|Topical Bible Study||August 1961|
God’s Plan for Man—Lesson II
Death’s Reign Begun
IT WAS God’s design that man should enjoy everlasting life on the earth, but it was necessary that he prove his worthiness to enjoy the blessing of life in his earthly home by rendering obedience to divine law. The penalty for disobeying God’s law was death.—Gen. 2:15-17; Rom. 6:23
God stated his law very simply, and thus made clear what the penalty for disobedience would be. But Satan, speaking through the “serpent,” said to mother Eve that death would not result from disobeying God’s command.—Gen. 3:1-5
Through the ages since then, this falsehood has been expressed in many different ways, with the result that few have believed that death is a reality. Most religionists throughout the heathen and professed Christian worlds insist that “there is no death.” Thus they agree with the vicious falsehood perpetrated by the Devil in the Garden of Eden.
Eve herself was deceived by the Devil’s lie and partook of the forbidden fruit. Then she offered it to Adam and he partook. But Adam was not deceived. He knew what the result of his disobedience would be.—I Tim. 2:14
It is quite possible, we think, that Adam lacked faith in the Creator’s ability to overrule Eve’s transgression in a way that would be to his benefit, so he deliberately disobeyed, feeling that life would not be worthwhile without his helpmate, Eve. Whatever his reasoning, his sin was willful, and the divine sentence of death fell upon him. (Gen. 3:17-19) Eve shared in this condemnation.
The transgression and condemnation of our first parents were prior to the birth of their children. This meant that the process of dying had already begun when their children were born. Thus their offspring were imperfect, and automatically came under condemnation to death.—Rom. 5:12
Thus the reign of sin and death began, and has continued for more than six thousand years. During this time countless millions have suffered and died. Sorrow, sickness, and pain—mental and physical—have been experienced by all, both young and old, in every generation. This long period of human suffering is described in the Bible as a nighttime of weeping which has come upon the human race as a result of God’s wrath, or condemnation, resting upon the people because of sin. (Ps. 30:5) However, in God’s due time, as we shall see later, there will be release from suffering and death.
The Apostle Paul said that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.” (Rom. 1:18) It is revealed by everything which reminds us of sickness and death. Truly, man is learning the terrible result of transgressing divine law.
In order to understand God’s plan for the rescue of fallen man from death it is necessary to grasp clearly just what happened in the Garden of Eden. Can you answer these questions?
What was the condition upon which God’s perfect human creatures could enjoy everlasting life on earth?
What is the divine penalty for sin, and what was Satan’s deception concerning this?
Was Adam deceived by Satan concerning the penalty for sin?
What may have been the reason that Adam willfully transgressed God’s law?
Explain why Adam’s offspring shared in the death condemnation which came upon him.
What is one of the ways by which the Bible describes the reign of sin and death?
How is the wrath of God revealed from heaven?
“The Atonement Between God and Man,” pages 407-409.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT THOUGHTS
Obedience to God’s law is the condition upon which any of God’s intelligent creatures can enjoy a continuance of his favor, and the blessings of everlasting life.