I realize that to title a blog post after what is probably the most famous English poem is a little cheesy. Whether you have read the 17th century work by John Milton or not, you can guess the subject matter. The first few lines sum it up:
‘Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe’
I must admit I have not read the whole work, nor do I intend to, primarily because I am not qualified to read some 400 plus pages of poetry without commentary. Though I took Early and Middle English literature in college, Renaissance Literature was not my thing. John Milton was a brilliant man and a devout Protestant Reformer. He, like so many others of this period, were greatly influenced by the period’s availability of the Bible translation into spoken languages. The arts flourished, as the appetites for the stories of the bible and the legends of the ancient world met in a whirlwind of creativity. However, I’m not sure that Milton or any of the renown artists and writers of the day truly captured the true nature of what ended and began in the event of the fall of man in the garden.
According to Milton, man’s first sin, the eating of that which was forbidden, brought about death and “all our woe.” I contend these consequences of sin, death and woe, were and are secondary effects of sin. What was truly the primary effect of sin was the dividing of the relationship between God and man. What was lost, which made the garden paradise, was spiritual union. We lost God.
I’m sure you have lost things. You can become quite undone when you are seeking to find what you have lost. Did you know, however, that it is quite natural for you to be seeking after something. Man is a seeking creature. We are constantly from birth trying to find what we don’t have. Before the fall man did not seek? The word picture that best describes man in our natural state is a blind seeker. Just picture a blind man seeking after something. The difficulty is he cannot even fully describe what he is looking for because he has never seen it. His other senses may give him a partial knowledge of what he is after, but not thorough knowledge. Literally he doesn’t even know what he has lost.
We, in our fallen state, don’t even know that we have lost God. Therefore we cannot seek him. “There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”(Rom 3:11) We seek to have our wants supplied, something to satisfy our hearts but we no not for sure what that is. Rest for or satisfaction of the soul is a lifelong endeavor. From waking to sleeping, and even in our dreams we seek without intermission. Psychology, the study of the soul, often paints the very same picture of suicide. A person who contemplates suicide suffers from a starving soul dying in despondency. They are at their wits end searching for something they know not what nor where that something is.
This is a pretty bleak picture of the state of man. Constantly looking for something but not knowing what. This is the primary effect of sin. This is what the bible teaches. You can’t even use the blind squirrel theory that even he finds a nut every now and then. We wouldn’t even know if we found it.
Wow, what a downer right. Wrong, this is actually the miracle of the Gospel. If you know what it is you seek it is not lost. The sequel to Paradise Lost is the Covenant of Grace. If you God has chosen to allow you to seek him he has shown you his mercy and has renewed your sight. He has made known to you your desperate need for your union with him. Your futile search is over. He has said you will seek and you will find. You will knock and you will have the door opened. You are united to him, now look for him.