The Fall

J.C. Ryle on Sin as the Root of All Sorrow

old-pathsIf you were to ask 100 people at random what lay at the root of all of the world’s problems, what answers do you suppose that you might hear? (You might very well hear nearly 100 different answers.) But how many people in a hundred would point to sin as the culprit?

In his book, Old Paths, J.C. Ryle has some pointed words about the evils of sin as the ultimate source of all of the misery that mankind encounters in this fallen world:

“Sin is the cause of all the burdens which now press down mankind. Most men know it not, and weary themselves in vain to explain the state of things around them. But sin is the great root and foundation of all sorrow, whatever proud man may think. How much men ought to hate sin!” (p.338)

And so while all of mankind shares in the miseries of this life since the fall, how few there are who trace those miseries back to their true root – sin.  And apart from that, there really is no right explanation or understanding of the state of the world. But if we understand that sin is “the great root and foundation of all sorrow,” then we will begin to truly hate sin (and not just its effects), especially our own (not merely those of other people).

And how thankful we should be that God in His great mercy and grace did not leave all of mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery, but rather, “out of His mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer” (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.20). Thank God that He gave us His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be the Redeemer of God’s elect (Q.21)!

The Fall as “Complete Moral Revolt” Against God

Shaking a fist

We often have far too tame a view of the Fall of mankind into sin.  We think of it as a mistake (even if not an innocent one), a slip (as if somehow accidental), or just not quite measuring up to God’s standard of perfection.  But that doesn’t even begin to do justice to Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden.

The Fall was much worse than that.  It was (to use R.C. Sproul’s phrase) “cosmic treason” or an utter and total rebellion against God.

Adam was shaking his puny fist at the Almighty!

John Murray writes,

The fall, then, was complete moral revolt against the sovereignty, supremacy, authority and will of God. In the command given to Adam there was epitomized the sovereignty, authority, wisdom, justice, goodness, and truth of God. Disobedience to it was an assault upon the divine Majesty, repudiation of his sovereignty and authority, doubt of his goodness, dispute with his wisdom, contradiction of his veracity. (The Collected Writings of John Murray, Vol.2, p.70)

Adam’s sin in the Fall was an act of revolt, not just against the command of God, but against God Himself – against everything about Him!

And every one of our own sins (big or small) is much the same way – a rejection of His sovereignty, authority, wisdom, justice, goodness, and truth.  No wonder believers in Jesus Christ are to die unto sin and live unto righteousness!