Dr. S. Lewis Johnson continues a five-part, conceptual study of the impact of sin on God's Creation. The altered relationship between God, man and woman as a result of man's disobedience are discussed.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for this evening and the opportunity that is before us of studying the Scriptures together. We thank Thee for the revelation in the Bible of the fall of man because it explains to us, Lord, so much about ourselves, and so much about the world, and so much about our great God, and his redemptive program. And we thank Thee for the truth that has come to us of our own participation in that fall: of our own sin, and guilt, and condemnation. And we thank Thee for the revelation of that which meets our needs, the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Again, we ask that Thou would give us guidance and help and enablement as we study together in this time. We pray that Thou wilt minister to the needs of each one of us who is present. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
[Message] Now our subject tonight is the first of our two or three studies in the “Effects of the Fall” and we’re turning to Genesis chapter 3, and I’d like to read verses 8 through 19 for our Scripture reading. Remember in the last study, we looked at the opening verses of chapter 3 in which Moses describes for us the historic fall of man in the garden. And now, that account continues and, if you will, I may make just a few comments as we go along and then we’ll turn to the outline, which I have before you on this transparency in the overhead projector. In verse 8,
“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (It is evidence from this that there is a sense of guilt that has come to both Adam and Eve.) And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, ‘Where art thou?’ (This is one of the great illustrations of the fact that all of God’s work begins with God. He takes the initiative in seeking out fallen man.) And he said, ‘I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself’. And he said, ‘Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?’ And the man said, ‘The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat’. (Characteristic of man is to seek to find the excuse for his sin in someone else.) And the LORD God said unto the woman, ‘What is this that thou hast done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat’. (Someone said, “The man blamed the woman. The woman blamed the serpent. The serpent hadn’t a leg to stand on [Laughter].) And the LORD God said unto the serpent, ‘Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel’. (It’s often been claimed that this is simply a general statement concerning the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman and a prophesying of the war or struggle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent down through the centuries. And this text has often been interpreted as simply a reference to the struggle between those who belong to the Lord God and those who do not. But you will notice if you read this text carefully, that what is stated in that way is individualized in the last part of that verse. And so, we are justified in finding an individual aspect to this great Prote-Evangelium of Genesis 3:15.) Unto the woman he said, ‘I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee’. And unto Adam he said, ‘Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, ‘Thou shalt not eat of it’: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (You notice that God includes the physical creation in the judgment of man for his sin, because man is linked with the creation. The destiny of man and the destiny of the creation are a common destiny. That is why the redemption that is worked out in man will ultimately find its expression in the physical universe. And Paul, in Romans chapter 8, speaks about the universe groaning and travailing in pain together up to the present time waiting for the redemption. That is, the adoption of the body or the adoption, the redemption of the body, so that the redemption of the body of believers, which is in the future, shall ultimately be followed by the redemption of the whole creation. Now the judgment on the creation is described in the last words.) Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat of the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return'”.
That’s the biblical basis for the statement in Hebrews, “It is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment”. The effects of the Fall: imputation of sin’s penalty and original sin. The world and much of the church also, has lost its sense of sin, lost its sense of guilt, lost its sense of pollution, it has lost its sense of the transmission of sin and guilt to all men and, also, it has lost its sense of judgment.
James Stewart, some years ago, said about modern man and I think he was right, “Question him about sin and as likely as not, you will encounter the withering supercilious challenge. Surely you’re not going to raise that old bogey, sin? The mere moonshine of an antediluvian Calvinism and even granting the fact of human frailty — are not Abana and Pharpar better than all the river waters of Israel, our native humanism better than any outmoded Jordan? Man’s lofty opinion of himself survives every accumulation of contrary evidence”.
Perhaps nothing so illustrates the modern man’s lost sense of sin as the contrast between present day liberal evangelism and historic evangelism. Historic evangelism has been saying, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved”. But modern evangelism says, “You have been elected and saved in Christ. Believe it.” So that universalism has become the plague of the Christian church. Universalism, in one of the criticisms that one might make of it, assumes that all men are going to be saved and actually are in a saved condition at the present time. And all that it is necessary for a preacher to do is just to point out to them their election and also their salvation through the work that Christ has accomplished.
Now we have looked at man’s fall into sin and we have seen that it arose because there was an internal inclining to evil on the part of Adam and Eve, which was followed by an external volition. And this was true of both; both Eve and Adam. There was first an internal inclining, a desiring, and the sin took place then. The issue of it was the actual taking of the fruit of the tree and the eating of it. And then we defined sin last time as unbelief, leading to rebellion, and issuing and lack of conformity to the moral law of God. Tonight, we want to turn to the first of two or three studies on the effects of the fall or man in a state of sin.
Now in the account that we have just read, you notice that after the fall, Adam and Eve run in the age old path of self-vindication. And God brings it all to an end in a threefold judgment. There is first, the judgment of the serpent in verses 14 and 15, and what is stated very simply is this: the serpent is cursed. He is the tool of the evil one or Satan. Now the Bible goes onto tell us, as we compare Scripture with Scripture that Satan is the true great serpent. That identification is finally made without question in Revelation chapter 12. He’s the true culprit, but he uses the physical serpent as his tool. Now Satan, the true culprit, is to be crushed. The Hebrew is “he shall crush thee as to the head”; ou ya shuwph kah ro’sh. There is a natural suggestiveness in the judgment in that the serpent bites the heel of the seed of the woman. Dielitch points out that the serpent is the only animal having a bony skeleton that goes upon its belly. And there may be some connection between the uniqueness of the serpent and this biblical revelation. The Apostle Paul, you know, in Romans chapter 16 and verse 20, refers to the ultimate bruising as being future, in Romans chapter 16 and verse 20. So the serpent is cursed and destined to go upon its belly for the remainder of its existence.
Now the woman’s judgment is described in the 16th verse and, if we may sum this up in just a statement, I’m not altogether certain of every feature of this. The Bible seems to say that true subordination is to be submission as a result of the fall. But, nevertheless, equality still exists between the man and the woman. The fact that the woman is to be in submission is not in the Bible intended to suggest that she is inferior to the man. Submission may exist within equality and the final proof of that is the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ submits himself to the Father as the mediatorial Son, but is nevertheless himself, equal with the Father in all of his attributes and powers and in the quality of his being. So that submission is not a sign of inequality. That’s very important. That is I think the main reason why many today have failed to understand the biblical teaching and are suggesting certain things about women and men that are not true to the Bible. They have the mistaken idea that if we have submission, we have inequality. And since we have equality, it’s obvious that submission must go.
The man’s judgment is described in verses 17 through 24 and Adam’s fall resulted in physical, moral, and local changes. The physical changes are described in verses 17 through 19. There the ground is cursed which leads to a life of toil and infirmity and the result is physical death. The moral changes are described in verses 8 through 12 in the preceding context because there we see Adam and Eve hiding themselves. They have the sense of guilt. They feel the reproach of sin and they also make excuses. Now the striking thing about this is, is that the self-deprivation of Adam and of Eve resulted from just one sin.
Now I made the statement, I think, last time if I didn’t, I’ll make it now, that the key sin is not the sin of Eve, but the sin of Adam. Now nothing happened so far as we know from Genesis chapter 3 when Eve sinned other than that she herself fell. But when Adam fell, then it is obvious that something that is earth shattering has taken place. In a sense, when Adam sinned, all hell broke loose because Adam is the representative man. He’s the federal head of the creation. That’s why in Romans chapter 5, verse 12, Paul says, “For this cause as through one man sin entered into the world”. So Eve’s sin was significant so far as she was concerned, but Adam’s sin is significant for the whole race since the race is in Adam. He is the federal head.
Now this is the way God designed things. In his designing it this way, he did not suggest that Eve was inferior, but rather that Adam is the head of the race, the representative head. The reason for it becomes obvious as the Bible unfolds because there is going to be another head of the race come along, a last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ. And so Adam the first corresponds to Adam the last. Now Eve’s sin is significant and it was by her agency that Adam sinned, but it was he who sinned the significant sin.
Now this was one sin, but this one sin changed the chief end of the creature from God to himself and the chief end controls the whole stream of moral actions. Everything that we do depends upon what we conceive to be our purpose in being here. If we conceive of ourselves as being here to glorify God, then the actions that we perform as individuals will form a stream of actions dominated by that goal. If we conceive of ourselves being here in order to satisfy our own desires, then all of our actions will be a moral stream designed to move toward that particular goal. So the chief end of man controls the whole stream of his moral actions.
Further, sin provokes God’s righteous anger, the withdrawal of his favor, inducing guilt that’s what Adam and Eve felt, that’s why they hid themselves; induces the fear of judgment and then hostility to God. That’s all expressed here in the fact that Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. They feared judgment. They were hostile to God. They did not come to him and say, “Look what we have done. We need help. We need mercy”. But rather, they fled because they did not want to be in his presence.
Further, sin follows on the slippery downhill plunge to hell. Guilt implies two propositions: first, that there is hopeless bondage to sin. The law has no provision for pardon, thus, guilt widens the breach between the sinner and God. When Adam hid in the garden, he became farther away from God. It was less likely that he would obey God then than formerly and the more he stays away from the Lord God, the more guilt and the more feeling of hostility he has. The more hostility he feels, the more he wants to be away from God, so that we have a never ending circle that leads to ultimately an eternal separation from the Lord God. Endless punishment is the natural result. If one sin brings us into a hopeless state, the punishment must be endless. That’s why eternal punishment is a necessary teaching of the word of God. If we continue to sin, we continue to die. So that hell, my dear friends, will be thick darkness. But it will be a thick darkness that waxes blacker and blacker, and blacker, and blacker, forever and forever, and forever. For the more hell we experience, the more hell we shall experience. The farther we are away from the Lord God, the less we want to be with him and, therefore, the more likely we are for divine judgment. So hell itself is a kind of relationship, which bears within itself, the necessity of increasing separation from the Lord God down through the centuries that’s why the Bible speaks about the blackness of darkness forever. It’s a serious thing to fall into the hands of the living God and it does mean that we shall suffer more and more and more throughout all eternity.
There are people who think of hell as being maybe consigned to the Northwood Country Club for eternity and they rather like to think that if they are consigned to hell, they’ll be happy there because most of their friends will be there too. And so, therefore, they think of hell as being the kind of place that really probably is not so bad after all. It won’t be the same as going to church every day, but all of our friends will be there and it will be very happy for that reason. But that, of course, is not true. That does not have any relationship whatsoever to the Bible. The first place, the Bible says that when we go to hell, we are by ourselves. It doesn’t say anything about the fellowship of the unbelievers in hell. They, so far as the Bible is concerned, are separated from the Lord God and separated from one another. The blackness of darkness forever and ever is God’s way of saying that this punishment is eternal, and endless, and it is personal. It is something that is terrible even to contemplate.
Now the local changes are described in the latter part of the chapter and Adam and Eve are sent out of the Garden of Eden. To sum it up, autonomous man is shown his limits. The chains of time clank on the man who reached for eternity and death, not life, inexorably comes. It’s very popular for people to say that the penalty of sin is threefold. That is, there is spiritual death, there is physical death, and there is eternal death. But strictly speaking, the Bible says that there is only one penalty. That penalty is spiritual death. Now that is evident because in chapter 2, verse 17, God said, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”.
Now Adam and Eve ate of that tree and they did not die physically. They died spiritually, however, because God said, “In the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die”. So a death took place since it was not physical, it is spiritual. It is spiritual death. But now, this spiritual death, this one penalty, is a penalty that manifests itself in physical death or bodily death. And, if no deliverance comes while we are still in this body, as a living body, and in our spiritually dead state, if by the grace of God we do not come to faith in Jesus Christ, then that spiritual death is prolonged throughout eternity as eternal death or the lake of fire; another description given of eternal death. So there is one penalty, spiritual death, but it issues in bodily death for all men except in the coming of the Lord Jesus or some special deliverance like Elijah. So physical death is the common lot of all men because of their spiritual death and if they do not believe then their spiritual death is prolonged to eternal death. But the essential penalty is one. It is spiritual death.
Well, now we turn to the universality of sin and its connection with Adam’s sin. Now this is a big subject and there is a lot that we could say about this and I hope that you will pardon me if I do this rather rapidly. If you’re interested in further information, there are in our tape catalog studies by me and probably by some others in some detail over the effects of the fall. In fact, there are special studies on: “The Effects on the Fall”, “Imputation”, “Original Sin”, “Inability of Man”, “The Wrath of God”, separate studies on each of these. And, in fact, in some of those two part series on some of those individual topics that I’ve just mentioned. As so I suggest that you listen to them for further information.
This is in our series, “Basic Bible Doctrine”, and so we’re not going into quite the detail that we have done in other particular series. But let me read a few verses from Romans chapter 3, beginning with the 9th verse, in order for you to see that sin according to the Apostle Paul, is universal. In the Epistle to the Romans, he has set forth the guilt of the Gentile and the guilt of the Jew and now he proves that all men are sinners by a citation primarily from the Bible, which was for him the Old Testament,
“What then? Are we better than they? No, in no way: for we have before proved both Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace they have not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Now you can see from this that Paul’s view of man is that he is universally sinful. He lays a great deal of stress in verse 11 and 12 and 10 that, “There is none righteous, no, not one. They’ve all gone out of the way, they are together unprofitable; there is none that doeth good. There is not even one that seeketh after God”. There are those who tell us that it is possible for a man to seek after God and make a decision of his own free will. They’ve not read the Apostle Paul very closely. He says, “There is none that seeks after God”. If a man does seek after God and, of course, we all know that does take place, for we have sought after God, it is because God has wrought in our hearts to the effect that we now seek, but men do not naturally seek after God. They flee from him just as Adam and Eve fled from the Lord in the Garden of Eden.
Now you can see from this text that sin is universal among men. Now I’m not going to say anything more about that. I hope that we don’t have to debate that point. It’s clear from this passage and others like: 1 Kings chapter 8, verse 46; Psalm chapter 51 or Psalm 51, verse 5; Ephesians chapter 2, verse 3; John chapter 3, verse 3 and verse 5, that sin is a universal thing.
Now the second thing that we want to look at here is under capital “B” in the outline, the connection with Adam’s sin. Is there any connection between the universality of sin and Adam’s sin? Now the Pelegians, those who believed that men are able to find God in their own efforts, so by their own efforts, and the Socinians, they believed that the first sin was Adam’s sin alone and that we are not in any way effected by Adam’s sin with the exception that Adam left us a rather bad example, and leaving us a rather bad example, that led to our sins. It is a rather striking thing by this theory that everybody down through the years since the time of Adam has followed that bad example. In other words, everybody has universally followed this bad example.
The semi-Pelegians and the earlier Dutch Arminians believe that we inherited a corrupt nature, but that does not involve guilt. In other words, we got a corrupt nature from Adam, but we are not guilty because of that, it’s just something that we inherit because we are men. And the Semipelegians believe that men had the power of themselves to seek after God. We find that in Arminianism today. We find that often in our evangelical churches as well. In the Bible churches, this is very commonly preached, that men have the power of themselves to believe. Not all of the Bible churches, but many of the Bible churches afflicted with Arminianism believe that. That a man may, of himself, seek after God. And, in fact, the first movement toward God is a movement that comes from man.
In the Neo-Orthodoxy, Brunner, for example, has said, “In Adam, all have sinned. That’s the biblical statement, but how? The Bible does not tell us that. The doctrine of original sin is read into it”. So you can see that often the Neo-Orthodox deny any connection. But there are two important passages that assert a connection between Adam’s sin and the sin of men and they are 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 21 and verse 22 and Romans chapter 5, verse 12 and following. Now I’d like to read these verses, because they are important verses showing that there is a connection between Adam’s sin and the universality of human sin. 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 21 and verse 22, says this,
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (Now notice what Paul affirms here in these verses. First of all, he affirms that death is through a man. He says,) for since by man (verse 21) came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (Now that man he identifies in verse 22 as Adam.) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Now he also says that by man came death and that man is Adam. And, furthermore, he says that everybody is subject to death because everybody is dying in Adam: verse 22, “For as in Adam all die”. So it’s clear that the apostle has made a very definite connection between the sin of Adam and the sin of other men. “In Adam all die”, because by man has come death. Now in Romans chapter 5 and verse 12, he says much the same thing. There are lots of other questions that arise concerning that verse, we don’t have time to talk about, but again, I refer you to other studies in the tape ministry. In Romans chapter 5 and verse 12, the text I refer to previously, the apostle writes this, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned”.
Now this passage is founded on the idea that Adam is the figure of Christ. That is what is specifically stated in verse 14, “who is the figure of him that was to come”. Now, of course, Adam and Christ are related to each other primarily by contrast, because in Adam, men die, in Christ, men find life. But there is one way in which Adam and Christ are similar. Their actions affect all who are in them. They are both federal heads. So when Adam died, the race died. When Christ comes and acts and bears the penalty for his people, all of his people are affected by his action. So just as the whole of the race is affected by the sin of Adam, so all related to the last Adam are affected by what he has done for them. They stand as two federal heads. Now in that sense, they are alike. They are individuals whose actions affect a large number of other individuals, that’s the way in which they are alike. So Paul says, “Just as we fell in Adam, so are we justified in Christ”. Justification is by the imputation of Christ’s merits.
Now when we use the term imputation, most of you here in Believers Chapel know what that means, because all of the teachers at one time or another will tell you what imputation means. This word, the Greek word, is logizomai. The Old Testament word is very closely related to it. Has the same sense. This word means to reckon. And so to impute something is to reckon something to another. Justification is by the imputation of the merits of Christ to an individual. When a person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ there is reckoned to him by God the merits of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ so that the righteousness of God is imputed to him; reckoned to him. It is also called a gift. So it is something that is given to him on the basis of the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Incidentally, verse 14 proves that those who have no actual transgression: infants, idiots; perhaps Paul has in his mind, still die for Adam’s sin. And verse 19 indicates very clearly that our legal relations are determined by our relation to the two men. Five times in this section, verses 15 through 19, our condemnation is traced to the act of one man. So what these two texts, 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans chapter 5 point out is that there is a connection between Adam’s sin and the universality of human sin.
Now the ground of the connection: I have already anticipated this and, if you will allow me for the sake of time, the ground of this connection is the union that exists between the individuals and their head. Just as the whole human race is in Adam, so Christ’s people are regarded as being in him. They are two representative men. There is union of man with Adam. There is the union of the redeemed with the Lord Jesus Christ. So there is representative union: representative union with Adam the first, representative union with Adam the last. And so the ground of the connection rests upon the natural and federal headship of the posterity of Adam and the federal headship of the redeemed in our Lord Jesus Christ or our Lord as their federal head.
Incidentally, if you have any question about whether Adam was a federal head, just remember that the promises were given to him and to his seed. For example, though dominion over the whole of the earth. The threats that were given to Adam were threats for his seed proven by the fact that not only does Adam die, but all of his descendants die. So when God said, “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die”, if this was only for Adam then Adam would have died and that would have ended it. But the facts are that Adam died and all Adam’s seed die. Adam’s children died, their children die, and so down through the years their descendants die. That is evidence of the fact that the threats were given to Adam as a federal head so the things that were spoken to Adam, were spoken not simply to him, but to Adam and his seed. So our evils, the death has come to all of Adam’s seed and since we’ve suffered an execution of the penalty and for the satisfaction of justice, our evils are penal evils. They come by virtue of the death of our representative many, many centuries ago.
This principal of representation pervades the Bible and I hope there is no need for us to talk about it. Now again, for the sake of time, let’s move on and I want to talk about the explanation of the connection and try in just about two minutes, if possible, or three minutes, to speak of some of the ways in which this has been understood. In just what way are we said to die in Adam and then to be made alive in Jesus Christ? Well now, we die in Adam because we are part of Adam’s seed. He’s our representative head. Now when we come to explain how we live by virtue of Jesus Christ, different explanations have been given of the relationship between Adam’s sin and individuals who are sinners. That is, the penalty that is inflicted upon us. We know that we suffer death. We know that we are under sin. We know that we are under guilt. Why are we? And what specifically is our guilt?
Now that brings us to the question of the relationship, as I put it here in the outline, the explanation of this connection between Adam and the human race. Now some of the explanations that have been given have been simply, of course, there is no connection. Now we’ve talked about that and we’ve tried to prove that there is a connection. Some have said, “Well, it’s just that we inherit a sinful nature, but that’s not guilt”. We talked about that. Some have said that in Romans chapter 5:12, that’s the text that we’re seeking to explain, that when we read here, “for all have sinned” that we are to understand that to mean simply, “all are corrupt”. That was Calvin’s explanation.
Now Calvin was wrong in this case. He was wrong in some other cases too, but this is one of the cases where he was wrong in his interpretation. “For all have sinned” means a great deal more than that “all are corrupt”. As a matter of fact, that Greek word hamartano — that is used here — is a word that cannot mean to be corrupt. And so, consequently, his explanation is not to be accepted. Others have said the relationship between Adam and men is something like this. When Adam sinned, we were actually in Adam. And they turn to texts like Hebrews chapter 7, verses 9 and 10, where Levi is said to have paid tithes in Abraham to Melchizedek. And so, consequently, it is claimed that when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, we really did sin.
Now these are explanations that are designed to deliver us from the criticism of people who look at Christianity and say, “Ah, the Bible teaches that I’m guilty for something Adam did thousands of years ago. That’s unfair”. And so, realists have sought to make the claim that when it says in Romans 5:12, “For all sinned”, the reference is really to all have sinned in Adam. That is, they were seminally in him. From Adam comes all of the human race physically. He was our natural head as well as our representative head.
Now he was our natural head and we all have genealogies that go back to Adam. If you trace yours only back to the King of England, well, that’s only for a short time. The rest of us trace ours all the back to Adam. We all ought to be in the DAR, or the Colonial Names, or the Society of the Cincinnati, or whatever it may be. We’ve got better genealogies than all of them, because we all go back to Adam. So it is true, Adam is the natural head of the human race. But the question is, does Paul mean that when Adam sinned, we really did sin in a physical sense? Well, that may answer the question of how we can be guilty for a sin of Adam. We will simply say to him, “Well, you really were in Adam”. But, of course, that only makes the problem a little different kind of problem because then I would reply, “You mean I’m guilty for something that I did before I even existed?” And so that explanation does not really help us. That is called realism.
Now realism was the view of Augustine. It has been the view of others. You’ll find it expressed in Dr. Chafer systematic theology. You’ll find it also in Shedd’s theology and Shedd has a very doughty defense of realism, but it cannot stand the test of Romans chapter 5 and verse 14, because if everybody sinned in Adam, in the sense that we are were physically in him, then everybody sinned in the same way. Isn’t that right? Everybody was in him, but Romans 5:14 says, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression”. So if everybody sinned in Adam, there could be no way in which there would be a differentiation between the sins of individuals. So it’s clear that that theory founders over Romans chapter 5, verse 14. We cannot hold it.
Now I won’t say anything about mediate imputation because it’s a little technical. I want to simply say that what the Bible teaches is that Adam was a federal head. He acted for us. We were not in him physically in the sense that we sinned physically in him, but we were in him federally. Physically we are descendent from him, but that’s not the basis of our guilt. Our guilt is a legal, forensic guilt. We are reckoned to be under the guilt and penalty of sin because the one who stood for us fell and our representative falling means that his guilt and condemnation has become ours. Now that makes it easier for us to believe how Jesus Christ may come as the last representative man and may do something and his work may be imputed to those who are not in him physically, so that there becomes a much nicer parallel between the actions of Adam as a federal representative and Jesus Christ as our representative Redeemer. So then, we can understand Romans 5:12 through 19 much better, because the sin of Adam is looked at as the sin of one man and yet the sin of all.
And if realism was really taught, it could be expressed in other definite ways in that passage, but it is not. Five times: the sin of one is the sin of all; the sin of all is the sin of the one and the one’s sin. Not, the sins of the many in Adam, but the sin of one. So what the Bible teaches then is that Adam is our federal head. The guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to us immediately. That is, it does not come through the fact that we possess a corrupt nature, but it comes directly to the whole of the human race. When Adam fell, he sinned. He came under guilt. He came under condemnation and judgment and that judgment passed directly, immediately (that’s the meaning of immediate in this particular expression), immediately to all men.
Now lots of people object to that. Why should the act of one man affect us? Well, I rather like it. I like it because it means that one man may also act for me. And the very fact that this one man acted for me and failed, makes it much more reasonable and easier to understand, how one man coming later may act for me and regain for me what that other man lost. In fact, this is a most beautiful arrangement and I wish I had another fifteen or twenty minutes to talk about the beauty of the way God has arranged his plan of salvation with men falling in Adam, but being saved by the one act of Jesus Christ in giving his blood as a sacrifice for sinners on that cross.
Now let me just say a word or two about the doctrine of original sin. The elements of original sin include pollution, they include guilt, and they include condemnation, and total depravity. I’d like to say just a word about total depravity. If you’ll just give me one or two minutes more, it’s very difficult to do all of this in 43 minutes. So if you’ll just allow me one word of explanation concerning total depravity. This is very important because many people do not understand total depravity. Even some good men do not understand total depravity.
For example, C. S. Lewis, who in many ways was a very remarkable man, did not understand total depravity. This is what he said, “This chapter will have been misunderstood if anyone describes it as a reinstatement of the doctrine of total depravity. I disbelieve that doctrine partly on the ground that if our depravity were totaled, we should not know ourselves to be depraved (that’s a very clever remark) and partly because experience shows us much goodness in human nature”.
Now there are two things that are wrong about that. In the first place, when he says, “we should not know ourselves to be depraved”, he assumes that total depravity means that we are as bad as we could be. And, of course, if total depravity meant we are as bad as we can be then that remark would be right and we would not know that we were totally depraved. Thus, the doctrine would not be taught. But what the Bible means when it uses the term “total depravity” is not the total corruption of human nature, but the corruption of the total human nature or the corruption of the whole human nature. It does not mean that we’re as bad as we can be. It simply means that all of our faculties have been touched by sin. It means our will has been touched by sin. Our emotions have been touched by sin. Our mind has been touched by sin. It does not mean we’re as bad as we could be. It means simply that we are depraved in all of our faculties.
It does not mean that man cannot do something that man thinks is good. That was the second error Mr. Lewis made, because he said, “There are good things that men do”. But what he meant was, “There are good things that men do in the sight of man”. But in the sight of God, men don’t do anything good. All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags because in order for a good work to be good before God, it must arise out of faith and it must be, as I said Sunday, “it must be directed toward the glory of God”. And a person who’s not a Christian cannot do anything out of faith and he cannot do anything for the glory of the triune God, so even his good works, so called, are good only by human standards. By the divine standard, they are filthy rags. So total depravity then does not mean a man is as bad as he can be. It doesn’t mean man has no knowledge of the will of God. It does not mean his conscience is altogether bad. It does not mean man is incapable of disinterested affections and actions toward other men. It doesn’t mean that every man will commit every sin. It does mean that corruption touches every part of his nature and that no spiritual good, no good in relation to God, can be done apart from saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And the proof of original sin, which refers to the fact that we have a corrupt nature, is found in many passages of the word of God. I just mentioned a few of them like the universality of human sin, passages that we looked at. There’s an argument from total depravity or universal depravity. There is an argument from the manifestation of sin in little children. Isn’t it interesting that the moment they’re born they start rebelling? That’s just part of little babies. You think they’re real cute, but they’re not so cute in the eyes of God. They enter into this existence protesting right from the beginning. They’re hands are clenched. They’re already to fight the world right from the beginning. They’re born in a state of sin.
Well, our time is up. I must stop. If you’re here tonight and you have never believed in our Lord Jesus Christ, you can see that you are in a very perilous condition. To use the apostle’s words, “You are on the way to an eternal separation from God”. You’re already spiritually dead and your spiritual death will be prolonged into eternal death if you do not flee to the cross of Jesus Christ and as a free gift in the mercy and grace of God, receive the Lord Jesus as your own Savior. Receiving him, believing in him, you have reckoned to you the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are made righteous, declared righteous in him and, thus, have that with which you may stand before a holy and righteous God forever. Let’s bow in a word of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, again we thank Thee…
[RECORDING ENDS ABRUPTLY]