Why We Grow Old and Die
1. (a) What is the desire of normal persons respecting health and life? (b) Because sickness and death are everywhere, what questions are raised about God’s purpose for man?
EVERY normal person desires life with good health. We seek relief from the pain and suffering that disease brings and we long for some way to escape from the weakening effect old age has on our bodies. It hurts us, too, when we see those we love afflicted by these things. Because of this, many persons ask, “Was all this part of God’s original purpose? When God created man, was it his purpose that man should grow old, and become deaf or blind? Did he mean for man’s skin to wrinkle with age, his heart to become diseased and his other organs to break down? Really, did God make man to die?”
2. (a) Did God create man with any defect? (b) What prospect, then, did God give Adam and Eve?
2 No, Jehovah God did not create man for such a miserable future. The Bible tells us that Jehovah provided a lovely garden home for the first human pair, and he blessed them. Reviewing his creative work, God rightly declared it “very good.” (Genesis 1:28, 31) This means that Adam and Eve were created perfect, without a defect in mind or body. (Deuteronomy 32:4; Proverbs 10:22) They had the prospect of living forever.
3. What do scientists say about the life potential of humans?
3 Interestingly, modern scientists know that the human body continually renews itself. And they say that, under the right conditions, it is capable of living forever. A Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Linus Pauling, explained that man’s bodily tissues replace themselves and, theoretically, should continue to do so forever. Biochemist William Beck also observed: “I can see no reason why death, in the nature of things, need be inevitable.” Yet, in spite of being so made, men continue to grow old and die. Why? God’s Word the Bible gives us the satisfying answer.
RESULTS OF DISOBEDIENCE
4. What test did God place upon Adam and Eve, emphasizing the seriousness of obedience?
4 When Jehovah created Adam and Eve, they became the earthly part of God’s great family, which already included a great number of spirit creatures in the heavens. God was the Father of the human pair, since he had given them life. The gift of life, however, was conditional; that is, it would continue to be theirs only as long as they met the condition of loving obedience to their heavenly Father. Obedience to law is necessary to continued peace and good order, so they had to recognize God as their Supreme Ruler. Did they know this? Yes, because Jehovah placed upon them a test that emphasized the seriousness of obedience. He said to Adam: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.”—Genesis 2:16, 17.
5. (a) Would the test of Adam and Eve’s obedience put a hardship on them? (b) Why was the ‘forbidden fruit’ not sex relations?
5 This test of obedience was not a difficult one. They were not deprived of needed food, nor were they tested beyond their ability. However, their obedience would show that they appreciated their relationship with God. (1 John 5:3) Although some persons have the idea that the ‘forbidden fruit’ had to do with sex relations between the man and woman, this was not the case. God himself had already told them to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) When God commanded them not to eat the fruit of a certain tree it merely meant that God singled out one of the many fruit trees of Eden and commanded the human pair not to eat of its fruit.
6. (a) Why was the tree called “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad”? (b) When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, what bad thing were they doing in regard to their heavenly Father?
6 Why was the tree called “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad”? Because, as a result of God’s command, its fruit symbolized God’s right to decide for his creatures what is “good” and what is “bad” for them. So, for the human pair to take of this fruit would mean that they were turning their backs on their heavenly Father and rejecting his divine guidance and perfect will. While simple, the test involved much. It involved man’s dependence on his Creator and man’s recognition of divine authority. Remember, too, that Jesus Christ applied to imperfect humans the rule that “the person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much.” (Luke 16:10) How much more did this apply to perfect creatures!
7. (a) What did an invisible creature, speaking through a serpent, tell Eve about the tree’s fruit? (b) What did Eve then do, and when her husband found out, what did he do?
7 Why did Eve break God’s law and eat of the fruit? The idea did not begin with her but was presented to her by a spirit creature using a lowly serpent through which to speak. That spirit creature, identified in the Bible as Satan the Devil, is therefore called “the original serpent.” (Revelation 12:9) The invisible creature speaking through the serpent openly denied the truth of God’s command that Eve quoted. He represented the tree’s fruit as being able to cause her to be like God, deciding for herself what was “good” and what was “bad.” Eve then began to view the fruit as very desirable and she disobeyed God by eating of it. Adam, her husband and head, upon finding out what she had done, did not oppose her course but joined her in it.—Genesis 3:2-6; James 1:14, 15; 1 Corinthians 11:3.
8. (a) By their lawless act, of what were Adam and Eve guilty? (b) Why should we not judge the seriousness of what Adam and Eve did by the way people view disobedience and stealing today?
8 By this lawless act they became guilty of sin, and so they brought upon themselves the penalty of sin. (1 John 3:4) In considering the rightness of God’s decision we should not make the mistake of judging the seriousness of what Adam and Eve did by the way many people view things in our time. Today disobedience to parents is common, often going unpunished. Stealing also is common, and many think that, if what is stolen is small, the theft does not matter much. Rebellion and speaking against authority are likewise frequent today. But that does not make these things right! Much of the rotten fruitage we see today in the form of growing delinquency and crime is due to failure of parents and others in authority to correct matters at the start.—Proverbs 13:24; Ecclesiastes 8:11.
9. (a) Considering what Adam and Eve really did, why did God owe it to himself and his universal family to uphold the law? (b) What penalty did the lawless couple suffer for their sin?
9 God was not going to encourage wrongdoing by a failure to enforce his own law. By their disobedience Adam and Eve showed a great lack of love for the One who had provided so wonderfully for them. They were guilty of stealing, because they took what their Creator said was not theirs. Still worse, they joined with God’s enemy and, by their actions, called God a liar. Jehovah owed it to himself and to all his universal family to uphold the law. This he did. As a result of their deliberate sin the lawless couple were driven out of Eden to die.—Genesis 3:22-24.
10. How can the effect of sin be illustrated with a piece of machinery, and to what did sin lead Adam and Eve?
10 The effect of sin upon them might be illustrated by what happens to a piece of fine machinery when it is not used properly, according to the maker’s instructions. The machine will develop weaknesses and, in time, break down. Similarly, as a result of ignoring the instructions of their Maker, Adam and Eve lost their perfection. Their minds and bodies began to break down, and finally ceased to function, in death. That is what disobedience and removal from God’s favor meant for them. (Genesis 3:16-19) After Adam had used up the tremendous vitality of his once-perfect body, he died at the age of 930 years. This was within the symbolic “day” of one thousand years that God had set.—Genesis 5:5; 2 Peter 3:8.
EFFECT UPON OFFSPRING
11. How does the Bible explain why we today get sick and die?
11 But, since we today did not disobey that law in Eden, why is it that we also get sick and die? It is for this reason: All of Adam’s offspring were born after his disobedience. Thus his offspring inherited sin and death from him. All men inherit imperfection, because all come from Adam and Eve. As the Bible book of Job tells us: “Who can produce someone clean out of someone unclean? There is not one.” (Job 14:4) Also, at Romans 5:12 the Bible explains: “Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men.” Just as a perfect piece of machinery cannot be produced from an imperfect mold, so Adam in his imperfection could not produce perfect children, free from sin.—Psalm 51:5 [50:7, Dy].
12. How can the effect of Adam and Eve’s sin be compared to what happens when persons who live immorally bring forth children?
12 The effect of Adam and Eve’s sin upon their offspring can be compared with what often happens when people who ignore God’s law and live immorally bring forth children. Such people may get diseased in the sex organs that God gave them to bring forth their children. The children of such “unclean” parents may be born physically or mentally damaged because of the sin of their parents. So, too, our first parents became “unclean,” imperfect, subject to sickness, and finally death. They could pass on to their offspring only what they themselves had: imperfection, with a future of sickness and death. That is why we all grow old and die, and why we so easily do what is wrong.
13. Is there a difference between deliberate sin and unintentional sin? How so?
13 However, it is one thing to make unintentional mistakes because of inherited sin, but entirely another matter deliberately to practice what one knows to be wrong. (1 John 5:16) If one is truly repentant over mistakes he makes because of inherited weaknesses, he can expect merciful forgiveness from God. (Proverbs 28:13) But he must be careful that, once he knows what is right, he does not deliberately choose to follow a course contrary to God’s will. To do so would mean loss of God’s favor and of life itself.—Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Hebrews 10:26, 27.
14. What provision has God made to save mankind from sin and death?
14 Happily, Jehovah has made loving provision to save repentant ones from the bad effects of inherited sin and death. This grand relief will come through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Concerning this provision the Bible says: “God sent forth his only-begotten Son into the world that we might gain life through him.” (1 John 4:9) So, in God’s due time, under the Kingdom rule of his Son, inherited human imperfection will gradually be taken away, and mankind will no longer feel the effects of Adam’s sin. Why, even the death we inherited from Adam will no longer have power over us! (Revelation 21:3, 4) You can be one who will enjoy such blessings. How? By taking advantage of the provisions that Jehovah has made and proving your love for him by keeping his commandments.—Ecclesiastes 12:13.
[Picture on page 30]
Adam deliberately violated God’s plainly stated law