Chapter X


IN CHAPTER VIII we studied man as he was created in the image and likeness of God and discovered from the scriptural account, which is supported by actual facts known to the true scientists, that man was created both in the natural likeness of God and in His moral image. Thus man was a creature brought into existence with capabilities and capacities for fellowship, in a limited way with his Creator. When thus brought forth, he was placed in the garden eastward in Eden. To this place the Lord Jehovah often came and held holy and blessed fellowship with him. As to how long man remained in this innocent, holy condition, we cannot say definitely. Since, however, Seth was born when Adam was one hundred and thirty years of age, since Cain and Abel were born after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and since they were doubtless young men when Cain slew Abel, the probability is that man remained in his innocent state less than one hundred years. More than this we cannot say.

It is for us now to examine man in his fallen or guilty state. By the transgression of one sole commandment-- "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it" (Gen. 2:17)--man plunged headlong from his sinless condition into a state of depravity and rebellion against his Creator. On account of this one act of disobedience man was banished from the Garden, and the fellowship with his Maker was broken. That which has brought wreck and ruin to mankind is therefore the transgression of law.

Was God a ruthless dictator, and would He send those whom He created into a never-ending hell just because they disobeyed this one command? No. He is loving, merciful, and long-suffering. He established righteous laws and powers and then warned His creatures what would result if these were broken. By His wisdom and foreknowledge He knew the grave consequences which would follow when man ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He knew that, the day man disobeyed this command, the death processes would begin to prey upon his body and that the power of sin would enter man's soul and corrupt his moral being. He further knew that, if man were to eat of the forbidden fruit, Satan would take advantage of him, would take the rulership over this earth from man, and that from that day he would be in Satan's grip. God therefore warned Adam concerning these grave consequences, saying, "The day thou eatest, dying thou shalt surely die" (literal translation).

Eve was deceived. Adam was not. Satan in his cunning way used the serpent to beguile Eve, making her believe that God was withholding certain things from her which were most highly desirable and that He did not want her to be so wise as He. The serpent said to her, "Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil." She believed Satan's lie. She was convinced that God's motive in forbidding them to eat of the tree was to keep them from having wisdom and knowledge such as He had.

When Eve saw "that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat."

Before we can understand man in his present state of condition, we must investigate the significance of law.


The suggestion of law immediately implies a lawgiver, subjects to be obedient to said law, the power of the lawgiver to enforce his enactment, and a general command or expression of the will of the lawgiver.

A. Law In General

Sometimes we hear mention made of the laws of nature. Such an utterance is self-contradictory, because nature is impersonal and can enact no laws. The lawgiver must be an intelligent personality, and the subjects receiving his laws must likewise be moral beings, who recognize their responsibility to obey such enactments.

B. The Law Of God In Particular

The law of God naturally falls into two divisions: elemental law and positive enactments.

1. Elemental Law

What is meant by elemental law is that which is inwrought or stamped upon the substance and forces of both animate and inanimate creation. We sometimes speak of this elemental law as the nature of the thing about which we are speaking.

a. In the Physical Realm

For instance, we may speak of the nature of certain types of rock, of wood, of water, and of electricity. In fact, we may speak of anything in the material realm as well as of those creatures in the animal kingdom. The chemist has the formula for water and expresses it by means of a certain symbol. He thus thinks of it in terms of its elemental nature. In other words, God stamped upon all material substances the characteristics which we observe in them. When He created them, He gave them their very nature. His doing this was an act of His will. In the material realm, therefore, the very characteristics of the various elements are but the expression of the will of the Creator.

b. In the Human Realm

Since God created man in His own image, He willed to make him what he was. Thus we may say that man in every fiber of his being was an expression of the will of God. He gave him his own constitution and being. It was the Creator's good pleasure to make man a personal, moral being with intellect, sensibility, and freedom of will.

Since man was made in the image of God, as we have already seen, every atom of his being--soul and body--was a reflection of the divine will; for, if God had willed to make him differently, He would have done so. Since he stands related to his Maker as a moral, free agent, and since by the transgression of one prohibition his nature became corrupt, it is obvious that he stands in the relation to his Maker that a subject does to a lawgiver. When God created him, He stamped upon his very being the moral law. This fact is implied by the Apostle Paul in Romans 2:14,15: "(for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them) …" Concerning the early generations of men who at first knew God but refused to retain Him in their knowledge, Paul spoke the following: "Who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practice them" (Rom. 1:32).

Since we recognize the Almighty as the Creator of all things, and since He made everything according to His own will, we might properly say that the entire universe is but the transcript of His will written, not with pen and ink, but by mighty acts of creation wrought in wisdom and in love. As an illustration, though inadequate, of this point, someone has called our attention to a certain copy of the Constitution, the letters of which are so shaded that they bring out the likeness of George Washington, the leading spirit of his day who gave his very life in order that he might establish this land of liberty, freedom, and human rights. In a similar way, everything in the universe is so constituted that to the one who has spiritual perception the likeness of Almighty God is real.

Since there are current certain wrong conceptions regarding the law of God, it becomes necessary to call attention to some facts. This law is not the product of a capricious, arbitrary sovereign. On the contrary, it is the expression of God's very nature. Neither is it a temporary affair, because He is not governed by moods and passions. Moreover, it is not only negative, but positive in its demands, because God requires positive conformity thereto. It involves not only man's heart but his entire being--soul and body. God's law is in existence and operative even though we may not be aware of the fact. It is universal and cannot be confined to any local place or group of individuals. It is not changeable; nor can it be modified, since it is the expression of the will of the Divine Being.

Looked at from the positive side man is the very embodiment of law. He was so created that he might in his attitudes and states of mind, as well as in his actions, carry out the divine will. As he was created, he was capable of demonstrating what was the good and perfect will of God Almighty.

As a moral being man needs something to guide him. What the rails are to the train or the streetcar, the law of God imprinted upon his very soul together with His revealed will in the Scriptures is to the soul of man.

This law is all-comprehensive, being for all times and for all persons. Moreover, it is spiritual in that it requires that man's attitudes and mental states, as well as his actions, be in conformity to the high standards of God's moral nature. His mental or spiritual states should be a reflection of the nature of God--a miniature replica of the nature of the lawgiver. This note Jesus struck in Matthew 5:48: "Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect," James declared, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all" (James 2:10). That man recognizes in his very being the necessity of conformity to the will of God is clearly shown by such a case as that of Josiah, who, when the law of God was read to him, rent his clothes and commanded his attendants, saying, "Go ye, inquire of Jehovah for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found; for great is the wrath of Jehovah that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of Jehovah, to do according unto all that is written in this book" (II Chron. 34:21). Speaking figuratively, the king looked into the mirror of God's Word and saw himself and the people of Israel in a backslidden and sinful condition. The response of his soul to the reading of the Word was that he and his associates were guilty before the God of the universe, against whom they had all sinned. Such was the outcry of an honest heart before his Creator. Job had a similar experience. When the Lord appeared to him, he sank down with a feeling of shame and unworthiness, declaring, "I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; But now mine eye seeth thee; Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5,6). Isaiah was granted a vision of the Almighty sitting upon His throne and governing the world. Realizing within himself his failures and shortcomings, together with his sinfulness, he wept, saying, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of host" (Isa. 6:5).

From what I see in the Scriptures and from my knowledge of human nature, I am convinced that all men everywhere would fall down with a similar confession if they could but see themselves in the light of God's pure holiness. This would be the outcry of a soul under conviction of sin and unworthiness.

2. Positive Enactments

Not only has God stamped upon all nature--both animate and inanimate--His will as we have already seen, but He has given positive enactments and revealed His will in statutes, commandments, ordinances, and ceremonies.

a. Primitive Revelation

That there was a primitive revelation is obvious, as we have already seen, from the fact that Abraham, who lived at least four hundred years before Moses, obeyed God's statutes, commandments, and laws (Gen. 26:5). Melchizedek was the king-priest of God Most High in Jerusalem in the days of Abraham. Obviously the laws governing his kingdom were those that had been given by the God of heaven. There are echoes of various primitive precepts and laws found throughout the Book of Genesis. These of course were expressions of God's will to the people of those early times.

b. The Legal Aspects of the Revelation Given at Sinai

The basic fundamentals of life, law and order, and civil government are found in the Ten commandments (Ex. 20:1-17). In Leviticus 26:1,2 Moses called Israel's attention to her covenant with God. Upon the basis of this relationship he promised her marvelous and unprecedented blessing in the event she was faithful to God (Lev. 26:3-13). On the other hand, she was threatened with chastisement, sore and grievous, in the event of persistent defiance toward His will. Because of her continued rebellion she never enjoyed the promised blessings in the measure specified.

David (Psalm 37) interpreted this passage, giving the spiritual significance of the revelation made at Sinai and urging Israel to look forward continually to the appearance of Jehovah upon the earth to establish these promises. Various predictions are found throughout the Old Testament Scriptures which foretell the appearance of Jehovah upon the earth to rule and to reign from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth. David therefore urged his brethren to dwell in the land, to trust in the Lord, to feed upon His faithfulness, and to wait until the Lord God appeared to establish the ideal kingdom upon the earth.

c. Ceremonial Injunctions of the Revelation at Sinai

The will of God was also expressed in the ceremonial utterances of the law. They were a temporary pictorial representation of the realities which the Lord promised Israel. The nation had to be educated to the point that it could appreciate the verities of its religion.

Thus all the precepts and the ceremonial, sacrificial worship of Israel were but a temporary representation of the will of the Almighty. At that period of her spiritual development, instructions and precepts had to be put into legal form in order to discipline and to prepare the nation for the coming of the Messiah.

C. The Law Of God In Relation To Grace--
The Revelation Of Grace, The Supreme Manifestation Of The Will Of God

In Exodus 34:6,7 the Lord declared His name. In doing this He set forth the fundamental characteristics of His being. "And Jehovah passed by before him, and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth; keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation."

The one with spiritual vision can in this statement see clearly not only the basis for all legal requirements, but also the foundation for the gospel of grace. As we have already seen, the sterner traits of the Almighty are impressed upon physical matter and appear to us as the inexorable, unbending laws of nature. Interwoven into the constitution of man are the elements of righteousness, justice, and the feeling of responsibility of the creature to his Creator. In the Mosaic Code and legislation there are revealed the legalistic, righteous demands of the divine nature. But all of these are only a partial revelation of the character of the Almighty. In the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4f) God sent His own Son, born under the law born of a woman in order to reveal the height, the depth, the length, and the breadth of His all-embracing, consuming love, grace, and mercy.

In the days of Jesus of Nazareth, legalism and a punctilious observance of, not only the requirements of the law, but also of multitudinous traditions bound men, hand and foot, so that the real essence of the law was almost obscured. Only those with keen, spiritual perception, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, could still see the divine content of the law. At the proper time in His ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ gave the "Sermon of the Mount" (Matt. chaps. 5,6,7; Luke 6:20-49), re-interpreting Psalm 37, which, as we shall see in Chapter XII, was David's exposition of the law. This message went behind all ceremonialism and legal enactments, laying bare the very spirit and heart of the will of God as revealed in law and precept. A careful study of these chapters impresses one with the fact that He laid the emphasis, not upon the doing of certain things, but upon the state or condition of the heart. He introduced His message--His great Manifesto--with the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor in spirit … Blessed are they that mourn … Blessed are the meek … Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness … "Gradually He passed from an examination of the spiritual condition of the heart to a discussion of the basic, fundamental attitudes of the soul expressed in terms of action. Throughout His ministry He continually laid emphasis upon the spiritual interpretation of religion. The keynote of all His preaching was that He did not come to destroy the law and the prophets but to fulfill them--to bring to realization the spirit and content of the will of God as expressed in former revelations. The Apostle John correctly declared, "The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). Every word, act, deed, and teaching of the Master was an expression of grace, mercy, and truth. At the close of His life Philip requested of Jesus, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us" (John 14:8). In reply the Master said, "have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father?" (John 14:9). This passage simply means that, had God the Father entered the world as Jesus had done, He would have acted just as Jesus did. He would have taught as He did. His reaction to various persons and situations would have been exactly the same as that of Jesus. In Christ the complete revelation of God to man was made.

To summarize the situation, let us remember the fact that God revealed His everlasting power and divinity by the material world. He stamped the universe with the impress of His being in the so-called laws of nature. Moreover, man's moral constitution now is but the marred reflection of the image of the Almighty. But it must be remembered that He is infinite, whereas the creature is finite and utterly dependent upon his Maker. The will of God was expressed in legalistic and ceremonial form in the revelation made by God to Moses. The complete disclosure of His character, however, was made in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord and Master.

In Chapter VIII we saw that man was created in the image of his Maker, with a bent toward righteousness and holiness. As suggested elsewhere, he might have continued in this condition, having communion and fellowship with God if he had not transgressed.

D. Transgression And Its Effect Upon Man

The heart of man was God-centered when he was created. By disobeying the one prohibition placed upon him, he wrecked his nature and, figuratively speaking, threw himself off center. He opposed his will to that of God on one point only. This one act of disobedience, however, was sufficient to wreck his nature and to break the communion and fellowship with his Maker (Gen. 3:1f). The day he transgressed, sin began to prey upon his body, and as a result physical and spiritual death began that very day.

Man is now in the sinful condition. He is born in sin. "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me" (Ps. 51:5) Jeremiah gave us an X-ray picture of the human heart: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9). From the depths of his being there arise evil thoughts and desires which result in corrupt and lawless actions. "For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings" (Matt. 15:19). In Hebrews 3:12 the inspired writer spoke of the heart as being evil, for out of it unbelief arises. The Lord Jesus Christ, in talking to His disciples, said, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13). In this utterance we see reflected the conviction that man's heart is evil--not as it was originally.

We frequently hear men speak of "the heart's deep well." Experience teaches man that down in the depths of his being there is a cesspool of sin from which come forth at various times every immoral and corrupt thought imaginable. The depravity of man's present condition is proved by the fact that often in his dreams he sees, says, and does things that are entirely foreign to his past experience and to his waking hours. I am aware of the fact that many of them are the result of his former experiences, brought up into the field of consciousness by the subconscious mind-activity. But this psychological explanation cannot account for those things in dreams that are entirely foreign to his experiences. The only true explanation of them is that they are the result of the fallen, corrupt nature of man which was brought about by the Fall.

The Scriptures recognize the possibility of man's committing sin unwittingly. For instance, in Numbers 15:28 provision is made for such wrongs. David likewise realized that there are sins of which one may unconsciously be guilty. In clear tones he therefore asks, "Who can discern his errors? Clear thou me from hidden faults" (Ps. 19:12). These sins are very subtle. No person can claim to be free from them. There are therefore sins of omission as well as those of commission.

The ever-seeing eyes of the omniscient God observe all men. In Psalms 14 and 53 the writer declared that there is not a single righteous person--no, not one. All are guilty before God.

  1. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.
    They are corrupt, they have done abominable Works;
    There is none that doeth good.

  2. Jehovah looked down from heaven upon the children of men,
    To see if there were any that did understand,
    That did seek after God.

  3. They are all gone aside; they are together become filthy;
    There is none that doeth good, no not one.

  4. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge,
    Who eat up my people as they eat bread,
    And call not upon Jehovah? (Ps. 14:1-4).

The Scriptures constantly speak of man's sinning. The fundamental idea of this word may be seen in Judges 20:16: "Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men left-handed; every one could sling stones at a hair-breadth, and not miss." This word in our passage is translated "and not miss." It of course is taken from archery. There was a mark at which someone was shooting. If he hit, he was said not to sin; if he missed, he was said to sin. These men of Benjamin could throw a stone at a hair-breadth and not miss the mark--not sin. The glory of God and doing His perfect will are the mark at which we should aim. If our very being were perfectly God-centered every moment, we would never sin. But since there is indeed no one who, in thought, disposition, will, or in act, does the will of God completely, there is no one who is free from sin. All are out of harmony with the holiness of God and are therefore sinners.

Another term in the Old Testament that is often used to express the idea of wrongdoing and man's sinning is the word rendered
transgression. It primarily means to separate, to pull apart, to revolt, and to disobey. For instance, Moab is said to have transgressed against Israel in breaking the treaty which existed between the two countries (II Kings 1:1). In this passage the idea of separation, pulling off, and breaking covenant obligations and vows stand out prominently. The same conception is to be found whenever this word is applied to man's wrong acts in relation to God. Moses and the prophets assumed that all Israel, as well as all men, are guilty of thus breaking this covenant relation with God and revolting against Him.

Still another word in the Hebrew text is rendered "have done wickedly." This word points to the character of the thing done. There is another word in the Hebrew which carries the idea of being "bent away from," and which is frequently translated
iniquity. This word represents most accurately the condition of the human heart since sin entered the world. As stated before, the heart of man originally was turned toward God. His delight was to do his Maker's will.

Since his soul is no longer God-centered, he is said to be bent away from his Maker and of course naturally does things that are unequal, unjust, and unrighteous.

In the Greek language there are various terms to express the different shades of meaning of the outworking of the corrupt, evil heart. To these I cannot turn because of lack of space. But what has been said is sufficient to show man's present depraved condition. In the language of the Apostle Paul (Eph. 2:1), man is "dead through ... trespasses and sins."

The classic passage on man's present condition is found in Romans 5:12--8:39.¹ This section constitutes a single unit and must be studied as such in order to understand the import of this fundamental teaching. In 5:12-14 appears a statement regarding the entrance of sin into the world.

12 Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned:--13 for until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression, who is a figure of him that was to come.

Through the one act of disobedience of Adam, sin, which was already in the world but which had never affected man up to that time, entered and along with it came death. Death indeed came to all men "for that all sinned." In what sense did we all sin in Adam? In a manner, incomprehensible to us, we were actually in Adam, and in his sinning we sinned--though of course we were unconscious of it. There possibly is a hint, however, regarding our connection with him and our being in him, found in the statement, "Jehovah God formed man ... and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [the breath of lives (literally rendered)]" (Gen. 2:7). As shown in the brackets within the quotation, the word
life in the original is plural. This form lends strong confirmation to the position that the entire human family was in Adam and in his sinning all of us sinned as Paul states: "for that all sinned."

My interpretation of the facts as they are presented in the Scriptures is what is usually designated as "The Augustinian Theory, or Theory of Adam's Natural Headship. "It was held by Augustine, Tertullian, Hilary, and Ambrose--in the early Christian centuries. It is the hypothesis held by the Reformers except Zwingli. Dr. A.G. Strong states it tersely in the following words: "It holds that God imputes the sin of Adam immediately to all his posterity, in virtue of that organic unity of mankind by which the whole race at the time of Adam's transgression existed, not individually, but seminally, in him as its head. The total life of humanity was then in Adam; the race as yet had its being only in him. Its essence was not yet individualized; its forces were not yet distributed; the powers which now exist in separate men were then unified and localized in Adam; Adam's will was yet the will of the species. In Adam's free act, the will of the race revolted from God and the nature of the race corrupted itself. The nature which we now possess is the same nature that corrupted itself in Adam--'not the same in kind merely, but the same as flowing to us continuously from him.'"


¹ For a full discussion of this passage, see Chapter IX

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