In this module we will take a closer look at the fall of man and how sin came into this world. We will examine the nature of sin and offer a definition of sin as we look into the heart of man to see why he chose to sin and allow separation between himself and a loving God, who had been his very life and existence. The very answers we find in examining the nature of sin may assist us in understanding why many today still choose to not allow God into their lives, why man does not believe in God and why society is on a path to self-destruction.
In Genesis 3:1-7 we read of the fall of man into sin; Adam chose to live his life apart from God, seeking rather to face life on his own, he desired to be master of his own destiny. God told Adam they could not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, a command they chose to disobey. Sin then made its way into this world through disobedience to what God had spoken, Adam made a choice, and he chose to please Eve and himself rather than please God. The question then is ‘Why did man choose to disobey God?’
Adam and Eve had an enemy, the devil also known as Satan, who was out to destroy their lives and bring about a permanent separation between man and God. Satan had been created by God as an archangel, and was called Lucifer (Isa 14:12 NKJV). He had been created as a worship leader and had himself rebelled against God, causing a revolt in heaven leading to his expulsion along with those angels who had joined him in the uprising. He left heaven with an extreme hatred for God and his nature is now a reflection of his rebellion and hatred. It is this nature which he has succeeded in passing onto man; a nature which rejects God and seeks only to please self.
The devil accomplished his plan through deception, convincing Eve to eat of the forbidden tree. The devils goal in the Garden of Eden was one of attacking God’s integrity and destroying the communion which existed between God and man. His plan was simple; divide and conquer. Have you noticed how this is the plan he uses against the church today? He hasn’t changed since the Garden of Eden; he does not have any new tricks. His plan was to drive a permanent wedge between God and man, to bring a separation between the creator (Elohim) and His creation.
God’s command was simple “The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
Satan’s attack was designed to cause Eve to see God as one who could not be trusted to be truthful with them, wanting only to withhold something good from them. We see this in Satan’s response to Eve, “The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)
Eve’s reaction is to now look at the tree differently, she is now looking to see what it is that God is withholding from her. What does she see?
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” (Gen 3:6-7)
Eve now sees the tree with a different set of eyes; she is looking with a heart that is now beginning to doubt God’s integrity and no longer trusts God. What she sees is what she perceives as being what she needs for her life, in order to be successful and God is no longer in the picture. She begins to see life apart or as a separate entity to God, with whom they had walked as one in mind, heart and spirit. Now her desires are no longer to know God, but rather to know and experience life on her own, to find what God has been holding back from her.
Eve first sees the tree as being good for food; sin is always shrouded in the pretence that it is something we need and should have for our own good. It has the appearance of being beneficial to us and the focus is on meeting ones immediate need. Eve had found a food source of her own which would sustain her, Gods provision of an entire garden became oblivious to her. She was no longer seeking Elohims provision; she now had her own source of provision. Elohim, the one who created all things on earth for man, was no longer her provision. Eve was no longer dependant on God but sought to be independent of God.
Eve saw the tree as a delight to the eyes; sin always appeals to the flesh, she became mesmerised by what she saw and oblivious to its dangers. It looked good; she could see nothing wrong by this stage. She became emotionally connected with it, it felt good and appealed to her natural senses. Her natural senses took over compelling her to eat of its fruit. Herein lies the danger of sin; it appeals to the natural man, connecting his emotions with his natural desires, a very powerful combination. Man is led by his emotions and feelings; if it feels good it must be ok. This is characteristic of humanism. There are no absolutes, only what feels good is important.
Eve had found a way to provide for herself and meet her own needs, God would no longer be her provision in life, and she could now be self-reliant. Self-reliance is an inherent part of the nature of sin; mankind desires to seek only his own provision in life and does not look to God to guide him through life and meet his needs. Eve was now self-reliant in life.
The next thing Eve saw was a tree which was good to make one wise; sin always convinces man he has been deprived of something he should have, it’s his right. Does this sound familiar in today’s society? God warns us not to covet our neighbours' goods (Exod 20:17). Satan deceived Eve into believing Elohim had withheld wisdom from her, that she was incomplete and lacking something which only the tree could give her. Again, we see Eve turning her back on God’s provision. God ceased to be her source of wisdom, she sought her own wisdom, and she sought her own independence. Eve was now living a self-centred life.
Finally, Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened and they became aware of their naked state. For the first time they became self-conscious beings, aware only of their natural bodies and senses. They had been clothed with the presence and glory of God (Elohim in the Hebrew referring to God as the Creator), He had been their covering. They had only been conscious of Elohim and the flow of the Holy Spirit within them. Elohim was as one with them, He had been their life source, their provider, and their wisdom. They had only seen themselves in the image of God. God’s image had been their entire existence.
Now for the first time they were alone, no longer one with Elohim, no longer conscious only of God, but they became conscious only of themselves as natural man. They became self-conscious beings, aware only of their own abilities and strength. Man became their new identity and image; they looked to each other for their self-image & identity. Elohim was no longer the life source of man, His Spirit no longer dwelt in man. Man’s image became his self-image. As he sees himself, so he is.
Man began to live life according to his own strength and abilities and no longer drew on the life of the Spirit within; he degenerated from a God-conscious being to a self-conscious being. Man was now living a self-conscious life and dependant only on himself for his life.
So, the Nature of Sin embodies three elements which are today inherent in man, they are the desire to be:
Self-Reliant - Self-Cantered - Self-Conscious
These three elements describe the nature of man today; one which is contrary to the nature man was given when he was created by God, when God breathed His life into man. Sin began within the heart, with a desire to be different fuelled by a lie about God, a desire which would exclude God from their lives as they sought to establish their own independent identity, and which culminated in Eve disobeying God by reaching out and eating from the forbidden tree.
The heart and soul of man are indeed powerful within man, and the desires which fill our hearts are not to be underestimated for the impact they can have in directing our lives. A heart open to the Voice and Leading of God by His Spirit will be filled with desires which will honour God and enable us to walk as one with God. But a heart closed to God will be filled with desires which reflect the nature of sin, and which find man walking life on his own.
Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
In my own life I have chosen to open my heart to the voice and leading of God’s Spirit so I may live my life in communion with God, and as I do so I experience the life flow of God in my life, allowing His wisdom, His strength, ability and creativity to flow and His blessings to be my provision in life. As a result of this I now honor the desires which rise up within my heart, knowing that those desires, as I look to Jesus, will have come from the Father who desires to walk with me through life, guiding, directing and counselling me so that I may live life as God originally intended us to live.
I now define sin as: The wilful exercise of one’s human nature without seeking the Life of the Spirit of God.
I have made a decision and have chosen to live my life under the leading and guidance of Jesus Christ, who has restored His Spirit to my life that we may be one in spirit and live the life which Adam and Eve turned their backs on.