The Greatness of our Fall


It is now twenty days till Christmas. In a scant three weeks the hustle of the season will be over and for good or for ill, wrapping paper will litter the floor and we’ll be coming home from Morning worship to settle into a long Christmas day of celebration. We who dwell in these days have the freedom to anticipate the day of Christ’s birth. But imagine living in need of his coming and not knowing when it will be. In a sense we have a taste of that because we are waiting for his return. But if you examine our lives for the most part you will find that we do not really need his coming. We are content to live our lives on the confines of this earth – fallen though it is; and though our thoughts turn however frequently to the return of Christ; that return is often hoped for as little more than an opportunity to escape some discomfort in this life rather than because we have a deep seated longing to be righteous with him forever.
The reason for this spiritual laxity in our own lives is perhaps the same reason for the spiritual laxity in those who do not know Christ. The more that we who know Him are aware of the greatness of our salvation; the more we will be moved to worship Him. In the same way, the more that those who do not know him become more aware of their desperate need of salvation – the greater will be their hunger to come to Him.
The Greatness of our fall defines the greatness of our need for the greatness of our Savior. So this morning let’s go back to the beginning in order to plumb the depths of the greatness of our Fall and by seeing the greatness of our need we will see the greatness of our savior.

We were created to be with God & Share in His Glory

We have to begin I think with God’s original design. The very first question in the Westminster Catechism asks what our main purpose is: What were we created for? The answer comes from passages like Romans 11:36 and Psalm 73:24-28: we were created to glorify God and to fully enjoy Him forever.
If we go all the way back to Genesis 1:26 we glimpse God’s original intent. (Read Gen 1:26-28; 2:8-9, 15-17, 18,22-25) We were made to reflect God’s glory as a mirror.

  • We were made in God’s image that we might be like Him in His glory being made in God’s image and likeness.
  • We were made to rule as benevolent caretakers over all of this creation that God had created. Both its vastness and all of its inhabitants were to be under the caring dominion of mankind.
  • We were made to be like God in his activity of creation as he says, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”
  • We were made to labor within the boundaries that God had created until we were ready to spread the garden boarders across the globe. (2:8-9)
  • We were made to live in complete obedience to God our Father, that we might follow his one command – to obey Him by keeping Him first. (2:15-17)
  • We were made to stand with our spouses as husband and wife complete and equal; without tension, without strain without fighting for dominance or struggling for roles. We were designed to always seek the good of one another and to eternally build one another up always seeking the glory of our wife or husband rather than ourselves – even as the Father seeks the Son’s glory; the Son seeks the Father’s and both seeks the glory of the Spirit while the Spirit seeks the glory of the Son and the Father.

We were made to be with God and share in His glory. Consider the height therefore from which you have fallen!(Rev 2:1-7) Of all that we were created and designed to be – there only remains a fragment and a shadow. Do your hearts not mourn over so great a loss as this? Consider how we fell..

We fell from Life (Being like God)

Read Genesis 3:1-7
God has life in Himself. We have life as a gift from God (Gen 2:7). The Lord said that on the day Adam would eat the forbidden fruit he would “surely die” (Gen 2:17) Young’s literal translation draws out the tense of the text, “Dying thou dost die.” The Hebrew literally reads: “Dying you shall die.” From the moment that Adam took the fruit and ate it, the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked. Until this moment there was neither shame or fear. The fullness of existence which we cannot even begin to fathom had been theirs. But now by casting off obedience to God they had cast off God’s glory.
In the moment that Adam ate that fruit together with Eve they both died in their souls. They became, as it were, hollow shells of what they had been. Their nakedness did not change – but their awareness that they did not have what they ought to have became full. Adam and Eve had died in an instant a death far worse than mortal death. But mortal death also became their lot.
Read Genesis 3:8
In the same way that we died in our spirit, we also die in the flesh. Even this part of the curse remains still today for Christians, for Paul writes in Romans 8: 10, “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:10, NASB95)
The hard effect of the fall is made most visible in human death. At every graveside we groan against it. We know at the very core of our being that this is not the way it was supposed to be. Despite the grandiose claim of Steve Jobs that death is life’s greatest invention, the truth of the matter which we inherently know is that death is not natural. Death is wrong. Death goes against the grain of life – for we were made to live as God himself has life in himself. Death, from the instantaneous death of Adam’s soul to the long slow decay of our bodies even while they live, is not part of God’s original design. “Dying, we shall die”.

We fell from Eden (Being close to God.)

Read Genesis 3:22-24.
Even in the grip of death and judgment there is a whisper of grace in the garden, but it is a hard grace. For immediately after the fruit was taken and doom had fallen, in the final motion of the curse God cast Adam and Eve out of the garden. And in what at first seems like overreacting he positioned a fearsome guard of Cherubim {See the biblical description of these marvelous beings in Ezekiel 1 and 10.} and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. The man and the woman must not under any circumstance be given an opportunity to reach out and take the fruit from the tree of life. IF they were to eat that fruit, they would live forever! Does this seem harsh to you? It is not.
This final move was grace and not judgment. If God had permitted Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of life when they had already “Surely died” by dying in their very soul, they would have been condemned immediately by their own hand and their own actions to an eternity of living death. Hell without flames is still hell. In other words, banishment from the garden was harsh. But it was also grace. For in separating them from the garden, they were given a shot at eternal life which was truly life. From the moment that the garden became off limits God began enacting his eternal plan to bring us back to the garden, back to fellowship and back to life. Because the choice to sin against God which we have all made, completely obliterates our likeness and closeness to God it also murders even our desire to be near Him.

We fell from freedom to desire God

Read Genesis 3:8-13.
In the garden Adam and Eve would listen in the cool of the day to the foot-steps of God and quite presumably they would join Him, walking around with the Almighty in some recognizable form. But when sin entered the world through Adam; so did separation from God. In Genesis 3:8 the separation was immediate as Adam and Eve hear God walking and they rush to hide themselves. Shame and separation ran deep more deeply than the moment of hiding so that Adam even began to blame God for the situation he found himself in. When God inquired of Adam he blamed God for the woman He had given. Adam didn’t desire to be near God and he didn’t desire the good gift that God had given him.
So deep is the separation between God and man that it was more than a hundred years before mankind would even begin to call upon God. (Genesis 4:26, 5:3, 6). After that the depth of mankind’s fall became apparent in Genesis 6. There in the presence of a pleasing backdrop of normal life: people getting married and having children the truth comes out…
Read Genesis 6:5-8.
God sees that every intent of the thoughts of mankind’s heart is only evil, all the time. From being created to share in and reflect God’s glory to desiring anything except Him the fall is not merely a stumble it is a full and complete debasement of everything that we were designed to be. The sin that we sin today is no different from that first sin save one crucial detail. We do not fall when we sin we sin because we’ve fallen.

Consider the height from which we have fallen.

The image of God is mangled. The dominion granted us has been turned on its head so that the world we were meant to command now commands us. Our fruitful multiplying is often fruitless and it is a constant laboring against the continual march of the grave. The garden of Eden is gone – once blockaded and now destroyed in the flood. Obedience to God: impossible for every inclination of the human heart is all evil all the time. Even our marriages designed to reflect God’s unity often do more to highlight disunity and personal selfishness.

In the light of such disaster what hope is there?

A single Hope.
A single word.
A single way.
A Single name.
Jesus.

For centuries and millennia humanity hoped and waited for the one who could stomp on the serpents head, buy back that which was lost, and restore that which was broken. It is He and He alone who owns the glory and the hope and the praise! It is Jesus, the anointed one, the ruler the king the son of the Living God. It is Jesus our hope and our glory who will do more than get us a holiday to swap presents on. It is Jesus who came as God’s ultimate gift to give us the ultimate gift more wonderful than the tree of life. For he does not just offer eternal life of living death – but eternal life that is life indeed. He offers to restore us fully to freedom, to Eden, to Life!
The height from which we have fallen can only be restored by God stepping out of eternity and into time and space, becoming just like us in our misery but without sin and by carrying the full penalty of the death sentence: “Dying you shall die” to the cross; where for six hours on a Friday he would bear the penalty of all our sin until giving up his spirit he would cry, “It is finished!”

Jesus.

And his birthday is coming! Praise God we celebrate the birth of our savior who redeems our life from the pit when we come to him with both repentance and faith! I urge you therefore to come humbly to His cradle and humbly to his throne – believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33–36, NASB95)