The Descent of Man into Sin
...and the Grace of God that Intervenes
It was in his Epistle to the Romans that I discovered the Apostle Paul held a regard for sin in three dimensions. The questing of my heart led me to see how far men of the Old Covenant went in their understanding of this depth in sin. I came to David, then Isaiah, then Daniel, and then to Moses. Paul was in accord with all these powerful Prophets. They each saw this depth of sin in the makeup of all humanity. And, they saw a time when all these dimensions of sin would be removed from earth.
With Paul, it was the Sin, sin and sins. Men of the Old Testament saw the Transgression, iniquity and sins. We won’t try to make them exactly parallel, but they all acknowledged the darkness into which mankind has fallen. They all saw a force of evil outside of us that reaches for a human inclination toward wrong. Then, there was this other that they all saw. It was the hope for a people who will come forth pure and right for God’s Kingdom on earth. This would be a company of holy people called the saints of the most high.Dan 7:22 While men of the Old Covenant pointed onward to a full salvation, men of the New Covenant gave the sure word concerning it. Jesus was pointing toward this when He said, ...he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of (the) life.John 8:12b
In the depth of revelation given Paul, we become aware that in the ages to come...the exceeding riches of God’s grace will be revealed in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.--Eph 2:7 Peter held understanding regarding a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.--I Pet 1:5 And John said, Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.--I John 3:3
To understand how deep God’s grace goes, we will see the depth of the sin into which mankind has fallen. The picture will not be pretty. As we look closely, we shall discover the condition of man will worsen as the age draws toward its end.
Take note of what Jesus said about the time of the end. It will be like Noah’s day. And just (exactly) as the days of Noah, thus it will be in the coming of the Son of Man.Matt 23:37 Moses who wrote Genesis lets us know what the days of Noah were like. And God saw that the wickedness (lewdness, moral depravity) of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.Gen 6:5 Sin came to its full in that former day, without mankind in general being aware of what was happening. Today we’re rushing headlong into a similar state of affairs.
As we proceed in this series, we will move toward understanding the depth of sin that is coming on as this age is ending. But we will discover more than sin. We will discover God’s grace also.
To see Paul’s regard for sin, we go to the opening of Romans. He wrote of its first dimension in 1:21-32. This passage reveals mankind’s horrifying descent into the sins spreading into the world as Adam’s descendents were moving away from God’s holiness. They reached a depth of sinfulness that made the flood of Noah’s day mandatory lest even the holy Seed itself should be corrupted.
Paul went on in Romans to tell of sin’s second dimension. He saw it as a principle force of iniquity working in the nature of all mankind. See this in Rom 3
...9b we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
That they are all under sin means that sin, as a force of personal iniquity, works in everyone. It is what causes people to commit sins. A corrupt allurement from the world reaches for this iniquity in everyone. In Noah’s day mankind became so corrupt God had to destroy all but one family to save the holy Seed. As restraints against sin became weaker with each generation, increasing numbers were drawn into the cesspool of evil. We can expect the same scenario in the end of this age. Only now God’s design is to save the elect.Mt 24:22
As we view Paul’s Roman Epistle in the Greek New Testament, we find him telling of a third dimension of sin in 5:12. This gives us the opening of a vast revelation concerning the Sin, taking us back to Adam. Seeing this verse in the Greek, we find several words have a Definite Article with them. We should be aware of these. Wherefore, as by one man (the) sin entered into the world, and through (the) sin, (the) death, and so (the) death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. We are all left to deal with the ruling principle of the Sin and of the Death.But neither of these are to maintain their government over us in God’s Kingdom.
What we are moving toward in this series of articles is an understanding of the prophetic Word the angel Gabriel brought to the Prophet Daniel. He revealed to him that all three dimensions of sin will finally be overcome in the earth and everlasting righteousnessDan 9:24 shall be brought in. A holy people shall possess the Kingdom.--Dan 7:18, 21-22, 25-27
Two significant matters in Rom 5:12 continue holding our attention. It is on purpose that we consider them again. First, the Sin—the same as the Transgression—gained its hold on mankind through Adam. Ever since the Sin entered the world through him it has spread like a deadly virus in the heart of every person conceived. David knew this about himself when he said, Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.Ps 51:5 He did not mean the act of his conception was sinful, but rather, that the sin of humanity came upon him when he became part of the human race.
Second, the Sin that passed upon all men from Adam brought with it what Paul called the Death. Let’s state it yet again: because of the Sin released upon mankind by Adam, all persons who enter the world do so with the Death in pursuit of them. These are two principle forces with which we all must deal.
Let us see one further statement before going on. When Jesus went to the cross, He did not go there leaving a trail of sins committed. Nor did He go there with the nature of a sinner. But, He took on Him the Sin released into the human race by Adam. Then, He entered the realm of the Death and broke the authority of its government over all who have placed their faith in His redeeming work.
So, let it be firm in our understanding that in the salvation Jesus obtained for us, there is a triumph over the Sin and over the Death, both of which came upon us because of Adam. Paul gave us the keys to overcoming them in Romans. Read this carefully from chapter 6.
10For in that He (Jesus) died, He died unto (the) Sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth (perpetually) unto God. 11Likewise (perpetually) reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto (the) Sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. It must be our perpetual reckoning, never ceasing to put it to our account.
Even in this age, as Christ Jesus leads us from triumph to triumph in the train of His Own triumph, we live according to a perpetual reckoning that His Death was our death and His Life is our life.
Will we enter what man calls death? Nearly everyone who has ever lived has eventually died. But those who die in the Lord continue living. Death has lost its sting for us. It holds no victory over us. So also, iniquity has lost its ability to control us.
Let us review now some wonderful words Paul used in Romans and Ephesians to describe the life and triumph Jesus obtained for us who open ourselves to the grace revealed in Him.
We have looked at these words before but never can we see them too much. To each one Paul has added as a prefix the Greek Preposition sun. It means “together with in the same place.” They describe what is ours together with the Lord when we receive His death, burial and resurrection as our own.
•Rom 6 5For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His Death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: 6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of (the) Sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve Sin. (This means we need no longer remain in bondage to the Sin. We remember the key is in our perpetual reckoning.)
•Rom 6 8Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.
•Rom 8 16The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with (heirs together with) Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.
•Eph 2 4But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, 5even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ (When we were dead in Sin, God made us alive together with Christ.), (by grace ye are saved;) 6And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
We have been raised up together with Christ to sit together with Him on the right hand of the Majesty on high.(Heb 1:3) This means God has received us in Christ to be seated at His Own right hand in the heavenlies far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named.(Eph 1:21)
Jesus has redeemed a people to reign in His Kingdom with Him. This makes us children of the Kingdom. He is ready to share His life with us, as well as His position in the heavens and His authority over the powers of evil. Jesus is ready to plant us like seed in His field which is the world.(Matt 13:37,38)
Go back and look carefully at Rom 6:5. Take note that some of the words are not in italics. They were not in the Original text. Let’s read the verse without them. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His Death, we shall be also ... of ... resurrection. While baptism, which being planted together means, is but a likeness of His Death,we share more than a likeness in His resurrection. We enter its reality. The Life that was released when God raised Jesus from the dead is now the Life that will live in us. Oh, to know this in its ever increasing fullness! See Eph 1:15-21!
God’s wrath against the Sin was fully met in the Death of Christ Jesus. Baptism is the public confession of our receiving His Death as the propitiation for our sins.I John 2:2 We reckon that His Death is our death to the downward pull of the Sin. We learn to ever keep it to our account that when He died, we died. When He was raised, we were raised. Where He is we are. Where we are He is. He is ready to live His Life in us—now. Oh, what a salvation this is!
We go back now to see the descent mankind took that led to the condition demanding God’s judgment in Noah’s day. The Scripture we’re about to see lets us know what how sin develops in mankind as well as in an individual. God has interposed His grace to meet sin in its development. But to those who will not receive His grace, sin is yet to reach its greatest depth ever. What we see in the following Scripture does more than describe the descent of Noah’s day; it reveals how far the Sin will take mankind in the last days of this age. Or, we may in it the descent of one person.
Take careful note of the steps downward. They’re numbered. •Some are deliberate. •Some happen apart from one’s own personal will. •Some are brought on by the Lord.
21Because that, (1)when they knew God (having known God), (2)they glorified Him not as God, (3)neither were thankful; (4)but became vain in their imaginations, (They were made to be empty in their ability to reason logically.)(5)and their foolish heart was darkened. The souls here described give up the glorious state of knowing God and cease glorifying Him. What a sad step downward this is! It is those who do know God who will find strength in the day of trouble. They will find the solution to the hopeless state of affairs surrounding them in the dark time covering the earth. See Dan 11:32b. Learn it!
22 (6)Professing themselves to be wise, (7)they became fools, (With no ability to think logically and with a heart that is empty, these try to prove they are wise only to show what fools they are.) 23 (8)and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. 24 (9)Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: (Because these persist in unclean lusts, God turns them over to the lewd and perverse sexual behavior. It becomes who they are.) 25 (10)who changed the truth of God into a lie (literally, “the lie”), and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
They sought to prove God wrong, only themselves to be made wrong as they exchanged the truth of God for “the lie.” As we have seen with other words in this section, this word lie is preceded by a Definite Article in the Greek to make it “the Lie.” It is the lie brought into the world by the serpent who accosted Eve in the Garden and persuaded her that God was wrong. God had said, Thou shalt surely die.Gen 2:17 The serpent told her, Ye shall not surely die.Gen 3:4
26 (11)For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections (disgraceful feelings for one another): for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet (necessary).
They were not born as homosexuals, but after they persisted in perverse, unnatural behavior, God turned them over to that which was unseemly, that is, disgraceful. This terrifying act of God gave persons over to become what they insisted was their natural right to be, even if wrong. But it proves to be wasteful and destructive of an individual’s life.
28 (12)And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; (This means they put God to their test and then decided He did not pass their test, nor was He worthy of their acknowledgment. Thus, God turned them over to a mind that could not put anything to the test, nor would they ever be able to discern any right from any wrong. This would leave a person open to embrace all the following, with no ability to distinguish what is right or what is wrong. Just think of having all of the following as the norm for one’s life!
29 (13)being filled with all unrighteousness: fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection (without any care for one’s own kin), implacable (not to be trusted in any circumstance), unmerciful: (Oh, take note of this!) 32 who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
When souls reach the final depth of sin, they become unmerciful. What a hopeless place to land in life! Those who become locked in the state of being unmerciful lose all hope of receiving mercy.
A principle was at work when the flood of Noah’s day destroyed the earth. Take note of the words corrupt and destroy in Genesis 6.
11The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his (its) way upon the earth. 13And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
Each of the underlined words comes from the same Hebrew root word, shachath, which means “to spoil, waste or become ruined.” The wrong, cruelty and injustice of the world brought it to the place of complete ruin. So God turned man over to the corruption they had already given themselves unto. Remember what Jesus said. —To be continued.
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