The Fall of Man, Sin, and the Curse
The distinction and distance that exists between God, who is eternal and independent, and man, who is temporal and dependent upon God, obligates man to obey God.
God owes us nothing, while we owe God perfect obedience to His every command. It pleased God to enter into a covenant of life with the first man. He promised to bless and reward him for perfect and personal obedience — and threatened death, in all its forms, as the penalty for failing to comply. In making this covenant with the first man, the progenitor of the human race, and now, by virtue of God’s covenantal dealings with him, its head and representative, God made this covenant with all his posterity.
Adam broke this covenant. The guilt, corruption, and temporal and eternal consequences of sin fell upon all humanity. All men are born guilty and are corrupt from the womb. All are liable to the penalty of sin. No son of Adam, except the Lord Jesus, stands on his own in right relation to God, nor is by nature righteous as he was on the day God made him. Men and women, now being by nature objects of God’s wrath, are totally incapable of doing anything pleasing or acceptable to Him.
Since man was also created as the lord of creation, responsible to seek and discover, to subdue and have dominion over all creation (and all of this with an eye towards the glory of God), when he fell, the curse of God fell on the entire creation. Nothing in all of creation is now as it originally was when God called it into existence. All things, animate and inanimate, are under His curse and are incapable of liberating themselves from their bondage to corruption and decay.
Man’s only hope of deliverance from guilt and corruption resides solely in God. We depend completely upon God, and God is perfectly free from any obligation to us. This is not only because man is His creature (to whom He owes nothing in the first place), but is especially true because man has become a covenant breaker and a rebel.
Nevertheless, God condescended once again to enter into a covenant with man. Toward this end, He appointed and ordained the Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, to be the second Adam. He appointed Him to be the new head and representative of all those whom He chose to redeem by and in Him. As Thomas eloquently notes:
In Christ, God interjected Himself into the temporal reality. God the Son, the second person of the eternal, ontological Trinity, was incarnated. He took unto Himself a human body and a human nature that He might accomplish redemption for sinners,...by his death on the cross of Calvary (1 Tim. 1:15; Matt. 1:21; 1 Cor. 15:3,4).1
Christ is the head of a new humanity, the one in whom God has promised to take away guilt and corruption by virtue of His perfect life and atoning sacrifice, and by the power of His Spirit. Christ is the one in whom God’s blessings, those which were first promised to mankind in Adam, are now not only realized but are increased and poured out in greater measure. This covenant is for all those who, through repentance and faith, are in vital union with Jesus Christ.
Through the Lord Jesus Christ, not only is man presently delivered from guilt and progressively delivered from the corruption of his fallen nature, but, through Christ, God has provided for the deliverance of the entire cosmos from decay and corruption. The restoration of all these things to their former glory awaits the return of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven, at which time He will raise the dead, clothe His redeemed with immortality, and send the rest to eternal perdition. He will also create a new heaven and a new earth wherein righteousness dwells. In this place pain, suffering, and all other effects of the curse will be removed.
At the heart of the Christian worldview is the distinction between the triune God and His creation. This distinction is never blurred; it is always maintained. This distinction is not blurred when it comes to the cosmos, for the universe is not seen as eternal, or as having any of the other incommunicable attributes of God. It is not blurred when it comes to God’s dealings with men, for this gap is not bridged metaphysically, but by way of covenant. It is not even blurred when the Lord Jesus Christ takes a human nature in order to save sinners, for although His human nature is united with His divine nature, these two natures are never confused or co-mingled with each other.
1.Thomas A. Thomas, A Reason for the Hope: Be Ready Always To Give An Answer ( Rochester, NY: Backus Books), 59-60.