Man has not persevered in the state of perfection in which he has been created, but has fallen into sin, and has in consequence of this, lost the image of God, as well as all the privileges connected therewith.
169. Man has not remained in this state of perfection and glory, but has lost the image of God by his disobedience to the commandments and the will of God; by which he has brought upon himself and upon his progeny, destruction and misery for the life that now is, and for that to come. With regard to this, two points are to be considered:
A. The fall of man, and
B. The unhappy consequences which this fall has produced for mankind.
170. A. The fall of man has taken place in the following manner: In the midst of paradise God had planted a tree, which He designated as “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” of the fruit of which tree, He expressly forbade man not to eat; adding that if ever he should eat of it, he should surely die. Genes. 2, 17. With this God did nothing more, than ask that obedience to which He was entitled to, this being the only way in which man could manifest his gratitude for God’s mercy towards him.
171. But Satan envied the happy state which man was in possession of, and finally succeeded in misleading Eve through the agency of the serpent’s canning, (2. Cor. 11, 3). And Eve not only forsake the commandment of God and eat of the to the same act of disobedience. And by this means they have both broken God’s covenant, turned away from God, fallen from their righteous state, and delivered themselves up to the bondage of sin.
172. B. The unhappy consequences of this fall are two-fold, viz:
I. Such as affect the soul, and
II. Such as affect the body of man.
I. As to those consequences of sin which effect the soul, there are again to be distinguished that by sin man has
a. lost the good qualities with which he had been endowed, and
b. acquired the evil of which he had been free.
173. a. With reference to the good qualities which man has lost, is to be mentioned
aa. the image of God, more especially
1. The right perception of God and His creatures. And accordingly it was impossible for this quality to be handed down to man’s progeny, which latter are, therefore, given to blindness and ignorance; Eph. 4, 17. 18: “(the heathen) having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” St. Paul especially refers to this loss: Cor. 2, 14.: “the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him,: neither can he know them;” 2. Cor. 3, 5:”Not that we are sufficient for ourselves to think anything of ourselves.” Now, we are told at Adam has reared children after his own likeness, Genes. 3; and as the children are subject to this natural blindness, it follows that the father also must have been subjected to that same evil, and that he has delivered it unto them. And regarding the absence of every right perception of every creature, experience teaches everybody sufficiently; for all a man desirous of knowing concerning it, he has to acquire by means of great exertions, and that after all the trouble he takes his knowledge always remains but imperfect and insufficient.
174. 2. Holiness and righteousness; for where there is sin, there can be no true holiness and righteousness.
175. 3. The free will, to do good and to shun the evil, for whosoever commits sin, is the servant of sin, John. 8, 34. And whosoever is the servant of sin, cannot be said to be free, for doing the good and shunning the evil; but on the contrary he is in captivity to the law of sin,” Rom. 7, 23.
176. 4. Immortality; for it is proved by experience that man is mortal. The loss of it has moreover been predicted to him by God himself: “for in the day thou eatest of the tree, thou shalt surely die,” Genes., 2. 17. And after man had fallen into sin, his condemnation is thus expressed: “dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Genes. 3, 19. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men,” Rom. 5, 12 “for the wages of sin is death,” Rom. 6, 23.
177. 5. The domination over all living creatures; this has been lost to such a degree, that not only no other creature now yields that obedience to man, but it is on the contrary, animated with a great hatred and, ill will against man.
178. bb. As another severe loss which man has incurred in consequence of the fall we have to mention the grace of God. For God hates, with a just hatred every evil, and He has also expressly predicted unto Adam that death would be a sure consequence of his falling into sin. Man has therefore by means of sin, brought upon himself God’s judgment, and His righteous indignation; and in this manner he has made himself unworthy of God’s mercy towards him.
179. b. The evil which man has acquired by the fall, can partly be deduced from what we have stated with reference the good of which he has rendered himself unworthy. There again we have to consider the evil
aa. which has befallen the soul, and that
bb. which has befallen the body.
180. aa. The spiritual evil which has befallen the soul, consists, in the fact that, instead of hearing the image of God, man has put on the image of Satan. This state of things manifests itself in man’s entire ignorance concerning the things of God, so that they, being earthly minded, betray a strong animosity against God. Instead of its original purity, man’s heart has been filled and poisoned with sin to such a degree, that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually. Genes. 6, 5. Instead of loving kindness man had to expect nothing from God, but wrath and righteous judgment, to escape which, Adam hid himself, Genes. 3, 8. Instead of enjoying his God, man carried about with him an evil conscience, which separated him from his God, Isa. 59, 2; and which smote him to such a degree, that he did not venture to appear before his God. Finally by sin he has, instead of being able to look forward to a life of bliss become subject to eternal condemnation.
181. bb. The evil which has befallen the body can be pointed out as follows. Man has been driven from paradise. Genes. 3, 23; he has been condemned to till the ground with great exertion, v. 19, 23; instead of the healthful state of happiness which had formerly been his lot, he has become subject to all sorts of sicknesses and weaknesses; as Sirach wisely says “he that sinneth before the maker, let him fall into the hand of the physician,” Chap. 38, 15. Finally instead of man being immortal, death has received power over him.