O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give care
To that false Worm, of whomsoever taught
To counterfet Mans voice, true in our Fall,
False in our promis’d Rising; since our Eyes
Op’nd we find indeed, and find we know
Both Good and Evil, Good lost and evil got,
Bad Fruit of Knowledge, if this be to know,
Which leaves us naked thus, of honour void,
Of Innocense, of Faith, of Puritie,
Our wonted Ornaments now soild and staind…
(John Milton, Paradise Lost)
Paradise Is Lost
This isn’t paradise. Eden was an experiment. What happens when you give human beings a utopia, freedom, and the opportunity to rebel? They rebel. Humans have continued to fall short of God’s glory ever since.
According to the book of Genesis Adam and Eve were the first created beings whom God made in his own image. They were given the choice to live in communion with their Creator and eat from the tree of life, or to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and pursue self-determination.
“When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:6, NET Bible)
God clearly commanded the first man and woman not to eat the fruit from this tree. Further, he promised that if they did it would result in death. Sin always produces death, which is separation from the source of life.
“And the LORD God said, “Now that the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not be allowed to stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God expelled him from the garden in Eden” (Genesis 3:22–23).
So, the first couple turned from God-life to self-life, and from being innocent of evil to experimenting with it. God kept them from the tree of life, and so condemned them to die. However, they didn’t physically die on the spot. They were separated from the Author of Life, and now so are we. How would they make their way? God graciously gave them (and us) a conscience, which made them ashamed of their nakedness. Since they were no longer in fellowship with God, conscience became the immediate source of moral knowledge for them, and for the rest of the human race. We have an intuitive sense that there is good and there is evil; there is right and there is wrong. Conscience gives humans insight into what we might call the Moral Law. God created the cosmos, and he created human beings. There is a way things are supposed to be. There is a way we are designed to behave, but without God to teach us himself, we are left to ourselves. That is why God gave human beings a conscience.
Knowledge of good and evil is not entirely intuitive. Certainly, there is a basic dichotomy established, wherein things are right or wrong, but humans can (and do) overwrite the conscience with bad instructions, calling darkness light and light darkness, treating good as evil and evil as good, pursuing wrong as though it were right, while rejecting the good God established. We see this regularly in our world.
In Nazi Germany it was considered good to annihilate the Jews. Suicide bombers believe they will be rewarded by Allah if they blow themselves up to kill infidels. Members of Antifa think they are on a righteous crusade when they show up to cause trouble and fight those who they deem “fascists,” which recently included a peaceful outdoor Christian worship service in Portland, Oregon. On January 6th, 2020 protesters broke into the Capital in Washington DC because they believed the election was stolen. Yes, friends, we are living in a fallen world, and many have scarred their God-given conscience and chosen to believe something other than the Word of God.
Children of God?
Even though human beings are made in God’s image, we are not naturally God’s children. True, the Apostle Paul affirmed to the philosophers of his day that we are God’s offspring (Acts 17), and your translation may say “children,” but the term in Greek refers to a distant relation, not a child in the immediate family.
Human beings are filled with pride and rebellion, unbelief, selfishness and sin. Our sin puts us at enmity with God. Because of this we are under God’s wrath, and the curse of death. We are spiritually stillborn. We are separated from our Creator and have lost the ability to innately sense or know Him. There is nothing any of us can do to change that reality, even if we desired to do so. And we don’t naturally possess that desire.
“…there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless.” (Romans 3:11-12a)
Philosophy and science may supply evidence for God’s existence, while religion speculates about the divine nature, but to go beyond that, or to make contact with him, is naturally impossible. If someone rejects the supernatural, and relies solely upon scientific inquiry to determine what is real, then that person will never make contact with God. There is evidence for the existence of God in nature, but all we can know is “his divine nature and eternal power,” not personal qualities like love, righteousness or fairness.
Sin and Death
Why is there evil in the world? Because we are fallen people living in a fallen world. Human beings sin. Sin means to fall short. It is failure be what God designed us to be. Sin caused Adam and Eve to be removed from Paradise and kept from the Tree of Life. Sin continues to separate the human race from our good Creator.
“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden his face from you so that He does not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2, NASB)
Sin is the reason death exists. Biologically speaking our cells continue to renew themselves when we are young, but somewhere in our 20’s cells no longer regenerate as quickly as they die, and thus the march toward the grave begins. Scientists have no explanation as to why this happens. Why don’t we continue to have the energy and strength of our youth? The Bible’s answer is, death is God’s curse because of sin.
“but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2: 17)
“The soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20)
“For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a)
“and sin when it is full grown gives birth to death.” (James 1:15)
The Apostle Paul called this “the Law of Sin and Death,” and it is as ironclad as any law of Physics. Everyone sins. Everyone dies. Everyone, except the One who never sinned, who died for sin, who rose on the third day to overcome death for everyone.
So, there is hope! God himself did something about our intractable problem. The Creator reached down to us by sending his Son, Jesus Christ.
“…but the free gift of God is eternal life in his Son, Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:23b).
Jesus sets us free from the Law of Sin and Death.
“There is therefore not condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
Although we can do nothing on our own, the Son of God has made peace with God for us through His cross.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
You may only receive and realize this by faith.
“By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
You do not have, nor can you obtain or attain, a relationship with God naturally. God is the only one who may initiate the process of reconciliation, and it was He who paid the necessary ransom for our redemption. Do not presume that you have a relationship with God by virtue of your humanity, your birth into a certain religious family, your church membership, or a misguided belief in your own morality or goodness. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Apart from what God has done in Christ, you and I are lost in a fallen, broken world. Jesus is the only way out. That is not a narrow-minded religious claim, it is a statement of fact. Jesus spoke plainly:
“I am the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father, except through me.” (John 14:6)
You see, the reality is:
1. Jesus is the one and only Son of the one and only God.
“No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” (John 1:18, NASB95)
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”(1st Timothy 2:5-6, ESV)
2. Jesus is the only one who has ever come from heaven to live on earth, and returned there..
“No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.” (John 3:13)
3. Jesus is the only one who has died for our sins.
“He who knew no sin became our sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, have been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18)
4. In fact, Jesus is the only one who could die for our sins.
“No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough— that he should live on forever and not see decay.” (Psalm 49:7–9, NIV84)
5. Jesus is the only one who has conquered death.
“Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” (John 11:25-26).
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20)
If you’ve never done so, why not reach out to God who has reached down to you through His Son, Jesus? How do you do that? Pray. Prayer is talking to God. Speak as though he is next to you now This might seem strange, or it may be second nature. The Bible promises, “whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). The “Lord” in this case is Jesus Christ. Call out to him now. Tell him what’s on your heart and mind. Above all, ask him to come into your life to save you from all of the worthlessness and evil in this lost world. Then a little paradise will be restored within your heart.