The human condition, the “old man” or “old nature,” original sin, the fall of man…some of these concepts are deep theological issues. But, the underlying idea is one that most of us grasp fairly easily.
There is a line in a song by Switchfoot, Meant to Live, that captures the point:
We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
We were meant to live for so much more…
Most of humanity sees that humans are indeed meant to be “more.” Sure, every now and then we glimpse something either in ourselves, or in another human that “clicks,” where a human seems more…truly human…an act of selflessness, an act of physical near-perfection, someone in a state of peace, etc… but, even during these rare moments we don’t get to see within others, and are mostly even blind to our own inner workings.
I often ask my students a question just to get them thinking, or talking, that lets me get to know them a bit better (or lets them get to know themselves…). One light-hearted question I ask is, “If you could choose one super power what would it be?” Every now and then I get someone who says, “I’d want to be able to read other people’s minds.”
But, would one really want to be able to do that? We see people’s actions clear enough, but we often don’t actually glimpse someone’s true mind, heart, or soul; it’s even hard for us to “see” our true selves most of time. The human mind is not often a pleasant place to peer into…
Every aspect of a human was and is affected by the fall; Adam and Eve’s slip from perfection, their sin paved the way for all kinds of troubles. We are affected physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc…
First, our minds and wills were affected, Paul says it best, Romans 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do
I don’t care what your religious persuasion, all humans go through this in their lives. There are certain things that we know are the right things to do, yet we cannot make ourselves do them, for whatever reason. Same thing on the other side of the coin; there are things we know that we should not do, and yet we persist.
Second, our hearts. You take the most “innocent” acting amongst us, and they are just as capable of devising something “wrong” as anyone else, even if they don’t carry it out. This is no surprise as none of us are righteous on our own. Not one of us. Our hearts comprise more than just our actions. Genesis 8:21…for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.
There are some really “good” kids out there; well behaved, sweet, loving, etc… but if we adults are completely honest, we know that there is no perfect child, esp. when it comes to morality. Lying is one thing that fascinates me, for example. You work with a child to teach them language, and how to communicate, you work hard teaching them how to hold a spoon, etc… buy lying is amazing, you, as a parent, don’t even have to teach lying, it just happens. There are those that even come right out and say that lying is a part of normal human development, and that is just one example.
Third, the physical aspect of humans was affected as well. The evidence of this has impacted each and every one of us at some point. We become sick, some humans are born with physical abnormalities, our DNA can get messed up, we grow old, we die.
CS Lewis once talked about evidence that we are more than our mortal bodies. And I have, unfortunately, come to understand what he was referring to through many first hand examples. When we look at a dead body, even children notice this, it isn’t as though we are looking at the person. It does indeed look like an empty shell that the person inhabited. “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body,” is one way that Lewis phrased it. We are indeed immortal beings, and are often made uneasy by death, or, even dead human bodies. But, as I was saying, even those of us that aren’t make uneasy can clearly observe the difference between a living body and a dead one; the soul has flown the coop.
Finally, our spiritual state was affected as well; how could it not be? We had, in Adam and Eve, direct access to God; He walked with them, talked with them, formed them Himself. There was no sin to mar the relationship. We also know that every aspect of man affects the other aspects; they are all interconnected; the physical affects the mental, affects the emotions…the spiritual affects the emotions, affects the physical, etc…
I’ve met people that deny the fall…yet, they can clearly see and agree that we humans are not as we should be. They appear to be in a state of denial about a “theological” issue, but are perfectly fine with it when rephrased in a more secular manner…yet more evidence for the fall of man? Despite these things, and the clear evidence that we humans are presently flawed, there is indeed hope…hope in Christ that we humans can truly become more, as we were meant to be. I’ll be touching upon ideas that go along with this in the near future.