SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1 (EGW)

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Chapter 3

1-6. A Succession of Falls—If the race had ceased to fall when Adam was driven from Eden, we should now be in a far more elevated condition physically, mentally, and morally. But while men deplore the fall of Adam, which has resulted in such unutterable woe, they disobey the express injunctions of God, as did Adam, although they have his example to warn them from doing as he did in violating the law of Jehovah. Would that man had stopped falling with Adam. But there has been a succession of falls. Men will not take warning from Adam's experience. They will indulge appetite and passion in direct violation of the law of God, and at the same time continue to mourn Adam's transgression, which brought sin into the world. 1BC 1082.7

From Adam's day to ours there has been a succession of falls, each greater than the last, in every species of crime. God did not create a race of beings so devoid of health, beauty, and moral power as now exists in the world. Disease of every kind has been fearfully increasing upon the race. This has not been by God's especial providence, but directly contrary to His will. It has come by man's disregard of the very means which God has ordained to shield him from the terrible evils existing (The Review and Herald, March 4, 1875). 1BC 1082.8

1. Satan Uses Instruments—In Eden Satan used the serpent as his instrument. Today he makes use of the members of the human family, striving by means of every species of cunning and deception to hedge up the path of righteousness cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in (Letter 91, 1900). 1BC 1083.1

5. No Change in Satan's Propaganda—God does not consult our opinions or preferences. He knows what human beings do not know,—the future results of every movement, and therefore our eyes should be directed to Him, and not to the worldly advantages presented by Satan. Satan tells us that if we give heed to him, we shall reach great heights of knowledge. Ye shall be as gods, he said to Eve, if you eat of the tree forbidden by God. The test given to Adam and Eve was very light, but they could not bear it. They disobeyed God, and this transgression opened the floodgates of woe on our world (Manuscript 50, 1893). 1BC 1083.2

6. Mildest Test Given—With what intense interest the whole universe watched the conflict that was to decide the position of Adam and Eve. How attentively the angels listened to the words of Satan, the originator of sin, as he placed his own ideas above the commands of God, and sought to make of none effect the law of God through his deceptive reasoning! How anxiously they waited to see if the holy pair would be deluded by the tempter, and yield to his arts! They asked themselves, Will the holy pair transfer their faith and love from the Father and Son to Satan? Will they accept his falsehoods as truth? They knew that they might refrain from taking the fruit, and obey the positive injunction of God, or they might violate the express command of their Creator. 1BC 1083.3

The mildest test was given them that could be given; for there was no need of their eating of the forbidden tree; everything that their wants required had been provided (The Bible Echo, July 24, 1899, reprinted from The Signs of the Times, May 12, 1890). 1BC 1083.4

Gained Only a Knowledge of Sin and Its Results—If Adam and Eve had never touched the forbidden tree, the Lord would have imparted to them knowledge,—knowledge upon which rested no curse of sin, knowledge that would have brought them everlasting joy. The only knowledge they gained by their disobedience was a knowledge of sin and its results ((Australasian) Union Conference Record, March 1, 1904). 1BC 1083.5

Adam's Fall Inexplainable—In what consisted the strength of the assault made upon Adam, which caused his fall? It was not indwelling sin; for God made Adam after His own character, pure and upright. There were no corrupt principles in the first Adam, no corrupt propensities or tendencies to evil. Adam was as faultless as the angels before God's throne. These things are inexplainable, but many things which now we cannot understand will be made plain when we shall see as we are seen, and know as we are known (Letter 191, 1899). 1BC 1083.6

(Ecclesiastes 1:13-18)—Age after age, the curiosity of men has led them to seek for the tree of knowledge; and often they think they are plucking fruit most essential, when, like Solomon's research, they find it altogether vanity and nothingness in comparison with that science of true holiness which will open to them the gates of the city of God. The human ambition has been seeking for that kind of knowledge that will bring to them glory and self-exaltation and supremacy. Thus Adam and Eve were worked upon by Satan until God's restraint was snapped asunder, and their education under the teacher of lies began in order that they might have the knowledge which God had refused them,—to know the consequence of transgression (Manuscript 67, 1898). 1BC 1083.7

Fall Broke Golden Chain of Obedience—Adam yielded to temptation and as we have the matter of sin and its consequence laid so distinctly before us, we can read from cause to effect and see the greatness of the act is not that which constitutes sin; but the disobedience of God's expressed will, which is a virtual denial of God, refusing the laws of His government.... 1BC 1083.8

The fall of our first parents broke the golden chain of implicit obedience of the human will to the divine. Obedience has no longer been deemed an absolute necessity. The human agents follow their own imaginations which the Lord said of the inhabitants of the old world was evil and that continually (Manuscript 1, 1892). 1BC 1083.9

Adam: Temptation Removed as Far as Possible—The plan of salvation was so arranged that when Adam was tested, temptation was removed from him as far as possible. When Adam was tempted, he was not hungry (The Signs of the Times, April 4, 1900). 1BC 1084.1

Man a Free Agent—God had power to hold Adam back from touching the forbidden fruit; but had He done this, Satan would have been sustained in his charge against God's arbitrary rule. Man would not have been a free moral agent, but a mere machine (The Review and Herald, June 4, 1901). 1BC 1084.2

Every Inducement to Remain Loyal—It certainly was not God's purpose that man should be sinful. He made Adam pure and noble, with no tendency to evil. He placed him in Eden, where he had every inducement to remain loyal and obedient. The law was placed around him as a safeguard. (The Review and Herald, June 4, 1901). 1BC 1084.3

7. Fig Leaves Will Not Cover Sin—Adam and Eve both ate of the fruit, and obtained a knowledge which, had they obeyed God, they would never have had,—an experience in disobedience and disloyalty to God,—the knowledge that they were naked. The garment of innocence, a covering from God, which surrounded them, departed; and they supplied the place of this heavenly garment by sewing together fig-leaves for aprons. 1BC 1084.4

This is the covering that the transgressors of the law of God have used since the days of Adam and Eve's disobedience. They have sewed together fig-leaves to cover their nakedness, caused by transgression. The fig-leaves represent the arguments used to cover disobedience. When the Lord calls the attention of men and women to the truth, the making of fig-leaves into aprons will be begun, to hide the nakedness of the soul. But the nakedness of the sinner is not covered. All the arguments pieced together by all who have interested themselves in this flimsy work will come to naught (The Review and Herald, November 15, 1898). 1BC 1084.5

10, 11. Drew on Robes of Ignorance—Had Adam and Eve never disobeyed their Creator, had they remained in the path of perfect rectitude, they could have known and understood God. But when they listened to the voice of the tempter, and sinned against God, the light of the garments of heavenly innocence departed from them; and in parting with the garments of innocence, they drew about them the dark robes of ignorance of God. The clear and perfect light that had hitherto surrounded them had lightened everything they approached; but deprived of that heavenly light, the posterity of Adam could no longer trace the character of God in His created works (The Review and Herald, March 17, 1904). 1BC 1084.6

15. Adam Knew Original Law—Adam and Eve at their creation had knowledge of the original law of God. It was imprinted upon their hearts, and they were acquainted with the claims of law upon them. When they transgressed the law of God, and fell from their state of happy innocence, and became sinners, the future of the fallen race was not relieved by a single ray of hope. God pitied them, and Christ devised the plan for their salvation by Himself bearing the guilt. When the curse was pronounced upon the earth and upon man, in connection with the curse was a promise that through Christ there was hope and pardon for the transgression of God's law. Although gloom and darkness hung, like the pall of death, over the future, yet in the promise of the Redeemer, the Star of hope lighted up the dark future. The gospel was first preached to Adam by Christ. Adam and Eve felt sincere sorrow and repentance for their guilt. They believed the precious promise of God, and were saved from utter ruin (The Review and Herald, April 29, 1875). 1BC 1084.7

Christ the Immediate Surety—As soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour. Christ knew that He would have to suffer, yet He became man's substitute. As soon as Adam sinned, the Son of God presented Himself as surety for the human race, with just as much power to avert the doom pronounced upon the guilty as when He died upon the cross of Calvary (The Review and Herald, March 12, 1901). 1BC 1084.8

Continent of Heaven—Jesus became the world's Redeemer, rendering perfect obedience to every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. He redeemed Adam's disgraceful fall, uniting the earth, that had been divorced from God by sin, to the continent of heaven [Obviously the word “continent” is here employed in a broader sense than is commonly understood today. It is in keeping with usage now obsolete, which permitted the word “continent” to apply to “the ‘solid globe’ or orb of the sun or moon” (See Oxford English Dictionary).—Editor.] (The Bible Echo, August 6, 1894). 1BC 1084.9

Connected With Sphere of Glory—Though earth was struck off from the continent of heaven [Obviously the word “continent” is here employed in a broader sense than is commonly understood today. It is in keeping with usage now obsolete, which permitted the word “continent” to apply to “the ‘solid globe’ or orb of the sun or moon” (See Oxford English Dictionary).—Editor.] and alienated from its communion, Jesus has connected it again with the sphere of glory (The Signs of the Times, November 24, 1887). 1BC 1085.1

Instantaneous Substitution—The instant man accepted the temptations of Satan, and did the very things God had said he should not do, Christ, the Son of God, stood between the living and the dead, saying, “Let the punishment fall on Me. I will stand in man's place. He shall have another chance” (Letter 22, February 13, 1900). 1BC 1085.2

Christ Placed Feet in Adam's Steps—What love! What amazing condescension! The King of glory proposed to humble Himself to fallen humanity! He would place His feet in Adam's steps. He would take man's fallen nature, and engage to cope with the strong foe who triumphed over Adam. He would overcome Satan, and in thus doing He would open the way for the redemption from the disgrace of Adam's failure and fall, of all those who would believe on Him (The Review and Herald, February 24, 1874). 1BC 1085.3

16, 17. Execution of Sentence Withheld—God forbears, for a time, the full execution of the sentence of death pronounced upon man. Satan flattered himself that he had forever broken the link between heaven and earth. But in this he was greatly mistaken and disappointed. The Father had given the world into the hands of His Son for Him to redeem from the curse and the disgrace of Adam's failure and fall (Redemption; or the Temptation of Christ in The Wilderness, 17). 1BC 1085.4

17, 18. The Curse on All Creation—All nature is confused; for God forbade the earth to carry out the purpose He had originally designed for it. Let there be no peace to the wicked, saith the Lord. The curse of God is upon all creation. Every year it makes itself more decidedly felt (Manuscript 76a, 1901). 1BC 1085.5

The first curse was pronounced upon the posterity of Adam and upon the earth, because of disobedience. The second curse came upon the ground after Cain slew his brother Abel. The third most dreadful curse from God, came upon the earth at the Flood (Spiritual Gifts 4a:121). 1BC 1085.6

The land has felt the curse, more and more heavily. Before the Flood, the first leaf which fell, and was discovered decaying upon the ground, caused those who feared God great sorrow. They mourned over it as we mourn over the loss of a dead friend. In the decaying leaf they could see an evidence of the curse, and of the decay of nature (Spiritual Gifts 4a:155). 1BC 1085.7

(Romans 8:22)—The sin of man has brought the sure result,—decay, deformity, and death. Today the whole world is tainted, corrupted, stricken with mortal disease. The earth groaneth under the continual transgression of the inhabitants thereof (Letter 22, February 13, 1900). 1BC 1085.8

The Lord's curse is upon the earth, upon man, upon beast, upon the fish in the sea, and as transgression becomes almost universal the curse will be permitted to become as broad and as deep as the transgression (Letter 59, 1898). 1BC 1085.9

Tokens of God's Continued Love—After the transgression of Adam, God might have destroyed every opening bud and blooming flower, or He might have taken away their fragrance, so grateful to the senses. In the earth seared and marred by the curse, in the briers, the thistles, the thorns, the tares, we may read the law of condemnation; but in the delicate color and perfume of the flowers, we may learn that God still loves us, that His mercy is not wholly withdrawn from the earth (The Review and Herald, November 8, 1898). 1BC 1085.10

17-19.—God said to Adam, and to all the descendants of Adam, In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread; for from henceforth the earth must be worked under the drawback of transgression. Thorns and briars shall it produce (Manuscript 84, 1897). 1BC 1085.11

There is no place upon earth where the track of the serpent is not seen and his venomous sting felt. The whole earth is defiled under the inhabitants thereof. The curse is increasing as transgression increases (Letter 22, February 13, 1900). 1BC 1086.1

18. Amalgamation Brought Noxious Plants—Not one noxious plant was placed in the Lord's great garden, but after Adam and Eve sinned, poisonous herbs sprang up. In the parable of the sower the question was asked the Master, “Didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? how then hath it tares?” The Master answered, “An enemy hath done this.” All tares are sown by the evil one. Every noxious herb is of his sowing, and by his ingenious methods of amalgamation he has corrupted the earth with tares (Manuscript 65, 1899) [published in F. D. Nichol, Ellen G. White and Her Critics]. 1BC 1086.2

22-24 (Revelation 22:2, 14). Obedience Is Condition of Eating of Tree—Transgression of God's requirements excluded Adam from the Garden of Eden. A flaming sword was placed around the tree of life, lest man should put forth his hand and partake of it, immortalizing sin. Obedience to all the commandments of God was the condition of eating of the tree of life. Adam fell by disobedience, forfeiting by sin all right to use either the life-giving fruit of the tree in the midst of the Garden, or its leaves, which are for the healing of the nations. 1BC 1086.3

Obedience through Jesus Christ gives to man perfection of character and a right to that tree of life. The conditions of again partaking of the fruit of the tree are plainly stated in the testimony of Jesus Christ to John: “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and many enter in through the gates into the city” (Manuscript 72, 1901). 1BC 1086.4

24 (Matthew 4:4; John 6:63). No Sword Before Our Tree of Life—The Scriptures, “It is written,” is the gospel we are to preach. No flaming sword is placed before this tree of life. All who will may partake of it. There is no power that can prohibit any soul from taking of the fruit of this tree of life. All may eat and live forever (Letter 20, 1900). 1BC 1086.5