Sin is born, therefore. out of man’s failure to reach his ultimate goal, the fulfillment of the three limitless desires within him – to know everything. to be able to do everything, and to live forever. Furthermore, death is inflicted as a penalty, for it is the consequence of man’s deviation from the object which satisfies the limitless desires in him. This punishment is the result of man’s failure and the extent to which he misses the objective for which he has been created and falls short, as it were, of his vocation. Then by a law of nature, sin and death have been handed down from our first ancestor to all his descendants, so that the whole human race which has sprung from the loins of the first man, endures sin and death.
The great apostle of the Gentiles, St. Paul, taught concerning sin: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned: for until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come” (Romans 5:12-14).
With these words St. Paul indicated that from Adam until Moses, when no law was in existence, sin existed in the world and in men, even if a written law did not exist whereby it could be counted as sin. Until the written law, sin was judged according to natural law, which is written in the heart of man, and on being judged according to natural law, all were shown to be transgressors of it, and consequently, worthy of death. From the law of Moses until the law of the Gospel, the human race was divided into two classes:
- Those guided by natural law;
- Those guided by written law.
Everyone was in the first class, though it applied particularly to the Gentiles. In the second class were only the Jews, because to them was given the written law of Moses. The Gentiles were obliged to conduct their affairs according to natural law, which is written by God in the nature of man, and is that orthos logos (right reason) which St. James called the implanted logos (reason) when he wrote, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).
However, the Jews were obliged to conduct their affairs according to the written law of God which He gave them by the hand of the prophet Moses. St. Paul pointed to the natural law when he said, “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;” (Romans 2:14,15).
But neither could the Gentiles apply the natural law in their way of living in the present life, nor could the Jews apply the written law given them by God through Moses. They lacked the ability because passions and desires held them captive and led them where they did not wish to go, and because they were controlled by the law of sin, which each saw present in the various parts of his body, warring against the orthos logos (right reason) and holding each one prisoner through the sin committed. The Jew became a transgressor of the law of conscience, as well as of the written law by which he was governed. The Gentile, though living without the written law, became guilty of breaking the natural law of conscience, while the Jew, living under both the natural law and the written law of God, became guilty of transgressing both conscience and the written law of God which he was not able to keep.
Therefore, neither the Gentile nor the Jew could be justified before the law of conscience or the written law of God. Both, as transgressors and as sinners, became liable to the penalty of death which for transgression and sin had been inflicted on the first generation of men. Thus God, as St. Paul said, concluded both the Jews and the Gentiles to disobedience in order to have pity on them all (Romans 11:32).
This disobedience of the Gentiles to the law of conscience and that of the Jews to the written law, proved that neither the Jews nor the Gentiles could be vindicated in God’s eyes as conducting their affairs in obedience to the law. Therefore, they became needy of divine mercy and of divine grace. A man who has committed a crime and has been sentenced to death justly by the law, is not held guiltless regarding the law and justice, because he has become a transgressor of them – but he is entitled to hope for grace and mercy from the king, and if and when he receives it, he is entitled to live not by law, but by the king’s mercy. So it is with the whole human race, Jews and Gentiles, for since they became transgressors of the natural and of the written law, and have been condemned to death, they are not held guiltless regarding divine law, but are entitled to hope to attain divine mercy and divine grace.
If man does attain this, he is entitled to live not by law and justice, but by the mercy and grace of God. When St. Paul realized this, he was astonished and exclaimed, “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the dept!: of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor?” (Romans 11:32-34).
The work of God is to provide laws for man and to guide him to the way of his vocation. The work of man is to be obedient to God’s law, and to live and to direct his affairs according to it. The will of God giving laws and guiding, and the will of men obeying and listening to the will and law of God, bring to fulfillment the purpose of God, which is that man should be in the image and likeness of God. The natural and the written law are God’s work, as man, too, is His work. God created man and then implanted this law in him so that he would work, think, and act in accordance with it. The will of man should have complied with the natural law written in his conscience. But he did not comply with it because he became a prisoner of passion and the law of sin. Thus he also failed to find his destiny.
About 4000 years passed before the written law was given by God through Moses. This, too, was God’s work. Yet even confronted by this law, man’s will could not perform favorably. It was unable to control its own independent activity because it was held in chains by inward passions and was a prisoner of sin. Man could not do his work. This inability of man then became natural, because no individual could escape the snares of sin. No one could do as he really wanted, but did the very opposite, as St. Paul noted, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Romans 7:15).
Both under the law of conscience and under the written law of God. man became a transgressor. Consequently, he is still subject to death under the terms both of the law of conscience and of the written law of God. The justice that is called natural or rational declares itself against man. Divine justice, known through the written law, likewise declares itself against man.
Orthos logos (right reason) directs man concerning what is to be done and what is not to be done. What must be done saves, promotes, and perfects. What must not be done, if it is done, destroys. What must be done, if done, causes man to live. What must not be done, if done, causes man to perish. The first promotes or imparts life; the second causes death. To act contrary to orthos logos is to behave in defiance of the moral law of God, and this action has a further effect in man – it brings in sin and death, the wages of sin, for transgression of the moral law was the cause of death in man. But the written law of God also dictates what is to be done and what is not to be done. If anyone disregarded the command “Do this . . .” he was condemned to death for his transgression; that is why St. Paul said, “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:” (Hebrews 10:28).
However, no one could obey the written law perfectly in every detail. Hence no one was entitled to live, but everyone became liable to the penalty of death according to the justice of God. The death which came through transgression of the moral law was called natural death, whereas the death which resulted from violation of the written law was called legal death. The abolition of the second death ought to have entailed the abolition of the first also, of the natural death, so that man might live the full life, one true to and consistent with his vocation.
Since man was condemned on the one hand by natural justice to natural death, and on the other hand by the’ due process of law to legal death, and thus lost the right to live both by nature and by law, how could the world’s destiny be achieved? How could the will of God, which He revealed at the creation of man in the words “Let us make man in our own image and likeness,” be fulfilled? What did He wish the whole of creation to be without life and the achievement of man’s destiny – surely not something aimless, an inescapable but fortuitous work? He did not intend it to be a vale of weeping, an eternal valley of sighs and lamentations, a place of complaints, of griefs, and of torments. Surely He did not want the universe to be a place of punishment and unnumbered pains.
Those who cannot discover the object of creation fall into foolish conjectures – to understand creation as purposeless, to deny the existence of an all-wise creator, and to make creation dependent on the inevitable but fortuitous working of fate and chance. Those who are foolish and those who are considered wise, though they are really stupid and blind, cannot discover the object of creation.
In this class is found the majority of the pseudo-professors in the universities, for they sacrifice the power of reason to the sensory process and the purely physical conclusions of “modern” science, which they extol and recommend far too highly. More than that, we have their “modern” science – the idolization of the natural world, the physical discoveries, the development of the natural sciences, the denial of God and of the soul, the denial of the moral and spiritual world, the loss of belief in the Word of God, and the utter lack of respect for the divine law.
Oppositely, the true science which proceeds from the Godequal Logos, affirms both that an all-wise God exists and that creation has an object for which it came into being, and that nothing is inevitable or dependent upon chance. Yet this is what ignorant speakers, who confuse rather than instruct their audiences with idle chatter, dispense as their opinion in the name of their “modern” science, deceiving thereby many frivolous and thoughtless persons who are inclined to the pleasures of life and poor reasoning.
The true science of the Logos explains logically the fall of man, the beginning of sin and of original sin, the sentence of death, and the sovereignty of law and justice through the penalty of death in every race of man. It affirms also the outpouring of divine mercy through the Logos incarnate in the world, and the salvation of man from sin and death. It declares the universal forgiveness of sinners through the law of grace, for by it, the gift of life has been made to the condemned; the tyranny has been overthrown; death has been done away with; and the sin of man has been forgiven.
The revelation through the law of grace is God’s work not only for man’s salvation, but also for his perfection and deification. A subsequent chapter will deal with the manner by which sin is destroyed and death is abolished by this law.