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ADAM’S SIN AND GOD’S GRACE
LESSON II., JAN. 14, GEN. 3:1-15
Golden Text—”For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”—1 Cor. 15:22
In the brief text of this lesson we have recorded the cause and beginning of all the woes that have afflicted humanity for the past six thousand years. It was not a gross and terrible crime that brought the penalty which involved us all, but a simple act of disobedience on the part of our first parents against the righteous and rightful authority of an all-wise and loving Creator, the penalty of which act was death.
This was the extreme penalty of the divine law, and its prompt infliction for the very first offense—an offense too, which, in comparison with other sins that have since stained the race, was a light one—is a clear declaration of the Creator that only a perfectly clean creation shall be accounted worthy to abide forever. A celebrated photographer will not permit a single picture to leave his gallery which is not up to the standard of perfection, even if the party for whom it was taken is pleased with it. Every photograph must reflect credit upon the artist. Just so it is with the divine artist:
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every creature to whom eternal life is granted must do credit to its great author; otherwise he shall not survive. God’s work must be perfect, and nothing short of perfection can find favor in his eyes.—Psa. 18:30; Hab. 1:13; Psa. 5:4,5.
The test of character must necessarily be applied to every intelligent creature possessed of a free moral agency—in the image of God. In the case of our first parents it was a very simple test. The tempter was not necessary to the testing: the tree in the midst of the garden, and the divine prohibition of the tasting or handling of it were the test. The tempter urged the course of disloyalty; and this God permitted, since both the tempter and the tempted were free moral agents, and both were subjects of the test. In assuming that position, Satan also, as a free moral agent, was manifesting his disposition to evil—proving himself disloyal to his Creator and a traitor to his government. The serpent was an irrational, and therefore an irresponsible, instrument of the tempter, and in choosing such an instrument Satan unwittingly chose an apt symbol of his own subtle, cunning and crafty disposition. The penalty pronounced upon the serpent could make no real difference to the unreasoning creature, but in the words apparently addressed to it, in man’s hearing, was couched the solemn verdict of the responsible, wilful sinner, which, for the evil purpose, had used the serpent as his agent.
VERSES 1-3. The prohibition was clearly stated and clearly understood. They were not to eat of the forbidden fruit; neither should they touch it, lest they die. So should we regard every evil thing, not exposing ourselves to temptation, but keeping as far from it as possible.
VERSE 4. The assertion—”Ye shall not surely die”—was a bold contradiction by the “father of lies” of the word of the Almighty—”Ye shall surely die.” And it is marvelous what a host of defenders it has had in the world, even among professed Christians, and in the present day. Nevertheless, the penalty went into effect, and has been executed also upon all posterity ever since—”In the day thou eatest thereof, dying, thou shalt die”—i.e., in the gradual process of decay thou shalt ultimately die. The day to which the Lord referred must have been one of those days of which Peter speaks, saying that with the Lord a thousand years is as one day. (2 Pet. 3:8.) Within that first thousand-year day Adam died at the age of nine hundred and thirty years.
VERSES 5-7. The reward which the deceiver promised was quickly and painfully realized. The offenders could no longer delight in communion and fellowship with God, and with fear and shame they dreaded to meet him; and in the absence of that holy communion with God and with each other in the innocent enjoyments of his grace, the animal nature began to substitute the pleasures of sense. The spiritual nature began to decline and the sensual to develop until they came to realize that the fig-leaf garments were a necessity to virtue and self-respect; and in these they appeared when called to an account by their Maker.
VERSES 8-11. The natural impulse of guilt was to hide from God. But God sought them out and called them to account—not, however, to let summary vengeance fall upon them, but while re-affirming the threatened penalty, to give them a ray of hope. The fig-leaf garments had spoken of penitence and an effort to establish and maintain virtue, and the Lord had a message of comfort for their despairing hearts, notwithstanding the heavy penalty must be borne until the great burden-bearer, “the seed of the woman,” should come and assume their load and set them free.
VERSES 12,13. In reply to the inquiry of verse 11 Adam told the plain simple truth, without any effort either to justify himself or to blame any one else. Eve’s reply was likewise truthful. Neither one tried to cover up the sin by lying about it. Nor did they ask for mercy, since they believed that what God had threatened he must of necessity execute; and no hope of a redeemer could have entered their minds.
VERSE 14 is a figurative expression of the penalty of Satan, whose flagrant, wilful sin gave evidence of deliberate and determined disloyalty to God, and that without a shadow of excuse or of subsequent repentance. No longer might he walk upright—respected and honored among the angelic sons of God, but he should be cast down in the dust of humiliation and disgrace; and although he would be permitted to bruise the heel of humanity, ultimately a mighty son of mankind, the seed of the woman, should deal the fatal blow upon his head.
Mark, it is the seed of the woman that shall do this; for he is to be the Son of God, born of a woman, and not a son of Adam,
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in which case he would have been an heir of his taint and penalty, and could not have redeemed us by a spotless sacrifice in our room and stead. God was the life-giver, the father, of the immaculate Son of Mary; and therefore that “holy thing” that was born of her was called the Son of God, as well as the seed of the woman; and because thus, through her, a partaker of the human nature, he was also called a Son of man—of mankind.
This lesson should be studied in the light of its Golden Text, and in the light of the inspired words of Rom. 5:12,18-20.
— January 1, 1894 —