How Could Jesus Have Been Born “Immaculate”?

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How Could Jesus Have Been Born “Immaculate”?

 James R. Aist

When Adam chose to believe Satan instead of God  and sinned (Genesis 3), two things happened that have affected all subsequent generations of mankind (Psalm 51:5; Psalm 58:3; Romans 5:12; Romans 5:17; and 1 Peter 1:18-19), not through a direct, genetic (biological) inheritance as we know it, but by a mysterious, spiritual inheritance that is associated with biological reproduction. First, we took on a “sin nature” (Colossians 3:9-10), or a predisposition to sin, that has been passed down to all subsequent generations, including ours. We have “inherited”, so to speak, from Adam, a “sin nature”, an inborn desire to reject God’s provision and follow our own path in life. This predisposition to sin is so pervasive as to render us, in our “natural-born” state, in rebellion against, and at enmity with, God. And second, we share in the guilt of the original sin of Adam that has been passed down to all of his descendants, because Adam was the representative of all mankind in his rebellion against God, just as Jesus, the second Adam, is the representative of all of Adam’s descendants who believe and trust in Him for their salvation (Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 15:22).

This sin nature and the guilt of Adam’s original sin that we are all born with present a dilemma that may seem irresolvable at first glance: the Lamb of God (Jesus) had to be “immaculate”; that is, without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19), entirely free of sin, the sin nature and the guilt of Adam’s original sin. So, how did Jesus escape inheriting the sin nature and the guilt of Adam’s original sin at His conception? All agree that Jesus did not inherit these from His Father, the Holy Spirit. But, what about Mary?

Let’s begin with the Roman Catholic solution to this dilemma.  According to Roman Catholic doctrine, Mary did not ever have a sin nature or guilt of original sin because of the direct intervention of God; Mary was immaculate as a divine privilege. Of course, there is no clear, unequivocal biblical evidence to confirm this view. It appears to me that the Roman Catholic Church invented this doctrine to resolve the dilemma, because they could not discover, in either the Bible or in Roman Catholic tradition, any other suitable resolution. Apparently, the main Bible verse they use is Genesis 3:15, which says “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel.” They claim that this verse refers to a battle between Mary and Satan, but a natural reading of the verse indicates that the actual battle will be, instead, between Jesus and Satan. Nonetheless, if God did, in fact, solve this dilemma in this way, then it is not for us to declare otherwise apart from the biblical witness.

Another solution, associated with Protestantism, posits that the sin nature and the guilt of original sin are inherited from Adam, generation to generation, through the fathers only, as seems to be implied by Romans 5:17 and 1 Peter 1:18-19 when taken together: Since Jesus did not have a human father to pass the sin nature and the guilt of original sin on to Him (His father was the Holy Spirit) and the sin nature and the guilt of original sin are inherited through the fathers only, then He could not have inherited either the sin nature or any guilt of Adam’s sin. Once He was conceived in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit, He would automatically be the Lamb of God “without spot or blemish” (1 Peter 1:19). Problem solved. I have addressed this viewpoint more fully elsewhere (click HERE), and it does have its foundation in the biblical witness.

But, there is yet another feasible solution to the dilemma that I believe may be even more strongly and clearly supported by the biblical witness. This explanation requires knowledge and understanding that the Jewish followers of God, such as Abraham (and, for our purposes, Mary)  had an opportunity to go to Heaven based on their looking ahead to the price to be paid by the Messiah for their sins (based on Old Testament messianic prophesies), just as we today have an opportunity to go to heaven by looking back to the price paid by the Messiah, Jesus, for our sins (based on New Testament fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophesies). (For a more complete exposition of this biblical teaching, click HERE).

Now, to fully understand this third explanation, I will have to elaborate a bit, so bear with me if you will. Before Mary conceived, an angel spoke to her concerning who Jesus would be: “But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Listen, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. And of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you. Therefore the Holy One who will be born will be called the Son of God. Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be unto me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her (Luke 1:30-35, 38).”

The first point I want you to see here is that, in effect, the angel preached “the Gospel of Jesus Christ” to Mary: 1) He will be the promised Savior (The name “JESUS” means “savior” or “God saves.” See also: Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”); 2) The Holy Spirit will be His father; and 3) therefore, He will be the Son of God. The second point is that, when Mary responded with “May it be unto me according to your word,” she was expressing agreement with, not only becoming pregnant by the Holy Spirit, but also with everything the angel had said concerning Jesus. Thus, it seems that Mary may have been the first person in the New Testament to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and accept it by faith. The third point is that Mary apparently was saved before Jesus was conceived. This is a critical point, because, if this is true, then, when she was born again through her faith in Jesus, she instantly “became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith”, the righteousness of God in Christ (Genesis 15:6; Hebrews 11:7; Romans 3:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21). In other words, before Jesus was conceived, Mary may have already believed in Him (Luke 1:38) and, if so, she was already the righteousness of God in Christ and could not have passed on to Jesus either any guilt of Adam’s sin or a sin nature.

The gist of this explanation is that, if Mary was, in fact, saved before she became pregnant with Jesus, then there was no avenue whereby either the sin nature or the guilt of Adam’s original sin could have been passed on to Jesus, because  Mary’s new nature in Christ (2 Peter 1:4 speaks of the  “divine nature” of those who believe in Christ) would have already replaced her original sin nature (Colossians 3:9-10) and her righteousness of God in Christ would have erased her guilt of Adam’s original sin before He was conceived. If this explanation is, indeed, true and valid, then it’s a good thing the angel preached the Gospel to Mary before Jesus was conceived!

The “take home message” of this article is this, that one way or another, God saw to it that when Jesus was conceived, He was free of both the guilt of Adam’s original sin and of the sin nature. Add to that a sinless life (Hebrews 4:15) and we have a biblical explanation of how, when Jesus died on the cross, He could bear the sins of others (i.e., us). If He had had sins of His own to bear, then He would have died for His own sins, and our sins would still not be forgiven. In which case, it would not end well for us who believe and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls!

(To read more of my biblical articles, click HERE)

How Could Jesus be “Without Sin”?

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How Could Jesus be “Without Sin”?

James R. Aist

The Bible says that “…all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Yet, Jesus Christ lived on the earth for 33 years as a man, was tempted to sin in every way that all other people are tempted, but was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). How can this apparent contradiction be resolved, and how could Jesus be the only man who did not sin? The full answer to this question may surprise you, as it did me.

The Dual Nature of Jesus

Part of the answer to this question lies in the fact that Jesus was fully man and fully God, at one and the same time. He received His humanity from His mother, Mary, and He received His Divinity from His father, the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). With the Holy Spirit as His father, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit from conception and always had the full power of the Holy Spirit available within Him to resist temptation. Moreover, as the Son of God, Jesus was God, and, as such, it was not in His divine nature to sin, but to be true to Himself as the “Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 43:3). But, there is another unique characteristic of Jesus that gave Him a “leg up” on the rest of us when it comes to resisting temptation, and it has to do with His humanity. Let’s see what that advantage is and how He came by it.

The “Sin Nature” of Man

When Adam and Eve chose, of their own “free” will, to believe Satan instead of God (Genesis 3), they took on a “sin nature” (Colossians 3:8-10), or a predisposition to sin, that has been passed down to all subsequent generations, including ours. We have inherited, so to speak, from Adam and all subsequent fathers, a “sin nature”, an inborn desire to reject God’s provision and follow our own path in life. This sin nature can also be aptly described as an ever present readiness to do evil (i.e., disobey God). This predisposition to sin is so pervasive as to render us, in our “natural-born” state, in rebellion against, and at enmity with, God. Thus, it is relatively easy for us to yield to temptations to sin; it’s part of the nature of fallen man to do so. Note that it is from (i.e., through) Adam, not Eve, that all subsequent generations of men inherited this sin nature.

Now, let’s “fast forward” to the time of Jesus’ conception in Mary’s womb. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20), not by a male descendant of Adam, as were all the rest of us. Thus, the inheritance of the sin nature was not passed down to Jesus. This is huge, because it means that, unlike everyone else since Adam, Jesus was not born with a predisposition to sin, as were all of the rest of us. This is why Jesus could say, in all truth, that Satan has nothing in Him (John 14:30); He did not have the sin nature that Satan takes advantage of when we are tempted. And, I believe, that fact must have had a lot to do with how Jesus could live for 33 years without sin. The “virgin birth” of Jesus achieved even more than I was aware of, until now.

What’s In It for Us?

Well, this changes everything for us, and here’s why. Whereas the First Adam sinned, and from that sin death entered into man’s relationship with God, Jesus, the Second Adam, broke the curse of that original sin by offering up to God a sinless life that enabled Him to pay the price for our sins and restore our relationship with God. Jesus undid the damage that was caused by Adam’s sin! But, without having lived a sinless life, Jesus’ sacrificial death would have paid for His own sins, not ours, and we would still be dead in our sins without any hope of escaping God’s wrath. All we have to do is to put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross and our sin problem vanishes; then we will have been made, in Christ, the righteousness that God requires (Philippians 3:9), and we will qualify for heaven. Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross yet? Why not let today be the day of your salvation?

(To read more of my articles on biblical topics, click HERE)

Free Will: What It Is and Is Not

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Free Will: What It Is and Is Not

James R. Aist

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘They shall all be taught by God.’  Therefore everyone who has heard and has learned of the Father comes to Me.” – John 6:44-45

Unfortunately, “free will” is commonly misunderstood and inadvertently misrepresented in Christian circles today. So, I will discuss in this article the true nature and limitations of “free will”, primarily as they pertain to our relationships with God, including the mechanics of salvation. I do not believe that one can rightly understand the mechanics of salvation, as correctly represented in the Bible, without a clear understanding of what “free will” is and is not and what it can and cannot do.

What Free Will Is

There are four components of “free will” that must be present for it to be exercised. These same four components of “free will” are also present and operative in the numerous choices we make every day, whether or not they have any moral implications or ramifications. First, there must be an ability to choose. In mankind, this ability resides mainly in the soul, or mind. God gave Adam and Eve the ability to choose which trees to eat from. Second, there must be a license to choose. God gave Adam and Eve permission to choose which trees to eat from. Third, there must be two or more options from which to choose. God gave Adam and Eve the option to either obey or disobey His instructions concerning which trees to eat from. And, fourth, in order for “free will” to be exercised, there must be a desire to make a choice. Satan gave Adam and Eve the desire to disobey God, and they did; Satan’s influence outweighed God’s influence in this case. We may conclude, therefore, that “free will”, much like language, is nothing more than a God-given ability that we possess, with the God-given permission to use it.

What Free Will Is Not

Free will is not an inalienable right. I can illustrate this fact very easily: 1) none of the people who have lived and died without any opportunity to even hear of the God of the Bible or of His Son, Jesus Christ, were given the right to believe or not believe the Gospel; and 2) in the end times, “…every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11), and yet all of those who have not already accepted the Gospel will not have the right to do so at that time, but will be permanently assigned to hell no matter how strenuously they may object.

Free will is not a guarantee of options. After Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, “…at the east of the Garden of Eden He placed the cherubim and a flaming sword which turned in every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Although they we capable of choosing to return to the garden, God forced them to live elsewhere; they had no option.

Free will is not irrevocable. When Adam and Eve sinned, their God-given right to eat freely of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was rescinded. Although they were still capable of eating of that tree, their license to do so was revoked.

Free will is not sovereign. Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” When we “deny ourselves” and “follow Jesus”, we freely and willfully forfeit our right to make choices that are not in accordance with “…the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2); we substitute God’s will for our “free will.” Otherwise, we do not really become His disciples. According to John 6:44-45 (see above), the Father himself has so influenced our will that we have become eager to hear and to accept His invitation to be saved. And so, we are born again. Moreover, in Ezekiel 36:27, God says that after we are born again, God will cause us to walk in obedience to His will, not ours: “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”

Free will is not an explanation. A man can invoke “free will” to assert that he can, in fact, make a choice to either accept or reject the Gospel. But, to claim that “free will” is all there is to it is to “beg the question”, because “free will” only asserts that you can choose, not why you chose “this” option over “that” option. The question of “why”, therefore, remains unanswered. The primary ramification of this failure of “free will” to actually explain why one makes the particular choice they make in response to the Gospel is that it compels us to search the Scriptures for the identity and source of the influences that do, in fact, cause us to accept or reject the Gospel. And, the Bible is far from silent on this point, as we will see in the following section.

Why Most People Reject the Gospel

Now, I believe there can be no reasonable doubt that God created mankind with the authority and the capacity to make certain decisions by exercising what is commonly referred to as “free will.” This fact can be verified adequately from the creation account in Genesis 1:26-3:24. From this same passage of Scripture we can conclude also that God holds mankind accountable for the decisions made using “free will.” But, just how free is this “free will” in practice? In Genesis 3:1-7, we see that the will of Adam and Eve was originally aligned with the will of God to be obedient to Him until the serpent (Satan) sufficiently influenced their original will to obey God as to misalign it into a will to disobey God. So, we see that, while they were still free to choose, the choice they made was so greatly modified by an outside influence (i.e., lies of the devil) as to turn it 180 degrees.

And so it is today concerning our exercise of “free will” in making the myriad of choices we make on a daily basis: we are still free (allowed) to make choices, but the choices we make are largely determined by outside influences, rather than by innate characteristics of our will. This modification of our will that determines the choices we make is eminently obvious in the making of moral choices today, just as it was with Adam and Eve “in the beginning.” The mere fact that we are allowed to make choices does not mean that the choices we make are “free” of outside influences. In fact, quite the contrary is true; every choice we make is heavily influenced by outside factors of one kind or another. In other words, there’s a reason why we make every decision we make, but that reason is never “free will.” As I pointed out above, “free will” refers only to our God-given authority and capacity to make decisions, but it says nothing about what it is that has led us to choose one alternative over another. So, it is critical to recognize and understand this important distinction before attempting to discover the role of “free will” in the mechanics of salvation.

In the spiritual world – of which, we are all a part – the influences of God (the lover of our souls) and of Satan (the enemy of our souls) are constantly at war, with our minds as the battlefields. And our eternal destiny is the spoils of this great battle, the outcome of which will be determined largely by who is able to exert the greatest, and final, influence on our will to either accept or reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When Adam and Eve chose, of their own “free” will, to believe Satan instead of God, they took on a “sin nature” (Colossians 3:8-10), or a predisposition to sin, that has been passed down to all subsequent generations, including ours. We have inherited, so to speak, from Adam a “sin nature”, an inborn desire to reject God’s provision and follow our own path in life. This sin nature can also be aptly described as an ever present readiness to do evil (i.e., disobey God).

This predisposition to sin is so pervasive as to render us, in our “natural-born” state, in rebellion against, and at enmity with, God. Paul described our natural-born, fallen, spiritual condition like this, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the age of this world and according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among them we all also once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Ephesians 2:1-3), and “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). In fact, our natural-born, spiritual condition is so depraved that Paul declared “…there is no one who seeks after God” (Romans 3:11) and “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). Moreover, the Bible clearly says that men reject the Gospel because God hardens them (Isaiah 63:17; John 12:40; Romans 9:18), and because Satan blinds their minds (2 Corinthians 4:4) and takes away the word from their hearts (Luke 8:12). And when God said, “I was found by those who did not seek Me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for Me” (Isaiah 65:1; quoted by Paul in Romans 10:20), He was making a statement about the mechanics of salvation, saying in effect, that because men do not seek Me or ask for Me, I will take the initiative and reveal Myself to them. That’s why Jesus declared, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him.” (John 6:44). In other words, in his natural-born, fallen, spiritual condition, a man is so spiritually depraved that he cannot, of his own volition, believe and accept the Gospel. He must have God’s help (i.e., intervention) to be able to make that choice.

Thus, according to the Bible, we start out in life with a will that is already misaligned and predisposed to obey Satan and disobey God (Acts 26:17-19); there is something terribly wrong with our “heart.” And this is why, without the supernatural intervention of God in our lives, we are “without hope” in the world. Somehow, our natural-born, misaligned will has to be realigned to be obedient to God and disobedient to Satan, if we are to be transformed from “children of wrath” into children of God, and if we are to remain transformed. But, how does the Bible say that God intervenes to save us and keep us? I have addressed this question elsewhere and invite you to check it out for yourself (click HERE).

Conclusions

Where our relationships with God are concerned, “free will” certainly seems to play a vital role in enabling Christians to please God by choosing to obey His will instead of their own. But, “free will”, while almost always present, can also be limited, conditional, mutable and even revocable when it conflicts with God’s sovereign will. Moreover, one cannot invoke “free will” to explain why some do and some do not accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To explain that, one must invoke the manner and extent of the Father’s influence on the one who accepts the Gospel, because, as Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘They shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and has learned of the Father comes to Me.” (John 6:44-45). One simply cannot come to Jesus of one’s own volition. The ones who are not so drawn by the Father will simply, and sadly, continue to be “…strangers to the covenants of promise, without God and without hope in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). And they will perish because all have sinned, and because the wages of sin is death. Finally, God not only causes us to want to be saved, but He also causes us to live in obedience to His will after we are saved (Ezekiel 36:27). So, our salvation and our subsequent life of obedience to God’s will are both the result of God’s will, not ours, being asserted.

(To read more of my articles on biblical teachings, click HERE)

The Forgotten “WHYs”

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The Forgotten “WHYs”

 James R. Aist

“We know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22)

Why is there rampant evil and suffering in a world created by a sovereign, loving and perfectly moral God? In other words, why do hatred, murder, so-called acts of God (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fire, etc.), lying, stealing, betrayal, pride, greed, poverty, injustice, racism, suffering and political corruption abound, if a good God created the world to be “very good”? Inquiring minds want to know why.

It occurs to me that, as life on this planet becomes seemingly more and more fraught with evil of one kind or another, it is God who is being blamed for these various trials and tribulations. I suppose that is partly due to the fact that the God of the Bible is all-powerful (omnipotent), and could, at least theoretically, put an end to all of it at any time, if only He really wanted to. Although much of human suffering is actually a direct result of human choices and actions, far too few of us are willing to take responsibility for our part in it. It is too convenient to just blame God and acquit ourselves of any wrongdoing. We may ask “Why?”, and then quickly point a finger at God.

I am not claiming to know fully why it is that God allows such evil and suffering to continue in this present age. But the specific questions I want to address here are 1) “Did something happen in the Garden of Eden that changed the dwelling place of man from a utopia to a dangerous, burdensome and painful abode?” and 2) “Who is really behind all of this suffering?” Of course, the answers to these questions are not a mystery to those of us who are familiar with the Word of God (the Holy Bible) and believe what it says. But the younger generations are increasingly looking everywhere except the Bible to find answers to these important questions. And if God even enters their process of searching for answers, it is ultimately to blame God, rather than to seek real answers where they may be found; i.e., in the Bible. So, let’s see if we can shed some fresh light on this question and stop “passing the buck” by blaming God. If you really want to know “why” there is so much evil and suffering in this world, then here are some of the “WHYs.”

The Perfect Beginning

Let’s begin at the beginning. The God of the Bible, the One who created the Universe, is, in fact, morally perfect. And, as one would expect, His finished work of creation was also perfect (complete and without flaw), as attested by His description of it as “very good” (Genesis 1:31). The first two human beings, Adam and Eve, were also created as morally perfect creatures. They apparently had a close, personal relationship with their Creator, being accustomed to walking and talking with Him in the cool of the day, as implied in Genesis 3:8-10. They had no knowledge of good or evil, and all was well in the Garden of Eden. But then, something went terribly wrong. To fully understand and comprehend the impact of what was to follow, we must bear in mind that Adam and Eve, as the first human beings, were representative of all humans who followed, including us. As progeny of Adam, we have inherited the kind of world he left for us.    

Remember “The “Fall”!

“Satan lured Adam and Eve to compromise one single act, one slip of holiness, and from there he has brought unspeakable carnage to the human race and to the earth.” – John Eldredge, “The Utter Relief of Holiness”

One day Adam and Eve were persuaded, by the lies of Satan, to disobey God, thus committing what is known as the “original sin.” They were no longer morally perfect, having fallen from their morally perfect condition, and they had to be cast out of the presence of the holy God because of it (Genesis 3:23-24). This changed everything, as Adam and Eve soon learned that there is a big price to be paid for disobeying God. And we are still paying this price today; we have inherited, so to speak, from Adam a “sin nature”, an inborn desire to reject God’s provision and follow our own path in life. That, my friends, provides a basic explanation for what we commonly refer to as “man’s inhumanity to man”, which includes such things as hatred, murder, lying, stealing, betrayal, greed, racism, poverty and injustice.

And there is another dimension to the consequences of the Fall, as eloquently explained by David Limbaugh in “The Emmaus Code”: “…the one thing that best revitalizes my faith during intermittent moments of doubt is, paradoxically, the pervasiveness of evil, suffering, and despair that we see all around us, and the inexplicably twisted values that increasingly define our culture. This unfathomability of the human condition, this perverse moral inversion we witness, this willing abandonment of logic and distortion of the language, cannot possibly be understood, in my view, apart from the Bible. Without the Bible, none of this makes any sense to me, but with it, I see how sin entered the world in the fall and how it has corrupted God’s perfect creation.” So we can see that the inexplicably twisted values, the perverse moral inversion, the willing abandonment of logic and the distortion of the language, which so many of us have run up against in trying to resist the liberalism and progressivism that increasingly define our culture, are also consequences of sin entering the world in the Garden of Eden.

The “Curses”

In response to this original sin, God pronounced curses on the Devil, on Adam and Eve, and on the whole of creation (Genesis 3:14-20). Not only were Adam and Eve (and us, by extension) banished from the presence of God, but Adam would now have to eke out a living by hard labor and the sweat of his brow, and Eve would experience greatly multiplied pain in childbirth and submission to her husband. But, perhaps the most significant curse of all is that Adam and Eve (and, by extension, us) were to suffer both spiritual death (separation from God) and physical death (return to dust, Genesis 3:19).

Even the ground itself was cursed because of Adam’s sin, for from now on it would bring forth thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:17-18) in place of edible food. In this regard, the Apostle Paul had this to add: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but by the will of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now” (Romans 8:20-22). And so here we have the basic explanation for so-called “acts of God” (earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, etc.) and, most likely, for political corruption as well: the whole of creation is being subjected to “futility”, to “slavery to corruption”, to “groaning” and to “travailing in pain.” We may not know for sure everything that Paul is referring to here, but we do know for sure that it is all bad and all a result of sin entering the world.

But, there’s even more to it than this, much more.

The Prince

In trying to understand why evil and suffering are so rampant in the world, we mustn’t overlook the one who started all the trouble in the first place: ol’ “slew foot” himself, Satan. When Satan rebelled against God, he was cast down to the earth (Job 1:7 and 2:2, Isaiah 14:13, Luke 10:18 and 1 Peter 5:8). And, as part of the curse on Satan following Adam’s original sin, God said “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring” (Genesis 3:15). This is why the Bible refers to Satan as “the enemy of our souls” (Psalm 143:3). For the time being, he is the Prince of this world (John 14; 30) the Prince of the air of this world (Ephesians 2:2), meaning that he has power and considerable influence over worldly affairs, including the affairs of mankind. Jesus said of him that he comes only to kill, to steal and to destroy (John 10:10). And Peter warned us to “Be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Rest assured, then, that the devil, Satan, and his minions, are ultimately behind much, if not most, of “man’s inhumanity to man.” The Apostle Paul put it this way: “For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). While man’s sinful nature is clearly at work here, Satan is hard at work also, usually behind the scenes, to encourage, amplify, multiply and reward our sinful deeds.

The Promise

At this point, you may wonder if this morally perfect God will ever set things right and restore His Creation to its original, perfect condition. The answer is, “Yes, He will eventually do just that.” God promised to do this when He said to Satan “…he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15), a clear reference to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, the offspring of Eve. When Jesus came the first time as the sacrificial Lamb of God to pay the price (death) for our sins (John 1:29), He set this restoration process in motion. When he comes again, He will complete the restoration by judging all of mankind (Matthew 25:31-46) and rewarding each, even Christians (2 Corinthians 5:10), according to his deeds – whether good or bad – and ushering in a new heaven and a new earth where justice, righteousness and peace will prevail forevermore (Revelation 221:1-8), to the glory of God.

The Waits

“Justice delayed is not justice denied.” – Raymond F. Culpepper

But, you may ask, “If God intends to restore His creation to its original, perfect condition, why is He waiting so long to do it?” There are actually two questions here: 1) “Why did He wait so long to send Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, to pay the price for our sins?”; and 2) “Why is He waiting so long to send Him back as the Lion of Judah to conquer evil and establish His perfect Kingdom here on earth?”

I am not aware that the Bible clearly addresses the first question directly, but it does talk about “the fullness of time” and “the time is fulfilled” in reference to the timing of Jesus’ First Coming (Galatians 4:4-5; Mark 1:14-15; and Ephesians 1:7-10). And, in reference to the timing of His Second Coming, Jesus said “It is not for you to know the times or the dates, which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” So, we can surmise that God, in His sovereignty, set the timing of Jesus First Coming in order to best fulfill His divine plan of salvation. Personally, I am inclined to speculate that God was waiting until His relationship with His chosen people, Israel, had been fully and firmly established and formalized before bringing Jesus onto the scene bodily, so as to fully verify Jesus as the promised Messiah and to facilitate the rapid establishment of the Christian church.

This brings us to the second question: “Why is God waiting so long to send Jesus back as the Lion of Judah to conquer evil and establish His perfect Kingdom here on earth?” This is also a tough question to answer fully. The Apostle Peter, however, offers this explanation: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). But, who is the “everyone” to whom Peter refers here? I believe the Apostle Paul has provided a clue: “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25). Taken together, these scriptures seem to imply that God has a particular number of persons in mind to be saved, and He will not complete the restoration until that number of people has been saved. This may be a new teaching to some, and it may seem harsh, but keep in mind that if God does not, at some point in time, close the door to heaven, then the end time events will never be completed, because, for one reason or another, there will always be people who are not yet saved.

Summary

One need only look to the Bible to get a basic understanding of why evil and suffering are so rampant in today’s world. The fall of man, original sin, the sin nature of man, the resultant curses and the Prince of the air of this world (These are the forgotten “WHYs”) have all conspired to put the world in the godless, degenerate and immoral condition it is in. But God is already in the process of restoring the world to its original, good and moral condition through the initial work of Jesus on the earth and the continuing work of His disciples, including you and me. When Jesus comes again and the “full number” of people (as determined by and known only to God) has been saved, He will complete the process.

Are you one of those people God will save? What are you waiting for? Stop running from God, and let Him save you today!

(To read more Bible Teachings by Professor Aist, click HERE.)