Ellen G. White Writings

<< Back Forward >>

«Back «Hit «Prev. Pub.   Next Pub.» Hit» Forward»

Ms 140, 1903

Ms 140, 1903

The Fall of Our First Parents

Healdsburg, California

September 27, 1903

Portions of this manuscript are published in 5BC 1129-1130; LHU 235; 6MR 102.

Sin originated with the angel who, next to Christ, had been most honored of God and was highest in power and glory among the inhabitants of heaven. Lucifer, “son of the morning,” was first of the covering cherubs, holy and undefiled. [Isaiah 14:12.] He stood in the presence of the great Creator, and the ceaseless beams of glory enshrouding the eternal God rested upon him. “Thus saith the Lord God: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering. ... Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so. Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” [Ezekiel 28:12-15.]

Little by little, Lucifer came to indulge the desire of self-exaltation. The Scripture says: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thine beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.” [Verse 17.] “Thou hast said in thine heart, ... I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; ... I will be like the Most High.” [Isaiah 14:13, 14.] Though all his glory was from God, this mighty angel came to regard it as pertaining to himself. Not content with his position, though honored above the heavenly host, he ventured to covet homage due alone to the Creator. Instead of seeking to make God supreme in the affections and allegiance of all created beings, it was his endeavor to secure their service and loyalty to himself. And coveting the glory with which the infinite Father had invested His Son, this prince of angels aspired to power that was the prerogative of Christ alone.

Cast out of heaven, Satan’s enmity against God found a new field in plotting the ruin of the human race. In the happiness and peace of the holy pair in Eden, he beheld a vision of the bliss that to him was forever lost. Moved by envy, he determined to incite them to disobedience and bring upon them the guilt and penalty of sin. He would change their love to distrust and their songs of praise to reproaches against their Maker. Thus he would not only plunge these innocent beings into the same misery which he himself was enduring, but would cast dishonor upon God and cause grief in heaven.

Our first parents were not left without a warning of the danger that threatened them. Heavenly messengers opened to them the history of Satan’s fall and his plots for their destruction, unfolding more fully the nature of the divine government, which the prince of evil was trying to overthrow.

Like the angels, the dwellers in Eden had been placed on probation; their happy estate could be retained only on condition of fidelity to the Creator’s law. They could obey and live or disobey and perish.

The tree of knowledge was made the test of their obedience and their love to God. The Lord had seen fit to lay upon them but one prohibition as to the use of all that was in the garden; but if they should disregard His will in this particular, they would incur the guilt of transgression. Satan was not to follow them with continual temptations; he could have access to them only at the forbidden tree. Should they attempt to investigate its nature, they would be exposed to Satan’s wiles. They were admonished to give careful heed to the warning which God had sent them and to be content with the instruction which He had seen fit to impart.

In order to accomplish his work unperceived, Satan chose to employ as his medium the serpent—a disguise well adapted for his purpose of deception. The serpent was then one of the wisest and most beautiful creatures on the earth. It had wings and, while flying through the air, presented an appearance of dazzling brightness, having the color and brilliancy of burnished gold. Resting in the rich-laden branches of the forbidden tree, and regaling itself with the delicious fruit, it was an object to arrest the attention and delight the eye of the beholder. Thus in the garden of peace lurked the destroyer.

The angels had cautioned Eve to beware of separating herself from her husband while occupied in their daily labor in the garden; with him she would be in less danger from temptation than if she were alone. But absorbed in her pleasing task, she unconsciously wandered from his side. On perceiving that she was alone, she felt an apprehension of danger, but dismissed her fears, deciding that she had sufficient wisdom and strength to discern evil and to withstand it. Unmindful of the angel’s caution, she soon found herself gazing with mingled curiosity and admiration upon the forbidden tree. The fruit was very beautiful, and she questioned with herself why God had withheld it from them.

Now was the tempter’s opportunity. As if he were able to discern the workings of her mind, he addressed her, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” [Genesis 3:1.] Eve was surprised and startled as she thus seemed to hear the echo of her thoughts. But the serpent continued, in a musical voice, with subtle praise of her surpassing loveliness; and his words were not displeasing. Instead of fleeing from the spot, she lingered wonderingly to hear the serpent speak. Had she been addressed by a being like the angels, her fears would have been excited; but she had no thought that the fascinating serpent could become the medium of the fallen foe.

To the tempter’s ensnaring question she replied, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” [Verses 2-5.]

By partaking of this tree, he declared, they would attain to a more exalted sphere of existence and enter a broader field of knowledge. He himself had eaten of the forbidden fruit and as a result had acquired the power of speech. And he insinuated that the Lord jealously desired to withhold it from them, lest they should be exalted to equality with Himself. It was because of its wonderful properties, imparting wisdom and power, that He had prohibited them from tasting or even touching it. The tempter intimated that the divine warning was not to be actually fulfilled; it was designed merely to intimidate them. How could it be possible for them to die? Had they not eaten of the tree of life? God had been seeking to prevent them from reaching a nobler development and finding greater happiness.

Satan represented to the holy pair that they would be gainers by breaking the law of God. Though he himself had found sin to result in infinite loss, he concealed his own misery, in order to draw others into the same position. So now the transgressor seeks to disguise his true character; he may claim to be holy; but his exalted profession only makes him the more dangerous as a deceiver. He is on the side of Satan, trampling upon the law of God and leading others to do the same, to their eternal ruin.

Eve really believed the words of Satan, but her belief did not save her from the penalty of sin. She disbelieved the words of God, and that was what led her to her fall. In the judgment men will not be condemned because they conscientiously believed a lie, but because they did not believe the truth, because they neglected the opportunity of learning what is truth. Notwithstanding the sophistry of Satan to the contrary, it is always disastrous to disobey God. We must set our hearts to know what is truth. All the lessons which God has caused to be placed on record in His Word are for our warning and instruction. They are given to save us from deception. Their neglect will result in ruin to ourselves. Whatever contradicts God’s Word we may be sure proceeds from Satan.

The serpent plucked the fruit of the forbidden tree and placed it in the hands of the half-reluctant Eve. Then he reminded her of her own words, that God had forbidden them to touch it, lest they die. She would receive no more harm from eating the fruit, he declared, than from touching it. Perceiving no evil results from what she had done, Eve grew bolder. “When she saw that the tree was good for food, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.” [Verse 6.] It was grateful to the taste, and as she ate, she seemed to feel a vivifying power and imagined herself entering upon a higher state of existence. Without fear, she plucked and ate. And, having transgressed herself, she became the agent of Satan in working the ruin of her husband.

It was by accepting the suggestions of Satan that man fell into sin. The great deceiver misrepresented the character of God. He so worked on the minds of Adam and Eve that he led them to commit sin. They were deceived by his misrepresentations and deceptions. Ever since that time, it has been Satan’s work to deceive and mislead the minds of the human family.

What sadness and suffering have come to our world as a result of Eve’s accepting the suggestions of the great deceiver. The guilty race was forbidden access to the tree of life; angels guarded that life-giving tree with a flaming sword, that sin might not be immortalized. They became subject to disease and death.

A Divine Sin-Bearer

To redeem man from the results of the fall, Christ, the Son of God, volunteered to bear the penalty of transgression. Nearly two thousand years ago a voice of mysterious import was heard in heaven, from the throne of the Highest, “Lo, I come.” “Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldst not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me. ... Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God.” [Hebrews 10:5, 7.] In these words is announced the purpose that had been hidden from eternal ages. Christ was about to visit our world and to become incarnate.

Who is this that thus announced His purpose of becoming incarnate and visiting a guilty world?

We ask Isaiah who He is, and he answers, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” [Isaiah 9:6.]

We ask John, the beloved disciple, and what does he reply?—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. ... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, ... full of grace and truth.” [John 1:1, 3, 14.]

We ask Christ Himself, Who art Thou? and the answer comes, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” “I and My Father are one.” “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” [John 8:58; 10:30; 5:21, 22.]

We ask Paul, the chief of the apostles, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength?” and the apostle breaks forth into words of adoring transport: “Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” [Isaiah 63:1; 1 Timothy 3:16.]

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Philippians 2:5-11.]

“In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins; who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature; for by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible, and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by Him, and for Him; and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” [Colossians 1:14-17.]

The revelator, writing of what he saw in vision on the Isle of Patmos, says:

“I heard a voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a great voice, Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every created thing which is in the heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, and all things that are in them, heard I saying, Unto Him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the dominion, forever and ever. And the four living creatures said, Amen. And the elders fell down and worshiped.” [Revelation 5:11-14.]

Christ left His position in the heavenly courts and came to this earth to live the life of human beings. This sacrifice He made in order to show that Satan’s charge against God is false—that it is possible for man to obey the laws of God’s kingdom. Equal with the Father, honored and adored by the angels, in our behalf Christ humbled Himself and came to this earth to live a life of lowliness and poverty—to be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Yet the stamp of divinity was upon His humanity. He came as a divine Teacher, to uplift human beings, to increase their physical, mental, and spiritual efficiency.

There is no one who can explain the mystery of the incarnation of Christ. Yet we know that He came to this earth and lived as a man among men. The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one. The Deity did not sink under the agonizing torture of Calvary, yet it is none the less true that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16.]

In every possible way Satan sought to prevent Jesus from developing a perfect childhood, a faultless manhood, a holy ministry, and an unblemished sacrifice. But he was defeated. He could not lead Jesus into sin. He could not discourage Him or drive Him from the work He had come to this earth to do. From the desert to Calvary the storm of Satan’s wrath beat upon Him, but the more mercilessly it fell, the more firmly did the Son of God cling to the hand of His Father and press on in the blood-stained path.

Christ was crucified, and in His death the powers of hell seemed to prevail. But even when on the cross the Saviour cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” He was conqueror over the power of darkness. [Matthew 27:46.] When the words, “It is finished” [John 19:30], came from His pale, trembling lips, darkness like the darkness of midnight hid His dying agony from the eyes of the spectators. Through long hours of agony He had been gazed upon by the jesting multitude. Now He was mercifully hidden by the mantle of God.

At His death, there was a violent earthquake. The people were shaken together in heaps. The wildest confusion and consternation ensued. In the surrounding mountains, rocks were rent asunder and went crashing down into the plains. Sepulchers were broken open, and the dead were cast out of their tombs. Creation seemed to be shivering to atoms. It was as if nature itself were protesting against the murder of the Son of God.

Christ’s death on the cross paid the ransom for every human being. All may overcome, because Christ has made an atonement for the sins of the whole world. To all He offers the power of redeeming grace. But He forces no one to accept this grace. Man is left to make his own choice. Those who will not receive Christ as their Saviour, and in His power turn from evil, are left to themselves. Christ has died for them in vain. By their sinful lives they crucify the Son of God afresh and put Him to open shame. Unless they change, they can never wear the crown of life.

Those who receive Christ, through faith in Him gaining the victory over sin, will meet with the glad recognition from God before the heavenly universe in the last great day.

Christ’s Work

That which distinguished Christ as the great Medical Missionary, that which gave Him His highest authority, was His power to forgive sins. The Jewish leaders thought that He was assuming a power that did not belong to Him. They did not understand that He had purchased every soul, that human beings were His heritage. Therefore the exercise of His high right shocked the Jewish dignitaries.

Had they known Christ as He is revealed in the prophecies, they would have been prepared for His advent and would have received Him as the Messiah. But their understanding was darkened by false conceptions, imaginary ideas, fanciful representations. They were looking for the Messiah to come as a king, to take His place on the throne of David to rule over all the nations. He came as a humble, unknown man, and keenly disappointed, they refused to accept Him.

Which were at fault, their preconceived opinions, or the facts as they occurred?

I am instructed to say that when men turn aside from a “Thus saith the Lord,” because they do not study His Word critically and diligently, they will receive false, fanciful statements and will circulate them by pen and voice. And, because these men occupy positions of responsibility, their fanciful representations will be accepted as truth.

Christ exercised His prerogative to forgive sins as in harmony with His divine nature. What did He say to the poor paralytic? “Be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee.” [Matthew 9:2.]

The Pharisees caught at these words as blasphemy and conceived that they could present this as sin worthy of death. They said in their hearts, “He blasphemeth; who can forgive sins but one, even God?” [Mark 2:7.]

Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is it easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins,” He said, turning to the paralytic, “Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” [Matthew 9:4-6.]

Before giving physical healing, Christ removed the load of sin resting on the paralytic’s heart. He knew what his experience had been. He knew how the priests and rulers had condemned him, charging his suffering upon him as the punishment of justice. The cry of the sick man’s heart had been, “My sins! my sins! What shall I do?” It was not physical restoration that he desired so much as relief from the burden of sin. If he could see Jesus, and receive the assurance of forgiveness and peace with Heaven, he would be content to live or die, according to God’s will. His cry was, “O that I might come into His presence!”

In healing the paralytic, Christ gave indisputable evidence of His Messiahship, and there were those who went from the scene of the miracle to search as never before the prophecies concerning the Messiah.

Satan understood Christ’s power. He knew that in his work of afflicting and destroying the race, he had One to contend with who was greater than he. He knew that there was a limit to his own power, that he was standing in opposition to One who could say to him, “Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther.”

While Christ stood forth as the Son of man, in His own personality, He was at the same time one with the Deity. He stood within the light surrounding the throne of God, and His words were spoken with power and authority. “The Father is in Me, and I in Him,” He declared. [John 10:38.] “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” [Matthew 11:27.] “Whatsoever the Father doeth, that also doeth the Son likewise.” [John 5:19.] “I and My Father are one.” [John 10:30.] “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” [John 14:9.] Christ and God are one, and yet they are distinct personalities. Christ spoke with conscious authority, as one possessing in Himself power that would enable Him to perform His work.

Christ was called a sinner, and the truth of His words was disputed. “He is a sinner,” said the Jews. [John 9:24.] “He eateth with publicans and sinners,” and they sneered at Him for doing this. To the charge Jesus made answer, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” [Matthew 9:11, 13.] To the homes of the publicans He went when invited, sitting at their tables as an honored guest, in word and act setting all present a godly example. Upon their thirsty hearts His words fell with blessed, life-giving power. The questions that He asked shed light into their minds. Wherever He went, He sowed the seeds of truth, confirming the convicted and drawing souls to the light of His wisdom.

Christ adapted His teaching to the necessities of His hearers. To Him the heart of every man was as an open book, and His words brought light to many a one who was troubled and perplexed in regard to the salvation of their souls.

On one occasion Jesus entered a synagogue on the Sabbath and saw there a man who had a withered hand. The Pharisees watched Him, eager to see what He would do. The Saviour well knew that in healing on the Sabbath He would be regarded as a transgressor, but He did not hesitate to break down the wall of traditional requirements that barricaded the Sabbath. Jesus bade the afflicted man stand forth, and then asked, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath day, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?” It was a maxim among the Jews that a failure to do good, when one had opportunity, was to do evil; to neglect to save life was to kill. Thus Jesus met the rabbis on their own ground. “But they held their peace. And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, He saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out; and his hand was restored whole as the other.” [Mark 3:4, 5.]

How wide the contrast between the spirit of the scribes and Pharisees and the spirit of Christ. No external observance can compensate for the lack of kindness and compassion.

When the Pharisees saw what He had done, they “went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him.” [Matthew 12:14.] What was Christ doing while they were thus engaged? He was healing the multitudes that followed Him—doing genuine medical missionary work.

In Christ the world was to see what man may and can be by becoming a partaker of the divine nature. The enemy was ever on Christ’s track, ready to discover the first departure from heaven’s law. Could he have discovered the least inconsistency in the Saviour’s life, how he would have exulted. But Christ knew what was at stake. He knew that the salvation of every human being depended on His loyalty to right. Satan could find no inconsistency between Christ’s teaching and His daily life. The law of God was magnified and honored in its living representative.

To those who were trying to find spot or stain in His life, Christ could say, “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” [John 8:46.] And there was not one who dared accept the challenge. Never did a word of prevarication or untruth pass His lips. Truth was His authority and gave force to His requirements, His commandments, His reproofs. Truth never languished on His lips, never suffered in His hands. He Himself was truth. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” He declared. [John 14:6.] “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” With the freshness of a new revelation, truth fell from His lips. He was the word and wisdom of God. “Every one that is of the truth heareth My words,” He said. [John 18:37.]

The words that Christ uttered were not mere sentiment or opinion. They were pure, unadulterated truth. Suppositions and fables never passed His lips. False theories He met as dangerous evils. “No lie is of the truth,” He declared. [1 John 2:21.] He bore a message that unfolded truth of the highest order. “What is the chaff to the wheat,” He said when He heard the words of prevarication and deception. [Jeremiah 23:28.] Science was not the theme upon which Christ dwelt. But gospel truth—the truth which had been framed from eternity—entered into His every purpose. His life was one of pure, holy, disinterested benevolence—a life unmarred by the slightest taint of selfishness.

Who, I ask, is today learning of Christ? His Word declares that the gospel that He proclaimed was to be preached to all nations for a witness, and that then the end was to come. Who are learning of Christ His meekness and lowliness? Who are Christians, in the true sense of the word? Compare your lives with the pattern. How could you, with the example that many of you are setting, be admitted into the heavenly courts? Who of those who profess to be medical missionaries heed the voice of the great Teacher?

Christ’s work is to be more decidedly done by His people. A larger work for Him is to be done in our sanitariums. It is nothing in the favor of any sanitarium that multitudes come to it, unless in coming they become acquainted with the truth for this time and hear the last message of mercy to be given to a fallen world.

The Lord has given me a message to bear to His people. I bear it in presenting something of the life of One who died that He might make it possible for human beings to be as He was in this world.

Christ has such infinite fulness that He can supply the needs of all who serve Him in sincerity. He will impart to them every qualification that they require. He gives to all the invitation, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.]

The submission which Christ asks is that which results from the surrender of the will to the requirements of the gospel. The heart is to fear and tremble at the word of the Lord. How is this preparation for service to be obtained? By earnest prayer; by putting away all selfishness, all human devising, all prevarication.

We need to understand what a tyrant unsanctified self is and what cruel things it will urge human beings to do. Through it Satan controls mind and judgment until men become depraved, deformed in character.

When we break away from the tyranny of self and place ourselves under the guidance of Christ, the Holy Spirit takes the things of God and shows them to us, leading us into all truth. On one side Satan frames his deceptive science, to lead minds astray, to take the time that ought to be given to the things of God. On the other hand, Christ holds out the remedy for sin, presenting the clear statements of truth to the sinsick soul with living power, that he may separate himself from the deceptive, lying suppositions of the father of lies, and put into the heart a power that will prepare it to be molded by the Holy Spirit.

Satan has a variety of scientific lies framed, to be used on special occasions. He waits his opportunity to take souls captive. Christ takes the torch of truth from the divine altar and brings it to those in darkness, that they may see their helplessness and the contrast between their lives and the purity and glory of the truth of God. Let us break away from the enemy. This will take a tremendous struggle. But Christ is our Advocate in the heavenly courts. If we will accept the help that He offers, we shall be enabled to overcome self.

Shall we not receive the remedy that Christ holds out to us, the remedy that will cleanse the soul from sin? It is a shame to commit sin. The promise is, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:9.] Let us now confess our sins and put them away, that we may be vessels unto honor, and that at last we may meet the Sin-bearer with joy and not with grief.

«Back «Hit «Prev. Pub.   Next Pub.» Hit» Forward»