Thursday, January 27, 2022

The Fall of Mankind (Genesis 3-4; Moses 4-5)

The Fall of Mankind

 

READ Moses 3:16-17

What does "freely eat" imply?

To eat without consequence.

What is the consequence of eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge?

In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.

So, one can choose to eat it but not without being free of consequences.

 

READ Moses 4:6-26 and Genesis 3:1-20

In the Moses account Adam receives this commandment alone; what does he tell Eve the commandment is?

They cannot eat or touch the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

He adds the word “touch” to the commandment that the Lord had given him; but the Lord said nothing about touching the fruit, only eating it.

How does Satan use this well-intended but untrue precaution added by Adam to "protect Eve"?

Satan was standing before her holding the fruit and he was not dead – implied is that touching the fruit would not cause death, as Adam had told her that God had told him; it brought everything that Adam had told her into question. 

As an aside, the fact that Satan did not have a physical body in the way that Adam and Eve did (which was glorified at this point, as they had not yet fallen) but still held the fruit and gave it to Eve makes one think about what it means that Satan “doesn’t have a body”; if he had risen to hold authority in the presence of God, he had to have proven himself in a “first place” and if that place was a probationary mortal existence, and the Redeemer who sacrificed His life during that eternity did so on the same principles that Christ did, then Lucifer would clearly have been resurrected; if that is the case, then “doesn’t have a body” could mean “doesn’t have a mortal body in this physical realm and was prevented from coming to this earth for another probationary experience but is damned or his progression is stopped”.

Either that or the resurrected body that he was given was then stripped from him upon his rebellion; if a soul can lay down a resurrected body to be born into a mortality again, then God may be able to strip a rebellious soul of what He (God) gave them through His grace; but this then brings into doubt how a spirit being was able to hold a physical fruit in the Garden of Eden (granted I do not know the physics of what can and can’t be done in this physical world by those in the unseen spirit realm).

What is the lesson we should learn from this event?

Don't change what the Lord has given us (3 Nephi 11:40).

Satan can use even well-intended wresting to his advantage - the Lord is more wise than us and we are building on a sandy foundation when we take these things into our own hands.

It also reminds me of Elder Packer's statement: “The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986).

One of the great lessons of the Moses account is that adding to the commandments of God, no matter how well intentioned, is going to lead to error if not tragedy. We do as He asks – which shows our faith in Him. Without adding to, nor subtracting from what He has bid us to do, we should follow what we are asked to do by Him. We cannot improve on His commandments. We cannot build a fence around His commandments by adding other precautions, gestures, supplements, or restrictions. When we do that, we produce excess, rigidity, unintended consequences, and error.

What changed with the Fall?

Death for Man and animals (physical death) Moses 4:25; 6:48).

Separated from Gods presence (spiritual death) Moses 4:29; 6:49).

Children (Moses 4:22-29; 5:10-11).

Sin and temptation (Moses 6:49).

Acquisition of knowledge of good and evil (innocence lost) Moses 4:28; 6:55-56).

Progression possible – free to choose (Moses 6:56).

Pain and suffering (Moses 6:48).

Work by sweat of brow (Moses 4:23-25).

What are the consequences of the Fall of Man?

Physical consequences: death (separation of spirit from mortal body) and mortal imperfection (sickness, pain, emotional suffering).

Spiritual consequences: cut off from the presence of God (spiritual death) and a fundamental change in nature (become fallen creatures).

What are the worlds misconceptions about the Fall?

Some believe we are inherently “depraved” – we are born sinful (in original sin) and because of that carnality or depravity we do not even have the power to choose good over evil (Calvin and Luther).

While others believe we are inherently “good” – that the spirit of mankind is good or light; it has an inherent inclination to choose righteousness and those who don’t are either mentally ill or pre-determined by their abusive surroundings/upbringing. 

What truths about the Fall were restored through Joseph Smith?

We are neither inherently depraved nor righteous.  We have a propensity for and susceptibility to sin but we can also choose to keep the commandments.  We can choose to follow the light of Christ or we can reject it.  While we are eternal beings of light, we do not have a fullness of light (we are not precisely like Christ is and nothing else), implying that we all have light to gain and darkness to reject.

Mankind falls first and then the whole of creation falls with them.

God cant create people as mortal and fallen; He must allow them to choose – there must be opposition and enticements.

Adam fell that men might be – “the fall was downward but forward” (Elder Orson F. Whitney).

No original sin/guilt, no depravity of man, no need for infant baptism – mankind is punished for their own sins, not for Adams transgression (Moses 6:54). Adam has been forgiven for his transgression in the Garden of Eden

Fallen nature: not depravity but lost; an alienation from the things of righteousness, separation from the things of God: spiritual death (Moses 6:55); natures are evil continually (see Ether 3:2) meaning that they do not naturally want the things that God wants for them.

Conception becomes the vehicle by which a fallen nature (mortality) is transmitted to the posterity of Adam and Eve.  There is no sin associated with what I inherit from Adam but there are real effects. (see Moses 6:53-55)

What are the effects of the Fall on Mankind?

All mankind is in a lost state (see 1 Nephi 10:4-6).

All mankind is fallen or “natural” (see Mosiah 3:19).

What does it mean that they are lost?

They dont know who they are, what they are, or what they may become.

They are lost from the family of God – the Atonement reconciles, makes us “at one” with the family of God again, like the lost prodigal who is “found.”  You have a name – you have taken upon you the name of Christ. (see 2 Nephi 2:20-21)

What is the Natural Man? (Mosiah 3:19)

Natural men are unable or unwilling to perceive spiritual realities (1 Cor 2:14, Alma 26:21).

Natural men are fiercely independent (Helaman 13:38).  They seek happiness by following their own way, not Gods ways (but wickedness never was happiness).  They live without God.

Natural men are proud, overly competitive, reactionary and externally driven.  Pride or enmity toward God and man is their defining attribute.

Natural men yield themselves to the harsh and crude.

There is a range of “natural men”: from the ungodly and evil to the well-meaning, moral, but spiritually stillborn who persists in following their own will (Alma 42:6-7).

“Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement; he is a rebel who must lay down his arms.”  (CS Lewis).

“Conception, which clothes us in the flesh, is the mechanism of transmission, the means by which Adam and Eves fallen nature, both physical and spiritual death, is transferred from generation to generation.  The propensity for, and susceptibility to, sin, is implanted in our nature at conception, just as death is.  Another way of saying that is this: the seeds of sin and death are present at conception.  Now a child is neither sinful nor dead when it is born, but the seeds are there.  In the case of little children, the results of this fallen nature (sinful actions and dispositions) are held in abeyance by virtue of the atonement until they reach the age of accountability.  When children reach the time of accountability, however, they become subject to spiritual death, and must therefore repent, and come unto Christ by covenant through the ordinances of the gospel.”  (Robert Millet)

Why is understanding the Fall of Adam so important?

We won’t make the required sacrifice needed to come unto Christ and be saved (which requires the sacrifice of our whole soul) unless we understand our dire need for redemption.

“Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ.  No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the fall, and its effect upon all mankind”  (Ezra Taft Benson).

Christ, in the Atonement, redeemed everything that went wrong when Adam fell.  You dont go from being a natural man to being a spiritual man on your own – you must surrender your soul and be changed by Christ through covenant by receiving His Spirit.  The atonement is to raise us above the fallen nature and redeem us from it, and make us into creatures that would feel comfortable being with God; eventually to be saved we must be precisely like Him.

What would have happened to Adam and Eve if they had waited to partake of the fruit until they were commanded?

It was crucial to the plan of God that Adam and Eve needed to partake of the fruit so that they could transition from the deathless state of the Garden. It was never intended for mankind to "remain in the same state in which they were after they were created...forever." This world was designed to be a place where mankind would come, experience mortality, and die. This is something done on other worlds, as well.

However, it did not need to be done in transgression, for it is more often done by mankind on other worlds in obedience to a commandment to partake. During the Millennium there will be millions who will live in such a world (a terrestrial but physical world).

But Adam was tempted, as was Eve, and together they partook in transgression of a commandment to not partake.  The resulting fall distinguishes this world.  We are in the worst place of all the Father's creations. (Moses 7: 36.) Here alone, in the worst place, among the worst people of that place, the Son of God came to die. This is the only people who would kill Him. (2 Ne. 10: 3.) The sacrifice of the Son was ordained before the foundation of the world. That is one of His names, "the Lamb Slain from the Foundation of the World" (Revelation 13: 8.). 

God was not surprised by Adam's transgression. He always anticipated it. The conditions necessary for Christ's sacrifice could only come about in that way. But foreknowledge does not remove other possibilities. There is ALWAYS choice, and the choice is real. It could be taken. If it could not be taken, then by definition there is no choice.

Had the transgression not happened, there would have been a commandment, as in other worlds, to partake – probably after the seventh period of creation, the “day of rest” or Sabbath day was observed. Mortality would have happened, as it does on other worlds (D&C 76: 24) but it would not have been telestial.    

Adam and Eve could not have children while they were in the Garden of Eden.  They lacked the capacity to bear children in the “innocent” state in which they then existed.  See 2 Ne. 2: 23.  They had been given the gift of childbearing as an endowment from God.  The endowment of the capacity did not mean they had the means or understanding at the time to act upon it.  They were like little children who are born male and female with the capacity to one day become parents, but who are immature and innocent, and therefore unable to bear children.

The great offense was in Satan's control of the timing.  Had they remained in the Garden throughout the Sabbath day of rest then they would have received the commandment to partake of the fruit in the Lord's timing. At this point they would have moved from their innocent state into a condition not unlike the Millennial day.  The "fall" would have transitioned to a Terrestrial state, rather than a Telestial state.  

Why did Eve transgress the commandment and partake of the fruit?

First of all, it wasn’t because Eve was less righteous than Adam or more prone to temptation.

Second, it wasn’t because Eve was smarter than Adam (she understood God’s plan better and wanted to kick it into gear by instigating the Fall that Adam seemed reluctant to do) or that Adam was fearful or lazy (it wasn’t that he just wanted to hang out in the garden forever, scared of what was to come). 

Eve's knowledge of the commandment came from Adam, not from God. God's commandment to Adam was: "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The restriction placed on Adam was to "NOT EAT" of the fruit of that tree.  Adam's explanation to Eve was different. Eve explained her understanding to the serpent when the serpent tempted her: "God hath said--Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." (Moses 4: 9.) Eve's understanding of the commandment varied from what had been given to Adam by the addition of the words: "NEITHER SHALL YE TOUCH OF IT."  Adam added to the Lord's commandment. This additional precaution was the error which set the transgression in motion. For when Eve saw the “serpent” (her “brother”) touching the fruit and not dying, it lent credibility to his assertion that "ye shall not surely die" (Moses 4: 10). Being innocent, and therefore vulnerable to deception, Eve could not know she was confronting a lie or a withholding of key facts which led to a willful deception. Instead, she saw with her own eyes that the commandment "not to touch" clearly did not result in death, so she acted in accordance with what she saw as the truth.

 

READ Moses 4:27 and Genesis 3:21

Who made the coats of skins for Adam and Eve?

The Lord.

Why did He make these garments for them and what is the symbolism?

To cover their nakedness.

To “cover” their sinfulness or to “dress” them in glorious robes of light of the Lord’s making (symbolic of the real robes of light they’d laid aside in heaven when they condescended to come to this earth).

Christ sacrificed or killed the animals, which had previously been Adam’s friends and companions in the Garden, to make these coats of skins to them; legend has it that the animals chosen for this sacrifice submitted to this death because of their love for Adam and Eve – that they had been beloved companions – favorite animals.

Just as Christ would lay down His own life for Adam and Eve and all of us in willing sacrifice to cover our sins and imperfection before the all-seeing eye of God who cannot abide sin in the least bit, so that we can be able to return to His presence, these animals submitted to death to make coats of skins to cover the nakedness of those they had loved.

 

READ Moses 4:28-31 and Genesis 3:22-24

Why did God drive Adam and Eve out of the Garden and place cherubim with a flaming sword to guard the Tree of Life?

To stop them from partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Life and living forever in their sins.

To give them a probationary time in the telestial or fallen world to repent.

If they had partaken of the Tree of Life immediately, they would not have died and God would have been proved to be a liar, as He said that they would surely die if they partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge out of season or without being commanded to do so; then God would have ceased to be a god and Satan would have won – this was a key part of Satan’s plan, to get Adam and Eve to partake of both fruits in short succession, but that is why God immediately came down to confront them and to cast Satan out of the Garden of Eden and place a guard around the Tree of Life, to prevent this from happening. 

What does it mean to become “as one of (them”), the Gods?

We had to know good from evil, which can only come from experience.

The experience is being enticed by opposition – good and evil.

The experience also includes experiencing the consequences of choosing good and evil – both the short and long term consequences because evil can sometimes lead to an enjoyable short term outcome, as good can sometimes result in suffering during this life.

That is why we had to leave the presence of God – so that we could truly choose and experience the full spectrum.

The gods must understand both the full extent of the light as well as the full depth of the dark – they must know all things to be able to save those who are dependent upon them.

In an odd paradox, the light seems to require the sacrifice of all things and eternal suffering, while the darkness seems to promise an easier road but still ends in the loss of all things held dear and leads to eternal suffering, but without the redemptive affects of the path of light.

The difference is that while the former (good) is submitted to by the individual for someone else and is driven by the love one has for another, the latter (evil) is the result of, or is the consequence of, an attempt to maximize one’s own utility or reward at the expense of all others.  The work and glory of the Gods of Light is the immortality and eternal life of others, while the Gods of Darkness seek glory through the opposite – there is really only one road, but with two ultimate destinations. 

 

 

The Redemption of Adam

 

READ Moses 5:1-11

What does it mean that Adam had “domination” over all the beasts of the field?

It means that Adam had been given the Holy Order after the Son of God and had power over the whole of creation (see Genesis 14:27-33 JST).

By holding the power, Adam was a Son of God (albeit not THE Son of God for this creation, with power in himself to rise from the dead) and Eve was a Daughter of God, as this power is conferred by God on those in the image of God – a couple.

Why do Adam and Eve still hear the voice of God if they are cast out of His presence?

While they are cast out and spiritually dead, God still loves them and the whole purpose of their “death” is to see if they will now choose “life” or to heed the voice of God, repent in faith, and find their way back into His presence.

Those who are spiritually dead can still hear the actual voice of God speaking to them – even Cain heard God’s voice AFTER the murder of Abel.

Is there value in performing commandments without understanding why?

Yes, in that performing the commandments aligns one’s behavior with eternal law, even if one does not understand that is what is happening.

Yes, in that obeying commandments rewards the individual with additional light as a natural consequence.

Adam’s failure to lift himself out of his fallen condition cannot be due to his lack of obedience (he was obedient) but rather to his lack of understanding.

Adam is symbolic of fallen or carnal man – the “noble” side of the spectrum who submit in blind obedience but fails to push through and have the conversation with God about why he is asked to do what he is doing; and he must stop and ask because God’s thoughts and ways are simply outside of his way of thinking – fallen man focuses on the image and the outward performance but misses the substance that is behind the symbol.

Blind or unquestioning obedience never exalts anyone, it makes one a slave-like puppet or servant, rather than an all-wise son.

 One must care enough to want to engage with God – to know Him for oneself – to ask why you are being asked to do something – so that you can know the mind of God and be enlightened (see 2 Nephi 32:4-7).

So, while there is value in performing commandments without understanding, one will not be saved by so doing – they must care enough about what they are doing to seek after God for understanding so they can be changed spiritually and find the Lord in the flesh (see 2 Nephi 32:3-7).

Why does the Lord tell them to offer animal sacrifices instead of the sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit?

The animal sacrifices point the follower of Christ straight to the Lord’s sacrifice in a very tangible way – in both the sacrifice of a prized material possession (in an agrarian society), as well as in the sacrifice of an innocent living thing.

But animal sacrifices have NEVER been a substitute for the true sacrifice required in repentance: your whole soul, a broken heart and contrite spirit (see Moses 6:53-68).

The animal sacrifices were an additional rite designed to symbolize the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, which was to come; when He had accomplished His sacrifices, He no longer required animal sacrifice at the hands of His people (see 3 Nephi 9:19-20).

The animal sacrifices were designed to point the person to the true sacrifice (Christ as the “lamb” and their own hearts when they finally realize the love they have for Christ given what He has sacrificed for them) – so that their hearts would begin to break and they’d start to be willing to sacrifice their own souls.

What happened when the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam?

He experienced the birth of the Spirit; he received the Gift of the Holy Ghost - which is the Comforter, the record of heaven, the truth of all things.  It is the vehicle through which we are born again into the kingdom of heaven.

Quickened in the inner man = mighty change of heart.

Baptism of fire.

Entering in at the gate to become a son of God.

When Adam said “in the flesh I shall see God”, what did he mean?

Notice that resurrection is not mentioned in these verses – this is not referring to seeing God again in the flesh after he (Adam) arises from the dead.

This is in the context of Adam’s redemption or coming back into God’s presence during mortality (see Ether 3:13) after he had been cast out of it because of his transgression with the fruit.

It is referring to God making Himself known to Adam in the flesh or during his mortal life – it is literally coming unto Christ and knowing with a surety that He is who He says He is (see 3 Nephi 11).  This is eternal life – to know God and Christ.

 

 

Cain, Abel and the Holy Order


READ Moses 5:12-15

What did Adam and Eve do with this experiential knowledge?

They diligently taught it to all their children, hoping that they too would be redeemed by seeking after and having the same experiences with God that they had experienced. 

How did their children react?

They rejected the testimony from Adam and Eve, and rejected the offer from God to experience the same.

Implied is that they were adults or old enough to fully understand what they were doing; this gives insight into how long the “after many days” was, when the angel finally came to Adam asking him why he had been offering sacrifices these many years without knowing why.

The fact that all of them rejected the message and loved Satan more than God gives us insight into how few will ever find the narrow Gate and straight path that leads up Jacob’s Ladder to the Lord and His heaven, as all of these had not only the first hand testimony of ones who knew God in the Garden of Eden and again had experienced the way back and knew the path, but were also were their parents and loved them (see D&C 132:21-25).

 

READ Moses 5:16-41 and Genesis 4:1-16

Why did Eve say “…wherefore may not reject His (the Lord’s) words”?

Because all of her children up to that point had rejected Christ.

But it seemed that something about Cain was different, to the degree that she held out hope that here was a son who would not reject Him, too.

Cain became the probable heir to the Holy Order, which God had given to Adam; but Cain or anyone who was to receive it had to receive it from God directly, through sacrifice and by living by every word from God (see LoF 6:2-7; TPJS 171:2).  It is something that cannot be given from one mortal to another. 

Why did God reject Cain’s sacrifice?

His heart had already been compromised by Satan; instead of being willing to sacrifice for others, he was overcome with desire to possess the Holy Order so that he might dominate all things, as his father had the power to do; but to do it in line with Satan’s principles – without love and sacrifice for those under the domination or power but to self-aggrandize the priesthood holder or “king”.

Cain did not offer the required sacrifice but sought to change the ordinance – and he broke the covenant, by so doing.

Had he offered the required sacrifice, he would have received the Holy Order, as God is no respecter of persons; Abel’s righteousness would not have mattered – he would not have displaced Cain (born first) had Cain remained faithful to God.

God offered him repentance, but Cain would not submit; had he repented, he still would have been the one to whom the Holy Order was given; Adam, Eve and Abel all pled with Cain to repent but he rejected them all, took a wife (outside of the covenant) and left the company of his parents and Abel (see Moses 5:26-27).  His pride lost him the power of God he was seeking for.

Why was Satan especially interested in corrupting Cain?

Satan wanted to hold sway over the individual who held the Holy Order and Cain was the first of Adam’s children to show any true promise of rising up to receive that power (which is why he counseled Cain to still sacrifice to God, rather than just rejecting God outright – his lies to Cain were also the reason Cain was so upset when his sacrifice was rejected by God – he thought that his sacrifice was acceptable, but the true sacrifice of his heart was not – it was already given to Satan).

Satan wanted control over the right of dominion and leverage over the line of descendants through which the Messiah would be born, so that Christ would be subject to a patriarch who would support Satan’s ambition.

At Adam-ondi-Ahman, all the people (couples) who held this dominion over the creation (being “Sons of God” on earth – in proxy for the Lord) via the Holy Order, are to give it back to Adam who will give it all back to Christ (see TPJS 178:2-179:1; D&C 116:1; Daniel 7:9-10); if anyone who has held a position in the Holy Order refuses to return dominion back to Christ, it can create a conflict that continues the same war that began in heaven; this was another contingency in Satan’s great plan: to help Cain to gain power and authority before God but then to hold His heart so that when the time came, he (Cain) would refuse to give back dominion or could impose Satan’s conditions before returning the right of dominion back to Christ.

Satan still has it in his heart to attempt this, which is why the Holy Order is so closely guarded by carefully qualifying those who receive it – but remember, Lucifer rose to power in God’s presence legitimately (there is no way to fool God), so it is still a possibility that one with that power could fall, as we are all in jeopardy every hour we are on this earth.

Why did Cain end up killing Abel?

Out of vengeance for his rejection at the hands of God.

Out of jealousy over what Abel was given that was his to receive first.

He was still after the Holy Order and perhaps was hoping that without an heir from Abel, he might somehow still obtain it.

Abel’s material possessions were a great bonus but were not the primary reason for the murder.

 

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