Summary: The conscience was a faculty, which God had built into man from the beginning, but as long as men were in perfect fellowship with Him they had no awareness of it.
A ten-year-old boy came home from Sunday School and his mother asked
him what he had learned. "Well," he began, "Our teacher told us about when
God sent Moses behind the enemy lines to rescue the Israelites from the
Egyptians. When they came to the Red Sea, Moses called for the engineers to
build a pontoon bridge. After they all crossed over they looked back and saw
the Egyptian tanks coming. Quick as a flash Moses radioed headquarters to
send bombers to blow up the bridge." The mother interrupted, "Now wait a
minute, did you teacher really tell the story that way?" "Not exactly mom,"
said the boy, "But if I told it her way you would never believe it."
Many find it hard to believe in the miracles of the Bible, and in its account
of the beginning of man and his fall. Many are like this little boy, and they try
to make it more acceptable by modernizing it to fit what modern man thinks
should have happened. Sometimes the motive for this is a demonic desire to
destroy the trustworthiness of the Bible, but in other cases the motive is
understandable and good. Men are eager to have the Bible meet with the
approval of the best minds of the day, and so they go to great lengths to show
that the stories of the Bible teach profound truth about man, his nature and
destiny. The danger lies in their zeal to make everything in the Bible
acceptable to the modern mind. This leads them to reject a literal
interpretation because it does not seem to fit with the knowledge of modern
man. If they were only more patient to leave some things in the realm of
mystery for the time being, they would see that history eventually takes care of
the problem and makes the literal interpretation acceptable.
For example, it has been thought by many that no piece of fruit can be
eaten and change the way people see themselves, and Adam and Eve did and
saw themselves naked. Today we know that chemicals could be added to a
piece of fruit that would alter the mind of those who eat it. Time has shown
that the literal interpretation is very modern according to what we know is
possible today. The point is that we can take this event as literal history.
When they ate the fruit their were opened and they knew they were naked.
There was no change in objective reality, but there was a subjective change
within them. It was the dawn of conscience, and man for the first time felt fear
The conscience was a faculty, which God had built into man from the
beginning, but as long as men were in perfect fellowship with Him they had no
awareness of it. As soon as they cut themselves off from the perfect guidance
of God then they had need of internal guide. God in His wisdom had made
provision for the fall. God had to allow the possibility of the fall if He was
going to have man as a free being, but He did not have to allow evil to gain a
total victory if man did fall. He so made man that if he did sin the very act of
sinning would produce effects, which would be beneficial. This He did by
making man with a conscience, which would be activated by the eating of the
It would have been infinitely better had they never known shame, but once
having sinned it would have been infinitely worse not to have known shame.
The fact that they felt ashamed proves that they were not totally depraved by
their act of sin. Total depravity would have left them in a state of indifference
to their sin and their nakedness. Man became totally depraved in the sense of
being depraved in every faculty by a process. Adam and Eve began the fall of
man, but it is not sound thinking to consider them the lowest of people. Man
fell a great deal further after them. Their sin only punctured a pinhole in the
dam holding back the waters of evil. Others went on to chop holes in it, and
blast out whole sections of the dam and flood the world with wickedness.
It is not scriptural to think of Adam and Eve as going from perfection to
the bottom in a moment. They were not totally depraved scum of the earth
specimens of humanity. The world is filled with people today far more
depraved then they ever were. Adam and Eve had a sensitive conscience, and
the very fact that they felt shame was proof that their fall was not complete.
God had seen to it that their conscience would work immediately upon