"What is Man?"
The Nature of Adam's Temptation
It does not require much intelligence to see how utterly this creation is now a soul order. The whole system of running this world is psychological. Everything is based upon desire, emotion, feeling, reason, argument, will, choice, determination. What a large place is held by the various forms of soul activity! In one direction we have fear, grief, pity, curiosity, pride, pleasure, admiration, shame, surprise, love, regret, remorse, excitement, etc.; in another direction, imagination, apprehensiveness, fancy, doubt, introspection, superstition, analysis, reasonings, investigations, etc.' in a third direction, desires for possession, knowledge, power, influence, position, praise, society, liberty, etc.' and, in still another direction, determination, reliance, courage, independence, endurance, impulse, caprice, indecision, obstinacy, etc. We are not saying that this is all wrong, but by these things, which are all forms of soul-life, we can see that we live in a world that is almost entirely a soul-world. But we are not stopping there. Think how much of this has a place in Christian life and service - from the first step in relation to the gospel, through all the course of Christian activity. It is here that we ask for patience in pursuing the subject, when we make the tremendous affirmation that all this - the sum total of human reasoning, feeling and willing - may be placed to the account of the matter of salvation, either for ourselves or for others, and yet be utterly unprofitable, and of no account at all.
Multitudes have come to regard themselves, and to be regarded by others, as Christians because of some decision made or step taken under the impact of an argument - a reasoning, an appeal to mind or emotion. In the same way great missionary meetings, with their atmosphere, their stories and their appeals, have led many to believe that they had a call from God to His service. But time has proved, in a great many cases, that this was not born of the Spirit, but of the soul-force of man. We do not say that God never comes through, or uses His word, at such times, but we have to explain tragic facts and to correct popular fallacies.
The soul of man is a complex and dangerous thing, and is capable of extraordinary things. It can entirely mislead us and play us many tricks, as we shall see. Man is now a disrupted and disordered creature, and we must remember that the creation, including man, because of this disruption has been deliberately subjected to vanity. That is, it has been rendered incapable of realizing its originally intended destiny, or coming to full fruitage. For the unregenerate man, life is indeed a mockery, for he can never reach his intended objective. This is God's answer to his assaying to have all in himself in independence (Romans 8:19-23).
There are certain questions which will arise from what we have been saying. One will have to do with the point in his probation at which Adam fell. Another will be concerning the creation formula. A third will be as to the right place of the soul. A fourth arises in connection with more modern psychology. Let us consider these.
It is important to realize that although Adam, when created, was sinless and innocent, he was not perfect, as God intended he should be. There was something to be added if he was to attain to all that God meant, in his nature and destiny. The link with God through his human spirit carried with it a potentiality or a possibility, not an absolute and final oneness. Hence, he had to obey God along the line of commands and orders - more in the position of a servant than a son; or let us use the New Testament distinction between "child" and "son," and express the difference as between one born, and one come to maturity. That which would in Adam's case have made the great advance upon this position, from childhood to sonship, from the outward to the inward government, from the incomplete to the complete, was eternal life through obedience of faith.
So that at that point the whole significance of the tree of life has its place. That tree was a type of God manifested in Christ as the life whereby alone man reaches his intended destiny, even the sharing of Divine life and nature. Adam, because of unbelief and disobedience, did not attain unto eternal life; therefore, that life is reserved for such as believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and are thus in Christ and also have Christ in them. "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). In eternal life is found all God's secret of all His eternal purpose in and through man.
Then it must be kept in mind that eternal life is a gift. The special object for saying that here is to counter another error. There are two interpretations of new birth, one the true, and the other the beautiful lie which subverts the truth. This latter (the lie) interpretation is that spiritual life is a kind of renaissance, an inner quickening brought about by the play of mystical forces which hover around the soul, rousing it from torpor as the spring sun wakens the sleeping seed, stirring already existent but dormant energies into activity - a lifting up of what we already possess to a higher plane, or tide, and a consequent flooding of hitherto unvisited, unvitalized areas, whose inhibited forces and functions it straightway releases and relates to consciousness within and to service without. The other, and true, interpretation is that new birth is the reception of an entirely new and different life, required to be generated from above by a specific act of Divine impregnation - a quite new and original endowment which has never before been in our human life, and which remains an altogether other life that is not in us by nature, but a unique and miraculous generation - as Christ is.
As every error has some element of truth in it, which is like its claw for catching hold, so this one, which we have mentioned, has its catch in a failure to discriminate between three things; one, the soul; two, the spirit; three, eternal life. Eternal life raises the spirit from death, and energizes the soul. But neither soul nor spirit is of any avail Godward - so far as man's Divinely intended destiny is concerned - apart from the 'altogether other' eternal life. This life is God Himself, in Christ, by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is "the Spirit of life" (Romans 8:2), and Divine life, even when given to indwell the believer, is still retained in the Divine Person. "God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in His Son" (1 John 5:11). The presence of the Divine Person in the believer or in the Church is expressed by life. Lest Adam should act with the same object of having life in himself as out of relation to God, the tree of life was deliberately protected from him and he was driven forth. The symbolism is clear. This is something which is so other than man - so Divine - and i can only be had in God and by spirit-union with Him.
All this will gather into itself much New Testament truth concerning Christ's representative life, temptation, death and resurrection, and also concerning the nature of new birth and the life of the believer.
It will have been observed that innocence in Adam was but a negative thing. This can also be true, therefore, of sinlessness in his case. It may, in one sense, throw some light on the life-long testing of Christ, although we say this with some reservations, which we will not make a divergence now to explain.
Holiness is positive, and Adam's innocence was accompanied by a capacity for holiness. Holiness is the result of faithfulness under testing, in man's case. He may go into testing innocent, but the very essence of testing is a capacity to choose between two courses, his own and God's.
Faith, obedience, loyalty to God, resisting evil by resort to God, issue in a positive state which is something more than innocence, i.e. more than the fact of not yet having sinned in a specified way. The faculty which governs and regulates in this is the spirit. Hence the issue is either spiritual holiness, or spiritual wickedness. They both represent a relationship respectively to God the Holy Spirit, or to satan and evil spirits. Hence we see what the issue of Adam's probation and failure is.
(continued with # 4 - "The Creation Formula (Genesis 2:7")