Man’s Nature and Law

The nature of mankind hates rules, it cannot stand Law[1], regulations, or limits, and wherever the line is drawn, the human flesh always wants to cross it.  This is most easily seen from creation in Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2:17 God commands, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” From Adam – the father of the human race – man has never, and will never, be able to keep the commands of God the Father. The account in Genesis 3:4-7 best describes Man and Law,

“But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ 6 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. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”

Adam and Eve’s flesh saw God’s protection as a rule and not an act of God’s love. J. Douma states how Adam and Eve should have seen the Law:

“A rule that prohibits on particular things still permits many others. In the Garden of Eden, eating from one particular tree was forbidden, but Adam and Eve were permitted to eat from all other trees. The gates of freedom provide a permanent opening in a wall that you may not climb over. Traffic signs do not so much restrict travel, as provide for its safe and orderly movement.”[2]

Adam and Eve did not see all that God had given them, but instead wanted only the one limitation they were told not to take. They wanted to break the Law in every way; and they did in their coveting of what they were not to desire, their moral authority they placed in front of God, their idolatry of placing the fruit before their God, their act of stealing which was not rightfully theirs, their lie after eating of the fruit, and their suicide they committed upon themselves – for they would now surely die after eating the fruit. From this one event, all of mankind will suffer the rest of their lives with authority.  In jobs, schooling, households, relationships, marriages, and with children, humanity will forever struggle with dealing with any rules in life.  From that day in the garden, man would see God’s commands as rules rather than love. Because of Adam’s decision to take part in eating the forbidden fruit, humanity will always fall short in properly understanding the voice of God and what is required of the “LORD’s people.”

Israel’s and today’s New Testament Church apostasy is because of this fall.  The “people of the LORD” struggle to understand the Moral Law; they struggle to understand that God wants “His people” to be separate from the norm of today’s sinful world. “His people” struggle with the understanding that it is God that has shown His love through the Law, in order to keep “His people” from sin.  It is “His people” that struggle to understand that the Moral Law is what God has used since the beginning of time to direct “His people” in a pursuit of holiness – sanctifying them as they strive to live like Jesus Christ.

[1] Cf. Watson, The Ten Commandments, “The Right Understanding of the Law,” p. 43-48.

[2] Douma, The Ten Commandments, p.11.


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