In the last chapter, we visited the Fall of Man and the grievous consequences that were inflicted upon mankind. Through one man sin entered the world, and death began to dominate the whole world. Not only was the race of man “bitten in the heel” by the serpent, but the poison of death had also spread to all creation. Through the power of death and the dominion of hades, the devil became the ruler of this world (age) – ruling over the living and the dead. He was the prince of the air, the accuser of mankind, the head of all rebellious spirits and dominions, and the tormentor of man’s soul and flesh. War, famine, diseases, and all forms of wickedness and evil forces, devastating and terrifying, began to permeate the creation that God had allotted to Man for his happiness. Man became a victim of lust, sin and death, and the pawn of the evil one and his agents. Man were powerless, defenseless, hopeless and helpless in the face of our unbridled depravity, cruelty and thirst for the blood of even our own brethren. Man became the prey and plunder of the evil one under the sway of all his schemes and attacks.
Man became a creature without rest and without hope. What happened? Even with the best of our knowledge and intelligence, through endless endeavor and persistent effort, we couldn’t even get close to a culture of love, peace, and goodness. If there is no escape from the curse of the fall, then what would be the end of this fatal sickness? Where is our hope?
Again, let’s turn to the “beginning” to find the answer.
In the beginning, God put two trees in the middle of the garden Eden: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Death
He commanded Adam and Eve to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, or they would surely die. So we could call this tree “the Tree of Death”. But He did not deny their access to the Tree of Life until they had disobeyed.
Let’s make some observations about what happened here in Genesis and look at the results of eating the “forbidden fruit”.
Gen. 3:4-6 [NIV]
4“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
What “eyes” were opened
In the previous chapter, we discussed the many tactics and temptations used by the serpent to convince Eve and Adam to partake of the fruit from the Tree of Death. One in particular had to do with the lust of man in coveting God’s wisdom in a wrong way. This was described by Paul as the way of the flesh or the carnal mind. The “eyes” that were opened were the eyes of the flesh, the doorway through which they were plunged into a natural world void of spiritual light.
Previous to this “eye opening”, even though they were flesh and blood, man had the Holy Spirit interacting with his spirit. The human spirit orderly and flawlessly counsels his own soul and reigns his own flesh. The heart of man flows freely the counsel of God into him. The result is that his thoughts (mind) and actions (body) in the soul and physical life are in perfect alignment with God’s wisdom and will. There are no separation between the three compartments of man as a living being. (We will talk a bit more about this in later chapters.) They are fully within the life and counsel that God intended for them. Although they are not yet mature in it, but through their free and loving fellowship with God, they are to be made to like Him in every way. Indeed, it is the great pleasure of God to be their Father and give them His very life, with it, everything that He has.
However, when they ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, their eyes were open to the natural world and to a wisdom that was alien to the one God had intended for them. This base or earthly wisdom began to defile their conscience and their way of thinking. Their life would now be confined by a visible reality, and that being the self consciousness in their mind. Lacking God’s fellowship, and thus His provision, protection and wisdom, they were compelled to conduct their life giving priority to “self”, and because of it, were under the whims of the evil one. This is the nature of what Jesus and the early disciples referred to as “lawlessness”, void of the order of God’s life, or “sin” missing the mark or the purpose for which they are created for and what they were endowed with from time they were created.
The true Knowledge of God would not be illuminated to them through this base and false wisdom. The knowledge of God, of His person and His ways, can only be approached or understood by a spiritual being with spiritual consciousness with his spiritual faculties. God is spirit. His Kingdom or domain is a spiritual and eternal reality, above and beyond the visible and temporal world that man was cast into and caged in. In terms of spiritual truths, Man was now in total darkness. He began to pervert his ability to learn, create and manage things for his own wellbeing to a point of depravity, and in turn would take pride in his own wisdom and achievements.
Thus Paul would say, no flesh and blood can enter the Kingdom of God; and Jesus would say that a man’s flesh will always war against the spirit. These statements are not merely about our struggles against the power of sin or the evil desires within. Rather, they are pointing to a bigger reality which was designed to be veiled from man’s intellect, or his carnal mind. Man’s knowledge, reasoning and imagination came to a lowly state, based on a lowly reality and a culture of disarray, without order, love or understanding from God. This was the core of the sin of man, he was doomed to miss the mark of having real life in God.
How sin lead to death and lawlessness
One important thing we will need to recognize is that there was a spiritual position and Kingdom responsibility that God would only give to His mature sons in whom He is well pleased. Only these would be entrusted with the role and responsibility to represent Him to all creation and to judge with righteousness and justice. They are to mediate, under the headship (leadership) of Christ, on behalf of what is created before God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ with the love, wisdom and mercy He intends to embody and dispense through them. We will expound more on this spiritual order and its ministry that exists in the realm of God, which is the order of Melchizedek. Sadly, through the Fall, Man’s freewill, a unique gift given to them by God to receive love and offer love, was, through the deception of the serpent, usurped to partake, manage and even create things outside of God’s will and against His nature, which is righteousness, holiness, love and goodness.
Having exercised this freewill in the partaking of “the forbidden fruit”, that is a false wisdom, man began to entertain and produce his own concept and standard of justice and judgment; this being rooted in a pride of having or, by delusion, enjoying the right and ability to decide what is right and what is wrong. The goal of man’s judgment then is to strive for his wellbeing through a means of his own.
Man began to take justice in his own hand. First, man formed his own standard of righteousness and justice. Second, he began to muster his strengthen or power to obtain them. This was evident in the life of Cain, just in the second generation of man. He made his brother Abel his enemy and killed him, because sin entered into his mind. He did it for two obvious reasons. First, because Abel seemed to enjoy a better place before God, he felt he was put into a position of injustice and was being mistreated by God. Second, against God’s warning and counsel, he allowed sin to enter his heart and mind, yielded to the demonic desire to avenge himself. Yet, Abel was his brother, and was suppose to be the target of his love and support, not his hatred and competition.
Here we can see a pattern: disobedience leads to sin, sin leads to death, and death leads to a violation of God’s way of order and love. The result is broken human relationships which is against the constitution that God had designed for the family of man – righteousness, peace, and love in the Holy Spirit; a life of love unto God and unto one another.
We can see now, the partaking of this bad fruit gave man a false counsel if not evil in its extreme, it opened the door for sin and lawlessness to enter and rule the world. Unfortunately this is just man’s own making. It was cause by the enemy of God, our adversary, the Devil. And now he is also the one presides over such powers. He is the own who truly rules of the world.
The poison of man’s conscience
When Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened to this wisdom, which is from below and by their earthly nature, they lost what Paul would call “a clean conscience”. They began to be assaulted by all kinds of wrong things. To name a couple:
- They began to have shame. Nakedness was revealed to man and creation, so they began to veil it, first using fig leaves. Later God made garments of skin to cloth them. They came to their shame, or sense of unrighteousness, recognizing that they were not worthy to stand in the presence of God, not to mention being able to represent Him. From that day on, the shame of sin began to torment man.
- They began to have fear. The spirit of fear is in opposition with the spirit of Sonship as explained by Paul. (Rom 8:13-15) Fear is the outcome of an awareness of God’s justice and righteousness and our own wretchedness. Without a mediator, man would, before God, have to face the consequences of his disobedience. In lack of understanding of God’s goodness, man could not apprehend the concept of forgiveness, nor did he have the means to attain it. Adam and Eve had to hide from His presence where His love, counsel, life and glory preside. The consequence of sin and disobedience was and is death. From that day on, the fear of death began to assault man.
Now we can see, this bad tree is where the curse or judgment of God is issued. It was as if Adam and Eve had hung themselves on this tree and never got off it, and with them, so are those who are born of them as their decedents (seeds), or sons of Adam (man) as a race.
The Tree of Life
Genesis does not give us a clear picture of the Tree of Life. We know that it stands beside the tree of death in the center of four rivers (streams). These two trees were equally accessible to man. Later God had to cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden in order to deny their access to it.
Gen 3:22-24 [NIV]
22And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Here are some brief observations of the above verses.
“Man became like one of us.” In this likeness of God, the fullness of His nature is not implied. Judgment, or the knowing of good and evil, is only one part of God’s many attributes. The knowledge of good and evil alone could never produce His wisdom, especially when deprived of His nature. This would be like a son who is given the privilege and role of representing his father, who would then spur the goodness of his father in an act of rebellion, defaming his father and despising his birthright which promised a rich inheritance. He did not add honor and pleasure to his father to become his joy and satisfaction, even the very glory and pride of his father. Rather, in rebellion, he brought dishonor, pain and sorrow to his father. What could the father do but to take away his inheritance and cast him out of the family? That is what happened to Adam and Eve in the beginning. They were cast out of God’s family and had their Sonship canceled. With the access to the Tree of Life blocked, they were also denied of eternal life, which was part of their inheritance from the Father as His offsprings. (We will expound more on this when we talk about Sonship in the coming chapters.)
However, we know that this is the very tree whose fruits God desires man to partake so that he can have eternal life and fellowship with Him as a family.
We will not dwell too much on the story of Jesus’ death on the cross, nor the prophecies pointing to it. Great expositions have been made on that. Rather, we will spend more time on the essence of it. Indeed this is an inexhaustible topic.
The picture of death and the judgment of a rebellious son are all implied in the Law God gave to Moses. (Deut. 21:18-23) “Cursed is anyone who is hung on a tree.”
Gal. 3:7-14 [NIV]
7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
10All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” 12The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
“Dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Gen 3:19) But through the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross, we are saved from this tragic fate. Paul commented on this in the book of Romans.
Rom 5:6-21 [NIV]
6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— 13for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
15But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To those who put their faith in Christ Jesus, they will receive the full benefit of the Cross. What are these benefits? Before we dig into that, let’s first look at the symbolic meaning of the cross.
The Cross is the two trees together: death of Christ Jesus in our stead and eternal life in the Father through Him.
Rom. 6:8-10 [NIV]
8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
By identifying Himself as Man and willingly becoming the embodiment of sin, Jesus received the wrath of God in its fullness. He canceled the curse of sin and death unto Man once and for all. He became the way to eternal life. Through His blood, we are reconciled back to God the Father, and He freely gives us the Spirit of Sonship.
Rom. 8:1-16 [NIV]
1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
The Reconciliation of Man and the Restitution of All things
Again, this is a huge topic and we will only touch a few points. With the brief review of what Man suffered as a result of the Fall, we can see how much Christ has restored back to us through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension. We are more than being reconciled back to God, we also have the entirety of His sovereign will and purpose for us restored. We also have the Son Himself as our brother, our friend, our High Priest and Mediator, our Lord and King, who will always intercede before the Father on our behalf as we put our faith in Him and walk in His Spirit. We are kept immune to the power and afflictions of sin and death. We are clothed with His power, life and glory in all righteousness. We are made holy as He is holy, and sons of God even as He is the Son of God.
Heb. 2:9-11 [NIV]
9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.11 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.
We are now sons of God with access to the tree of life. When we partake its fruits, we will have eternal life in God. What then are this kind of fruits? We won’t have time to expound it in length here. In short, it is no other than the wisdom from God, conditioned to be partaken only by His sons. Notice that Adam and Eve were ignorant of its value and never partook any fruits from this tree. In essence, they never truly understood the Father’s desire to plant the tree of life in the Garden. Thus, in a sense, they were like Esau, never had the right attitude and understanding of what God wanted for them, and for their own true good. They despised the birthright and inheritance of eternal life as sons.
But in Christ Jesus, this is fully restored back to us! Paul would exclaim with great excitement and joy in many of his letters because of this truth and revelation.
1 Co 15:54-57 [NIV]
54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom 8:31-39 [NIV]
31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rom 11:33-36 [NIV]
33Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?”
36For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
We have already included many scriptures in the presentation. Please give them some careful reading before you refer to the ones here.
Psm. 1:1-3 [NIV]
1Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
2But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
Isa. 6:13 [NIV]
13And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
Isa. 11:1 [NIV]
1A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
Matt. 13:31-32 [NIV]
31He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
Rev. 22:1-5 [NIV]
1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
Num. 21:4-9 [NIV]
4They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
6Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
John 3:10-18 [NIV]
10“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 12:23-36 [NIV]
23Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
27“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
30Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” 33He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
34The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
35Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. 36Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.