- GOD ALLOWS FREE WILL
- SATAN CHOSE TO REBEL
- ADAM CHOSE TO SIN
- WE INHERIT ADAM’S SIN
- THE PENALTY FOR SIN IS DEATH!
GOD ALLOWS FREE WILL
LOVE MUST BE CHOSEN
It was the Father’s desire that man would love, honor and obey Him in all things. It was God’s desire that man would seek His will and purpose for his life. The Father wanted man to trust and share in His great love, wisdom, and power. He longed for him to receive and return His love – even as the Father and the Son loved one another (John 17:23). God created man for just this purpose – to share in and enjoy the love, grace, wisdom, beauty and glory.
Love, however, by its very nature, must be freely given. It cannot be forced. You can’t make or force anyone to love another.
The same is true of giving honor, respect and worship. Worship is related to “worth-ship”. We love, honor and respect what we feel is of great value or “worth.”
This means that love requires a free choice. Worship also requires a free choice. We choose to love and worship that which we feel is of great value and worth.
CHOICE INVOLVES RISK
God is sovereign. He has complete freedom to choose and carry out His desires. He ever chooses that which is right, good and holy. He chose to create man in His own image in order that man might know and experience His love and then express it back to Him.
This meant giving man a freedom of will. With the power to love went the right to choose. Because of his free will, man could choose to love, worship and honor God.
When God gave man this freedom of choice at Creation, however, it was with great risk. It meant that man could chose good or evil -right or wrong. He could choose either way! And he would choose based on what he thinks is good, true and worthwhile.
Our lives are centered around our values. We love, honor and respect whatever we feel is most “worthwhile” for our lives. It is not a question of “whether” we are going to worship, but “what” we are going to worship. And everybody, to some degree, in one expression or another, worships!
Now God created man to worship Him. With man’s worship of God would come his love, faith and obedience. Not a slavish, crawling-in-the-dirt kind of servitude, but an obedience filled with joy and confidence, trusting in God’s love and desire for our best.
It is true that we serve, obey, and become like that which we worship. What we worship will determine our character and our conduct -our attitudes and our actions. This is true in both a negative (Ps 115:4-8; Isa 44:9-20) and a positive way (2 Cor 3:18).
No wonder Jesus said, “seek ye first the Kingdom of God”; for when we do, everything else falls into its rightful place (see Matthew 6:33).
God allowed man to make his choice for worshipful obedience by placing two special trees in the Garden of Eden. One was called the “tree of life” (Gen 3:22). The other tree has been called the “tree of death.” God called it the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:17). Man was warned not to eat of that tree. He was not to set standards of good and evil -right and wrong – for his life apart from God’s wisdom: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov 14:12).
SATAN CHOSE TO REBEL
CAST OUT OF HEAVEN
Satan in the form of a graceful serpent then appeared on the scene. He is wise in the ways of evil and there is evil purpose in his heart. Where did he come from? Why was he there? What will he seek or do? Let us again turn to the Scriptures for our answers.
The Bible sometimes uses earthly settings and people to teach us about heavenly and spiritual things. The prophet Ezekiel tells us about a certain king of Tyre who was very wicked. In Ezekiel 28:11-19, the judgment of God is being addressed to the King of Tyre. However, there are many Bible scholars that see in this passage (and in Isaiah 14:12-15) a description of the fall of Satan. This was a view held by several of the Church Fathers of the 4th century A.D. A careful reading of this passage in Ezekiel reveals several extreme descriptions that would be difficult to attribute to the earthly King of Tyre (see especially Ezekiel 28:13-15).
“You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.”
“You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.”
“By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.”
“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings that they might gaze at you.”
“You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading; therefore I brought fire from your midst; it devoured you, and I turned you to ashes upon the earth” (Ezek 28:12-18).
The same kind of picture is painted by the prophet Isaiah. With powerful words he reveals the evil character of the wicked king of Babylon. Again, these verses have a double application as the prophet shows us the evil picture of Satan.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer [Satan’s pre-fall name which meant ‘Light Bearer’] son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit” (Isa 14:12-15)
Five times Satan crosses “God’s will” with “his will”. Five times Satan declares his self –will in opposition to God’s will (vs.13-14). Clearly we can see Satan’s pride and rebellion against God. Satan desired (and still desires) to replace God’s sovereign rule with his own. He also wants to function independently from the Most High God. Satan invites, tempts, intimidates and snares men into these two sins of self -exaltation and selfish independence. It would seem that Satan before his fall – and all the other angelic beings – were originally created with the ability to love, honor, worship and serve God. As we have said, to create beings with freedom of choice brings a great risk. There is the danger of rebellion.
The results of those wrong choices can be tragic. To reject God’s love, truth and goodness is to reap the results of hatred, error and evil. To reject one is to choose the other. Just as when you flip a coin -one side or the other will turn up. Sadly, Satan made the wrong choice!
Yes, the Scriptures in Ezekiel and Isaiah seem to show that Satan had been created by God for a high and noble purpose. He was perfect in his beauty and wisdom. He had been given great power and authority.
The cherubim (plural for cherub) in the Book of Revelation are related to heavenly worship. It is possible that Satan at one time not only ruled the hosts of heaven as “the anointed cherub who covers” (Ezek 28:14) -which indicates a high office with authority and responsibility -but also led them in their worship of God. This seems to be indicated by Ezekiel 28:13 where there is reference to musical instrumentation included in Lucifer’s (Satan’s) created being. Many see this as supporting the idea that one of Lucifer’s duties was to lead the heavenly host in worship of the Most High. His duty and responsibility was to guard the holy will and word of God and to honor the Lord in all ways. It seems he was an “overseer” of the heavenly host.
Because of his beauty and position, pride entered Satan’s heart (Ezek 28:15,17). Paul, when listing the qualifications for being an overseer, warns them about pride, and uses Satan as an example:
“…not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil ” (1 Tim 3:2-6).
Heaven is holy and perfect. Therefore Satan’s sin could have arisen only from within his own heart. Pride and the desire for power became his downfall. He found more pleasure in his own beauty than in the glory of God. He became lifted up in his own eyes, and sought the honor and power which belong only to God.
Satan wanted the worship of Heaven and the authority of God’s throne. And he was willing to rebel against the Most High God to get it. Sadly, a large number of the angelic host joined Satan in his rebellion (see 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).
One wonders why Satan and his host thought they could succeed in their rebellion against God. The Scripture even says that he was ‘full of wisdom” (Ezek 28:12).
As we have seen, however, there is a “blindness” and self- deception in pride. When we center everything in ourselves, it is hard to “see” beyond ourselves. Deception is believing something is right when it is wrong -that it is good when it is evil.
With pride comes deception. Satan was truly deceived. He was far too smart to try something that was plainly doomed to failure. But he really thought he would win!
The person who can most easily deceive others is one who is deceived himself. He will be very sure he is right and seem to be very sincere. Certainty and sincerity are not sure signs that one is right, however. It is possible to be sincerely but truly wrong!
There may have been a number of reasons why Satan and his host believed they could win. No one had ever disobeyed God before. His power and authority had never been tested. The results of rebellion had never been seen. Death was unknown. Moreover, this was the first time the powers of good and evil came in conflict with one another. The battle of the ages was about to begin!
Unlike God, Satan was not “omniscient” – all-knowing. As a created being, all he had to go on was God’s word. He didn’t know how powerful or important he might truly be.
With pride comes deception. And with deception comes doubt of anyone else’s authority. Satan began to doubt God’s word, and as a result decided to disobey God’s word.
The links in the chain of evil can now be clearly seen: PRIDE – SELF-DECEPTION – REBELLION – DISOBEDIENCE. The last link was the link of DEATH!
Satan also may have thought that he had found a weakness in God’s divine plan. An overview of Scripture seems to show that God chose to achieve His purpose in creation through creatures of free will. The angels, and later man, were made with a freedom of choice.
As said before, this involved a great risk. There was the danger of wrong choices and the evil results that would follow. God foresaw that possibility, but rested in His knowledge that in the end:
- GOOD would overcome EVIL
- LOVE would overcome HATE
- LIGHT would overcome DARKNESS
- TRUTH would overcome ERROR
- RIGHT would overcome WRONG
Moreover, these noble qualities of God’s character would be expressed through those who chose to love, honor and obey Him. In Heaven it would be achieved through those angels who chose to remain loyal to their Creator.
On earth it was to be through a royal family of beloved sons and daughters. The “First-born” of that family would be the Lord Jesus Himself.
It is possible that Satan was jealous of the love, honor and worship that was given to God by the heavenly host. Satan’s rebellion was an attempt to take God’s place and receive the worship that belonged to Him. You will recall how the devil offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world – in an attempt to get Jesus to worship him in the wilderness (see Luke 4:5-8). This incident shows us that the devil desired the worship belonging to God alone.
ln opposing God, Satan drew the battle lines for the age-long conflict between good and evil.
As we know from scriptures already given, Satan was not able to gain a victory in Heaven. He and his host of fallen angels were cast out. What they lost in Heaven, however, they would later try to gain on earth in the Garden of Eden.
ADAM CHOSE TO SIN
SATAN ENTERS THE WORLD
As we have already seen, there is a great desire within the heart of our heavenly Father. It is for a family through which the character, authority and power of His Son can be revealed. For that reason, you recall, God made the first man and woman and told them to be stewards, caretakers of the earth and fill it with a family of loving children who would be loyal to Him.
It is to this earth and that family, therefore, that Satan now comes. The battle that began in heaven now reaches into God’s new creation. Satan seeks to rob the first earthly family of their heritage; by tempting them to commit the same sin that caused his downfall from the heavenly heights -pride and rebellion!
He comes to them in the form of a wise and beautiful serpent. He cannot overpower them, for they have been given authority over all of the creatures of the earth. He has only one way in which he can reach them with his evil purpose – deception! Now we can see why Jesus called Satan the ‘father of lies” (see John 8:44).
The Apostle Paul refers to this deception in his second letter to the Corinthian church. Listen to his words of warning: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity. that is in Christ” (2 Cor 11:3).
Yes, Satan used lies and confusion as his way of deceiving and confusing their clear understanding of God’s simple commands. You recall that God had told them not to eat of that one tree. Let us again listen to His words of warning: “Of every tree in the Garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:16,17).
SATAN DECEIVES EVE
Satan now begins to form his chain of evil: pride -deception – doubt – disobedience – death. Let us study each link in the chain as it is found in the record itself: “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’
“And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’
“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“‘(Gen 3:1-5).
Satan told them that the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not something to be feared, but truly to be desired. He told them that instead of dying as God had said, they would really begin to live. In fact, according to Satan, they would become like God, and be able to decide what was good and evil – right and wrong – for themselves. They wouldn’t need God to direct their lives. They could know for themselves, rule themselves, and become their very best – all by themselves. Then the kingdom, power and glory would be theirs –alone! Satan lied to them, saying that if God really loved them, He would have told them that Himself.
It is easy to see how Satan first sowed the seeds of pride and selfish desire. Then he deceived them into doubting God. He got them to doubt God’s word, God’s love, and His power and authority. Their doubt led to disobedience -and their disobedience led to death!
WHAT ADAM LOST
“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” (Gen 3:6).
Sadly, the lie worked. In opening herself to deception by believing the lies of Satan, the woman disobeyed and came under the judgment that God had promised. Although Adam was not deceived, he still chose to sin – and by that choice, he submitted to Satan’s rule. God had originally created man to be a steward of the earth, and to rule over it and care for it. By his disobedience to God in submitting to Satan’s lies, this is changed. Now man’s rule has been forfeited to the Serpent (Revelation 12:9 verifies that it was Satan using the serpent’s form in the Garden). The stewardship of our world, originally delegated to man, now falls to Satan.
Satan was quick to take the scepter – the royal rod for ruling-into his own hand. The authority, which had been given to man, was now taken over by Satan. Man found himself under the authority of the kingdom of darkness and death.
It seemed a s if a timeless tragedy had set in. Many things were lost by man as a result of his sin and disobedience:
- He lost his relationship as a beloved son.
- He lost his divine covering and God-given authority.
- He lost the beauty of God’s image in his life.
- He lost his destiny in God’s divine purpose.
- He lost his very life.
WE INHERIT ADAM’S SIN
WHY DO WE SIN?
The first problem that our salvation must solve, then, is the question of sin. It is our sin that separates us from God’s holy will and purpose for our lives. We must understand why we are sinners and why we sin if we are to understand the greatness of our salvation.
This then raises two important questions:
- Are we sinners because we sin?
- Or, do we sin because we are sinners?
Theologians and Scripture scholars have been debating these questions for centuries. Yet a question this important should be clearly answered in the Bible.
SIN ENTERED THE WORLD BY ONE MAN
The key to understanding the relationship between sin and the sinner can be found in Romans Chapter 5. Paul is talking about the origin of sin and how it affects each one of us. Listen to his words in Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” The word “world” is the same as found in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world…“It is from the Greek word kosmos, and refers to the human race. Paul is saying that as the head of the human race, Adam infected all mankind by his own sin. The result of this terrible infection by sin was both spiritual and physical death.
Paul explains this truth in this way. In the time between Adam and Moses no one was judged guilty for their sins, for the Law had not yet been given. However, they still died. Their death, therefore, could not be due directly to their sins, since there was no law to pass that judgment.
So, Paul reasons, their death must have been due to Adam’s sin. We were “in Adam” when he disobeyed God. Therefore, we suffer the penalty of that’s in because we are members of the Adamic (descendants of Adam) race (Ps 51:5).
Here is the story in Paul’s own words: “Until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imparted 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…. By one man’s offense death reigned through the one… By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Rom 5:13,14,17-19).
IN ADAM, ALL SIN; IN ADAM, ALL DIE
The truth is plain: we were all born sinners because of Adam’s sin. Apart from any act of sin on our part, we are heirs to Adam’s sin -and his sin-nature.
Even if we had never once sinned, we would still be sinners. By the offense of one, judgment came upon all. “By [one] man came death… for … in Adam all die” (1 Cor 15:21,22).
In Adam we all sinned; in Adam we all died. This concept or idea of being “in Adam” is an important truth to understand. As we shall see, the same thought carries over to our relationship of being “in Christ,” and will be one of the truths by which we will come to understand our great salvation much better.
“IN ADAM – IN CHRIST”: AN EXAMPLE FROM NATURE
This idea of being “in another” can also be seen in an example from nature. In trying to produce better rice, agricultural scientists expose rice seeds to high energy rays. Such radiation is able to change the genetic make-up of the seed. By this high-energy radiation, the nature of the rice seed is changed. The way it grows and survives is altered. Most changes made by radiation of genes (heredity material) are harmful, but sometimes the changes turn out for the better. What changes come from the radiation can be known only by planting the seed and seeing what the harvest it produces is like.
One seed will produce a stalk with many seeds. Each of those seeds will carry the genetic changes -whether they are for better or worse. This will hold true for all the generations of rice that will follow.
As the seeds are planted, and planted again, there can come forth in a few years a great harvest of rice. Each plant will have the same character and quality as was “fixed” in that first radiated seed.
If the genetic changes were for the better, where did the great harvest of higher-quality rice come from?
That first seed! Many bushels of better rice were all “in the one seed”.
The same is true if the genetic change was for the worse. In that one bad seed are many bushels of poor-quality rice. The results of radiation will be passed on to all the following generations.
No further radiation is needed to carry on the harmful results produced in the first seed. The nature of the rice has been changed for all future generations’
IN THE LOINS OF ADAM
Now we can better understand what Paul meant when he said that “in Adam” we were all made sinners. When Adam sinned, we were in the loins (body) of Adam. The seed of humanity from which you and I came was potentially in Adam from the very beginning. What then happened to you and me when Adam sinned? We became sinners! “Through one man’s offense judgment came to all” (Rom 5:18).
David was very aware of this truth. He clearly stated the idea in one of his Psalms: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Ps 51:5). David is confessing that he was born a sinner. He was made a sinner -as every other human being is made a sinner in Adam. He knew he needed a clean heart and a new spirit not only because of his sins, but because of his inborn sin nature.
Yes, we have been born as sinners because we were in Adam. We sin because we have a sin-nature. It shows itself very early in life. Those of us who are parents have seen this in our own children. We didn’t have to teach them to sin; they just came by it naturally from their parents. They quickly learned how to get their own will and way. Whenever their wills were crossed, their little sin-natures got louder and stronger. That streak of sin seemed to grow faster than they did!
Why was this so? Because we all take after our forefather Adam.
“When he sinned, many were made sinners.” We were all in Adam from the very beginning.
Yes, we were all born sinners. But it is also true that you are a sinner because you sin. We have proven this by our many and repeated acts of sin. Paul tells us most plainly that there is “none righteous, no, not one… All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:10,23).
Therefore, if someone asks us, “Do we sin because we are sinners?” we would have to say “Yes”. If they also ask us “Are we sinners because we sin?” we would have to say “Yes” again. Both are true. It is not either/or. We were born sinners, and everyone has proven that fact by their many sins. Therefore, we have been judged as sinners on both counts – by our sinful ancestor (Adam) and by our sinful actions. They are two sides to the same coin.
Yes, we are all “natural-born sinners”. However, many religious people still do not see their need of salvation. They do not consider themselves to be sinners.
They live good, honest lives. They attend a church or go to a pagan temple regularly, and support it with their finances. They pay their bills, and don’t drink or curse. They try to keep the Ten Commandments, and believe they will make it to heaven -by their own works of righteousness.
This is a tragic error to make, for they are wrong! We are all sinners -twice over – by birth and by deed. It is a fact of history – and of life. There’s nothing in ourselves that we can do about it. No amount of good deeds will change our sin-nature, or cancel the penalty for our sins.
The Scripture says that at the very best “all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isa 64:6). We cannot hope to cover our sin by our “good works”. Paul declares in Galatians 2:16 that “by the works of the Law no flesh shall be justified”. Even if we were perfect in our obedience of all of God’s laws, it would not be enough to save us!
In the bright light of God’s holiness, we can only be seen as the sinners we are. Our hope can never be in our goodness -only in God’s grace. We must know we are “sick unto death” because of Adam’s sin, and our own, before we can receive God’s cure!
THE PENALTY FOR SIN IS DEATH!
We have seen that the condition of sin is “universal”. By this we mean that everybody everywhere is a sinner. Moreover, the penalty for sin is also universal. Everyone is doomed to die because of their sin. “All have sinned … [and] the wages [penalty} of sin is death” (Rom 3:23; 6:23).
The Bible describes every human being as being under the sentence of death. Apart from God’s grace, no one is accepted. From the very beginning, the penalty fat sin has been the same. God firmly and clearly warned Adam and Eve that to disobey meant death.
“Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17).
The prophet Ezekiel further affirms the death penalty for sin in these simple but very strong words: “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezek 18:4, 20). Nothing could be more certain. The wages, or outcome, of sin is death. By nature and by deed we are sinners. We have chosen to go our way rather than God’s way. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isa 53:6). What is the result of getting our own will and going our own way? “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov 14:12).
A DARK DESTINY
The way of man is a dead-end street! It couldn’t really be otherwise. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
The Father’s will and way to life centers in His Son. Any other way leads to death. When we choose to disobey God and go our own way, it will lead in only one direction – downward to destruction.
Sin can be defined as opposing God’s will and way with our own. By its very nature, disobedience can lead only to death. This is the reason that all sinners are doomed to die. We have all willfully chosen the wrong road. It began “in Adam” when he chose to disobey God. Not only were we victims of that choice, but we have nurtured that choice by our own acts of disobedience. Apart from God and His grace, we are in this world without hope. Death is our destiny!
OUR ONLY ESCAPE
There is only one way we can escape this destiny: Someone who is sinless must pay the penalty of sin for us. God has already done this -by sending His only begotten Son Jesus to take all the guilt of our sins on Himself and die in our place upon the cross.
A BRIGHT HOPE
Every sinner is without God and without hope in this world. It is indeed a dark night of despair. But against this black background shines the bright light of God’s love. As the Bible tells us: “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Rom 5:20).
We can be so grateful that there is a second part to the verse that declares, “the wages of sin is death….” The second part goes on to bring a message of hope and love: “…but the [free] gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:23).