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Posts Tagged ‘Genesis 3’

I read the following quote in Jim Hamilton’s book God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment (a book I’m reviewing and have enjoyed thoroughly) during his discussion on the sentence of death in Genesis 3 (p78), and it got me thinking.

Adam, at the moment of his sin, brings death into the world.  Death is alienation from the life of God.  Death truly removes the couple from the freedom and innocence and lack of shame and fear that is found only in perfect obedience.  The moment they sin, Adam and Eve are removed from that realm of life, and in the opening of their eyes (3:7), they find themselves in the realm of death.  This spiritual reality is made a physical reality when they are banished from the garden of Eden (3:23-24).  But even here there is mercy: they will not have access to the tree of life, whereby they might live forever in a fallen state.  God gives the gift of physical death (3:22; 5:5).

I’ve italicized the sentences that give me the most trouble theologically.  This is not the first time I’ve encountered this viewpoint, but I’ve never been able to understand how one squares this with the biblical teaching on death.  Even within his own paragraph, Hamilton is holding two views that seem to me to be contradictory: death is both a judgment and a gift.  How can that be?

There are strong arguments against this view, besides the context of Genesis 3 and following.  Look at Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 15.  There he refers to death as an enemy, in fact, the last enemy to be defeated when Chris himself returns (vv20-26).  Or how about these verses from Romans 5, where “gift” appears:

But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!  Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: the judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.  For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Here, there is a true gift- grace, righteousness, life- that overthrows the sentence of death brought about by sin.  It seems odd to me that God would give a gift to overthrow a previously given gift.  If that’s the case, was the first “gift” really a gift at all?

Now, I understand the logic behind what Hamilton is saying.  The problem with it, however, is that he doesn’t (can’t?) back it up scripturally.  Death is never referred to as a gift, at least not that I’m aware of. It is an enemy that has been defeated in Jesus’ resurrection (see 1 Cor 15, previously quoted).  Death did, for a time, have reign, but that reign has been cast aside by the reign of life in Christ (Rom 5).  And its end is pictured so powerfully in Revelation 20:14, when death itself is thrown into the lake of fire.

So what do you think?  Is Hamilton drawing a valid inference from Gen 3:22?  Can death be a gift from God, as Hamilton asserts, and an enemy of God (as I’m sure he also believes)?

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Scattered Thoughts on 1 John

I’ve done this type of post here and there, where I’ve been working through a book of the Bible (usually for teaching purposes) and have some thoughts, but don’t have time to work them out into full posts.  This time I’ll hit 1 John.

The Opposite of Self Deception Is…

1 John 1:8-9 presents an interesting antithesis.  V8 tells us about the person who claims to be without sin- those who do so are self-deceived.  We would, perhaps, expect the antithesis to be someone who knows they sin.  But that isn’t where John goes with it.

Instead, the antithesis of the deceived person is the person who confesses their sin.  For those of us familiar with these verses, we might not even catch something important; I know I didn’t until a couple weeks ago.  There are really only two options: either claim to be without sin, or confess your sin.  I can’t help but wonder if John is not-so-subtly saying this: if you are aware of your sin but don’t confess it, you’re basically denying your sin.  If you are truly aware of your sin, you’ll confess it.

Convicting.  I spend more time acknowledging my sin rather than confessing it, and living in the truth of v9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Assurance

1 John is mainly about assurance.  The letter is, in many ways, a “confidence boost” for Christians.  The wording “this is how we know…” shows up in quite a few places, and tells us that John’s goal is to assure his readers that they are on the right path (5:13f). 

But what’s interesting is that the confidence comes externally- from God himself.  After all, the author himself knew and heard Christ himself (1:1-4), who was sent by God (4:9).  Our sins have been atoned for as proof that God loves us (2:2, 4:7-21).  And ultimately, even if we feel “our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (3:20).  As John says in 4:16, “we know and rely on the love God has for us.”  Next time I’m in a spiritual rut and need a reminder of what God has done, I’m heading to 1 John.

Echoes of Genesis?

The only direct reference to the OT in 1 John comes in 3:12, when John mentions Cain (from Genesis 4).  But as I recently reread vv7-10, I couldn’t help but wonder if John was alluding to the earlier chapters of Genesis.  John refers to the devil, who has been “sinning from the beginning,” God’s seed remains in them (Gen 3:15, though I acknowledge that technically there it’s Eve’s seed), and John pits the children of God vs. the children of the devil (also Gen 3:15).  Mind you, I’m not sure what to do with this, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s an allusion.

I checked D A Carson’s section on 1 John in the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, but he didn’t even mention it as a possibility.  So am I crazy for seeing this?

John and James: Different Language, Same Basic Point

For John, there is no love if there is no obedience, specifically in loving our brothers and sisters in Christ (3:16-18).  In other words, Christians can’t say “I love you” without demonstrating it through their actions.  In James, Christians can’t say “I believe” without demonstrating it through their actions.  I’m not saying their addressing exactly the same issue, but pretty darn close.  Check it out:

1 John 3:17-18

James 2:15-17

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

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