Today we want to start with the fall in Genesis. We know from the Genesis text that resulted in a lack of intimacy with God and man. Instead of God and man walking in the cool of the Garden in a harmony of interest, there is a summons by God for man to come forth that is resisted by a fall-driven emotion called “fear” (Gen. 3:8), and reveals a first time conflict of interest between God and His creation. Sin has entered the world via Satan’s temptation and man’s disobedience and the immediate consequence is a disordered world between God and man.
This disordered world then ripples out to man as seen in the lack of taking responsibility or ownership for their role in the fall. Adam blames God and Eve … Eve blames the Serpent. The conflict of interest that was absent in the Garden becomes a conflict of interest not only between God and man but between man and man.
Of course we know that these are not the only consequences of the fall … of man’s sin. Romans 5 tells us,
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—
This is the common teaching we find here that Adam’s fall, acting as mankind’s Federal covenant head meant that all men share in the culpability of Adam’s sin. The puritans taught this to their children in their rhyme books, “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” So the fall had a universal impact on mankind.
However, the negative impact of the fall is not only restricted to Adam and his human descendants but we also learn that the impact of the fall reaches beyond our first parents. We see that most immediately in Gen. 3:17 God curses the ground because of Adam’s sin. Already we see here that the Fall is not restricted to mankind. We get a fuller reading of this later in Scripture
Romans 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of [f]corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
Here we see that the fall was cosmic so that not only did all of mankind fall in Adam but also all creation fell with the entrance of sin.
Scriptures teach that the fall was an event that resulted in all of God’s good creation being twisted and distorted from how it dropped originally from God’s hand. All of creation is involved in the drama of the fall and all of creation is involved in the drama of God’ restoration.
This is how serious the Fall is. We are living in a fallen world and sometimes that is more obvious to us than at other times. As we age we feel the fallenness of the world more. As we find dreams we once had for the future not coming to pass we feel the fallenness of the world much more. When relationships become tense and full of friction we feel our fallenness. We come to have an existential understanding that nothing in creation remains unaffected by the fall.
There is a term used in Scripture that tries to capture the impact and vast measure of the fall and that is the word “world.”
However, it is a sneak word that has been much mishandled over the centuries leading to some very suspect theology. The word “world” referring to the idea of the negative consequence of the fall we find in passages like,
Romans 12:2 where the Spirit says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.”
Now here clearly the word “world” has the meaning of fallenness. I am going to suggest that what Paul is saying here that Christians are not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world as this world lies in the grips of the fall.
We are going to see that Paul is not saying flee this world or give up on this world. He is using the word “world” in a very specific sense and that specific sense is the idea of the world in connection to its fallenness.
Another example of this usage of the word world is found in Colossians 2:8 where he talks about,
“… deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
We find the same sense when James writes,
“1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
Peter chimes in with this kind of usage of the word world
II Pt. 2:20 – If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing out Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In all of these cases, the word world is used in a negative sense. But we have to realize that all words have a range of meaning and in this case world in it usage refers to life as it is lived under the aegis of sinful rebellion outside of Christ.
One of our theologians put it that this usage of the word world, “refers to the totality of unredeemed life dominated by sin outside of Christ.”
So “world” in this usage is the resultant consequence of what the fall did to make abnormal the creation as it fell from God’s hand all well and good. In the usage of the word in this way wherever you find the inversion of God’s created order to purposes that defy God’s original structure of creation there you find “world.” It is in this sense that James can say, “Friendship with the world is enmity towards God.” Friendship with that which is the opposite intent of God in his creation is hatred towards the creator God.”
This is important to grasp because the lack of a proper understanding of this has led to some very unfortunate conclusions that have in turn led to some very unfortunate theology – so-called.
Instead of this understanding of the word “world” as meaning “the created order operating as in sinful rebellion to God,” the Church has to often snatched on to the word to refer to some distinct aspect of creation that is in and of itself “evil.” Whatever those areas might be we tend then to refer to those areas as “worldly”… or later we used the word “secular.” In doing so we created a category of sacred vs. secular where we listed some things that were sacred – things which were to be honored – and we listed some things that were worldly – things that we need to stay away from.
An example of this type of thinking is found in the film “Chariots of Fire.”
In that film Eric, the Christian Olympian has a close sister named Jennie. Jennie wants Eric for the China mission field and is not wild about her brother running in the Olympics. She believes that Eric has more important things to do. Jennie tries to convince Eric to come to China with her and forget all this running and racing. In the way we are trying to explain things this morning Jennie has turned running and racing into something “worldly,” and pleads for Eric to leave that in order to do the important “sacred” thing of going to China to do missionary work.
What we are going to continue to try and advance this morning is that is not a Biblical way to think. It is not Biblical to create “sacred” and “worldly” realms that find God automatically not present in some handling of the creational structures of His world while God is uber present in other fields like the ministry or being a missionary.
What has happened is that we have created unbiblical compartmentalization in our thinking where some fields are profane/worldly – fields like politics, or journalism while other fields are automatically “sacred” like being a minister or missionary. This fails to take into account that there can be in the ministry (and often there is indeed) worldliness while sacredness can be found among magistrates.
Scripture teaches us that whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. There is no restriction of that command to being applicable only in the sacred realm and not being applicable in some worldly realm.
It simply is the case that the fall can get into every area of life so that every area of life is “worldly.” Doubt me? Just come along with me as I briefly chronicle worldliness in the Church. Karl Barth, whom Billy Graham once said was the greatest theologian in the 20th century lived with his wife and mistress for years. This has only recently been found out. The chap who took over a huge ministry in Florida some 12 or so years ago was quickly bounced for his sexual indiscretions. A chap who had a huge homeschool Christian ministry running out of Texas had to give up the profitable business because he thought the Nanny was one of the perks. I could go on for quite some time but this is just to illustrate that the ministry or the Church is not a compartmentalized place where “worldliness” can’t come in.
And on the other side, it is clear from all kinds of examples in history that the sacred attached itself to areas we tend to label as worldly. We can think of Elector Fredrick protecting Luther as a Magistrate. Was not that a sacred work? We can think of Patrick Henry’s or Edmund Burke’s stirring speeches as Magistrates and easily conclude that those were done for the glory of God. What about Gen. Anton Denikin the leader of the White Christian Russian army that resisted the Marxists. Could not Denikin fight to the glory of God?
So, what we are seeing here is that while the fall affected everything in creation, the structures of creation can still be handled by Godly men in a Christ-honoring direction and so give glory to God or the structures of creation can be handled by the godless in a Christ-hating direction and so bring disrepute upon God.
The fall does not make certain structures of creation out of bounds in terms of experiencing Redemption when handled by God’s Redeemed people who in handling those creational structures according to God’s law are moving those structures in the direction of God’s glory.
Let’s take some examples.
Everyone knows that sexuality and sex are creational structures that God made. Everyone also knows that sex and sexuality as fallen can become an ugly thing but the fallenness of sex and sexuality does not automatically make sex and sexuality “worldly.” Sex and sexuality can be handled by Christians in the boundaries of Marriage as holiness unto the Lord. Christians can handle sex and sexuality in a Christ-honoring direction.
War might be another example. Everyone knows how ugly war can be, but war in and of itself is not automatically “worldly.” War is a structure of creation and it can be handled in a godless direction and so lead to Americans putting a 1million German non armed combatants in death camps after Germany had been defeated in WW II (See book “Other Losses”) or war can be handled in a godly direction and so lead to Americans defending their homes in just war against unjust invaders. War as a creational structure is not inherently worldly. The only question is will we handle the creational structure of war in a godly direction as before God’s face or will we handle the creational structure of war in a godless direction.
So, what we are saying here is that while the fall did have a cosmic wide impact, it is also the case that with the Redemption that comes in Jesus Christ those creational structures that fell from God’s hand in Creation can all be handled to the glory of God. We dare not compartmentalize creational structures and say that some creational structures are automatically out of bounds because they are “worldly.” We dare not create a theology that talks about the glories of the “bi-furcated life.”
I mean … many of us grew up with this mindset. You can’t play cards because “cards are worldly” but you can play “Rook” because Rook is not worldly. You can’t do square dancing because dancing is “worldly.” You can’t study politics because that is worldly but you can study theology because that is holy.
Do you see what happens when we wrongly bifurcate the world this way?
1.) First, we become un-engaged. If we keep absenting our Christian witness from all those areas we consider “worldly” … so fallen they can’t be handled by good Christians then by default we surrender those fields to those who hate Christ. If we conclude that politics is automatically worldly then what chance will politics have of being Redeemed? If politics is not animated by Christians handling the creational structure of politics in a Christ-honoring fashion how will our Magistrates not just keep going from bad to worse? Do you want to know why our social order is like a snowball headed for hell? One reason is because of this kind of bifurcated “theology.”
2.) When we bifurcate the world this way we become practicing Gnostics. This is the fault of many pietists in the past and it is the dreadful fault of Radical Two Kingdom Theology. When we bifurcate the world this way so that there is a realm of nature called “worldly,” or called “common,” and we make that distinct from a realm of grace that is called “Holy” we have essentially deprecated all that falls in the realm of nature in favor of this super holy realm of grace.
3.) We give up on the ancient Reformed maxim that “grace restores nature.” The Reformers have always taught this idea that grace has an effect on the creational structure (nature) that when the creational structures (nature) are touched by God’s grace those creational structures (nature) experience a restoration that promises ongoing restoration in a Christ-honoring direction.
Allow me a brief rabbit trail on this one. We have so much given up on the idea that grace restores nature that we are now effectively embracing the idea that grace destroys nature. There is teaching existing in the Church that elucidates the idea that once one is converted one no longer retains their creational identities. We are all one in Christ has become a slogan that means that we all lose our gender identity, or our ethnic identity, or our class identity once we become a Christian. This so-called thinking is completely alien to the Scriptures and is taking the good principle that all men regardless of their creational identities are welcome at the Cross and turning it into a Cultural Marxist meme that at the cross men lose their creational identities. To push this is to push rank heresy.
So…let us briefly summarize where we have been.
1.) The fall affects all of creation and until Redemption comes to release a structure of creation from the baleful effects of the fall it continues to be under “the prince of this world (John 12:31).
2.) However, the Redemption that Christ brought when He as the Kingdom of God brought in the Kingdom of God rescues fallen men who then in turn handle the fallen structures of creation in a God-honoring direction.
3.) There are no creational structures as falling from the hand of God in creation that cannot be handled for the glory of God and so take part in Redemption.
4.) The business of all Redeemed Christians is to bring the fragrance of the Kingdom of God to every creational structure so that it serves the King in the direction it is being used.
This means that as we seek to wrest these creational structures from the godless direction in which they are being put to service by unredeemed men that friction will be the result. Those outside of Christ like operating God’s creational structures in a God-dishonoring way. They like, for example, twisting sex and sexuality so that it results in the most grotesque expressions. They like, for example, twisting God’s design of creation so that men and peoples are gifted with differing abilities into an egalitarian and equity Utopian social order that mocks God’s intent.
The Christ haters won’t like those creational structures partaking in Redemption when in the hands of Redeemed men and women, and when that begins to happen in any quarter they will squeal like a two-year-old who has been denied for the first time his will.
We have to understand this in order to understand our times.
By way of implication, we have to understand that all this is complicated by a Church that itself acts like a creational structure that is now in the hands of the unredeemed who are operating the church in a Christ-dishonoring direction. We need to note this because as the Redeemed seeking to bring a Christ-honoring direction to creational structures we are consistently being told by those who identify as “the Church” that we are being godless… that we are being haters of Christ ourselves.
We have to steel ourselves for this. The Church, generally speaking, has given into the Cultural Marxist zeitgeist. They have reinterpreted Christianity through the philosophical prism of Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse, and Max Horkheimer among others. The result is the biggest enemy of Christianity in the West today is the heretofore Conservative Reformed and Baptists Churches. They are the ones pursuing CRT, Intersectionality, and the Great Reset. They are the ones who are sitting on their hands as “celibate sodomy” pushes its way into their clergy class. They are the ones who have crafted an alien Christ and placed him where the true Christ is to be ruling. They are the ones who are crucifying again Christ to their own harm by imputing Christ’s acceptance of the foulest of social order sins and irregularities. They are the ones despising 2000 years of church history on everything from what it means to be male and female to the natural relations that God has sanctioned among families and people groups.
And unless they repent they are the ones who will hear … “Depart from me you workers of iniquity for I never knew you.”