The Doctrine of the Flesh
Galatians Lesson #057
July 18, 1999
We are, of course, in the middle of a war. We are not only in the middle of the angelic conflict but we are in the middle of an internal war and that is the subject of Galatians 5 and following. Open your Bibles to Galatians 5:16.
Contrary to the way spiritual warfare is taught by so many people today, the real battle, no matter who the enemy is, whether the enemy is outside of you in terms of Satan and his henchmen the demons, or whether the enemy outside of you is the cosmic system, or whether the enemy is internal, our own sin nature, the way to respond to that enemy and beat that enemy is always the same. It never involves going out and taking Satan captive or rebuking the devil or any of that sort of nonsense.
But it is always related to thinking. The real battle takes place between your ears. It does not take place somewhere else. So the issue is, ultimately and always, volition. And that is the point of this passage we are examining this morning.
In Galatians 5:16 we read: But I say walk by means of the Spirit, and you will not carry out the lusts of the flesh.
We have spent almost a month analyzing what is meant by the concept of the mandate walking by means of the Spirit. It is a present active indicative which indicates it is a standard operating procedure for living the spiritual life. We have to walk. It is a moment-by-moment, day-by-day, conscious dependence upon God the Holy Spirit, moving forward.
Walk by means of the Spirit, and what this tells us then is you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
And so having taken a lot of time understanding how walking by means of the Spirit works, that it works because we have made a decision first and foremost to depend upon God the Holy Spirit.
This isn’t something mystical, it is done primarily through learning and applying the word of God. But we have seen that when we sin we grieve the Holy Spirit and we quench the Holy Spirit. We are then out of fellowship and the Bible says that this is walking in darkness. And as long as we walk in darkness we do not have fellowship with God.
So the only way to recover is through 1 John 1:9, confession of sins. Then we begin to walk in the light. That puts us experientially back into fellowship where we can walk in the light. But here, once again the issue is volition and obedience and application of divine mandates.
These are mutually exclusive categories. We have seen this in our well-known and memorized diagram with the top and bottom circles. Either you are in the bottom circle in fellowship, walking in the light or out of fellowship, walking in darkness. There is no middle ground.
And you can see that in the way this verse is constructed. I say then: walk by means of the Spirit, and then we have an interesting phrase, and, which is the connective KAI, and you shall not fulfill the desires of the flesh. The verb there is very interesting and the way it is constructed is very strong. It is the aorist active subjunctive of the Greek verb TELEO,which means to bring to completion. Often this is translated perfect, but not in the sense of sinlessness. Perfect has wrong implications so I don’t like that. The main idea is to bring something to completion.
A point of grammar here: you have an aorist active subjunctive. Now, with something like this it is not so important what the tense and the voice are, what is important is the combination. And in Greek, what you would do if you wanted to say something and you wanted to negate it in the strongest possible terms, what you would do is put it in the subjunctive mood because that is the mood of potentiality. And what you would do in your negation is show that there is absolutely no potential here. And so you would take two negatives, in the Greek language you have two negatives: OUand ME.
In English it is bad form to use a double negative. It is poor grammar and it is meaningless. However, in Greek, if you want to say no and you mean it, then you double the negative. In English a double negative is a positive. In Greek, a double negative is the most emphatic way to say no.
If you take both Greek negatives, OU and ME, and add a subjunctive verb, what you are saying is that there is no possibility that this can occur. It is the most emphatic, strongest form of negation possible. So that indicates that these are mutually exclusive concepts. You are either walking by the Spirit or carrying out the desires of the flesh. You can’t do both at the same time. You can’t be a little spiritual and a little carnal.
You often hear people say, well, even at our very best there is a certain level of selfishness, a certain level of sin there, and so even at our best, we are never really doing God’s will exclusively. Well, if that is true we are never carnal, we are never in fellowship.
How much unrighteousness does it take to violate the righteousness of God? Just a little bit. So their pious reasoning may sound like it has some validity, but when you start taking it apart, what you usually find, like you do with most pious reasoning is that it doesn’t really hold water.
So what Paul is saying is, you only have two options, you are either going to be walking by means of the Spirit, or you are going to be fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.
The word here for flesh is the Greek word SARKOS, which can refer to the literal muscles that wrap around the bones of the body. But it has a metaphorical meaning that relates to the sin nature. It is used this way many, many times in scripture and it has about five or six different meanings, but this is the concept here.
So now we have to switch gears and instead of talking about the positive of walking by means of the Spirit, we have to talk about the negative now and understand the doctrine of the sin nature.
I have about thirteen or fourteen points to cover on the doctrine of the sin nature. We are going to start taking this apart to make sure we do understand how sinful we are.
You might not think that is so important, but I think the more we realize how sinful we are, the more we realize what grace is all about. A person who thinks that somehow they are nice enough, sweet enough, they have an attractive enough personality to think that God somehow loves them because there is something in them that God finds loveable, can never understand grace.
The point of the scripture is that there is nothing in us that God finds the least bit attractive. Not one thing. You are not nice enough, you are not sweet enough, you are not good enough; you’ve not done one single thing in your life that would gain the approval of God. That shocks most people, because most people want to think that there is something about themselves that God finds attractive. And the Bible says, not at all.
And the reason we think this is because we don’t understand the sinfulness of sin. So let’s start off by looking at point 1, the terminology.
1. The terminology here is SARX. This is used figuratively for that which inhabits, or has as its source the genetic structure of the human being and produces the inclination and propensity to sin.
Now we want to have a caveat here, a word of warning. Back in the early church and even before that there is always a human viewpoint philosophy that comes along and says that which is material is evil, and that which is immaterial is good.
That is not what I am saying. What I am saying and what we will see is that the Bible says that sin invaded the entire make up of the human being, and resides, not immaterially, it is not an immaterial thing like the soul, but it resides in the very flesh. Paul uses these very strong terms to show where the sin nature resides and how it is translated. It inhabits the very genetic structure. That is why today when you will hear, and I predict in the coming years you will hear more and more, in fact, any day I expect the discovery of a certain gene that means you will be an alcoholic, or a certain gene that means you will be a murderer, or a certain gene that you will be a homosexual. The Bible does not negate that. Where they will go with that is saying that this necessarily determines what you will be. That is wrong. The Bible says that the sin nature has its source genetically and is transmitted genetically through procreation. This genetic material is merely a predisposition in certain directions. Ultimately it is your volition that determines whether or not that is brought to fruition.
Every single person has certain proclivities of the sin nature. Some of you are motivated by approbation lust, some are motivated by power lust, some of you struggle with materialism lust, or sex lust. Those are the basic four motivators of the sin nature. Some of you have trends toward self- righteousness, others of you have trends toward lasciviousness, some have trends toward antinomianism; it all depends on your makeup.
Everybody is different. Sometimes you might be one way, and in another time in life another way. It depends totally on your volition. Your environment may or may not give you those options, and you may think you don’t have a problem whatsoever in a certain arena, and all of a sudden, when you are thirty or forty years old, somebody introduces you to something you haven’t had before, maybe you grew up in a home where alcohol was never served so it was not an issue and then when you are forty years old you are at a party and someone pours a thirty year old double malt scotch and you think you ought to try it and you do and you just think it is mother’s milk. And all of a sudden you have never had that feeling before and it reacts chemically with your body and now you have a problem you never thought you would have.
Environment plays a role. But the ultimate issue is not your genetic predisposition, it is not the predisposition of your sin nature, it is up to your volition. As an unbeliever you are a slave to your sin nature and you can’t do anything other than obey your sin nature, either the area weakness or the area of strength, whatever.
But as a believer you are free from the power of the sin nature. This is what the scripture clearly teaches in relation to the plan of salvation. At phase one, faith alone in Christ alone, we are saved from the eternal penalty of sin but we still have a sin nature.
Phase two salvation is the process of learning the assets God has given us spiritually in terms of doctrine and the Holy Spirit so we can utilize those assets correctly and not yield to the power, the temptation of the sin nature.
When we start off with our definition we are clearly recognizing that there is a genetic aspect to the sin nature: that it is transmitted genetically, passed on physically, resides in the cell structure of the body and carries with it certain inclinations and propensities to sin. That is the definition.
There are some verses to substantiate that.
Romans 7:5 says, For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body, notice the physical terms used, to bear fruit for death.
Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
In Romans 8:4 and following, which we will look at eventually as one of the greatest discourses on the battle between the sin nature and the Holy Spirit, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit,
Romans 8:5, For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit
Romans 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God; for it is not even able to do so.
Romans 8:8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
These are some of the key verses to look at which demonstrate that the term flesh is used in reference to the sin nature that every human being possesses, which is our inclination and our propensity and our orientation to sin. Now that we have said that, let’s move to some definitions.
2. Definitions: The Westminster Larger Catechism, now if you were raised Presbyterian you probably memorized either the Westminster shorter or Larger Catechism. These were put together by English Calvinists in the 16th century in order to inculcate doctrine into children. It is an excellent tool and they had to memorize a variety of questions and their answers. For the most part it reflects excellent theology. The Westminster Larger Catechism has defined sin as any want of conformity unto or transgression of any law of God given as a rule to the reasonable creature. Now that is a pretty standard and often quoted definition.
Louis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Seminary, modified that a little bit. Instead of saying it is a want of conformity unto the law of God, it is better to put the absolute standard as the character of God because the law of God is simply the verbal expression of the character of God. So he changed the definition of sin as any want of conformity to the character of God. Further, he said that the general term for sin is the Greek word HAMARTIA,which means the mark or ideal has been missed. This mark or ideal is the essential character of God, which is made known to man by God’s revealed will or law.
John Calvin had a very extended comment on sin that I thought was just excellent. And I thought I would read a couple of extracts from this, it is a rather long paragraph, but he says some fairly profound and important things. He says, ‘original sin then, may be defined as an hereditary corruption and depravity of our nature’.
I want you to pay attention to these words, because they are not words that people like to hear about themselves. But it is essential to understand who we are as God defines us if we are ever going to understand what the real problems are and really appreciate the grace solution God has given to us. Notice these words. These are not words a psychologist would say to engender a positive self image.
‘Original sin then may be defined as an hereditary corruption and depravity of our nature extending to all parts of the soul which first makes us first obnoxious to the wrath of God and then produces in us works which in scripture are termed works of the flesh’.
He clearly talks about the fact that sin is not some illness. Some people want to handle sin as if it is some illness, or simply a lack in man, something missing. We will come along later on and talk about some of the false views of sin to understand that.
But he clearly states that it is a corruption and depravity. He goes on to say a number of other things and then towards the end he concludes by saying, ‘Nay, their whole nature, as it were, is a seed bed of sin’.
Have you thought about yourself that way lately? When you look in the mirror do you say, look, there is a person who is a seed bed of sin? Have you looked at that sweet little baby you have and thought about that child as a seed bed of sin? That is what the scripture says and we have to start with reality here.
‘The whole nature as it were is a seed-bed of sin and therefore cannot but be odious and abominable to God. Hence it follows that it is properly deemed sinful in the sight of God for there can be no condemnation without guilt.’
Next comes the other point. ‘That this perversity in us never ceases, but constantly produces new fruits,’ in other words, these works of the flesh formerly described, ‘just as a lighted furnace sends forth sparks and flames or a fountain without ceasing pours out water hence those who have defined original sin as the lack of original righteousness,’ if you go back to Aquinas and others, that is how they want to define sin, it’s what they call privation, lack of righteousness, but the Bible says it is not simply that you lack righteousness, you also have something more added to it, it is not just an absence of righteousness, it is the addition of something evil and obnoxious to God. That is the problem with the Catholic definition of sin, is that it isn’t sinful enough. It is simply that man lacks something. But he not only lacks something, he has something added that is evil and obnoxious.
So Calvin says,’ hence those who have defined original sin as the lack of the original righteousness we ought to have had, though they substantially comprehend the whole case, do not significantly enough express its power and energy. For our nature is not only utterly devoid of goodness, but so prolific in all kinds of evil that it can never be idle. Those who term it concupiscence,’ which I looked up, that is an old word, I don’t know what it meant when this was translated, but in current dictionaries it refers to sexual lust. So it is not a good word at all to define the sin nature, at least not anymore. ‘Those who term it concupiscence use a word not very inappropriate, provided it were added that everything which is in man, from the intellect to the will, from the soul even to the flesh, is defiled and pervaded with this concupiscence, or to express it more briefly, that the whole man is in himself nothing else than concupiscence’.
In other words, we are totally depraved. So when we talk about sin, we will talk about it this way, sin is any mental, verbal, or overt act, which violates the character, standards and will of God which are revealed in the word of God. Now what that tells us right away is that there is an absolute standard, and that is in the person and character of God.
We live in an era today which rejects the notion that there are absolute standards. The technical term for the ideology dominating our current culture is post modernism. Postmodernism walks hand in hand with something called multiculturalism. At some point we will probably take the time to do a detailed study of these things, but multiculturalism says that every culture is equal and has equal value. And all parts of culture are equal and of equal value. So if you are a Satanist, or an animist in darkest Africa, or an intellectual at Harvard University, or if you are a white male European, or a female Asian, whatever your culture is, the greatest sin you can commit is to say that one culture is better than the other.
Now what lies behind that is a system of values that you cannot say that something is right or something is wrong anymore, because that simply reflects your own cultural bias. And if your are the worst of all sinners, a white male, then you can never define right and wrong because that reflects your chauvinistic bias. You have to use other terminology.
Notice, you never hear anybody talk about behavior as right or wrong anymore, especially in the schools. What you hear over and over again is, that something is appropriate or inappropriate. And we have all fallen into that trap, we hear it all the time now and I think we should slash those terms from our vocabulary, because the root of that terminology is post modernism.
There is nothing right or wrong anymore, it is either appropriate or inappropriate. So there is a good point of application this morning in relation to your own vocabulary.
Sin comes from an absolute. It is a violation of that absolute that resides in the standards and character of God.
The second definition we need to address is the sin nature. The sin nature is the capacity, the propensity and the inclination in every human being to make life work independently of God. Now pay attention to that. It is the capacity, propensity and the inclination in every human being to make life work independently of God. Notice, that doesn’t focus on horrible, evil acts that we usually think of when we think of sin. Because what sin is, in its essence, is saying, I can make the decision, and I am the authority, not God. I will determine what right and wrong is and not God.
It is an assertion of independence and that is what took place in the original angelic fall, and also in the garden of Eden, which we will look at in point 3 which is the origination of sin in the universe. Sin originated in the universe when Lucifer first sinned, Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14.
Let’s turn first of all to the Ezekiel 28 passage.
If we look at the beginning of Ezekiel 28 we will see that the word of the Lord comes to Ezekiel to address an oracle of condemnation against the prince of Tyre. The New American Standard translates it the leader but it should be translated the prince of Tyre.
Now, this is really going to amaze you: there is a most Old Testament scholars today do not think either of these two passages have anything to do with Satan or Lucifer. That is what is being taught even at places like Dallas Theological Seminary.
I think that is absolutely absurd. If you look at what is said here in relationship to the prince of Tyre starting in verse 2 down to 10, that obviously will apply to a human ruler. But what is said starting in Ezekiel 28:11 and what is addressed to the King of Tyre, is something else again.
The King of Tyre cannot be a human being. In fact I think an excellent term used here is a French term, eminence grise, and this always refers to the power behind the throne. The way that developed is back in the 1600s when the major power in France was Cardinal Richelieu, you know of him if you’ve seen The Three Musketeers. He always wore his red Cardinal robes and he was called eminence rouge, his second in command, who carried out a lot of his dictates and who succeeded him as cardinal did not wear red robes, but wore grey robes.
He was really the power behind the throne in France and he was called the eminence grise. That is where this term comes from and it is a little addition to your vocabulary.
Whenever you see that term it refers to someone who is manipulating things behind the scenes. That is the scenario we have starting in Ezekiel 28:12, that the human leader of Tyre is really a puppet and he is being manipulated by someone else who is identified as the true ruler of Tyre, the King of Tyre, and this personage cannot be a human being because of what is said about him.
It must be referring to an angelic personage. It begins in Ezekiel 28:12 you had the seal of perfection, past tense, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. This terminology in Hebrew indicates this creature at one time was the most perfect creature to come from the hand of God, the most brilliant, the most beautiful, the most intelligent creature to ever come from the hand of God and that describes Lucifer, the highest of all the angels.
Then we have in Ezekiel 28:13 in Eden you were that is how it is written in the Hebrew for emphasis, Eden being a term for the throne room of God, you were in Eden the garden of God, not to be confused with the garden where man was placed, you were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering. The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared.
Now the interesting thing here is, we don’t have time to do this, but if you look at all of these jewels and you look at the concept here, these jewels remind us of the jewels the High Priest of Israel was to wear in his breastplate. If you were Jewish and you read this, the dress of the High Priest of Israel would come to mind.
From this we get the hint that before his fall Lucifer had something of a priestly function in relation to all of the angels. This is our first hint of that. He was absolutely perfect.
Then in Ezekiel 28:14 we read, "You were the anointed cherub who covers.
This is a pregnant verse in terms of the implications. First, he is called the anointed cherub and the word we have for anointed is the Hebrew word meshiach.
What is our English translation of that? It is Messiah. And Messiah refers to whom? It refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Messiah simply means the anointed one. But it shows that this role Lucifer held prior to the fall was a special role. He has a unique role. He was a cherub, a class of angel that is very powerful, probably the highest of all of the angels were the cherubs.
In Hebrew to make a plural imis added, so when you read cherubim, that means cherubs. The cherubs are intimately located in the throne of God and are almost always associated with His righteousness justice.
So here is this angelic creature, the most beautiful and intelligent of all creatures who has terminology used about him that is related to priestly function. He is the anointed cherub who covers. And that term covering again, remember there is the covering of sin on the mercy seat in the ark of the covenant. This is a term that carries with it the sense of atonement. There are all kinds of nuances to these words that are used to describe Lucifer’s function prior to the fall that speak of some kind of a priestly role.
The verse goes on to say, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire “You were blameless in your ways
From the day you were created
Until unrighteousness was found in you.
God created Lucifer perfect. But like all rational creatures that God creates he had volition, and he exercised his volition against God one day, and unrighteousness, that means he violated the perfect righteousness of God, unrighteousness was found in you.
And then Ezekiel 28:16 is interesting, “By the abundance of your trade, now we are talking about Tyre. Tyre was a major commercial center in the ancient world. It was on the Mediterranean Sea, so ships from Egypt and all around the Mediterranean, from Greece, from Rome, from as far away as Spain, all brought their goods to Tyre. It was a commercial center, a lot of trade going on.
Ezekiel uses this imagery of trade and says, by the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence.
What was Lucifer’s trade, what was his commerce? We can’t say for sure, but I would suggest, because of the priestly terminology used to describe him, what he is trading, what he is trafficking in, he is carrying the praise and worship of the angelic host to God. The High Priest of Israel would be carrying the praise and worship of the people of Israel to God. The High Priest is the representative of all the people and they approach Him through the High Priest.
So all the angels would approach God through Lucifer as their High Priest, and as he trafficked in that trade, what happened was, he decided he wanted all of that praise and worship for himself instead of giving it to God. That is the image we have here. He begins to want to be like God. The result is given half way through Ezekiel 28:16
And you sinned;
Therefore I have cast you as profane
From the mountain of God.
And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub,
That same terminology there,
From the midst of the stones of fire.
“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground; 38.40
I put you before kings,
That they may see you.
“By the multitude of your iniquities,
In the unrighteousness of your trade
You profaned your sanctuaries.
Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you;
It has consumed you,
And it goes from there to describe the rest of the judgment.
Now let’s turn over to Isaiah 14 to see a little more detail in the origination of sin amongst the angels. This is the original introduction of sin into creation. Prior to this there was no sin.
How you have fallen from heaven
O Lucifer, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the earth,
You who have weakened the nations!
So this starts off where Ezekiel 28 stops.
Isaiah 14:13 But you said in your heart, and here we have the sin of Lucifer. I will ascend to heaven. Here we have the five ‘I wills’ he is asserting his will over against God’s will.
That is why I define the sin nature as essentially that inclination of asserting independence from God. It is saying, I will, rather than Thou will. That is the essence of sin: I am the final authority, not God.
I will ascend to heaven, I will raise my throne above the stars of God. The stars of God is a term in the Old Testament for the angels. He wanted to rule the angels. I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north;
Isaiah 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.
This is Lucifer’s sin, it is characterized by the assertion of independence or autonomy. He wants to be completely independent of God and his claim is that he can rule the creation, he can rule the angels, he just want to go off on his own and his claim is that he has enough intelligence and enough power to rule the creation on his own without any interference from God. God will show in the course of the angelic conflict that this is a completely fraudulent claim, that nothing can be accomplished on the basis of arrogance, accomplishment comes only on the basis of humility which is understanding our right relationship with God and being dependent upon Him.
Sin originated in the universe when Lucifer first sinned. That is point 3 in the doctrine of the sin nature, Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14. We do not know exactly when this took place. It was sometime before Genesis 1:2, in that interlude between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 when Lucifer fell and took one third of the angels with him. We don’t know how long a period of time that took. My inclination is a short period of time, some people want to put a lot of time there but I don’t think it took a lot of time.
It didn’t take a long time for man, once he sinned for everything to fall apart so I don’t think it took a lot of time and I think everything happened very rapidly and God had to judge the universe. That is where Genesis 1:2 picks up, and the terminology there, we will pick up back in Genesis 1:1 because we are going to get into Genesis 3 in a minute.
The earth was formless and void, tohu wa bohuis the phrase typically used in the scripture to describe a state of judgment, darkness was over the surface of the deep darkness is also used in scripture in antithesis to God and to perfection and to indicate sinfulness and the deep is used symbolically as a representation of chaos, anarchy and sin.
And the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. This indicates an absolute regeneration of the earth after the judgment of Satan. So what comes up afterwards has nothing to do with what took place before. It is a complete, total renovation of the planet in preparation for the creation of man.
Sin originated with Lucifer’s first sin, there was a judgment and then Lucifer made his claim, how can a just, loving God send His creatures to the lake of fire without giving them the opportunity to prove what they can do, so God is going to give Lucifer an extended opportunity and that is human history.
3. Sin is an act of volition against God, producing sins in four categories. Sins of commission, omission, ignorance and cognizance.
Sins of commission are when you actively perform or engage in an overt, mental or verbal act which violates the character of God.
A sin of omission is a sin because you fail to attain the highest standards revealed by God. For example, you have the opportunity to demonstrate impersonal love to someone, love your neighbor as yourself, and you don’t hate them, you don’t hurt them; you just don’t do anything. You just ignore the situation. That is a sin of omission. By failing to do what you should have done you are sinning.
Then there are sins of ignorance, doing something you did not know was a sin. Nevertheless, you wanted to do it and you did it. Because you wanted to do it you are culpable. Ignorance is not an excuse. Just because you did not know that there is a shell in the chamber of a 45 when you pointed it at somebody and pulled the trigger, doesn’t bring them back to life. Ignorance is never an excuse. Even if you do not know it is a sin, you still violate the absolute standard of God.
Sins of cognizance are sins you commit knowing they are sins.
Jesus Christ paid the penalty on the cross for every single sin in every single category. He paid the price for sins of omission, commission, ignorance and cognizance. Jesus Christ paid the price for every single sin in history.
5. As we have seen, sin is ultimately an act of independence against God. So all sins are first and foremost against God, no matter who else they might affect. You might murder someone and that is obviously a sin against them, but it is first and foremost a sin against God. When David confessed his sins of adultery with Bathsheba, the cover up of the conspiratorial murder of her husband Uriah, when it was all said and done, and hundreds of people were affected by his sin, he said, Lord, against Thee and Thee only have I sinned. Sin doesn’t have to do with violating someone else’s standards. You don’t sin against your husband’s standards or your wife’s standards. Sin is a theological term and relates to violation of God’s standards.
We’ve already talked about how sin originated in the angelic realm in the universe, and now we are going to talk about how sin originated in the human race in relation to Adam’s original sin in the garden.
When God created Adam and Ishah, she did not get the name Eve until after the Fall when she began to have children, before that she was known as Ishah.
Man was originally created in the image and likeness of God according to Genesis 1: 26 & 27. Male and female, both are equally in the image of God. They were created perfect. They had absolute righteousness even though this was an untested or unconfirmed righteousness.
They were placed in perfect environment and God provided everything that they would need to supply every single necessity that could be imagined. God placed them in the garden and He said in Genesis 2:16 & 17: The Lord God commanded the man saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
We have to look at a couple of things as we note this prohibition. First of all, God supplied all kinds of food for Adam and Ishah. There was nothing inherent in the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that made it wrong. It was not poison, there was not something in it that changed them. It was not physically wrong, it was wrong because God said it was wrong.
Also, it was not an allegory for sex. Somebody will probably tell you that at some point so I have to always add that. I remember an argument I got into with somebody years ago and they tried to tell me I didn’t know what I was talking about because obviously none of this can be taken literally and what God was saying here was that they couldn’t have sex. Well, if God was saying they couldn’t have sex, why did He tell them to multiply and fill the earth?
This is taken literally, there was a literal tree and literal fruit, but it was not poisonous. It was not necessarily an apple, it was probably a pomegranate, a fig, date, maybe even a peach. Who knows what it was.
What it was is not the issue; what it represented is the issue. The issue was obedience or disobedience to God, that is what made it sinful, not that there was something inherently wrong with the fruit. That is an important thing to think about. Most of us want to think about sin as something that is inherently wrong.
There are a lot of things we do that are wrong in our assertion of independence from God. That is what made it sinful. What made it wrong is that God said it was wrong, and eating the fruit was man saying, I know more than God knows. And I will make the determination for my own life in opposition to God.
So there was a test, the test of the tree. And there is a penalty and the penalty is stated here in a very strong Hebrew phrase, the use of the qal imperative plus a qal infinitive absolute.
In the Hebrew if you take a qal imperative of prohibition plus a qal infinitive absolute, that emphasizes the certainty of the prohibition. I have taken time in the past, I’m, not going to do it now, going through some passages in Genesis where there is an identical grammatical construction. It has been said that this should be translated, because of the double verb here, dying you will die. But I have demonstrated that if you translate this kind of semantic construction anywhere else in the scriptures it is nonsense.
What this means is, that at the moment of eating the fruit, death would occur. The death that occurred was spiritual death, defined as separation from God. That is the essential meaning of death, it is not cessation of existence, but separation. Spiritual death is the cause of all other kinds of death.
The Bible speaks of six other kinds of death. These are physical death, which is the separation of the soul from the body, sexual death, which is the loss of the function of reproductive ability.
There is positional death for the believer in which the believer is identified with death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ at the baptism by means of the Holy Spirit at the instant of salvation.
There is operational death which is the dead faith in James 2:14-26. There is carnal or temporal death when the believer is out of fellowship and operating under the sin nature as opposed to the filling of the Holy Spirit.
And finally there is the culmination for the unbeliever, eternal condemnation, which is called the second death.
There would be none of these deaths in creation without spiritual death. All other categories of death are the result of spiritual death. Spiritual death is the penalty for sin and affects the entire dimension of creation. We see that in the consequences that are spelled out in the curse starting in Genesis 3:14 which deals with the consequences in time.
As I have said in the past spiritual death is p-1, penalty 1. All other forms of death, except the second death which affects eternity, I call p2, the sin penalty in space time history. In our day-to-day experience when we disobey God there are consequences that we go through.
Jesus Christ paid the penalty of spiritual death for sin on the cross, He died spiritually, it was a spiritual substitutionary atonement.
Physical death is not the penalty for sin, spiritual death is, so it was not Christ’s physical death on the cross that paid our penalty, it was His spiritual death on the cross when He was separated from God the Father between 12 noon and 3pm when God the Father put the earth in darkness and all the sins of the world were poured out on Jesus Christ and He was separated from the Father and He cried out, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
That is when the sin penalty was paid, it was not paid when He died physically, it was paid during those three hours on the cross when there was darkness on the earth and all other sins were dealt with as a result of that.
That is why we have to confess our sins, we still have temporal consequences that were not paid for on the cross.
There are certain consequences spelled out by God in Genesis 3:14-19 called the curse. This is a negative curse that God placed on the planet and creation and man because of sin.
First of all, to the serpent in Genesis 3:14, The Lord God said to the serpent, because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life;
If you have a New American Standard Version you will notice that these verses are indented, and they are indented because they are stated in Hebrew as poetry. Moses wrote it that way to give it a little more emphasis. What this is saying is that at the moment of the curse there was a major physiological transformation in the serpent. After this point he no longer would move about the way that he did before, he got a new system of locomotion and from this moment serpents would travel on their scuts as opposed to legs or whatever form of locomotion they had prior to the Fall.
God changed their physiological structure at this point in order to reflect this change. One consequence of sin in time is that the very physiology of the serpent would change.
And talking to the serpent He said in Genesis 3:14 I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed;
Your seed, Satan, is all who would follow Lucifer. Lucifer was the serpent, we know that from various passages of scripture. His seed is all who would follow him, all who would be involved in the cosmic system.
Her seed refers to the coming Messiah. This is the first promise, called the proto evangellium, the first promise of the gospel.
And then God said, he shall bruise you on the head, this is a fatal wound, which occurred when Jesus Christ bruised Satan on the head at the cross.
And you, meaning the serpent, shall bruise him on the heel. It would just be a temporary wounding. And that is what took place at the cross. Satan did have a temporary victory, but it was not a conclusive victory.
Now we are going to spell out the consequences to the woman, To the woman He said in Genesis 3:16 I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth,
Now this doesn’t say, ladies, that childbirth is part of the curse. You might have thought so at some point but God intended woman to bear children from the time of her inception. That is why God told Adam and the woman in the garden to be fruitful and multiply. That was intended from day one. The fact that they did not have children in the garden could be for any number of reasons. It could be that they weren’t there long enough, and it could be that God in His sovereignty prevented pregnancy from occurring until they had the opportunity to go through the test. For whatever reason, pregnancy was postponed.
Now there is going to be a penalty. Remember, let’s go back a little: God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden. He gave them what some people call the dominion mandate. He said you are to go forth, you are to be fruitful and multiply, and subdue the earth. This is part of the original creation mandate given by God to the human race. The curse is related to the fact that from this point on, because of sin, it would be virtually impossible for man to fulfill that mandate. Before the fall the fulfillment of that mandate was easy. After the fall it would be an obstacle. So in terms of the first part, be fruitful and multiply, the woman is now going to have pain in childbirth, suffering and misery in going through all the labor pains involved in giving birth to a child.
The man, in fulfilling the mandate, is going to go through his own arena of difficulty. Remember, you are to be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth. Before the fall man guarded the garden, he cultivated it, he didn’t have any problem. He wasn’t in conflict with any creation. After the fall he is in conflict with creation. He is not able to subdue the earth fully because he has got to fight thorns, and thistles, and weeds and he is in a battle with creation.
So the curse relates back to the original purpose for man and it affects the woman. She is going to be have pain and difficulty fulfilling her part and the man in fulfilling his part.
And further for the woman it says, your desire will be for your husband, now that is not sexual desire, some people take it that way but that is not what that word means in the Hebrew. The word is tesukatek,it is the same word God used when speaking to Cain in Genesis 4:7 when God told him about the temptation he was going through, and He told Cain, if you do not do well sin is crouching at the door and it’s desire is for you. It is the same word, desire, desire to control, a desire to master, a desire to manipulate.
What we see here is that sin is going to impact human relationships. Instead of peace and harmony they will be characterized by continuous struggle for dominion and authority and leadership. Your desire shall be for your husband, you are going to want to rule the house, and he will rule over you. The word for rule here is a word that implies tyrannical control. What we see here is that generally speaking, in history, this doesn’t mean, ladies, that every one of you is a contentious woman who wants to go out and dominate your husband, but that is the general tendency of the female of the species throughout human history. And to whatever degree you have been taught biblical principles you can overcome that.
That is the whole purpose of sanctification, rolling back the various aspects of the curse. The same thing is true for the husband. The indication here is that men (and you can see this in history) men will want to gain a tyrannical control over women. That is played out in history and can be radically transformed with the acquisition of doctrine.
Then man has to deal with the fact that nature is being transformed. There is an aspect of sin that impacts creation. Thorns and thistles rise up; in fact every category of botany, zoology and anthropology are affected and impacted by the curse. All the animals were originally herbivores, but after the fall they become carnivores. Their dental structure, their digestive system changes, it is a radical transformation.
What I want you to understand from this is the exceeding sinfulness of sin and that when Adam disobeyed God it radically transformed creation from A to Z. Every aspect of creation was affected. Every aspect of life, plant life, animal life, human life, relationships, everything is radically transformed. Even to the extent of changing physiological structures. So the earth after the fall bore little resemblance to what it was like before the fall.
And of course, God provided the perfect solution in Jesus Christ who began the process of rolling back the curse because He is the one who died to pay the penalty and this is rolled back sequentially.
It starts with the redemption of mankind. Then you see it historically with the millennial kingdom where part of the curse is rolled back so the lion lied down with the lamb, a child can put his hand in a cobras den, and then it rolls back even further after the great white throne judgment when all sin is purged from the heavens and the earth and God creates a new heaven and a new earth. That is how all this fits in.
We got down to point six, we have eight more points to go in the doctrine of sin and the sin nature and we will continue that next Sunday morning.