THE ORIGINAL STATE AND FALL OF MAN
In Eccl. 7:29 we read. "Behold, this only have I found: that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." Nothing is more evident than the two facts mentioned in this passage; viz., the original uprightness of man and the later fall of man.
I. MAN'S ORIGINAL STATE
1. THE FACT OF IT.
The passage just quoted tells us that God made man upright. This is evident from the nature of God. Being infinitely holy, he could create only that which is upright. Then we are told in Gen. 1:31 that God saw everything He made was very good. This included man. Furthermore, we are told that God made man in His own image (Gen. 1:27).
2. THE IMAGE OF GOD IN MAN.
(1) Negatively Considered.
The image of God in man did not consist of a trinity in man analogous to the divine trinity. We have already discussed this at length in the chapter on "The Essential Elements of Human Nature." In this chapter we showed that man consists, not of three parts, but of two. And if man did consist of three parts, which member of the trinity would the body of man represent?
(2) Positively Considered.
The image of God in man consisted of two things; viz.,
In this, man had a moral likeness to God. In affirming that holiness was a part of God's image in man we mean that in the creation of man God imported to the human faculties a righteous inclination. Holiness must have been a part of the image of God in man because holiness is the fundamental attribute of God. That holiness was a part of the original image of God in man is also confirmed by the fact that it is imparted in the renewing of God's image in regeneration (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). This is further confirmed by Eccl. 7.29.
Man's original moral likeness to God consisted of more than mere innocence. It was positive holiness. This alone can satisfy the statement that man was made in God's image. If innocence were enough to satisfy this statement, then we should be forced to conclude that every infant is born in the moral image of God; and this the Scripture denies (Psa. 51:5; 58:3; Jer. 17:9).
In this, man has a natural likeness to God. Personality may be defined as self-consciousness and self-determination. Self consciousness is the ability of man to know self in distinction from everything else and to analyze self. Self-determination is the power of making choices in view of motives. Such choices involve reason and judgment. And, when they are related to moral matters, they involve conscience.
It is personality that distinguishes man in a natural way from the brute. The brute has consciousness, but not self-consciousness. No brute ever thought "I." No brute ever stopped to analyze itself. A brute never reflects on its own nature in distinction from everything else. It never engages in introspection. Neither does a brute make choices in view of motives. Its actions are determined by instincts and by influences from without. Thus, the brute has determination, but not self-determination. That a brute is moved by instinct rather than by choice in view of motives is evidenced by the fact that brutes never improve in their methods of doing things.
That personality was a part of the original image of God in man is evidenced by the fact that fallen man, devoid of holiness, is still said to be in the image of God. See. Gen. 9:6; Jas. 3:9.
II. THE FALL OF MAN
Man's original holiness was not immutable. Mutability is a necessary characteristic of human nature. Immutability requires infinity of knowledge and power. Infinity is a characteristic of divinity only. Therefore, since God wished to create a man and not a god, he made Adam mutable. This made the fall possible. Let us note, then, with reference to the fall:
1. THE FACT OF IT.
We have the account of the fall in Gen. 3. Thus the fall is a revealed fact. It is also a fact that is evident, as we have already pointed out.
2. THE PROBLEM OF IT.
When we come to study the fall of man we are at once faced with the problem of how such a being as Adam was could fall. Let us note in regard to this problem:
(1) An Erroneous Explanation.
Sometimes an explanation of the problem of man's fall is attempted by representing his original state as one of mere equilibrium in which it was as easy to choose the wrong as it was to choose the right. In other words, the will was in a state of indifference, and was as likely to act one way as the other. Such a notion as this reduces man's original state to one of mere innocence instead of positive holiness. We have already touched upon this and trust that we have shown that mere innocence does not satisfy the statement that man was created in the image of God.
(2) The Right Explanation.
The fall of man cannot be accounted for simply on the basis of Adam's freedom of choice. Neither can it be accounted for on the basis of natural desire, nor upon the basis of the fact that our first parents were deceived by the devil. These facts are aptly stated by Strong as follows: "The mere power of choice does not explain the fact of an unholy choice. The fact of natural desire for sensuous and intellectual gratification does not explain how this desire came to be inordinate. Nor does it throw light upon the matter to resolve this fall into a deception of our first parents by Satan. Their yielding to such deception presupposes distrust of God and alienation from Him. Satan's fall, moreover, since it must have been uncaused by temptation from without, is more difficult to explain than Adam's fall" (Systematic Theology, p. 304).
However the author fails to see the difficulty expressed by Strong in saying that "we must acknowledge that we cannot understand how the first unholy emotion could have found lodgement in a mind that was set supremely upon God, nor how temptation could overcome a soul in which there were no unholy propensities to which it could appeal" (ibid, p. 304).
A. Adam was mutable.
This fact we have already discussed.
B. Being mutable, he could remain steadfast in his original state only by the power of God.
See chapter on "The Relation of God to the Universe." Nothing remains in its own power unchanged except that which is immutable.
C. God could justly and holily permit Adam to fall if it pleased Him.
Since God has permitted sin, none can object to the permission of the fall except those who will criticize God.
D. God, having chosen to permit the fall, withheld His sustaining power from Adam and Adam's moral nature became disordered, just as the whole universe would fall to pieces if God were to withdraw His sustaining and preserving power for one instant.
(1) The Headship of Adam.
When Adam experienced the corruption of his nature, he stood not as a mere individual; but as the natural head of the race. The natural headship of Adam is clearly taught in the fifth chapter of Romans. His headship is not presented there as a mere federal headship. Adam did not merely sin for us as would be the case if be were the mere federal head of the race; we sinned in him (Rom. 5:12)
A. Upon Adam and Eve.
B. Upon the Race.
The descendents of Adam are held accountable, not for the overt act of Adam in partaking of the forbidden fruit; but for the inward apostasy of his nature from God. We are not personally responsible for the overt act of Adam because his overt act was the act of his own individual will. But our nature, being one with his, did corrupt itself in the apostasy of his nature. Hence the effect of the fall upon the race does not consist of both personal guilt for the overt act of Adam and the corruption of the nature of the race. We are not responsible for anything that we cannot repent of when quickened by the Spirit of God. Is any man today convicted of Adam's sin of partaking of the forbidden fruit? But we do feel convicted of, and we can and do repent of, the corruption of our natures, which manifests itself in rebellion against God and in personal transgressions. We do not believe the Scripture teaches more than this in regard to the effects of the fall upon the race. For a discussion of John 1:29 in regard to this, see chapter on atonement.
In speaking of the corruption of human nature, the author does not refer to a corruption of the substance or essence of the soul. The word "nature" is used here in the sense of inherent character, disposition, natural instincts, desires, and appetites. The fall corrupted human nature in the sense of introducing moral and religious disorder. Or, to use the words of Strong, we may say that the fall resulted in "the depraving of all those powers which, in their united action with reference to moral and religious truth, we call man's moral and religious nature; or, in other words, the blinding of his intellect, the corruption of his affections, and the enslavement of his will" (Systematic Theology), p. 307).
4. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ADAM AND EVE IN THE FALL.
The Genesis account makes no vital difference between Adam and Eve in the fall. But a distinction is clearly brought out in 1 Tim. 2:14. Here it is said that Eve was deceived, but that Adam was not. This means that Eve entered into the transgression because she was made to think that God's warning was not true, and that she would not die as a penalty for partaking of the forbidden fruit. But with Adam it was different. He did not doubt God's Word. He sinned because he preferred to be cast out of Eden with his wife, rather than remain in Eden without his wife. Oftentimes it is thought that the above facts attach greater guilt to the sin of the woman than to the sin of the man. But just the reverse is true. Adam sinned through the willful and conscious choice of the fellowship of his wife, rather than the fellowship of God. No such thing was true of Eve's sin.
5. WHY DID GOD PERMIT THE FALL?
It was not that God was compelled to permit it. He is a sovereign and does everything freely. And it was not because of any lack of power. Although God made man mutable, which was necessary, as we have shown, yet He could have preserved man from sin without the violation of man's will or any principle. We can give but one answer to the above question. It is that God permitted the fall in order to provide the way for the glorification of His Son in redemption.
6. THE FALL AND THE HOLINESS OF GOD.
Perhaps the carnal reason will never be satisfied with any explanation of the fall in relation to the holiness of God. How could a holy God permit sin when He had the full power to prevent it? That He had this power cannot be doubted. And while the carnal reason may never be satisfied, yet faith in the Word of God satisfies the new mind that the permission of sin by God is perfectly consistent with His holiness. If we had the power to prevent sin and did not do it, we should be guilty of evil. But God is different from us. We are dependent, and, therefore; responsible. He is independent, and therefore, responsible to no one. When we know as we are known, then we shall be able to understand fully how the permission of sin is perfectly compatible with the perfect holiness of God.