The final segment in this topic deals with the fall into sin that corrupted all of God’s creation and plunged man into guilt and condemnation.
4. Because of sin, man is completely fallen
In contrast to many worldviews and religions, Christianity believes that man is fallen and his heart is corrupt. Since the Fall into sin, every person is born with a depraved heart that will not choose God apart from the Holy Spirit’s supernatural drawing to Christ (Rom. 3:10-18; John 14:6; 6:44). In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve tried to do without God in every respect. By rejecting God’s evaluation of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they asserted their right to interpret the world as they saw fit. In the case of the forbidden fruit Eve determined that it was “good” for food, even though God declared it to be the spiritually and physically poisonous.
The motivation for Eve’s disobedience, however, was not simply to try a new flavor of fruit, but to transcend her humanity to become divine, as the serpent had promised her (Gen. 3:5). In other words, Eve wanted to escape her creaturely limits and become like God—infinite and divine. This was all a lie, however, and her actions resulted in death. Many false religions and worldviews are based on a desire to become divine, or to escape death like God. What they promise, however, can never come true. Humans will always be created beings, finite and limited.
In eating the fruit Adam and Eve also attempted to decide for themselves what is right and wrong. They tried to establish their own ethics in rebellion of God’s declaration of right and wrong. Here is another common aspect of unbelieving belief systems: they want to reject God’s laws and establish their own. These false ethical standards often lead to a removal of any restraint whatsoever, which leads to violence, abuse, and anarchy. We see this most clearly in the days of Noah (Gen. 6:5, 11-12), the time of the judges (Judg. 17:6; 21:25), and the last days predicted in the New Testament (2 Tim. 3:1-9).
The result of the Fall is that every one of natural man’s intellectual and spiritual functions operates wrongly. Man’s thinking is now slanted away from God in rebellion and ignorance (Eph. 4:17-19). Man is not objective, because his sinful, evil heart turns away from God, truth, beauty and goodness, and seeks to satisfy self. The result is that man embraces lies, ugliness, and evil. He loves the darkness of sin rather than the light of truth (John 3:19-21; Rom. 1:25).
Cornelius Van Til of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia used two pictures to illustrate this truth. Imagine a woodworker who sets his table saw to exact measurements to cut boards at a right angle. He leaves the workshop for a few minutes to get the wood, and while he is gone his 10-year-old son enters the room and changes the angle of the saw. Every board that the woodworker cuts after that will be wrong and will be damaged. In the same way God created us holy and perfect, with our intellect, emotions and will operating rightly. After the Fall, these faculties are now damaged, and while they resemble the original design, they are damaged and do not function properly.
Another illustration helps us understand the unbeliever’s bias against God and the truth. Imagine yellow-lensed goggles are glued to the face of the unbeliever. Everything he sees now has a yellow hue. He cannot see colors correctly because of these goggles. Yet, he insists he is wearing no goggles and sees colors correctly. In the same way, the Fall has distorted the man’s intellectual understanding, and he cannot see truthfully until the Holy Spirit removes the goggles in regeneration. It takes the regeneration of man’s reason to correct the damage done by the Fall. When a person is saved, the Holy Spirit replaces his unbelieving heart of stone with a “heart of flesh” that now functions properly (Ezek. 11:19-21; 36:26-27). He takes away spiritual blindness and replaces it with sight (John 9:39).
Having a biblical understanding of God and man provides many powerful avenues for apologetics. We avoid defending concepts we don’t believe. We tap into the powerful truths of the wisdom and power of God (1 Cor. 1:24). The more we know the Scriptures and sound doctrine, the more weapons we possess in the war of ideas. We are able to more effectively destroy arguments and pull down strongholds of unbelief (2 Cor. 10:3-5). Knowing what we believe is the best foundation for apologetics and evangelism, because it gives us the ability to answer unbelief from any direction.