What is Man
February 13th, 1974 @ 7:30 PM
WHAT IS MAN?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Genesis 1, 2
2-13-74 7:30 p.m.
Our article of faith that we discuss tonight, and it is certainly one that delights me personally to discuss, it is the article on man. What is Man? So if you will, let us all turn to the article, and we shall read it out loud together. The article on man, it is the third one.
The first was on the Scriptures, the second was on God, the triune God, and this one tonight is on man. Now, if we will share our article of faith, why, we all can read it out loud. And it does our hearts good to do this. It is a way that God planned for His people, to read out loud together. Now let us begin.
Man was created by the special act of God, in His own image, and is the crowning work of His creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence; whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin, and as soon as they are capable of moral action become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore every man possesses dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.
Now, as I said, there is no one of these lectures that gives me greater delight than to discuss that article that we have just read.
Man, where did he come from? Or the universe and all that is in it, where did all of this universe originate? We have two answers, and they’re only two possible answers. We shall answer first in the thought and the persuasion of the pseudoscientist, the evolutionist.
They say what you see. Just look around you. Look at it, any part of it, the universe in its systems, the earth in all of its endowments, and you in your life, where did all of it come from? They say it evolved of itself. What do they mean by that? This is what they mean. That out of nothing something came, created itself, and out of that something the solar system came, and out of the solar system the earth came, and out of the earth a green scum came, and out of that green scum life came, and out of that primordial cell man came. That’s what they say.
And they defend it and believe it. Now remember, they present that, the evolutionary development of the universe and of all life, they present it as having developed of itself; that is, without design or purpose or intelligence. It just came of itself. I want you to see what that is that they are saying. For many times we fall into the intellectual habit of thinking that evolution is demonstrated by progress and by development. But that’s not it at all. Progress and development is one thing. Evolution is an altogether different kind of a thing. For example, you can go to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. And you can see the development of an automobile, the progress of an automobile, as it started off in a little carriage, a horse drawn carriage. And somebody, and pretty much Henry Ford had a horse drawn carriage and just put a little gasoline engine on it. Starts off with some little old thing like that, and then it goes up, and up, and up, and up, and develops, and develops, and progresses, and progresses until finally you see these behemoths that you see in the modern world.
Now that is development and that is progress. But evolution is not even in that category. Evolution is something else. Now this is what evolution is. A man looks and there is nothing. Then he looks again and there is a mass of matter. It just got there. Then he looks again and there’s a tricycle. Then he looks again and there’s an auto, chugging down the road. Then he looks again and there’s an airplane flapping its wings, taking off into the wild blue yonder; all of that developing of itself without intelligence or without design. That is evolution.
If of itself an automobile were to become an airplane and start flying off, that is evolution. No purpose, no design, no intelligence, the automobile did it of itself; that is evolution. It is absolutely the most fantastic of all of the answers that mind could imagine for our world and where we came from in it. I need not say to you that it raises ten thousand more questions than it answers.
It is unbelievable that a man of genius, and science, and study could ever persuade himself that without intelligence, without design, without purpose, all of this could have just come to pass. In the case of life, there is a cell. It just came of itself. Let’s call it a little ameba, or a little paramecium. And then of itself that little ameba and paramecium, it became a fish. Then of itself it became a bird. Then of itself it became a marsupial, like a possum or like a kangaroo. And then of itself it became an ape. Then of itself it became a man. It is unbelievable. It is unimaginable!
Once I was a tadpole, beginning to begin.
Then I was a frog, with my tail tucked in.
Then I was a monkey in a banyan tree.
And now I’m a professor with a Ph.D.
It is remarkable. It is remarkable! It stretches credulity beyond imagination.
“Well, now why, pastor, are you so much persuaded that you can’t conceive of such a thing?” Well, outside of the fact that when I present it, it sounds inane. You find the same inanity when you try to persuade yourself of what you see, I mean just look, of what you see in the world around you.
For example, that little ameba, he’s been here, the Lord only knows how long, and he’s still an ameba. He hasn’t changed into anything else; he’s still an ameba. That little coral animal, little bitty thing, why, all you’ve got to do is to go to, say, a South Pacific island––I have been, say, on Guam––and those little islands are built up out of coral.
And they go down and down, those little islands, clear to the bottom of the floor, maybe 15,000 feet down. And the little coral animal goes up, and up, and up, and up, and he builds up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and pretty soon he’s sticking himself outside the water, got a little lagoon there, all of it coral from top to bottom. All right, you go down in the bottom of that ocean and look at that little fossilized coral. He’s still fossilized down there.
How many long ago we don’t know but he’s down there. And then you got him up here, and you’ve got millions of years between what you got him down there and what you got him up here. And up here, after millions of years he’s still the same little coral; just the same down there, up here. He hasn’t changed at all.
Or, take this unusual thing you call amber. Amber is resin. It’s the exuding sap of a tree. And it fossilizes. And on the inside of that amber you’ll find insects. Now it takes millions of years to make amber, but on the inside of that amber you’ll find, say, a mosquito; and he’s just the same today, the ornery little cuss that buzzes and bites you, he’s just the same today as he was back there. He hasn’t changed at all. And the whole world of life is just like that.
Now these dogs are still dogs. You may have big dogs, little dogs, brown dogs, and white dogs, dog with no tails, dog with tails, curly dogs, fuzzy dogs, slick dogs—you get all kind of dogs, but he’s still a dog. And all kinds of cats, and all kinds of everything, but you don’t ever see one species becoming another. You don’t see it. And yet that is the basic assumption of the evolutionary position. That one species gradually mutates into another one. It is not demonstrable. It is not seen.
So there must be some other answer. Where did we come from, the world and all of us that are in it? The other answer comes to us by divine revelation. The divine revelation is that God created it, and set it, and fastened it into those locked species. God created the universe. He spoke and it was done [Genesis 1:1-19]. God created light and life. He spoke and it came into existence [Genesis 1:3-5, 20-25]. And God created man [Genesis 1:26-28]. The Hebrew word for “man” is adam. The root meaning, doubtless, is “red earth,” which possibly suggests the fact that the man was made from the dust of the ground [Genesis 2:7].
And three times in the first chapter and second chapter of Genesis is it declared that God created man. In 1:27 we have the fact of his creation [Genesis 1:27]. In Genesis 2:7 we have the method of his creation. And Genesis 2:21-22 we have the creation of the woman. And all of it is summarized again in Genesis 5:1-2.
There are two stages in the method by which God used to create the man. One: in Genesis 2:7 we’re told that God made his material body out of the dust of the ground. He’s made out of earth. You are a part and a substance with the ground on which you walk; and you are material and physical, just like that ground. Somebody took the elements, oh a long time ago, and weighed them out; and a man is worth, in his elemental form, the potassium in him, the iron in him, the copper in him, the oxygen in him, and all these other elements in him, he’s worth about ninety-seven cents, which is that much earth it took to make a man. Now in that same passage in Genesis 2:7 we are told that God did something else with the man: “He breathed into him the breath of life; and the man became a living soul.” So God imparted something of Himself to the man; He made that man in the image of God [Genesis 1:27].
Now we’re going to look at that image of God into which God created the man. The reflection of this divine image can be seen in man’s physical form. Now when I get through with this part of the lecture you’re going to think that “Well, the pastor certainly is anthropomorphic in his idea about God.” Well, I just can’t help these persuasions. These are the way things that I believe. This is the way I look at it. I think the reflection of the divine image can be seen in our physical form, how we are made.
Number one: we walk erect. The man looks upward and aloft naturally and without effort. In that way, his physical form is like God. Our physical form in that respect is made in the likeness and the image of God. Man is the only creation that walks erect among living creatures. And we reflect the image of God in our physical stature; standing up, looking up. Only man does that.
All right, second: we reflect that image of God in our countenance, in our face. Man is the only creation that has a countenance. And it is lightened with self-consciousness and intelligence. The light of intelligence, the light of the life of God, self-conscious life is in the face of a man. I don’t think there’s a more beautiful verse in the Bible than 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Where would you look to see the light of the glory of God in Christ? That passage said you will look into His face. God shined through in the face of our blessed Lord, and God shines through in your face. In that respect, our physical frame is like Almighty God.
Now I have a third one and you may think this is very unusual. I have a third one: how our physical frame, our osteological get together, how we reflect the image of God. I think we reflect the image of God in a hand. Man has a hand with which to make things and use things. He has a thumb in opposition to his other fingers, and that is what makes possible human progress, the use of tools and instruments. No other creature has a hand of usefulness and creativeness like a man. I think that, the hand of a man, is reflective of the image of God.
Now coming to the other, which is most obvious to us, the divine image in which man is created; the divine image is most clearly seen in man’s soul, in his spirit, in his inner life. Since God is spirit, naturally it is in that likeness that we are most like God. Number one: man has the God likeness of self-consciousness, of personal being, of self-determination. The brood is conscious, the animal is conscious, but he’s not self-conscious.
Compare this; no animal ever said, “I.” He’s just not conscious that he is an “I.” If a pig could say, “I am a pig,” he wouldn’t be a pig any longer. He would be thereby elevating himself into something else. An animal is absolutely unconscious of his self being. He just has no personal self-consciousness at all.
But the man, being conscious of himself is capable of moral self-determination. He can know himself as related to God and to the world. And he can determine himself in view of moral ends; he can choose things according to their repercussion in his deepest soul.
For example, in Psalm 32:9, in Psalm 32:9 we have a word about a mule, “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle.” Now, what is the psalmist saying there? He is saying that the mule has determination, but he doesn’t have self-determination. The mule and every animal is a complete victim of heredity and environment. He has no power to choose between motives, he simply obeys motives. But man is not like that at all. God made the man with power to choose, and he does not live by blind animal instinct.
Now when somebody asks you, “Why is it that God created the man capable of sin, capable of falling?” The answer is very obvious. God could have created us as He created the other animals, just blindly obey instinct, a robot, just a mechanical, living contrivance. But in that way we would be that much not like God. We are like God in the sense that we are morally free, and we can choose between motives and for self-predetermined ends. And we can live according to choice. Even though I may be incarcerated, behind a stone wall and an iron bar, yet my spirit is absolutely free. I am like God, morally capable of self-determination, of choice.
All right second: man has the God likeness of reasoning, of understanding, of making judgments. He has the likeness of God in his inventive genius. The brute animal has no judgments, none at all. The brute animal has no general idea of space or time, or substance, nor can he come to valid conclusions as such. He cannot comprehend abstract ideas.
Did you ever try teaching geology to an elephant? Did you ever try teaching astronomy to an eagle? Did you ever try teaching theology to a dog? The animal has no conception of these abstract ideas and he cannot enter into them—he cannot make judgments. The brute animal has no language in which to express such ideas. He has no comprehension.
A dog can see a printed page as well as a man. He doubtless can see it better than we, but he has no comprehension whatsoever. There never was a dog who could read a book. He just cannot. The brute animal never uses tools. He never makes clothes. He never cooks food. There’s no dog, however long he may have associated with his master, there’s no dog who will ever learn how to put wood on a fire to keep himself from freezing to death. And that dog can be with his master all the days of his life, and he never learns any of those things. He is incapable of them. It is in that category that we have our divine God likeness: in understanding, in reasoning, in comprehension.
All right, a third way: man has the God likeness of moral nature. He can think God’s thoughts after Him. He can distinguish between good and evil. Let me ask you. Did you ever hear of a dog who ever brought back to the butcher any meat that he had stolen? Did you ever hear of that?
He has no sensitivity to moral wrong. If he’s able to steal that bunch of baloney out of the butcher’s shop, why, he’ll just go out there and carnivorously wolf it down. But he won’t have any compunction of conscience at all; never occur to him to make restitution.
The aspen tree will tremble but not in reverential fear. And the carnivorous animal will skulk but never because of guilty feelings. But the man is capable of lofty and wonderful and moral response. He sees things and he’s quickened by looking upon them. A dog can walk out of his kennel and howl up there at the sky, and be utterly oblivious of the chalice of the sky, the glorious firmament in which the stars look down. He has no response to it at all. He is incapable of that response.
But the man can lift up his face and look at that sky and say with deep reverence, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament showeth His lacework, His handiwork. Day unto day utterth speech; and night unto night showeth knowledge” [Psalm 19:1-2]. That is a man!
All right, fourth and last: man has the God likeness of immortality. In Ecclesiastes 12:7: “The body shall return to the earth as it was: and the spirit unto God who gave it.”
Now with these most apparent reasons for believing the creation of man by the hand of God, why does the evolutionist persist in denying the creative story and believing that God is but and only another animal? To the evolutionist, the man is an animal. There is a very famous book written a few years ago called, The Naked Ape. And the thesis of the book, like the thesis of all of the evolutionary world, is that we are an animal, nothing but an animal.
Why does the evolutionist believe that? Because the evolutionist has to believe that, fantastic and unimaginable as it is, he has to believe that or accept the only alternative to it which is God and the creative handiwork of God. And the materialistic evolutionist refuses to believe in God and refuses to believe in the creative workmanship of the Lord. And they will go to any lengths to deny the existence of God and the hand of God in the creation.
We have a young intern down here named Russ Bush. And last Sunday morning, in the ministers’ room, he was telling us about a visit to a school. And he got along well in the class in literature, and he got along well in the class of sociology and economics. But when he fell into the hands of the class in science, he fell into the lion’s den.
So those in the class who were evolutionists, who believed that man is just an animal, they began to talk to our young minister here. And he was saying some of these things that a man has personality and he’s like God. And so this student said, “Well, plants have personality. I’m growing some in my home, and some of those plants have personality. And animals, I have some pets in my home, and they all have personality. Just like people, they have personality.”
So young Russ Bush said, “Let me ask you a question about their personality and your attitude toward them. Would you eat a plant? Do you eat plants? Asparagus, rhubarb, on and on, do you eat plants?”
“Yes, I eat plants.”
“Well, do you eat animals? Do you eat beef, and pork, and fish? Do you?”
“Yes, I eat beef and pork and fish.”
“Well, do you eat human food? Do you eat a man?”
Well, if all we are, we’re just another animal, well, there’s nothing wrong with eating a man, nothing at all, nothing at all. Asparagus, beef, man, just take it. How would you answer that question? To us it is unthinkable, isn’t that right? It is unimaginable because we are sensitive to the creation of God. The man is a creation of God, and made in the image of God [Genesis 1:27]; and to us it is abhorrent, the thought of eating a man.
But the evolutionist has to be consistent. So the evolutionist in that science class said, “Yes, yea, I eat them. I eat them.” I use that as an illustration of the extremities to which these people go. It is unbelievable how far out they will go to defend that indefensible proposition. Well to us, the man, you, we are the creation of God’s hand. And God breathed into us the breath of life [Genesis 2:7].
We shall now talk about the home of man. God placed the man and the woman whom he made in a garden located in a very definite geographical place called Eden, the garden is in Eden. Eden is not the garden. It is an Edenic garden, but the garden is in Eden. And because two rivers are named there, the Hiddekel, which is the Tigris River, and the Euphrates River [Genesis 2:14], because we can identify two of those rivers it most certainly was in Mesopotamia, in a country called Eden.
That country of Mesopotamia, that we call it today, there in a beautiful garden God placed the man. And He gave him an occupation. In Genesis 2:15, the Lord God said, “The man is to dress the garden and to keep it.”
That is why––and you’ve heard me mention this once in a while in sermons––that is why, to me, one of the most vicious and terrible caricatures of heavenly life is a cloud and a man seated on it, and his wings, and his halo over his head. And that is supposed to be our employment for all eternity. There is no such intimation of that in the Word of God at all.
In Luke 19:17, there is a man who is given a certain sum of money by the master, and he came back and said,
Look, lord, your pound, your ten pounds have gained ten other pounds. And the lord said to him, You have done good; now you are to have authority. You demonstrated your ability to rule. You are to have authority over ten cities.
And then the man that received five pounds in Luke 19:19 came and said, “Look, lord, your pound,” that is a sum of money, weighed out a pound say, of silver or gold, “Look, your pound has gained five pounds. And the lord said to him, You have demonstrated your administrative authority, I am going to place you over five cities” [Luke 19:18-19].
I think, by the Word of God, I think the whole universe is going to be renovated. I think there’s going to be a new heaven, according to the Word of the Lord, and a new earth, according to the Word of the Lord [Revelation 21:1]. And I think the whole administration of God’s whole universe is going to be given to us. And our employment is going to be to run the universe. We’re going to be busy. We’re going to have assigned tasks. We’re going to be happy in them. We’ll work and we’ll never grow tired.
We will love our work and it’ll be finer with each passing day throughout all eternity. Now you have that intimation here in the garden of Eden. The man was not just to sit down there and look at the trees, smell the flowers; but he was to take care of the garden, and to dress it, and to keep it [Genesis 2:15]. So with the whole universe of the Almighty, we’re going to be busy, and we’re going to have administrative responsibilities.
We come now to the discussion of the fall of man. The indirect agent of the fall of man was the serpent, the most subtle and cunning of all the beasts of the field [Genesis 3:1-6]. But the direct and the real agent was Satan. In Revelation 12:9, he’s called that “old serpent, the dragon, the Devil.” Satan disguises himself, as here, through and by the use of the serpent [Genesis 3:1]. He hides himself.
Whenever you see––and here’s another caricature––whenever you see the devil painted as with hoof and horn and forked tail in a red suit, I presume that pleases him. But the devil is exactly the opposite. In 2 Corinthians 11:14, Paul describes Satan, the devil, as “an angel of light.” He comes to us in the most subtle and in the most ingenious and alluring ways.
His subtly can be seen in the way that he approached the man and his wife, to lead them into their abysmal and catastrophic fall. First of all, he questions God’s word, Genesis 3:1, “Yea, did God say? You mean to tell me God says that? God is too good to do anything like that. God is too loving; God wouldn’t do anything like that. Yea, did God say?”
And then in Genesis 3:4 he contradicts God’s word outright, he contradicts God’s word, “Ye shall not surely die.” Then, in the sixth verse of that third chapter, he appealed to their natural desires: “Look, look, just look, just look,” when I think of Satan taking the woman and showing her that tree of the knowledge of good and evil [Genesis 2:17]—“just look at it. Just look at it from every point of view. Just look, the boughs, the leaves, the tree.” What? “Just look.” And it was something to be desired, very much [Genesis 3:6].
I think of that woman who came home with a luscious, elaborate and costly mink coat. And the poor laboring husband nearly fainted, and he said to her, “Dear, when you put that on, why didn’t you say when you were tempted to buy it, why didn’t you say, ‘Devil, get behind me Satan.’” And she said, “Husband, that’s what I did. And he said, ‘Oh, it looks beautiful from the back also.’” Don’t ever think that Satan is like the caricature of him. He will always come in the most enticing and beautiful forms that you can imagine, and he will appeal to some of the most responsive chords on the inside of you.
Now he did a fourth thing that we rarely ever think of. He worked through the woman to get to the man. He did not attempt to get the man overtly, directly. He didn’t do it. In 1 Timothy 2:14, Paul expressly says that “The woman was deceived but not the man.” Adam chose to stay with his wife. He chose to die with her. He knew what eating the forbidden fruit would do [Genesis 2:17]. And Adam chose that overtly, statedly, knowingly. The woman was deceived [Genesis 3:1-6]. Satan covered over her eyes the catastrophic tragedy that would follow, but not the man.
Now let me say a little word here about what Adam should have done. Adam should have known sin, and this answers another question that I’ve been asked a thousand times. If there was no sin and if there was no death, how is it that Adam knew what those things meant when God told him, “In the day that you transgress you will surely die?” [Genesis 2:17].
All right, the answer is this: Adam should have known sin as God knows it. There’s not anything about sin that God doesn’t know. But Adam should have known sin as God knows it; that is, as a thing possible, as a thing hated, as a thing loathed, and as a thing to be forever rejected. But Adam actually learned to know evil as Satan knows it by making it an actual matter of bitter experience. Now that is the whole summation of Adam and his choice in the garden of Eden.
I don’t know––while we’re just talking about this––I don’t know what God would have done with Eve had Adam not fallen, had Adam just refused. Doubtless, God would have done something to redeem her, and given her back into the arms of Adam. I don’t know. Or, if I could be the harshest and the cruelest in the judgment, He could have created another Eve. But however it was, Adam chose to go that way.
Now the results of the fall, they are both immediate and remote. They are both physical and spiritual. First to Adam and Eve themselves; in Genesis 3:16, because of the transgression, the sorrows of childbirth were visited upon the woman, and she was made subject to her husband.
How the woman’s lib movement will ever get away from that I do not know. I think of it. I read about it. I look at it and I can easily see how the government can make an employer pay as much to a woman as he does a man. And I can see how the opportunity for economic amelioration, advancement, could say, “Now you got to give this woman as much opportunity to be president of the bank as this man here.” And I can see all of that, how by law they can make that sort of a thing come to pass.
But inwardly, how the thing is put together, I don’t see how in the earth you’re ever going to make the man and the woman just alike, just the same. I don’t see it. I cannot see it. There is something about the way the man is made, how he looks, how he is, and there’s something about the way the woman is made, how she is, how she looks, how she is; that makes it impossible for them to be other than what God made here [Genesis 3:16].
You have a weak, weak situation when the man does not lead. If the woman leads––that may be better than no leadership at all––but it is not according to the Word of the Lord. When a woman takes the name of her husband, she thereby shows that the whole order of society is in that keeping of the arrangement of God [Genesis 3:16].
All right, to Adam, the curse upon Adam was that by labor, and by sweat, and by toil he was to battle against the odds of this world; the drought, the hurricane, the storm, the sun, the heat, the cold, the thorn, the thistle. And then, of course, for both of them, they were to die [Genesis 3:17-19]. That day they died spiritually and felt it [Genesis 3:7]. That’s why Adam took fig leaves and covered the nakedness of him and his wife [Genesis 3:7]. And that’s why God took coats of skins, and covered over the nakedness of the man and his wife [Genesis 3:21].
They died spiritually. They felt themselves separated from God. They hid themselves in the garden [Genesis 3:8]. That day they died spiritually [Romans 5:12]. And in that day of the Lord, they died physically. In 2 Peter 3:8 we are told that a thousand years is as a day with God. So one of God’s days is a thousand years. Did you ever think that there has never lived a man, not one, that has lived beyond that one day, not one? Methuselah lived nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and then he died [Genesis 5:27]. I think Adam lived about nine hundred and thirty years, and he died [Genesis 5:5]. There is not a single one of those men who ever lived beyond that day. “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” [Genesis 2:17]. And they died. That day they died spiritually and in that day they died physically [2 Peter 3:8].
Now this is the results of the Fall; first, to Adam and to Eve; second, to the race and to posterity. Having poisoned the fountain, the source, the whole stream thereafter became evil and polluted, as the Lord said in Matthew 7:17-18, “If the tree is corrupt, it will bring forth corrupt fruit.” It will be impossible for a stream to be sweet and pure when the fountain of it is evil and corrupt [James 3:11].
So our first parents became corrupt and evil, and therefore the issue that comes from them is just like that. It’s just like your children. They inherit that propensity, and affinity, and predilection for evil from us. And sin carries with it the death penalty. Genesis 2:17, “In the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.” Ezekiel 18:4, “The soul that sins shall die”; Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” And in James 1:15, “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
So from Adam, the corrupt tree, the corrupt fountain, there has flowed thereafter a corrupt race. Sin is universal in Adam’s posterity. They inherit it from him, and those children inherit from them, and those children inherit it from them, and right on down through the generations. In 1 Kings 8:46, “There is no man that sinneth not.” In Romans 3:23, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” have missed the mark. In 1 John 1:10, “If we say we have no sin, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
Now this is the doctrine of total depravity. The doctrine of total depravity is not that we are as vile and as evil as we can be, but the doctrine of total depravity is that sin has entered into all of our faculties, and all of our emotions, and all of our habits. I cannot even pray perfectly, nor can I worship perfectly. There is no perfection in us. That’s what you mean by total depravity. We do wrong without trying. We just drift into wrong. We drift into sin. There’s no other animal, for example, that does things habitually, voluntarily, and deliberately, that will injure itself, destroy itself, and does them for the love of it. But a man will do that. He’ll do that again and again. He’s born to it. And he does it from birth.
I couldn’t imagine an animal getting drunk. Somebody might make it drunk, but to do anything to injure itself habitually; I could not imagine an animal doing a thousand things that I see human beings do, but we do it and seemingly do it naturally, just fall into it.
Now not only was there the fall of Adam and Eve [Genesis 3:1-6], not only the fall of their posterity [1 Corinthians 15:22], the race; but the whole creation fell [Genesis 3:18; Romans 8:22-24]. The animal kingdom fell. The serpent was cursed [Genesis 3:14-15]. I wonder what the serpent looked like when Satan chose it to speak to the woman. Isn’t that an unusual thing? How … must have been beautiful. Some of the beauty of that serpent can still be seen in many of the colorings of the snake. A coral snake is a very beautifully colored thing. You know, when we think of a coral snake we think of a little thing about as big a round as a fountain pen, about that long. They’re very venomous.
I remember walking through the Amazon jungle at night, and the women who were walking in front of us hollered. And so some of the men came, and there in the road, from the chapel to the compound where we were living, was a coral snake, great big thing, that long and that big a round. I did not know they grew that large.
And it was raining as it always does down there, and one of the men had on heavy, heavy boots. So the light blinded the eyes of the snake, and he took his foot and raised it up, and came down just like that and buried the head of that snake in the mud in the road. And, of course, the body writhed. So I just got down there and got a hold of that body and looked at it. A beautiful thing, beautifully configurated, beautifully marked. I don’t know what he looked like, but it was the curse upon him that made him crawl on his belly [Genesis 3:14]. So the whole animal creation fell.
And the earth fell in that curse [Genesis 3:17]. The land, the dirt, the ground, it’s blasted by deserts. Did you know one of the great tragedies of the world is happening right now? There are three of those new nations in West Africa, south of the Sahara, and the Sahara is moving down, and down, and down, and down. And where once was fertile land, and crops, and cattle, the Sahara desert is making it as barren as the heart of the great sand stretch itself. And there are millions of people that are on the verge of starvation. That’s what happened in the Fall—the animal kingdom fell and the whole earth fell [Genesis 3:18; Romans 8:22-24].
I haven’t time here to speak of the glories of redemption. In Isaiah 11:6-9, do you remember, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. . .and the lion shall eat straw like an ox.” God never made these animals to eat each other. Oh dear, no! But in that Edenic restoration, all those animals will be recreated. In Romans 8:19-22, Paul expressly says that, that, “The whole creation that fell in bondage will be liberated.”
Now our time is gone, but let me go through this briefly, and then we’ll have our benediction. The closing part of the lecture is our attitudes toward sin. What are they? Looking at humanity, there are several attitudes. I have five of them here.
One attitude toward sin: it can be that of the materialistic evolutionist. Sin is only the drag of our animal ancestry, a stumbling upward. There’s no moral guilt in it. Sin is but a natural development. Give us time and we’ll evolve up and up and up, and someday we’ll be an angel or an archangel. Can’t you see what evolution does to the whole doctrine of atonement and redemption? There’s nothing to be redeemed from. There’s not anything to be atoned for. We’re in the evolutionary development of coming up and up and up, and there’s no such thing as sin. That’s just an inherited weakness or taint from our animal ancestry. We’re going up and up and up, and give us time, and we’ll all be saints.
And on the basis of that kind of persuasion, the sociologist says that society is responsible for us when we do wrong. And on the basis of that same persuasion, the psychologist will say heredity is responsible for our moral guilt. And the judge in the courtroom will say the parents are responsible for that boy’s guilt. They deny personal guilt. Actually, all of us are responsible for what we do morally. That’s what God says.
All right, a second attitude toward sin: it can be that of the fool who flippantly mocks it. Proverbs 14:9, “Fools make a mock of sin.” It’s not anything. Don’t think anything about it at all. Go in here and rob a bank, knock off a president, don’t think anything about it at all. Go out here, and violate, and destroy, and rape, and burn, and on and on. Don’t think anything about it. “I was just having a good time.” That’s what you want to do. Well, that’s just fine if you can get by with it. “Fools make a mock of sin.”
Third: there is the attitude of the libertine, who boasts of it. In Isaiah 3:9, “They declared their sin as Sodom, they hide it not.” Why, I have heard world without end boys especially boast of their iniquity. I mean of anything, just name it, and there are boys that I have heard who have boasted of it, horrible things.
And then four: an attitude, is that of the indulgent who condones it. It’s really not a bad thing. It may be a misfortune. It may be a hereditary taint. It may be a disease that occasionally breaks out like the measles. You have that kind of an attitude toward sin in this modern way of drunkenness, drunkenness. A drunk is a drunk just as he always was. But how is it that the brewer and the distiller try to persuade us out of the moral culpability and turpitude of the drunk? Why, they say, “He’s not responsible. Drunkenness is a disease.” Well, if drunkenness is a disease, it’s the only one that they sell at the corner drugstore, that they license, and they aid and abet. Isn’t that the funniest thing in the world? If it’s a disease, why don’t they stamp it out? Why don’t we war against it? Why, they wouldn’t even think about it. We spread it.
All right, the last attitude toward sin, it is God’s attitude. Habakkuk 1:13 says, “O God, Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil.” God cannot stand it. And Psalm 7:11, the Book says, “God is angry with the wicked every day.” And in Psalm 90:7-9 there is God’s attitude toward our transgression. Paul says in Romans 7:13 that, “The law was given that sin might become exceeding sinful,” that we might look at it as God looks at it.
And your best depiction of how God thinks of sin is to be found in Calvary [Matthew 27:32-50]. Now you remember this. If sin is a slight thing, the death of Christ is slight also. If sin is a little thing, the atonement that can save us from its judgment is a little thing. You remember––and this is a great doctrinal truth––that when you belittle the heinousness and the seriousness of sin, you belittle the atoning vicarious sacrifice of our Lord, who could deliver us from it.
When the man in the pulpit, or the teacher in the classroom, minimizes sin, it’s just the other sin of the coin saying that what Christ did for us is not very much. Sin’s not very bad, and what Christ did to save us from it is not very much. But the nearer you get to God, the more you will be sensitive to the darkness, the scarlet cover of sin. And that leads us to what God has done to save us and deliver us from our transgressions [John 3:16].
Well, God love you and bless you. I don’t see how you sit there so attentively so long, but you do, and I love you for it.
Grace, been a long time, I bet you, since you ever was in a pulpit leading prayer. Since I had a few words about the women’s lib movement, I’m going to ask God’s forgiveness.
I went to school with Grace Wilson. She’s one of the dearest, finest students that Baylor University ever graduated. She has her doctor’s degree. She’s with Dr. Estes in the school system, and we’re so grateful for her in our church. Now it takes too much time for me to get this thing off, Grace, you’ll have to come up here. I want you to lead the prayer. You’ve never done it in your life, so you might as well start now. You come up here and dismiss us.