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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Galatians 2:16 & Genesis 2:17 by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 8 mins 5 secs

The Penalty for Sin; Imputation of Soul Life; Gal. 2:16; Gen. 2:17


Genesis 2:17 expresses the prohibition in the garden of Eden. After God created Adam He devised a test for human volition. Genesis 2:17 "but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." It says "in the day," so whatever the penalty is for eating the fruit it was to occur at the moment that eating occurred. The prohibition does not envisage some delay. The second thing is the translation "you shall surely die." What kind of death is this? We know from the consequences. We know from chapter three that it must be spiritual death because of the immediate result: Genesis 3:7 NASB "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings." They immediately tried to solve their problem and when the Lord came to walk the garden in the cool of the day the man and his wife hid themselves—separation from God. So the penalty that is mentioned in 2:17 is spiritual death. Everything else is the consequence of spiritual death.


Romans 5:12 is the basis for understanding imputations. NASB "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—" At the moment of Adam eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil something happened to the relationship between God and man. Remember: What the righteousness of God rejects the justice of God condemns. When Adam sinned he lost his perfect righteousness, so the righteousness of God had to reject Adam instantly and the result was his condemnation. Adam's sin is critical to understanding our salvation and this relates to the doctrine of imputation.

The doctrine of divine imputation (cont.)

There are three factors involved in an imputation: a) the source: God Himself; b) the nature of the imputation: what is being imputed; c) the recipient of imputation; where is the imputation going? who is receiving it?

There are two categories of imputation: real imputations and judicial imputations. Real imputations are where the justice of God imputes something that has an affinity, agreement or correspondent to its object. In real imputations the key word to remember is correspondent; that God is imputing X to Y and there is something in X and Y that has affinity or correspondence. There is a similarity there, a home in Y that is fitting. There is something there that will jell together; there is correspondence. In judicial imputation the justice of God imputes something where there is no correspondence or agreement between what is imputed and the object to which it is imputed. For example, there is the imputation of our personal sins to Jesus Christ on the cross. There is no affinity or agreement or correspondence between our personal sins and Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is perfect righteousness. When Jesus Christ was on the cross He was perfect righteousness; what was being imputed to Him was our sins. There is no agreement between the two, no correspondence. This is just an act of God judicially.

Another category of judicial imputation: We are sinners and when we put our faith and trust in Christ alone His perfect righteousness is imputed to us. There is no affinity between His perfect righteousness and its home in us. We are minus righteousness. That is why that is called a judicial imputation. In a real imputation there is correspondence between X and Y, and so when Y as us and we are minus righteousness because we have a sin nature, and what is being imputed is Adam's original sin, then there is correspondence between Adam's original sin and our sin nature because it was Adam's original sin that created or generated the first sin nature. That is the difference between a real and a judicial imputation.

There are two judicial imputations. These are, first our personal sins to Jesus Christ on the cross, and second is His perfect righteousness to the believer at the point of salvation. Remember that every believer is born condemned in three categories. First of all he has the sin nature, second he has Adam's original sin imputed to that sin nature, and third he then commits personal sins. At the instant we are born we have a sin nature because that is transmitted genetically involved in every chromosome in every cell of our bodies. To that sin nature is imputed Adam's original sin. As a result of that we are born physically alive and spiritually dead and we will commit personal sins. But we are sinners because we are born with a sin nature that has Adam's original sin imputed to us, not because we commit personal sins. We sin because we are sinners; we are not sinners because we commit personal sins. That is a very important distinction to understand.  By nature we are sinners before we ever commit the first personal sin.

In terms of real imputations there are five. 1) First of all there is the imputation of human life to the soul; 2) Adam's original sin to the sin nature; 3) is eternal life to the human spirit—at the point of salvation God the Father imputes His very own eternal life to our human spirit. There is a correspondence between eternal life and the believer's human spirit; 4) blessings in time to perfect righteousness. God imputes to perfect righteousness imputed to the believer blessings in time; 5) blessings in eternity to the resurrection body.

These imputations form the basis for God's plan for the human race. The plan of God begins with human birth when the imputation of human life to the soul takes place. The plan of God begins then, not at the new birth or regeneration (which is when the spiritual life plan begins), and it results in God's glory in eternity future by every person who…[sound missing in tape].

How do these imputations take place?

The first imputation is the imputation of human life to the soul     

1.  The imputation of human life to the soul and the imputation of Adam's original sin occur simultaneously in time. Logically they occur in sequence but in actual chronology they are simultaneous. Human life is imputed logically before the imputation of Adam's original sin.

2.  To understand the imputation of human life we have to understand that the Bible distinguishes between three categories of life. The first is biological life. It begins for us in the womb. In the womb the foetus is mother dependent. The foetus has a number of reactions, a number of reflexes that are biologically oriented and do not necessarily indicate that a soul is present. In Genesis 2:7 we see the development of biological life. NASB "Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground…" He took the chemicals in the ground and formed the physical body of man which is his biological life. Then we see the second category which is soul life. "… and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." So then there is full human life. Biological life plus soul life equals human life. The critical word here is the Hebrew neshamah. It is translated in a number of passages "breath" or "breath of life." Job 33:4 NASB "The Spirit [breath, neshamah] of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life." So Job is talking not about the biological life which is created through procreation between the male and the female—that is physical life or biological life—he is talking about his soul, the real Job. So when the foetus emerges from the womb and takes that first breath is when God, following the pattern established with Adam in the garden, God breathed the soul into biological life. At that instant of physical birth there is human life. At that same instant there is in biological life the transmission of the sin nature.

Note: In about the second to early third century Tertullian gave us a little heresy called Traducianism. Most people don't know this about Tertullian but he was a materialist. He believed that the human soul was material, not immaterial. Because he believed it was material Tertullian taught that the soul was passed on through procreation—the soul, being physical, was passed on physically. That would mean that from the moment of conception on there would be full human life in the womb. But Traducianism was even declared a heresy by no one less than Thomas Aquinas who was one of the greatest theologians of the Roman Catholic church. When he discusses this issue he is firmly a creationist and he states that it is heresy to claim that the soul is transmitted in the semen. Up until about 50 years ago the majority of Protestant theologians were creationists. It has only been in the last generation for a variety of different reasons, none of which have to do with exegesis, that they have shifted over to a Traducianist position. So there is a very rich theological heritage among orthodox theologians of creationism, that it is at birth that God imparts the soul to biological life at birth that there is full human life.

The early church always felt that biological life was in the womb and apart from any tragedy that might take place would eventually culminate in full human life. Therefore they always felt that it was important to protect the biological life within the womb unless God would override the process and end the pregnancy. They always took the position of creationism but always thought that because God was involved with biological life (Psalm 139) that man must treat it honourably.

It is Adam's original sin that is imputed to us that is the basis of our salvation

1.  At the same instant that soul life is imputed to biological life the second imputation occurs which is Adam's original sin to the sin nature.

2.  This is a real imputation because there is an affinity or correspondence between the two. That correspondence lies in the fact that it was Adam's original sin, when he ate from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that immediately generated a sin nature in Adam. That shows a relationship of affinity and correspondence between Adam's original sin and the corrupt nature that resided in him.

3.  The result of this is that we are born physically alive but spiritually dead. Soul life is imputed to biological life which results in human life, we are born physically alive, but at the same time Adam's original sin is imputed to the sin nature and we are born spiritually dead. Adam's original sin plus a sin nature equals spiritual death.

4.  Objection: Adam made the decision, so what does that have to do with me? The answer lies in two solutions. Theologians have divided this into two categories, the first is called a federal relationship with Adam and the second is a seminal relationship with Adam. The biblical basis for the federal relationship with Adam is Romans 5:12ff. Adam was our representative in the garden. But we are also seminally or physically in Adam, and the basis for this is found in Hebrews 7:9, 10 (The subject is the superiority of Christ's priesthood to the Levitical priesthood) NASB "And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him." Abraham paid a tithe to Melchizedek. His great, great grandson is Levi; he is not even born yet. Abraham pays tithes to Melchizedek and the writer of Hebrews says that Levi was in the loins of Abraham. He was seminally present and so Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek. Because Levi pays tithes to Melchizedek and the inferior pays tithes to the superior the Melchizedekian priesthood, therefore, must be superior to the Levitical priesthood. That is the argument in Hebrews chapter seven. From that we see that even though Levi wasn't even alive he was seminally present and responsible for the actions of Abraham towards Melchizedek. So every human being is seminally present in Adam as the physical progenitor of the race so that in Adam we made that same decision.