More From This Series
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
- Why do you think it is necessary to believe God is both sovereign and good in order to obey Him out of love?
- Read James 1:13-17. James talks about temptation. What similarities are there between the way he talks about temptation and the way Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden? How does a person get tempted? How does a person end up choosing to sin? What reminder does James 1:17 give us and how can that help us escape temptation?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?
- Discuss your biggest takeaway from the message on "Original Sin".
I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "It's been going around," especially during the winter season when it seems like everyone is sick. We use that phrase, "It's been going around." It's the cold that won't go away. It's the flu that has struck everyone in your office or in your home. It's the worst strep throat we've ever seen. It's been going around. When people say that to me when I'm sick, "It's been going around," I'm not really sure how to take that. It could be taken as, "I know you're coughing up a lung, but you're not the only one suffering here, so a lot of people have it. Quit feeling sorry for yourself because it's been going around," or the phrase, "It's been going around," means, "You're not going to find out where it started so that you have someone to blame for your cold or your flu or your strep throat because it's been going around so long that you don't really know who gave it to you."
It's not always true. I was sick with a bad cold the first three weeks of this year, and I know exactly where I got it from. My son and his wife were with their small group on January 1st, having a time of celebration and commitment of the year to the Lord. It was a wonderful experience for them, but we had our grandson, who was seven months old at the time, Marco. He was there for about 12 hours. For six of those hours, he was sitting on my lap and coughing into my face. When his parents came to get him, I even prophesied in Jesus' name that I was going to be sick. Sure enough, the next day, I got it. I know exactly where I got that virus from. There's been another virus that's been going around for a whole lot longer than just the first three weeks of this year, and every single person within the sound of my voice has this virus.
Just like the symptoms of a bad cold, the symptoms of this virus are just as real and just as personal to each one of us. The virus is called original sin. Now, Protestants and Catholics use that term, original sin, to tell us that sin has an origin. It started with our original parents. Every single descendant of Adam and Eve have this virus. Paul says it this way in Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and in this way, death came to all people because all sinned." Paul says that every single one of us have this virus because of our original parents and because we also have sinned. Now, at times, that virus may seem dormant to you, but I guarantee you at some point, chances are that virus showed itself up in your life this week.
When you said that hurtful thing, when you didn't stop the thoughts of greed or lust or anxiety from taking deep root in your heart and, left unchecked, took you to a dark place, when you treated the people that you say you love in a most unloving way or when you did what you swore a million times that you would not do, that virus called original sin showed up. You're not alone. I'm not alone either. Even the people in the Bible showed off that virus. When Abraham lied twice about his wife, Sarah, being his sister, when Jacob deceived his father to get his brother's blessing and birthright, when Jacob's sons, out of hatred for Joseph, sold him into slavery, when King Saul consulted a witch instead of God, when David was on top of one very hot roof overlooking the roof of Bathsheba, when Peter was in a courtyard and denied knowing his Lord that he had traveled with for over three years, that virus showed up.
No matter whether it's the people in the people in the Bible or the people listening to me or the person speaking to you, the symptoms of this virus are the same, broken relationships, alienation from God, deep pain, and intense regret. It's true. The virus didn't start with me anymore than my January cold started with me. The virus started with Adam and Eve. We look at them this morning, but I have news for you. There's probably going to be a surprise ending because that virus that infects me and that virus that infects you, it's deserved. I would have done the same thing that Adam and Eve did, and God knows that. The reason God knows that is because I have. I have done the same thing. I have taken the forbidden fruit in perhaps a different form.
We have all sinned. Don't think of this this morning as a Bible lesson. This, my friends, is an autobiography with your name at the title and mine. To get us where we need to be, we start where Pastor Jerry took us last week. Look at this statement. A good God created a good universe, and everything in it was good. It's true. Seven times in the creation story Moses uses the Hebrew word is tov, the word good. God created everything, and everything was good including the potential for evil that found itself last week as we studied in the serpent. Remember, God's permission has a purpose. As we move forward this morning, I want to insert another word into that sentence, and it will become clear why I do in just a little while.
A sovereign and good God created a good universe, and everything in it was good. Creation says a lot of things about God, but one thing that emerges very clearly is that he is not only good, he is sovereign. No one else could have created this world because he's God, and there is no one beside him. Because he is sovereign, he can do whatever he wishes. I love the way the Psalmist says it. He says it this way, "Our God is in heaven. He does whatever pleases him." His sovereignty means not only can he create, but he could create any world that he wanted, but this right here is the world that he wanted to create because this sovereign and good God is also incredibly wise. He created the very best world possible. The world we have right now, including the possibility and the reality of sin, is the very best world that God could create or else he would have created another one.
Now, we learned last week what this good God has to do with the existence of evil in the serpent, but what does this have to do with Adam and Eve and the presence of sin? We get there by asking a very important question. What kind of humans did God create? Here's the answer that I want to give to you. God created Adam and Eve to live in a dependent love relationship with God. God created Adam and Eve to live in a dependent and a love relationship with God. Now, we know, of course, that Adam and Eve were created in God's image. Moses said it this way in Genesis one, "God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock, and all the wild animals, and over all creatures that move along the ground.'"
God created Adam and Eve to be like him but not to be God, not even a little G god. That will become very important when we come to Genesis three and see just how Satan was able to trick them. They were to be like him, and they were made to be in a dependent relationship. Everything that we need to exist, in the image that he created in us, is found in a dependent relationship with God. That's what Moses is inferring when he says this in Genesis two, "The Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." It was only by God breathing into us that we exist. We owe everything to him. We are to live in a dependent relationship. All of creation is dependent on God, but it is a unique relationship that God wanted to have with us.
He created human beings as the only part of his creation that could have a relationship with him. What kind of relationship? He created us to be in a love relationship with him. That means that he demonstrated, because he is sovereign and good, that he loves us, but that we also would respond and love him. Even though he didn't say it here, he says it enough to know in the scriptures that God created us to be in a love relationship with him. He says, for example, in Deuteronomy 6:5, "To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Jesus repeated it too when the teacher asked him, "Which is the greatest commandment in the law?" Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind."
This is has great significance to each one of us as we recognize that the only way we can function in the way that God created us was to love him with all our hearts. This is what God created for Adam and Eve to experience, but what is required for that kind of relationship to exist? I'm going somewhere, and with one less hour of sleep, I need you to pay attention. What does this love relationship look like? First of all, it is a love that is free. God did not create Adam and Eve or us to be robots. If there's no choice, then we're not free. God was looking for Adam and Eve to love him freely as a choice of their own will. That's why God created us with a freewill, so that Adam and Eve would choose to obey God out of a free heart that loves him. Of logical necessity, the freedom to obey must mean the freedom to disobey or it's really not free. But not only is this love free, it is a love that obeys.
God wants their obedience. God wants our obedience. Love is always exhibited in scripture by obedience. Obedience is the way that we show that we love God. Again, God says it in the Old Testament. For example, in Deuteronomy 10, "And now Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul?" He also says it in the New Testament. Here's an example, "If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love." It is by our obedience that we prove we love God. God wanted their obedience, Adam and Eve. What would they have to believe? This is so important. What would they have to believe in order to obey God out of a heart that loves him? The first thing that they would have to believe is that God was sovereign. They had to believe, in order to obey him out of a heart of love, that God was sovereign.
Let me cut right to where we are. What this says, this sovereign and good God created a good universe, and everything in it was good, that he is sovereign, it means this. God had the right to tell them and us what to do. Because he is sovereign, God has the right to tell them and us what to do, but not only that he's sovereign, they would also have to believe that he was good, that they would believe that God was good because Adam and Eve could have obeyed God out of fear of consequences. They could have obeyed God out of compulsion, but for Adam and Eve to obey God out of a heart of love, they needed to believe that God had the very best for them, that he was telling them what to do because he had the very best in mind for them. Now, we have to add another part to this story because Adam and Eve could say that God is sovereign and that God is good all day long, but if it was never given opportunity to express itself, their faith in the sovereign and goodness of God, then it's meaningless.
There's a third component that we add, this love that is tested. We say that all the time, don't we? It's not really love until it's tested. It's true. In the garden, God tests whether Adam and Eve will obey because they believe that he is sovereign, he has the right to tell them what to do, and he is good. There is a test. We're all aware of this test, but this is what it looks like in Genesis. "And the Lord God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For when you eat from it, you will certainly die.'" There's the test. Every tree but one. Every tree had the same characteristic. This is how it's described in Genesis two, "The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground, trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." All the trees looked the same.
Can you imagine Adam and Eve going through the garden? We can eat from this one and this one and this one, but this one that looks like all the other trees, God said no. There is no accident in why this tree is called the knowledge of good and evil. This is our good God speaking, and he says, "Do not eat from this tree of the knowledge of good and evil." What's he saying to them? "I want you to know what evil is by trusting me. I do not want you to know evil by experiencing it." Let's not make this any more difficult than it needs to be. Aren't we the same with our children when they were growing up? Do not touch the hot stove, for you'll get hurt if you do.
We want our children to obey us because they believe that we want what's best for them. We want them to know evil by trusting us, not by sitting in an emergency room for three hours because they had to decide for themselves whether or not that hot stove would hurt them. We have to believe this about God, that he is good. God says, "I know where the landmines are in your life, and I want to spare you the pain of broken relationships because you stepped over that line, because you ate of the forbidden fruit, because you didn't trust me. Not only do I have the right to tell you what to do, I'm doing it because it's good for you." God, that's the truth, doesn't want you to experience evil, but the serpent comes, and he gives the lie, "It's not evil. God's holding out on you. He's not good. If you do what you want," the serpent said, "you'll become like God, knowing good and evil. He's not sovereign. Choose for yourself."
Biting the forbidden fruit is called the original sin, but I have to tell you, as I read the text, that there's a failure on Adam's part. If he had obeyed this command, Genesis three would look a little bit different. Here's the command in Genesis 1:26, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground," including the serpent. If Adam, when he found out what the serpent was doing, had exercised dominion over those things that creep along the ground, he would have stomped on that serpent's head and ended the story, but he didn't. He didn't do that.
Because he didn't and because you and I haven't, here's the second point. We have the same virus, challenging the sovereignty and goodness of God. What I'm saying to you is that every sin that you and I commit by commission and by omitting, we are challenging the sovereignty and the goodness of God. If I can be so silly, I could say it's not fair that I suffered for three weeks because I caught the virus that belonged to Marco Jonathan because he doesn't know how to cover his mouth when he coughs. Keep that to yourself. I could say that, but he's my grandson, so he gets a pass. I might say it's not fair that I have inside of me the virus that infected Adam and Eve and every generation after, but God was fair to do that because God knows that I would do the same thing if I was Adam because I have done the same thing as Adam.
It is fair that David and Sandra, my parents, passed down this infection, this virus to me and that I've passed it on to my son. We have the same virus of challenging the sovereignty and goodness of God that caused the original fall, but we need to call it what it is. You know when you go to a doctor you want to find the root, the real problem, whether it's pneumonia or bronchitis or the common cold. Tell me what the real virus is. I need to tell you what the original virus that you and I have are. It's this. It's rebellion. I could use the word treason as well. The decision of Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit can only be called rebellion. They could protest all day long that they were tricked, but at the end of the day, they ran away from God instead of running to God when they were tempted and after they sinned.
Can you imagine again how different this story would be if when the serpent came slying into their life they had ran to God and said, "God, the serpent is lying about you, and we don't know what to do. Help us"? Can you imagine how your story and my story would be different if when the serpent comes into our life to trick us, to deceive us, if we ran to God and said, "God, help. The serpent's lying about my marriage. The serpent's lying about how I just need to be happy. The serpent's lying about what will happen if I do this. Help"? Our stories would look a whole lot different if we ran to God instead of running away from God, not because we're confused, but because we're rebels. We've rebelled against him, plain and simple. We can call it whatever we want. "I'm only human. I was weak. If you knew the child that I had, if you knew how they treated me," or, "If you knew how life is always against me," or, "I was put into a situation, and I didn't know how to get out of it."
You looked at even how the world defines sin. "We're enlightened now," or, "We've evolved to a better understanding of human behavior than this ancient book." It's rebellion. Plain and simple, it's rebellion. Listen to the mantra of our culture, "No one is going to tell me what I can and can not do." Maybe we don't have the virus to that extent, but you hear the virus speaking into your heart all the time. "We're going to live together before we get married. I know what the Bible says about the sacred nature of the covenant of marriage, but we know what we're doing." Even though there are studies after studies after studies from unbelievers, by the way, that show that living together before marriage will not get you what you want, you know what you're doing. That's the same virus that bit Adam and Eve when they bit the forbidden fruit.
"I know I shouldn't be texting that guy. He's married. I know I shouldn't be texting that gal. She's married. I know I shouldn't be reaching out on social media. They're married, but it's just texting." Before long, that texting turns into a romantic relationship that destroys a lot of hearts, but you knew what you were doing. "Yeah, I know I shouldn't be so angry for so long at that person. I know I should forgive. I know what God has told me to do, but I'm not ready." Before you know it, you haven't spoken in months or years or you're coming to a different service than they are. That bridge is irrevocably burnt and will only be rescued in the presence of Christ someday. When you turned your back on that relationship, you knew what you were doing. That's the same virus that bit Adam and Eve when they bit that forbidden fruit.
Yeah, you know Jesus says whoever looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery in his heart, but that click on the computer screen says you know exactly what you're doing. Yeah, you know that God has said that anyone who builds his own empire and cares only about putting away for his own retirement and is not generous towards God will be revealed as a fool the night their soul is required of them, but you know what you're doing. It's the same virus that bit Adam and Eve when they bit that forbidden fruit. Yeah, you know that James and Peter say that God gives grace to the humble but stiff-arms, resists, the proud, but you won't listen to God when he tries to get your attention about the path that you've chosen, a path that even those around you knows has dead end written all over it, but you know what you're doing. It's the same virus that bit Adam and Eve when they bit the forbidden fruit. By the way, you ought to know that you're in a bad spot when even God can't get your attention.
That's the virus of challenging the sovereignty and goodness of God that Adam and Eve allowed into their lives. Let's just stop for a minute and ask our hearts this question, "Does God have the right to tell me what to do and what not to do? Does God really have my best in mind when he tells me to do it?" See, the enemy of your soul will want you to believe that God tells you what to do because he's this cosmic killjoy that doesn't want you to experience any fun when, in reality, it's something totally different. I've been moving slowly through Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is the second repetition of the law that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. Over and over again, in Deuteronomy, God will say, "I want you to obey me," listen, "so that it may go well with you." This is why God has his laws. This is why God tells us what to do and what not to do, so that it may go well with you, not so that it will harm you.
God doesn't want to harm you, but we want to be our own gods because we know better. That same virus leads to the same symptoms, and they are two: hiding and blaming. I knew that I had Marco's cold when I woke up the next day with Marco's symptoms. You go to a doctor feeling as lousy as I did in January, and the doctor asks what my symptoms are, and he gives the diagnosis. I know that I have Adam and Eve's virus inside my soul because I have the same symptoms. We know what happened. We all know what happened there. They bought into the lie. They took the forbidden fruit. The Bible says immediately they felt shame. They knew they were naked. They hid themselves from the presence of God. That, my friends, is the history of humanity.
The Bible, over and over, tells us that God wants to make his presence known in our lives, and we hide from the presence of God. They hid. When God came in the cool of the day and said, "Where are you?" The first question in the Bible, "Where are you, Adam?" He says, "I hid because I was afraid." God says, "Is it because you took of the fruit?" Immediately, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. We have the same virus without Christ. We are all hiders, and we are blamers, but we need to know why. They hid from God because they couldn't handle the accountability to God. They blamed each other because they couldn't handle the weight of their sin, and that is all of us. Both of those symptoms, that we hide and that we blame, are evidence that the weight of sin is more than we can handle because God never intended for us to handle it. Both of those symptoms are evidence that we can't rid ourselves of this virus.
As long as we don't come to Christ, in our sin, we hide and we blame. I need you to know something. Sin changes us when it's repressed. Sin changes who are you when you hold it down because you're in hiding. You don't want this person to know and that person to know, let alone God to know. It changes who you are. God has a solution for us. What Adam should have done to end this virus from getting started and spreading, which is to stomp on the head of the serpent, God, in the garden, promises that Jesus would do it. Genesis three, "I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." He will crush your head. There's a scene in The Passion of the Christ. Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane and someone else, the enemy, comes into the garden. Watch.
[Scene from "The Passion of the Christ"]
Victory has been won. Jesus Christ has crushed the head of the serpent. While that virus will still remain until I stand in the presence of God, I don't need to hide anymore. You don't need to hide anymore. You don't need to blame anymore because the one who defeated the serpent has gained the victory over your sin. Rather than the sin changing you, Christ can change you. You no longer need to hide. The apostle John wrote these words in 1 John 1:5, "If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son purifies us from all sin." What sin are you carrying from this week, from this past month, this past year, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, 40 years ago? What sin are you carrying?
You can bring it to his light. He is light. He will shine his heart, and that might seem so unattractive and ugly to you that he shows his light on your heart, but that's the only way it can be cleansed and so that you come to him and say, "God, I'm tired of running from you. I'm tired of hiding because of this sin. If I bring it to the light, you've promised to cleanse me." I not only need to no longer hide, I no longer need to blame either. Just two verses later, John says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Leave that up for a minute. If we confess, if we say the same thing that God says about it, not that it was a mistake, not that I was weak, not that I was human, but I rebelled against you, God.
If we say the same thing about our sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us. My son pointed this out when he was taking Greek in seminary. The root word for forgive is the same word as divorce. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to divorce us from our sins and to cleanse us. Divorce, he will remove it. How far? Psalm 103 verse 12, as far as the east is from the west. He will bury it, Micah 7:19, in the depths of the sea, and he will forget it. No one else can. You can't. You've been trying, but you've been hanging onto it for years. You can't forget it. Maybe you have people in your life who remind you of it. He'll forget it. Bruce Larson loves to tell the story of a pastor in another country who committed a horrible sin when he was in seminary that only a few people knew, but through all those years, he could never ever find release though he sought it with many tears.
There was a lady in his congregation, again, in another country, that had such an intimate relationship with God that everyone in that congregation knew that God spoke to her and she spoke to God. The pastor went up to her and said, "There's a grievous sin that your pastor committed in seminary, and I've sought release, and I've never been able to find it. Would you ask God this week in your time with him what sin that was?" She agreed. She came back to church the next Sunday, and he couldn't wait but went up to her and said, "So did you ask God about the sin I committed in seminary?" She says, "Yes." "Well, what did he say?" "He said he didn't remember." That comes from scripture, my friends.
"No longer will they say," Jeremiah 31, "come and know the Lord because everyone will know the Lord, for I will forgive their wickedness and I will remember their sins no more." Isaiah said, "Come now and let us reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Later on, he says, "Let the wicked forsake their ways and beyond righteous, their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them and to our God, for he will freely pardon." Are you tired this morning of carrying the chains of sin that he already defeated? You do not need to go out of here carrying it any longer because you are never going to hear of a better deal than this, "I will remember your sin no more." You can walk out of here totally cleansed and say, "God, because you forgot it, so will I. I'm going to move forward in my life in victory because of what you've done and what you've promised." When you sit down and reason it out, as Isaiah said, you recognize just how beautiful his grace is.
Would you bow your head with me? We're gone in just a moment. If you don't need to move, I'd appreciate it if you didn't. As you've been sorting through the promises that God gives, maybe you've been hanging onto something for a long time, a sin that you committed a month ago, a year ago, 10 years ago, when you were a child, and you've been hanging onto it. Maybe it's because you've been believing the lie of the enemy who says that you can never escape it, but you can because he crushed the head of the serpent. He gained the victory at the cross, and he's promised now that if you will come to him in the light and if you will confess your sin, he will remove it.
In the stillness of this time, would you just go before him and say, "God, you know that that sin is. You know how I've wrestled with it. You know what that addiction is. You know how I've struggled. God, I'm coming to you because you said if I walk in the light, you'll cleanse me. If I confess my sin, you will forgive and separate it from me. I'm trusting that you are sovereign, that you are able to do something about my sin. I'm coming to you believing that you are good and that you will do what is good for me in removing this sin as far as the east is from the west." Father, there is really no one like our God. You could have very easily said to us, even way back in the garden, "You sinned. You sit in it. I'm not going to do anything for you."
Right there in the very midst of that garden, in that fall, you promised that you would bring someone into this world who would crush the serpent's head and gain victory over our sin. We can not do it on our own, we tried, but you've already done it. Lord, I pray that there would be many in this room and listening to my voice who would be set free right now by the blood of Jesus Christ, who cleanses from every sin, and that we would walk out of here in victory, that that sin is gone. I thank you, Lord, for the blood of Christ and the power of the cross to change every part of us into the likeness of Christ. I thank you for doing that in Christ's name. Everyone said...