THINGS WRITTEN AFORETIME
Sinners Fall into a Pattern
Joe Neil Clayton
It is not unique to see someone sin, today. Sin is so common that we do not even take much notice of it. Yet, for the person who sins there is as much tragedy as there was for Eve on that day many thousands of years ago. In an innocent earth, clean and sterile from the taint of sin, the mother of all men approached a tree which God had called "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." He gave clear warnings to Adam and Eve to avoid it, and commanded them not to eat of its fruit. So far as the Bible reveals, this was the only command given, in which God connected punishments for disobedience. He said, ". . . in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17).
But, there was another force in the world besides that of "truth." It was the force of "lying." To Eve, however, the lie was told to be the truth. The Serpent said, "Has God said, you shall not eat of all the trees in the garden?" Eve answered that God had denied them the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, threatening death to them. She understood well the command of God, from what she said. To this, the serpent replied, "You will not surely die," and he implied that God was simply trying to prevent men from becoming wise like Him. Eve was deceived. Without realizing the consequences of her doubt of God's motives, she prepared her heart for sin. She "saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat" (Gen. 3:1-6).
The Apostle Paul said Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived has fallen into transgression" (I Timothy 2:14). We do not conclude from this statement that Adam did not "fall into transgression," but we only see that he went into it with open eyes. Thus, we have the full pattern of sin in the actions of these two. We see that they violated a clear command of God, and "sin is transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). We see that one sinner was deceived into sin, the other walked into it deliberately. The Bible teaches of no other ways of falling in sin. It does teach, however, that deliberate sin is more difficult to correct than deluded sin. (See Numbers 15:27-31, Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-31).
In another instance of the pattern of sin, we see that Eve was tempted by the food qualities of the fruit, the beauty of it, and the effect of it, 11 to make one wise." John the Apostle tells us that ". . . all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the vainglory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (I John 2:16). It is astonishing to see that Eve's temptation was through all of these avenues, and in the exact same order! She saw that the fruit was "good for food" (the lust of the flesh), that it was a "delight to the eyes" (the lust of the eyes), and it was desirable to "make one wise" (the vain-glory of life). At least one of the biographers of Jesus, Luke, describes the temptation of Jesus in this same order! (see Luke 4). Nothing more should be concluded from this coincidental series of statements than that the Holy Spirit aids our understanding of this principle by His consistency in revelation.
James tells us that no man can say "when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God;' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no man: but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin, and the sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death" (James 1: 13-15). Thus Eve proceeded into sin, because she gave free course to her lusts. On the other hand, Jesus dared not let His hunger, His desire for a kingdom, and His implicit trust in the care of God to go far enough to become lust (or, unrestrained desire). He could defend Himself from the "enticement" of Satan through appeal to the restraints imposed by scripture. Therefore, He did not fall into sin, as Eve did.
The Scripture tells, ". . . all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3: 23). And, all of us fell by the pattern set by Adam and Eve. We cannot plead before God that our case was "unusual," hoping that He will he lenient. We yield to sin, because first of all we have not restrained our appetites through application of the scripture. We need to become ". . . full-grown men, even those who by reason of use (of the Word) have their senses exercised to discern good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14).
We should immediately distrust any temptation that results in casting doubt on God's integrity. Eve was deceived into thinking that God was withholding good, when out of His love be was really protecting her from evil and pain, by His command. Respect for the commands, but especially for the God who gave them, will prevent many of our sins. God "would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" (I Tim. 2:4). If we sin more than we should, it is a sign of weakness of knowledge. As respect for God's Will grows, escape from sin is made possible.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 49, pp. 6-7