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Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 

 “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  Genesis 2:15-17 

We all know what happened.  Adam and Eve disobeyed God and died, just as He had warned.  Not physically, but spiritually.  And that death continues to this day. 

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. I Corinthians 15:22

Every man and woman who ever was and ever will be was in Adam’s loins when he sinned.  This is true both genetically and spiritually.  If I inherited physical characteristics from my parents and their parents and our ancestors back to Eden, it is no great stretch to see that I inherited at least some measure of spiritually as well.

“I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20-5-6

Since Adam, no one but Jesus has lived a sinless life.  So the curse of sin continues throughout every generation, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

The Wrong Choice

Just as there were two trees in the garden, there are two kingdoms in the universe.  Our ancestors picked the wrong tree.  As a result, we were born into the wrong kingdom.  It’s black or white, yes or no.  No one sort of sins, there are no white lies, and no one has one foot in the world and one foot in the Kingdom of God.  We’re in, or we’re out.  James put it this way:

Do you not know that friendship with the world is enity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  James 4:4

Every one of us is “filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness.” 

We are all

“whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”  Romans 1:29-32

It may not seem fair, but there it is.  Nine months, give or take, after we were conceived, we were born into the world, fully equipped, thank you, with the sin nature we inherited from Adam.  Every cute, cuddly baby who enters the world begins with a dirty slate, so that, apart from God’s grace, they are destined for eternal separation from God.

The Dilemma

The great question, then, is how does man solve his sin problem?  In short, we can’t on our own.

We are incapable of spirituality (relationship with God) due to separation from God by sin.  So we try everything else.

We discover, for example, that we are quite capable of empty religion.  Ritual, liturgy, proverbs, principles, and programs—apart from God—are lifeless. Sliding into a pew guarantees nothing but a shine on our pants.  Singing hymns without a heart of worship is just music.  And praying to the God we don’t know is like asking somebody else’s boss for a raise.

Yet hundreds of thousands of men and women, born, brought, bribed, or browbeaten into empty religion “religiously” attend our churches, study in our seminaries, and even preach from our pulpits.

We are also capable of good works.  Hell may be home to some of the nicest and most generous people who ever lived.  But if it is possible to buy or earn God’s forgiveness for our sins, then Jesus was a fool not to have fled Gethsemane with His disciples.

Most recently, some of our brightest minds have simply declared the concept of sin to be politically incorrect and, therefore, irrelevant.  And they feel that it’s working pretty well, as society giddily jettisons its Judeo-Christian values and descends deeper into decadence.

 God’s Solution

Fortunately, God is unimpressed and continues to call everyone everywhere to return to Him through new birth.  To the questioning Nicodemus, a teacher of the Jews, Jesus said,

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and te Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘Yu must be born again.’”  John 3:5-7

And multitudes respond daily because “Thou has made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”1

At some point in our lives, we began consciously to yearn for this rest.  What a blessing that God is easily discovered by anyone who is sincere.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that [all] are without excuse.  Romans 1:20

In fact, God went even further.  He spelled it out clearly in Scripture and entrusted it to His messengers. 

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent?  Romans 10:14-15

Then He sent us.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”  Matthew 28:19-20

Making it Personal

The moment we hear this message, we find ourselves at a fork in life’s road, and we have to decide whether to continue going the world’s way or turn to God’s.

The way of the world offers a smorgasbord of options, from humanism and hedonism to intellectualism and a plethora of other “isms.”  The deadliest and possibly most destructive, however, is empty religion, which end sin deception, darkness, and death.

But our wise and merciful Lord placed a huge signpost at the for that reads:

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

And He asks us, “Will you journey with Me?”


                                      John 3:16

Those who are numbered among the few answer, “Yes, Lord.”  We enter into a covenant—a binding, unbreakable agreement with God—to begin an amazing Journey to Be Like Jesus and to stay the course.

1  Augustine’s Confessions, Book One, Chapter 1.1., trans. Dr. Albert C. Outler, SMU

© 2005, 2012 Bill Atwood

To be continued