This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
In our previous study we dealt with the theme of the Adamic race, that is, Adam and his descendants. And I pointed out to you that ’adam is primarily a proper name. It refers to a particular person and then the Adamic race is that person, Adam, and his descendants. And I pointed out that the creation of Adam was unique and that in various ways Adam was quite different from all other created beings. I will briefly recapitulate the five unique aspects of Adam as they were given in the previous study and then we’ll move on.
First of all, the method of creation. His body was molded of clay but into his nostrils were inbreathed direct from God the very Spirit of life from God. Thus Adam came into being face to face with his Creator, created with something in him that was uniquely capable of fellowship with God.
Secondly, the nature of Adam, which is stated in two aspects. He was created in the likeness and the image of God. Likeness I took to mean his inward spiritual, moral and intellectual capacity. And image without any question refers to his external, physical form. In a special way the physical body of Adam carried the image of the Creator.
Thirdly, the purpose of Adam’s creation, it states in Genesis 1:26, that “he and his race”— for it speaks in the plural—were to have dominion over all the earth. In other words, Adam was God’s personal representative showing forth God’s likeness and exercising God-given authority.
Fourthly, Adam had intelligent partnership with God. God, we might say reverently, shared His problems with Adam and asked Adam to offer his solution. Particularly this is exemplified in the naming of the animals.
And fifthly, Adam was unique in the way that a mate was provided for him. After all the animals had been brought before him, there was no mate for Adam. And then this mate was brought forth by divine supernatural act from within Adam. And in this way Adam was made to feel God’s own longing for personal fellowship. And also the way in which his mate was provided is, of course, a type of the church being brought forth out of Jesus Christ to become His bride. And therefore, this is also a picture of the relationship between Christ and His bride, and is presented this way in the New Testament.
We can sum it up by saying that Adam was the ruler of the world when he was created and placed in it.
Now God’s permanent contact with Adam was through His Word. As long as Adam believed and obeyed the Word of God, he was inviolable. Nothing could touch him. And the same is true, we stated briefly, of the Christian in the new creation. God’s permanent contact with us is through His Word. And as long as we believe and obey the Word of God we are just as inviolable in the new creation as Adam was in the first creation.
Now we’re going to go on in this study to deal with the fall of Adam. And I think it would be good to read the first verses of Genesis 3. I’ll read it in the King James Version, possibly change some of the words to make them more modern, more literal. Genesis 3, reading verses 1–6.
“Now the serpent was more subtil 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 in the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 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. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods [I prefer to say as God], knowing good and evil. 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.” (KJV)
There is so much in that simple narrative that you could spend really months meditating on all the truths that are contained in it. I don’t want to deal with it in tremendous detail, but I want to point out certain important points.
We have said already that God’s permanent contact with Adam was through His Word, which He had spoken—a word of permission, prohibition and warning. And that as long as Adam believed and obeyed that word, no evil could touch him. Satan could not reach him nor harm him in any way whatever. Now Satan obviously understood this and therefore, in procuring the downfall of Adam, Eve and the human race, he went about it by attacking and undermining the authority of God’s word. And this is so important to see, because this is exactly the way he still operates in the church and in the lives of individuals. He does not directly attack God; his attack is always directed primarily against the Word of God. And notice that his attack was, as the Scripture says, very subtle. He did not begin with a deliberate denial. He began merely by questioning it. Verse 1, “Yea, hath God said?” — “Did God really say that? That you shall not eat of every tree in the garden?” And we cannot help observing that in the contemporary church today, his methods have not changed the least. If you study what is called the new theology, and it’s presented under various different names, but it all has one origin, that’s the same origin that it had in the Garden of Eden, it does not begin outright by denying the truth of Scripture. It begins by questioning them.
I was confronted by a very vivid example of this in Canada about eight years ago. One of the churches there (which I don’t need to name) was bringing out a new Sunday school teaching material. And they had not consulted the church members. It was a small group of people who considered themselves to be the leaders of this organization. And they had brought out an entirely new set of material for Sunday school teaching and it was full of things like this: Is it necessary to believe in the virgin birth? Is it necessary to believe in the deity of Christ? Is it necessary to believe in a physical resurrection? And of course, I was immediately reminded: Did God really say? Do you really have to believe that? You could almost hear the serpent’s hiss in the words. And the remarkable thing in this situation was that those church members didn’t make any kind of reaction but the secular newspapers in Canada got hold of this outline, published it and said; Is this what the church is teaching today? And I could not but marvel that it took the secular newspapers to stand up for this attack on the Word of God. The leaders of the church were leading the attack and the members of the church were just sitting there passive, without any kind of reaction whatever.
And I just had to, in those instances, praise God for the secular newspapers. Maybe they were short of news, but at least they brought out into the open something that was going on and could have been passed off without any real reaction from professing Christians in quite a well-known denomination. So we see that Satan does not begin by direct denial. But he gets you interested in speculation. Did God really say that? Is the Bible the Word of God? Or does it just contain the Word of God? Do we have to believe the story of Jonah, or is that just a myth? And so on and so on and so on. But you’ll notice that once you begin, there isn’t any stopping place. Until the whole Scripture has been discredited.
Now I think Eve was lost the moment she began to entertain the question. I think from then on her downfall was assured. It was just a question of time and it did not take long. She came out with an answer and, of course, it’s clear that human nature, even at that moment, didn’t like to admit that there were any limitations. No, no. We can eat of every tree. There’s just one tree in the middle of the garden. And now comes out Satan with the deliberate direct denial. In Genesis 2:17, the Lord has said to Adam concerning this tree, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” And in Genesis 3:4 the devil said: “Ye shall not surely die,” There is the direct denial of what God said. And that is where Satan is always headed. He’ll take a round about route to get there, but his final purpose is to deny, discredit and overthrow the authority and reliability of God’s Word. And when we allow him to do that, our situation is just as disastrous as was the situation of Adam and Eve.
I used to point out to my students in Africa when teaching this lesson, that the process of the fall could be summed up in three successive stages in relationship to the Word of God. And each of them in the English language conveniently begins with a D: doubt, disbelief and disobedience. And let no one question, once you begin to doubt and entertain doubt and do not deal with doubt, the next stage will be disbelief. And let no one ever question again the final result of disbelief will always be disobedience. What you believe will affect the way you act.
There’s another satanic lie that goes around today: Well, after all, it doesn’t matter much what we believe. It certainly does matter what you believe. Your actions ultimately will always be the product of what you believe. Notice in verse 5 that Satan put the pressure on Eve to bring her to the point of open disobedience and his final persuasion is particularly worth noticing. In Genesis 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.” (KJV)
That’s the translation of the King James. But the word there translated “gods” is the ordinary Hebrew word for God, Elohim, which is plural as I pointed out and occurs first in Genesis 1:1. But at least ninety percent of the times that it occurs in the Old Testament in the King James Version it is translated “God.” And I haven’t any question in my mind that’s what the devil said: “You’ll be equal with God. You won’t need to depend on God. You won’t need to look to God for the answers to your problems or supply your needs. Why, you’ll be independent!” And I would like to point out to you that I believe the basic motivation of sin is the desire to be independent of God. And when you view it that way we realize how close sin comes to our nature and thinking so many times.
Compare the motivation that was in Satan that prompted his fall. In Isaiah 14:13–14, which we studied earlier in connection with the pre-Adamic age, we saw the motivation that caused Lucifer, that glorious cherub, to fall. And in verses 13 and 14 we have these five successive statements, “I will”:
“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (KJV)
And that was the final culmination of Satan’s ambition towards God, to be equal with God. And when he brought his persuasion to bear upon Eve, the final persuasion was exactly the same. “Ye shall be as God.” You’ll be on a position of equality with God. All you need to do is know just a little bit more. And why is God keeping this knowledge from you? Because He wants to keep you in subjection. He wants to keep you inferior. But if you’ll listen to me, I’ll show you the way to be equal with God. That was the essence of the temptation.
Now, notice the three ways in which temptation affected Eve. In the 6th verse of Genesis 3. She saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree to be desired to make one wise. These are the three basic forms of temptation. Let us compare what is said in 1 John 2:16. The first epistle of John, chapter 2, verse 16:
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (KJV)
This is what the world, when it came under Satan’s control, was motivated by: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. And if you turn and compare in Genesis 3:6, you will find these three things. It was good for food—the lust of the flesh. It was pleasant to the eyes—the lust of the eyes. And it was a tree to be desired to make one wise—that’s what’s called in the King James Version “the pride of life.”
That word pride is derived from a Greek word which means to boast. And I suggest you could put arrogance, self-sufficiency, the desire to be self-sufficient, to no longer need God’s help for direction or counsel. I’m the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul. Some of you are probably familiar with that. That’s exactly a perfect expression of the pride of life. I can handle the situation. Even if I get into trouble, I am not going to pray to God, I know the way through, I don’t need to depend on any Almighty Being. It’s the exaltation of the ego. It’s the same thing that’s expressed in that passage in Isaiah 14, “I will.” Five times. I am going to handle this.
And I don’t know how it may be with you, but this is one of my basic problems. Even as a Christian. When I encounter a problem, my first reaction is, “Now I’ll see how to handle it.” And then I stop and say Maybe I should get God to show me how to handle it. I don’t know, you may not be like that, but I recognize this is my weak point. It’s self-reliance. It’s the failure to depend upon God. And I have seen that this is the essential nature of sin. It’s not committing murder or adultery, it’s just believing you can make it alone. That you can do without God. And it is really, if you sum it up, a form of arrogance and self- sufficiency, called in the Scriptures “the pride of life.”
Now notice, as it has been pointed out many times before, that Jesus in the temptation in the wilderness was subjected to precisely these three temptations. Remember that Jesus is called “the last Adam.” And that there’s a specific direct linkup between the first Adam and the last Adam. We’ll deal with this much more fully later on in these studies. But just bear that in mind.
Turn to Luke’s gospel, chapter 4, for a moment. And I am assuming that you are familiar with the fact that part of this chapter deals with the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the wilderness. Notice, for three successive temptations that are recorded. Verse 3:
“And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. [Satisfy your stomach, good for food—the lust of the flesh. Notice Jesus’ answer:] And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. [The next temptation:] And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. [That’s a fascinating thought. I don’t want to dwell on it, but you see, Satan can grant supernatural revelation.] And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: [notice that word glory] for that is delivered unto me [we’ll come to that statement later]; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (KJV)
There was the lust of the eyes. All of the kingdoms of the world, all their glitter, all their splendor, all their dignity, all the jewels and the ornaments and the insignia and the medals and the crowns and the retinues and the processions and the bands—all these things. Don’t pretend that they don’t influence us, because they do. And there Jesus was shown all these and just one requirement: to have them all, all He had to do was worship Satan. He refused. A third temptation in Luke 4:9:
“And he [Satan] brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence ...” (KJV)
Do a miracle, demonstrate Your power, don’t depend on the Father. You remember what Jesus said? “The works that I do, I don’t do them, the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. The Son can do nothing of himself. Whatsoever the Father doeth, that doeth also the Son.” You will find that in John 5. The temptation here was: demonstrate Your own power, show what You’re capable of, get people interested in Yourself. And again, this is a tremendously subtle temptation, especially when we move into the realm of ministry and we begin to use our ministry or our gifts to promote our own personality rather than to exalt the Lord. And again, this time, notice, Satan misapplied Scripture. To me, that’s the absolute climax. But he does it many, many times. Oh, yes. The devil can quote Scripture when it suits him. And he quoted from Psalm 91. But Jesus in verse 12 said:
“And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (KJV)
So that Jesus was subjected to every one of these basic temptations just as Eve was: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life. And we know, praise God, that Jesus overcame. And there’s something that, to me, is so far reaching that I’ll just mention it and move on. But it goes so close to the root of things. Eve and Adam fell by eating. And Jesus overcame by fasting. To me, this in itself speaks volumes for what fasting can do if it is rightly applied. Now I know that people can be fanatical and one sided about fasting but to me, if there is anything in Scripture that shows the place and the power of fasting, this is it. Even Jesus had to fast to overcome Satan though He was the Son of God. And the very point which caused Adam’s downfall was the point in which Satan gained the victory.
Notice also, the relationship to God’s Word. Adam rejected God’s Word, and Jesus retained God’s Word. Each temptation Jesus met by saying, “It is written”. The written Word of God upheld Him and kept Him from the snare of the devil.
Now there’s one other fact that I want to point out in this connection which I think is very, very important. I don’t want to dwell on it, but I just want to draw your attention to it. It’s stated by Paul in 1 Timothy 2:13–14. But we’ll look back just a little bit, as far as verse 11 to get the context. You see, I believe that everything that’s contained in this initial record of Adam and Eve contains eternal truths about human nature which are still as valid today as they were then. Other things might have been irrelevant, but the things that are recorded in Scripture are permanent. And in 1 Timothy 2:11 Paul says:
“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” (KJV)
Now the word silence isn’t really a very good translation. It does not mean that she is not to open her mouth. I would put in “quietness.” In other words, let the woman not do all the talking. And I think if ever there was a message for modern America, that’s it.
“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence [to be in quietness].” (KJV)
And I don’t believe that Paul means that a woman is never to teach in any circumstances. I believe she’s not to teach in any situation which involves usurping authority over the man. It’s ridiculous to suggest that a woman is not to teach her children Scripture or anything like that. Or if her husband is unconverted and on his death bed that she is not to teach him the way of salvation—that would be ridiculous. But she is not to teach in a way that involves taking the initiative—going ahead of the man or superseding his authority.
You see, because when Eve took the initiative, that’s when disaster came. That’s Paul’s lesson. As a matter of fact, you look back in the history of the church and the origins of doctrines of error; it is quite astonishing how many times they’ve come to precisely the same cause. As a matter of fact, I think this has an application even to our situation today. Personally, I warn ladies very politely against taking too much of a lead in the ministry of the Word, even in home groups, unless it’s a ladies group. Now I think it’s very dangerous. I’m not in any sense prejudiced against women, I don’t have that problem. But I just see great possibilities of danger.
Now let’s go on to the reason that Paul gives:
“For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [And listen, verse 14:] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (KJV)
Now that’s a very important statement. I read it many times before it really registered. Adam was not deceived; the serpent deceived Eve. He got her believing what he said. She was genuinely deceived. Adam was not deceived. Well, why did he disobey? Because he wanted to side with his wife. He saw what his wife had done and his wife meant so much to him that he would rather side with her in rebellion against God than be faithful to God and be separated from his wife. And again, to me, this brings out a tremendous principle which is stated by Jesus in the gospel. “If any man will come after me, let him hate father, mother, husband, wife, children and his own life also.” In other words, anything that claims our affection above the Lord is an idol. There was nothing wrong with Adam loving his wife. But when he loved his wife so much that for her sake he rejected God, that was disaster. And I think the implication in Paul’s teaching in 1 Timothy 2 is that this is a danger that’s always liable to recur if the woman takes the initiative in doctrinal teaching. Notice what Paul has in mind. If you turn back to Genesis 3 for a moment, verse 12 and verse 17, when the Lord began to question Adam and Eve about why they had transgressed, he questioned Adam first and not Eve. And in verse 12 Adam said:
“The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” (KJV)
Of course, by implication he was criticizing God for having given him a wife. That’s typical of the sinner. He will always try to find somebody else to blame. You’ll notice, everybody passes the blame on. The woman said, “Well, the serpent that You created persuaded me. So it isn’t my fault, it’s the serpent’s fault.” This is always typical of sinners in any situation. Notice then, when God pronounced judgment in verse 17 of Genesis 3:
“And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree ...” (KJV)
So God clearly stated that Adam was not deceived by the serpent, but Adam chose to listen to his wife and that’s where his problem came. When he listened to his wife rather than retaining what God had given him in His Word.
Now I think if we just hold these truths that I’ve tried to bring out quite simply and briefly in our minds, and meditate on them, we’ll see that every one of them has a very real up-to-date application in our own lives and our own situations today. Every one of these truths that’s recorded and brought out in the account of the fall still is valid and still applies to our lives today. In other words, it’s just not an old story, but it is something that tells us about our own inner nature, and motive, and the things that make us tick. And the way that the devil attacks us, and the way that we have to be on our guard, and the way that we can find an answer to temptation. And it also tells us about our basic relationship with one another.
Now, I want to go on for the remainder of this study and I anticipate also the next study as well, to deal with the results of Adam’s fall. And I have listed there five main results of Adam’s fall. Now I am not for a moment suggesting that these were the only results, but they’re the ones that seem to be important in connection with the theme that we are seeking to follow through of spiritual conflict. And I am not sure that I have necessarily listed them in the order in which possibly they occurred, but that isn’t important.
The first great result of Adam’s fall that I have listed is stated there a change in Adam’s nature. When Adam was originally created, like everything else that God created, everything in him was very good. But as a result of the fall, his whole nature was changed. Now the name given in Scripture to the nature produced in Adam as a result of the fall, and this name is used in the New Testament, is the “old man.” Alternatively, this nature is described in various places by the apostle Paul as “the flesh,” or “the body,” or “the body of sin,” or “the body of the sins of the flesh.” But we always have to bear in mind that in contexts where it does not apply, obviously to the literal physical body, then these phrases—the flesh, the body, the body of sin—denote the nature that Adam received as a result of the fall and which he transmitted to his descendants. You have to bear in mind that Adam never begat children until he was a rebel. And every child that was ever begotten from him and his descendants was begotten a rebel. Okay? This isn’t popular with modern theologians, but it just happens to be true.
Now, in Ephesians 4:22 we have what I believe is the great basic description of this “old man”—this nature that was produced in Adam by disobedience and rebellion. I think we find it in Ephesians 4:22. We’ll read from verse 20 just to get the context:
“But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: [what is the truth in Jesus? It follows in verse 22] That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” (KJV)
The old man is very often likened to a set of apparel which we can put off. And I point out to you that the Scripture places upon the New Testament believer the responsibility for putting it off. It’s an act that we have to make. God has made it possible, but we have to make it actual. Then Paul goes on to say that to replace it we have to put on the new man. Again, this is an act that we are responsible to do. It’s not done for us by God. But in connection with the old man, Paul speaks in verse 22 about the former conversation. That word conversation in Elizabethan English does not mean just talking; it means a way of life. So our former way of life was the way that we lived before we came to Christ and were converted and regenerated and changed by God. And in that former way of life, it was the old man that was living, that dictated, that ruled. And this old man, this old Adamic nature is said to be corrupt. The Greek is a continuous present tense, continually being corrupted, always under the influence of corruption. And if there is one key word to describe this nature, it is the word corrupt. From that moment of the fall onward, Adam was corrupt. Physically corrupt and morally corrupt.
Now, corruption means “subject to decay.” It isn’t always immediately evident. For instance, you can take a beautiful, luscious peach and place it on a plate on the table and it looks so fresh and delicious that you wouldn’t think that it’s corrupt. And if you eat it immediately, you’ll hardly be conscious of the fact that it’s corrupt. But you leave that peach without doing anything to it for about ten days and you’ll come back and find something that is yellow and shriveled and unattractive. What caused that? Just corruption. That’s all.
So corruption can be present without being obvious. But in the long run, its effects will always be manifested. And this is true of the old Adamic nature. It’s corrupt. Now sometimes we don’t realize this. We see a strong, healthy, handsome young man who’s been very successful in his career and has done very well at the university, and seems so brilliant and seems to have the world at his command. We think, “Well, there is nothing wrong with that young man.” It’s like the luscious peach, the corruption doesn’t show. But you leave him fifty years, come back and if he is still alive, he’s bent and shriveled and his eyesight is failing, he’s a little deaf, and he’s very grumpy and sour. And what’s that? It’s corruption. Physical and moral corruption at work. And this is the key word that describes that Adamic nature. It’s corrupt. It’s continually undergoing the process of corruption and it’s corrupt according to the King James Version, according to the deceitful lust. But this is a rather free translation. It’s corrupt, I would prefer to say, through the working of the lusts which are the product of deceit. Where did the deceit come from? From Satan. Satan deceived Eve with his lie. And believing Satan’s lie and acting upon it produced in her what the Scripture calls lust—that is, desires that are no longer subject to God’s righteous standards of living. Desires that are in various ways, if they’re satisfied, evil and harmful. This is, I believe, a correct description of what the Bible calls lust. They’re desires that have become perverted, so that gratifying them in the long run will prove harmful to the person who has the desire. And so I think we can say from the basis of this, that the old man, that nature is essentially the product of the devil’s lie. When Eve believed the devil’s lie, it started to work in her and it produced in her desires that had not been there before that were perverted and evil and rebellious and contrary to the will of God. And so this is the nature that was produced in Adam. And you see, if you’d like to contrast it for a moment with the new man, which Paul is going to speak about, we’re not going to deal with now, the new man is the product of the truth of God’s Word. He is regenerated, reborn by believing God’s Word rather than the devil’s lie. So you can say, if you wish, that the old man is the product of the devil’s lie, the new man is the product of the truth of God’s Word received by faith. And essentially, in the old man is the nature of the serpent, because it was as a serpent that Satan sowed the seed of his lie in the heart of Eve. And I think there’s one thing about a serpent; it’s always crooked. I never have seen a straight serpent. And this is true about the old Adamic nature; it is crooked. It is corrupt, it’s twisted, it’s perverted. This is the truth about what’s in you and me. And it started with Adam.
Then again, the other key word that described the nature of Adam as a result of his disobedience is found in 1 Corinthians 15:53–54, where Paul is talking about the changes that will take place at the resurrection. The changes that will take place in the physical body of the believer. First Corinthians 15:53– 54, Paul says:
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (KJV)
Notice the first word that Paul uses is corruptible, the second is mortal. These are the two words that describe the nature of Adam as a result of the fall. These are the outworking, in Adam’s experience, of the devil’s lie that was believed and acted upon. Corruption, and the culmination of corruption, which is mortality, being liable to death.
Now in the Scripture death is presented to us in three successive phases. And there are passages of Scripture that you will find it hard to understand unless you’re clear about these three successive phases of death. The phases, as you will find them listed in your outline, are first of all, instant spiritual death. Second, physical death. And third, the second death. Let’s look at the Scriptures and pause for a moment to notice the impact of each.
Genesis 2:17. This is what the Lord originally told Adam about this tree. Genesis 2:17:
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (KJV)
I read that passage many times before I noticed the emphasis on that phrase “in the day that thou eatest of.” Death is not going to follow many years later; it will take place immediately when you eat of that tree. And, of course, we know that this must have happened because God said it would. And this brought home to me, as a young believer studying the Bible for myself, with tremendous force, the realization that the moment we disobey God, we are spiritually dead. We are cut off from the life of God. That is not a gradual process, it is not a consequence that follows many years later; it is immediate. There is an immediate cutting off of the life that is in God and that is made available to us as long as we are in living contact with God. Notice that this is the kind of death that is spoken of by Paul in Ephesians. I think as we go through this study you’ll see that there’s particularly close connection between Ephesians and the opening chapters of Genesis. I didn’t realize this until I prepared this outline and noticed how many times I was going back and forth between Genesis and Ephesians.
Now in Ephesians 2:1, speaking about the work of redemption through Christ to these who have become believers in Christ Paul says:
“And you hath he [that is, God] quickened [which is the Old English for ‘made alive.’ God has made you alive], [you] who were [made] dead in trespasses and sins.” (KJV)
Now we all realize these people were not physically dead. They were alive in the ordinary sense of being alive. They ate, they slept, they talked, they walked, they married, and so on. But they were dead in their relationship to God—spiritually dead because they were cut off from God who is the only source of spiritual life. And this is further brought out in Ephesians 4:18, reading verse 17 to get the context. Ephesians 4:17– 18:
“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the[ir] understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them ...” (KJV)
That is the condition of the unbeliever. The man without Christ, he is alienated from the life of God, cut off. Spiritually, he’s dead. Physically, he may be a strong, healthy specimen. Mentally, he may be able to operate effectively—but spiritually he is dead. Disobedience immediately cuts off the human soul from the life that is in God. And in God’s sight, from that moment onwards, until there is repentance and return, that person is dead. Dead in trespasses and sins. That’s the first death.
Now we know that as a result of this death, physical death follows. There’s one thing sure about life. It is that we’re going to die. And you’ll find this related in regard to Adam himself in Genesis 5:5. It says:
“All the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.” (KJV)
Died in what sense? Died physically. But he had been spiritually dead for many, many years before he died physically. So there’s this clear distinction between “in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” and we don’t know, possibly nine hundred thirty years, we don’t know, something like that later, he died physically.
And then there is one further phase of death—that is what is called “the second death.” Let’s look at just one passage in Revelation 20:13–15. This is the final “great white throne” judgment as it is often called by Bible commentators. The great white throne judgment.
“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (KJV)
And if you want to see further about the lake of fire, in the 10th verse of the same chapter:
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (KJV)
There is no question in my mind that those words “for ever and for ever” mean endlessly. There is no end. So that, essentially, the second death is final, eternal banishment from the presence of Almighty God from which there is no return.
So we have therefore, as a result of man’s transgressions—sin, rebellion, disobedience, whatever you like to call it—death ensues in three successive phases: spiritual death immediately, physical death in due course, and then at the final judgment, the second death, final eternal banishment from the presence of God.
Now you might reasonably say, “Brother Prince, in Scripture the third one that you mentioned is called ‘the second death.’ Why is it called the second death and not the third death?” And I meditated on this and I believe I have the answer. As far as God is concerned, the second one is not important. Physical death is not of any importance, because physical death changes nothing. That is what God, I believe, showed me. There is no change, there’s just a separation of the material and the non-material elements. Neither of them really changes. So the two deaths are the spiritual death, which is the awful one, the first initial separation from Almighty God, and then the second death is the making of that separation eternal. That’s why it’s called the second. Because up until that moment there is at least the possibility of conceding a return and reconciliation. But from that moment onwards there is no possibility of return, no possibility of reconciliation. So this is therefore the first great result of the fall, the change in Adam’s nature. He became corrupt and mortal, to use the two Scripture words. Now let’s move on to the second result of Adam’s fall which is stated there in your outline: “Satan Usurped the Realm of Adam’s Authority.” Now this is of tremendous importance and has been very little understood by many Christians. It may be that we’ll not be able to deal with it fully in this first session, but we’ll move into it. The key Scripture here, I believe again, is in Ephesians. You see, I’m amazed at how many times I find myself going back to Ephesians. Ephesians 2, and we’ll read verses 2 and 3. This carries us on from the verse that we just read about spiritual death. So I’ll read that verse and then go on. Ephesians 2:1–3:
“And you hath he [God] quickened, [that is, remember every time you read quicken, it means make alive. You’re probably familiar with the quick and the dead. The quick being the living, the dead being the dead. So to quicken is to make alive. It isn’t anything to do with rapidity or speed, that’s a modern association of the word. You hath God made alive] who were dead in trespasses and sins.” (KJV)
Now how did they live, if I may say, and I have to say “live” in quotes, seeing they were dead. How did they live in trespasses and sin? What kind of life did they lead? What was their motivation? This is stated in the next two verses:
“Wherein [that is in trespasses and sin] in time past ye walked according to the course of this world [I’m going to change the translation a little bit, according to the way of the present age. I would suggest you could understand it.], according to the prince of the power of the air [according here I would say ‘under the influence of the prince of the power of the air.’ Who’s the prince of the power of the air? Satan, isn’t it?], the spirit that now worketh [that is now at work] in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation [our way of life] in times past [notice there were no exceptions. Nobody can say, ‘This wasn’t true of me!’ The apostle Paul is writing and he includes himself and the other apostles and all men who have ever lived. We all had our conversation—our way of life—in times past] in the lusts of our flesh [notice that the first thing that is mentioned is the very thing that we spoke about, the lust of the flesh. And then it goes on], fulfilling [our] desires of the flesh and of the mind ...” (KJV)
Notice it’s not merely the fleshly desires but it’s the mental attitude that are evil, that are corrupted. And then Paul says in Romans 8, the carnal mind, the mind that’s not been renewed, the mind that is still under the influence of the fall, is enmity against God. Our reasoning, our imaginations, our thoughts are also in opposition to God. You will find some people who don’t outwardly demonstrate immorality or excess in their living in the physical sense, but their mental attitudes are evil. They’re critical, they’re negative, they’re unbelieving, they’re opposed to God. And this is just as much as result of the fall as the physical sins of gluttony or drunkenness or immorality, whatever they may be. The mind, just as much as the physical flesh, is involved in the results of the fall. And then Paul concludes that 3rd verse by saying:
“... and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (KJV)
Now again, modern theology hates this statement. But most of the things that modern theology hates are extremely important for us to believe. And Paul says, without mincing words, we all were by nature the children of wrath. Now in Galatians 2 Paul uses exactly the same word when he’s talking to Peter and he says, “You and I, Peter, were by nature, Jews.” Exactly the same word is used. So it means by our natural birth, we were the children of wrath. Why? Well it’s very clear. At the end of verse 2, because we were “the children of disobedience.” And disobedience provokes wrath. We were born with a disobedient, rebellious nature. This is how I understand it and do you know what I find? I find it’s true in experience. If you and I are honest about ourselves, every one of us will have to acknowledge that so long as we can remember, way back to our first conscious memories, there’s been something in us that was rebellious. I sometimes ask ladies, “How many of you ever had to teach the children to be naughty?” Never have I ever had a lady with that problem. But you have to spend a lot of time teaching them not to be naughty. There is something in every human being that is a rebel. We were born with a rebellious nature. Now you might say, “How unjust a God to punish us for our nature.” But the Bible doesn’t say that God punishes us for our nature. He punishes us for our acts. We are answerable for yielding to the nature that we were born with. As I understand that, and I don’t want to get involved in abstract theology too far, the devil didn’t have to repeat his maneuver with every son of Adam that was born. Because the devil’s influence was already there, by the nature that was begotten into every son of Adam that was born. But every person born is still accountable for yielding to that nature. We don’t have to go through the same dramatic scene with the tree in the middle of the garden, but essentially the same issues are involved in every human life. This is the way I understand it. Now, what I want to point out to you is that in this way, Satan became “the prince of the power of the air.” And I have already explained earlier that we should translate this, “the ruler of the realm of authority defined by the air.” And that this is essentially the area of the human race and that it is as a spirit that Satan works in the human race. His influence is spiritual, it’s not primarily physical. It’s not through external forces and circumstances, but it’s through something that works spiritually within each one of us and that this spirit plays upon things that are in us which are called “the lusts of the flesh,” and “the desires of the flesh and the mind.” In other words, Satan has control over the human race insofar as they disobey God, and he exploits their disobedience by playing upon things inside them that are called “lusts” and “rebellious desires,” both of the flesh and of the mind. Notice, this is the essence of temptation.
Turn now to the epistle of James for a moment. James 1:13–15, which is an account of the mechanics of temptation. Now the word tempt is used in the King James Version in two distinct senses. One is to tempt to evil, the other is to test a person’s obedience. And we have to distinguish them. God tests a person’s obedience, but Scripture here says He never tempts a person to evil. God tested Abraham’s obedience. Was he willing to offer up his son? God has tested many people’s obedience. But there’s never from God a temptation to do evil. If ever there’s an inclination towards evil, we must never attribute that to God. So this is what James says here:
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man [In the sense of incitation to do evil, it never comes from God.]: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” (KJV)
Now notice there are two forces at work in temptation. There’s something within which is lust. There is something without which is the enticer. The same word could be used of setting a trap or baiting a trap for a bird or an animal. So that the tempter from without places before us his bait, his enticement to do evil, which works on something in us that he knows is there; the corrupt, rebellious desire. In other words, temptation is the interplay of two forces: the tempter, who is always Satan, but works mainly through evil spirits, not direct in person, outside. And inside, something that he knows all about, these rebellious, perverted, corrupt desires. And sin comes when the corrupt desire inside me responds to the bait that Satan has placed outside and prompts me to action. Let’s notice how this is stated, verse 14:
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. [Enticed is the force from without; drawn away is the operation from within] then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin [when it produced an action, that action is sin, and sin], when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (KJV)
The final, ultimate consequence of all sin is death. And that, of course, is the devil’s lie: “Ye shall not surely die.” Now I could sum up the devil’s lie briefly by saying it is this: “You can sin and get away with it.” But you cannot. So that is the mechanism of temptation and it’s produced by the activity of Satan from without, playing upon something within each one of us.
Now in the next study we’ll go on with this fact that Satan has usurped the realm of Adam’s authority, because it was not possible to complete it in the present study.