Fundamentals of the Faith
By William Dudley Nowlin, D.D., LL.D.
THE FALL OF MAN
Man Was Created by God Perfect and Holy; But by Transgression,
Suggested by the Devil, Brought upon Himself, and His Posterity,
Depravity and Alienation.
No man can trifle with sin and escape the penalty attached thereto, for it is an unalterable law of God that whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. The sowing may be sweet, but the reaping will be bitter.
Let no man consider himself too great, too wise, or too strong to be tempted of the devil; and let no man consider himself too low, too poor or too obscure to be noticed by the devil.
No class escapes the attention of the devil, for he fumbles with the fool and capers with culture; he sighs with the sad and frolics with frivolity; he prays with the pious and vies with the vicious; he plods with the poor and races with the rich; he pines with the peasant and romps with royalty. Tue devil is a cosmopolite —he is at home in any part of the world and in any society.
The devil met our forefather Adam in his innocence and purity in the Garden of Eden, and in the conflict the devil prevailed. He met our
Lord and Master in the mountain of temptation, but in this conflict he failed.
The first Adam came from Paradise, conquered in his conflict with Satan. The second Adam came from the wilderness as conqueror. In the first Adam, all his race died; in the second, all his chosen people receive a life which is eternal.
Sin is one of the most terrible facts in human history. Sin has saddened human life and blackened human history from the Garden of Eden to the present time.
MAN CREATED PERFECT AND HOLY
No fact is more clearly set forth in the Bible than the fact “God created man in his own image” (Gen. 1:27). “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). “God made man upright” (Eccle. 7:29). There are many other Scriptures teach ing this same truth, but these are sufficient to show that man was created by God (not evolved by nature), and that he was created in holiness, for he was made in the “image and likeness of God,” who is the very embodiment of holiness and perfection.
MAN BY VOLUNTARY TRANSGRESSION FELL
While man was created perfect and holy, he was created a man, not a machine. He was given the power of choice, and, having the power of choice, he could choose obedience or disobedience, and the wrong choice was made. This choice was made voluntarily, prompted by the enticing influence of the devil. Thus man voluntarily departed from God, and ceased to be the innocent being which God made. God made man, but God did not make a sinful man. God made man, man made choice and that choice was sin. Read the account of the fall (Gen. 3:6-24), and read what Paul says (1 Tim. 2:10) about Adam sinning with his eyes open. “Adam was not deceived,” so he acted deliberately—voluntarily, and was, therefore, a voluntary transgressor.
IN ADAM HIS POSTERITY FELL
Adam’s sin did not affect him alone, but all of his posterity. Some of the Scriptures which teach this doctrine are: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). Again ‘‘Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). One other, “Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:18, 19).
So the whole race is in sin and without excuse; because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as a God, neither were they thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing themselves to he wise they became fools. (See Rom. 1:20, 22.) Who are those who are “vain in their reasonings,” and “professing themselves to be wise,” but the destructive critics who cannot accept the infallibility of God and the accuracy of his Word, but who believe unalterably in their own infallibility and accuracy? What happened to them? “Their foolish hearts were darkened— they became fools.” There, in few words, is the history of vain, conceited man, depending on his reason rather than God’s revelation. That man is depraved is one doctrine that can be established from human experience and observation, as well as from the Scriptures.
Perhaps one of the most dangerous and insidious doctrines being taught today is that “We are by nature the children of God” and not, as Paul teaches, “by nature the children of wrath, even as the rest” (Eph. 2:3). We are not by nature the children of God, but by grace the children of God. We are all aliens by birth and sinners by practice.
TOTAL DEPRAVITY DEFINED
Is man totally depraved or only partially depraved? Has God spoken on this point? Read Genesis 6:5, which says: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” There is the picture.
This picture does not suggest one who is partially holy, but one who is wholly depraved.
Perhaps the rejection of the doctrine of total depravity, by many people, is only another evidence of their total depravity. Some claim that “all are depraved but that none are totally depraved.” Those who make that claim do not reason to the logical conclusion of that position. Depraved means “vitiated, corrupted.” What part of man is not “vitiated,” or “corrupted”? That which is not depraved, or vitiated, is holy, pure. That which is pure or holy cannot go to hell, and that which is vitiated or corrupt cannot go to heaven, so what disposition could be made of a man who is partly depraved and partly holy? He could go to neither hell nor heaven.
The rejection of the doctrine of total depravity is usually due to a misconception of the doctrine. Total depravity does not mean that one is as mean as Satan, nor that he is as corrupt as he might be. It means that when man fell the whole man fell; that no part of the man escaped the fall. It means that a man is depraved in toto—the whole man. It is a question of extent rather than one of degree.
If you should take a glass of water and dissolve a grain of strychnine in it the whole glass of water would be poisoned. In other words, it would be totally poisoned. If you should take another glass, with the same quantity of water, and dissolve an ounce of strychnine in it you would have more poison to the quantity of water but it would not be more complete, or total, as both would be totally poisoned. The question here involved is one of degree and not of extent, while in depravity it is of extent—not degree. You can take two men totally depraved, yet one is a great deal worse than the other, but the difference in their depravity is one of degree and not one of extent. The extent of their depravity is the same while the degree of their depravity is different.
The great apostle did not say: “In Adam all partly fell,” but “In Adam all fell.” It follows therefore, that all are fallen beings, not partly fallen. Sin wrought havoc with the race, “but where sin did abound grace did much more abound.” Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, makes salvation impossible to any man by works that it may be made possible to all men through grace.