Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Adam Made It Rough: The Sin Nature

Cast out of Eden
The hardest inheritance that all men have received from our first ancestor, Adam, is the promise of eternal life on the basis of perfect obedience to the covenant of works. As we know from subsequent events, Adam broke the covenant, forfeiting salvation by it, and bringing death, both spiritual and physical, on all his posterity (Romans 5:12-19). Yet our hearts have retained that consciousness of the original covenant, and find every opportunity to convince us that a little hard work will restore us to eternal life. This results in the Pelagianism that is inherent in all pagan religions, all forms of secularism, and much of popular Christianity. Apart from orthodox, biblical Christianity, all religions, including secular religions, hold that men are good, or, at least, good enough to claw our way to whatever vision of salvation we hold.

It is biblical Christianity alone that teaches consistently that the covenant of works is broken and hopeless. By its very nature, failure is permanent, leaving no opportunity for second chances: "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20). And this isn't sin on a curve, i. e., the one who sins more than someone else. Rather, broken means broken, all or nothing: "Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law" (James 2:10-11).

Yet, we just naturally keep trying to get back on that train, though it long ago left the station. We all want to get the credit for saving ourselves. It is the same deceptive independence that Satan offered Adam and Eve in the garden: "God knows that when you eat of it [the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). "Don't let God rule you," Satan said. "Rule yourselves." And he continues to whisper that same deception in the ear of every human being since then, even Jesus (Matthew 4:8-9). Jesus alone never gave in to that temptation.

That same Jesus tells us the truth about what is left of the covenant of works: "When you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty'" (Luke 17:10). He is not impressed with what impresses us. While we trumpet each prideful act, He says that ever our best is merely the minimum standard, not anything that gets merit in His eyes.

That's why every philosophy based on human autonomy is a pathway to judgment. It starts with a false premise. God's beginning premise is Himself, with the holiness that is essential to His nature (Habakkuk 1:13). Men always start with themselves, which means with the antiholiness that Adam has passed to all of us. When we agree with Him, then salvation is available in Jesus Christ. All other options are really just one option, judgment. Hear Jesus's words: "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matthew 7:13-14).

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