STUDY TWO: A SINNER
© Rosemary Bardsley 2009, 2014
We did not stay long in our pristine purity in which God was imaged and glorified. Genesis 3 records our ‘fall’ from a positive, face-to-face, trusting relationship with God into a negative relationship in which we turned our back on God, rejecting and rebelling against God and his word, and making it impossible for us to reflect the glory of God.
A. WHAT HAPPENED IN GENESIS 3?
Genesis 3 records the human response to the prohibition recorded in Genesis 2:17. The significance of the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ was the fact that Adam and Eve were prohibited from eating its fruit. As long as they accepted God’s command they knew only good – only the positive relationship with God for which they were created. The key thing was neither the act of eating nor the fruit they ate, but the lack of trust in God and his word, the rebellion against God and his word, and the rejection of God and his word that eating this fruit expressed. In that departure from trust, in that rebellion, in that rejection Adam and Eve refused their role of dependence on God.
Notice what happened:
Genesis 3:1-5: Satan deceived Eve into doubting the word and the goodness of God
Genesis 3:6: Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command, rejecting and rebelling against his right to rule
Genesis 3:7: Separation within themselves – inner death – a destructive self-awareness
Genesis 3:8-10: Separation between man and God - guilt and fear in the presence of God – spiritual death
Genesis 3:11-12: Separation between man and man – relational death – blame shifting, self-justification
Genesis 3:16-19: Beginning of pain and suffering; curse
Genesis 3:22-24: Man barred from eternal life
Romans 5:12: Sin entered the world through one man
Romans 5:12: Death entered the world through one man; death came to all men
Romans 5:14: Death reigned from the time of Adam …
Romans 5:15: Many died by the trespass of the one man
Romans 5:16: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation
Romans 5:17: By the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man
Romans 5:18: The result of the one trespass was condemnation for all men
Romans 5:19: Through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners
Romans 5:21: Sin reigned in death …
This concept of all mankind being impacted by and involved in Adam’s sin and sin’s condemnation is known as the doctrine of original sin.
Complete Section #1 in the Study Two Worksheet now.
B. MAN’S IDENTITY AS A SINNER
From what has been already indicated in the quotes above it is obvious that from Genesis 3 onwards humans are sinners. We do not start our life with a clean slate and a clean pure heart and mind as Adam and Eve did. The Romans 5 passage discussed above teaches this quite clearly. We are born sinners; we are born under the condemnation of God. We are born under the reign of death. In fact the Bible has a very negative perception of us, teaching that not only are we sinners who sin, but that we cannot even get ourselves back on the right track and turn to God.
Complete Section #2 in the Study Two Worksheet now.
Did you notice in the Bible verses you just studied in the Worksheet these significant words or concepts:
No one understands …
Left to ourselves we know neither who God is nor who we are. Nor do we know who we are supposed to be. The Bible makes it clear that as sinners we have corrupted the knowledge of God that he has made known to us.
No one seeks God
Not only do we not know God, but as sinners we do not want to know God. We create all sorts of false gods rather than worship the one true God.
No one will be declared righteous by the works of the law …
To be ‘righteous’ is to be ‘not guilty’ before God. The Bible says that ‘no one is righteous’. It also says that our human perceptions of how to gain a ‘not guilty’ declaration from God are all wrong. It is impossible for our human efforts to gain us acquittal from God, because there is no one who keeps God’s laws perfectly. We are all guilty.
All fall short …
By this phrase God teaches us of our on-going sinfulness: that we continually fall short of his purpose and his standard for us: we all fall short of living our lives as his image, his glory.
We are powerless to get ourselves out of the mess. We are powerless to change and improve ourselves. We are powerless to get ourselves back into a right relationship with God. We are powerless to glorify God by imaging God. We are powerless to be what he created us to be.
Not only do we not glorify God. We also are his enemies. When we listened to Satan in Genesis 3 we defected to Satan’s side of the fence. Our default position is slavery to Satan and enmity towards God [even if we do not realize it].
Slaves to sin
Instead of lives that glorify God we are slaves to sin. The very thing that God outlawed, now dominates us.
That is, spiritually dead because our sins have cut us off from God, the source of spiritual life. [Read Ephesians 2:1,5; Isaiah 59:2]
2Corinhians 4:4 teaches that we are spiritually blind; that Satan has blinded our minds so that we cannot see the truth about God. This is confirmed by Jesus in John 3:3, where he taught that we ‘cannot see the kingdom of God’ unless we are ‘born again’.
In/under the dominion of darkness
That is, under the authority and control of Satan, the prince of darkness. This darkness is multi-faceted: it is the darkness of Satan, the darkness of sin, the darkness of ignorance of God, the darkness our guilt and condemnation.
These all speak of a situation of extreme inability, bondage and powerlessness. A situation in which there is no potential of escape by our own ability. A situation into which salvation/rescue can only come from the outside.
C. SINNERS LOVED BY GOD
Although we are sinners, banned from God’s presence by our sin, and under his just judgement because of our sin, the Bible teaches us that God loves us.
Complete Section #3 in the Study Two Worksheet now.
It is clear from the Bible verses in Section #3 of the Worksheet that God did not first wait for us to be ‘good enough’ before he acted towards in amazing love.
It was because God so loved the world that he sent his only Son to die for our sins.
It was while we were still sinners that God loved us and that Jesus died for us.
God’s love is therefore sometimes referred to by the words ‘grace’ and ‘mercy’. These words point out that God’s love is not and cannot be earned, merited or deserved by us.
This word literally means ‘gift’. Not payment. Not wages. Not something owed. Sheer gift.
Notice some of the things the Bible says about this ‘gift’, this grace:
‘… God’s abundant provision of grace …’ [Romans 5:17].
‘… where sin increased, grace increased all the more’ [Romans 5:20].
‘… his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves’ [Ephesians 1:6].
‘… the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us’ [Ephesians 1:7,8].
‘… the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus’ [Ephesians 2:7].
‘This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time’ [2Timothy 1:9].
‘For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men’ [Titus 2:11].
‘… he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone’ [Hebrews 2:9].
It is by this amazing grace, this amazing, undeserved gift, that we, the sinners, are saved.
God in his mercy does not pour out on us the condemnation, the punishment, the just wrath, the just penalty, that we deserve. He took all that stood against us away from us and he put it on his Son, Jesus Christ. Instead of treating us as our guilt deserved, he treated Jesus Christ as the guilty one. In this mercy an incredible transaction takes place. These verses describe this mercy in a range of ways:
‘The Son of Man came … to give his life as a ransom for many’ [Mark 10:45]
‘God … justifies the wicked’ [Romans 4:5]
‘Christ died for the ungodly … Christ died for us’ [Romans 5:6,8]
‘… by the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous’ [Romans 5:19].
‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ [2Corinthians 5:21]
‘He bore our sins in his body on the tree’ [1Peter 2:24]
‘For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God’ [1Peter 3:18].
‘To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood’ [Revelation 1:5].
By the mercy of God, this exchange, this substitution occurred, in which Jesus Christ, the perfect, innocent One, took the place of me, the sinful, guilty one.
He was rejected: I am accepted.
He was accused and condemned: I am acquitted.
He was punished: I am forgiven.
He was cursed: I am blessed.
He bore God’s just wrath: I receive God’s love.
He died: I live.
This is the amazing salvation anticipated by Isaiah:
‘… he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
… the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all
… he bore the sin of many’ [Isaiah 53:5,6,12].
For those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, this incredible exchange is in effect. We stand in the presence of God – not as guilty sinners upon whom his judgement must fall, but as saved sinners, declared ‘not guilty’ because Christ, our Saviour has already borne all of our guilt. This is an extremely important aspect of knowing ourselves. Without it we will live daily with our guilt and in fear of God’s judgement. The next study looks further into this amazing salvation.