Summary: While Adam got us into the mess we’re in, Christ will get us out of it.
GRACE: THE WIND BENEATH YOUR WINGS
Romans 5:12-19 (The Message)
12/ You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in -- first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. 13/ That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. 14/ So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.
15/ Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! 16/ There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. 17/ If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?
18/ Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us all in this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! 19/ One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many people in the right.
I don’t think any of us set out to be sinners. Do you? I guess I’m willing to say that, when we sin, it is a misguided effort to meet some need or other -- at least, to meet a need as we see it.
I look at the Bible’s account of the original sin, in which Eve yields to temptation and eats the forbidden fruit. What was going on there? Why did she do it? She had no reason to do anything that might hurt God. I think what she did she did to keep herself from getting hurt.
If you listen to the dialog between Eve and the serpent -- remember him? -- you’ll notice that Eve is presented with a desirable offer. Eating the fruit means expanded powers of awareness. Specifically, the serpent says, “Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5, NRSV). It was true, in a way, wasn’t it? Eve and then Adam would know “good and evil,” and they would know it in a whole new way! Sadly, they would be entangled in evil and homesick for innocence, longing for the good that had been lost. But Eve could not have known this yet -- not at this point.
What she did know was that God had told her -- and he had told Adam, for that matter -- not to eat of the fruit of this particular tree, because, if they did, they would die. Now, here’s where the serpent lied to Eve. “You will not die,” he said. And then he inserted the tiniest seed of doubt into Eve’s mind: “For God knows that when you eat..., your eyes will be opened.” In other words, Eve, God has lied to you. He knows something you don’t know, and he is withholding from you something you need, something you deserve, something it is your right to have.
Now you can see how Eve might have felt threatened. I suppose it had never occurred to her that God could have been lying to her, holding out on her. But now the thought was there. She could not trust him. That’s the key element in all human sin -- the failure to trust God to meet our needs. Paul says at one point in Romans, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). In other words, when we fail to trust God, we’re setting ourselves up for sinful means to meet our needs. That’s what happened to Eve. She now felt that she could not trust God, since, she reasoned, if she could not trust him on this one point, she could not trust him at all.
So, her faith wavering, she ate the fruit, and Adam did, too. And when they did, fear was born -- fear of God, fear of judgment, fear of life, fear of death, fear of one another. That’s what was behind the whole “fig leaf” thing -- literally! -- fear of being vulnerable to each other, fear that no one can be trusted and that, therefore, we must hide from one another. And so, one more fear was born -- the fear in each of us that we cannot depend upon God or anyone else to meet our needs. We will have to meet them ourselves. Romans 5:13 says that “sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone,” and it is clear that it disturbed our relations with each other as well. We are now entangled in fear, feeling threatened, and not sure whom we can trust. And that’s the mood we’re in when we go trying to get our needs met. No wonder we wind up hurting ourselves and each other. As Paul says in verse 18, we are “in...trouble.”