God’s intention in His creation of man was that man would express Him in His image and represent Him with His dominion or authority. This means that God intends that man enjoy Him as life and reign in this life. According to Genesis 1, man is to reign over the earth and especially over the creeping things, over the serpent in particular. Genesis 1:28 says that God commissioned man to subdue the earth, to conquer it. To conquer something involves defeating an enemy and seizing his possessions. By defeating the enemy and taking his possessions, we reign over him. Therefore, in the beginning, God intended man to be a king in His life over Satan, the creeping one.
Satan once was God’s unique enemy. At a certain point, this enemy injected himself as sin into man in an illegal and evil way. When Satan injected his evil nature into man, Satan became sin. Sin is something originated by Satan. It is actually Satan himself injected into man and incarnated in man.
It is helpful to see the difference between sin and evil, both of which are mentioned in Romans 7. In 7:20 Paul says, “But if what I do not will, this I do, it is no longer I that do it but sin that dwells in me.” In our flesh something called sin is dwelling. In verse 21 Paul says, “I find then the law that, at my willing to do the good, the evil is present with me.” In verse 20 Paul speaks of sin, but in verse 21, of evil.
To understand the difference between sin and evil, we need to see that before the creation of man God had a unique enemy, Satan, the Devil. Then God created man. At the time of creation, man was pure, clean, and innocent. Then Satan injected himself into man and became sin in man. As we have pointed out, sin is Satan incarnated in man.
Romans 5:21 speaks of sin, grace, death, and life: “That as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” According to this verse, sin reigns in death and grace reigns unto eternal life. Here we see a vivid contrast between the reigning of sin and the reigning of grace. There is also a contrast here between death and life. Just as sin is Satan incarnated, so grace is God incarnated. This is proved by John 1:14, which says that the Word, which is God, became flesh, full of grace and reality. Hence, grace is God incarnated in us. Grace is God coming into man. If God remains outside of man, there is no grace. Although other divine attributes exist apart from God’s coming into man, there is no grace apart from God’s being incarnated in man. When God and man come together in the way of mingling, there is grace. Although it is difficult to find a verse in the Bible which speaks of grace apart from the relationship between God and man, there are many verses in the Bible that show that grace is a matter of God’s relationship with man.
In the same principle, when Satan is separate from man, there is no sin. But once Satan comes into us, there is sin in us. Therefore, sin is Satan related to man subjectively. How precious is this understanding of grace and sin!
If we have this understanding, we shall be able to see the difference between sin and evil. When sin lies dormant within us, it is merely sin. But whenever we make up our mind to do good by keeping the law in order to please God, sin is aroused and becomes evil. Evil is sin acting within us. Whenever the indwelling sin becomes active, sin becomes the evil that is present with us. Sin is the indwelling one, but evil is the present, active one. Sin is Satan dwelling in us, but evil is Satan acting in us. Therefore, both sin and evil are Satan himself. Dwelling in us, Satan is sin, and acting in us, Satan is evil. Satan, sin, and evil denote one thing in three stages.
Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin; and so death passed to all men because all have sinned.” This verse reveals that sin has brought in death. According to Hebrews 2:14, the one who has the power of death is the Devil. These two verses indicate that sin and death are related to Satan. Satan, sin, and death are God’s three enemies. First Corinthians 15:26 speaks of death being the last enemy. In Genesis 1 God had a unique enemy, Satan. But after man’s fall, sin and death became His enemies also.
When I was a young Christian, I considered death something in the future; I did not regard it as something present today. But as 1 John 3:14 makes clear, we can be in death today: “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” This verse does not say that he who does not love his brother will die; it says that he who does not love his brother abides in death even now. If we are not in life, then we are surely in death. Romans 8:6 also proves that we can be in death today: “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.”
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