Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why the Incarnation Matters: The Entrance of Sin

In the previous missive, we talked about God's original plan for creation, and our initial call to eternal union with Christ.  As I noted at the conclusion, the simplest of actions had the most dire of consequences.  There have been some theologians throughout time who have questioned whether or not the Incarnation of Christ would've occurred had it not been for sin.  An interesting theological debate perhaps, but one thing is certain.  Due to the entrance of sin, everything changed.  

Yet some ask, why was the eating of fruit, such a simple act, worthy of such a condemnation?  In order to answer this, we must think a little deeper. 

As mentioned earlier, the tree which God forbade man to partake of was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This represented the moral law in a sense.  To eat of good and evil applies having authority over good and evil.  In placing this prohibition, there was a strict reminder that while we were given everything in Eden, we were not the Creator, but the created.  Our first sin was man's attempt to deny this.  

The narrative begins in Genesis 3 with the introduction of "the serpent."  We now know that serpent as the devil, our eternal adversary.  In persuading Eve to partake of the tree, he insinuates "you shall be as gods, having knowledge of good and evil."  In partaking of the fruit, they would have authority over the moral law.  Indeed, they would be able to decide good and evil, since they had authority over it.

Why was this such a great temptation?  Indeed, why would Adam and Eve even listen to what was the appearance of an animal they had control over?  (Since all things were created in Eden for Adam to have dominion over.)  In a word, pride.  We read that after hearing the serpents discourse, Eve "saw that the tree was good  to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold."

If this was truly a paradise, why was God withholding such a great treasure?  If they were to have dominion over Eden, how could they not have dominion over the tree as well?  Indeed, was not paradise a paradise because of Adam and Eve tilling the garden?  Why did they need God to have dominion over it?

All of these questions no doubt were racing through the mind of our first parents.  In a real sense, they let having dominion over all creation go to their head.  In and of itself, such questions are not sinful.  God provides them in nature as a way towards Him.  We see these things, and are drawn closer to God.  Adam and Eve chose a different route.  They chose to believe the lie, the lie still told to us today.

What happened next was clearly not what they had expected.  Their eyes were indeed "opened", but not to become as gods.  One could very well say the partaking of the fruit revealed all too clearly they were not gods.  At that very point, they recognized that they were indeed created, not the Creator.  Yet by this point the pride was unshakable.  From pride, came lust.

As we will discuss later, when we speak of lust, I will not speak of only the sinful desires of the flesh sexually.  Yet here, we see the sewing of fig leaves out of shame.  Why are they ashamed?  This comes back to pride.  Pride infected every bit of their being.  Even though they were reminded far too clearly of their humanity, they believed they did not need God to establish authority.  Everything became about Adam or Eve.  Rather than being the gift for each other they were called to be, both sought to possess each other, exploit the other for their own benefit.  Afterall, Eve was beautiful like the tree was "fair to behold."  Adam reasoned he used the tree for his own enjoyment, why not use Eve?  Likewise, Eve ultimately persuaded Adam to follow her lead.  Why should he not exist for her manipulation and enjoyment in pleasure?

Along with that shame, however, was great fear  They had learned quite clearly that they were not gods, for a God cannot feel shame.  Yet to admit fault and repent of it would be to surrender that knowledge they had gained.  To repent and surrender would also mean that everything would not exist for their enjoyment.  Certainly there would be grave repercussions of this.  Faced with repentance or engaging in something they knew to be wrong, they chose to do wrong and at least maintain their pride.

With this fear running through their veins, they hear the voice of God calling them.  What are they to do?  Certainly He knows what has happened.  Certainly He can figure things out.  So why hide?  Their fear gained the best of them.  They had no clue what to do at this point.  Repentance could be seen as out of the question.  Yet knowing their inferior status, they recognized they could not act on this "knowledge" and face against God, for surely they would lose.  In prideful defiance, they felt they could ignore God's call.

Yet in the end, God confronts Adam for his pride.  The consequences of this pride and insatiable will to power, though they occurred ages ago, still reverberate throughout history today.


  1. Sorry if I'm commenting to much. I simply enjoy your work!

    One comment I would add is from something that has always stuck with me since I read it first. It came from Frank Sheeds superb book "Theology and Sanity." In it he describes sin as ultimately an act of insanity. If God is holding all things together at every moment, and sin is turning one's back on God, then what could be more insane than turning away from the very source holding you in existence?

  2. Enjoyable read. :) Have you participated in Jeff Cavin's Bible studies? I was reminded of it as I read your analysis. I never thought about the idea of Adam and Eve partaking as gods before. Interesting perspective.


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