“According to the eternal purpose” (Ephesians 3:11)

By Bob Myhan

Review and Enlargement of Part Three

Man is the only physical creature that is responsible for his actions. This responsibility is tri-directional: upward, outward and inward.

His primary moral responsibility is upward to God. To be sure, if there were no God, man would not be morally responsible, at all, for moral responsibility rests on the fact that man was created in the image of God.

When Amnon, the son of David was about to force his half-sister, Tamar, to lie with him, she told him, “no such thing should be done in Israel (2 Sam. 13:12). The reason for this was that God had forbidden such.

Likewise, Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17; 3:1-3). Therefore, they were morally obligated to refrain from eating it. No such thing should have been done in Eden .

Man’s second moral responsibility is outward to others (Matt. 22:39; Phil. 2:3). I am to love my neighbor as myself, and esteem others better than myself.

After reminding Amnon of his upward responsibility, Tamar asked, “And I, where could I take my shame?” (2 Sam. 13:13) He had a moral responsibility not only toward God, but also toward his sister.

Likewise, Eve had a moral responsibility to Adam. After all, she was created as “a helper comparable” to him. She was to help him in his responsibilities to God. It was equally wrong for both of them to eat of the forbidden fruit. She sinned by eating, and she sinned further by encouraging Adam to eat. And Adam, as the woman’s head, should have reprimanded her instead of joining her in the sin.

Man’s third moral responsibility is inward to himself. Because of the penalty for sin (Rom. 6:23), man owes it to himself to refrain from sinning. That is, he is to “live soberly,” or “exercise…that self-restraint that governs all passions and desires, enabling [him] to be conformed to the mind of Christ” (Vine).

Thus, if Amnon persisted in forcing Tamar to lie with him, he would not only be sinning against God and Tamar, but against himself, as well. Thus, she said, “And as for you, you would be like one of the fools in Israel (2 Sam. 13:13).

Likewise, Adam and Eve owed it to themselves and to one another, both as individuals and as a collective social unit, to refrain from eating the forbidden fruit; they knew that doing so would mean certain death for God had revealed this unto them.

The fall of man involved at least three distinct changes. There was (1) a change of affection, (2) a change of volition and (3) a change of relation. After the fall, God began to reveal His eternal plan to redeem man (Gen. 3:14-15). There was no need to do so previous to the fall.

Man’s Downward Spiral

After the sin and expulsion of Adam and Eve, the human race continued its downward moral spiral. Their oldest son, Cain, murdered his brother, Abel. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous.” (Gen. 4:1-8; Heb. 11:4; 1 John 3:11-12)

In less than two millennia, the wickedness of man was so great that God decided to destroy the human race, except for eight persons (Gen. 6:1-8; 2 Peter 2:4-9). The details of the descent of man are given in the epistle of Paul to the saints in Rome .

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. ( Rom. 1:18-32)

The salvation of Noah and family was on the condition of faithful obedience.

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Gen. 6:9-22; Heb. 11:7)

Noah and family “were saved by water” (1 Peter 3:18-20, KJV), which prefigured water baptism in the New Testament age

And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you--not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:21, NRSV).

[To be continued]