“Salvation” series (post #4)
Now that we have Biblically determined that there is a God and that He is perfectly holy, we must next turn our attention to ourselves. That’s why I’ve entitled this 4th post in the “Salvation” series “You Are a Sinner.” But please don’t think that I’m singling you out for indictment. The post’s title could just as easily be “I Am a Sinner” or “We Are All Sinners.” The point is, the description “sinner” fits each one of us.
The human race became a race of sinners when its genetic, biological father, Adam, sinned by eating the fruit of the garden of Eden’s tree of the knowledge of good and evil. While Adam’s wife, Eve, took the lead in that sin by eating the forbidden fruit first, Genesis 3:6 tells us that Adam was right there with her when she did it and quickly joined her in the sin.
Actually, Adam eating the fruit was even more blatant sin than Eve eating it. I say that for two reasons. First, it had been straight from God Himself that Adam had received the command not to eat that fruit (Genesis 2:15-16). God hadn’t even created Eve yet when He had told Adam to stay away from that fruit (Genesis 2:18-25). Evidently, then, Eve had received the command from Adam rather than God.
Second, 1 Timothy 2:14 teaches that Eve eating of that fruit can be explained by the fact that she was deceived by the serpent (with the fallen angel Satan demon possessing the serpent’s body and speaking through it). Adam, on the other hand, was not deceived. In other words, Eve didn’t fully understand the ramifications of what they were doing, but Adam did. I’m in no way saying that Eve should get a free pass or that her lack of spiritual discernment should let her off the hook, but her sin really was the result of her being deceived. In Adam’s case, though, he knew perfectly well that biting into that fruit would set him in direct violation to God’s command.
Some have theorized that once Adam saw that his wife had eaten of the fruit, his motivation for joining her in the sin was his great love for her and his desire to remain with her, even in a sin-lessened existence. While this attempted explanation for Adam’s willful disobedience makes some sense on the surface, there is no clear scriptural support for it. What the Bible does is place Adam right alongside Eve standing before the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, watching her take some of the fruit and eat it, accepting the fruit when she hands it to him, and eating the fruit himself (Genesis 3:6). He never objects to what she is doing, and he certainly never stops her. His job as the head of the home was to do his best to keep Eve and himself innocent and righteous, but he failed at doing that.
And so it was with this one catastrophic act that Adam introduced sin not only into his own physical body but into the physical body of each of his future descendants. In doing so, he brought death into his race as well. God had warned him, “…in the day that you eat of it (the forbidden fruit) you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). This death is not only a physical death but also a spiritual one.
First, there is the fact of physical death. As Romans 5:12 says:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all have sinned… (N.K.J.V.)
It should be noted that the Hebrew wording of God’s warning to Adam literally means “dying you shall die.” This explains not only the fact of physical death itself but also the typical aging process that culminates in death. You see, Adam’s sin didn’t just introduce sin and physical death into his race, it also introduced weakening eyes, weakening hearing, heart disease, cancer, strokes, breathing conditions, backaches, mental disorders, gum disease, lost teeth, sore joints, and all the other physical ailments that we humans must deal with as the aging process takes its toll on each of us before we finally take our last breath. The Bible’s most descriptive and poetic passage on this aging process is Ecclesiastes 12:1-7. Those verses describe the aging body as a silver cord that becomes loosed, a golden bowl that becomes broken, a pitcher that becomes shattered, and a wheel that becomes broken.
But then, second, there is also the fact of spiritual death. Passages such as Ephesians 2:1-5, Colossians 2:13, and 1 Timothy 5:6 teach that each person is born “dead in trespasses and sins.” To be “dead” in this way cannot refer to physical death because the people being described in these passages are still very much physically alive.
Here again we must take things all the way back to Adam to find the explanation. When Adam ate of that forbidden fruit, he didn’t instantly die physically even though the aging process that would eventually lead to his death was begun. He did, however, instantly die spiritually. What this means is that he instantly became separated from God. He was no longer walking in perfect relationship with God. He was no longer in daily fellowship with God. He was no longer in unity with God. Figuratively speaking, a great gulf now stood between him and his Maker. He was now cut off from God’s spiritual life (Ephesians 4:18) as well as God’s spiritual light (Ephesians 4:18; Romans 1:21; 1 Peter 2:9). For that matter, so was Eve. Thus began the sinful state of the entire human race.
One thing that most people don’t understand is that an individual doesn’t become a sinner the moment he or she commits their first sin. No, that individual commits that first sin because he or she is a sinner. Does a fish swim to become a fish or does a fish swim because it is a fish? You know the answer. Likewise, you don’t sin to become a sinner, you sin because you are a sinner.
And when did you become a sinner? It occurred at your moment of conception in your mother’s womb! In Psalm 51:5, David says of himself, “Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me” (N.R.S.V.). To be conceived in sin means that you had Adam’s nature of sin and rebellion against God coursing through you from the first moment the spark of physical life was struck in you. This is the consequence of being a product of the tainted seed that began in Adam’s body and has flowed down through his entire race ever since. A newborn baby might have its mother’s eyes or its daddy’s nose, but there’s no doubt that it has Adam’s sinful nature. And it’s this sinful nature that will inevitably cause the child to commit specific acts of sin as the child grows. For example, Psalm 58:3 says:
Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies. (N.I.V.)
The conclusion of all this, then, is that the entire human race abides under the sentence and doom of sin. As Ecclesiastes 7:20 says:
Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. (N.A.S.V.)
Likewise, in Romans 3:23 we read:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (N.K.J.V.)
Friend, you’re in this sinking boat and so am I, and in light of the fact that our Creator God is perfectly holy, it’s the worst possible boat in which we could find ourselves. But thank God the story doesn’t end there. Thank God there are more posts to write in this series. Thank God that He loves us enough to have provided a way by which we can have all our sins forgiven and be brought back into right relationship with Him. This provision has come to be known as the plan of salvation, and in my next post I’ll lay out the details and particulars of this plan. So be sure to come back for that post, and we’ll discover together how unholy sinners can get to spend eternity with a holy God. Until then, hang in there fellow sinner. We’re getting to the good part now.