Today we continue our series on Gospel Convergence; each week I will reflect on a chapter of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. I would encourage you to pick up a copy of the confession and read along with me.
Everyone loves a compliment – whether it’s our looks, achievements, character traits, or something else, we love to be told about how much it is appreciated or enjoyed. This week’s chapter woll not compliment us. It is a short chapter; however, it is not an enjoyable chapter to read! Instead of paying us a compliment, chapter six of the Confession calls a spade, a spade. It tells us how things stand, and what we are really like.
As we noted in part four of this series God created humanity good and upright, giving him one command which they (Adam and Eve) were more than capable of keeping in their goodness and righteousness. In the obedience of this one command there was perfect communion with God, in the perfect creation of God. But all of this changed, as Genesis records it:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman 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 its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Gen. 3:1-6)
In good Baptist tradition a sentence beginning with a well-crafted alliteration succinctly restates the Genesis narrative:
Satan using the subtilty of the serpent to seduce Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did wilfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them (pg. 45).
One command and the ability to obey it, yet humanity chose to serve themselves instead of the one who had made them. However, in light of part five, we must not forget that all of this is within the divine providence of God Almighty. Here the Confession reminds us that God was pleased to permit this fall, according to his wise and holy counsel, because in his providence this was for His own glory (pg. 45).
Despite God’s overarching plan of salvation and His own glory, our wretched sinfulness is still a bitter pill to swallow. The Fall, this disobedience of the one command given to Adam and Eve, is sin. This sin led to death: the death of an animal to clothe them, the death of perfect communion with God and the death of their physical bodies. What is worse is that everyone in human history is then implicated in this:
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. (Rom. 5:12-14)
Indeed, it is not just that we have this sinful predisposition, but there is a propensity which accompanies it. All that we do is tainted by the evil desires present in our hearts and minds (Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9). Our actions, and the motives behind those actions, are burdened under this stench of sin. Therefore, as it stands:
3. They [Adam and Eve] being the root, and by God’s appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal and eternal, unless he Lord Jesus set them free. (pg. 46)
As one contemporary children’s song puts it, ‘we are all sick with sin’. It is this sickness, the perversion of our desires which tempts us toward sin, when we give in to those desires we birth sin, and sin births death (Jas. 1:14-15).
These are painful truths which we can so easily recognise in ourselves. Furthermore, we are never free from the warp and woof of sin in the here and now – even as Christians. Writing to a church John warns, ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’ (1 Jn. 1:8)
It really is a desperate situation – yet there is hope, as the guilt of sin and the corrupt nature is only conveyed to all posterity descended ‘by ordinary generation’ (pg. 46). There is hope that one not descended by ordinary generation may come, but that is to jump ahead and for that we must wait.