Adam is questioned about the fruit, his reply contains a justification based on slander towards God, and slander towards his neighbor (Eve). Let’s read:
“…’Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’
Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate’.”
Adam was willing to slander and separate himself from God and his own wife in order to maintain his position.
Adam slandered God and his neighbor after he became self-aware and this is the whole reason why sin is NOT just disobeying or breaking the commandments.
We have to stop and make a note that the first defense Adam made for himself involved the violation of what Jesus said all the law and prophets hang; this is loving God and loving your neighbor. The nature of the fall did not produce the breaking of a commandment. It produced a nature that violated the entire scope of righteousness which is loving God and loving your neighbor.
(Make an extra-special note of this point because it raises the question as to whether keeping the law safeguards a person from their sinful nature which inherently violates the scope of righteousness).
Adam and Eve were not sinful before they fell, but we are. All of our sins are now committed from the pre-existing nature of self-awareness. Adam and Eve fell into sin through disobedience, but if they, and we also, were not brought into bondage through sin, then all that would be required is forgiveness, but man has become captive to the nature of sin and he therefore needs to be redeemed from that captivity.
The reason I began this section by dismissing the idea that good people do good things and bad people do bad things, is because everything we do, whether good or bad, is all based on a corrupted foundation. Mankind is born into a nature that presupposes to have its own ability toward god-likeness. Many try to become their own god by embracing sin, and others try to become their own god by doing good works. Mankind is born into the nature of self-awareness(nakedness). Mankind either embraces their nakedness, or tries to cover it, but either way, all mankind is self-aware of their nakedness. Everything is an attempt to run from this nakedness. Mankind must either slander God or slander his neighbor to avoid his nakedness.
This why a person can’t be saved by good works. His good works are only a covering for his nakedness and self-awareness.
If the fall of Adam and Eve was mere disobedience then that would simply require forgiveness, but their disobedience resulted in something greater than the violation of a commandment.
We aren’t just predisposed to sin, we are first predisposed to self-awareness and from that self-awareness we become inclined towards sin.
That is why there is fundamental theological problem with only speaking of sin as transgression of the law or the breaking of commandments. If this was the final definition of sin, then we would have to assume that keeping and obeying them would result in the absence of sin and the presence of righteousness. I know that groups like the HRM or SDA may not claim or believe this, but they nevertheless, indirectly promote this in how they speak of sin only in relation to the commandments and not in relation to original sin and the functions of the Cross concerning it.
We need to stop interpreting the story of the fall from a childlike and mystical perception that amounts to nothing more than kindergarten children’s church theology. There are some very specific things that take place in the garden and understanding the dynamics of what happened is essential to proper theology about the Jesus Christ and the Cross.
In the next article, Part 4 of 8, we will be taking a look at Abraham and how the plan of redemption begins with him concerning these things.