Thursday, February 07, 2013

“Creation and the Fall”

First Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Creation and the Fall”
For the week of Feb. 9, 2013
Creation and the Fall
Our study this week begins with Adam and Eve and their fall into sin. Eve, deceived, fell through the evidences of her senses. She listened, looked, desired and ate. She listened to enticing words uttered by Satan. Then when she “saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Gen 3:6). What she needed to learn, as we all must, is that faith – “the faith of Jesus” – means believing the promises of God not only in the absence of feeling, but against them.

Consider the devil’s method that caused Eve to doubt God’s word. Notice the expression with which he opens the conversation: “Has God indeed said…” This is an expression insinuating doubt and suspicion. Commenting on this phrase, A. T. Jones wrote:
[N]o translation can give it exactly. It cannot be exactly expressed in letters so as to form a word that would give it truly. Yet everybody in the world is familiar with the expression. It is that sneering grunt (expressed only through the nose) – c-ugh! – which conveys query, doubt, suspicion, and contempt, all at once.   “C-ugh! hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” And everybody knows that to this day among men there is nothing equal to this sneering grunt, to create doubt and suspicion; and no other expression is used so much by mankind for that purpose. And this is the origin of it.[1]
Immediately following the doubts planted in Eve’s mind the devil told three lies to her,  which remain with us to this day. And they will be the leading lies received by the majority of mankind in these last days of earth’s history. These three are, 1) you don’t have to obey God (implied); 2) “you will not surely die;” and 3) “you will be like God.”

While in heaven Lucifer did not verbally utter these lies, but they were very much on    his mind. In his heart and mind he exalted himself thinking “I will be like the Most High” (Isa 14:14). And it was out of the depths of his heart that his lips expressed, to Eve, his ambition to be God. She was caught in this deception. He inspired her with his own self-deceived mind – to be equal with God.

Satan used the influence of mind upon mind with Eve. She, in turn, used the same influence on Adam. He was not deceived, however (1 Tim 2:14). He willfully chose to follow her into sin. Rather than obey God, he chose to die with her. This reveals the power of influence of mind on mind for evil.
Through the medium of influence, taking advantage of the action of mind on mind, he [Satan] prevailed on Adam to sin. Thus at its very source human nature was corrupted. And ever since then sin has continued its hateful work, reaching from mind to mind. Every sin committed awakens the echoes of the original sin.[2] 
Satan “uses the same power that he used in heaven--the influence of mind on mind. Men become tempters of their fellow men. The strong, corrupting sentiments of Satan are cherished, and they exert a masterly, compelling power. Under the influence of these sentiments, men bind up with one another in confederacies, in trades unions, and in secret societies. There are at work in the world agencies that God will not much longer tolerate. [3]
Eve ate and imagined that she felt the sensations of a new and more exalted life. She bore the fruit to her husband, and that which had an overpowering influence upon him was her experience. The serpent had said that she should not die, and she felt no ill effects from the fruit, nothing which could be interpreted to mean death, but, just as the serpent had said, a pleasurable sensation which she imagined was as the angels felt. Her experience stood arrayed against the positive command of Jehovah, and Adam permitted himself to be seduced by the experience of his wife.[4]

The Investigative Judgment

After Adam and Eve sinned they went into hiding. God took the initiative find them. He went looking for them and found them in the bushes. He did not condemn them. Instead He asked them a series of questions. Beginning the investigation with Adam, three questions were asked of him: 1) “Where are you?” “Who told you that you were naked?” “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Gen 3:9, 11). Adam would not take responsibility for his actions. He blamed Eve, the one he should have loved more than himself. God then turned to her with one investigative question: “What is this you have done?” Eve, like Adam, refused to take responsibility for what she did. She claimed that it was the serpent led her to do it.

Grace and Judgment

When they sinned, Adam and Eve came under the curse of sin. Why, then, were not they condemned to death as God stated: “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17). The reason they did not die, that day as they should have, was because of God’s grace. While lying under that curse, the Lord extended mercy to Adam and Eve. Grace immediately surrounded them in the very first moment of their sin. While is true that Adam deliberately chose Eve over than God, the devil’s deception was involved in their sin. Because Eve was deceived God put His plan of redemption into motion in order to give her, and Adam, another chance to choose whom they will serve.
Grace was here manifested for the first time in the history of the universe. It had not been needed before Adam and Eve sinned. “Grace is unmerited favor.”[5] Grace surrounded Adam and Eve. As soon as they sinned, there was a Savior.[6]
They did not perish that day because of God’s grace given to them. They were not left without hope. “A ransom was found. Christ became their substitute and surety.”[7] He was then and continues to be “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8). “The iniquities of us all” were laid upon Him (Isa 53:6). Jesus “gathered to His own pure, sinless soul the penalty resting upon the sinful race, and offered Himself as a sacrifice.”[8] “By dying in man's stead, Christ exhausted the penalty and provided a pardon.”[9]

Two pronouncements in Eden: Grace to Adam and Eve; condemnation to the serpent (Gen 3:14, 15). And of course, the real serpent is the enemy of God and man – “that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan” (Rev 12:9). The gospel promise of Gen 3:15 gave hope to the fallen pair, while at the same time declaring the devil’s doom. Here too is the first promise to send Jesus to be “Savior of the world” (1 John 4:13).

To Adam and Eve the promise of salvation came first, followed by the divine sentence of temporal judgment. If there is no gospel, judgment means eternal condemnation. But in Christ Jesus the fallen race was acquitted from condemnation (John 3:17). “As through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Rom 5:18).

It was as the second Adam that Jesus defeated the devil. That serpent slithered into the presence of Jesus during His fast in the wilderness. With the words “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Matt 4:3), it was the devil’s design to raise doubts in Christ’s mind. Although He was severely tempted to use His inherent power as God, Jesus answered: “Man shall not live by bread alone” (v 4). Jesus answered as the Representative of the fallen human race. In answering the devil Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3. The devil very well knew the meaning of that verse, for in the original language the passage literally says, “Adam shall not live by bread alone; but Adam lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” It was by faith in the word of God alone that the second Adam defeated the devil in the wilderness temptations at that time and ever after – all the way to the cross, where Jesus made a public spectacle of Satan and his hosts of hell, “triumphing over them in it” At the cross, Jesus “disarmed” the devil (Col. 2:15). In the original language, the word disarmed is a double compound meaning “to put off completely, to undress completely and thus render powerless.” At the cross, Christ stripped off the covering Satan used to hide his deceptions. Fig leaves were now useless for him to cover himself.

In the garden of Eden it was only after the promise of redemption was given that the Lord pronounced temporal judgment on Adam and Eve (See Gen 3:16-17). Not only in Genesis is found the redemption theme regarding the gospel followed by judgment. The same order of procedure is in the last book of the Bible (Rev 14:6,7). More than this, the gospel message of grace beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation is central to every book of the Bible. All messages of redemption in the Bible are the outgrowth of the first gospel promise of Genesis 3:15. We are reminded that “The enmity put between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman was supernatural.”[10] That promised enmity is for you and me today. It is the gift of God’s free grace. While it is true God’s grace is free, it is not cheap. It cost Jesus His life. So now we can give “Thanks … to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (1 Cor 15:57; 2 Cor 2:14).

[1] A.T. Jones, Ecclesiastical Empire, p. 590
[2] E.G. White, RH, April 16, 1901
[3] Manuscript Release No 4, p. 85  
[4] Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 72
[5] Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 331
[6] The Desire of Ages, p. 210
[7] Signs of the Times, December 14, 1904
[8] Signs of the Times, Dec 14, 1904
[9] Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 340
[10] Manuscript Releases, vol. 16, p. 118