Saturday, January 20, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 4 - Consequence of the Fall

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on his apologetics series on Humanity in Sin on 14th January 2007.

Fallen humanity uses fallen reason to understand fallen man, so this is not sufficient. We need God’s revelation to understand ourselves. God sought man out when he fell.

Man’s freedom is his honor and is also his crisis. He is created in a state between the potential of good and evil, faith and doubt, absolute and relativity. If we truly understand the weakness of humanity and God’s will, we will not be confused or walk in the wrong path.

The words of human idealism are from reason and never reach the truth. God’s Word gives us the true cause of our fallen state. Adam and Eve saw the tragedy they could not recover so they tried to run away. This is like how people try to solve the problem of illegitimate pregnancy by abortion. This is because humans honor face more than the truth, feelings more than what is right and wrong.

Originally we were given culture mandate. But after sin, culture became a cover for sin. Cultural accomplishment hence never bridges the gap. So we have great ideals but live very shameful lives. Most Chinese emperors speak highly of Confucius’ moral values but many emperors die from sexual diseases.

Instead of repenting, we try to escape and cover ourselves. All beasts never wear any clothes. Why should human beings, made in the image of God, be considered barbaric without clothing? What is the relationship between clothing and culture? It points back to our Fall. We look very gentle and cultured on the outside but it is a cover-up. We use culture to transform ugliness into beauty. This is the true meaning of fallen culture.

In this respect, Confucius is different from Lao Zi. Confucius respected emperors and emphasized on rituals and rites, while Lao Zi promoted nature and believed that the more mannerism the more hypocrisy. But everything began from the book of Genesis.

The Word of God contains judgment, promises, accountability, blessings and curses. From the surface, it seems that God’s words did not come true and Satan’s words came true. But we need to break through beyond the surface and see that God’s Word is indeed true. In this relative and confused world, we need to see the absolute truth of God.

After God passed His judgment and gave His promise, He made garments of skin for Adam and Eve. He not only gave His promise but also acted on His promise. Adam died but a lamb died in his place. This indicates that the wages of sin is death but there would be a Savior dying in his place. A fallen sinner cannot use his fallen reason and action to save himself.

Later on God said, “Since men are now like Us, knowing of good and evil, let Us keep them from the tree of life, lest they eat of them and live forever.” Does that mean God really does not want us to know good and evil? Is He a selfish God, such that now that man knows, He wants to keep them from living forever? This is too hasty a conclusion. How can He not want us to know when He give us the Scriptures full of teaching of good and evil?

The power of God’s judgment is very great. It is not just the issue of knowledge, but the question is where the reference point of right and wrong is. Correctness of knowledge is important. God does not want us to be satisfied just knowing good and evil, but to also know the correct reference from the correct source. It is very scary if we are just satisfied with knowing. True knowledge is more than superficially knowing. We need also to know why we know, on what basis we know, and by what authority we know, not only the knowledge itself. Hence the knowledge of knowledge is more important than the knowledge itself.

What is so special about knowing a lot of things? Even Satan knows a lot of things that God knows. But Satan uses his knowledge to destroy. Experts in the law know best how to break the law without getting punished. So what if we know. Just knowing what is good is nothing. But knowing good and doing good is great.

True knowledge is constrained by wisdom. God knows good and evil, and constrains Himself and will not partake in evil. We too know good and evil but we continue to sin.

The wages of sin is death and we are separated from the life of God. We will continue to decay physically but we are unwilling to decay and die. Decay and death are the consequences of sin. If we decay continually and never die, it would be a horrible situation. We will suffer from diseases and inability. It is God’s love for sinners that allow us to die physical death when we have to die. But God has given a promise of a Savior. So for those who have not met the Savior, let them die physically first. They die physically but they wait in faith for Christ’s salvation.

We are descendants of Adam. Our understanding of good and evil, choice and freedom, knowledge and wisdom, how God treat sin and how Satan deceived, all come from the Scriptures.

With the cherubim and flaming swords to guard the garden of Eden representing God’s justice, history entered into the next stage. The direction of history is in a straight line and never returns. Human beings entered into fallen world and waited for salvation to come. The first era has ended and today the world continues to live under Satan’s reign. We repeatedly commit the sin Adam has committed.

We need to segregate the qualitative difference between God’s revelation and the product of fallen reason. Fallen reason can only produce fallen fruit. We need to build a system of thought that is precise and concise based on God’s word and have the courage to stand for the truth.


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