Vol. 1 - No. 12

November, 1982

A Look At "Fig Leaves," "Animal Skins" And "Imputed Spiritual Life"

by Glenn R. Burt

(Editor's note: The following review by brother Glenn Burt and the reply by brother Darwin Chandler is in regard to the article, “The Fate of Innocence” by brother Chandler in the October issue of THE EXPOSITORY REVIEW. With these two articles, the discussion on this particular matter is closed. Read the policy of such exchanges in the POTPOURRI section this month.)

First let me say that I consider Darwin Chandler to be a friend and that in our past association have found him to be a good preacher and Bible student, as well as a good man with a good family. However, I feel there are some grave problems in his article, “The Fate of Innocence” (The Expository Review, October, “82).

It is my understanding that Darwin will receive a copy of this before it goes to print and have an opportunity to respond, either showing errors in my material or perhaps granting some problem in what he said or that what he said did not truly convey what he believes and meant to say.

Some of our brother's points are interesting but I believe them also to be speculative and without Bible support. Now, let me say right off that I realize that a thing does not have to be specifically named or stated to be true. Most surely we can draw NECESSARY conclusions (a certain conclusion demanded by stated facts) and rest assured that such is Biblical truth. However, POSSIBLE conclusions are not NECESSARY conclusions! I believe our brother has taken some POSSIBLE (not NECESSARY) conclusions, thus ASSUMED conclusions and set them forth as Biblical truth, besides advocating what I believe to be a very basic false concept about man's redemption.

Our brother contends that “death” in Genesis 2:17 is ONLY physical death, not spiritual death. He reasons that Romans 5:12-14 tells us that physical death resulted from Adam's sin and reigned over all men, therefore that is what Genesis 2:17 has reference to. A possible but not a necessary conclusion. There is disagreement among Bible students as to whether Romans 5:12-14 is speaking of physical or spiritual death, but in this case even IF we grant our brother's contentions on Romans 5:12-14 it DOES NOT PROVE what he wants -- that the death in Genesis 2:17 is physical. Note: Obviously, Paul acknowledges that Adam's one sin ONLY affects other men in physical death, while Jesus' death has effects beyond physical death (resurrection) -- its effect was to “MANY TRANSGRESSIONS (spiritual death from Adam to the end) UNTO JUSTIFICATION (forgiveness of sins or spiritual life).” The context of Romans 5 is emphasizing the remedy for sin or spiritual death.

The first and major way to determine the use of any word in a verse is by the context, and I believe the context of Genesis 2:17 identifies the KIND of death under consideration. The verse says: “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The death took place “the day” they ate, which obviously was not their physical death. The following verses show us that physical death was PART of the curse pronounced as a result of their sin (spiritual death). They were cast out of the garden, away from the tree of life, which resulted in physical death for them and all mankind.

Our brother recognizes a problem with this, and to get around it he says this simply means a physical death “was required 'in that day' of the sin” and that was fulfilled by God killing animals for their clothes. The animal death was a “substitute victim” and was the physical death “that came into Eden 'in that day'.” We are told that this represented the death owed by the man --God slew them in their substitute victim.

BUT this is not what the passage says! It says that in the day you eat, you shall surely die! This is a personal thing: YOU EAT -- YOU DIE! Surely our brother will agree that when they sinned they separated themselves from God (spiritual death) which then resulted in their being cast out of the garden to also experience physical death.

This idea of a “substitute victim” in the garden, along with the idea that the clothes God made for them was a “symbol” of atonement by Jesus (that is, a “type of justification”) are the results of drawing some UNNECESSARY and false conclusions about Jesus' death for us, as well as a rather vivid imagination that produces a whole paragraph about the imaginary killing of animals for clothes with cries, streaming blood, etc.

We need to understand that NO UNINSPIRED MAN has the right to say “this” is a symbol or type of “that” UNLESS inspired men have revealed such to be true. Now brother Darwin may be right -- the fig leaf clothes may have been sufficiently modest. Of course, it may be they weren't. But that still would not make his contentions correct. God does not reveal why he gave them clothes of skin. IF we are going to ASSUME some reason then why not this: Fig leaves wouldn't wear too well (have you ever had fig leaves against your skin or the juice mashed from them on your skin?) nor last too long, and they might not be available all the year. So, God gave them skin clothes that would wear well and last, thus teaching them how to make clothes. One ASSUMPTION is as good as another, but according to Bible teaching, NO ASSUMPTION amounts to anything (unless it be presumptuous sin).

Note some things stated and suggested by our brother which have absolutely NO scriptural basis in fact: (1) Where and how God got the skins for clothes. He didn't have to kill animals to get them, though certainly he may have. (2) That the animals were a sacrifice BY GOD for sin, even IF we grant he killed animals. (3) That the clothes symbolized anything. (4) That Adam and Eve saw and heard God killing animals. (5) That animals were killed AS A substitute for Adam and Eve dying that day, thus YOU shall die was fulfilled in the killing of an animal.

Now, for the point that MOST DISTURBS ME, and evidently the major reason for the contentions of our brother about “death” and “clothes.” He tells us that the events of Eden are a perfect picture of what happens “when we enter Christ.” (So he is not talking about our physical life and death, nor our resurrection from the dead which is effected and assured for all men by Jesus' death.) He further says, “We died, but only in the sense that Christ died for us and His life transferred to us.” In other words, Christ's life (his righteousness) covers us like the clothes covered them.

2 Corinthians 5:14 is given as evidence, but I see no such idea in this verse nor its context. It simply points out that the apostles were motivated to persuade men, being constrained by the love of Christ and judging that since one died for all, then obviously all were dead, and he died that men maylive unto him. I see nothing here about HIS LIFE TRANSFERRING TO US.

What our brother says “SOUNDS LIKE” the old “imputed righteousness” idea. This becomes even more apparent and alarming upon investigation of some commentaries by denominationalists who advocate “imputed righteousness,” where we find not only the ideas expressed by our brother, but also some of their exact statements being penned by him. In one book I have there is a list of supposed “types in Genesis.” Various persons, objects and events are listed as types including the “coats” of Genesis 3:21. The writer tells us that they are a type of “imputed righteousness.” Our brother says “the covering is a type of Justification.” To be justified is to be righteous.

Then our brother says that Christ's “life transferred to us.” This must be spiritual life for he is talking about our entering Christ and dying to sin. The imputed righteousness advocates say Christ's righteousness (spiritual life) covers us like a cloak or umbrella. Surely our brother does not believe this false doctrine. BUT if I understand words, this is the consequence of his article. The old Calvinistic idea is that Christ's righteousness, obedience and sanctification (thus his spiritual life) is credited, imputed or transferred to the believer. Our brother says that we die (that is die to sin and are raised to spiritual life, Romans 6:3-11) as we enter Christ, “ONLY in the sense” that His life (spiritual life, righteousness, etc.) TRANSFERS TO US. I see no difference in what our brother has said and the old Calvinistic idea of “imputed righteousness.”

The gospel teaches that (because of the sacrifice of Christ) God forgives the obedient believer of sin. That individual is then righteous (has spiritual life) and is counted or reckoned (imputed) by God to be righteous or spiritually alive, BECAUSE HE IS. It is not a make believe thing. It is not transferring of Jesus' righteousness (spiritual life) to us. “He that doeth righteousness is righteous” (1 John 3:7).

Space limits further discussion of this important subject of righteousness but it would seem that there is a need for some extensive study and teaching on this subject.