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Sitara:

What were the consequences? How do they connect with the human condition today?

Nathan:

Adam and Eve dragged the entire human race into the long course of depravity, like a branch cut off from the vine. Their humanity was gradually warped, and their reflection of the character of God dimmed. They started the process of spiritual death because of the separation from God, their source of life.

Let's briefly consider two important consequences.

I mentioned that Adam and Eve in their fall sought the power to dictate the rules as they please, and to become the center of their world. But the immediate problem was that they were two separate beings trying at the same time to be the center of this realm. Strife was inevitable, and is confirmed by the last sentence in verse sixteen of chapter three, which says, "you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you." [Note 1 ]

The Hebrew word for desire in the verse occurs only once elsewhere, [Note 2 ] in Genesis chapter four verse seven, which says, "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it." [Note 3 ] The meaning here is that sin attempts to control and dominate the person.

Victor P. Hamilton, professor of Old Testament and theology at Asbury University, says that when applied to Adam and Eve, the word means "a desire to break the relationship of equality and turn it into a relationship of servitude and domination … Far from being a reign of co-equals over the remainder of God's creation, the relationship now becomes a fierce dispute, with each party trying to rule the other." [Note 4 ]

This strife is seen today not just in marriages, not just between male and female, but in all human relationships.

The other consequence is death.

Sitara:

Actually I'm puzzled by this. When God expressed the prohibition, he explicitly said, "If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die." The devil tempted Eve and said that they wouldn't die. In the end, they really didn't die after taking the fruit. So I took it to mean spiritual death, or separation from God. But I think that's only a partial understanding.

Nathan:

What God said was the certainty of death. He was not bound to its prompt execution. The death was a total death, spiritual and physical. The former immediately began after the fall, but the latter was delayed out of his grace.

If the physical death was also immediate, the choice Adam and Eve had would be void of any real meaning of free will, because they chose autonomy, not hell under the tyranny of the devil.

Sitara:

You're saying that God respected their choice of a separate existence in which they call the shots. This estrangement necessarily cut them off from their source of life. It was an inevitable outcome rather than an imposed punishment.

If they expected his blessings to continue unchanged after their decision, they would then be seeking to turn the table and put God under their rule as well, which they had no power to do and it wasn't his choice.

Nathan:

That's an excellent point.

We see that Adam and Eve were created as God intended, in their state of perfect bliss and fellowship with their Maker. They had real freedom to change their default state, and sadly we saw that they did.

Physical death marks the entrance from one's existence in the realm of physical time into the timeless state of permanent total separation from God. Physical death seals one's final destiny. It marks the end of the period of grace for one to be redeemed. Peter tells us that God "does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent." [Note 5 ]

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil made Adam and Eve aware of their freedom; physical death makes us aware of a finite grace period we have. Each has to make a decision within his own given window to change his course of eternal destiny.

Sitara:

What's the decision, and how is it made?

Nathan:

It's to accept Christ Jesus to redeem us from the penalty of our sins, to die our death into the state of separation from God, and to bring us—by his resurrection—back on course to eternal life. At the same time, we have to return to the original created order where God is the center of our being, the Lord of our lives. But this we can no longer do because of our heavily depraved human nature. We have to accept God into our lives in the person of the Holy Spirit to transform and restore us.

So the decision, out of repentance, involves these two acts of acceptance together, done in faith that God will do everything as he promised in response.

Anybody can make this decision before God anywhere anytime. Or, you may want to go through this with another person. I would suggest that a person does it, even if alone, at the very moment he or she has the urge.

We'll talk about the works of Jesus next week. It would then be a good time for you to make your choice. But as I said, do it whenever you have the urge anytime. Don't wait.

Sitara:

I need a bit more time, but I'll keep your suggestion in mind.

FOOTNOTES:

  1. Genesis 3:16. [Back ]
  2. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, 201. [Back ]
  3. Genesis 4:7 (NIV). [Back ]
  4. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, 202. [Back ]
  5. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT). [Back ]
     

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