Previous article in this series: September 15, 2011, p. 487.
Man by nature has an evil desire to blame God for his own wickedness. A married man, for example, who openly and unashamedly enjoys lusting after other women, might say to someone who objects, “I cannot deny the way the good Lord made me.” Over against such vile statements we must confess that man was not a fornicator when God created him. Rather, God created man good.
Man was without sin at the beginning, yet it was possible for him to disobey God. At first he did not have an evil nature. Yet it was still possible for him to reject the word of God and to receive the judgment of death. For Christ this was and is not possible, but it was for Adam in that time period when he was without sin.
Man created good
God created man good, after His own image. We read that, at the end of the six days of creation, “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). Adam was created a good and righteous son, and he walked in complete obedience to his Father for awhile. Yet man failed to trust in God. Instead of listening to God, he listened to the devil, and received the just judgment of becoming like the devil to whom he had harkened.
Many, however, who profess to be Christians reject the biblical story concerning the creation and fall of man. Refusing to confess their original guilt, they insist that man has always committed evil deeds. Some, for example, say that man’s wicked acts are to be explained by his having evolved from savage animals. Man, they say, has evolved into the kind of being he is today, without deserving an evil nature because of any sin that he has ever committed. This line of argumentation amounts to saying that God created man evil and perverse, and that therefore God Himself is really the ultimate author of man’s sin. Such a teaching is clearly blasphemous. Yet from the very beginning, unbelieving man has desired to find some way to blame God for his own sin.
Over against such evil imaginations, we must proclaim the truth that Solomon confessed: “God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Eccl. 7:29a). Man really was upright at the beginning. But when he refused to listen to God, he fell from his excellency, so that he justly deserved to receive the evil nature he has today.
A good man that could sin and die
Although Adam was good and obedient for a while, it was possible for him to sin and then die. Even if he had lived in perfection for many years, it would have still been the case that he could have died at any time. To be sure, he would have continued to remain alive for as long as he remained obedient. But if he ever partook of the forbidden fruit, God would bring upon him the judgment of death. On the very day that he would eat of that fruit, he would die.
Such was the case with Adam on the day that God gave him the prohibition. And for as long as Adam remained obedient, things would have remained the same. He would continue to live during that time, yet he would know that at any moment he could die. All he would have to do would be to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Before the fall, God did not promise Adam the immortality that we now have in Christ. Many have said that if Adam would have remained obedient for awhile, God would have eventually granted unto him a life that could not end. But to be unable to die, he would have to be unable to sin. Would that ever have been possible for man outside of Christ?
We will start by considering that question, Lord willing, next time.