Can Man Regain His Lost Greatness?
We must now begin a serious study of Romans 5:12-14. This passage describes the process by which Man lost his greatness in the Fall. Is it possible for Man to regain his lost greatness?
Man is made for the stars! Man may wallow in the mud, but he can never forget the stars! Man was born for greatness! Man has lost his greatness, but he can never forget the destiny for which he was created! The God-shaped image upon man may be distorted, but it can never be totally destroyed! Man can never really forget that he was made for godlikeness!
Says Carl Jung, the great psychiatrist, "The central neurosis of our time is emptiness". But man cannot stand a vacuum. That vacuum is meant to be filled with God!
A caged eagle wishes to be freed to soar in the heights. Man is made for the spiritual heights and will never be satisfied to remain in the cage of his sins.
It is possible to attain everything that life can physically offer, and yet be deeply dissatisfied and disillusioned. "The quest for spiritual renewal and personal fulfillment is rooted in the depths of human nature, and the motivation to be what a man ought to be spiritually springs from interior depths. Man feels unhappy when he looks at his soul, dwarfed by a secular spirit and blighted by sin. He feels restless in his estrangement from God. He then reaches toward God. 'Thou hast made us for thyself and our heart is restless until it reposes in thee'." (Personal Renewal Through Christian Conversion, Mavis, p. 12)
Man lost his greatness in the Fall of Adam, resulting in the problem of inherited moral depravity and a propensity to overtly sin against God's laws. Man can regain his greatness by confessing his sins and by committing his life to Christ. Sin's power is great, but God's grace is greater!
Sin came into the world through Adam's disobedience. (Romans 5:12) Romans 5:12 describes what in theology is called 'Original Sin'. Notes Bishop Bastian, concerning original sin, "It is that evil tendency with which every individual is born, a tendency which disposes him to do wrong and thus to become not only by nature, but by personal choice a sinner". Why is it that when you tell a child not to do a certain thing, he tends immediately to do it anyway?
"'As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God'. (Psalms 42:1-2) Satisfy my parched soul with the Water of Life!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: As the fish is at home in the sea and the bird is at home in the air, my soul is at home in God!
"I'm Standing Up On The Inside!"
Romans 5:12 says, "Sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned", This verse, perhaps more clearly than any other verse, declares what is called in theology 'The Doctrine of Original Sin'.
Bishop Donald Bastian says that original sin "is explained by the universal law of natural generation that like begets like. Adam, by the personal exercise of his own free will fell into sin, thus becoming a sinner. The son born to him was like him not only in physical structure, but in his moral image as well. From Cain to the present all his descendants have inherited from him a nature depraved and prone to sin like his own", (Genesis 6:5, Genesis 6:12, Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 7:21-22)
The fact of original sin and the universality of sin is recognized in most branches of theology. Even unbelievers "have to admit and to confess this, that there is something which is spoiling and ruining life. They have to admit further, that mankind at large seems to prefer to do that which is wrong rather than that which is right; that if you tell a child not to do a thing, he will want to do it immediately and will, as often as not, proceed to do it", (Lloyd-Jones, Romans 5, p. 190)
Perhaps you have heard of the mother who told Johnny to sit down in a chair, as a means of discipline and punishment. Some minutes later the mother wanted to check out Johnny's obedience, and from another room she called out, "Johnny are you sitting in that chair?" Johnny replied, "Yes, I'm sitting down on the outside, but I'm standing up on the inside!"
One does not have to train a child to be selfish–another indication of the fact of 'original sin'.
Romans 5:12 teaches us that "we all sinned, in some sense, when Adam sinned. We were not there in a real way, sinning when he sinned, as Augustine taught; but we sinned because our representative did and suffered loss even as an entire school might if its representative loses at a track meet. John Wesley says, 'As by one man–as being the representative of mankind, Sin entered into the world… Even so death passed upon all men… in that… all sinned in Adam'". (The Word and Doctrine, Kenneth Geiger, p. 76)
Does man sin because he is a sinner or is man a sinner because he sins? Man is born with a proneness to sin! Is there any hope?
"O God, there is a 'bent' toward sinning in my life. There is a spiritual gravitational pull downward. I feel the moral drag in my life! But, thank you a God, that I also feel the upward magnetic pull of your mighty love and grace. Break the power of 'cancelled sin' in my life and set me free!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I inherited from Adam a proneness to sin; I received from Christ a proneness to righteousness!
Original Sin Or Original Guilt?
Notes Bishop Bastian, "Methodist theology clearly teaches a doctrine of original sin, but does not hold to a doctrine of original guilt. The human race is not held to be guilty of Adam's sin, even though it is by his sin involved in moral ruin". (Genesis 2:17, Genesis 3:17)
"It should be frankly acknowledged that the sin nature is not sin in the fully ethical sense, for the volitional and accountable elements are missing. 'The sin remaining in the regenerate believer… is not sin strictly speaking, which is any "transgression of the law" incurring guilt; but depravity–an inherited, inborn, sinward inclination–a depraved bias'." (The Word and the Doctrine, Kenneth Geiger, p. 112)
No person is personally responsible for inheriting moral depravity from Adam. However, while one is not personally responsible for inheriting moral depravity, one is responsible for not availing himself of cleansing from moral depravity, made available through Christ's atonement.
Further, one cannot put the blame for his personal sin onto the fact that he inherited moral depravity. One cannot say, when he is engaging in personal acts of transgression, "I couldn't help it, for my inherited moral depravity caused me to sin!" There are others who, when sinning say, "Something made me do it" or "The devil made me do it" or "After all, we're only human, you know". All such statements reflect personal irresponsibility and deny the exercise of human will, made possible by God's grace which places man in both a saveable and in an accountable state of grace. "Whereas the sin nature constitutes a strong impulse toward sin, it is not an irresistible cause-and-effect situation." (The Word and the Doctrine, p. 115)
Related to this whole question of original sin and inherited depravity, is the question of guilt and condemnation, especially as these apply to infants. Says famous commentator Martyn Lloyd-Jones on page 120 of his book 'Assurance, Romans 5', "What condemns us, and makes us subject to death, is the fact that we have all sinned in Adam, and that we are all held guilty of sin… Death is always the punishment for the guilt of sin, actual sin; and therefore its universality, even in children, can only be explained by the fact that we all sinned in Adam, and became sinners when Adam sinned". But isn't such an interpretation as this teaching 'original guilt'? Are children actually sinners, actually guilty? We must look at this question in our next devotional.
"O God, thou art a just and fair God. I see that I am not personally responsible for Adam's deliberate disobedience of your direct command, but because he was the representative of the human race, his sin has affected my moral condition. I am responsible to avail myself of your provision for cleansing from my inherited moral depravity!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: There is no stain of moral depravity that is so deep, but what Jesus' cleansing blood goes deeper yet!
Are Infants Doomed If They Die?
What is my response to Martyn Lloyd-Jones' contention that even children are involved in the guilt of Adam's original sin? (I quoted his statement in the last devotional.)
Is he saying that infants are actually sinners, that they have actually sinned and these are actually guilty, when there is no possibility of moral conscious choice on the part of the infant? What is actual sin? "Actual sin is accountable wrongness before God." (The Word and the Doctrine, p. 94) Actual sin is dependent upon the existence of at least four factors: personhood, freedom, knowledge, volition. To say that a newborn babe is guilty of actual sin is to deny these four factors. How can guilt and condemnation be incurred when there is not even the ability to choose wrong and to reject right, on the part of the small infant? Surely the doctrine of original guilt is to be questioned (and rejected) based upon an understanding of the justice of God. Are we to conclude that infants are guilty of sin in the same way as responsible adults are guilty of sin? Never!
It is true that infants are involved in the universal moral ruin of mankind (and infants even experience, at times, sin's penalty which is physical death), but this fact surely cannot be taken as evidence that infants are guilty of actual sin (based on a wrong exercise of conscious volitional capacity which infants are incapable of exercising).
Is not the physical death of a baby simply another reminder of the physically deteriorating affects of sin on Adam's body which he passed on biologically to all mankind? Physical death of an infant surely cannot be interpreted as evidence of that baby's actual sin and personal guilt.
"Wesleyanism has consistently rejected all forms of realism Which affirm the personal participation of infants in Adam's sin. We have never attached personal guilt in the sense of culpability to original sin… While infants are not condemnable for anything they have done, they are justly condemnable for their corrupt state as members of a corrupt race. Their misfortune, however, is more than compensated by the atonement of Christ by which their liability to punishment in the sense of condemnation is cancelled. Although, therefore, infants share in Adam's guilt, in a specialized sense of the term, yet through prevenient grace 'not one child' (to quote Wesley) 'finally loses thereby, unless by his own choice'." (The Word and the Doctrine, p. 112-113)
"Thou Lamb of God, thank you for your cleansing blood which atones for both the pollution of inherited sin and for the guilt of volitional sin. There is a double cure for my double problem!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: 'There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel's veins; and sinners, plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains'!
Mark 10:13-16, 1 Samuel 1:21-28
Application Of The Atonement In Childhood
Says one about the atonement of Christ, "The atonement has come to all men and upon all men. Its coextensiveness with the effects of Adam's sin is seen in that all creatures such as infants and insane persons, incapable of refusing it, are saved without their consent, just as they were involved in the sin of Adam without their consent. The reason why others are not saved is because when the atonement comes to them and upon them, instead of consenting to be included in it, they reject it. If they are born under the curse, so likewise they are born under the atonement which is intended to remove that curse; they remain under its shelter till they are old enough to repudiate it; they shut out its influence as a man closes his window-blind to shut out the beams of the sun; they ward them off by direct opposition, as a man builds dykes around his field to keep out the streams which would otherwise flow in and fertilize the soil". (quoted in Elect In The Son, Robert Shank, p. 104-105)
Unless or until a small child actively resists the grace of God when he is capable of personal moral choice, that child continues to enjoy the saving benefits of Christ's atonement. Is this to say that some children do not need to experience personal repentance or exercise personal saving faith in Christ? Hardly, for what child, old enough to exercise general volitional powers, has not wrongly exercised his volition morally? Even a small child, say four or five years old, knows something about personal guilt because of wrong moral choice. But it is true to say that some persons exercised positive volition in choosing Christ at such a young age, that they cannot, as adults, remember when they were not Christians!
My wife has a cousin who is a daughter of missionary parents and who has been herself a long-time missionary in Africa. She never remembers when she was not a Christian.
There are children whose first exercise of meaningful volition was in their acceptance of Christ as Saviour, perhaps as early as the age of three!
The streams of God's mercy early flowed in and fertilized their soul! These young children who enjoyed the saving benefits of Christ's atonement when they were incapable of refusing it, gladly received the saving benefits of the atonement when they were first barely able to exercise personal saving faith in Jesus Christ! Said Jesus, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these". (Mark 10:14 NIV)
"Thank you, O God, for the revelation of Your positive saving purpose for the human race! Thank you for the unlimited atonement of Christ, potentially sufficient for all persons, generally operative for all infants, and individually efficient for those who exercise personal saving faith in Jesus Christ!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will encourage the very young in my life to exercise their positive volition in choosing Christ!
Everyone Is Responsible!
We can summarize the teachings, both explicit and implicit, of Romans 5:12. "Sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned."
Sin came into the world through Adam's personal disobedience. Adam's original sin caused all mankind to inherit moral depravity. All are involved in mankind's moral ruin as a result of Adam's sin. However, while all are involved in the affects of original sin, none are originally guilty when born into the world. Original sin (or better stated, inherited depravity as a result of Adam's original sin) concerns itself with liability to penalty, not personal blameworthiness. None are personally responsible for inheriting moral depravity, but all are responsible for yielding to the pressure and influence of moral depravity. Outward sin can be resisted and inward sin can be purged. Every man inherits moral depravity, and most if not all, yield to that downward moral tendency which disposes one to do wrong. When one yields to that tendency, he becomes not only by nature, but by personal choice, a sinner.
Every man has given counsel to the presence of original sin (moral depravity) in his life, and has chosen willfully to disobey God, thus incurring personal guilt. E. Stanley Jones says that innate depravity "is the self surrendered to nothing except itself–the self become God". (Song of Ascents, p. 52)
All men are thus personally responsible for willfully committing personal transgressions, for willfully allowing self to assert itself as god of one's life. Sin is seen as 'self' ruling life, rather than God ruling life. Man is responsible for yielding to the tendency towards self-rule.
All men are responsible for yielding to the downward pull of sin. (1) Adam disobeyed a direct command ("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 of it you will surely die'." Genesis 2:16-17 NIV). (2) Those who lived between the time of Adam and Moses (before the Mosaic Law was given) disobeyed the dictates of Conscience and were responsible for sin (Romans 5:13-14). (3) Those who lived after Moses disobeyed the commandments of the Mosaic Law, incurring guilt and condemnation. (Romans 5:20) Everyone is responsible!
"O God, I accept my personal moral responsibility. I acknowledge that I have often yielded to the inward pressure towards self-rule. Help me now to yield to the upward presence of Christ's rule!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Self-rule (Dictatorship) leads to total chaos and moral ruin; God-rule (Theocracy) leads to total peace and moral prosperity!
2 Chronicles 32:24-31
Putting "Self" At The Center Of One's Universe
Every person is morally responsible before God. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
Adam disobeyed a direct command. God created Adam with a free will, and with the ability to love. Love is the property of free will. "For the thing that makes us uniquely human is that, unlike the other creatures, we are able to say both 'Yes ' and 'No' to God. The stars in the sky follow their prescribed orbits, the animals of the field obey their instincts, but man has this unique and frightening ability–he can refuse to be obedient to his Creator. For God does not want salves, but sons." (God's Unfolding Purpose, Suzanne de Dietrich, p. 36)
Love must be tested. God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 2:17)
Adam disobeyed a direct command and overstepped his God-imposed limitations. Adam took things into his own hands, and set himself up as a little god. Adam's sin was the sin of playing the part of God.
Adam's sin is the central sin of all humanity–the sin of making one's self into a god, placing self and selfish desire at the center of one's universe.
"The person who plays the part of God makes himself into the center of his universe, whether that universe be large or small; he seeks his own glory rather than the glory of God, he wants to "run his own life' instead of recognizing it as a gift from the hands of God. In briefest terms, he wants to be his own master rather than God's servant; he wants to dominate rather than to serve." (Ibid, p. 38)
Notes Donald Joy, "Since our first parents' crime was treason–for the purpose of putting themselves up as their own masters–the infection shows up in us in much the same way. Its symptoms are violent independence, selfishness, self-assertiveness, pride–anything which puts oneself on the throne". (The Holy Spirit and You, p. 84-85)
Notes Donald Demaray, "What do we mean when we say the nature of sin is pride? We mean that man commits no wrong which is not traceable to pride; to put it another way, every sin man commits is the product of a desire to protect the ego or self. Murder, adultery, stealing, falsifying, and any and every sin that man has ever committed or ever will commit is the result of pride. It was so with Adam and Eve. It has been so with every man since that time". (Basic Beliefs, p. 51)
"O God, I have often been guilty of the central sin of mankind–making myself into a 'god'. But what an inadequate 'god' I am! I am not made to rule; I am made to serve! Help me to dethrone 'self' and enthrone the Saviour as the Lord of my life!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I give the ashes of my pride to Christ, and He gives to me 'beauty for ashes'! (Isaiah 61:3)
Acts 17:24-31, Psalms 19:1-4
Lusts Of The Heart Battle The Reason Of The Mind!
We have said that Adam disobeyed a direct command. Secondly, we can say that those who lived between the time of Adam and Moses (before the Mosaic Law was given) disobeyed the dictates of Conscience and were responsible for sin. Romans 5:13-14 says, "Sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is not law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come".
There was no written law to disobey before the time of Moses, and therefore sin as a transgression against law was impossible. However, even without law, there was the operation of moral depravity, issuing forth in rebellion against God's revelation through nature and through conscience. Mankind before the time of Moses was corrupt and subject to death.
The wickedness of mankind, during the time of Noah was great indeed. Says Genesis 6:5, "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually".
God's revelation of Himself through Nature and through inner conscience was rejected. "But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, evil men who push away the truth from them. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse (when they stand before God at Judgement Day). Yes they knew about him all right, but they wouldn't admit it or worship him or even thank him for all his daily care." (Romans 1:18-21, Living Bible)
God justly condemned those who sinned against the light of truth, revealed through Nature and through Conscience. "All who have sinned without knowledge of the Law will die without reference to the Law; and all who have sinned knowing the Law shall be judged according to the Law." (Romans 2:12, Phillips)
It is still true that when there is a battle between the higher reason of the mind and the lower lusts of the heart, that oftentimes the lusts of the heart win the battle. "The heart of man is desperately wicked."
"The inner voice of conscience combines with the outer voice of nature to guide me to the face of God! I have too often silenced the voice of conscience and ignored the voice of nature. I am guilty of listening to the clamour of my sinful lower nature! Forgive me for closing my ears to the Voice of Conscience. I will henceforth listen to the 'still, small voice' and obey!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will respond to the enlightened reason of the mind and kill the dark passions of the heart!
The Law Drives Mankind Into The Arms Of God's Mercy
Thirdly, those who lived after Moses disobeyed the commandments of the Mosaic Law, incurring guilt and condemnation. Romans 5:20 says, "The Ten Commandments were given so that all could see the extent of their failure to obey God's laws". (Living Bible)
From the time of Cain until Moses, God revealed Himself to man through the wonders of Nature and through the dictates of Conscience. The law of God was written on man's heart and mind. (Romans 2) However, man became expert in rationalizing sin, and man trained and conditioned his conscience to guide him as he wanted to be guided. "After awhile they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what he wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused… Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies… So it was that when they gave God up and would not even acknowledge him, God gave them up to doing everything their evil minds could think of." (Romans 1:21-22, Romans 1:25, Romans 1:28, Living Bible)
In the midst of moral chaos and mental disillusionment, God introduced the Mosaic Law–including the Ten Commandments. Why did God give the Law? The Law was given to define sin. The law amplified sin and showed the exceeding seriousness of sin. The law reveals the real nature of man's weakness. The law even prods the old nature of the unregenerate man to cause him to sin all the more. "Law intruded into this process to multiply law breaking." (Romans 5:20, New English Bible) The Law caused man to rebel and to do the very things which the Law forbade him to do. The Law condemns man and shows man his helplessness. The presence of the Law gave man a chance to try to get to God by his own human good, thus finally driving man to despair and helplessness into the arms of God's mercy and grace. The Law is our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by Faith. "Law came in, to increase the trespass, but where sin increased grace abounded all the more, so that as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus our Lord." (Romans 5:20-21 RSV)
As a result of mankind giving council to the presence of innate corruption in his life, mankind has rebelled against God. As a result of man's sinful nature and sinful choices, mankind faces the penalty of sin which is death.
"O God, deliver me from my tendency to justify my behavior and to rationalize my sin! Thank you for your holy Law which clearly defines and strongly magnifies my sins. Your holy Law drives me into your strong arms of mercy! I am helpless in myself, but hopeful in YOU!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Law is the great magnifying lens of sin; the Lord is the great purging flame of sin. I choose the Flame!
2 Peter 3:1-18
Biblical Definition Of 'Death'
Romans 5:12 tells us that death reigns over mankind. "When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. His sin spread death through-out the entire world, so everything began to grow old and die, for all sinned."(Living Bible)
All have been born in sin. All have willfully sinned. The penalty of sin's death. Therefore, all men face sin's penalty which is death.
'Death' according to the Bible, is threefold. There is physical death, spiritual death and eternal death.
The universal consequence of sin's entry into the world is physical death. When Adam fell, all of mankind fell–fell from health to weakness, fell from life to death. Saints and sinners alike must experience the corruption of physical death. Man is born to die. Sin brought death into the world. Never blame God for funerals!
Another consequence of sin's entry into the world is spiritual death. Many are alive physically, but dead spiritually. Says Ephesians 2:1-2 : "You were spiritually dead through your sins and failures, all the time that you followed this world's ideas of living, and obeyed the evil ruler of the spiritual realm–who is indeed fully operative today in those who disobey God". (Phillips)
The final and terrible consequence of sin's entry into the world is eternal death. Eternal death. is sin's final punishment, experienced by those who persistently and ultimately resist the offer of God's mercy and forgiveness. "And death and hell were thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is the Second Death–the Lake of Fire. And if anyone's name was not found recorded in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire." (Revelation 20:14-15, Living Bible) It is not God's will that any perish. God's perfect will is that all be saved. But God's permissive will allows a man to spurn the mercy of God, and be eternally lost. God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Hell was not prepared for man, but was prepared for the devil and his fallen angels (demons). God never intended for a human being to suffer in hell, but the man who serves Satan must suffer Satan's fate. The servant must dwell with his master. God wishes to save all men from that terrible place of destruction and torment. God never sends anyone to hell; a sinner sends himself there by willful refusal of the offer of mercy.
Have you responded to God's offer of mercy and forgiveness? Are you willing to surrender control of your life to Christ?
"O God, it is not your will that I perish. You prepared hell for the devil and his demons, not for me! I am made by you and for you. I am made for heaven! But only the holy ones will go to heaven! Make my life holy! I am a candidate for your grace–the grace that transforms sinners into saints!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Jesus said: 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whosoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?' I DO! I DO!
A Total Loss And a Total Gain!
Romans 5 teaches us that mankind universally lost greatness through sins great power. (Romans 5:12-14) But Romans 5 also teaches that every person has the potential of regaining greatness through Grace's greater power. (Romans 5:15-21) For the next few days we must make a serious study of Romans 5:15-21.
A young person is heard to say: "If Adam had not sinned, we would not have all of these problems in the world". When Adam sinned, all mankind sinned. You and I were in Adam when he sinned. When he sinned, death came as a consequence to Adam. Because we were in Adam, we too (as an entire human race) received death as a consequence!
Perhaps you find yourself saying, "That's no fair! I cannot help it that Adam sinned! I should not be held responsible for Adam's sin!" But let me respond by asking a couple of questions: "Is it fair that you should get the beneficial results from Christ's righteousness? Is it fair that you should be treated so mercifully and kindly simply because God looks favorably upon Christ's righteousness?" You are not personally to blame because of Adam's transgression, even though you have to bear, along with Adam, sin's consequences, since you were in Adam from the beginning. That appears grossly unfair! However, is it just and fair that you should so abundantly enjoy the benefits of Christ's righteousness, which is life and peace, simply because you are in Christ, although your personal commission of sins should result in death for you? Although you involuntarily inherited original sin because you, by physical birth, are a descendant of Adam, you may voluntarily receive life and peace and justification through spiritual birth, by faith in Christ's righteousness. Being 'in' Adam means receiving Adam's lot–condemnation and death! Being 'in' Christ means receiving Christ's lot–righteousness and peace and eternal life and glory!
You personally had no choice in being a descendant of Adam and in auto-matically (at physical birth) becoming a member of a fallen race which is universally infected with sin and subject to death.
You lost your greatness due to Adam's original transgression and due to your own indulgence in personal sins, but you may regain your greatness due to Christ's atonement and due to your personal repentance and faith in Christ's atonement. You lost all 'in' Adam; you may regain all 'in' Christ!
"O God, what I lost by being a member of Adam's race, I thank you that I can more than gain by becoming a participant in Christ's atonement. Thank you for Christ's blood which cleanses from all sin–even inbred sin!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will not allow my inherited state of sin to keep me from receiving my spiritual heritage in Christ!
1 Corinthians 15:20-22, 1 Corinthians 15:45-49
The First 'Adam' And The Second 'Adam'
You had no choice as to your physical descent from the first 'Adam", but you do have a choice as to your spiritual connection to the second 'Adam'. Some things were decided and determined for you before you were born, but in some things you make decisions–decisions so important that an eternal destiny is determined by your decisions!
It is true that you personally had no choice in being a descendant of Adam, but it is also true that you had no choice in being an object of God's special love and mercy! You had no choice in being a member of a human race for whom a universal atonement has been provided by Christ!
In some important things you do have a choice! You chose to succumb to personal transgression, admittedly made more appealing because of the pull of original sin within your heart. But just as you chose to sin, you may choose to yield to the pull of God's grace working within your heart and mind to bring you to a place of true repentance. You can choose to stay 'in' Adam or you can choose to get 'in' Christ. You can choose to remain in death or you can choose to receive new life in Christ!
It must be acknowledged, of course, that there is a difference between what you lost in Adam and what you regain in Christ. In Adam, the results of his sinful actions are automatic. Those who are born to Adam, automatically inherit the taint of his sin (original sin). The results of Adam's transgression to his descendants, are actual and universal, and come through biological heredity.
In Christ, the results of His righteous actions are not automatic. Human beings do not, without the exercise of their will, receive the righteousness of Christ as their own righteousness, whereas, human beings, without the exercise of their will and choice, automatically receive the taints of Adam's sin. In Christ, the benefits of His righteous actions to the human race are potentially universal. However, these benefits must be received individually, not by involuntary biological birth, but by voluntary spiritual rebirth. We did not personally choose to be 'in' Adam. We must personally choose to be 'in' Christ. It is by nature that we are related to the first 'Adam'. It is by grace that we are related to the second 'Adam', the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mankind is universally and automatically lost through sin's great power. However, the sins of all mankind are universally atoned for through Christ, making possible the individual salvation of every person. Sin's power is great, but grace's power is greater!
"Help me, eternal God, to make right choices in life, that I may enjoy a right destiny in eternity!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I am not free to choose my inherited sinful heredity from Adam, but I am free to choose my spiritual inheritance from Christ! I will exercise my positive volition!
God Redeemed The 'Terrible' Into The 'Tremendous'!
The Fall of Adam (and the consequences of that Fall upon all of humanity–sin, pain, etc.) provides the 'raw material' from which man and God, working together, produce holiness and happiness.
Let us examine this statement together during the next couple of days. Before doing so, however, let it be stated that we must never turn sin and rebellion into a virtue. Adam fell from God's originally-created state of grace. God did not will that Fall, but in spite of that Fall (and even through that Fall) God has brought about great good to humanity. God did not will sin, but God has used sin (as represented in the Fall) to provide good for humanity. God is the great redeemer, even producing good out of evil.
Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. The Fall was terrible since it represents human rebellion in opposition to divine love. However, the cross is far greater than the Fall is terrible, since the cross of Christ represents divine restoration of the chiefest of sinners. Man's lost greatness through sin's power is great, but man's restored greatness through grace's power is greater!
The evil resulting from the Fall is not worthy to be compared with the good resulting from the free gift of God's Grace in Christ Jesus. "God saw that to permit the fall of the first man was for best for mankind in general; that abundantly more good than evil would accrue to the posterity of Adam by his fall; that if 'sin abounded' thereby, over all the earth, yet grace 'would much more abound', yea, and that to every individual of the human race, unless it was his own choice." (Wesley's Sermon, God's Love To Fallen Man, p. 43)
What good has accrued to the posterity of Adam, as a result of the Fall? Without the Fall there would have been no cross, and without the cross there would have been no opportunity for God to visibly demonstrate His eternal love in its greatest intensity! The Fall caused all men to be constituted as sinners (for "in Adam all die"). It is because all men are in need of salvation that a Saviour was provided. Fallen humanity is capable of experiencing God's love in a way that not even the unfallen angels can experience God's love. The race of beings which have fallen to the lowest depths are capable of experiencing God's love at the highest heights! God redeemed the Terrible–the Fall–into the Tremendous–experience of Calvary love! Without the Terrible there could be no Tremendous!
"O God, your wisdom is past finding out! What was for humans the greatest tragedy–the Fall into sin–has become for the Divine the occasion for the greatest revelation–Redeeming Love!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The rending of sin in the Fall has become the rendering of salvation in the Cross! Glory!
1 Peter 1:10-12
The Bright Side Of The Dark 'Fall' Of Mankind!
In the last devotion we asked the question, "What good has accrued to the posterity of Adam, as a result of the Fall?" We said that it was the Fall that called forth the necessity of the Cross of Christ, and in the cross the eternal heart of Divine Love is revealed to humanity! So God redeemed the Terrible into the Tremendous! Without the Fall there could be no cross. Without sin 'abounding', grace could not 'much more abound'.
We can also answer the above-stated question by saying that the whole experience of justification by faith and redemption in the blood of Christ could have had no existence, apart from the Fall of man. Only because Adam and the sons of Adam fell from grace, does Adam's race have the need and the capacity to experience forgiving love in the Son of God. The highest heights of God's love (redeeming love; not merely creation love) can only be experienced by a race of beings who have fallen into the lowest depths of sin. The unfallen angels personally know nothing of God's redeeming love. It is only fallen man who can experience redeeming love!
Notes John Wesley, "The fall of Adam produced the death of Christ… If God had prevented the fall of man 'the Word' had never been 'made flesh'; nor had we ever 'seen his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father'. Those mysteries never had been displayed, 'which the very angels desire to look into'… Unless 'by one man judgement had come upon all men to condemnation', neither angels nor men could ever have known 'the unsearchable riches of Christ'… According to the counsel of his own will, the plan he had laid before the foundation of the world, he created the parent of all mankind in his own image; and he permitted all men to be made sinners, by the disobedience of this one man, that by the obedience of one, all who receive the free gift, may be infinitely holier and happier to all eternity!". (Wesley's Sermon, God's Love To Fallen Man, p. 48-49)
The immensity of man's sin is great, but the immensity of God's love is greater. When sin abounded, grace did much more abound.
You can be sure that if one stays connected with the Old Adam (with all that he represents by way of disobedience), he will experience both physical and eternal death. You can be 'much more' sure that if one gets connected and stays connected with the Last Adam–Christ–he will experience both abundant life here and eternal life hereafter!
"Only the pained can appreciate pleasure; only the hurting can appreciate healing; only the sinning can experience a Saviour; only the fallen can know redemption. Even though You, O God, did not will the Fall of Mankind, you graciously provided for the Recovery of Mankind! What a wise God!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: As in the case of the historic Fall, so in the history of my personal life; in the darkest night of my personal tragedy there is the brighter light of God's provision!
The 'Much More' Of The Last Adam–Jesus Christ!
If death is certain through Adam, how 'much more' certain is life through Christ? "If God's justice and his righteousness led to punishment, 'much more' will His love and grace and mercy lead to salvation." (Assurance, Exposition of Romans 5, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, p. 231)
If we can say (as we can) that God's essential and eternal justice led to man's punishment and death, oh how infinitely more certain and sure can we be–and especially having seen it all displayed in a living manner in Christ–that His love is really going to do for us that which He has said He would do, namely, give us life." (Ibid, p. 231)
There were great losses because of Adam's Fall. There are greater blessings because of Christ's salvation!
What we all lost in Adam was great! What we all gain in Christ is much greater!
The condemnation which we earned as a result of our fall from grace, is not as great as the fellowship we freely receive as a result of our salvation in Christ. Condemnation is something we have earned and deserved (because of our racial and personal involvement in sin). "Salvation is something which has been given to us and which we receive absolutely freely as the gift of God." (Ibid, p. 233)
The process of death, as a result of Adam's sin, abounds, but the process of life, as a result of Christ's righteousness, much more abounds. The process of life and fruitfulness is greater than the process of death and disintegration!
If sin is a cruel tyrant whose reign is death, how much more is Christ a loving King whose reign is life and love! "Adam's one sin brought the penalty of death to many, while Christ freely takes away all sins and gives glorious life instead. The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to be king over all, but all who will take God's gift of forgiveness and acquittal are kings of life because of this one man, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:16-17, Living Bible) "Adam was made lord of creation, but he lost that position. We shall not only have that back, we shall have infinitely more. We shall share a throne with the Son who shares the throne of thrones with His Father. That is the prospect awaiting us!" (Lloyd-Jones, Ibid, p. 226)
What we lost in the first Adam, we more than gain in the second 'Adam'–Jesus Christ! Are you living in the first or second Adam? "
"O Christ, what I have lost because of my racial connection with Adam and because of my personal involvement in sin, I have now regained because of Your universal atonement for sin and because of my personal appropriation of your forgiveness!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God's grace is lavish! I regain in Christ far more than I ever lost in Adam!
Christ's Blood Goes Deeper Than The Stain Of Sin!
If we lost a righteousness in Adam's fall, we gain a much greater righteousness in Christ's salvation! The righteousness which was the property of creation, lost in the Fall, is not as great as the righteousness which is the gift of recreation, gained in conversion. The righteousness which Adam enjoyed as a property of his unique creation, is not to be compared with the righteousness which the sinner receives as a gift of his glorious conversion! The righteousness of Adam may have been great, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ is infinitely greater! Where sin abounded, in that it stole from Adam his original righteousness, grace does much more abound in that it imparts to Adam's fallen race the very righteousness of Christ (giving man right standing with God!).
How is that righteousness imparted to sinners? Apart from anything that a sinner can do. All a sinner can do is to accept by faith the free gift of Christ's righteousness. This righteousness is of grace–it all depends on God's love and Christ's obedience! "As we were constituted sinners because of Adam's one sin, and apart from any action on our part, so we are constituted righteous persons entirely apart from anything that we do. It is entirely and only because of Christ's obedience." (Assurance, Exposition of Romans 5, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, p. 276)
"The burden of the New Testament is not sin-fixation, but a Christ-fixation. Its emphasis is not the incurable persistence of sin, but the illimitable triumph of Calvary! Not sin reigns, but grace reigns! The final words are not 'sin' and 'defeat', but 'grace' and 'victory'."
Dark the sin that soiled man's nature, Long the distance that he fell, Far removed from hope and heaven, Near to deep despair and hell. But there was a fountain opened, And the blood of God's own Son Purifies the soul, and reaches Deeper than the stain had gone."
(Insights Into Holiness, Kenneth Geiger, p. 72)
"The principle taught, then (in Romans 5), is that what grace has done is not merely to counteract exactly what sin has done… In fact there is not comparison; it is superfluity, an abounding, an engulfing, it is an overflowing on the side of grace." (Ibid, Lloyd-Jones, p. 299)
"O God, I openly confess that all my own righteousness is like 'filthy rags' in your sight (Isaiah 64:6), for my righteousness is tainted by human pride. The taint of pride is deep. Wash me thoroughly with your blood and clothe me beautifully with the garments of Christ's righteousness! I believe! I believe!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "the cleansing stream, I see, I see! I plunge, and oh! it cleanseth me, it cleanseth me!"
Discussion Questions On 'Can Man Regain His Lost Greatness?' (continued)
What has been provided for every human being, as a result of the death of Christ on the cross?
What is meant by the expressions: 'The first Adam and the second Adam'?
What good has accrued to the posterity of Adam as a result of the fall?
What realities can we be sure of because of our natural relationship to Adam; what realities can we be even more certain about because of our supernatural relationship to Christ?
Describe the righteousness which the believer enjoys, both in terms of its source and in terms of the method by which it is received.
What is the main thrust of the teaching of the New Testament in regards to sin and to grace?