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Sin in Heaven?

Milton gives an interesting (and disgusting) description of events when Satan meets up with his child, Sin, at the Gates of Hell. Apparently not knowing about Sin before this time, Sin explains to her father how Satan conceived her through his jealous thoughts.

This must have happened while Satan was still in Heaven. The way Milton tells it, it seems like Sin must have been born in Heaven, but laid dormant until Satan decided to actually start dwelling on it. It was only after dwelling on these thoughts (Sin), that Sin herself conceived and brought forth her child Death. These is nearly verbatim what James says about our own process in 1:15.

Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

This seems a little different than what Milton is saying however. In Paradise Lost, Sin is born before Satan can even dwell on the thought. But for James, this wouldn’t be considered Sin at this point, it would merely be Desire (or even Temptation). Sin doesn’t come automatically, she herself is born from desire. But Desire or Temptation themselves aren’t actually Sin.

At any rate, the end is the same. After our affair with Sin, the resulting offspring is Death. In Milton’s case, this is a spiritual death, or estrangement, but is nonetheless tied to physical death in the end. Physical Death and Spiritual Death are both symptoms of the same underlying problem.

But how is it possible for Sin to be born in Heaven? Even if we take James’ way of describing it: Will there be Temptation or Desire in Heaven? If so, how can we be certain that this entire process won’t start all over again once we get there?

I believe the answer lies in the fact that since we have crucified our sinful nature here in this life, when we finally do succumb to our own physical death, the last parts of our sinful natures will be gone. Since we have chosen to be born again in this life, the last parts of our old life will be buried at Death. So although we have struggles against the flesh now, these struggles will be no more once the flesh has died. The last enemy, Death, is what will end up finally releasing us in the end. When John the Revelator tells us that Satan, Death, and Hell are thrown into the Lake of Fire, I think we’re seeing, at last, an existence free from Sin – and even the possibility to Sin.

Some describe the resulting New Heavens and New Earth as God reinstating the Garden of Eden, but this isn’t the case. In the Garden there was the possibility of Sin. Even in Milton’s Heaven there was the possibility of Sin. But in the New Heavens and New Earth, that possibility will have been eradicated.

We have said to God in this life that we don’t want it. We have forsaken it. And God is bringing about a reality where we will be free from even the temptation to Sin, and He’s doing it in way that isn’t forceful or coercive.

We are always hearing accusations against God about why He allows evil. And why, if He really is good, doesn’t He make an existence free from sin and suffering. These are profound questions, but sometimes I wonder if God’s answer is simply “That’s what I’m doing.”

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  1. John
    July 20, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Hello–I just discovered your blog today during a search for articles on finding a suitable translator for the Iliad. And what a fine discovery it has been. Congratulations on such thoughtful and clear writing.

    I’m mostly interested in the Iliad at the moment, and am about to post a comment on your remarks about translators.

    But let me say here, I would like to read a little more about you in the “About” page.

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