Posse Peccare — Posse Non Peccare [Genesis 3 Study]

Genesis 3 gives an account of the fall of Satan and the fall of man. But Jesus, as the second Adam, serves as the Christian's representative.

Posse Peccare — Posse Non Peccare [Genesis 3 Study]
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash


  • We were created by God (creatio ex nihilo) with a divine purpose

    • If we were not created by God but instead came into existence by a fortuitous accident, we have not purpose.
    • If there’s no god, there is no purpose.
    • And if there is no purpose, there is no god.
    • But if there is purpose, there is a God.
    • Since there is a God, there is purpose.
  • God made us in his image (imago dei)

    • Because we were created by God in his image, we have not intrinsic but extrinsic dignity
  • Genesis 2:4-25 is a recapitulation of Genesis 1:1-2:4 with additional details in the creation of water supply, garden of Eden, and woman/marriage.

  • Questions & comments from our study last week.

  • Today we will cover a tragic event and a triumphant event in our human history.

Fall of Satan

  • Likely occurred during the seven days of creation
    • In contrast to the gap theory
  • For God, there has always been only a Plan A. There has never been a Plan B.
  • Rejecting open theism, God was not caught by surprise by the fall of Satan and the fall of man.
  • Before the foundation of the world, the second person of the Triune God was designated to be the savior and redeemer of fallen man.
  • Before the foundation of the world, we were chosen by God to receive forgiveness and remission of sin.

Genesis 3

  • v.1
    • crafty; Heb arum; Greek phronimos
      • Matthew 10:16 - “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”
    • Did God actually say; Hath God said
    • Satan entering the serpent was all under the sovereignty and Providence of God
  • v.4
    • Satan puts aside subtleness fully contradicts the word of God.
  • v.5
    • You will be like God
    • Adam and Eve were already made in the image of God.
    • the appeal is autonomy (self rule)
  • v.6
    • Eve makes an independent assessment and an autonomous decision of the will.
    • it is implied that Adam does the same thing.
  • v.9
    • “Where are you?”
    • God’s response is not justice and judgment, but rather it is an act of mercy.

What Augustine believed

  • Before the fall, Adam and Eve were created by God (posse peccare and posse non peccare)
  • After original sin, our position became (non posse non peccare)
    • We deny that "we sin and therefore became sinners."
    • Rather, "we are sinners, and therefore we sin in our moral inability."

Matthew 4:1-11

  • Contrast between first and second Adam
    • paradise in garden of Eden vs. Judean wilderness
    • Full stomach vs hunger
    • Companionship in sinless environment vs loneliness and isolation in sin filled world
    • The same issue was at stake: “Hath God said?”
      • questioning the trustworthiness of the Word of God.

Adam pre-fall

  • posse peccare (able to sin)
  • posse non peccare (able to choose not to sin)

Adam after the fall

  • non posse non peccare (unable to choose not to sin)

Jesus (vera homo)

  • posse peccare (able to sin)
  • posse non peccare (able to choose not to sin)

Jesus (vera Deus)

  • non posse peccare (impeccable: unable to sin)

  • “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
    • Jesus’ response is that man will live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God
  • Satan’s second temptation quotes the veracity of God’s word.
    • Satan quotes Psalm 91:11-12
    • To test God is to doubt God
  • Satan’s third temptation was an offer for glory.
    • Satan has no authority to offer true glory.

Christ, as our second Adam, did not just represent his people during the temptation in the Judean wilderness. He served as our representative throughout His entire life.

Romans 5:19-21

For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were appointed sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be appointed righteous. 20 Now the Law came in so that the transgression would increase, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


  • God’s gesture of mercy begins in Genesis 3.
  • Contrast the first Adam and the second Adam.
  • God sets the redemption story in motion with his divine prerogative to show justice and mercy.