Sin Robs Mankind of Happiness
JEHOVAH GOD provided the first human pair with a lovely home in the parklike “garden of Eden,” which name means “Pleasure, Delight.” This appears to have been located near Mount Ararat of modern Turkey, in the area where the Euphrates and Tigris (Hiddekel) Rivers still find their source.—Genesis 2:15; 8:4.
2 What a breathtaking prospect lay before Adam and his wife—that of transforming the entire earth into a paradise and filling it with thousands of millions of their descendants, all made in the “image” and “likeness” of God and doing His will on the earth! In so large a family, it would be essential to maintain peace and unity. God purposed to do this, not by having man govern himself, but by exercising His own loving sovereignty over mankind. After all, God, the Designer and Creator of man, knows what we need for real happiness ‘before ever we ask him.’—Matthew 6:8.
3 God placed in the middle of the garden “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad,” and gave man a very simple command:
“You must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Genesis 2:17)
This requirement brought no hardship, for the human pair could find delight in eating of the abundance of other foods in the garden. God was simply asking them to respect and show their subjection to his sovereignty. If they, along with the billions of their future offspring, were to obey him, mankind would be forever united around the worship of the one Supreme Sovereign.
4 However, the harmony of that paradise of pleasure was soon shattered! The rebellious spirit creature, Satan, speaking through a harmless-looking serpent, encouraged Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and so disobey God’s command. Satan lied to Eve, saying:
“You positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” (Genesis 3:4, 5)
Wrong desire got the better of Eve, and she ate, thus missing the mark of perfect obedience to God. Adam was not deceived, as Eve had been, into thinking that his disobedient eating of the fruit would not result in death; but in a spirit of willful independence he joined her in disobeying God. They chose to “do their own thing,” and took themselves out from under God’s sovereignty.
5 Becoming embarrassed now about their naked condition, they made loin coverings out of fig leaves, and tried to hide themselves from their God. When he called them for judgment, they each in turn tried to “save face” by passing the blame elsewhere. God sentenced the rebellious pair to death and drove the man and woman out of the paradise of pleasure, to fight thorns and thistles in an earth now “cursed” on man’s account. (Genesis 3:16-19) There they brought forth children in their now sinful image, and hence also subject to death. The apostle Paul summarizes it thus:
“Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Romans 5:12.
WHAT SIN IS
6. What do some persons view as “sin,” but how does the Bible define it?
6 Some persons have argued that wrongdoing is “sin” only if it results in harm to others. But that is not what the Bible teaches. In the Bible, the root meaning of the verb “to sin” is “to miss,” in the sense of falling short of a goal or standard. In the case of Adam and Eve, they ‘missed the mark’ of perfect obedience to their loving Creator. Though they had been made in the “image” and “likeness” of God, they now fell short of reflecting his personality. They no longer measured up to God’s righteous standards, and the entire human family inherited this disability from them. As Paul says: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”—Romans 3:23.
7. (a) How may we fight sinful tendencies? (Romans 12:1) (b) In Eden, what basis did God provide for faith?
7 However, it is possible for humans who respect God’s sovereignty to fight inherited sin. They can develop Godlike personalities and make use of their imperfect bodies in serving God, doing works of faith. God provided a basis for such faith when he said, in sentencing “the serpent,” that He would bring forth from his symbolic “woman”—his heavenly household of holy angels—a “seed,” or Deliverer, who would “bruise” and put out of action Satan and all who follow him.—Genesis 3:15.
8. What faith did Abel demonstrate, and how? (Hebrews 11:4)
8 Abel was the first human to show approved faith in the promise of this “seed,” the Messiah. Although he had inherited sin from his father, Adam, Abel demonstrated his faith by sacrificing to God the best portions of “some firstlings of his flock.” This pointed forward some 4,000 years to the time when the promised “seed,” or Messiah, would be sacrificed as the “Lamb of God.”—Genesis 4:4; John 1:29.
9. (a) Of what did God warn Cain? (b) What kind of sin did Cain commit?
9 On the other hand, Abel’s brother Cain made an offering to God of “some fruits of the ground.” Because God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected Cain’s offering, Cain “grew hot with great anger.” God warned him of “sin crouching at the entrance,” and that if he did not master this it would lead to his committing gross sin. Cain failed to heed the warning. He murdered his brother. (Genesis 4:3-8) This sin differed from the sin inherited from Adam. It was a wicked act, arising out of selfish hatred that Cain had nourished in his heart. The apostle John warns us against developing a disposition like that of Cain, saying:
“We should have love for one another; not like Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother. And for the sake of what did he slaughter him? Because his own works were wicked, but those of his brother were righteous.” (1 John 3:11, 12)
Abel was a sinful descendant of Adam, but God counted him “righteous” because of his works of faith. On the other hand, Cain added to his inherited sin, becoming wicked. God condemned and banished him.
10. How is the difference between inherited sin and willful sin shown in the case of Enoch? (Hebrews 11:5, 6)
10 The difference between inherited sin and willful sin is shown also in the record concerning Enoch, the second man of approved faith mentioned in the Bible. Enoch was a prophet of Jehovah. He fearlessly proclaimed God’s message against the wicked persons of his day, saying:
“Look! Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way, and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.” (Jude 14, 15)
Enoch was an imperfect man, a sinner, but he abhorred the willfully wicked, ungodly world around him. By faith “Enoch kept walking with the true God.” He pleased God well, and God quietly removed him in death from among the dangerous, wicked people of that time.—Genesis 5:24.
11 Another noteworthy example of the difference between inherited sin and wickedness is to be observed in Noah’s time. Again, Noah and his family were sinful humans, prone to make mistakes, as we are today. However, they exercised faith in God and obeyed him. So the Bible says:
“Noah was a righteous man. He proved himself faultless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with the true God.” (Genesis 6:9)
But the rest of mankind was corrupted and wicked. Much of this came about when spirit sons of God in the heavens departed from their assigned positions to come down to earth and cohabit with the good-looking daughters of men. The offspring of these unholy unions were the giant Nephilim, superhuman “mighty ones,” that filled the earth with violence.
“Consequently Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time. And the earth came to be ruined in the sight of the true God and the earth became filled with violence. So God saw the earth and, look! it was ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth.” (Genesis 6:5, 11, 12)
Jehovah determined to destroy that wicked world by a flood.
12. By what means did God bring the deluge on the earth? (2 Peter 3:5, 6)
12 This deluge was to be no mere local rainstorm or flood limited to the Euphrates Valley. In that event, God could have simply led Noah’s family and the animals to nearby hills for protection. But no! This flood was to be of global proportions. So God had Noah build an ark of preservation, according to the design that He provided. After God had closed the door on Noah and the animals in the ark, He broke up the waters “above the expanse”—the great deep that he had separated from the waters on the earth during the “second day” of creation.
“All the springs of the vast watery deep were broken open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And the downpour upon the earth went on for forty days and forty nights.”—Genesis 1:6-8; 7:11, 12.
13. What happened to Noah and his family, and to wicked men and angels? (Jude 6)
13 Imagine that cataclysm! An entire heavens of waters crashing down on the earth, overwhelming every living thing, and covering all the mountains! The tremendous pressures involved would bring about great changes on the surface of the earth, pushing up mountain ranges and forming depressions to receive the waters. Within the space of about one year these had receded into the oceans as we know them today. It was only by a miracle of God that the frail ark, with its precious cargo of eight humans and two of each kind of beast and bird (or seven in the case of clean animals), was able to survive. Wicked Nephilim and humans and all other living creatures on the surface of the earth perished. As for the rebellious “sons of God,” these were forced to return to the spirit realm, where by God’s decree they are now “reserved for judgment” and cutting-off.—2 Peter 2:4, 5, 9.
14 What took place in Noah’s day shows that Jehovah God is able to save, and he will save, ordinary sinful humans who put their faith in him and in his provision for salvation, which now centers in “the Son of man,” the promised “seed” and Messiah, Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:4) Speaking of the day in which we now live, when the Son of man comes to destroy the “present wicked system of things,” that Son himself said:
“For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Matthew 24:37-39)
Shortly, all persons who choose selfishly to ignore Jehovah’s provision “will certainly be annihilated together; the future of wicked people will indeed be cut off.”—Psalm 37:38.
15. (a) Does our inheritance of sin make it impossible for us to please God? (b) What qualities and acts of Abel, Enoch and Noah should we seek to imitate, and why? (3 John 11)
15 However, you need not think that the sinful flesh that you inherited from your forefather Adam, and the unintentional mistakes that you make day by day, put you in the same class with those wicked ones. Like Abel you can show faith that is pleasing to God, basing this now on Jesus’ sacrifice. Like Enoch, you can walk with God, speaking to others about His judgments against the present ungodly world. Like Noah, you can be a “preacher of righteousness,” telling your neighbors about Jehovah’s promise to create a human society in which “righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Peter 2:5; 3:13) Thus you can abide in the place of security in this time of world crisis.
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EVIDENCE OF THE GLOBAL DELUGE
Jesus Christ testifies: “In the days of Noah, . . . the flood arrived and destroyed them all.”—Luke 17:26, 27.
There is physical evidence that the pre-Flood earth was like a global “greenhouse” of uniform climate under the water canopy that God broke open to cause the cataclysm of the Flood:
Scientific Monthly, August 1949: “In those days the earth had a tropical or sub-tropical climate over much of its land surface . . . The land was low and there were no high mountains.”
Science et Vie, July 1966: “[Antarctica] was once a green land where streams flowed among flowers, where birds sang in the trees.”
Science News, October 4, 1975: “In almost every culture . . . emerge strikingly similar tales of a great flood that swept away emerging civilizations and changed the face of the earth. New evidence gathered from sea-floor cores . . . confirms the existence of such a universal deluge.”
The Deluge Story in Stone, by Byron C. Nelson: “The way fishes by the millions are entombed in the rocks of England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Switzerland, the American Rockies; the way elephants and rhinoceroses are buried by the millions in Alaska, Siberia, England, Italy, Greece; . . . the way reptiles are buried by the millions in western Canada, the United States, South America, Africa, Australia, to mention only a portion of such instances, absolutely require the explanation of great catastrophes for their elucidation.”
Monarchs and Tombs and Peoples—The Dawn of the Orient, by Prince Mikasa: “Was there really a Flood? As a result of excavations by archaeologists in recent years, the fact that the flood actually took place has been convincingly proved.”
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Garden of Eden
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First Eve, then Adam, sinned, ‘missing the mark’ of perfect obedience to God
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Abel, Enoch and Noah, though sinners, were approved because of faith; willful sinners were punished