God created us for relationship with Him, and with genuine moral significance as part of our makeup. We turned away from Him and broke that relationship. Our connection to the true source of life and love was broken, and death and alienation entered our experience. This we learn from Genesis 1 through 3, as covered in the first two posts in this series (see the Series list below).
The first chapters of Genesis illustrate God’s holiness and justice without actually using those terms. The full picture of these facets of God’s character emerges later in His word. God’s holiness speaks of his purity, his righteousness, his perfect moral character. It also connotates separateness from all that is evil or impure. Habakkuk 1:13 says God’s eyes are too pure even to look on evil. It’s metaphorical, obviously, but the point is that God cannot in any way approve evil. In Psalm 5 we read,
“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.”
God’s justice is that which demands that right be rewarded and wrong be punished; that moral actions have fitting moral consequences; that we do indeed “reap what we sow.” It is on the one hand a source of tremendous hope for those who have been oppressed or wronged. On the other hand it stands in front of all who have done wrong, which is each one of us.
The consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin were given to them out of God’s righteous holiness and justice. (And mankind has been railing against holiness and justice ever since.) This is not all there is to say about God’s character, for He is also a God of mercy, compassion, love, and forgiveness. How he can express both mercy and justice will be the subject of a future post in this series.
Meanwhile we need to take note of further results of the first humans’ rebellion against God. Not only were they separated from God, not only did they become subject to death, they also experienced the curse of their sin. We’ve all been experiencing it since.
For the woman the curse mostly had to do with pain relating to children and men. For the man it had to do with the painful frustration of labor and production. The world would now fight back against these rebels; and people in their alienation would fight each other. When we speak later of what Christ has done for us we will touch on reconciliation between people, which begins when people relate to one another in Christ. Reconciliation with the frustrations of the natural world is yet to come, in a future state after the return of Christ.
The tempter (who later in the Bible we understand to be Satan) was also cursed, and in that curse the first hint of a promised redemption comes to us: the seed of the woman would crush his head. The seed (offspring) of the woman–notably not the seed of the man–was the coming Christ, born of a virgin, whose work would include destroying the works of Satan.
Now, I am fully aware that this exposition will raise questions and objections from some loyal non-believing readers here. My purpose in this post, as in the previous two, has been to present a brief outline of what we know about the root of humanity’s dignity and brokenness, as background for explaining what Christ has done about it. You who may question or object to this, I ask to read this for what it is: an exposition of a belief, a viewpoint on the condition of humanity.
I believe it is a true viewpoint; I know that you do not. I ask that you approach this for understanding and not primarily for dispute. You who object to Christian beliefs, this is your chance for a deeper understanding of their source. I hope your questions will be that: requests for clarification. This is not the time for me to prove to you that Genesis 1-3 tell a true account of where we came from. It is a time to focus on the account itself and what it means, taken for what it is.
Part of a Series: What Christ Does For Us
Related: How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions — a post that elicited a short question, to which I’m writing a long answer