A council was held in Heaven, the result of which was that God’s dear Son undertook to redeem man from the curse and the disgrace of Adam’s failure, and to conquer Satan. Oh, wonderful condescension! The Majesty of Heaven, through love and pity for fallen man, proposed to become his substitute and surety. He would bear man’s guilt. He would take the wrath of his Father upon himself, which otherwise would have fallen upon man because of his disobedience.
The law of God was unalterable. It could not be abolished, nor yield the smallest part of its claim, to meet man in his fallen state. Man was separated from God by transgression of his expressed command, notwithstanding he had made known to Adam the consequences of such transgression. The sin of Adam caused a deplorable state of things. Satan would now have unlimited control over the race, unless a mightier being than was Satan before his fall, should take the field, conquer him, and ransom man.
Christ’s divine soul was exercised with infinite pity for the fallen pair. As their wretched, helpless condition came up before him, and as he saw that by transgression of God’s law they had fallen under the power and control of the prince of darkness, he proposed the only means that could be acceptable with God, that would give them another trial, and place them again on probation. Christ consented to leave his honor, his kingly authority, his glory with the Father, and humble himself to humanity, and engage in contest with the mighty prince of darkness, in order to redeem man. Through his humiliation and poverty Christ would identify himself with the weakness of the fallen race, and by firm obedience show that man might redeem Adam’s disgraceful failure, and by humble obedience regain lost Eden.
The great work of redemption could be carried out only by the Redeemer taking the place of fallen Adam. With the sins of the world laid upon him, he would go over the ground where Adam stumbled. He would bear a test infinitely more severe than that which Adam failed to endure. He would overcome on man’s account, and conquer the tempter, that, through his obedience, his purity of character and steadfast integrity, his righteousness might be imputed to man, that, through his name, man might overcome the foe on his own account.
What love! What amazing condescension! The King of glory proposed to humble himself to fallen humanity! He would place his feet in Adam’s steps. He would take man’s fallen nature, and engage to cope with the strong foe who triumphed over Adam. He would overcome Satan, and in thus doing he would open the way for the redemption from the disgrace of Adam’s failure and fall, of all those who would believe on him.
Angels on probation had been deceived by Satan, and had been led on by him in the great rebellion in Heaven against Christ. They failed to endure the test brought to bear upon them, and they fell. Adam was then created in the image of God and placed upon probation. He had a perfectly developed organism. All his faculties were harmonious. In all his emotions, words, and actions, there was a perfect conformity to the will of his Maker. After God had made every provision for the happiness of man, and had supplied his every want, he tested his loyalty. If the holy pair should be obedient, the race would, after a time, be made equal to the angels. As Adam and Eve failed to bear this test, Christ proposed to become a voluntary offering for man.
Satan knew that if Christ was indeed the Son of God, the world’s Redeemer, it was for no good to himself that the Lord had left the royal courts of Heaven to come to a fallen world. He feared that his own power was thenceforth to be limited, and that his deceptive wiles would be discerned and exposed, and his influence over man would be weakened. He feared that his dominion and control of the kingdoms of the world were to be contested. He remembered the words which Jehovah addressed to him when he was summoned into his presence with Adam and Eve, whom he had ruined by his lying deceptions, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” This declaration contained the first gospel promise to man. But these words, at the time they were spoken, were not fully understood by Satan. He knew that they contained a curse for him, because he had seduced the holy pair. And when Christ was manifested on the earth, Satan feared that he was indeed the One promised who should limit his power, and finally destroy him.
Satan had peculiar interest in watching the development of events immediately after the fall of Adam, to learn how his work had affected the kingdom of God, and what the Lord would do with Adam because of his disobedience. The Son of God, undertaking to become the Redeemer of the race, placed Adam in a new relation to his Creator. He was still fallen; but a door of hope was opened to him. The wrath of God still hung over Adam, but the execution of the sentence of death was delayed, and the indignation of God was restrained, because Christ had entered upon the work of becoming man’s Redeemer. Christ was to take the wrath of God which in justice should fall upon man. He became a refuge for man, and, although man was indeed a criminal, deserving the wrath of God, yet he could, by faith in Christ, run into the refuge provided, and be safe. In the midst of death, there was life if man chose to accept it. The holy and infinite God, who dwelleth in light unapproachable, could no longer talk with man. No communication could now exist directly between man and his Maker.
God forbears, for a time, the full execution of the sentence of death pronounced upon man. Satan flattered himself that he had forever broken the link between Heaven and earth. But in this he was greatly mistaken and disappointed. The Father had given the world into the hands of his Son for him to redeem from the curse and the disgrace of Adam’s failure and fall. Through Christ alone can man now find access to God. And through Christ alone will the Lord hold communication with man.
Christ volunteered to maintain and vindicate the holiness of the divine law. He was not to do away the smallest part of its claims in the work of redemption for man, but, in order to save man, and maintain the sacred claims and justice of his Father’s law, he gave himself a sacrifice for the guilt of man. Christ’s life did not, in a single instance, detract from the claims of his Father’s law, but, through firm obedience to all its precepts, and by dying for the sins of those who had transgressed it, he established it immutability.
After the transgression of Adam, Satan saw that the ruin was complete. The human race was brought into a deplorable condition. Man was cut off from intercourse with God. It was Satan’s design that the state of man should be the same as that of the fallen angels, in rebellion against God, uncheered by a gleam of hope. He reasoned that if God pardoned sinful man whom he had created, he would also pardon him and his angels, and receive them into his favor. But he was disappointed.
The divine Son of God saw that no arm but his own could save fallen man, and he determined to help man. He left the fallen angels to perish in their rebellion, but stretched forth his hand to rescue perishing man. The angels who were rebellious were dealt with according to the light and experience they had abundantly enjoyed in Heaven. Satan, the chief of the fallen angels, once had an exalted position in Heaven. He was next in honor to Christ. The knowledge which he, as well as the angels who fell with him, had of the character of God, of his goodness, his mercy, wisdom, and excellent glory, made their guilt unpardonable.
There was no possible hope for the redemption of those who had witnessed and enjoyed the inexpressible glory of Heaven, and had seen the terrible majesty of God, and, in presence of all this glory, had rebelled against him. There were no new and wonderful exhibitions of God’s exalted power that could impress them so deeply as those they had already experienced. If they could rebel in the very presence of glory inexpressible, they could not be placed in a more favorable condition to be proved. There was no reserve force of power, nor were there any greater heights and depths of infinite glory to overpower their jealous doubts and rebellious murmuring. Their guilt and their punishment must be in proportion to their exalted privileges in the heavenly courts.