Living on a Prayer
By Wendy Wippel
An old girl scout song goes: “God he thought he’d make a man, took a little water, took a little sand, put him in a garden fair, thought he’d be most happy there. But round a tree Old Satan slunk, and at Miss Eve his eye he wunk….” We all know how that ended. But it’s worse than we thought.
The whole sordid episode–well, really more its aftermath– has come to be known as a doctrine called “Original Sin”, which essentially covers both the nature and consequences of mankind’s fall from grace. And there are lots of them. Adam and Eve’s fateful decision to take a bite out of that lone forbidden fruit had enormous consquences for both the first couple and for every human that that would descend from them thereafter as well. Multiple consequences, in fact, well-defined in Scripture:
1. A Corrupted Nature:
The Scriptures reveal that Adam and Eve’s consumption of that piece of fruit was quite literally an earth-shattering event. Actually, an earth and beyond event, as the Scriptures teach that creation itself fell too. (Romans 8:21-22)
For mankind itself, first and foremost, the nature of mankind was fundamentally changed. They no longer reflected the perfect nature of God. A contaminant called sin was introduced, and it permeated Adam and Eve’s beings. An irreversible uncleanness and there was no going back.
The nature of the fall of man was of such magnitude that the God who had so recently looked at his creation-all of creation–, and said that it was very good, now spoke of man– the crowning glory of his creation in tragically different terms.
God’s after- the- fall -version of man paints a pretty grim picture of humankind outside the garden:
1) The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
2) Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones? Do you judge uprightly, you sons of men? No, in heart you work wickedness; You weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth. Psalm 58
3) The wicked are estranged from the womb; Psalm 51:5
4) Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
Mankind was no longer God’s beloved creation.
Instead? we are all “by nature objects of wrath”. Eph 2:3
Adam and Eve’s disobedience created a permanent alteration in the nature of the human soul. God created them in his own image, with a perfect spiritual nature, and he called it “Good”. As God’s perfect creations, they walked for a while in perfect harmony with God. Their decision in the garden to try the forbidden fruit (which was really a decision to trust the serpent more than God), changed their very nature in a very fundamental way. They were now stained, corrupted. As confessed by Paul: “For I know that in me dwelleth no Good thing.” Romans 7:18
2. Separation from God:
The Bible tells us that God is “not a God that takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand in your sight.”
The fundamental change from a spotless creation of God to a race contaminated by the lies of the devil meant that mankind could no longer dwell with God in Eden. Adam and Eve were ejected from paradise and from face to face communion with God.
3. Spiritual Death:
Adam and Eve’s immediate reaction to one single bite of forbidden fruit is interesting. isn’t it? Shame. The guilty pair immediately make themselves clothes to hide their nakedness, and then they find a hiding place for their clothed selves. The peace and joy they had in God’s presence was gone, because they recognized the fundamental change in their nature and were ashamed. They were not spiritually separated from God’s perfection. They were spiritually dead.
We know that for several reasons. First of all, God had promised Adam and Eve that if they did eat the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the Garden, they would surely die. (Genesis 3: 2-4). From the next chapters of the Bible, it is clear the death incurred at the time of that misbegotten meal in Eden was spiritual, not physical. (A spiritual death that necessitated their removal from God’s perfect spiritual presence,)
Secondly, Adam and Eve also exhibit an awareness of their spiritual death by their shame, obviously stemming from recognition of the separation that their disobedience created.
4. Physical Death:
So…a recap: Adam and Eve’s decision to trust the serpent’s word over the word of the God that created them and walked with them in fellowship in the garden corrupted the perfect nature that God had created. Corruption of their spiritual nature necessitated separation from God, which brought spiritual Death, and as a natural and inevitable consequence of spiritual death, physical death became the inevitable end to every life.
As Ezekiel put it (pretty bluntly): “The soul who sins shall die.”
But that verse is explained a little more completely by another. Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
Death intered all men through Adam and Eve, through something that spread.
Implying a biological origin.
Death and sin spread through human kind through Adam’s biology, with each son or daughter of Adam and Eve (which means every human that ever lived) infected with the curse. It was something carried in their physical being.
And thanks to modern science, specifically molecular biology, we now know what, specifically the physical agent of the curse was.
A part of our human DNA called telomeres. Telomeres being a little protein cap on the end of our chromosomes, a cap that contributes significantly to aging because part of it gets shaved off a little bit every time the DNA replicates.
In the scientists’ words: “Hempoietic stems cells undergo a process of self-renewal to constantly maintain blood cell turnover. However, it is known that adult cells lose their self-renewal ability with age. Telomere shortening…in blood leukocytes has been seen to occur with age and has been associated with loss of cell proliferative capacity and cellular aging…”
They go on: “Fetal cells are known to have greater proliferative capacity than post-natal stem cells.”
But that wasn’t all.
And as I said, it gets worse.
Fetal cells proliferate more abundantly than older cells, but the scientists observed something additional they absolutely hadn’t expected. The telomere protein cap in fetal cells-meaning babies still in the womb-were shown to be already shaving off. Even before birth.
The scientist that in charge of the study observed, in obvious surprise, “It’s like we’re programmed to die!”
The article I read reporting the study was observed that humans are programmed, apparently to start dying even before birth.
All men sin, and the soul that sins will die.
Didn’t I just read that somewhere?