Immediately after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, something cataclysmic happened. Everything changed. In a second, in a flash, Adam and Eve died spiritually and lost their spiritual connection with God. They lost the holy spirit of God within them. The nature of spiritual death replaced the nature of spiritual life. Sin poured into creation and corrupted the entire nature of Adam and Eve. Also by the disobedience of Adam and Eve, death infiltrated the human race. The seeds of physical death were planted in them, and their corrupted human nature would dominate them throughout their lives until they died. On that fateful day of disobedience, the dying process had begun, as Adam and Eve were mere mortals, embraced by sin and death. They were now free to make a world of their own choosing. They no longer could enjoy the intimate presence of God and the joy of close fellowship with Him. A curse settled in upon the earth and it still hangs over all the world like a dark cloud. Men and women became lost and alienated from the life of God. Shame and guilt before God replaced love and confidence. Fear and uncertainty replaced peace and security. They lost God-consciousness and became self-conscious. They lost the spiritual power and ability to do good and gained the power to do evil, which was now inherent in their nature. They became subjects in the devil’s kingdom and heirs to death, misery, pain, and affliction. The exercised power of darkness became a constant thorn and source of agitation in their lives.
Genesis 3:7 also reveals the birth of religion, as Adam and Eve foolishly tried to cover their sin of disobedience by making coverings for themselves. They thought that by the works of their own hands, they could somehow justify themselves and earn the favor of God. Religion always focuses on man and his rules, regulations, and works to try to be God-like. Religion always drives people away from the heart of God and puts them in bondage and fear. Religion always misunderstands the goodness of God and his loving nature. Adam and Eve had died spiritually, and their entire nature was infused by sin. A mere covering of fig leaves was not going to solve the enormous dilemma that they had brought upon themselves. Adam could not restore his perfect relationship with God by a simple covering. This disaster could only be rectified by God Almighty and His glorious plan of redemption and wholeness. God’s goodness is the only place where the future salvation of a person could reside.
Genesis 3:8-10 (Amplified):
And they heard the sound 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.
But the Lord God called to Adam and
said to him, Where are you?
He said, I heard the sound of You walking
in the garden, and I was afraid because I
was naked; and I hid myself.
God would appear in the garden in some physical form to fellowship with Adam and Eve. What intimacy! What closeness! What communion! What friendship they enjoyed, and what a privilege to have such an uninhibited, close relationship with God Almighty. But on this day, something tragic had happened and Adam and Eve’s entire nature and disposition toward God changed. There was now a separation and barrier between God and people, and guilt and shame dominated their mindset towards God. Instead of running into the presence of the Lord with confidence and great freedom, Adam and Eve hid from God in fear. They lost the spirit of God and had no vital and living connection with their Creator any longer. Adam and Eve no longer had the innocent trust and love for God where their hearts were pure and unrestricted in their full sharing of themselves with their Heavenly Father. Now their hearts were full of panic and dread, as they were afraid of God and terrified to come into His presence.
The word “hid” in the Hebrew means: to hide secretly, to withdraw from the sight of another, and to conceal oneself generally for the purpose of security.” The word “presence” is paniym, which we have studied before, and it means: to direct or set one’s face toward, and to be face to face in the presence of someone and everything that person represents. At one time, Adam and Eve loved the intimacy of fellowship face to face with God. They loved His goodness, His blessing, and His caring heart. They thrilled to be in His presence and have a deep heart to heart sharing of everything they were and hoped to be. Nothing was hidden from God. Nothing was held back in their fellowship and worship of Him. It was face to face, eye to eye, and heart to heart intimate communion. It was profound and satisfying, as they had a deep yearning to know their loving God. In the presence of God, there is fullness of joy and great goodness for those who love Him and put Him first in their life. Before God’s face is a peace that passes all understanding. As God wrapped His loving arms around His children, they had security and comfort.
So why would anyone want to run from the presence of God? Who would want to hide from such an awesome God? After Adam and Eve sinned and died spiritually, something happened on the inside of them. The mind and heart of Adam and Eve became full of fear and shame in the presence of God. There was an enmity and a turning of the human heart away from God and all the goodness He represents. The human heart became twisted because of the sin nature that had poured into it. Selfishness, self-interest, pride, and rebellion against God became part of their inborn nature. God no longer was a priority. Adam and Eve now wanted to hide and conceal their thoughts, desires, and purposes from God Almighty. They wanted to hide in secret from God and withdraw themselves from His sight. They thought they had some warped sense of security in separating themselves from their Creator and fleeing from everything true, just, loving, and good that God represents.
The voice of God brings goodness, justice, mercy, and righteousness. The voice of God always has the best interests of His children in mind. Yet Eve listened to the voice of the serpent and obeyed his word. Adam listened to the voice of his wife and followed her right into disobedience. The sound of God’s presence and voice no longer brought them comfort, security, and guidance. The voice of God made them tremble in fear because of their unbelief in the goodness of God and His Word.
Verse 8 is the first usage of “fear” in the Bible, and it is enlightening to see that fear always drives a person away from God and the truth of His Word. Fear makes you hide from God and builds unbelief in the human heart. Fear drives a barrier in the human heart between God and man. Fear encases, binds, and enslaves a person in mind and heart. Fear keeps a person from walking in intimate fellowship with their Creator. Fear indicates a lack of trust in God and His Word.
God’s first words after the Fall of Adam and Eve wonderfully reveal the heart of God and His goodness. He could have deserted Adam and Eve and turned His back on them. He could have given up on them because of their rebellion and disobedience. But God called to Adam, “Where are you?” God was still seeking Adam, even in his sinful state and even after committing high treason against Him. What a God of love! What a God of mercy! What a God of goodness! Even in the midst of the ruin of God’s creation and the sentence of death on His children, God had a plan of restoration to bring men and women back to paradise. God came to the garden seeking fellowship with Adam and Eve, but because of their betrayal, He had to design and initiate His awesome plan of redemption. God deeply desired to rectify the enormous problem of sin because of Adam’s disobedience. The devil wanted to keep man forever in a state of death and destruction, unredeemed and crushed by the penalty of sin. God would not stand by and do nothing. God did not throw in the towel and say, “Kids, you are on your own now.” God would give hope even in man’s darkest hour, as He promised a Savior who would bring salvation, goodness, wholeness and righteousness back to the human race, and ultimately destroy the great enemy of God, the devil. The goodness of this legal plan of redemption is so great and magnificent that its riches and glory far surpass anything ever known in history. Truly it is the good news.
Genesis 3:11-13 (Amplified):
And He said, Who told you that you
were naked? Have you eaten of the
tree of which I commanded you that
you should not eat?
And the man said, the woman whom
You gave to be with me-she gave me
fruit from the tree and I ate.
And the Lord said to the woman,
What is this you have done? And
the woman said, the serpent beguiled
(cheated, outwitted, and deceived) me,
and I ate.
Interwoven into the sinful nature of man is to play “the blame game” by failing to take responsibility for his actions. Adam pointed the finger at the woman, but ultimately blamed God because He gave him the woman. The first words uttered by man after the Fall blamed God for the evil that had befallen him. Man has been blaming God for evil ever since. Instead of recognizing His goodness and love, men and women have blamed God for all the problems in the world. God is portrayed as evil, and the human race is painted as good. Neither Adam nor Eve asked for forgiveness. Neither Adam nor Eve said they were sorry. Neither Adam nor Eve admitted they did anything wrong. Pride and exaltation of self above God became an inherent characteristic of the sin nature. The finger of accusation pointed to everyone but themselves. Adam and Eve gave God an excuse for their disobedience. Adam failed to speak God’s Word, failed to stand up for God’s Word, failed to teach God’s Word, failed to follow God’s Word, and failed to believe God’s Word. He decided to remain absolutely silent. Then he blamed God, implying that He should not have given him the woman in the first place. Adam blatantly told God that He was an accessory and partaker of this sin and just as responsible as Adam or Eve for all of its consequences. Just a little bit arrogant, don’t you think? There simply is no humility in the sin nature. Selfishness and pride rule the day in this corrupt nature of sin. Eve finally realized that she had been cheated, deceived, outwitted, and tricked by the serpent, yet again, she did not accept responsibility for her actions.
Job 31:33 (New American Standard):
Have I covered my transgressions like Adam,
By hiding my iniquity in my bosom.
Adam tried to cover his transgression and hide his iniquity from God. This verse sets forth the nature of Adam’s disobedience and two dominating characteristics of the sin nature inherited from Adam. The word “transgressions” in the Hebrew means: to rebel revolt or rise up in clear defiance of authority by violation of a law, command, or duty. The fundamental idea is a breach of relationship between two parties. It is a willful deviation and rebellion against God and His way or path. It is a stepping aside from the right path. It is to cross a line, challenging God’s boundaries. It is to refuse allegiance and duty to whom they are due. It is to knowingly refuse subjection to rightful authority. At the heart of this word “transgressions,” there is a real absence of love, respect, and honor towards the rightful authority.
What insight this word gives us into Adam’s disobedience! Adam made a
deliberate decision to rebel against God, His goodness, and His Word. He refused allegiance and dedication to God and knowingly revolted against His commandment. He stepped outside of the right and good path God had established in the Garden of Eden and crossed the line, challenging the boundaries of God’s Word. It was an assault on the goodness of God’s character, blessings, and Word. It was a fundamental breach of the loving relationship God had established with His children. Adam turned his back on His relationship with God. At the heart of the disobedience of Adam was a lack of belief that God really loved him, and conversely, Adam showed a lack of a deep, heartfelt love and respect for His Creator. He was more concerned about his relationship with Eve than His relationship with God.
Adam tried to cover this transgression in the presence of God. The word “covered” in the Hebrew means “to conceal and to hide.” God saw Adam’s heart, and he could not hide his transgression from Him. Adam showed no respect for God’s authority and tried to conceal the rebellious purposes and desires of his heart from God Almighty. Adam tried to make his transgression look good by rationalizing his disobedience to God and then blaming God for the evil consequences. The sin nature seems to have a bent toward trying to make good look evil and evil look good. Adam became a rebel against the goodness of God.
The second word used to describe Adam’s disobedience is “iniquity.” This word in the Hebrew means: perversity, depravity, and crookedness, and comes from a verb meaning to bend or to twist. It is a twisting of the standard and deviating from it. It is to distort and twist God’s standard, deviating from His righteous design and purpose. It is rebellion from a twisted condition of the human heart. It is disobedience due to thinking and reasoning that is crooked or perverse. Adam had twisted God’s righteous standard and distorted the way of God. He deviated from God’s commandment by crooked reasoning, and his heart became twisted and turned away from God. Then Adam tried to conceal his iniquity in his heart from God. God saw right thorough Adam’s twisted logic and got to the heart of the matter. The sin nature specializes in twisted and distorted logic that deviates from the heart of God. The whole idea that God is not good and causes evil is twisted and distorted logic. God’s goodness is perfect, whole, pure, and without any distortion or evil deformities.
Deuteronomy sets forth in great simplicity what God wanted Adam and Eve to do yet they failed miserably.
Deuteronomy 13:4 (Holman Christian Standard Bible):
You must follow the Lord your God and fear
(reverence, respect) Him. You must keep His
commands and listen to His voice; you must
worship Him and remain faithful to Him.
John Eldredge, in Wild at Heart, describes the heart of God:
I am convinced beyond a doubt of this:
God wants to be loved. He wants to be a
priority to someone. How could we have
missed this? From cover to cover, from
beginning to end, the cry of God’s heart
is, “Why won’t you choose me?” It is
amazing to me how humble, how
vulnerable God is on this point. “You
will…find me,” says the Lord, “when
you seek me with all your heart” (Jer.
29:13). In other words, “Look for me,
pursue me-I want you to pursue me.”
Amazing. As Tozer said, “God wants
to be wanted.”
Adam and Eve failed to keep God’s commands and listen to His voice. They failed to remain faithful to God by putting Him first above all else. They failed to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They failed to choose God, and ultimately Adam and Eve did not want God. This is just heartrending. Tragically, as a result, sin and death entered into the human race.
Romans 5:12 (Amplified);
Therefore, as sin came into the world through
one man, and death as the result of sin, so
death spread to all men, [no one being able
to stop it or to escape its power] because all
New Living Translation:
When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire
human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so
death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.
You know the story of how Adam landed us in
the dilemma we’re in, first sin, then death,
and no one exempt from either sin or death.
That sin disturbed relations with God in
everything and everyone…
Adam introduced sin into God’s creation, and it corrupted all forms of life. The curse of sin and death passed on to all of Adam’s progeny. No human could stop the infiltration of the sin nature or escape its power. Death, which had not existed in any form before, became the strong ally of sin, as every human born on this earth was subject to death. This was not only physical death, but spiritual death also.
E.W. Kenyon, in The Bible in Light of our Redemption, writes:
Sin has ruled as king in the realm of spiritual
death, where man lives under the cruel Emperor,
Satan. Every effort of man has to failed to eradicate
the power of sin. Education has failed. History
confesses that every single rise in civilization has
been accompanied by a decline in morals. War
has dominated in every period of the life of every
nation, destroying the youth and strength of humanity.
It has brought untold suffering to man. Its cruelty is
but a manifestation of Satanic Dominion at work in
its destruction of man. Man has been unable to strike
at the root and the cause of sin, sickness and death.
The law of disease has fastened itself upon the
human body, blighting and scourging humanity.
Death is the supreme problem that all men at all
periods have faced. It casts its shadow on upon
every happiness born in the sense of man. Man,
lying in the embrace of Satan, cries in agony against
this vain struggle which only ends in a hopeless
death and doom…He is born to die…Spiritual death,
the nature of Satan, is the soil out of which has
grown sin, sickness, physical death and every sorrow
that has darkened the life of God’s man.
Sin and spiritual death brought enormous consequences upon the human race. Every type of suffering, pain, misery, sickness, affliction, torment, and anguish began to grow and flourish upon the earth because of sin and spiritual death. A great separation and barrier now existed between God and men, women, and children. The human race’s relationship with God was thrown into chaos and confusion. It was like a thick, iron door was shut on a person’s access, communion, and fellowship with God. Adam and Eve had become alienated from the life and presence of God, and their understanding became darkened. They were like blindfolded people wandering aimless in a fog of darkness. The light and spiritual life within them was extinguished, and it left a great void of hunger and need for their loving Creator. Adam had sealed the fate of the human race, and now the great cry was for a Redeemer, a Savior, and a Liberator. No matter how smart, how talented, how strong, how powerful, or how rich a person may be, no one could free themselves from the bondage of their birth nature of sin and their condition of spiritual death.
The word “sin” in Romans 5:12 in the Greek means: to miss or fail to hit the mark, like when someone fails to hit the target with a bow and arrow; to fall short of any goal, purpose, or standard, and a failure or aberration from a prescribed law or duty. Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament, states that the word means “a falling and missing the true end and scope of our lives which is God.” Wuest, in Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, says it means “missing the divinely appointed goal, a deviation of what is pleasing to God, doing what is opposed to God’s will…a missing of the goal conformable to and fixed by God.” In A Critical Lexicon and Concordance of the English and Greek New Testament, Bullinger gives some great insight into the history of this word as:
A duct or canal by which water flows down to
any place… and which implies an evil influence…
in which it has the idea of turbidity and excitement,
muddy confusion in water, acetous fermentation
in wine, bitumen arising from hot natural springs,
collection of mud brought down by tumultuous
waters, bitter and brackish waters, etc…and then
is the defiling influence and bitter principle of
disturbance which has flowed down upon the
creation of God.
God had a wonderful divinely appointed purpose for Adam and Eve and all their progeny when He blessed them in the Garden of Eden. He had a great plan of goodness for Adam and Eve and their children, desiring to bring them into the full accomplishment of His destiny for them. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin poured into their nature, causing them to miss the purpose and goal that God had designed for their lives. Their entire relationship with God was defiled and disturbed as bitterness, hostility, separation, and enmity against God flowed into their nature like raw sewage or muddy contaminated waters. Adam and Eve now had a sin nature that was against God and His will having the dominant characteristic of continuously missing the standard of God, like a reckless archer who can never hit the target. The affections, desires, motives, reasoning, and thoughts coming from the sin nature were in rebellion against God and His authority. The sin nature is inherently grounded in a hostility against walking with God, trusting God and relying on God as its only sufficiency. The heart and soul of the human race became polluted with the sin nature, which is twisted to an enmity toward all the things of God, all the goodness of God, and all the words of God.
In Romans 5:12, “sin” is in the singular, and the word “the” is before the word “sin” in the Greek text. “The sin” does not describe the acts or deeds of sin, but the root cause: the totally depraved nature, or the basic active principal of sin. PreceptAustin gives us some valuable insight on their website:
What Paul is doing by using the phrase “The Sin”
is to use this word not to describe the actions or
results of sin (sins [plural] which are committed)
but to describe the underlying root cause, the
basic principle or, in medical terms,…the
“virus” that killed (first spiritually and then
physically) Adam and which has infected
all men for all men can trace their physical
lineage to Adam. Think of The Sin as analogous
to a highly contagious, 100% lethal virus which
every man, woman and child has contracted
because every person alive is related to Adam,
the first man, who himself was infected. Or
think of The Sin as analogous to an abnormal
“gene” which transmits a defective moral/ethical
“DNA code” to all of Adam’s offspring, this
defective code explaining why every individual
commits sins (plural)…The Sin is man’s Adamic
SIN(inherent) nature (that every baby inherits
from his spiritual father Adam) in distinction to
“SINS” one commits each day, these being a natural
outworking of the (inherent) SIN nature in every
man, woman and child. PERSONAL SINS then
are those sins we commit because we are by nature
SINNERS having inherited THE SIN “virus” that
entered the garden from our first spiritual “father”
Romans 5:12 declares that this sin nature, this deadly virus, this defective gene that directs a person’s life away from what is pleasing to God, entered into the world through Adam’s disobedience to God. The word “entered” in the Greek literally means: to come into and contains the force of distribution, meaning it made its way to each individual member of the human race.” The word is in the indicative mood, the mood of certainty, which states that the action is factual and certainly occurred. The word “world” is kosmos in the Greek which in this verse means: the harmonious arrangement and order of God’s creation. It was the creation in perfect order and harmony before the entrance of sin. The word “spread” in the Greek means: to go or pass through; to send out in all directions like a highly contagious virus disseminating and spreading completely through an entire population.” Sin and death certainly spread to every member of the human race and ruined God’s original perfect order and harmony of His creation. No one had a pass; no one was exempt; no one was immune; we all inherent this sin nature from Adam.
Romans 5:17 says that “death reigned,” and Romans 5:21 says that “sin reigned” over the whole human race. The word “reigned” means: to rule with the authority and power of a king, to possess regal authority to reign, and to exercise the highest influence and control. The human race was now subject to the rule of two great kings, namely sin and death. The power and authority of sin and death wreaked havoc and destruction on all peoples of the earth, and no one could break free of its rule nor escape its power. They exercised kingly authority, not to liberate its subjects but to bring them into bondage. People became slaves to sin and its consequences, as they desperately needed a deliverer who would conquer the twin kings of sin and death.
Before Adam fell into sin, he had a nature perfectly suited to bearing the image of God and representing His goodness. The sin nature was not part of our humanity as God had originally designed it. Adam was designed to represent His Maker, and God gave him a divine nature in which he shared some of the attributes and qualities of His Creator. Characteristics of God, such as love, joy, goodness, peace, kindness, faithfulness, and wisdom must have been abundant in Adam, as he was a son of God and bore His image. He had every godly quality necessary for him to exercise his dominion upon the earth. There was nothing in his nature that caused him to act contrary to the will of God.
When Adam fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, this perfect image of God’s character that he represented was shattered into pieces. Sin was now mixed into this nature like a virus in the blood, and the image of God inside us was greatly dimmed. These great qualities that God had designed intrinsically in men and women became mixed with sin which obscured and obstructed their demonstration in the world. This sin nature is not an intrinsic part of who God designed you to be, but is a contamination and intrusion into our lives that caused physical and spiritual death. We still see great acts of compassion, courage, creativity, and kindness that exhibit that we were made in the image of God. However, qualities of selfishness, hatred, cruelty, lust, indifference, violence, and idolatry all flow out of this sin nature and obscure and suffocate these godly qualities. The sin nature is very strong and dominates over the image of God, so no one has exhibited an ability to habitually be free of its impulses and characteristics. Man’s relationship with God was broken and separated by sin, which made it even more difficult to exhibit the qualities and attributes of God, our Creator.
The sin nature energized the thoughts, reason, will, and emotions, as Adam and Eve were living in a state of separation from God. The sin nature is absolutely rooted in selfishness and intrinsically pushes people to glorify themselves rather than God. The sin nature drives one to habitually act and speak in a manner that satisfies its evil desires. Adam turned the image of God into an image of sinful man, as the world throughout all ages of history has not lived up to the image of God. No one can break free of the ultimate consequence of sin, which is death, without the Lord Jesus Christ, who would be the liberator, the deliverer, the conqueror, and the Savior from the kings of sin and death and all their evil consequences.
The sin nature within us does not mean that God has not designed us for a wonderful purpose and given us qualities and talents that we can use to glorify Him. The dim image of God that comes forth at times is a reminder of man’s original destiny and purpose that had God had designed. Man and woman were meant for so much more than an enslaved obedience to the sin nature. We retain a shadow of the image of God in ourselves, but the primary nature is this fallen nature of Adam. The human nature has fallen, and the original image has been marred. Humans struggle with a nature that has been crippled by the loss and continued absence of a relationship with God. The sin nature, like a deadly disease, is lethal to life. The sin nature brings no meaning, purpose, goodness, or blessing to life. In Mark Cosgrove’s, Foundations of Christian Thought, he states:
The result of the Fall could be called, not selfishness
but self-centeredness…they (Adam and Eve) became
the center of their own experience or existence, rather
than God being the center of their lives…it is clear that
after the Fall they, and everyone born after them,
seemed bent inward on self and prone to selfishness.
Isolation and emptiness of soul…What the fall of
human nature into sin means practically speaking
is that while human beings are possesses with
great potential and desire from the image of God in
them, at the same time, they are incapable of
reaching this potential and happiness.
There is great emptiness of soul and meaningless in life without God. Mankind has lost their true heart, their true destiny, and their true purpose. David Needham, in Birthright, Christian Do You Know Who You Are?, gives a vivid illustration of the emptiness and meaninglessness of the sin nature:
Try to imagine for a moment the entire human
race as though it were an art gallery full of
picture frames. Long, long halls. Billions of
picture frames-without any pictures! Empty
can you visualize it? Some of the frames are
very carefully carved. Some boast very delicate
gold leaf, others are rather gaudily painted. A
few are dirty, chipped. But every frame is
wrapped around-nothing-emptiness. Is it
possible the human race is seen in such a
way by God? An art gallery with no paintings!
Each human being was intended to frame an
inimitable, individual masterpiece of God’s
own reflected glory. But where God should
be, there is only emptiness, a bare patch of
wall. Since the frames are conscious, however,
the fact of emptiness is simply too devastating-
too self-destructive-to acknowledge. And so
human kind becomes obsessed with the only
thing left to it: its own flesh. The frame. Life,
if it is to be found at all, must be found in each
one’s own frame, and the frames around him.
So, ingeniously and carefully, man lights the
gallery, carpets and air-conditions the halls,
creates all sorts of special displays, and
leads community crusades to clean up the
dirty and broken frames…No wait. It wasn’t
suppose to work out this way! We thought
all our inventions and progress would solve
the difficulties and…if only we had more
time. But the air is getting foul. Lights are
beginning to flicker. Sounds of confusion
are coming from every corner. And anyway-
there are no pictures. We all know that.
Emptiness. Everywhere emptiness. What
difference does it all make anyway? Oh,
the tragedy of Eden! Rejecting dependence
upon the will and character of God, Adam
and Eve rejected life! Looking for fullness,
they found instead a fathomless despair.
Even in some twisted sense they fulfilled
by sinning what they were-sinners-they still
were missing the destiny for which God had
created them. There one bridge to meaning,
their fundamental reason for existing, lay
collapsed in hopeless ruin before them. Man’s
essential nature was now “in the flesh.” And
the Bible says that “those who are in the flesh
cannot please God.”
So, by his very nature, man is a sinner.
Cut off from his Creator.
Cut off from any hope of meaning.
A rebel trapped in futility
That is what sin is all about…
So it was, long ago in the Garden, human
beings forced upon themselves the task of self
fulfillment without any hope of success. Authentic
meaning, significance, and purpose lay always
beyond their grasp. It is this fact that underlies
the darkness of evil. This then, is sin-a tragedy
for human beings and an offense to God. Apart
from God’s intervening miracle of changing us,
there is no hope.
Emptiness, meaninglessness, hopelessness, and lifelessness became the destiny of the human race because of their rejection of God in the Garden. The beautiful, breathtaking picture and exquisite masterpiece that God desired for every person became broken, stained, marred, and shattered. The picture was lost and the frame was empty and without true meaning. A bare patch of wall with a blank piece of backboard now was the focal point of the frame. No vibrant colors, no living images, no spectacular scenes of beauty, and no inspiring reflections, but only an image of emptiness. Oh, if we would only listen and obey the words of the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 44:22: (New International Reader’s Version):
I will sweep your sins away as if they were
a cloud. I will blow them away as if they
were the morning mist. Return to me.
Then I will set you free.
The sin nature will never bring meaning to life. It does not want a relationship with God, but desires to follow the course set by the god of this world. God had such goodness planned for the human race, but they turned their backs on Him and fell into ruin. John Eldridge, in Epic: The Story God is Telling and the Role that is Yours to Play, describes the human race after the Fall of Adam and Eve and the entrance of sin into the world:
Something has gone wrong with the human
race, and we know it. Better said, something
has gone wrong within the human race.
It doesn’t take a theologian or a psychologist
to tell you that. Read a newspaper…Most
of the misery we suffer on this planet is
the fruit of the human heart gone bad. This
glorious treasure has been stained, marred,
infected. Sin enters the story and spreads
like a computer virus…Any honest person
knows this. We know we are not what we
were meant to be…Something has gone
wrong. We know that much. Whatever else
we know, whatever else our convictions
may be, we know that something has gone
terribly wrong with the world, with us, with
life. Haven’t you ever wondered , if only for
a moment, why life comes nowhere close to
the desires that are written in your heart?
Where are the beauty, intimacy and adventure?
Why can’t we make these things last? The poet
George Herbert declared, “I cried when I was
born and every day shows why.” Dear God-
what has happened to our world?
The human heart desperately cries out for the goodness of God. Yet, it has become contaminated and hardened by sin and dull to the heartbeat of God. The relentless onslaught of the god of this world exercising dominion upon the earth has further driven the human heart away from its loving Creator. Tragically, some people live their entire lives without ever tasting and experiencing the goodness of God.
Job 21:25 (New American Standard):
While another dies with a bitter soul,
Never even tasting anything good.
Another man dies in bitterness of soul,
never having enjoyed anything good.
Another man dies, broken-hearted, and
never gets the good of life.
With the infusion of the sin nature, bitterness took root in the human heart. Most people live with bitterness dominating some portion of their heart and soul throughout their entire life. Bitterness breaks and cripples the human heart. The goodness of God melts away all bitterness of the soul and brings release, freedom, and deliverance from the oppression of bitterness. The devil wants your heart to be in a constant state of bitterness. New Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies explains that bitterness in the Hebrew means “to be bitter of soul is to be exasperated, angry, disgusted, uneasy, discontented, and exceedingly sorrowful.” There is great anguish, fierce resentment, and heart-crushing despair at the center of bitterness. Without God, a person’s life becomes a story of bitterness and ravaging disappointment. God desires with every ounce of His being for you to taste and enjoy His goodness. What a travesty to live your entire life and never taste, never experience, and never enjoy the goodness of God. Every day another soul has died in great bitterness, broken by life, and completely alienated from the goodness of God. Only by the power of God and the healing redemption available in the Lord Jesus Christ will the bondage of bitterness be obliterated in a person’s life. Yet Adam set the pattern of the human race in turning away from God and trying to find meaning and purpose in life in our own vain and futile efforts.
Romans 3:12 (New Living Translation):
All have turned away; all have become
useless. No one does good, not a single
All turned aside; all to a man became
useless. There is not one who habitually
does goodness; there is not as much as
The words “turned aside” in the Greek means: to turn aside or away from; to shun; to bend away from the right course; to steer clear of; to stay away from, and to avoid. It was used to describe a soldier running the wrong way or deserting. The Greek word is in the active voice, which indicates that the turning away is a deliberate choice and not an accidental losing of their way. This sin nature of man drives a person away from the heart of God. All of us have at sometime deserted God and shunned Him. We all at some time made a deliberate choice to turn away from God and avoid Him at all costs. All of us at some time in our lives have rejected the goodness of God. It is simply amazing when one sees the goodness, faithfulness, and love of God, how anyone would ever want to turn away from Him. Yet the history of the world is largely a chronicle of people turning their backs on their loving Creator and following their own destructive paths.
Every single member of the human race became useless without God. The word “useless” is an enlightening word as to the nature of man without God. In the Greek, it means: to be worthless; to be useless; to be unprofitable; to render unserviceable, and to be unfit for any useful purpose. The Hebrew word used in the same verse in Psalm 14:3 means: to go bad and to become sour like milk. When I was a teenager, one of my first jobs was working at a fabric warehouse, and one day I noticed a refrigerator in the basement. I opened the door hoping there might be some food or drink, and there was a carton of milk sitting on the shelf. When I eagerly opened the carton, the most disgusting smell I had ever experienced filled my nostrils, and I became extremely nauseated. The milk had soured and was good for nothing. I could not even look at a glass of milk for months after that episode.
God vividly says that a person without God under the power and influence of the sin nature is like a carton of sour milk. Sour milk is worthless for any good use and cannot be used for its intended purpose. The highest and best the human race has to offer in society, government, academics, arts, and every other category amounts to nothing more than sour milk without God. Every life, every purpose, every idea, and every goal lived apart from the truth of God and His Word is wasted and worthless.
How mankind has often exalted ourselves in great arrogance against God. The human race has throughout its history been flooded with countless examples of unbridled pride and conceit. I remember taking numerous classes in world history in college, and the pompous nature of so many people, kingdoms, and rulers is astounding. I wonder how they would react if they knew that God Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and earth, thought they were no better than spoiled, rotten milk. Without God, a person can never fulfill their true purpose and destiny, as their lives begin to rot and waste away.
Spurgeon, in the Treasury of David, says, “The fallen race of man, left to its own energy, has not produced a single lover of God or doer of holiness, nor will it ever do so. Grace must interpose or not one specimen of humanity will be found to follow after the good and true.” The contamination of the sin nature, along with the turning aside from God, turned Adam and Eve’s once glorious lives into sour milk that was putrid and offensive to the true purpose and will of God. Sin rendered men and women unfit for what God had intended for them. Like a piece of rotten fruit that had gone bad, the human race desperately needed a Savior and Redeemer to restore all that Adam had lost in the Garden of Eden.
The word “good” in the Greek means: goodness in its widest sense with the idea of usefulness; kindness; the goodness of God’s divine attributes showing itself in benevolence to man; moral goodness and integrity; genuine goodness and generosity of heart, and goodness expressed in action and deed. Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament, defines it as “ a beautiful word, as it is the expression of a beautiful grace…a grace of word and countenance, it is one pervading and penetrating the whole nature, mellowing there all which would have been harsh and austere…a goodness that has no edge, no sharpness in it.” The Tyndale Bible Dictionary defines it as “the state of being that includes the attributes of loving affection, sympathy, friendliness, patience, pleasantness, gentleness, and goodness. It is more volitional than emotional.” The word “do” in the Greek means: to make, form, produce or bring about the accomplishment of something. As Wuest indicates in this verse, it is in the sense of a habitual doing or making, producing, forming, and building something on a habitual and continuous basis.
Not one single person on the earth after the Fall of Adam habitually produces works of goodness, kindness, integrity, graciousness, generosity, love, gentleness, and compassion out of a heart loyal to honoring and serving God. The sin nature of a man or woman cannot produce anything good that glorifies God. The sin nature is inherently harsh, unforgiving, cruel, selfish, deceitful, arrogant, evil, hateful, jealous, and immoral and produces these types of words and actions. The image of God reflects all the attributes of His goodness, love, tenderheartedness, gentleness, grace, and compassion. However, because the human race is now under the power and control of sin and living in a world controlled and dominated by the god of this world, the devil, no natural man or woman without Christ can do, make, build, and produce great works of goodness that bring glory and praise to God Almighty. There is not one ounce or drop of goodness in the sin nature that poured into the heart and soul of the human race because of Adam’s disobedience. If you live by the sin nature and under its control, you will never accomplish the good purpose and design that God wants for your life. It is like building your life on sinking sand. It is living a life of very little meaning or purpose, and it becomes an exercise of futility and disappointment.
Romans 7:18 (NIV):
I know nothing good lives in me,
that is, in my sinful nature. For I
have the desire to do what is good,
but I cannot carry it out.
New Living Translation:
I know I am rotten through and through
so far as my old sinful nature is concerned.
No matter which way I turn, I can’t make
myself do right. I want to, but I can’t.
For I positively know that there does not
dwell in me, that is, in my flesh, good; for
the being desirous is constantly with me;
but the doing of the good, not.
God’s goodness does not make its home in the sin nature. God’s goodness does not live or abide in the sin nature. God is not responsible for the sin nature or the fruit, deeds, and actions that proceed from it. No matter where the sin nature turns or what it does, it is absolutely impossible for it to produce works and deeds that reflect and demonstrate God’s goodness. The sin nature and God’s goodness are polar opposites. The sin nature produces words, deeds, and actions that are evil. I like the Wuest translation, which sounds like a modern, hip vernacular: “but the doing of the good, NOT.” The word “doing” in the Greek means: to labor, work or engage in activity involving considerable expenditure of effort to bring a result or end to successful completion; to work out fully and thoroughly; it represents the full and final bringing of an enterprise to a successful conclusion; to carry something out to its ultimate goal and to do, accomplish or perform something successfully. The sin nature, no matter how much effort is expended, cannot successfully bring about a work of God’s goodness as its accomplished goal.
The word “good” (a different Greek word than in Romans 3) means: that which is inherently excellent or intrinsically good, beautiful, honorable, admirable or precious and provides some special or superior benefit. It is something morally excellent and worthy of recognition. It is the beautiful, noble and honorable impression made by good as it manifests itself. It is goodness that is visible to the eye and radiates beauty and harmonious perfection that is pleasing to God. It is goodness that is excellent in its nature and characteristics. The sin nature through hard work cannot produce anything intrinsically good or beautiful that has any special or superior benefit to the kingdom of God. Nothing morally excellent or worthy of recognition comes out of the sin nature of a human being. The fruit of our sin nature never benefits God or promotes His kingdom in any way, shape, or form. No matter how wise, or how rich, or how connected a person may be, they have no ability in this corrupt sin nature to accomplish anything that reflects the beauty, loveliness, honor, wholeness, and perfection of the goodness of God.
The heart and soul are lost and wounded in the wilderness of this world, battered by sin and in desperate need of God’s healing redemption. John Eldridge, in Wild at Heart, Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul, describes the long and vicious war of sin and the waging spiritual battle for the human heart:
Its June 6, 1944..You are soldier on the third wave
at Omaha Beach. Thousands of men have gone
before you and now its your turn. As you jump out
of the Higgins boat and wade to the beach, you see
the bodies of soldiers everywhere-floating on the
water, tossing in the surf, lying on the beach.
Moving up the sand you encounter hundreds of
wounded men. Some are limping toward the bluffs
with you, looking for shelter. Others are barely
crawling. Snipers on the cliffs above continue to
take them out. Everywhere you look, there are pain
and brokenness. The damage is almost overwhelming…
this is one brutal war…But we do not think so closely
about life and I’m not sure why…Men (and women)
are being taken out right and left. Scattered across
the neighborhood lie the shattered lives of men and
women who have died at a soul-level from the wounds
they have taken. You’ve heard the expression, “he’s a
shell of a man?” They have lost heart. Many more
are alive but they are badly wounded. They are trying
to crawl forward, but are having an awful time getting
there lives together, they seem to be taking hits. You
know others who are already captives, languishing in
prisons of despair, addiction, idleness, or boredom.
The place looks like a battlefield, the Omaha beach
of the soul. And that is precisely what it is. We are
in the late stages of the long and vicious war against
the human heart…We were born into a world at war.
The battle for the human heart is fierce, as both God and the devil are at war for the soul of mankind. Even though the human race is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins and all the consequences of sin poured into God’s creation, God promised a coming Redeemer who would crush the serpent and break the power and penalty of sin. He would be the victorious captain of our soul, and our triumphant general in the battle for the human heart.
The following was a chapter in the Magnificent Goodness of God and How it Will Transform Your Life. Order at http://www.amazon.com/Magnificent-Goodness-Will-Transform-Your/dp/1615795154/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323130193&sr=8-1