What the Bible says about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
The last part of God's curse on Adam involves the brevity of physical life. To this point, death had been mentioned only as a threatened punishment for sin (Genesis 2:17), so it must be assumed that, as long as Adam and Eve remained sinless, they would not die. Paul writes in Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned."
God designed His wording of Adam's punishment to link mankind with the earth: He was created out of it, and when he died, he would return to it. His sin had removed him from the environs of the heavenly and forced him to dwell, labor, and die in the earthly. Yet even this has a silver lining:
And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. (I Corinthians 15:45-49)
The benefit of a physical body is that it can die! This may sound strange, but it is exactly this fact that makes man able to become immortal sons of God! Men can die and be resurrected, following the pattern set by Christ, receiving eternal life and the rewards of His Kingdom. It is our righteous living in the flesh through the grace of God that qualifies us for this glorious potential.
On the flip side, our physical nature also makes it possible for God to rid the universe of anyone unwilling to submit to Him. Unlike angels, men can be completely consumed in the Lake of Fire—totally destroyed for all eternity and unable to defile the holiness of God's Kingdom. Though God desires "all [to] come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9) and "all men to be saved" (I Timothy 2:4), He has this option should it be needed. Revelation 19:20 shows that it will indeed.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part Three)
This verse is especially thought-provoking as an Old Testament insight into what is called the Doctrine of Original Sin. It plainly asserts that God did not create man for the purpose of sinning.
Through the millennia, mankind has shown a persistent and strong proclivity to blame God for all his troubles. We are indeed created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). God gave us a spirit (Job 32:8), and by it, we have the ability to understand and harness many of the powers that He placed within our nature and environment. But Ecclesiastes 7:29 clearly indicates that man, specifically Adam and then all humanity after him, including women, have deliberately chosen to sin.
This point appears in the final part, “But they have sought out many schemes.” Time and history have proven repeatedly that we do not always do things constructively. We seem to pollute everything we touch, creating new problems with each generation, most of which we cannot solve. Potential problems exist now that could, except for God's mercy, wipe life itself from the face of the earth.
We could loosely interpret verse 29 as, “God made man to be upright, but man has defeated himself by his own schemes. He strives to do things his way. He goes to so much trouble to make trouble for himself instead of reading God's Book, believing it, and submitting to it.”
Mark Twain is highly respected as a writer, but according to contemporary accounts, he was sarcastic and cynical about God and life in general. By means of his skilled writing, he managed to hide from the public his hatred of God, Christianity, and life itself. However, in Huckleberry Finn, his most popular and critically acclaimed novel, he portrays God, and Christians especially, as ignorant, pharisaical, and silly, demanding dolts, killjoys who take all the fun out of life.
Twain blamed God for all of mankind's troubles. On these thoughts, he wrote a book in the last few months of his life, Letters to Earth, and it so offended his daughter that she would not allow it to be published until thirty years or so after his death, fearing it would destroy his reputation. In another place he wrote, “Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is, knows how deep a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our race. He brought death into the world.”
Thank God that there is also a Last Adam! By virtue of His sinless life, atoning death, and resurrection, we can by God's grace receive the quality of life God intended from the beginning. We do not have the wisdom to solve all the deep mysteries of life, but from our experiences, we should be wise enough to look within ourselves and see the deadly sin in our hearts, asking God to be our Savior through Jesus Christ.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Thirteen): Confessions
Not only does Jesus characterize Himself as truth in John 14:6, but He also adds in John 17:17 that "[God's] word is truth." In I Corinthians 15:45, 47, Paul refers to Jesus as "the last Adam" or "the second Man," the beginning of a new order, of an entire race or family of beings just like Him, just as all of mankind is in the image of our first forefather, the first Adam.
Many can say, "I have told you the truth." However, Jesus did not just tell the truth, He embodied it. He put truth into a visible, concrete form so all who so desire can see it. What credibility that gives! A teacher can present a mathematical, grammatical, scientific, or historical truth, and what kind of a person he is does not matter much. However, if a person teaches or administers moral truth, his example—what he is in his character—is all-important. Do people want to be lectured on purity by an adulterer or on honesty by a liar and thief (Romans 2:21-24)?
"Truth" in John 17:17 is the Greek word aletheia, which means "reality, the manifested, unconcealed essence of a matter." Truth is the reality lying at the foundation of a righteous example. It is pure unadulterated reality.
Contrast this with what Jesus says of Satan to the Jews in John 8:44:
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
Satan is Christ's diametrical opposite, one hundred percent unmodified deceit. God's entire plan is based on the premise that the converted know that God is true. If He is not true to His Word or to His own way of life, how can He be trusted? We must live by faith in this true Being and in what He says! Truth forms the basis, the foundation, the reality, for a person's conversion.
Consider this: There is a personal, living, almighty God whose ways and laws are intrinsically right—they are true. Therefore, a person who has God's Spirit and is honest, who is willing to speak the truth and acknowledge it when it is shown to him, and who will use it in everyday, practical situations must eventually become like the One he models himself after.
God is making us kings and priests, that is, leaders and teachers of a way of life based on revealed truth. He will not have anyone in His Family who does not embody truth as Jesus did. In other words, we, too, will be truth personified. However, for this to occur we must live it to the best of our abilities now.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment
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