Darby Simplified – The First Man and the Second

The moment I, as a poor sinner, look by faith to Jesus as my divine sin-bearer, all my sins are gone – they are put out of God’s sight for ever. Christ is in heaven – He could not take my sin there. I am pardoned through His blood, peace having been made through the blood of the cross. And the glorified Man is in heaven, appearing in the presence of God for us – of His Father and our Father, of His God and our God.

A preaching on Genesis 3 by John Nelson Darby

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

After covering the basics of the gospel, Darby said that sin must be put away perfectly. The sinner brought back to God must be spotless. Christ did not enter heaven again until He had settled the whole question of our sins and of sin itself. The moment I, as a poor sinner, look by faith to Jesus as my divine sin-bearer, all my sins are gone – they are put out of God’s sight for ever.   I am pardoned through His blood, peace having been made through the blood of the cross. And the glorified Man is in heaven, appearing in the presence of God for us – of His Father and our Father, of His God and our God. No sin there

Man has a Conscience

Man is by nature a ruined sinner, shut out by sin from the presence of God with no way back in his present state. The last Adam brings us back, not to an earthly paradise, but into the very presence of God in heaven. God does not bring a sinner back to innocence, but to the “righteousness of God”.   The believer is “made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

Man has a conscience – he knows good and evil. Even if a godless man steals, his consciences tells him that he has done wrong.

Now look at Satan’s temptation. He wanted to make God’s creatures think that God had been keeping something that would be for their good back from them – that He was jealous of their becoming as Himself. Satan’s great lie was, “Ye shall not surely die.” (v.4) It is his constant aim to make men believe that the consequence of sin will not be all that God has said it would be.

The Woman’s Sin

The woman listened to Satan; she lusted. Her heart was away from God, so she followed her own way – just like men do now, trying to make themselves comfortable away from God. Would you to meet God just as you are? God would say ‘Come and be judged’. So you would hide from God, as Adam and Eve did. Not only did they hide themselves from God, they hid themselves from themselves and from one another: the covering of the fig-leaves was just to hide the shame of their nakedness. And when they were hiding away from God, they were away from the only source of blessing. The light had come in and they wanted to get as far from it as possible.

Let us look at the character of their sin. They believed that the devil had told the truth, and that God did not. Satan wanted them to think that God was keeping from them the very best thing they could possibly have. And men are still believing the devil’s lie – hoping to get into heaven their own way, when God has said that nothing defiled shall enter in. Men are looking to Satan for happiness, instead of believing God. They cannot believe that God wants to make him happy.

Now I may say, ‘I have done very little wrong.’ But I am still making God a liar. All Adam did was to eat an apple. What harm was there in eating an apple? Alas! Adam and Eve cast off God, and that was the harm. Whether it was eating an apple, or killing a man, as Cain did later, the principle was the same. It was casting aside God’s authority, and making Him a liar.

Adam hides himself from God. He wanted to get out of His presence?  But the God of love brings the knowledge of the harm into man’s conscience. He does that in love, for if He were dealing with men in judgment He would have left them under it.

God called to Adam. When God speaks, it awakes the conscience; but this is not conversion. God speaks to show man to himself, and bring him back to blessing. His conscience is awakened and that brings him back to the presence of God. You would not hide from a policeman if you have done nothing wrong. But you try to hide yourself from God, because you have done what you know He hates, and that separates you from Him. Man cannot bear to meet God. Innocence, once gone, can never be restored.

The Effect of Sin

Sin has made man get away from God, and it has forced God to drive him from His presence. Man is out of paradise: toil, suffering, sorrow, sickness and death tell us that. And there is only one way back to God, and that is through the Second Man. Christ comes in by the door into the sheepfold, so there is no getting in some other way. He is the door, and whoever enters must come by Him. The flaming sword shut every other avenue to the tree of life. There was no possibility of creeping up to it by some unguarded path.

We also try to excuse ourselves. Adam laid the blame on the woman. “The woman whom thou gavest me, etc.” (v.12) It was as much as saying, ‘Why did you give me this woman? It was your gift caused the sin’. But Adam is condemned by the very excuse. “Because thou hast hearkened etc.” (v.17). Our excuses become our condemnation.

God does not comfort Adam or his wife. He shows man his sin to convict his conscience, not to make him happy. If my child has been naughty, do I wish him to be happy about it? No, I want to forgive him, but he must first feel his sin. God must have us see that we have sinned against Him. We justify God in condemning us. To see sin as God sees it is repentance. It is “truth in the inward parts.” It is holiness and truth in the heart.

God’s Way

God did not leave these poor condemned sinners without comfort. He said to the serpent, “The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head.” It was a new thing that God was bringing in – a new person and a new way. Christ was ‘the seed’. Blessing would come by the Seed of the woman through whom the curse had entered. This was perfection of grace. If sin had come in, sin had to be put away entirely. He who shut man out from heaven has fully provided that which shall shut him in again. We brought back to God through the precious blood of Christ. Christ loved us and gave Himself for us. That is God’s grace.

God commends his love to us, in that, we being still sinners, Christ has died for us.” (Rom. 5:8 Darby) We do not want a good Adam, – but a great God and Saviour. In the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, see all the wrath of God for sin was laid upon Jesus.

Sin must be put away perfectly. The sinner brought back to God must be spotless. Christ did not enter heaven again until He had accomplished this. “When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down,” (Heb 1:3). When all was finished, He took the throne of righteousness. Adam was cast out of the earthly paradise; Christ, as the last Adam, is in the heavenly paradise.

God justifies me when He says, ‘My Son has been given for your soul, and died for sin’. I am clothed with Christ; I am become the righteousness of God. What more could I have or want? I do not know Him fully, but He has redeemed me; and I am in Him that is the life. He is in me, and I in Him; and where He is, there I shall be in due time. I am still in the body, and bear about with me the bondage of corruption; but Satan’s power is crushed. The serpent’s head is bruised. He has been overcome: Christ went down under the full power of him that had the power of death; and He came up from it triumphant, for it was not possible He should be held by death.

He has overcome

We are told, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). We are not to overcome him (we could never do that), but when he meets Christ in me, he cannot stand that, he must flee.

The Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven in love, devoted Himself to God for our salvation. He drank the cup of wrath for sin; He tasted death, shut out from God’s presence that He might bring us back into the presence of God without judgment and without sin. This makes us happy and blessed for ever. He knew what the holiness of God was, and what His wrath was; and therefore He knew what He was delivering us from. How I shall hate sin, if I have seen Christ agonising for mine upon the cross! This changes my heart.

The moment I, as a poor sinner, look by faith to Jesus as my divine sin-bearer, all my sins are gone – they are put out of God’s sight for ever.  Christ is in heaven – He could not take my sin there. I am pardoned through His blood, peace having been made through the blood of the cross. And the glorified Man is in heaven, appearing in the presence of God for us – of His Father and our Father, of His God and our God.

Christ’s Sufferings from Men and from God, in His Spirit, and in Anticipation

sufferings of Christ.

His sufferings at the hands of men.
His sufferings at the hand of God.
His sufferings in relation to the state of man.
His sufferings in anticipation of His work on the cross

A Summary by Sosthenes of J.N. Darby’s ‘The Sufferings of Christ’

In this paper, written to the Editor of the “Bible Treasury”, Darby outlined four aspects of the sufferings of Christ.

  1. His sufferings at the hands of men.
  2. His sufferings at the hand of God.
  3. His sufferings in relation to the state of man.
  4. His sufferings in anticipation of His work on the cross

To view the complete paper – The Sufferings of Christ

To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 7 Doctrinal 2– p139) containing this article click here

Christ’s Sufferings at the Hands of Men.

We have to distinguish Christ’s sufferings from man and His sufferings from God.  He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  The world hated Him because He bore witness to the fact that the world’s works were evil.  It hated Him before it hated His disciples.   He was “light,” and he that doeth evil hateth the light, nor comes to the light, because his works are evil. In a word, Christ suffered for righteousness’ sake.

Christ’s Sufferings at the Hand of God.

Upon the cross, Christ also suffered from the hand of God.  He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him … It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief; when He shall make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed. (Isa. 53:5,10) He who knew no sin was made sin for us, (2 Cor. 5:21) and then. He suffered the just for the unjust; (1 Peter 3:18).  He suffered, not because He was righteous, but because we were sinners, and He was bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. As regards God’s forsaking Him, He could say, ‘Why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ (Psalm 22:1)   In Him there was no cause.  We can give the solemn answer: In grace He suffered the just for us, the unjust.   He was made sin for us.

Thus at the hands of men, as a living man, He suffered for righteousness; at the hand of God, as a dying Saviour, He suffered for sin.  It is most interesting to contrast these two characters of Christ’s suffering as expressed in the Psalms.

Christ’s Suffering for Sin

In Psalm 22 we have both His suffering from the hand of God (v. 1-11) and the sufferings at the hand of men (v. 11-21).  At the height of His sufferings, God, His only resource, forsakes Him.  This is the great theme of the psalm – the consequence of His bearing our sin, the wrath due to us.  But He came to put sin away by the sacrifice of Himself.  Hence the result is unmingled grace — nothing else.  He drank the cup at His Father’s hand.  God heard Him, and raised Him up and gave Him glory, because He had perfectly glorified Him as to sin.  He is raised from the dead by the glory of the Father (Rom. 6:4).  This name of His God and Father He immediately declares to His brethren, ‘I will declare thy name unto my brethren’ (Heb. 2:12).

God’s testimony was now of grace, and Jesus leads the praises of His redeemed.  Now we have praise sung in all Israel, the great congregation, (v.25) ; then all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD (v.27).

Such is the effect of the cross.  Sin was put away in the suffering and judgment on the cross.  The judgment was borne, but passed away with its execution on the Victim.  He had in grace substituted Himself; and when we appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, we will appear before the One who put away our sins.   Indeed He will have come to fetch us, so that where He is, we may be also (John14:3).  In a word, will be the One who suffered for sin, not for righteousness; and the effect, pure grace.

Christ suffered for sin that we never might. We are healed by His stripes. We do not partake in them,  Christ suffered alone, as forsaken of God in wrath, so that we never should taste one drop of that dreadful, bitter, and to us insupportable cup.

Christ’s Suffering and Ours

We who believe have been given to suffer for His name. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him (2 Tim. 2:12).   If we suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are we, and yet more blessed if we suffer for His name.

The difference of suffering for good and for evil is touchingly contrasted in Peter’s epistle; while both are attributed to Christ, we are warned against the latter.  Suffering for righteousness may be our happy portion; suffering for sin, as regards the Christian, was Christ’s part alone.

Christ’s Sufferings in Relation to the State of Man.

We should note two other characters of suffering in our blessed Lord.  Firstly, the sufferings in His heart of love due to the unbelief of unhappy man,

in John 11:35, at the tomb of Lazarus, He wept and groaned within Himself at seeing the power of death over the spirits of men, and their incapacity to deliver themselves.   He also wept over Jerusalem, when He saw the beloved city about to reject Him in the day of its visitation.  All this was the suffering of perfect love in a scene of ruin, where man’s self-will and heartlessness shut every avenue against the love, which was so earnestly working in its midst.

Sin itself must have been a continual source of sorrow to the Lord’s mind.  He was calmer than righteous Lot in Sodom.  Still He was distressed by sin.  He looked about upon them with anger, being grieved at the hardness of their hearts (Mark 3:5).

The sorrows, too, of men were His in heart.  He bore their sicknesses, and carried their infirmities. (Isa. 53:4)  There was not a sorrow nor an affliction that He did not bear on His heart as His own.  In all their afflictions He was afflicted. (Isa. 63:9).

Christ’s Sufferings in Anticipation of His Work on the Cross

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour.” (John 12:27).   The other characteristic was the anticipation, when it was time for Him to look at death.  He could not take His part with the excellent of the earth, and bring them into real and permanent blessing, without first going through death – death as the wages of sin, for even the excellent of the earth were sinners.

And for Him death was death — all dark, without one ray of light even from God.  Perfect obedience was needed, and (blessed be God) it was found in Him.

We see:

  1. Man’s utter weakness
  2. Satan’s extreme power
  3. God’s just vengeance, alone, without one sympathy
  4. Christ forsaken of those whom He had cherished
  5. The rest of men His enemies
  6. The Messiah delivered to Gentiles and cast down
  7. The judge washing his hands of condemning innocence
  8. The priests interceding against the guiltless instead of for the guilty
  9. Man would not have the Deliverer

He anticipated death, and all it meant to His soul;  He looked for deliverance.  He could not wish for, nor fail to fear, the forsaking of God and the cup of death that He had to drink.  He was heard in that He feared (Heb. 5:7).  That was truth, and true piety.

He took the cup just as it was being brought to Him, though He would take it from none but  His Father’s hand.   The tempter now returns to try Him with all that was dreadful for His soul.  Above all, He had persevered in His obedience and work to the end.  If the Lord was to effect salvation in the wretched race, He must be, not a mighty living powerful Deliverer, but a dying Redeemer.  It was the path of obedience and the path of love.

We find Him with His Father, occupied with the cup He was about to drink, and His obedience shone out in perfection.  God was not forsaking Him yet; He was conversing with His Father about the cup of His being forsaken of God. “Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name” (John 12:27).

He got His answer to obedience to death, an answer of real and complete victory.  It was the widespread opening out of the God’s revelation of love, even though in it the world had been judged.  But all was closing in in Gethsemane.   We read of His sweat as drops of blood, and see the power of darkness and the Lord’s deep agony expressed in a few mighty words.   But His obedience was perfect.   The tempter was utterly foiled; the Name of Jesus sufficed to make his agents go backward and fall to the ground.   As far as they were concerned, and as far as Satan’s power went, He was free.  But the Father had given Him the cup to drink, and He freely offered Himself to drink it, showing the same unweakened power as ever.  He in blessed, willing obedience now takes the awful cup itself from His Father’s hand!  Never can we meditate too much upon the path of Christ here.

Love brought Him to the cross, without the present joy of a ministration of love.  He was not dealing with man, but suffering in obedience, under the hand of God, in man’s place and for man.   He endured unmingled, unmitigated suffering – God’s forsaking.   All His sorrow was the direct fruit of love — He felt for others, about others.   What must He have felt about those who took away the key of knowledge, and entered not in themselves, and hindered those that were entering?  Righteous indignation is not sorrow, but the love that gives birth to it.


He felt the violation of every delicacy that a perfectly attuned mind could feel.  What broke in upon every delicate feeling of His nature as a man!  Men stood staring at Him as He suffered.  Insult, scorn, deceit, efforts to catch Him in His words, brutality and cruel mocking, He bore it all in a divinely patient spirit.  He was deserted, betrayed, and denied — “I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none(Psalm 69:20) Reproach broke His heart. He was the song of the drunkards.

Jehovah knew His shame, His reproach, and His dishonour.  All His adversaries were before Him; but He endured it all.  All sorrow was concentrated in His death, where neither the comfort of active love, nor the communion with His Father, could provide any alleviating sweetness, or be for a moment mingled with that dreadful cup of wrath. His royal glories were given up.   Now He has been received up with a better and higher glory from His Father’s hand.   He always had this glory, but now He has entered into it as Man.