The Kingdom of God After the Fall

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21

The Serpent’s Deception

In Eden all was good.  Mankind lovingly obeyed the Lord and lived in His presence.  The Kingdom of God was on the earth.  All of this changed when Satan deceived Eve.

The temptation in the Garden, while new to man, wasn’t a novel invention.  Satan had already fallen to that same temptation he introduced to Adam & Eve:

“You were the signet of perfection,
    full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God;
    every precious stone was your covering… You were an anointed guardian cherub.
    I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
    in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
You were blameless in your ways
    from the day you were created,
    till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade
    you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
    and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
    from the midst of the stones of fire.
Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
    you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground…”

Ezekiel 28:12b-13a, 14-17a

Satan was an angel of God.  He was appointed as a protector, a cherub, a high-ranking angel who was apparently stationed in Eden (v. 13).  However, pride set in and corrupted the angel, leading to his rebellion:

You said in your heart,
    ‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
    I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
    in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.’

Isaiah 14:13-14

Jesus is very clear about the root of sin beginning with the affections of the heart (Mt. 5).  Satan’s sin began with his desire to “be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14).

He was no longer content with the status quo.  He no longer lovingly obeyed God’s Kingdom rule; he rebelled.  Some theologians therefore call sin “cosmic treason” for it is always an expression of the heart’s desire for autonomy, to be free from God, and to go its own way.


The Fall of Man’s Soul

Satan, in the form of the serpent, approached Eve and offered the same deception which resulted in his downfall.  Satan offered an illusion of autonomy, a chance to be “free” from the Kingdom rule, and “be like God” (v. 5).

In this progression of sin, all of the heart’s faculties were corrupted leading to the rebellion:


The Corruption of the Mind

If we look closely at Satan’s tactic, he begins with the mind.  Satan deceives Adam & Eve, saying that God’s words are not true and shouldn’t be believed.  The heart which once believed God now distrusts Him and believes the lie of the enemy:

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’”
“No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:1-5

The Corruption of the Emotion

Once the mind became corrupt, sin moved its way to the heart’s affections.  The heart that used to love the Lord and His ways now has foreign and wicked loves

 The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom.

Genesis 3:6a

The Corruption of the Will

The will always follows the emotion.  In other words, the heart chooses whatever it desires most in the moment of decision.  For Eve, once autonomy replaced obeying the Lord as her highest desire, she chose to rebel against the Lord’s commands:

So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Genesis 3:6b

The Fall of Man’s Body

As Jesus taught His disciples, sin begins in the heart.  In the Garden, it began with the heart rebelling against God’s Kingdom rule.  However, it did not end with the heart.  Sin spread to the body, rendering it unfit for God’s Kingdom realm.

The body’s corruption came also by way of curse for rebelling against God’s Kingdom rule:

He said to the woman:
I will intensify your labor pains;
you will bear children with painful effort…

And he said to the man…

The ground is cursed because of you.
You will eat from it by means of painful labor
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow
until you return to the ground,
since you were taken from it.
For you are dust,
and you will return to dust.”

Genesis 3:16a, 17a, 17c-19

The figure below depicts the total corruption of man due to sin:

Sin Corrupted Man, Body & Soul


Exile from the Kingdom of God

Because of sin, man was no longer fit for God’s Kingdom.  The consequence of which was exile:

So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.  He drove the man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.

Genesis 3:23-24

Exile from God’s Kingdom is a total removal from His unveiled glory.  God removes His glory from sinful man for two reasons:

  1. He is holy.  We see this again when He withdraws His glory from the Temple after Israel’s apostasy (Ezekiel 10:4-5, 18)
  2. We cannot survive His unveiled presence as we are.  Sin has so weakened our mortal bodies that we would be destroyed by His glory.  He says so to Moses:

     

Then Moses said, “Please, let me see your glory.”
 He said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name ‘the Lord’ before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”  But he added, “You cannot see my face, for humans cannot see me and live.”

Exodus 33:18-20

Original Sin

Reading the genealogy in Genesis 5, we learn that sin did not simply begin and end with Adam & Eve.  In the genealogy, Moses inserts the phrase “And he died” after every descendant of Adam.  He is communicating that sin somehow spreads.  It is transferred from parent to child such that “in Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22).  And the problem is that we are all born in Adam.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.

Romans 5:12

The Bible is clear that we all inherit a sinful human nature (body and soul).  This is what theologians call original sin.  A brief survey of some Passages of Scripture informs us on the continued corruption of man’s faculties:


Corrupt Mind

While we are in the flesh, our minds are darkened.  They are inhibited by the effects of sin.  This is evident in Paul’s letter to the Romans:

For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools

Romans 1:21-22

Paul also teaches a certain inability to understand spiritual things due to sin:

But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.

1 Corinthians 2:14

Corrupt Emotion

We are also born with corrupted emotions, affections that do not desire the things of God:

Therefore God delivered them over in the desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves…   For this reason God delivered them over to disgraceful passions.

Romans 1:24a, 26

Corrupt Will

Because the highest desire of the fallen human heart is “only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5), the will of fallen man is perpetually sinning.  Even the most philanthropic of choices done by fallen man is done with a sinful motive considering he does not desire the glory of the Lord.  

It is not simply the case that fallen man doesn’t choose the things of the Lord; the Bible tells us that fallen man can not:

 

Now the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace.  The mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:6-8

Martin Luther calls this the bondage of the will.  Luther teaches that the will of fallen man is bound by his sin (John 8:34; Romans 6:15-23):

Now, since on God’s own testimony, men are ‘flesh’, they can savour of nothing but the flesh; therefore ‘free-will’ can avail only to sin. And if, while the Spirit of God is calling and teaching among them, they go from bad to worse, what could they do when left to themselves, without the Spirit of God? it obviously follows that whatever is flesh is ungodly, under God’s wrath, and a stranger to His kingdom. And if it is a stranger to God’s kingdom and Spirit, it follows of necessity that it is under the kingdom and spirit of Satan. For there is no middle kingdom between the kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan, which are ever at war with each other.

Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will

Corrupt Body

Sickness, decay, and death are all somatic (bodily) effects of the fall.  Again, Paul tells us:

What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption. 

1 Corinthians 15:50

Need for a New Heart & Body

It is obvious that there is no hope that salvation would come from man.  Man is too corrupt, too evil, too fallen.  Man is cut off and in exile from God (Isaiah 59:2). 

If man, body & soul, is to return to the Kingdom of God, he must be redeemed, body & soul.  He needs a new heart by which he will lovingly obey God’s Kingdom rule, and a new body by which he can once again dwell in God’s Kingdom realm.

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