Did you realise that, without committing any actual sins, you were condemned before God and accountable to the judgment of God? Romans 5:12-21 and other places in the Bible teach the doctrine of original sin. Article 9 of the 39 Articles explains this doctrine:
Original sin does not consist in imitating the sin of Adam, (as the Pelagians wrongly teach), but is the fault and corruption of the nature with which all descendants of Adam are born. It is due to original sin that we have departed very far from the original righteousness in which we were created, and are naturally inclined to evil, with the result that there is a constant war between flesh and the spirit. Accordingly, in every person born into this world, original sin is deserving of God’s wrath and condemnation.
Romans 5:12 describes the order of world history and how this doctrine came to be.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned… (Romans 5:12)
Sin was introduced into the world; as a result, death came; as a result, all die; because all sinned. The Apostle Paul will tell us that sin not only entered our world (v12), but now sin reigns over those without Christ (v21). Sin is presented, not as a small thing, but as a great power that now rules us, masters us and dominates humans. How did sin enter the world? V12 says “through one man” i.e. Adam.
Hold on! I thought Eve sinned first by eating of the fruit that God had said they should not eat? Satan indeed made his appeal through Eve, but Adam rightfully bears the responsibility since he was God’s appointed representative of the human race and was to lead Eve, not compromise with her. Because of that rebellion against God, physical and spiritual death entered our world. Every human being now dies. Every human being is now born separated from God and liable for the judgment of God.
The de-godding of God
You might say: “That’s a bit harsh! They just ate some fruit salad after all! Didn’t God over react? Doesn’t God just need chill a bit?”
No. There is much more going on here. Adam did not just break a petty rule; he sought to assert his own authority over God’s; he wanted to decide for himself what’s right and wrong and what’s acceptable and not acceptable. Sin, in its very essence, is the attempted de-throning of God. Sin is saying: “I’m on the throne. I get to decide what’s right and wrong”. Sin is showing God the middle finger.
We know that sin is a foreign word to most people. People tend to think of sin as a very subjective thing so what’s a sin for you is not necessarily as sin for me. People tend to think that sin I not so serious, it’s more like an “Oops – I’ll try and do better next time”.
Yet sin is infinitely serious. Sin is the attempted de-godding of God. It’s elevating your puny pleasure above Almighty God. It’s telling your Creator to get lost because you, the creature, know better.
Death then entered our world because of sin. Death does not just come to Adam, it “spread to all men (people)” (v12). An undertaker will never go out of business due to lack of demand, because of sin.
Why did death spread to all? After all, it was Adam who sinned and therefore deserved to die? V12 says, “because ALL sinned”. These are three controversial words. It could simply mean that Adam sinned by disobeying God and now every human imitates Adam’s example by disobeying God and therefore everybody dies.
But these three words mean much more than that. What the Apostle means is that IN Adam all sinned i.e. “Death spread to all people because all sinned IN ADAM”. Because Adam was the first human, when he sinned, we all sinned. All people since Adam, therefore, are born sinful with a bias towards sin. (This passage in the Bible cannot make sense if there was not a real, historical Adam.)
Romans 5 goes on to show that just as we all sinned in Adam – without contributing in any way, so all who trust in Jesus will be counted righteous – again without contributing in any way.
v17 says that not only does sin reign, but now – because of sin – “death reigns”. Sin and death master us and we cannot overcome them in our own strength. Our world spends billions of Rands on health-care and anti-aging techniques, but we cannot stop death.
At Freddie Mercury’s tribute concert Elton John and Axl Rose sang Bohemian Rhapsody, and the words took on new meaning:
Too late, my time has come,
Sent shivers down my spine,
Body’s aching all the time.
Goodbye, everybody, I’ve got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.
The truth is that, because of Adam’s sin, death reigns.
If that’s not bad enough, the Bible says that those who die in Adam, therefore without Christ, will face the “second death” – which is the judgment of God. But those in Christ, (v17) those who receive “the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness”, they “will reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” Christians still die, but they do not fear death as Christ has conquered sin and death and in Christ they are declared right with God for all eternity.
It’s easy to be in Adam, you just need to be born. To be in Christ, you need to be born again. In other words, you need to come to God and pray, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner”.
Photo credit: pixabay.com