Man was created upright and therefore with the character that constituted him for, and endowed him with the ability to perform, righteousness. Such a position is demanded by the fact that he was very good and was created in the divine image. If he was very good, he was such in terms of the categories that define his nature as man, and if he bore the divine image, he must have borne it in the fullest terms of the Scripture definition. At the suggestion of Satan, man disobeyed and fell into sin and under its guilt.
Satan tempted man to sin; this temptation was the occasion of man’s fall. It was not, however, the cause. No external power or influence can cause a rational being to sin. The sin of Adam was a movement of defection and apostasy and transgression in Adam’s heart and mind and will, and for that movement he was responsible and he alone was the agent and subject. The temptation of Satan did not constitute the sin of Adam. It was the voluntary acquiescence in that suggestion, the embrace or sympathetic entertainment of it. For that acquiescence man was solely and wholly responsible. Satan was responsible for the malicious and seductive intent of the temptation, and for its character as seduction. Satan incurred guilt thereby. But for the fall of Adam, Adam alone was responsible.
God gave to man the power of contrary choice*. Man of his own will, by no external compulsion or determination, used that power in the commission of sin. There was no necessity arising from his physical condition, nor from his moral nature, nor from the nature of his environment, why he should sin. It was a free movement within man’s spirit. To use Laidlaw’s words, “It arose with an external suggestion, and upon an external occasion, but it was an inward crisis.”
The outward act of transgression, like all overt acts, was determined by inclination, propension, character. Since the character that produced the act cannot be different as to its moral character from the act itself, we must conclude that the inclination, disposition or character of Adam changed from holiness to unholiness. It was that change of moral character that alone can explain the overt act of Sin. The inward change was signalized or manifested by the overt act of disobedience.