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Bad to the Bone: A Study of Human Depravity - Part 1

Tom Pennington • Selected Scriptures

  • 2005-06-26 PM
  • Systematic Theology
  • Sermons


Tonight, we want to continue our study of human depravity. "Bad to the Bone" is what I've called our study tonight, a study in human depravity. And I'm about to ruin something you enjoy. Most of you probably enjoy bread. My wife thinks it's the primary food group. Bread in our culture is made from commercially produced yeast, but yeast wasn't always commercially produced. Before the mid 1800's, it was simply used from natural occurring places and substances.

Yeast is a single-celled microscopic organism of the fungus family. Yes, there's fungus in that bread you enjoy so much. There are about six hundred different species of this fungus. Bakers put yeast into bread, into dough, to make it rise. It's also used in the production of beer and wine and other alcoholic beverages. Yeast exists almost everywhere in our world, especially the air. In fact, before commercially produced yeast, in where you would mix that commercially produced yeast with your dough, they would simply make the dough and set it outside in open air, and yeast in the air would find it and develop, begin to develop on that piece of dough.

They reproduce rapidly, and they grow especially well in substances containing sugar of some kind. Yeast cells reproduce by splitting in two or by budding as it's called. In budding, part of the cell wall of the yeast swells and forms a new growth called a bud. The bud then breaks off and becomes an independent cell, and they just reproduce constantly. Yeast fungi lack chlorophyll, the green matter that green plants use to make their own food; and so therefore, yeast must rely on other sources for food. They feed on sugar from a variety of natural sources including fruit, grain, nectar, also from molasses. And then they produce from what they've eaten: chemicals called enzymes or ferments that break down their food. Yes, I'm not going to get graphic, but essentially that good stuff in your bread is something that they produce as a result of having eaten.

If you examine yeast under a microscope, you could see that it moves so quickly it appears to actually explode into the next cell in bread. It's a microscopic stealth weapon. It's not surprising, because of that, that the Scripture often uses yeast as an image of sin, yeast or leaven as an illustration of human sin, because it spreads quickly and silently with deadly results. That's exactly what happened in the Garden of Eden when Adam chose to sin. No clearer or more profound expression of the effects that are caused by human sin exist in our world than the far-reaching effects of Adam's sin in Genesis 3. And that's where I want us to go back to tonight, Genesis 3.

Tonight, I want us to examine the immediate results of the fall. And in a couple of weeks, we're going to move beyond the immediate results, but we're going to look at how the fall has affected each of us which is really where we want to go in this study of depravity: understanding how Adam's sin has affected every one of us. We'll get there in a couple of weeks, but tonight in the time we have, I want us to look at how the fall affected Adam and Eve. And of course, there are lingering results to us as well. You'll see yourself in Adam and Eve as we study them tonight.

So, what are the immediate results of the fall? We saw the last time that Adam and Eve chose to sin, we traced that pattern. What were the results? Well first of all, a marred image of God. You saw a couple of weeks ago how, in Christ, the original image of God in man is restored and renewed. The reason that needs to be renewed is because the fall immediately desecrated the image of God in man.

Let me just give you a feel for that. You'll remember a couple of weeks ago, we talked about the various aspects of the image of God in man, for example, the moral aspects. Because we're made in the image of God, we're morally accountable; but because of the fall, we now seek instead moral freedom. I want to do what I want to do. I don't want to be bound by the laws of God. I don't want to be bound by the morality of the character of God; instead, I want moral freedom. Because we're made in the image of God, we have an inner sense of right and wrong, the substance of the law written on our hearts, but because of the fall, we suppress that truth as Romans 1 says. We ignore that truth, we suppress the conscience. Paul says we sear the conscience because we don't want to hear the voice of God in conscience.

The spiritual aspects of the image of God in man: we saw that we are able to respond to God just as the members of the Trinity respond to each other. We're able to praise God, to pray. Because of the fall, we now choose to worship other gods. Oh, maybe not a god of iron or clay or wood, maybe a god of our own making, maybe we even fall down before ourselves, but we now worship. We're made to worship as Tedd Tripp reminded us a few weeks ago, every person is made to worship, but now instead of worshiping God, we worship other gods. We redirect the proper worship that God alone deserves to creatures and to things.

The mental aspects of the character of God in us or the image of God in us: we have an ability to reason, to think logically and abstractly, something animals don't have. This is part of the image of God in man; and yet, because of the fall, we now have darkened minds. Paul often refers to the mind of unbelievers as having been darkened. Now, our logic is irrational. There's nothing more illogical than sin, and yet we embrace it. We think poorly. Considering themselves to be wise, Paul says, they became (what?) fools. It's because of the fall. That wonderful reflection of the image of God has been terribly, terribly marred.

We have the ability to use complex, abstract language. Now we use that language, not to build up, not to edify as we saw a few weeks ago on Sunday morning, now we use it to curse and to maim and to hurt others, part of the image of God, but terribly marred.

We have an awareness of the distant future because God has placed eternity in our hearts, Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes. But now we choose, because of the fall, to deny that reality, to ignore it (which is where most people are), or to fear it, or a combination of the three.

Creativity: that natural ability given to us as part of the image of God, to create in art and literature and all of these wonderful reflections of the character of God; we now take that creativity, and we pervert it for the expression of sin. If you don't believe that's true, go to a local art exhibit.

Part of the mental gift of the image of God in man is a greater degree and complexity of emotions as we saw, but now we express those emotions in sinful passions of anger and fear.

Part of the marred image concerns our relationships. We were made to be relational. We have a depth of interpersonal harmony that reflects the relationship within the Trinity, and yet because of the fall, we now become distant and aloof from others. People become islands, willing to live completely by themselves and for themselves, refuse to love anyone but ourselves. Marriage is a reflection of the equality that's within the Trinity, but with different roles. That's a reflection of the image of God, but we seek to throw that off, throw off our God-ordained roles to be somebody else, to be something else.

And finally, in the physical aspect of the image of God, God obviously doesn't have a body, but we discovered that part of the image of God is that we have in our bodies a suitable, immortal instrument to express our human nature. Immortal, not in the sense that this body is, our sinful body's immortal, but in the sense that we will always have a body, in God's grace, a new and perfect body. But it's an instrument to express our human nature; and yet, instead, we yield our members as instruments of unrighteousness, Paul says.

You see how the fall permeated the image of God in man? It took all of God's good gifts, and it warped and perverted and marred them, or as John Calvin said, that after the fall, the image of God in man was "deformed, vitiated, mutilated, maimed, disease-ridden and disfigured." That's exactly right. There's still just a mere shadow of the former glory.

So, you can see that this grows out of our study of the image of God a couple of weeks ago. I'm not going to take you through all of those texts. I just want you to see how now it mirrors what we were in Adam before the fall. And now, this is a description of us.

That brings us to the second immediate result of the fall: not only a marred image, but real guilt and personal shame. Look at Genesis 3:7. We're told, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened (after they, their sinful choice), and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings." The eyes of them both were opened. One author says, "They now experientially knew their prior created goodness, but only as a memory. And the fact of their disobedience became an awareness of their guilt." They were aware of real, personal guilt. And that awareness of guilt produces personal shame.

You and I understand this. We understand that when we choose to sin, when we violate the law of God that has been written in substance on our hearts, what do we immediately feel? Guilt. And that guilt produces shame. We want to hide that sin, first from God and certainly from others as well. And that's exactly what happens here. Their awareness of guilt produces personal shame. And their shame shows itself, notice in this verse, in being embarrassed of their nakedness with one another.

Go back to chapter 2:25. After the wonderful account of the creation of Eve, it says: "And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." They were perfectly comfortable with each other. The word "ashamed" here means unabashed, not disconcerted. By the way, this isn't, as some Christian nudist groups (now there's a misnomer) would argue, a support for their lifestyle. Remember at this point, how many people were there in the world? Two: husband and wife and God. So, they weren't exposing themselves. But verse 25 of chapter 2 reiterates their contentment with God's provision of each other. And it pictures a pattern of perfect comfort between this man and his wife. It's the fruit of their perfect love for one another. So, it's not surprising that this was an immediate casualty of the fall. Immediately after their sin, they sought (what?) to cover themselves. And by the way, that was a reaction that God supported, but instead of their own feeble attempts with fig leaves, He killed animals and clothed them with the skins.

But why did Adam and Eve immediately react this way? Why were they immediately ashamed of their nakedness with each other? Clearly, part of it was their sense of guilt before God. But I think there's another component here as well; it's a relational one. As soon as they sinned, they were no longer comfortable with each other. The fig leaves symbolized an attempt not only to hide from God, but to hide from each other. As one writer puts it, "When sin entered the picture, their openness, transparency and total oneness were destroyed."

But notice, that, not only did their guilt cause them shame toward each other, but even toward God. Chapter 3:10, when God, you remember, comes, and they hide, and He asks them, "Where are you?" Verse 10, "Adam says, 'I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.'" So, Adam's sin produced guilt, and that guilt produced shame both toward his spouse and toward God. And it destroyed the perfect unity and harmony that they had enjoyed.

I spend many hours as a pastor dealing with the fallout of these verses because this expresses itself in many marriages today. Guilt and shame destroy the relationship with God and destroy the relationship with each other.

That brings us to a third effect or a result of the fall, and that's moral corruption. This is parallel to a marred image, but it goes a little deeper. Their one sin of eating from the forbidden tree leads to a series of sins. Now it's their nature to sin. Sin is not just an act they have committed; it is what they have become. They are now in fact sinners by nature. John Murray in his book on sin says it was an "internal revolution". You picture that? In a moment's time, there is an absolute revolution that occurs in the heart. They have immediately passed from righteousness - you remember we looked at that as part of the image of God, righteousness – that is, "a genuine and selfless loving concern for others", "to selfishness". They are no longer thinking of each other, but only for themselves.

Notice what happens when they hear God approaching. This is fascinating. In verse 8, it says: "They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden." Now in the English text, it sounds like Adam and Eve are working together to hide themselves from the LORD. But listen to a literal translation of the Hebrew text: "the man hid himself and the woman herself". It's not that they hid together, still genuinely concerned for each other, kind of we're in this together. No, now it's every man for himself. This is my hiding place, go find another. It's like kids playing a game.

And then this self-absorbed, self-focused mindset becomes even more obvious as Adam tries to point the finger of blame at Eve for his sinful choices. Look down at verse 12, you're familiar with this. God says in verse 11, "Who told you you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" What a sting of conscience that must have brought. But notice how Adam responds. Well, he doesn't say it's true, I'm responsible. He begins with, "The woman whom You gave me to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate." This is what John Murray called "a revolution in the family" because now instead of an "internal revolution", there's a revolution even in the home between husband and wife of pointing the finger of blame at each other.

Robert Reymond in his Systematic Theology says,

This is one of the saddest outcomes of the fall. God had lost the perfect reflection of Himself. The analog of His own triune character in His universe recalled that the man and the woman according to God's own stated intention for them were created in a just and holy relationship in order that they might mirror the Creator God to His creation. But see them now, alien and hostile in their attitude not only toward God, but also toward each other.

Remember, we're talking about a moment in time on a single day in history.

The fourth immediate result of the fall is broken fellowship with God. The word is "alienation". And it goes both ways. God is alienated toward man, and that is wholly and fully justified because God in His holiness has been offended. He has been violated. He has been rebelled against. His alienation from man is absolutely and fully justified. And to express that, God expels Adam from the garden down in verse 24: "… He drove the man out…." This is a picture of God showing that He is now alienated from man.

This reality continues; turn to Romans 5. If I were still an unbeliever, this would be one of the most frightening verses in the Bible to me. Romans 5:10 says we were enemies. Think about that for a moment, the enemy of God. God has set Himself as our enemy. Colossians 1:21. Paul says "although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind." You see that on the first day of sin all the way back there in Genesis 3, and that's how people live today: hostile and alienated in their minds toward God. God is alienated from man, and that's wholly and fully justified, but man is also alienated from God. He alienates himself toward God. This is unholy and thoroughly unjustified.

But notice how Adam does it. Turn back to Genesis 3. First of all, he tries to blame God for his sinful choices. We saw that he blames the woman, but notice, read carefully verse 12 again, "the woman whom You gave to be with me." Ultimately, what's Adam doing here? He's not blaming Eve; he's blaming God. He tries to blame God for his sinful choices. And Eve does the same thing. "It's the serpent." Well who made the serpent? She too is blaming God.

He also tries to hide from God out of fear. The saddest comparison I think in all the Bible is found in verse 8 of Genesis 3 because you have, "They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day." If that was all you had, you would think what a beautiful, lovely picture of fellowship and communion with God. But then there's the second half – "and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord." He tries to hide from God out of fear. "The LORD God called to the man, and said to him, 'Where are you?' And he said, 'I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was (what?) afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.'"

And finally, and this is quite interesting, Adam is now willing to pursue a pattern of rebellion. One of the fascinating verses in this chapter that I've never fully considered before is in verse 22, verse 22. Notice what God says,

The LORD God said (now here obviously is a reflection of the communion that's happening within the Trinity, and God wants us to know and understand what's in His mind, and so He says here's what I'm thinking), "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" - therefore the LORD God sent him out of the Garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So he drove the man out; and at the east of the Garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim (this is one of the guardians of God's holiness we studied a number of weeks ago) and He gave [him a] … flaming sword which turned [in] every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.

Why? The answer's back in verse 22 - because Adam, according to what God says here, Adam now had the capacity to totally disregard God's will and God's Word and to try to create a plan by which he could get to the tree of life. He is absolutely committed to a pattern of rebellion apart from, as we saw last time, the working of God's grace to change his heart: broken fellowship with God, Do you see the pattern emerging even in our lives? We see these things in our lives.

Another immediate result of the fall is a cursed creation. John Murray calls it the cosmic revolution. We started with the internal revolution where man became something totally other than he was, but now we have a cosmic revolution, a revolution on a universal scale. Notice verse 17. As part of the judgment,

… He said [to Adam], "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you (Verse 18)…. "Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you."

And in this passage God doesn't tell us, but we know that eventually death even and hatred and fighting among the animals occurs as a reflection.

Romans 8, let's turn there for a moment, Romans 8. Paul records this, this result of the fall. Romans 8:20:

For the creation (he's talking now about the fall and its results), for the creation (everything that God made) was subjected to futility (to vanity), not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free (watch this, the creation is) in slavery to corruption (verse 22). The whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together till now.

It wasn't just about weeds, folks. It was about the entire universe being cursed by God. The beauty that we see is but a mere shadow of its former glory.

In fact, you would think that human sin would primarily affect just the earth, but there's a fascinating passage in Job 25, Job 25. Bildad is talking about man, one of Job's friends, and he says this, verse 5:

"If even the moon has no brightness, And the stars are not pure in His sight (the stars are not pure in the sight of God), How much less man, that maggot, and the son of man, that worm!"

But notice he says the stars, so distant from man, were contaminated by man's sinfulness and his choices because God cursed the entire creation.

Finally, the immediate result of the fall is divine punishment. Turn back to Genesis 3, Genesis 3. Now God metes out this punishment, and we're going to talk primarily about humanity here. We're not going to deal with the serpent and God's curse on the serpent, but when God metes out divine punishment as a result of the fall, He begins with Eve and all women. Notice verse 16 of Genesis 3: "To the woman He said, 'I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.'"

Now, there are two aspects of God's punishment and His judgment on Eve and all women. First of all, there'll be suffering in childbirth. In fact, in 1 Timothy 2:14 and 15, Paul says that women will be preserved through childbirth. Some of the texts, some of the translations say "saved". That doesn't mean anything about eternal soul salvation. Essentially, it's saying that women as a whole, as a group, who were the first to sin, who were deceived and led Adam into sin, that stigma can be erased through the raising of godly children and godly offspring: again, not talking necessarily about each individual woman, but women as a whole.

But notice back in Genesis, verse 16, the second half. In addition to childbirth, suffering in childbirth, there is a desire to master her husband. They'll take care of that, we're so sorry. I think some things are going around. I heard there were a couple of little episodes at vacation Bible school. We'll let them deal with that. But not only was there suffering in childbirth, but there's a desire to master her husband. Ladies, have you ever been tempted in this? "Yet your desire will be for your husband" - many Old Testament scholars say that the idea here is there is an absolute, controlling desire to dominate and master the husband, to be in charge. You ever experience that? Why is it so hard to submit to your husband? It goes back to the curse; it goes back to God's judgment. And the second half of it, "he shall rule over you", suggests that his rule is going to be despotic. He's going to be tempted to be a despot instead of a loving leader. This is part of God's judgment in the home as a result of the fall.

What about Adam and men? Well verse 17, He says then Adam,

Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you (we read that before, but notice what He says); In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. (Verse 19), By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, till you return to the ground."

The curse on man was painful, difficult work. You see, the earth would no longer happily yield its fruit. It would resist man's efforts and yield grain only through hard, difficult work, battling the weeds like I do every week in my yard.

By the way, notice here that work itself isn't part of the curse. I know some of you think that, but that's not what we read here. Adam worked before the fall. We will work in heaven for eternity, but the fall is when work became work.

Now notice, when you look at Adam and Eve, that God's judgment on Adam and Eve was on the primary area of their joy - for man, working and fulfilling himself with the use of his hands and the skills God has given him: and women, with raising children and enjoying the love of that child. And yet, that's exactly the place where God dealt with man.

And then we come to all mankind, both men and women. All of us are included in these two parts of divine punishment. First of all, physical death, verse 19, this is a judgment. He says, "Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return." This isn't just a platitude; this is a judicial punishment. Man now will be subject to physical death. This'll be a part of life. A little boy heard this phrase, "in dust you were made and to dust you shall return", and he said to his mother, he said, "Mom, I looked under my bed and somebody's either coming or going".

This is a part of life. This is the reality of what we deal with. You and I will die. It is appointed into man once to die. I'm going to two funerals Monday and Tuesday, a reminder of the fall. By God's grace, Adam and Eve didn't die immediately; God sustained the race. Adam lived over 900 years, but he died. In fact, if you want a dose of reality, read Genesis 5 and the genealogy of Adam and leading on, and it keeps saying over and over and over again; he lived so many years, and he died. It's part of the judgment of the fall.

Man was never made have his immaterial part separated from his physical part. Your material and immaterial were meant to be together. We were not made to be separate. That's why Paul calls death (what?) an enemy that is part of the result of the fall. You will return to dust.

And then spiritual separation from God - this is pictured by forcing Adam and Eve to leave the place of His presence. We saw it in verses 23 and 24 when God forces them out of the garden - the picture of His presence, that's where He communed and fellowshiped with them. They'll continue to have fellowship with God as we have limited fellowship with God because they've been redeemed. Because they were saved, They'll continue to enjoy that through those hundreds of years, but it was totally different. It wasn't the same as verse 8 of chapter 3.

Now when you look at these immediate results of the fall, don't come to the wrong conclusion. I love what one writer said, Victor Hamilton, he wrote:

It is an incorrect interpretation which sees these words of God to Adam and Eve purely as a punitive message (in other words, it's not all about judgment here). Pain in pregnancy, disruption in family, minimal returns from manual labor (the writer is not picturing God as a petulant deity sulking, determined to teach these rascals a lesson which they'll not soon forget) - like a surgeon who cuts with his scalpel only that he may heal, God initiates a means of redemption to reclaim the prodigals. His plan – to place at the respective point of highest self-fulfillment in the life of a woman and a man problems of suffering, misery and frustration. These sentences are not the prescribed impositions of a volatile deity; rather, they are gifts of love strewn in the pathway of man to bring him back to God.

That's exactly right. These demonstrations of God were all about redemption. God planned before man fell to effect a plan of redemption, and now He's going to create that plan and lay it out. So, this is about grace. This is about God working in Adam and Eve's life and working in your life to draw you to Himself.

You see the results of these effects of the fall just as I do in my life. Realize that these are the things God has used to drive you away from yourself, to bring you as it were to the end of your rope and to look up.

Let's pray together.

Father, these are hard things to talk about, discouraging in some ways to look at what we lost, what we as mankind lost in the fall. And yet, Father, we see in the results, in what you effected, we see a plan of redemption that You began to unfurl and lay out across the centuries of time that would be perfectly completed when Christ came, lived a perfect life, and died a substitutionary death.

Lord, we thank You for Your grace. Thank You that even our sin, even our utter alienation from You is part of what You use to drive us to Christ, our moral corruption. Lord, we thank You for Your work of grace in Adam and Eve's lives and in our lives as well.

Lord, I pray that in the coming weeks as we look at understanding who we are now in Your view, first before redemption and then after redemption, I pray that You'd help us to cry out with adoration and praise. Lord, overwhelm our hearts with gratitude that You would save wretches like us. And fill our minds with joy and praise that You have remade us, and You are remaking us in the image of Your Son, the very image that was so terribly marred and disfigured as a result of sin.

Lord, help us to understand sin so we can appreciate and understand and value salvation.

We pray it in Jesus' name. Amen.

Systematic Theology