The Condition of Man Before and After the Fall
by Elder T. L. Webb
Briar Fork Primitive Baptist Church
Updated 27 December 2007
"And God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over he fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over ever creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man it his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." - Genesis 1:26-27.
We need not be ignorant as to the beginning of man for the Holy Scriptures give us an accurate account of how God created him and placed him in the earth as the highest of all his creation. The Psalmist declared in the 8th Psalm, verses 4-6, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him. and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet."
In all the works of God's creation, man included, He pronounced it as "very good." - Gen. 1:31. In describing the higher order of life that man has above the other creatures of the earth, Sylvester Hassell in his History of the Church of God, said, "Although God formed man's body from the dust of the ground, He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. This makes an ineffaceable distinction between man and all other earthly creatures; the Almighty and Everlasting Father of spirits directly breathed into man a higher life or spirit; and, though the body, according to the penalty of the violated law of God, returns to dust, his spirit, at death, returns unto God who gave it (Eccl. 3:21)."
In the beginning, man was created in the "image of God". He was in the image of God in the moral dispositions of his soul, not in his immortality like God, for man had no past eternity of being. He possessed a reason, conscience and will. God made man a mutable creature -- subject to change. Had he made him immutable, He would have him as God -- for God alone is immutable. Adam was made upright, but he was left to the mutability of his will. Before he sinned and fell, he was a perfect human being fitted to live on the earth alone. There was nothing imperfect about the way God made him. "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." - Eccl. 7:29.
Elder J.D. Holder in his "Principles and Practices of the Church" said, "Like every creature which the Lord God made, he was at the beginning elemented to live in the realm of life where his Creator had placed him. God did not element Adam nor has he since elemented his offspring to live with God in heaven having only natural life." Paul in 1 Cor. 15th chapter, said, "The first man Adam was made a living soul," "the first man is of the earth, earthy," "As is the earthy, such are they also are earthy."
We have this Genesis account of the habitat of man in the beginning, "And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day thou eatest thereof dying thou shalt die." Gen. 2:15-17. We learn in this scripture that God gave a commandment unto the man he had created. First a gracious permission to freely eat of all the trees of the garden of Eden except one. It seemed that all that man might desire was given unto him - all of the fruits and herbs of the field and garden, with dominion over all the beasts of the earth, and an helpmate in the person of Eve to be his companion and to bring forth children and populate the earth God had created. What else could man desire in his natural state. Yet there was a commandment of God that he NOT eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He told him what the results of doing this would be. "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," or "dying thou shalt die." By a careful study of the other Scriptural passages we find this death to be a "death in sin," for Adam did not die a natural or corporal death until many years later, yet his corporal death came as a result of his fallen state in sin. He possessed a corruptible body as a result of his transgression. Either we believe that man died in sins by his transgression as God told him he would or else we believe the devil's doctrine that he would NOT surely die. Those who teach that man is DEAD IN SINS in his natural state are teaching the doctrine of God, and those who are teaching that he is not so dead, but has power to will to do good, etc. are teaching what Satan told Adam.
The Bible speaks of Adam (as man) and the federal head of all men, representing us all, as bringing sin into the world. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin," (Rom. 5:12) . It would be speculation to go beyond the Bible in trying to figure out what would happened if he had not disobeyed. We can safely say he would have lived in his condition as a man in a state of innocence. We must accept the Biblical account of how he yielded as a mutable creature, subject to obey the law of God but disobeying it, to the tempting of his wife, Eve, who had been beguiled by the serpent to eat of the forbidden fruit. He simply disobeyed God, and by so doing plunged his who posterity into a state of death in sin. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the disobedience of one (Christ) shall many be made righteous." Rom. 5:19.
In Burkett and Reed's History of the Kehukee Association of Baptist, we find the following abstract of principle as subscribed to by these Baptists in N.C. in 1799: "We believe that when God made man at first, he was perfect, holy, and upright, able to keep the law, but liable to fall, and that he stood as a federal head, or representative of all his natural offspring, and that they were to be partakers of the benefits of his obedience, or exposed to the misery which sprang from his disobedience." They further stated in their Articles of Faith, "We believe that Adam fell from this state of moral rectitude, and that he involved himself and a his natural offspring in a state of death; and for that original transgression, we all are both filthy and guilty in the sight of an holy God." All of these articles were held by all Baptists in that day, and are still held by Primitive Baptists in this day. They are in perfect accord with such scriptures as Romans 5:14, "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam transgression," and Romans 5:12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned," and 1 Cor. 15:22, "For as in Adam all die."
Man so fell in the garden of Eden that he was never able to reach back and gain the position he held before. We give the Biblical account as recorded in Gen.3:22-24: "And the Lord God said, behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever, therefore the Lord God sent him forth FROM THE GARDEN of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he DROVE OUT THE MAN; and he placed at the east of the garden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. God did not permit man to go back to his former state.
After the fall, man is now without strength. "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." Rom. 5:6. The revised version says, "While we were yet helpless." Ronald Knox's translation says, "While we were still powerless to help ourselves." The 3rd chapter of Romans describes the condition of man in his fallen state of death. Verse 10 says, "There is none righteous, no, not one." Verse 11 says, "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God." Verse 12 says, "There is none that doeth good, no not one."
Verse 18 says, "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Thus we see that man could not gain heaven or eternal life here if it were left to him since he does not even fear God nor will he even seek after God. This lesson teaches man's total depravity in sin and if one can see man in his condition AFTER the fall, he will be able to see why God's election and God's grace is so precious because it is the ONLY way by which his case can be reached. If man is saved on the goodness, then he says, "there is none that doeth good," therefore, none can be saved. No wonder that Jesus told his disciples, "With men it is impossible," when asked, "Who then can be saved." Matt.19:25, 26.
Jesus said in John 6:44, "No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." Man must be born of more than a corruptible seed to know and to see God in a spiritual sense. "Except ye be born again, ye cannot see the kingdom of God," the Savior told Nicodemus. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh", and one must have a spiritual birth before one can know the things of the spirit. "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can has know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Cor. 2:14. Man's condition after the fall is as a natural man void of the Spirit until the Spirit makes its abode in his heart and life.
Before the fall, man was a mutable creature, perfect in his natural creation, subject to the law of God to obey, but liable to disobey and fall which he did. After he fell, he is a sinner unable to recover himself with a depraved will and conscience. He is still subject to the moral laws of God but void of the Spirit and unable to obey spiritual laws until born of the Spirit which comes about according to the will of God.
Elder T. L. Webb