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THE FALL OF MAN AND THE NEW BIRTH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, November 28, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).


Last Sunday night we studied this subject, and I want us to come back to it tonight. We begin with the words of Christ,

"Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).

Jesus was not speaking to one man when he said this. That is made clear in verse three,

"Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

"A man" refers to any man, in general, generically. It is clear from this verse, as well as the entire passage, that Jesus was speaking to all men when He said, "Ye must be born again." This shows that human beings have a need that can only be met by the new birth. What caused man to need the new birth? What is the condition of man without the new birth? What is the cure for this condition? I will do my best to answer these three questions in a simple way tonight.

I. First, what caused man to need the new birth?

Please turn to Genesis 1:27. Let us stand and read this verse aloud.

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them"
    (Genesis 1:27).

You may be seated. The first thing to notice is that man was "created." Mankind did not evolve from lower forms of life. No, he was created by a special act of God. The second thing to notice is that man was created in "the image of God." This indicates that man was created in a natural and spiritual likeness to God.

By the natural likeness we mean that man has an intellect, so he can think, as God can think. He has emotions, so he can feel, as God can feel. He has a will, so he can decide, as God can decide. But even animals have these capabilities. My little dog Pixie can think. She can feel. She can decide. If you know her, I am sure you will agree with me. One person said, "She's smarter than some people I've met!" But man has something animals do not have. Man was created in the moral and spiritual image of God (cf. The Ryrie Study Bible, note on Genesis 1:26). No animal has that spiritual "image." That is the thing that makes human beings absolutely unique. Only man is capable of knowing God and communicating with Him.

Please turn to Genesis 2:7. Here we read,

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7).

The phrase "breath of life" is the English translation of the Hebrew word "neshamah." And it is this "neshamah" that is absolutely unique to the human race. No animal has a "neshamah." Only man has this quality, which makes him able to know God and communicate with Him. As we read in Job 32:8,

"There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding" (Job 32:8).

The "breath of life" or "neshamah" is what gives human beings the capability of knowing and understanding spiritual things.

But man's spiritual nature is now dead because of the Fall. Please turn to Genesis 2:17. This is what God told Adam. Let us stand and read this verse aloud.

"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17).

You may be seated. This cannot refer to physical death alone. Adam lived many long years physically after he ate from the tree. But God said, "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). Indeed, Adam died spiritually the very day that he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. His sin not only defaced the image of God within him, but also killed "the breath of life," the "neshamah." This is the cause of man needing the new birth.

II. Second, what is the condition of man without the new birth?

As I said, the image of God was defaced in Adam. Dr. Ryrie said,

Man was created in a natural and moral likeness to God. When he sinned, he lost the moral likeness…but the natural likeness of intellect, emotions, and will he still retains (The Ryrie Study Bible, note on Genesis 1:26).

Man can still think, feel, and act - but he can no longer have fellowship with God.

Not only was the image of God defaced, but the "breath of life" or "neshamah" was killed. I use the word "killed" very carefully here. I am using it in the sense that the Bible uses it in Genesis 2:17,

"For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"
    (Genesis 2:17).

Adam died spiritually that day. The "neshamah" within him died.

Why is that important to you? Why should you be concerned about something that happened to Adam at the beginning of history? I'll tell you why.

"By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin"
    (Romans 5:12).

"In Adam all die" (I Corinthians 15:22).

What does the Bible mean when it says, "In Adam all die"? It means that all mankind descending from Adam sinned in him and fell with him in that first transgression. And all died spiritually in Adam.

"By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin"
    (Romans 5:12).

Ever since the day that Adam sinned all people have been sinners by nature. We are all born with sinful natures, which we inherited from our first parent. All human beings are born dead in sin.

"In Adam all die" (I Corinthians 15:22).

The image of God is defaced and ruined in every child of Adam, in all mankind. The "neshamah" is dead within the heart of all humanity.

This is made very clear in Ephesians 4:18. Please turn to that verse in your Bible and stand as we read it aloud.

"Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart" (Ephesians 4:18).

The function of the spiritual understanding is dead. Alienated from the life of God, man's heart is blind. This is what the Bible means when it says you are

"dead in sins" (Ephesians 2:5).

This is what the Bible means when it says,

"In Adam all die" (I Corinthians 15:22).

You may be seated.

As long as you do not feel this there is little we can do to help you. I thoroughly agree with the great evangelist George Whitefield when he repeatedly preached that no one is truly converted until he feels his own depravity, until he feels within himself his own deadness toward God.

When Adam sinned, he made an apron of fig leaves to cover himself (Genesis 3:7).

"And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord" (Genesis 3:8).

Isn't that what all men do? They sew fig leaves together and make themselves aprons, and hide from the presence of God. What fig leaf do you cover yourself with? How do you hide from "the presence of the Lord"?

It does no good to learn Bible verses and listen to sermons as long as you keep hiding from God's presence.

"In Adam all die" (I Corinthians 15:22).

"Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart" (Ephesians 4:18).

"Dead in sins" (Ephesians 2:5).

That is why Jesus said,

"Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).

III. Third, what is the cure for this condition?

The cure for your condition cannot come through human activity. All that a human being can do is sew fig leaves together and hide. That is why modern "decisionism" has gone wrong. It makes the new birth something which a man does for himself - not dependent on God. Thus "decisionism" replicates the error of medieval Catholicism and, in fact, rejects the great truths recovered in the Reformation. Finney and his disciples taught that the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity was "theological fiction." He taught that you are not dead in sin, that you can "make yourself a new heart." But it was Finney and his disciples who taught theological fiction! No man dead in sin can resurrect himself! Going to church, learning Bible verses, going "forward," saying "sinner's prayers," being baptized, mouthing "the plan of salvation" - all of these are fig leaves, used by Adam's children to hide from the presence of the Lord! "Dedicating" and "rededicating" - "renewing your commitment" - all Catholic rubbish, all "decisionist" self-salvation, all fig leaves, used to hide from the voice of God! Asking Jesus to save you? What's this but salvation through prayer? Yet more decisionist fig leaves! Salvation through prayer is medieval Catholic and modern Finney decisionism, plain and fee simple!

"We hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).

How do you hide your face from Him? What method do you use to turn to your "own way"?

No method you use, and nothing that you can learn or do, can help you recover the defaced image of God or restore life to your dead heart!

"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again"
    (John 3:7).

What instruction can I give you? How can I help you? I can only do what God told the prophet Ezekiel to do,

"Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord" (Ezekiel 37:4).

"Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).

You must realize that you are dead in Adam. You must be brought low by the thought of your own helplessness to save yourself. You must be cut to the quick by the thought of your own guilt and sin. You must give up all hope of regenerating yourself.

When a person begins to feel his own depravity it can be said that he is awakening. It can be said that the "voice of the Lord" is calling that man, as He called Adam (cf. Genesis 3:8-9).

Is God calling you? Do you feel pangs of conscience and inward guilt? If there is such trouble in your soul, it is from God. Out of the darkness of a godless life, He calls you to Jesus Christ.

I will close this sermon by quoting the second half of a verse I have given several times this evening:

"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:22).

"For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many" (Romans 5:15).

"Therefore as by the offence 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…That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Christ Jesus our Lord"
    (Romans 5:18-19, 21).

Jesus Christ looses the chains of death! Jesus Christ restores the defaced image! Jesus Christ resurrects the dead heart!

"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:22).

"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again"
    (John 3:7).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Romans 5:12-21.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Ye Must Be Born Again" (by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE FALL OF MAN AND THE NEW BIRTH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).

(John 3:3)

I.   What caused man to need the new birth? Genesis 1:27;
Genesis 2:7; Job 32:8; Genesis 2:17.

II.  What is the condition of man without the new birth?
Romans 5:12; I Corinthians 15:22a; Ephesians 4:18;
Ephesians 2:5; Genesis 3:8.

III. What is the cure for this condition? Isaiah 53:3, 6;
Ezekiel 37:4; I Corinthians 15:22b;
Romans 5:15, 18-19, 21.