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Oct 08, 2017

Adam's Sin and Our Depravity

Passage: Genesis 3:1-19

Preacher: John Huizinga

Series: The Grand Story of God

Keywords: adam, devil, eve, garden of eden, jesus, original sin, second adam, sin, temptation, total depravity

Summary:

EPIC SUNDAY #2: It’s not fair, we protest: how could Adam’s sin make me guilty before God! It’s not true, we conclude: science tells us there couldn’t have been a first Adam and Eve in the literal wooden reading of Genesis! It’s not me, we insist: I’m not a bad person. We can try to explain away original sin in the story of Genesis 3 all we want. But the Stephen Paddocks, Hugh Hefners, and persistent pride and prejudice inside us say otherwise. The story is not bad news to make us feel worse, but the context for good news. Only the Lord God would respond to humanity’s failure with a promise to redeem. That’s not fair either; it’s grace. And if there’s anything we need today, it’s grace.

Detail:

 

 

No one knows yet what caused

64-year-old Stephen Paddock to shoot

and to murder so many people in Las Vegas.

Police had no prior knowledge of the gunman

before the attack, Sheriff Lombardo said.

"I don't know how it could have been prevented,"

he said.

 

Rev. Scott Hoezee wonders out loud about the tragedy:

A single gunman inspired by ISIS is cause enough

to ban travelers from whole nations.  

One man with explosives in his shoe on an airplane

is enough to make millions of us

remove our shoes at airport check points

from then on out.  

A single child who gets sick from tainted hamburger is enough to recall tons of meat

and strengthen food inspection laws.  

But let two dozen six and seven year olds

get murdered in their classrooms,

let a score or more die inside a movie theater,

let hundreds get shot up and scores killed

at a Las Vegas concert

and our collective response as a nation will be . . . exactly zero.

. . . why do we so seldom hear Christians

approaching all of this in vocabulary

and moral/ethical language

that differs in any way from

the non-Christian gun advocates in this country?   Does following the Prince of Peace

make no difference at all

in how Christians speak of these matters?  

I am asking the question honestly.

Because I honestly don’t know the answer.  

 

All this illustrates our helplessness

when it comes to sin and its results.

Whatever you think about Las Vegas

and how to respond or not,

one thing we agree on is that this was evil.

What does the Bible and

how does the Christian faith respond

when it comes to evil?

 

Once again we see how miserable we are.

And that’s how we are to understand

humanity’s fall into sin and its results.

Genesis 3 proclaims that human beings

tho created in God’s image

good and righteous,

have had that image broken and mis-shapen

because of the sin of Adam and Eve,

their sin corrupted each and every one of us.

 

You heard the story.

The devil comes in disguise

because that’s what the devil always does.

Adam and Eve are tempted

to disobey God’s command.

They don’t even put up a fight.

And the result is separation from God:

at the sound of God’s voice

they hide.

And then there is separation

from each other and creation:

Adam blames Eve,

Eve blames the serpent.

God now has to clothe Adam and Eve,

shedding blood,

and they are banished from the garden paradise.

 

Creation that was very good,

is now turned miserable.

That’s the word our catechism uses

to describe what sin has done to creation:

misery.

It comes from a word for ‘exile,’

that separation we talked about;

outside of Jesus

we don’t understand God,

and are quick to blame the Lord for our ills,

we are suspicious of one another,

we don’t even know ourselves

often saying, I knew better but I did it anyway!

 

Because sin has distorted the image of God in us,

we see ourselves and our relationship to God

as if we’re looking at a funhouse mirror.

And the thing is,

many times when we’re in misery

we don’t even know it.

You leave the doctor’s office

after the test result comes back positive.

I don’t feel sick, you say.

But there’s this illness within me.

 

I’ll never forget the time I visited

a convict who was jailed for his crimes.

He eventually repented and  

found forgiveness in Jesus,

but at our first visit it went like this:

I come as a visitor to the prison.

I have to leave any watch or belt I’m wearing,

coins or anything metal at the desk.

A guard escorted me through one locked door.

After that door was locked again,

another guard opened another door and led me down a hall

to another locked entrance.

That door buzzed and the guard opened it for me

and I walked down a corridor that had two guards

stationed in it.

Another door opened to a conference room

where I sat

until another guard brought the convict

to the room.

He then stood outside the door

while I talked to the man,

who sat across from me in handcuffs.

While we talked he said at one point:

You know, I’m not really a bad person.

 

And I sat there looking at all those armed guards,

and all those locked doors,

and thought: if you’re not a bad person

how bad can it still get?

 

We don’t see our sin correctly.

1 John says we are prone to deceive ourselves.

We’re much better at excusing our faults,

justifying ourselves,

or blaming and accusing others just like Adam,

rather than admitting our sin.

Some people never feel guilty.

Others feel guilty

for things they shouldn’t feel guilty for.

Jesus said Matthew 7:3

we have the fallen ability to see the

speck of sawdust in our brother’s eye

yet can’t perceive the plank in our own eye.

 

Sin not only brings separation and misery to our lives,

it blinds us to its presence and consequences.

 

So we need this story to know the truth:
the truth about us,

about God,

and about God’s grace.

Now, before we go any farther

I have to defend the story.

Because more and more people

want to disregard the Genesis 3 story today.

 

Some say, well,

there really wasn’t an Adam or an Eve,

so the story can’t be true

or shed light on our lives.

Robert Ingersoll was called ‘the great agnostic,’

he served as Illinois Attorney General after

the civil war.

He lectured that Darwin was right

so Christian teaching is wrong.

Even though what he said is over 100 years old

many just assume what he said without any study:

“... man has for thousands of ages steadily advanced; the Garden of Eden is an ignorant myth;

the doctrine of original sin has no foundation in fact;

the serpent did not tempt, and man did not 'fall.'

Religion and science are enemies.

One is a superstition; the other is a fact.

One is the result of fear and faith,

the other of investigation and reason.”

 

But Las Vegas reminds us

humanity has not advanced.

Original sin is proved every day on the nightly news.

Temptation still comes in disguise,

always dressed up as good for you.

Scientists among us are more careful

about things beyond the lab.

Ingersoll and others try to cast

science and faith as either/or options,

but that is not founded on truth.

It is true today that

more and more biologists

say the science doesn’t square

with a literal reading of

Adam and Eve in Genesis 1 & 2.

We are tempted to choose sides again.

But Genesis 1 reveals

God creating human beings

out of the dust of the earth,

which can fit very well

with what science has discovered

and will discover yet.

The point of the Genesis 3 story

as told by Paul in Romans 5

is that Adam and Eve were made and chosen

as the first humans to represent all humans

at the moment of command and obedience.

There is plenty of room scientifically

and spiritually to understand and accept that.

 

Nothing presently takes away the truth

of the fall of humanity into sin.

 

There is another argument against this story:

some ask simply,

why would God do this to Adam and Eve?

Plant a tree with food that looked good to eat

and then command humanity not to eat it?

Why did God allow such a state of affairs

in the first place?

Why any serpent at all?

Theologian Karl Barth asked,

why place a DO NOT ENTER sign over an open door?

Why not just close the door?

 

Barth answered his own question:

We are asked freely to orient ourselves to God's will, freely to exercise the obedience

that is our duty as creatures.

We are asked to believe, trust, and obey the Lord

even when there is not a reason to do so

that we can wrap our minds around.

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer helps us further.

He asks why

the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,

the tree with the forbidden fruit,

should be placed right in the middle

at the center of the Garden of Eden.

The reason is that this is where

God belongs in our lives.

The tree at the center of Eden is not a malicious trap cleverly designed to snare the innocent and naïve.

It tells us of the God who made us,

who invites us to relate to the Lord as our Lord

and not on our own terms.

It tells of the God who defines good and evil according to his infinite wisdom,

a wisdom marked always by the grace and mercy revealed in Jesus Christ.

 

Our biggest objection is that the Genesis 3

account is taken up again and again

in the Bible to show

that all of us are born separated from God,

guilty,

deserving of eternal punishment.

Adam and Eve were our representatives.

When they fell into sin,

all of us fell.

As the representative of all humans,

Adam’s act of sin was considered by God

to be the act of all people

and his penalty of death was judicially made

the penalty of everybody.

How is that fair, we cry?

Andrew Kuyvenhoven:

We bristle in self-defense.

That temptation happened to Adam and Eve.

Why should we be punished?

We weren’t there.

We protest like individualists.

But the Bible says

the very fact that we are able to think of ourselves

as unrelated, disunited individuals

presents evidence of our sinful perspective.

God’s revelation views the human race

not as a pile of gravel but as a giant tree.

We are not pebbles thrown together

but twigs and branches on a tree,

all organically united.

 

And isn’t God all-wise, perfect in love and knowledge.

Don’t you think God would have chosen

the most appropriate, capable, morally upright, obedient, loving human beings possible for this task?

Or do you think

you would have been a better choice?

Or you could have chosen better than God?

And what does that say about you to think this way?

 

Genesis 3 doesn’t let us get around the truth:

as Romans 5 summarizes:

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. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone . . .

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. – The Message

 

We no longer have the freedom

fully and freely to obey,

to live in a world with nothing wrong with it,

to be people with nothing wrong with us.

We are corrupt, and creation suffers a curse

on account of Adam and Eve's lapse—and our own.

(Christianity Today article)

 

Why is this important for us

who have enough trouble in our lives?

I don’t need to be reminded of my limitations

and failures, you say.

But you do.

I know there are those avoid this doctrine

and say Reformed believers

believe so much in total depravity

that we can’t help living that way!

 

But owning this story helps us own

in a healthy way our guilt and shame.

The revelation of the fall of humanity into sin

teaches us that each one of us

is accountable for our lives, choices, and behavior.

Taylor Swift sings, Look what you made me do,

but that’s not true about us.

God gives us our dignity by revealing

that we are responsible for our actions.

When we feel shame we are being reminded

that there is a glimmer of God’s image still within,

and that the measure of life lies outside

of our pride of self.

For we belong body and soul

to the Lord of life,

and live for his glory, not ours.

 

But guilt and shame are not the end of the story:

in fact,

here’s why we need not only to know this

but accept it:

many times it’s only by a correct diagnosis

that healing can come.

 

Those of us who have

undertaken serious medical procedures

would not have done

so had we not known about our cancer,

or other disease.

Right?

It is similar when it comes to sin.

We won’t deal with sin the right way

unless we know how deep and radical it is within us.

Our world problems are diagnosed largely today

as a lack of education or opportunity,

but there is more to it than these.

There is this fundamental rebellion against God

that contributes to our own destruction

that must be dealt with.

And we can’t forgive ourselves,

or make ourselves right with God.

This only happens by the grace of God.

 

The truth is we don’t become sinners

when we commit a sin for this first time.

We commit sin because we were born that way.

A baby cries selfishly for nourishment.

A toddler has to be taught to share.

Our first words tend to be No or Mine.

Parents send junior off

to his first sleepover with those hopeful words:

try to be good!

Wise parents not only teach

but model to their children

the importance of saying thank you and I’m sorry,

because we won’t ever do this naturally.

 

So Romans 5 brings this together for us:

this original sin

has resulted in total depravity,

and the only deliverance for us

must come from the promise of God.

 

And that’s what the rest of the story tells us.

This is not so much the story of sin

as it is the story of our

redemption from sin.

God responds to our disobedience

with the promise of a Savior.

If you ask, where is Jesus first mentioned

in the Bible,

it’s right here in Genesis 3:15 –

God promised, “And 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.”

 

This verse is called the ‘protoevangelium’-

the first gospel.

For here the gift of Christ is promised.

 

God responds to original sin

and the result of total depravity

with a promise.

The Lord is just:

there is punishment for sin;

there are consequences.

But God sheds the first blood,

taking animal skins

to make clothes for Adam and Eve.

And God takes the supreme penalty of death

personally, in the promise of the Son, Jesus,

who will become the second Adam,

and by his sacrifice on the cross

pay the penalty

in order to bring forgiveness to the world;

Romans 5 –

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

 

Let me close by unpacking some of these basic

terms for us so we understand this important

chapter in God’s Grand story:

 

original sin – this refers to the sin of the first people, Adam and Eve, chosen by God

as representative of the whole human race.

Their sin corrupted

the whole human race.

Our catechism summarizes Genesis and Romans and Psalm 51 and 1st Corinthians 15 this way:

This fall has so poisoned our nature

that we are all conceived and born

in a sinful condition . . .

 

Because of our corruption we understand

that human beings are totally depraved

outside of the redeeming work of Jesus.

Our catechism teaches:

I have a natural tendency

to hate God and my neighbor.

 

Total depravity doesn’t mean

we are as bad as we can be.

For every Stephen Paddock

there are many more who come to the aid

of those being shot at.

There are glimpses of God’s image remaining within.

 

So what total depravity means is that every part

of who we are is tainted and polluted by sin.

Even our best efforts are not perfect.

Some would say that even at our best

we can be at our worst at the same time.

We aren’t good enough to make ourselves

or our lives or creation good again.

 

The point is we need Christ,

any holiness or righteousness we choose

is alien to us,

it comes from him:

any good we do is evidence of his Spirit

not our ability.

 This is why we turn to Jesus.

He will do for us what we cannot.

19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

 

And this is God’s promise, praise the Lord!