Faith-Rest Drill: Doctrine of the Divine Decrees: Human Free Will & the Divine Decrees, 14 (1-9); “All is vanity,” Reviewed
PRINCIPLE: We are free of any judgment for our sins but we remain responsible for them. This can be seen from the original mandate to Adam and Ishah in:
Genesis 2:16 - The Lord God commanded the man saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;
v 17 - but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”
Genesis 2:17 is a direct command from Jesus Christ to our original parents in three paragraphs:
Paragraph 1: Mandate prohibiting a stated thought, decision, and action, “From the tree of the knowledge of God and evil you shall not eat.”
Paragraph 2: Recognition of the free will of man and the potential for human sin in rejection of the mandate, “… for in the day that you eat from it …”
Paragraph 3: Sin, if volition causes it to occur, will be subject to a punishment clause, “… you shall surely die.”
The woman in restates paragraph one, although in a flawed fashion:
Genesis 3:3 - “… from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’”
NOTE: In both Genesis 2:17 and 3:3 there is the doubling of the verb “to die” in the Hebrew manuscripts. This indicates that two deaths are in view in the punishment clause of paragraph 3: (1) spiritual death in which the sinful nature is formed, spiritual rapport with God is broken, total depravity occurs, and the need for a Savior begins, and (2) physical death which is the end result of spiritual death.
Paragraph two’s potential becomes a reality in:
Genesis 3:6 - When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
Paragraph three in then applied to both the man and the woman in:
Genesis 3:16 - To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply you pain in childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
v 17 - Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat from it all the days of your life.
v 18 - “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you and you shall eat the plants of the field;
v 19 - By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground because from it you were taken for you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
These verses reveal the ramifications of spiritual death and its ultimate end which is physical death.
On the cross, our sins, which we committed in paragraph two, were imputed to Christ as a result of his voluntary acceptance of them under unconditional love for the human race.
On the cross, our sins, subject to judgment under paragraph three, were instead judged in Christ as our voluntary substitutionary sacrifice motivated by His personal love for the Father.
However, Jesus Christ was not responsible for the decisions committed in paragraph two by us. We are responsible for doing so.
Christ was judged in our place taking on all the punishments associated with paragraph three.
Consequently, all our sins were judged in Christ but we are still held responsible for committing them.
How do we take responsibility for our sins? Faith alone in Christ alone takes care of our pre-salvation sins and we are thus forgiven at the moment of salvation. Confession alone to God alone takes care of post-salvation sins and we are thus forgiven at rebound.
14) The perfection of the plan becomes evident at the cross:
All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
The righteousness of God condemns all human sins and demands of justice that they are judged.
The grace of God provided the solution to human sin at the cross through the substitutionary spiritual death of Christ to Whom was imputed all the sins of human history.
Justice then judged our sins, making it possible for us to be saved through faith alone in Christ alone.
In summary, righteous condemned our sins in Christ; justice judged them in Him so that the love of God could provide us salvation through grace.
God accomplishes his purpose by saving the elect while believers gain the benefits apart from human merit or ability.
At no point does God limit or coerce human freedom. He graciously provides guidance as to how we are to use our free will.
The fact that man can choose contrary to the divine will proves the coexistence of the sovereignty of God and the free will of man in human history.
This completes our look at the Doctrine of the Divine Decrees. We began the study on Sunday, 9 May, second session, lesson JSH-137. We were involved in studying an analysis of Solomon’s spiritual condition, motivations, and mental attitudes that are revealed in the book of Ecclesiastes.
In that analysis we were taking a look at three things observed by:
von Rad, Gerhard. Wisdom in Israel, p. 227-30:
A thorough, rational examination of life is unable to find any satisfactory meaning; everything is ‘vanity.’
God determines every event.
NOTE: In the ROM chip only. God determines noting the PROM chip. There he seeks only to influence.
Man is unable to discern these decrees in the world.
It is clear that these insights are all interconnected:
Life is vanity. A glance at the social structure of humanity affords a cheerless outlook. Injustice rules in the place of justice.
Ecclesiastes 3:16 - I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness.
Good order and honesty are of no avail. The wicked man often comes off much better and in the end death makes everyone the same.
Ecclesiastes 7:15 - I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness.
Ecclesiastes 9:2 - It is the same for all. There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked; for the good, for the clean, for the unclean; for the man who offers a sacrifice and for the one who does not sacrifice. As the good man is, so is the sinner …
v 3 - This is the evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one fate for all men.
Whenever Solomon speaks of fate, death is always envisaged at the same time. Such is the case, for example in:
Ecclesiastes 3:19 - For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity.
NOTE: The Hebrew word which is translated “fate” is miqreh /mik-REH /. It is often used in cases where, as a general principle, men renounce human or self-control over events. A second application is where divine providence is the cause, that is, nothing happens by chance or “fate.” God controls all.
Solomon’s dilemma is that he looks on human accomplishments and sees that all is vanity. This leaves him confused since he also believes that everything is under the overriding control of divine providence.
Thus he concludes in the darkness of his soul that man is not responsible for his actions since God controls everything. All is fate or chance in the sense that all is God’s will.
Solomon thought God to be capricious, which means impulsive, unpredictable, and irrational. Synonyms for “capricious” include: (1) Inconstant: an inherent tendency to change; (2) fickle: unreliability because of perverse changability and incapacity for steadfastness; and (3) unstable: incapacity for remaining on a steady course.