Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1996
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 2: Buried Truths of Origins
Chapter 4: The Fall: The Buried Truth of the Origin of Evil
Lesson 16 – Evil in Man:
Sin Damage to Man’s Design and Institutions
15 Feb 1996
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
I’ll review some of the basic principles we’ve talked about in Genesis 3 and the event of the fall. In this series we are only touching on the highlights. It may seem like we get into a lot of detail but all I’m trying to do is provoke some thinking on your part as to the magnificence of Scripture, that when God speaks He speaks in many, many different areas. I hope I’ve stimulated some thoughts for thinking about applications of Scripture in areas that you might not have thought about before.
In connection with the event of the fall, we wanted to get down to the basics. You can do advance studies from Scripture in every topic we’ve covered, so don’t think we’ve covered anything in an advanced way; this is more a survey of the basics. I’ve tried to boil down the boundary between truth and error.
The second great event of Scripture is the fall of man and the result that that fall has. We dealt with evil and we come back again and again to the face that in Christianity evil has a start and an end. In the fall these are the two basic fundamental truths that separate biblical truth from error.
The carnal mind, the powers of darkness, our flesh, paganism, whatever you call the whole kit and caboodle, basically always holds to some form of this impersonal continuum where God, man, nature, rocks and everything else are all part of the same mysterious universe. That mysterious universe is both good and evil, has always been and will always be good and evil. That evil does not start and evil does not end.
This is a fundamental difference. We want to be very sensitive to this as Christians; only in the Bible is this true. If you go into the pagan literature you’ll see that the pagans do not have an idea of a fall, they have something that looks like it, the gods got angry at the noise men make, so they decide to penalize man or some story like that. But the gods themselves are evil prior to that, so the gods are evil, man is evil, and there’s no redemption from that. Look at the diagram and you’ll see there are some powerful aftereffects of this; this looks like just innocent theory, but like we found with English literature, it affects literature in a profound way.
We summarized this idea as having two distinct truths. On the biblical side we say that evil is bounded, or bracketed, or limited. On the anti-biblical side, or on the pagan side evil is unlimited, unbracketed, and always is there. Think about what this means in the future, your future existence forever and ever, if you buy into paganism your destiny is always in an environment of evil. That’s what you’ve got to look forward to if you accept that as your starting point. The second contrasting area of truth is that in the fall, on the biblical side, we have responsible guilt; man is responsible for this, not God. God made man, in this interval of time creation was good, until evil was found in Satan and until evil was found in man, so the creature bears the responsibility for the origin of evil, not the Creator. That’s another fundamental truth, sounds very theoretical but you’ll see it’s very practical, has some awesome results.
On the pagan side there is no such thing as an ultimate responsibility to an infinite personal God and so what you always find in paganism is a drift to the victim theory. That was true in the ancient world, it has not changed today, just because we think we’re so smart, we talk about genetic codes, we’re going to find the gene that does, the gene that does that, etc., hoping to absolve ourselves from personal responsibility and blame it on our genes.
It used to be we blamed it on how our mother raised us, etc., we’ve always got to blame it on something else, it couldn’t be our choice! It always has to be someone else’s problem. This is always a tendency, and it’s not just people being facetious, it comes out of this—if evil always was there, nobody’s responsible for it. By saying that the Bible says that evil originates in the creature, that’s the point where the creature is being held responsible.
The next thing we want to make sure we understand is the limitations of human knowledge. When we deal with the problem of evil there are a lot of unanswered questions, so people draw the conclusion, I don’t see any reason for suffering, sorrow, there’s no just reason for this, God is a bad God, etc. Go back to a point we made when we covered that. We drew a diagram and said here’s the Creator, here’s the creature. The question is that if there is no Creator and we just have the universe, the problem is that man doesn’t have infinite knowledge; he only has finite knowledge, and if there is to be any purpose to evil, or purpose to anything, man has to make it up.
The Christian position is that there is a plan, that it does make sense, but that most of that plan is still in the mind of God and He has not chosen to reveal all of that plan. He has revealed a lot about it, He is telling us about the unseen battle and the principalities and powers that are going on, He tells us about the purposes of evil, to glorify Himself, etc. You can always ask the question, why did He choose to do it that way? The point is that God, we believe, has an adequate reason and that reason is not only adequate but that reason is also loving. God is not a bad God and in spite of appearances there is a reason, and He has that reason.
Those are the fundamental truths. Tonight we start with page 58 and deal with “Evil In Man.” We dealt with the issue of God and evil, now we come to evil and man. This is not a very pleasant chapter, particularly if you are an optimist about man’s capabilities. It’s rather bleak material. As I point out, unless we diagnose properly the problem, we’re unlikely to prescribe a solution that’s going to work. We have a very bleak and dark portrayal of what evil has done in man. I want to emphasize that all non-Christian religion tends to trivialize evil, and the result of that trivializing is that they have very weak coping solutions. That’s why there’s no real call for salvation, because if you trivialize evil, the problem isn’t that bad, and doesn’t require that radical a solution.
You always find this. Wherever you find salvation by works, which is true in every area outside of the biblical position, operation bootstrap, I’m going to walk up and generate all this righteousness, wherever you find that tendency, behind it is a prior idea, and the idea is that I’m not really that bad to start with. What the Bible does is portray such a bad picture of where we are that it therefore demands a radical redemption, hence the cross of Jesus Christ and nothing less. The cross of Christ, to which we are obviously moving in biblical history, makes no sense unless you first accept the awful dimensions of the diagnosis.
All I’m doing is showing the damage pattern. We start with the damage pattern to man’s design because in chapter 3 we covered man’s design, we said man is made up of body, man is made up of spirit, then we dealt with the institutions, the social institutions of man. What we’ll do tonight is go through man—his body, man—his spirit, then go through all those divine institutions and ask the question, what do the Scriptures say happened as a result of the fall? Let’s look at what happened to the body.
We’ll look at the design of man, man has body and man has spirit, and first we want to look at the effects of sin on the human body. Cf. Genesis 2:17, the statement of God, “in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die,” and Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you shall return.” The most obvious thing is that you have death, which implies that if Adam and Eve had not fallen, and had not eaten, they would not have died, which implies that the original design of the human body was potentially immortal.
The same kind of flesh that we have today, these cells and tissues could have lived forever. You say that’s odd. Not really, think of an amoeba, an amoeba lives forever; he simply keeps on dividing, unless you crush it or poison it. One-cell animals still have that capability, they just keep on multiplying, multiply, multiply, and they don’t die.
What is it about our body that for some mysterious reason the tissue that otherwise could be taken out of our body and kept alive in a certain environment biologically, why is it that the tissue when combined into what we call the body has a terminus to it, we die. We don’t know why, but whatever this process is that is at work in us from the time we took our first breath, this process of aging and dying is abnormal, it is not what Adam and Eve were created to deal with. So the aches and pains of aging are unusual, and it is awful to look in the mirror and see what’s happening, but the point is, it looks awful, feels awful because it is awful, and we weren’t designed to have bodies like we now have.
In Genesis 3 something else happens. Notice another thing about the body is mentioned in verse 19, sweat. That looks like a little innocent thing. There are some Christian physiologists who have looked carefully at this issue and are convinced that that little comment in the text that seems so small, such a small little observation, is a signal that the metabolism of the human body today is radically different than the metabolism of the body before death began its work, that whatever Adam and Eve experienced in their original design has been so radically altered, because sweat basically (one of the reasons for it apart from fear sweat) is a thermal thing, it’s to cool down metabolism.
If you think of an engine that’s running hot, what does that tell you about the engine? The engine is running inefficiently, instead of producing power that engine is producing heat, so what this may suggest is that our whole body metabolism was thrown off at this point and a lot of our energy is wasted simply in body heat, rather than in actually producing things. Whatever, the observations that God gives of that momentous time of the fall tell us that the body is nowhere near what it was at one time.
I cite on page 58 Romans 6:6, Romans 7, when you get into the details of the Christian life, these are little phrases in the New Testament that unless we go back and look very seriously at the physical side of the fall, we kind of dismiss it, we get so spiritual when we read the New Testament we forget that it’s grounded on the Old Testament. In Romans 6:6, the little phrase that Paul uses repeatedly, it becomes almost flippant the way we sometimes think about it, but look at the straightforward words Paul uses in Romans 6:6, “the body of sin.” In Romans 6:12 sin can reign in our mortal body, it’s not supposed to, don’t let it “reign in your mortal body,” your dying body, the body of sin. Those are descriptions about the human body, and they’re descriptions that follow on top of the foundation in the Genesis narrative.
So the body has become abnormal. Look at the quote by Dr. Custance who was a godly Canadian physiologist, wrote a lot in the 70s: “Hiddenly, our living body is as inwardly diseased as a leper’s body is outwardly so. And this is because it has been unnaturally mortalized and is, in fact, already as good as dead … When man dies, he dies an unnatural death, a death which he has been dying all his life. For many this process is delayed in such a way as to conceal the fact of decay and almost to hold out a promise of immortality. But as soon as the spirit departs, the illusion is destroyed. The disintegration of the body is rapid indeed. And it is doubtful if man finds anything quite as distressing to look upon as a decomposing human body. It is a terribly disturbing sight for man …”
We know this because of what CNN did during Desert Storm when they showed the fried flesh of the Iraqi’s after we napalmed their vehicles. This was such a trauma to the world that this could not go on, and it put tremendous pressure on the President to halt the whole war. A few colored pictures of decomposing human bodies stunned the world, and caused decisions to be made that perhaps might not have been made had those pictures not come out.
Let’s go on to the other part of man, his spirit, and as we do that we want to survey the damage to our spirits under the same characteristics that we studied. We said our human spirit corresponds to God, so as God has sovereignty, His holiness, His love, and God has His omniscience, our human spirit has choice, conscience, love and knowledge. These traits are all invisible, they can’t be measured, nobody ever measured an idea, it’s not detectable on any kind of Geiger counter, yet people who say I don’t believe in God because He’s invisible, He’s undetectable … then you must not believe in ideas because they are also undetectable.
All of these features, be it knowledge, love, conscience, be it choice, are activities, actions and capabilities of the human spirit and they are just as invisible as God, and just as undetectable as God. But they are these spiritual things that man and man alone has. You may love your dog and cat, but they don’t have conscience. They do not have knowledge in the sense of man, a sense of the universal.
We want to survey the damage pattern. Turn to Romans 3 and see what happened to man’s choice as a result of the fall, because Paul looks back, he’s dealing with the Roman world of his time, the mission field of his day, and he characterizes the human will. In Romans 3:10 he says, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks after God.” a very bleak view of the nature of man.
Summarized we can say that it’s almost at the fall the rebellious “I will” that Satan had said, “I will become like the Most High, I will” do this, it is almost like sin has frozen this in place. It’s like our choice-er has gotten jammed on the negative side and we can’t release it, we just have this thing we want to rebel against all authority and in particular we want to rebel against God’s authority, and it’s inherent now to man. The [can’t understand word] version of evolution says you can inherit an acquired characteristic. But have you ever thought that what we’re talking about here is an acquired characteristic? Evil is an acquired characteristic that’s inherited. At one point in time it wasn’t there, it became there, and we all inherit it from Adam and Eve. So the choice, the thing that God gave us as creatures to freely obey has been deeply damaged by sin and evil.
We come to conscience, conscience is still there, it’s still inside, it still does its work, but we have various ways of dealing with our conscience. Moral judgments: remember the conscience is an analogue to God’s holiness; God’s holiness is the source of moral absolutes. In order for the conscience to work it needs to have universals.
Think about what evil does and we don’t have to go very far because we can look at our own heart. What does evil always do to the conscience? If you think about what it does, when you’re struggling with temptation or sin, the temptation is over whether that really is a sin, often times. And we like to excuse it, this isn’t. What we try to do is bottle up the conscience so if this is the universal statement of what’s right and what’s wrong, we want a little exception, and that’s wrong, that’s wrong, but this is my little safe zone, I can do my thing and that’s not wrong.
But the moment we do that we’ve erased the power of a moral absolute, we’ve made a moral absolute for everybody else except for us, and this is precisely why Paul says in Romans 2:1, he warns against this kind of judging. He says “Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”
In other words, he has to point this out, when we tend to judge someone else we ignore our own foibles, and this is the problem. This is why in the quote on page 59 from Martin Luther’s commentary on Romans, centuries ago made this comment: “While the righteous make it a point to accuse themselves in thought, word, and deed,” i.e., we have sensitive consciences, “the unrighteous make it a point always to accuse and judge others.” That’s not to say don’t use moral discernment, it’s just saying that if the same rule doesn’t apply to you that applies to others, then you no longer have a moral absolute.
To be absolute it has to apply to everybody, including you. So what does evil do? It destroys the choice, it damages the volition of man, it destroys and damages the conscience by walling its authority off, in other words, we want free zones. The conscience is like an authority and evil brackets that authority, it restricts the conscience, one of the effects. And once you restrict an absolute it’s no longer absolute. That’s why paganism breeds moral relativism.
On page 59 I have a famous quote that shows you what happens once you restrict conscience, and the other side knows this. T.H. Huxley, Darwin’s spokesman in the 19th century, made this admission: “The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution … is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call bad than we had before.” He clearly saw that once the carnal mind is let loose and absolutes are relativized, starting with our own hearts, there’s nothing left after that, it’s all gone.
On page 60 “The Quality of Love.” Evil has a draining effect on this. Love answers to God’s attribute of love. In order to work, love is like a glass that is filled up and spills over, but it can’t spill over until it’s full. The problem with love is that in order to be free to love I first have to be secure.
All our lives we’ve been taught to think that the opposite of love is hatred, but isn’t it striking that when John deals with love he says the opposite of love is not hatred, it’s something else, kind of unanticipated, he says the opposite of love is fear. “Perfect love casts our fear,” and why do you suppose it’s that instead of love/hatred? This is why when you read the text of Scripture you always want to watch out for getting trapped in your own habits. If you read Scripture the opposite of love is fear.
What does that mean? If you fear, security is on your mind, your security, self-security. As long as self-security is on your mind and uppermost, you aren’t really free to love someone because in loving someone else you’re vulnerable, and now all of a sudden if you’re not secure in yourself you’re going to have a hard time loving someone else.
In other words, the presupposition in an act of love is an act of security, an act of sense of security.
We find whole generations and cultures that tend to be heartless and don’t demonstrate love. You find a whole generation of fearful people, busy and scurrying about trying to secure their own security, and after we get secure, then we’ll be free to love. But evil makes everyone insecure, because the conscience being violated knows that it has to answer to Him, and if I have a problem with Him, and I have to answer to Him, that really doesn’t make me too secure at the most basic level of my life.
If I have peace with God at that fundamental level in my soul, then I have a platform in which I can start loving. If I don’t have that security I’ve got a problem that has to be settled first; that’s why we have the gospel, you can’t get the fruit of the gospel until you believe it, until that basic issue is settled. So sin has basically eroded and destroyed that quality of love.
The last one is knowledge, knowledge is limited, but sin twists the knowledge. Knowledge now becomes a tool to reconstruct my perception of the world to make it fit what I want it to be. Knowledge has been deeply perverted by sin, and this is why it’s become more and more evident as we’ve gone on in church history, because of the kinds of heresies we face, that sin has really done a number on how we know.
It used to be thought in the early centuries of the Christian church that sin had done a number on our morals, sin had done a number on our behavior, on various other things, but there were still men like Thomas Aquinas, great theologians, who basically held that we fell from the neck down, that man’s reason wasn’t hurt in the fall, man reasons, he still can add 2 + 2 and get 4, just like any non-Christian, surely the power of reason is free of any sin damage. That leads to rationalism, yet we found that reason itself gets trapped by its own presuppositions, and the presuppositions are set by a sinful heart. The program has been programmed wrong. So now, far better than 500-600 years ago in church history, we acknowledge the seriousness of sin and its effect on knowledge.
When we get into some appendices on evolution and the age of the universe, I’ll show you when you get into the math and physics, it’s hard for modern man to believe this, but the math and the physics have been damaged by sin. You say how can an equation be damaged by sin? Simple, a mathematical equation is nothing more than a sentence like the English language. That’s all it is, no matter how simple or profound it is, I’ll try to bring the big long equation that describes the growth of a raindrop, and you’ll see how many terms are in this thing, in fact it’s so big that we really haven’t solved it.
The last time I saw somebody trying to solve this thing it came out to take 22 hours to make a water drop big enough to fall, while in a thunderstorm it happens in about 15 minutes. So obviously God’s solving the equation somehow, we don’t really know how He’s doing it. This equation has a lot of terms in it, but what we’re saying is that it’s describing a picture, the math is but a symbolic picture of a concept, and it’s the concept up here that’s been sinfully perverted.
So man has been deeply damaged in his design. All areas of his spirit, as well as his body, have now been touched by this damage pattern.
Let’s go to the other effects of sin on man, the divine institutions. These are the social structure of man. We said that the first social structure, page 60, responsible dominion, i.e., Adam was given a calling, he was told to subdue the earth for God. That’s responsible dominion. He was told to begin to till that ground and as his family grew and he was to have sons and daughters, they were to take those skills and spread paradise across the face of the earth. They were to spread Eden and bring it into subduing. The earth was good as God created it, but man was there to cultivate it. Why do you cultivate ground? To grow fruit, he was to be the dresser of the earth. That was the plan originally from Eden. So the first institution was man was to be a lord, with a little “l,” the lord over the earth.
What happens in sin? Sin affects this institution in a lot of ways, I just point out 2 areas where this happens. “One aspect is quantitative. Production from the rebellious ground costs far more; it is radically less efficient, yielding instead of easy harvests of sweet fruit the unintended ‘thorns and thistles’ after hours of ‘sweat’ (Genesis 3:17-19). Not only is the ground out of control, but man’s social behavior is out of control. Unrestrained perverted addictions thwart every attempt to control them (Romans 1:24-32).”
So quantitatively we have a massive inefficiency. You’ll see that this is a blessing. There’s an inefficiency to production, it’s inherent, it is as much a part of labor and work today as death is in our bodies. Their human productivity is wounded in an economically catastrophic way. Put another way, what was the most costly business decision that was ever made in the history of man? The fall. The economics of the fall alone amount to trillions of dollars in wasted energy, in inefficient production, because we chose to do it our way.
The other way in which we can see dominion is it’s qualitative, not only is it quantitative, the amount and inefficiencies, but the value of what we produce is affected. Not only is the value or price of what we do affected, but the way we value what we produce, the valuating system is wrong. How you price goods, when anybody prices a service or a good they are imputing value to it. This is basic biblical economics.
The Bible touches biology, geology, science, physics, sociology, psychology, and it even touches economics and business. The act of pricing is something that grows, not out of the object; it grows out of the beholder of the object. For example, gold is often looked upon as a standard of value, but not really. If you were on a desert island and you’re starving to death and I offer you a loaf of bread for all your gold, what are you going to do, eat your gold? No, you’re going to eat my bread, so my bread has become more valuable and has a higher price on it than all your gold bullion. Why is that? Because at that moment you’ve got to eat. Has the gold changed its value? It’s because you changed your crediting of that value.
Why am I bothering with all this economics? I’ll tell you why; have you ever heard the word “impute” used in the Bible? It’s used of Jesus Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. If you look that up in a concordance, the word “impute” in the Greek and Hebrew, you see that those were economic terms that were used in the market place for pricing goods and services. And when the Bible uses the word “impute” righteousness to our account, that’s literally saying God puts a price tag on us, it’s a statement of an economic transaction that He does, and it’s an interesting example of the fact that economic value comes from a personal creature, it doesn’t come from a system, it doesn’t come from an innate object, it comes from a value-evaluating creature.
God makes value judgments, we make value judgments. We said that God makes value judgments and His value judgments are what count. He has the absolute and final say. When God says that work of yours is worth this much, that’s the final value. The problem is other people, including yourself or others, don’t know what the ultimate value of that is, so the market place prices it under different prices, and these are relative valuations.
So the market is only an approximation. If you have a lot of sinful people and they want to buy pornographic literature and pay a lot of money for it vs. the Bible and the Bible is going cheap, does that mean that the Bible is less valuable than the pornographic literature? No, because God places a value on it, an absolute value. What this is saying is that the market is distorted, that the pricing schemes are controlled by the flesh, and the pricing schemes are wrong, and you have an economic perversion going on. Isn’t it strange that this sort of thing is never taught in economics class? You can take one economics class after another and it’s never mentioned about God in the role of economics, and the pricing game. But that’s what the Bible gives us; it gives us a tremendous basis for almost everything we do.
So what we’re saying here on the first divine institution, summarized, it has become inefficient, and it has become of perverted value. Not only has it become of perverted value, we even have a problem in evaluating it. We have a problem evaluating our own works, as well as the works of others.
The second area is the area of marriage, and we could go to Scripture after Scripture, but turn to Genesis 3. [blank spot] … and all kinds of other bizarre arrangements. Why is this happening? Because man has said that the damage, although he won’t phrase it this way, the damage to marriage has made marriage a lessened desirable institution, it’s a failure. That makes sense if you say that husbands and wives have been arguing forever, as long as there’s been marriage, then it is a useless institution.
But go back to the diagram that we started with, what was that fundamental axiom, that in the Christian position there was a period when things were good and it was not true that there was any sin in there, during that period there was a marriage. After all, God married Adam and Eve, they didn’t have any marital conflicts, it’s possible not to, men weren’t created to have that. Notice marriage precedes the fall. So in that period there wasn’t any conflict, in this period there is. Big news! That doesn’t invalidate the institution; it just says the institution has been damaged. But the institution itself is not a mere convention, it’s part of the structure of how God made man.
One of the interesting things in Genesis 3:16, the last two clauses of that verse, and at the same time you’re looking there look at the last clause in Genesis 4:7. In Genesis 3:16 it says “your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” The translators, by the way they handled the connective there, the “and,” they could also translate it “but,” but if they translate this conjunction as a “but” then it makes the first part of that sentence conflict with the second part of the sentence, and there have been some who say that means the wife’s desires will be to her husband …
Well, where were the desires before, this is part of a penalty text, this is not a blessing text. So the desire for the husband must be somehow perverted, somehow abnormal. And that conjunction, “but he will rule over you,” that sounds a little harsh, that wasn’t in there back in Genesis 1, so we interpret then that however we look at that phrase in verse 16 it is in a cursing text, not a blessing text. So we have to interpret it in that context.
Thankfully, the exact Hebrew construction occurs only a chapter later and that’s why in Genesis 4:7, “its desire is for you, but you must master it,” though it’s translated differently, at least in my translation and maybe yours, in the Hebrew it’s exactly the same. In Genesis 4:7 it’s quite clear in that verse what it means. It’s talking to Cain, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” It’s quite straightforward in that section. The idea there is that man wrestles with flesh, with his sin nature, it wants to dominate him, but he must rule over it. If we take that text and move it back to Genesis 3:16 and interpret it in the light of it, that’s the source of the war of the sexes. If you translate it in modern terms, there’s the gender war going on right there. The desire will be for your husband to control him, and the man, he will try to control you. It’s a control thing.
Look elsewhere in that discipline passage, if you look at the rest of verse 16 notice how the woman is hurt in the fall, “To the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your pin in childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children.” Then while you’re looking at verse 16 go down and look at verses 17-19 and look at how the man is hurt by the fall, “Then to Adam He said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife … cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.  Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread ….”
Do you notice a gender difference? The pattern of damage is different for the woman than it is for the man. It’s quite clear that it’s gender specific damage. Women are not affected by sin in the same way as men and men are not affected by sin the same way women are. We are affected differently, and we are affected differently because God made us different. As a result of that, when the damage came, it came differently. To sum up the second divine institution damage, the woman’s primary pain and sorrow comes from problems in the home. Man’s primary problems, verses 17-19, come from going out in that field and trying to make a living. Think about it, isn’t that valid? Think about your lives, your homes, think about your parents? Isn’t that true? There’s a gender difference going on here, and God’s Word says it all, centuries and centuries ago, in this working out of the damage.
Finally we come to the third divine institution, the family; that too has been damaged, and like marriage, we’ve tried to redefine the family, the family is now looked upon as an obsolete entity, as some sort of social convention, arbitrarily picked by civilization and maybe now we can redesign it or reengineer it, but the Bible says the problem isn’t in the design, the problem is in the sin damage to the design.
In Genesis 4:8, sad but where was the first murder? On the street with some hoodlum that didn’t know his victim. Isn’t it sad that the first murder is in the family, hatred for the siblings, and brother literally against brother. So sin rears its ugly head in the home, in the family. It does so on the street too, but where does it do it first? It does it in the home.
Sin is everywhere; the damage is devastating in every aspect. And if you look at the passages, I’ve given you plenty of verses, all this is summary but I’ve tried to give verses that point at least to some of the basic areas where sin has done its vast damage.
Look at the last paragraph on page 61, I say this: “When faced with the corruption in each of these social structures, fallen man responds in several ways. One way is to reinterpret the struggles with sin in terms of economics,” that goes on today in the front page of the paper and Time Magazine, it’s going on in Latin America, it’s “to reinterpret the struggles with sin in terms of economics (Marx’s ‘class war’),” the Marxists and the Catholic Church, not all the Catholic Church but parts of the Catholic Church, particularly the Jesuits, and Marxist liberation theology has gone into Latin America and turned those societies upside down with revolutionary acts because they have submitted to the concept that it is not fundamentally a sin problem, it is fundamentally an economics problem.
Stop and look at ideas and not just buy into anything that comes out in the newspaper or the 6:00 o’clock news, and think about it. If it’s really true that economics is the problem, what have we just said biblically about economics? What does economics deal with? It deals with values; in particular it deals with how I evaluate something. But we’ve already said how I value something is controlled by my sin, sin controls my valuation judgments. So you don’t escape the problem by simply pointing to economics, because sin is behind economics biblically.
Of course Karl Marx didn’t believe that, and Marx taught the doctrine of class warfare, he has set class against class in every continent of this planet, the haves and the have-nots, and the owners of production vs. the workers of production. And the latest and silliest example of this is when two major US corporations who are trying to work with the employees and managers in teams were sued because they were told that the management and the workers cannot fraternize in meetings. Here they are trying to team together to resolve the difference, and they get penalized for trying to resolve the difference. Why? Because there has to be a class difference, a manager is not a laborer, a laborer is not a manager, we’ve got to keep the classes here. What is this? It’s Marxism, the same idea, is that the fundamental struggle is economic. It is not economics scripturally; it is sin, that’s the struggle.
Another example I point out, the race, making a racial structure, in both black and white and Orientals do this, every race does it. In Europe the whites and the whites can’t get together, in Africa the blacks and the blacks can’t get together. And the whites and the blacks can’t get together, and the Orientals can’t get together with the whites, and this goes on and on. It’s all Noah’s children here, what’s going on. There’s no such thing as a superior race. We all have the genes of Noah, all came off the same boat, so what’s this class business. It’s not race, it’s sin. Sin has eaten away in every area, but we don’t want to call it sin because that doesn’t sound contemporary and worst of all it I call it sin I bring up that boogey man—personal responsibility. And I mustn’t do that, I must make everyone a victim, especially myself, I always must make myself a victim, never accept personal responsibility. And if I can say it’s my economic background or it’s my racial background I can avoid responsibility that way, I can pass it on to something else, blame someone else.
Finally we have, in the 20th century particularly, through Sigmund Freud and others, a psychological problem. O. Hobart Mowrer was a psychologist, I think at the University of Illinois, that made a profound discovery. He went around the psychiatric ward and he would walk up to patients that were diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenic, really out of it people, and he’d walk up to them and put his finger right in their face, and say I can get you out of here in three weeks if you just admit what the problem is, and I know your problem (because he had a patient history).
This clown had ripped off the government and he was embarrassed about his tax problem, just one of these things that capitulated and kept escalating, he tried to solve that one by embezzling money, then the money got stolen, there was a whole big ball of wax, and the way you get out of this is you freak out, and it’s not just pretended, you can actually freak out this way. But what he found out was lo and behold, when these people started acknowledging personal responsibility they stopped acting so crazy. The catatonic schizophrenic, not due to chemicals, just bona fide medical problems that have to be dealt with chemically, I’m not saying that, I’m just saying O. Hobart Mowrer and people like him have done very careful research and found out much of what we call mental illness is simply due to escapisms around personal responsibility.
One of the interesting statistics in the 20th century, quite embarrassing, is if you take a controlled group of people who have mental problems, and take the other people who go for treatment, guess which one resolved their problems faster? No difference. What does that tell you? Something’s gone wrong here. We pour hundreds of thousands of dollars in therapy to one group and we don’t get any statistical difference. This tells me it’s wasted therapy, or it’s mistargeted. That’s the whole point.
We misread the results of sin and those are three classic 20th century responses (that have gone on more than the 20th century). Remember those three classes, Marx and his economic class warfare, the racists, and the psychology people. Those always try to pick on all these institutions pointing out what’s wrong with them, and try to blame this as we are passive, unresponsible victims of something else. As Christians we can’t agree to that.
We’ll finish by looking at Exercise 4.2. Those are some exercises that sort of summarize the basics of dealing with the origin of evil. Next time we’re going to get into the problem of evil in nature and beyond that we’re going to get into coping strategies with sorrow and suffering. We get into the coping strategies with how to deal with evil in everyday life it all is going to be presupposed on this basis, so that’s why I just want to review.
“State in your own words how the Bible does not deny that there is a just and sufficient reason for the presence of evil in history,” and you should struggle with that, reading Job, Romans 9, and you realize from revelation that God claims there is a reason, but very interestingly He demands that we bow our knee to Him. He demands that we acknowledge Him as our Creator, and He doesn’t really get into too many details. Because in the book of Job, we have the introduction, we can peer behind the screen and see Satan, the date between the evil angels and the good angels, and they affected Job, and God told them they could do this, and we get a lot more perspective than poor Job had. But Job was satisfied. When Job met God face to face, the questions went away because he was sure now that there was this kind of God that I just met face to face, He has a plan and I trust Him. That’s hard to do, but that’s what we have to do, we have to trust Him, that He has a good plan.
Question 2, State in your own words how there can be a just and sufficient reason for evil without man knowing it. You ought to know that, because man’s knowledge is finite, and just because he can’t now it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Question 3, List evidences in biblical history that God is not aloof from man’s suffering under evil. When God allowed evil into the universe it touched Him and it destroyed His Son. God is at one with us in the sense that He got injured by sin too. So however, whatever went through His mind when He chose to create, it wasn’t callousness, it wasn’t a sense “I’m going to wipe these people out while I’m up here safe.” No. The incarnation made Him vulnerable. This is the way the gospel, the cross and everything else is tied in, do you see the structure of Scripture, one piece of Scripture is allied to another piece of Scripture, which is fixed to another piece of Scripture, the whole thing stands or falls together.
Then I suggest you get a copy of the Genesis 3:14-19 text and mark by each verse comments that point to implications in as many areas of life as you can think of. Like we did tonight, we suggested some gender specific stuff, the Holy Spirit may bring other things to your mind, take it and copy it on a copy machine and you can make all kinds of notes in it and not wreck your Bible. Use it as a study text, a basic text; we’ll go back to it again and again as we deal with the issue of suffering. Next time we’ll deal with the issue of nature, what happened out there in the physical world around us, and we’ll deal with what we do practically in day by day dealing with suffering.
In the lesson we basically surveyed half of the creation, man, next time we’ll deal with the other half, nature. We want to do that preparatory to dealing with the issue of suffering and personal suffering. I found out it does no good to talk about personal suffering and sorrows and how you respond to those if these background things aren’t dealt with. That’s why I want to do it that way.
Question asked: Clough replies: I’m going to deal with suffering on the notes but one of the things you see in the Scripture is that the Bible is quite realistic, and the emphasis is really on what you think. I’ve been batting this around ever since we went through that Job passage, and God sounds so ferocious and uncompassionate to Job when He confronts him, almost ridiculing him, but then if you stop and look at what God is saying to Job, it’s all questions. If you think about it, why do you ask questions? If a person is emotionally upset, angry, or just depressed, or hurting, what happens when you ask them a question? You get the mind working, and I think it’s very interesting that you see this pattern, even at the cross.
It’s interesting when the soldiers went to offer Jesus, basically a drug, while he was dying for our sins, that was done universally in Roman crucifixions to at least act as an anesthetic and Jesus refused it. It’s interesting that in the course of bearing our sin and going through that tremendous kind of suffering Jesus insisted on the full use of His mind. You don’t believe with your emotions, you believe with your mind, and it’s not just your mind, it’s the spirit through the mind, but nevertheless, it is the spirit through the mind, and the mind has to function, you can’t just sit in a passive catatonic state and expect to cope with suffering, it won’t work that way.
When you pray, you pray with your mind, yes it is the spirit, and yes the spirit works because ultimately the mind is a function of the spirit, we’re not talking about just bare intellect here, we’re talking about the fact that language, talking, is a mental thing, and when God speaks He expects us to respond in language, and carry on a conversation, even when we’re in pain. Job is a good example of that, he had economic disaster, his family is gone, he had disease, he had boils, in every area of his life he was touched with sorrow and heartache.
In the middle of all that horror, God comes in and says let’s have a theological discussion. And at first glance it just sounds so irrelevant to this guy, and then you have to ask yourself, if I’m reading the text and I get this impression it’s irrelative, probably it’s me that’s irrelevant, I’m misreading this text somehow, Lord, show me, open my eyes, you’re not that kind of a God to be irrelevant and you’re not playing games with the guy, show me why you’re doing what you’re doing.
You go to Romans 9, here Paul is in deep grief over the fact that he knows Jews are going to hell, Romans 9:1-3, he just wished he could go to hell in place of his fellow Jewish brethren, and he’s obviously in deep grief. Yet not 10 verses go by and what do you see? He’s quoting the verse that says I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will damn whom I will damn. Well, how does that resolve this sorrow and grief of the first verse? It does because at the end of that passage he says O the depth of the riches of Him from whom, to whom, and through whom are all things. Paul has resolved his suffering, his sorrow and his grief, but it wasn’t without this very tough strong meeting with God. That’s a good illustration.
Question or comment, something about trusting, He will deliver me, if you think about it if we’re talking about the literal God that created the heavens and the earth, if He can do that then our problems are a lot smaller. Clough replies: That is basically my conclusion, you study every one of these suffering texts, because we don’t want to create our own little policies, we want to be faithful Christians, faithful to the text, and if you go to the text that deal with suffering you come out with exactly that.
What basically God seems to want us to do it go back to the basics and look at Him, and particularly is that necessary when we are in grief because when you’re suffering, you’re basically in shock, shock of some degree, and your emotions are running 110%. We crave a pat on the back and nice pleasant words, and it’s not that God doesn’t want to give those to us, but it’s so much more important that we see who He is. I think in the Job passage God cuts right through the smog. It’s like a surgeon’s scalpel, it hurts to cut but he goes for it and gets to the issue, and that’s the way God seems to do it in these situations. He gets our attention, look at ME, look who you are, let’s get that straight, and I’m not going to pat you on the back and say poor little boy and you go into a self-pity routine; you face Me and you deal with Me.
I’ll show you two texts, in Psalm 74, one of Asaph’s Psalms, when Asaph comes to grips with his sorrow, in this case it’s a political historical thing, he’s watched the collapse of the temple, he’s watched the enemies of Israel come in and absolute commit sacrilege, destroy everything he holds dear, and he prays the most unbelievable prayer in Psalm 74. I had read it in English, but somehow for me when I’m forced to read it in another language because I have to struggle with the language because I’m not a language student, but when I have to struggle coming at the text with another language it makes you more observant, because when you’re reading your mother-tongue you tend to read it quick.
But in another language you come to a word and oops, I never saw that there before. So when I did it in Hebrew I was just shocked at how blunt this prayer was, and we’ll go into that, because it’s not only God being quite blunt to Job, but in these cases the Old Testament saints were quite blunt equally back. It wasn’t these nice sweet little words to God, these guys were hurting and they wanted answers, and they were saying what’s going on here, and I’m sure if Asaph got up here in the middle of a prayer meeting and prayed what he prayed in Psalm 74, there’d be people out here wondering about his spirituality. Yet it’s in the text.
Question asked: Clough replies: He has brought up a very interesting question, that’s the mystery and that’s one of the difficult things, of course a lot of Christians disagree on where Satan fell, did he fall after creation in Genesis 1:1, somewhere just prior to that Garden sequence, or did he in fact fall in Genesis 1:2, and there’s been a debate in the church about that. I’ve kind of downplayed that in this class because we’re just dealing with simple basic stuff and what we’re trying to get through is creatures rebel, not exactly the sequence.
But as far as Satan being cursed, he obviously has been judged in some sense, but the sentence of execution upon him has not been fully exercised because you see him appearing in Heaven, in the Job passage he’s there. God calls a meeting of the spirits of all the world, and he’s there, and God carries on a conversation with him. In the book of Revelation you read about He cast him down, so it’s almost a case where the sentence has kind of passed but hasn’t been executed, and that in turn, that little thing you’re dealing with about Satan and the judgment, that in church history has been a matter of lively debate as to the possible explanation for human history.
Augustine raised this question, he raised the issue that is it possible that when Satan fell and he took angels with him, that the believers that have come into the scene of history, humans, in human form, are in somehow replacing those angels that fell with Satan. There’s some sort of thing going on. The reason why theologians play with that, nobody’s come to dogmatic conclusions, it’s not a matter of a creed, but it’s been a source of interesting Christian speculation because of these strange things you get.
For example, you read in 1 Corinthians would you do thus and such in your communion service because the angels are watching. Why do we worry about what the angels are watching in our communion service? Well, they are, and apparently we’re supposed to be doing things that they’re watching, and we have to consider them. Here they are, invisible, we can’t talk to them, they don’t talk to us, yet they’re apparently watching us all the time.
In Ephesians Paul makes a definite statement that they sit here and they’re watching us; whether that refers both to Satan, the good angels and the bad angels I don’t know, but that’s a whole other dimension, and it’s not that we should worry about it, but Satan is definitely under God’s sovereign control because in the Job passage what does Satan have to do to get to Job? He has to get permission. So he doesn’t go anywhere unless God first gives him permission to do something.
Then you get into the evil question, why does God let this guy loose, why doesn’t He tighten up the leash a little bit, and we don’t know. We just trust Him that He’s doing it. We seem to know, and the neat thing is if you play chess, you know that chess guys are masters at letting you move first, and they’ve got it all planned six or eight plays down the road, how they’re going to ace you and take your men out, and if you can think of a master chess player, that’s how God seems to rule, He doesn’t come in and knock all the pieces off the board, He says come get me and all of a sudden Satan advances his piece and plink, plink, plink.
That’s explained in Corinthians where Paul says if the rulers of this world had known the deal about the cross they’d never have crucified Christ, because in Satan’s thought that was his glorious moment, now I’ve got Him, and precisely that was the moment that Satan lost it.
So he’s a genius, he’s a stunning genius, and a stunning fool, and this is why he’s furious, and why Peter says he is our enemy, running around like a roaring lion, because somehow we are identified as the cause of his downfall. We are identified with Christ that way, so he hates us very much. So all of that is in suffering and we’re going to get into that when we get to suffering. I don’t mean to get into these details, but when Satan fell, I personally am thinking more and more that he fell, not in Genesis 1:2, my personal belief is that he fell at the end of Genesis 2, before Genesis 3, but whatever, the issue is that God did sentence him because He’s executing the sentence.
Question, something about allowing choice for the people, evil is just there when you give choice to the people. Clough replies: Evil is not created. We have to be careful there because in the notes where I deal with the problem of evil and God I carefully note, there’s a paragraph where I struggle with that where I try to state, theoretically it’s possible for God to have created creatures with genuine free will who never sinned, Jesus being one of them, in His humanity, two-thirds of the angels being a lot more.
So it’s possible for God to have created creatures that would have chosen, the question is, why did He choose creatures that He knew very well would not choose, would rebel against Him, and that’s the question that the unbeliever likes to say ha-ha, you Christians, your God is a bad God, and we have to respond by saying, as we politely inform them that they haven’t got any answer at all so before they knock ours they’d better come up with at least one, that the issue there is that we trust Him on the basis of what we know of His character, and we leave it there for now.
But what evil is, that’s another $64,000 question, and theologians have struggled with that. It’s something you can chew on for years, but we just know if we keep with the text of Scripture, just keep with the text of what God has told us, sin has power, that’s why we struggle with it, that’s why the only power victorious over it is Christ and the Holy Spirit, the exchanged life that have [can’t understand word(s)]. And we have to have that appreciation for His power, and never to take sin as some sort of easy-to-triumph-over thing, it isn’t.
If you want to see what sin looks like in a grip, think of the worst kind of addict you could ever think of, on drugs, alcohol, or whatever, just think of the destruction that goes on in the person struggling to deal with that, that’s an eloquent … an addiction is an eloquent physical manifestation of what sin is like in principle everywhere. It’s just that we don’t see it everywhere because we’re experts at covering it up, but that’s what it is, and it’s a very potent thing.
Question, you said that after the fall mortality is a result of the fall. Clough replies: The question about when man became mortal, it’s a choice of adjectives and I guess what I should say is that the body that was created, that Adam and Eve had, the flesh, and I contrast that with resurrection bodies, so the natural body vs. the resurrection body, that body had no death in it, so how you want to label it, you could say it was potentially mortal, or potentially immortal, of something, but it was liable to death, and in the case of the resurrection body, it isn’t. The resurrection body is, in one sense a horrifying thing because once people are alive in the resurrection body there’s no more choice, the days of repentance are gone.
This is why there is a resurrection to damnation as well as a resurrection to eternal life. The probation and the chance for salvation, that’s it, because the resurrection body apparently can never be separated from the spirit. This body, thankfully, is separable, and thank goodness when it was destroyed we can escape from it. And whatever you want to call that, mortal or immortal, it’s just that Paul uses the word “mortal” to talk about the natural body as a fallen one.
Question, something about the tree that was protected after the fall; Clough says: the tree of life,
Questioner: right, that was not restricted; they were not restricted from eating that before? Clough replies: that’s right, and that’s a theological point that you’ve raised, that is another one of these conundrums that you can play with forever. What would have happened had Adam and Eve eaten of the tree of life before they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Well, many theologians have said that would have been the end of the probationary period, they would have won, they would have passed the test and they would have gone on to resurrection bodies, but the temptation was there. Before you do that, let’s go try this one because now we have knowledge of good and evil.
Questioner says makes you wonder if the tree of life was …. Clough replies: Whatever it was they could have gone to it after they fell, and they had to be physically restrained from doing it, and that’s one of the points when we get into the origin of civil government and capital punishment, when you get into the Noahic covenant and how that happened in history, when what we call civil government started, it didn’t start with the fall, it started much later. And it’s interesting the first time in your concordance, you look up the word “sword,” the first sign of capital punishment is the angelic guards around the tree of life, and apparently their orders were to kill anybody that came near it.
Question, can’t understand, something seems unfair: Clough replies: The market place, the free market, again we could go into biblical economics and I’m not and economics person, I’ve just read some of these areas out of curiosity, but in economics it’s always been a battle between the totalitarians who want to decree prices, a price structure, adjust price, and the free market advocates, and Scripture comes down on the side of the free market people, and the reason is not because the free market is sinless, it’s rather because there’s less chance of gross mispricing in a free market because you have competing people bidding on these objects.
This is why the stock market, the commodities market, are really economic engines that keep society functioning because of their pricing structures. If you didn’t have a market to price where human beings come, and they decide I want this for 5.50 and this if 4.00 and that’s 25.00, if we did not have that, then prices would be set.
This is why the civil union collapsed. Those poor Russians, remember Katrina that was here, the Christian girl from Germany, her dad owns a business in West Germany, and I said what does your dad think about East Germany, they had a problem when East Germany opened up to West Germany, it was a basket case [tape ends].