Our Basis Of Doctrine: Part 6 - Man's Fallen Nature
This is an ongoing series of blog posts in which we provide a brief overview of our church’s Basis of Doctrine as set out in the Church Constitution, by defining, explaining and proving from Scripture the various doctrines expressed. This is not meant to be an exhaustive study, so there is much that won’t stated or defended. Click here to view our Basis of Doctrine.
Part 6The depraved and fallen state of man
Depraved - morally corrupt, evil
Fallen state - man’s condition since the fall in Genesis 3, being spiritually separated from God
“Just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so sin spread through all men” (Romans 5:12). The effects of the Fall are numerous and far reaching. Sin has affected every aspect of our being. It has affected our lives on earth and our eternal destiny.
One of the immediate effects of the Fall was that mankind was separated from God. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had perfect communion and fellowship with God. When they rebelled against Him, that fellowship was broken. They became aware of their sin and were ashamed before Him. They hid from Him (Genesis 3:8-10), and man has been hiding from God ever since. Only through Christ can that fellowship be restored, because in Him we are made as righteous and sinless in God’s eyes as Adam and Eve were before they sinned. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Because of the Fall, death became a reality, and all creation was subject to it. All men die, all animals die, all plant life dies. The “whole creation groans” (Romans 8:22), waiting for the time when Christ will return to liberate it from the effects of death. Because of sin, death is an inescapable reality, and no one is immune. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Worse still, we not only die, but if we die without Christ, we experience eternal death.
Another effect of the Fall is that humans have lost sight of the purpose for which they were created. Man’s chief end and highest purpose in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Psalm 86:9). Hence, love to God is the core of all morality and goodness. The opposite is the choice of self as supreme. Selfishness is the essence of the Fall, and what follows are all other crimes against God. In all ways sin is a turning in upon oneself, which is confirmed in how we live our lives. We call attention to ourselves and to our good qualities and accomplishments. We minimize our shortcomings. We seek special favors and opportunities in life, wanting an extra edge that no one else has. We display vigilance to our own wants and needs, while we ignore those of others. In short, we place ourselves upon the throne of our lives, usurping God’s role.
When Adam chose to rebel against his Creator, he lost his innocence, incurred the penalty of physical and spiritual death, and his mind was darkened by sin, as are the minds of his successors. The apostle Paul said of pagans, “Since they do not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind” (Romans 1:28). He told the Corinthians that “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Jesus said, “I have come into the world as a light so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46). Paul reminded the Ephesians, “You were once in darkness but now you are in the light of the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8). The purpose of salvation is “to open the eyes [of unbelievers] and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).
The Fall produced in humans a state of depravity. Paul spoke of those “whose consciences are seared” (1 Timothy 4:2) and those whose minds are spiritually darkened as a result of rejecting the truth (Romans 1:21). In this state, man is utterly incapable of doing or choosing that which is acceptable to God, apart from divine grace. “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so” (Romans 8:7).
Without the supernatural regeneration by the Holy Spirit, all men would remain in their fallen state. But in His grace, mercy and loving-kindness, God sent His Son to die on the cross and take the penalty of our sin, reconciling us to God and making eternal life with Him possible. What was lost at the Fall is reclaimed at the Cross.
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:18)
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
(1 Corinthians 2:14)
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
(2 Corinthians 4:4)
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.