Category Archives: GENESIS 3 Part 1

The account of how Satan brought about the fall of man

GENESIS 3:1-6

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF GENESIS CHAPTER 3, VERSES 1 TO 6 

3:1  Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

3:2  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3:3  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

3:4  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

3:5  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

3:6  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

INTRODUCTION

We must remember that at the close of chapter 2 the state of things was the same as it had been at the beginning of the chapter, in verse 4.  For chapter 2 from verse 7 onwards, as we have seen, is taken up with the details which were spoken of in general terms in connection with the days of creation.  So all was very good, as God had said.  Lucifer was still Lucifer, and had not rebelled and become Satan and the Devil.  It is inconceivable that God would have pronounced the whole of creation very good if the fall of the angels had taken place.  So that event must have happened in between the end of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3.

From Ezekiel 28:14-18 we learn that Lucifer has been one of the cherubim guarding the very throne of God.  One day, iniquity was found in him, and he sought to rebel against God, and usurp His place of supremacy in the universe, Isaiah 14:12-15.  In pride, (for pride is the condemnation of the Devil, 1 Timothy 3:6), he determined to rise higher than God, and managed to persuade a third of the angels to rebel with him, Revelation 12:4.  This rebellion was easily repulsed by God, however, and he was cast out of his place of privilege.  Said the Lord Jesus, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven”, Luke 10:18.  That he fell as lightning shows the swift and summary way in which God dealt with his rebellion.

Expelled from heaven itself, (although allowed access to it at times, Job 1:6; 2:1), he was confined to the atmospheric and stellar heavens.  And not content with having succeeded in causing the downfall of some of the angelic host, thus depriving God of their worship, (for “the host of heaven worshippeth Thee”, said Nehemiah 9:6), he now attempts to cause the downfall of man.

3:1  Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made- as there were only two humans on earth at this time, Satan cannot use another person.  To come in spirit-form might arouse the suspicions of Adam and his wife.  To simply speak from the air would also cause them to be on their guard.  The only alternative is to use one of the animals.  We need not assume that the serpent was the same as it is now.  When God cursed it later in the chapter, it was cursed above all cattle.  They were cursed, but it was cursed more.  This would suggest that the serpent was degraded to a higher degree than the other creatures.  Since one of the judgements upon it was to go upon its belly, we may safely assume that it did not do so before, or else that would be no sign of judgement.  There is the possibility, then, that the serpent was originally an erect and beautiful creature.  There is also the possibility that the serpent was able to fly, so that it came to the woman as “an angel of light”. 

It is interesting to notice that that phrase comes in the passage where the apostle Paul is speaking of the tempting and beguiling of Eve, 2 Corinthians 11:3,14.  Isaiah 14:29 and 30:6 speak of flying serpents, (and the word used was “saraph”, the same word as is used of the seraphim),  so, strange as it may seem to us, the serpent may have been a winged creature originally, which makes the judgement of creeping along the ground even more severe and suitable. 

There is an eye-witness account in the book “After the Flood”, by Bill Cooper, in which an old person, speaking in the late 1900’s about the experience of his father and grandfather, told of winged, flying serpents in Penllin, Wales.  They “looked as if they were covered with jewels of all sorts.  Some of them had crests sparkling with all the colours of the rainbow”.  “Their outspread wings were bright, and sometimes with eyes, too, like the feathers in a peacock’s tail”.  “They were as bad as foxes for poultry”.  It is interesting that they are likened to foxes, for they are noted for their sly cunning, and the serpent was more crafty than other creatures. 

That it was more subtle, or crafty, does not mean that it was wickedly crafty.  The word is used several times in the Book of proverbs with reference to a prudent man.  When Adam named the creatures, it clearly occurred to him that this animal had remarkable capacities.  The word Adam gave to the serpent is “nachash”, and besides the sinister meanings attaching to this word since the fall, there are two references which give an insight into the original meaning.  It is the word that Laban used, when he said he had “learned by experience” that God had blessed him through Jacob, Genesis 30:22.  It is also the word used of the men of Benhadad’s army, who had gone to the camp of Israel to see what the attitude of the king of Israel would be to their leader.  They went to “diligently observe”, a translation of the word “nachash”.  When he said, “He is my brother”, they immediately deduced that he would be treated favourably, 2 Kings 20:33. 

We build up a picture from this word, then, of a creature that is observant, intelligent, and quickly learns by experience.  The root meaning of the word nachash is whisperer, from its hiss, which now would make us think of an evil characteristic.  Clearly before sin came in this was not the case; it simply and innocently gives us the impression of a gentle creature.  Presumably lions roared in Eden, but the serpent was a gentle beast, more intelligent than the others God had made. 

As a animal, the serpent had no moral sense.  It had no interest in whether God had commanded Adam certain things or not.  But Satan did, and planned to spoil what God had made, and invade the earth with his rebellious designs.  The fact that the judgement of God was imposed upon a moral being in verses 15, shows that there is more to this incident than a serpent talking- it is Satan behind the scenes.  What more suitable vehicle than an intelligent, beautiful, angel-like creature?  Ever since this event, however, Satan has been that “Ancient Serpent, which deceiveth the whole world”, Revelation 12:9.  What he did in the garden, he has been doing ever since, deceiving men with his lies. 

The Lord Jesus made clear that “he is a liar, and the father of it”, John 8:44.  Not content with lying himself, he strives to get others to share his characteristic, so that they become of their “father the Devil”, John 8:44.  The psalmist said that “the wicked… go astray as soon as he be born, speaking lies.  Their poison is like the poison of a serpent”, Psalm 58:3,4.  And not only so, man follows this by believing lies, too, for the natural inclination of the sinner is to believe the Devil’s lies- his heart gravitates towards error.  That is why the Spirit of God needs to act and convince men of the truth of the gospel. 
And he said- Satan’s word is now being set against the Word of God.  This is always Satan’s tactic, to get men to believe him rather than God.  The Lord Jesus, when tempted in the wilderness by the Devil, always referred to the word of God.  He repulsed the Enemy with the words, “It is written”.  For Him, that was enough.  And it should be enough for every believer.  How important to store our minds with the truth of Scripture, so that in the moment of trial we have that resource of remembered truth to combat the Devil successfully.
Unto the woman- notice that the temptation comes first to the woman.  The command to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil came to Adam before the woman had been made, 2;16,17.  This established him as the one responsible for asserting his headship-authority by informing the woman of it.  This is why the command is “Thou (singular) shalt not eat of it”, rather than “Ye (plural) shall not eat of it”.  (One of the many reasons why the Authorised Version of the Scriptures is by far the best translation, since it preserves these important distinctions).

The woman does not seem to have been startled by a serpent talking to her.  Perhaps she thought that God had now given him the power of speech in order to increase their enjoyment of creation, and to better exercise their dominion over it.  For if animals could understand enough to talk, then surely they could also understand enough to obey commands?  Thus she may have reasoned.
Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?- It is noticeable that the serpent does not use the title Lord God, but speaks only of God.  God is the one who created things in chapter 1, but in chapter 2 He established relationships with the man and his wife, and so the title Lord God is used.  The latter name signifying His unchangeable faithfulness.  Satan will not recognise the Lordship of God, any more than Judas Iscariot, one of his agents, would.  We never find Judas addressing the Lord Jesus as Lord.  An apparent exception is found in John 14:22, where a man named Judas asks the Lord Jesus a question, and calls Him Lord.  John the apostle is quick to explain to us, however, that it was not Judas Iscariot, but another Judas, who spoke in those terms.

He begins with a question.  Now when a question is asked, there is always suggested to us a variety of answers, even if they are simply “yes” or “no”.  Immediately the woman has to make up her mind.  But the question is framed in such a way as to put her off her guard.  The word “yea” could be translated “is it the case that”, and she has to decide.  He is not asking out of interest, but in order to trip her up, and suggest a doubt in her mind; a doubt, that is, as to the goodness of God.

Just as the leaders in Israel came to the Lord Jesus at the end of His ministry, pretending to seek the answers to their hard questions, but in fact trying to trap Him.  The Lord Jesus was more than a match for these wicked men, however, and it is said that after the conversations that “they durst not ask Him any more questions”, Matthew 22:46.  Just as in the temptation in the wilderness the Devil had to leave, defeated, so do these.

By his question to the woman, the Devil is insinuating that God was being unreasonable to impose this restriction.  Now the truth is that God’s exact words were not that they could not eat of every tree.  What He had said was they should not eat of a particular one, as 2:17 makes clear.  So what is the correct answer?  Is it “No, God has not said that”, or is it, “Yes, God has said, by implication, that they are not to eat of every tree, for He has banned one”.  The woman may begin to wonder whether Adam had passed on the message correctly.  By saying “ye” and not “thou”, the Devil is making the woman answer for Adam as well.  Immediately the woman is confused, for both a “yes”, (God did say by implication that they were not to eat of every tree, 2:17), and a “no”, (since God said they could eat of every tree, 2:16), are correct answers to the question.  Satan loves to confuse people, and he does it by mixing truth and lies together.

By contrast, Christ is “a man that hath told you the truth”, John 8:40.  In that passage the following truths are brought out by the Lord Jesus in His teaching:

John 8:31  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed;
CONTINUANCE IN THE WORD IS THE TEST OF GENUINENESS.

8:32  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH BRINGS TRUE LIBERTY.

8:33  They answered Him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest Thou, Ye shall be made free?
TRUE LIBERTY IS NOT FREEDOM FROM SLAVERY TO MAN.

8:34  Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
THE BONDAGE CHRIST SPEAKS OF IS SLAVERY TO SIN WITHIN THE HEART.

8:35  And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
ISAAC, THE TRUE SON, REMAINED IN ABRAHAM’S HOUSE, WHILST ISHMAEL, THE SON OF THE SLAVE-GIRL, WAS CAST OUT.

8:36  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
THE SON OF GOD OFFERS FULL DELIVERANCE FROM SLAVERY TO SIN.

8:37  I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill Me, because My word hath no place in you.
THEIR CLAIM TO BE DESCENDANTS OF ABRAHAM AS ISAAC WAS, IS TRUE, BUT THEY ARE LIKE ISHMAEL IN HEART, FOR HE MOCKED ISAAC, THE TRUE SON.

8:38  I speak that which I have seen with My Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
THEIR FATHER IS THE ONE WHOM THEY IMITATE.

8:39  They answered and said unto Him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
TRUE SONS OF ABRAHAM WILL BEHAVE LIKE ABRAHAM.

8:40  But now ye seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
ABRAHAM REJOICED TO KNOW THAT MESSIAH WAS COMING, HE WOULD NOT HAVE SOUGHT TO KILL HIM, AS THESE WERE DOING.

8:41  Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to Him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. 
THEY WERE PART OF THE NATION GOD HAD CALLED HIS SON, EXODUS 4:22.                                                                                                                                     

8:42  Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me.
IF THEY WERE TRUE SONS OF ABRAHAM, THEY WOULD LOVE HIM WHO IS THE TRUE SEED OF ABRAHAM.

8:43  Why do ye not understand My speech? even because ye cannot hear My word.
REJECTION OF THE WORD OF CHRIST ABOUT HIS SONSHIP RESULTS IN INABILITY TO UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH OF GOD.

8:44  Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
THEIR FATHER IS THE DEVIL, WHO FROM THE BEGINNING HAS BEEN A LIAR AND A MURDERER.  THEY ARE LIKE HIM, NOT GOD.

8:45  And because I tell you the truth, ye believe Me not.
THE UNBELIEVING HEART IS ATTRACTED TO THE LIES OF THE DEVIL, AND REFUSES THE TRUTH CHRIST BRINGS.

8:46  Which of you convinceth Me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe Me?
WHO CAN JUSTLY ACCUSE CHRIST OF THE SIN OF LYING?  IF THEY CANNOT DO THAT, THEY SHOULD BELIEVE THE TRUTH HE IMPARTS.

8:47  He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
THOSE WHO ARE “OF GOD”, THAT IS, ARE BORN OF GOD, HAVE THE ABILITY TO HEAR THE WORDS OF GOD THAT CHRIST BRINGS.  THOSE NOT BORN AGAIN ARE UNABLE TO DO THIS.

We now resume our study of Genesis 3.

3:2  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

And the woman said unto the serpent- notice that the woman does not consult with her husband.  He had been made before she was formed, and an order of priority had been established by that simple fact, as the apostle Paul made clear in 1 Timothy 2:13, for “Adam was first formed, then Eve”, and that has deep significance.  It does not mean she is inferior, but that for the sake of order, God has ordained that the man should be first in responsibility.  It is very often the case that the man is second in spirituality, but that is not the point here. 
The fact that the woman does not consult the man is made all the more reprehensible if the words “her husband with her”, verse 6, indicate that he was present.
We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden- so she had understood the words of God correctly, and Adam had passed them on to her faithfully.  Her answer goes some way to contradict the implied idea in the serpent’s question, that God had been unreasonable, and possibly confusing, by saying on the one hand they could eat of every tree, and then saying there was one they could not eat of.  She is to be commended for this, but then she begins to tamper with what God said.  She does not deny God’s word outright, but alters it somewhat.  This, in effect, is the same as denying it, for by altering God’s perfect word we spoil it.

God had said “freely eat”, so by simply saying “eat” she was lessening God’s goodness.  Her mind is being opened to the possibility that God was withholding the maximum pleasure from them.  This is the very basis of Satan’s statement of verse 4 that God was keeping back the best from them.  Satan is ever trying to suggest this to men.  He will deceive them, for instance, into thinking that those who believe the gospel have a miserable life, and are deprived in some way.  The fact is that the Christian life is the most joyful life of all, for it involves fellowship with Divine persons, and the apostle John could testify that this is the means of full joy, 1 John 1:4. 

3:3  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it- the word for “midst” has the idea of bisect, or sever, so perhaps the tree was at the meeting point of paths that met in the centre of the garden.  There was no mistaking the tree.  God had not made it difficult for them to know which tree was prohibited.  The woman is aware that they may not eat of the tree, so Adam has passed that information on to her, and she knows that it applies to her as well, for she says “Ye”, whereas God said “Thou”, to Adam.

Notice that she has begun to use the name for God that Satan used, and not the one she has been familiar with.  The idea of His faithfulness and authority is receding from her mind.  Instead of thinking of God as her loving Lord, she now begins to think of Him as an unreasonable Creator.  The Devil builds upon this idea of doubting the goodness of God, for he will suggest in verse 5 that God’s motives are suspect.
Neither shall ye touch it- not only has the woman lessened the goodness of God, but she now begins to suggest that His demands are unreasonable.  God had not, in fact, said anything about touching the tree, although of course there was no need to do so if there was no intention to eat of it.  She has added to the word of God, a fatal mistake.
Lest ye die- she is now lessening the severity of the penalty, from “surely die”, (certainty), to “lest ye die”, (a possibility).  Satan’s attack on the integrity and goodness of God is working in her mind.  She has now, in intention, taken away from the word of God, another fatal mistake.  There is a fearful judgement for those who add or take away from the Word of God, Revelation 22:18,19.

3:4  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

And the serpent said unto the woman- we come now to the point-blank denial of what God had said.  Satan has no respect for the word of God, but hates it, since it effectively deals with his power, and predicts his certain downfall.  The word of God was what defeated him when he tempted Christ, and the same weapon is effective against him still. 
Ye shall not surely die- note that the Devil quotes the words of God accurately, inasmuch as he says “surely die”, but in the process he denies their truth.  This is the event the Lord Jesus referred to when He said that the Devil was “a liar, and the father of it”, John 8:44.  The reason he is a liar is because he did not abide in the truth.  Instead of continuing in the path of truth as one of God’s highest creatures, he chose to apostatise, and go away from the stand he had formerly taken.

“The beginning” as far as earth is concerned being the beginning of the world as a place hostile to God.  He managed to convince some of the angels by his lies about God, and so was a liar from the beginning of the rebellion in heaven.  Satan is the god of this world or age, and has been since the moment when he introduced sin into it.  He is also a murderer, and we see that very clearly in that he provoked the man and his wife to eat, and they received the judgement of death upon themselves. 
This event is not recorded because God is against females.  God is against falsehood, and is in favour of the facts.

3:5  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

For God doth know- he now dares to claim to know what is in God’s mind, and having made the claim, to deliberately mislead the woman about it.  If the woman had only gone by the rule that if God says something, He has no ulterior motive, but is acting for our good, she would not have been deceived.
That in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened- there is a sense in which this was true, for we read it happened in verse 7.  But it did not happen in the way the Devil said it would.  He is not only a liar and a murderer, but a deceiver as well, and adds to this sin the misrepresentation of God.  It is not a question of their physical eyes being opened, but rather their mental insight into things would be increased.  The truth of the gospel is able to open the eyes of the blind, as the apostle Paul said in Acts 26:18, for it enables men to see things as they truly are, as God reveals them through His word. 
And ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil- note how the Devil belittles the idea of God, suggesting that it is possible to become like a God.  (But the Living and True God is, by definition, unique.  The exclusion of all other beings is part of what it means to be the True God).  When he fell the Devil convinced himself that this was possible.  “I will be like the Most High” were his words, Isaiah 14:14.  In fact, it has been suggested that this is the germ of the idea of evolution.  If lesser beings can become God, what is to prevent lower creatures climbing higher?  It is also the germ thought of pantheism, the idea that “god is all and all is god”; in other words, that we are all part of “god”, and merge into “god” when we die.  This is the basis of the Gnosticism that the apostles had to contend so strongly against in their day.  It is in fact the religion of the coming Antichrist, who will sit in the temple in Jerusalem claiming to be God, 2 Thessalonians 2:4.  He will be worshipped as one who has attained the consciousness of the divine, and is the full expression of what a man can be.  As the woman was deceived at the beginning, so men shall be deceived at the end of man’s rule on the earth.

We need to beware of any so-called gospel which claims to be able to offer spiritual blessing without repentance and faith.  The apostle Paul warned the Corinthians against being beguiled like Eve had been.  The things Satan uses are another gospel, another spirit, another Jesus, all counterfeits of his devising, which give an appearance of being more exciting, 2 Corinthians 11:4.
They did indeed know good and evil after they had eaten, but it was not as gods, but as guilty sinners.  

3:6  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her;

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food- its forbidden character is lost sight of, as is the command which made it so.  Had she not noticed that it seemed to be good for food before?  She is looking at things in a different light now, influenced by Satan to do so.  The natural features of the tree, the quality of its fruit, now impress her deeply.  She was wrong in her thinking however, for from God’s viewpoint it was not good for food, for by eating it sin was committed.  Perhaps she began to question the wisdom of making a tree that was good for food and then preventing them from eating it.  Where is the logic in that, she may have thought. 
And that it was pleasant to the eyes- it is the case now, that some trees are pleasant to look upon, but their fruit is not edible, whereas other trees are not so attractive, yet their fruit is valuable.  This tree seems to have combined both features.  Yet in Eden every tree was “pleasant to the sight and good for food”, 2:9, and this one is no exception.
And a tree to be desired to make one wise- how could she tell this by looking at it?  She could not, but her mind’s eye is discerning things in the light of Satan’s suggestions.  She has adopted a world-view that does not allow God’s word its place.  She now looks at the tree as desirable, for it will elevate her above the level at which God had placed her.  Satan loves to deceive men into thinking that he can offer them knowledge beyond what ordinary mortals know, for knowledge is power, and men love power.  The first two observations were based on what God’s word said about the trees of the garden, this third thing is based on the Devil’s lie.

Her husband with her- so many have refused heaven, and chosen hell because they wanted to be with their loved ones.  Ghastly choice! 
And he did eat- how much is involved in this simple statement.  Men may dismiss the events here as merely the eating of an “apple”.  But this event has far reaching effects.  Far reaching, not just in terms of time, (for the effects will not be finally eradicated until 7000 years after they happened), but also in respect to the number of people affected, even the whole of mankind until the end of time.  More than this, what happened when Adam ate the fruit affected God, and He needed to step in to assert His rights in the world. 

We must remember that Adam was the head of the race of men.  His very name indicated that, for his personal name, Adam, or “Man”, is the name of the race that comes from him.  There is only one race of men, (even though in the world people speak of different “races”), for God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth”, Acts 17:26.  So what happened to Adam has very serious consequences for us all. 

There is another occasion, however, that had far greater consequences, and that was when the Lord Jesus “tasted death for every man”, at the place called Calvary, see Hebrews 2:9.  As the one who is called the Last Adam, 1 Corinthians 15:45, He undertook to deal with the sin of the first man, and make it possible for the consequences of his sin to be cancelled, for those who believe in Him.  So we shall consider the following things that happened when Adam took, and ate, and relate them to what the Lord Jesus did at the cross:

1.    He became disobedient. “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous”, Romans 5:19.  There is a direct contrast made by the apostle between the disobedience of the first man when he took of the tree, and the obedience of the Second Man, the Lord Jesus, when He died upon a tree at Calvary.  The word for obedience means “an act of obedience”.  Of course, the Lord Jesus was obedient to His Father at all times, (“I do always those things that please Him”, John 8:29), but the special emphasis here is on His obedience “even unto death, and that the death of the cross”, Philippians 2:8.  As He said in the Upper Room, “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father hath given Me commandment, even so I do”, John 14:31.  He was given a commandment to lay down His life, John 10:18, and He obeyed, and thus showed that obedience to God which He looks for.  Adam was not in any hardship when he ate of the tree.  It was not as if there were no other fruits available, and he was starving.  His action was one of gratuitous disobedience.  For the Lord Jesus, however, the “tree” involved intense suffering, and unimaginable horrors.

Since the downward path began with disobedience, it is not surprising that God requires men to start the upward path to heaven by obeying.  And the thing they are to obey is the gospel.  The apostle preached so as to produce “the obedience of faith among all nations”, Romans 1:5, see also 16:26.  Sin began with disobedience and disbelief; righteousness begins with obedience and belief in Christ. 

2.    He became a sinner.  “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”, Romans 5:12.  Sin had already reared its ugly head in heaven before Satan introduced it into the world of men.  He did this through Adam, the head and father of the race.  As soon as he ate of the tree in disobedience, Adam was constituted a sinner, for he had transgressed God’s command to him, and “sin is the transgression of the law”, 1 John 3:4.  He now has the sin-principle, (the ability and tendency to sin) within himself.  But he is the source from whom all men derive their nature, so as soon as children began to be conceived, then Adam’s sin-principle  is passed on to them.

3.    He became a rebel: Adam has now acted contrary to the revealed will of God, and asserted his will above it.  By this act he has sided with the Devil in his rebellion against God.  The Scripture says, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be”, Romans 8:7.  The mind is the centre of a person’s decision-making processes, and the apostle describes the unbelieving person’s way of thinking and deciding as carnal.  In other words, it is limited by what he is naturally, as a man in the flesh, not influenced by the Spirit of God. 

There are three things that characterise this mind.  First, it is enmity against God.  Not just at enmity, but so permeated by enmity that it is enmity personified.  Second, it is not subject to the law of God.  This is the way the enmity expresses itself.  The natural mind is not passive about the law of God, but aggressively rebels against it.  Third, it cannot be subject to the law of God.  The mind of the flesh is not repairable.  It cannot be improved.  It has to be exchanged for the mind of the Spirit.  And this is God’s work when a sinner believes the gospel.  The Spirit of God comes to indwell that person, so that their way of thinking is now governed by the Spirit of God instead of the flesh of man.

Only by bowing to the authority of God’s word, and recognising the authority of the Lord Jesus, through whom that word is applied, can man be any different.  God can righteously transform a person who believes the gospel, because His own Son was “wounded for our transgressions”, Isaiah 53:5, at Calvary.  It was not simply a physical fact that “He was numbered with the transgressors”, verse 12, by hanging on the cross between two thieves, but that He took responsibility for the sins of men, transgressors as they are, and dealt with them effectively.

4.    He became dead: The judgement that God threatened came to pass, for God’s threats are not idle.  Adam is now “dead in trespasses and sins”, Ephesians 2:1, as we all are naturally.  The moment Adam sinned, he was cut off from fellowship with God, and “alienated from the life of God”, Ephesians 4:18.  He also was now mortal, tending to death physically.  But there is a third aspect of death in prospect for him, for the Lake of Fire, the place where unbelievers are consigned for ever and ever, is described as the second death, Revelation 20:14.  Such a doctrine is very solemn.  So solemn in fact, that if there were no remedy, it would be unbearable.  But there is a remedy, but only before that dreadful place is reached.  There is no remedy afterwards, for the Scripture describes unbelievers as being “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power”, 2 Thessalonians 1:9.  In other words, when sinners enter the Lake of Fire, they begin a process of being banished further and further away from God.  The presence of the Lord, which they might have enjoyed for all eternity, for ever recedes, and the glory of His power, which power could have saved them if they had repented and believed the gospel, (which is the power of God unto salvation, Romans 1:16), is now exchanged for the fierceness of His wrath.
The Lord Jesus taught these things, (for He said more about hell than about heaven), but He also set out the remedy.  His words are these:  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life”, John 5:24. 

We learn from this statement the following:

Man is in a state of death.
That state of death need not be permanent.
Men may be delivered from that state by hearing Christ’s word with the hearing of faith, (the “word” in question being the topic of His Deity).
When they do so they receive the immediate and permanent gift of eternal life.
They also at that moment pass from death unto life. 

It is important to notice the meaning of the prepositions in the last phrase.  It is not “away from death towards life”, but rather “out of death into life”.  In other words, the sinner was in a state of spiritual death, and the moment he believes he is placed into a state of spiritual life.  It is not a process of gradually moving away from death towards life.  Such is the happy position of the believer.

5.    He became spoiled as a representative: Instead of being able, as one in the image of God, to represent a holy and righteous God to the rest of creation, he was unholy and unrighteous himself.  He is now under the control of Satan, who has no interest in God being represented, for he does everything within his power to prevent it.  So it is that when Seth was born, the scripture says that he was begotten in the image and likeness of Adam, Genesis 5:3.  Adam is now reproducing himself and not God.

Christ, however, is the image of God, Colossians 1:15, and through Him it is possible for man to be restored as the representative of God.  The apostle described believers as “created in righteousness and true holiness”, Ephesians 4:24, and “renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him”, Colossians 3:10.  Notice the word “created” in those quotations, for only by God making a person anew can the image of God be restored; no amount of religion will suffice.  “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”, 2 Corinthians 5:17.  And the basis upon which this is done?  The apostle goes on to tell us- “For He (God) hath made Him (the Lord Jesus) sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”, verse 21.

6.    He became head of fallen creation: When God made man, He gave him dominion over the works of His hands, Psalm 8:6; Genesis 1:26.  The writer to the Hebrews, however, when commenting on these matters, had to say, “We see not yet all things put under him”, Hebrews 2:8.  Sadly the dominion was lost, and creation was now “made subject to vanity”, and was in the “bondage of corruption”, Romans 8:20,21.  It was not feasible for a fallen head to exercise dominion over an unfallen creation.  They stand or fall together.  But this state of things is not permanent, for it is God’s plan to deliver this groaning creation from its travail, and bring it into freedom.  This can only be done through the second Man, the last Adam, who by His death purchased the right to reverse what Adam had done.  By the blood of His cross He will reconcile all things unto Himself, whether they are things in heaven or things on the earth, Colossians 1:20.  Notice that it is things that shall be reconciled universally, not men universally.  There is no hope for those who persist in unbelief.

When the Lord Jesus was here on earth, He showed the sort of power that will be put forth in that glorious day when earth’s woes come to an end.  He could command the winds and the waves and they obeyed Him; turn water into wine; feed thousands from a few loaves; control a fish so that it came to Peter’s hook; control the shoals of fish so that they came into the disciples’ net; ride into Jerusalem on an untamed colt; prevent the cockerel crowing until a certain moment; curse a fig tree so that it withered from the roots; cleanse the lepers; heal the sick; give sight to the blind and hearing and speech to the deaf and dumb.

These are what Hebrews 6:5 calls “the powers of the world to come”, samples of what He will do when He returns to the earth to reign.  In that day all things hostile to God shall be subdued, and all creation shall be under His feet, in final fulfilment of the words of the psalmist in Psalm 8.  We see “not yet” all things put under man, because man in Adam still controls the world, but in the soon-coming day of Christ’s rule, all things shall be under His pierced feet.

James introduces the thought that those who are born again, are “a kind of firstfruits of His creatures, (creation)”, James 1:18.  In other words, believers who, because they are born again, are in the kingdom of God already, are charged with the responsibility of demonstrating to the world the blessedness of being in subjection to Christ.  Just as the firstfruits in the Old Testament were a sample of the harvest yet to be reaped, so believers are to be a foretaste of coming glories, as they live in righteousness before God and men.  Indeed, the apostle Paul foretells that creation shall be “delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God”., Romans 8:21. The energy and freedom that God’s children know now, shall be known throughout the earth in a day to come.