You got me digging VB
, and God provided. ("it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the honor of kings to search out a matter" Pr. 25;2) This is information I really like, even if not necessarily agreeing on every jot and tittle or exact wording. I believe it's still very useful information. It's from Christian Bible Students, apparently a non-denominational group. I included part of their statement of faith for a reference point. We accept Christ as our personal Savior, and believe that he died not only for the Christian, but for all the world.
We accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God
, and study it in its entirety--both the Old and the New Testaments, seeking the harmony of complete Scriptural testimony (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
Certainly, God could have prevented Satan's temptation, but God allowed it for an enduring practical lesson for men and angels. God wanted man to experience and see the natural consequences of sin for a wise purpose. Jehovah is "not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness" (Psalm 5:4). God is permitting evil for a time, but what He has planned for man will more than compensate for all the pain and suffering this object lesson has caused.Every right principle has an opposite wrong principle
: truth and falsity, love and hatred, etc. A principle that is right ultimately produces harmony, happiness and good. A principle that is wrong produces harm, unhappiness and evil. Humans were created with an ability to choose between right and wrong—a conscience. However, man's moral sense has been affected by the fall; some more and some less.
A dog has some intelligence and can make choices based on training gained by certain rewards or punishments from his master. A dog, however, is ignorant of the moral quality of its actions. When a dog rescues or harms somebody, the action cannot be considered either virtuous or sinning; it is merely the result of instinct, not ethics. On the contrary, people do have more or less of a moral sense. When they do good, it is virtuous. When they do evil, it is sinful.
God Did Not Make Man a RobotGod could have made man a robot to always do what is right, but then he would not have been in God's "image" (Genesis 1:26, 27)
. God could have shielded man from Satan's temptation, but then man would still have been subject to ambitions from within. As a result, his future would always have been uncertain.In God's wisdom, he foreknew that what is good can best be appreciated by its contrast. When God expelled disobedient Adam and Eve from His fellowship in the Garden of Eden, they began to learn the exceedingly sinfulness of sin. They began to "know good and evil" (Genesis 3:22)—and to appreciate the difference. During all the centuries thereafter, their posterity has been learning the lesson of evil. Later, during God's Kingdom, mankind will fully experience the contrasting benefits of good.
The moral sense of Adam was an important feature of his likeness to God, but after 6,000 years of degradation, man's natural moral sense has been largely reduced. Now sin is often more agreeable to people than good.
If the opportunity to sin were not permitted, man could not have resisted it, and there would be neither virtue nor merit in his right-doing. But God wishes intelligent and willing obedience, not mechanical service. God already had many animate and inanimate creations to His glory. In creating man, His design was to make an intelligent creature in his own likeness; a master for earth, whose conduct would be based on the value of right over wrong, good over evil.
The principles of right and wrong have always existed, but only the principle of right will continue to be active forever. The activity of wrong will continue only long enough to accomplish God's purpose. Then evil will forever cease (1 Corinthians 15:25, 26).Learning by Experience
Could the knowledge of sin have come in some other way? Could the dreadful evils the human race has experienced been avoided? Not in so effective and lasting a way.
There are four ways of knowing something:
InformationOnly God has intuitive knowledge. He knows "the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:10). Therefore, man's knowledge of good and evil could not be intuitive.
Adam had a knowledge of evil by information, but that proved insufficient to keep him from trying the experiment. Man might have learned by observation, but in order to observe the results of sin, there had to be a demonstration of it somewhere in the universe. Why shouldn't man be the illustration? The Scriptures tell us that man's experience with sin and evil is, in fact, being observed by the angels (1 Corinthians 4:9). However, the deepest learning is gained by practical experience, and that is primarily how mankind is learning—by personal experience with evil.
Adam did experience good in the garden, but his knowledge of evil was only from information: "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). He had no experience of sin with which to predict the pain and suffering that would come. Consequently, he yielded to temptation when it arose.Adam's offense may seem small compared to the penalty, but at stake was the fundamental principle of obedience. Obedience is essential to the everlasting blessing of God's creation. God above knows what is best for His creation's welfare and everlasting happiness.
Adam was induced into sin through his wife, whose communication with God was more limited than Adam's. Eve transgressed what she knew was right. But she was deceived by the serpent as to the consequences (2 Corinthians 11:3). Adam, however, was not deceived (1 Timothy 2:14). Adam willfully shared in Eve's disobedience, evidently choosing not to live without her. Thus both Adam and Eve were "in the transgression," and both were cursed. Eve shared in the sentence which she helped bring upon Adam. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).
Created with.. Choice
God created man with.. choice, even though He foresaw that man's moral nature would stray. God is permitting man's present experience with evil to teach him the exceeding sinfulness of sin. The result will develop in mankind more love and appreciation for the Creator and demonstrate the brilliance of virtue in contrast.
The Just Penalty for Sin
God has the power to force man to worship Him, but this is not His desire. God seeks the worship of man from a free heart, willingly, "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24), and this is in the best interests of His creatures. During the Millennium, the world will worship God of their own choice, appreciating God for His goodness.In the meantime, God allows man to learn by practical experience. He allows man to taste sin and its consequences. He has also planned for man's recovery by providing a Savior at great cost. In due time, the "ransom for all" will be appreciated by the world as a remarkable gift from God (1 Timothy 2:3- 6).
Thus man's.. will was foreknown and overruled for their good.
Some might agree that imposing the penalty upon Adam was just, but think it unjust that all of his descendants suffer the results. The question is would we have done better if tried individually? Would not at least the majority have been tempted to disobey eventually?By allowing Adam to pass his condemned life on to us all, God allows experience with death and dying to educate us all. Then, because we were all condemned in one man, we could all be redeemed by one Man—Jesus.
Death is a reasonable consequence for sin. Those who, after having a full experience and knowledge of sin and its suffering, do not choose to follow the wise counsels of God would be a source of unhappiness to themselves and others. There is no reason to continue their existence for the ages of eternity. The present dying process that mankind experiences is a somber lesson to impress the gravity of disobedience.
Meanwhile, life even as we have it now is a favor and is so esteemed by the vast majority. From cradle to grave, life has blessings sufficient so that nearly everyone wants to keep living. It is a small foretaste of the everlasting, wonderful and glorious life God plans for all who will accept His reasonable terms for life.
Penalty of Death—Not TortureSadly, many have misrepresented God's character and plan by saying that God plans to punish unbelievers with eternal torture. This is very wrong! God's penalty for sin is clearly stated: "You shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17 NAS).
"The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). "The soul [person, being] that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4). Only a few texts in the symbolic book of Revelation, or in the parables, suggest a torment of fire. In each of these cases it can be demonstrated that fire represents destruction. The penalty for sin is death—not life in torture.*
* The "lake of fire" in Revelation is a symbol of destruction, "second death" (Revelation 20:14). The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) is acknowledged by thoughtful commentaries to be a parable. The Rich Man represents Judah and Benjamin and his "five brethren" represent the other 10 tribes, who "have Moses and the prophets." The fiery tribulation represents the fiery trials Israel experienced after rejecting their Messiah (compare Deuteronomy 32:22-26). Lazarus, received into the bosom of Abraham, represents the outcasts of Israel and the Gentiles who embraced the spiritual features of the Abrahamic Covenant by accepting Jesus, the "seed of Abraham."
Condemnation to death passed upon the whole human race by one man's disobedience. One man sinned with an unborn race in him. Thus he and all his posterity were condemned. That condemnation could only be removed by the death of one perfect man who would take the condemnation we deserve upon himself. That one unblemished man, a perfect race unborn within him, was "the man Christ Jesus" who died a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5) to satisfy the demands of justice against Adam and his race.
The Great Plan of Restoration
Because of God's permission of evil, His great Plan of redemption will be gloriously successful! All the misery, pain and tragedy caused by evil will be more than offset by the wonderful blessings of the Kingdom.Mankind will benefit eternally from the experience with evil. This experience will also be a monumental demonstration to the angelic hosts of God's glorious character. All will see God's Justice in condemning disobedience. All will see God's immeasurable Love in sending His own Son to satisfy justice in order to redeem us. All will see God's Power in the perfect uniting in Christ of all His intelligent creation "both which are in heaven, and which are on earth" (Ephesians 1:10). All will see God's far-seeing Wisdom in using even unwilling agents to accomplish the glorious destiny planned for His creation.God's law of the universe for all intelligent beings is summed up in one word: LOVE. Because "God is love" (1 John 4:8), He has chosen the very best Plan for us all.Ultimately, when God's purpose in the temporary permission of evil is complete, everyone will appreciate what He has done. Until then, with the eye of faith we look forward to the time when all mankind will be restored, as planned since the world began (Acts 3:19-21).