We are not first sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners. That is what man is by nature. A sinner. A sinner sins. That’s all he can do. He does nothing to the glory of God. If you understand that concept, then you understand the doctrine of original sin. It is said to be one of the weightiest and most difficult subjects in Christian theology. Without it, we cannot truly understand ourselves, for we know that something is seriously messed up. But how exactly we share in Adams sin is indeed a mystery. Many theologians have answered this to vary degrees of success. What we do know is that there is a solidarity - a unity - in the human race. It is physical and organic, but also representative.
But in order to truly understand it you must have some experiential knowledge of it – a existential knowledge that evil is not just something out there it is in the heart. It is part of the sinful flesh. It controls the unbeliever and It clings on even when on become a Christians till the day one dies. It was not through some kind of intellectual knowledge but through a personal experience that David cries, “Surely, I was a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me! The wickedness, and sins we commit is no one’s fault but our own, and the consequences that flow from them are just and fair.
But thanks be to God that he does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities (Ps 103).But he in his grace and mercy forgives them in Christ, and gives freedom from its slavery to live in the freedom of Christ.
So that is the sermon for today. We are going to look at the original sin, and the God who forgive its in Jesus Christ.
- Our bondage
- Our freedom
In Romans 1:16-17 he gives us a little summary of his basic gospel. Paul writes, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then for the gentile. For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written, ‘the righteous shall live by faith.’”
Then in verse 18 he begins his argument. The first thing that Paul lays out is the sinfulness of sin – he removes every square inch of self-righteousness, to show that the righteous shall life by faith. He strips humanity of any hope of coming to God on their own. There is no way that the church in Rome would ever have understood the Gospel till they understood the reality of human sinfulness. There is no way that any of you will understand the gospel message unless you understand the sinfulness of human sin. The depth of your own darkness.
Sin permeates every culture, every people, every man woman and child that has ever lived from conception to death. It is the greatest virus – and it is hereditary. If your parents have it, you are 100% guaranteed to get it. It was true of Adam and Eve’s children and it is true of my children.
The fact that sin and evil are so prevalent is so obvious that even non-believers have frequently noted it. Some may think life is a game, but for anyone seriously pursuing the moral life they have quickly run into a wall of their own sinful desires. All religions are based on the presupposition of sin. We see it in quotes such as “to sin is common to all people.” “No one is born without defects.” There will be faults as long as there are human beings.” “To err is human.” “Failure is common to all.” As Muggeridge notes, “The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.”
And this is the picture that the scriptures lay out for us, particularly here in Romans. Paul takes us to the very heart of sin. He does not use descriptors, generalities, or clichés. He says at the heart of sin is total and utter willful rejection of what is right in front of us – the reality of God. What is plain to us. We suppress the truth that we know. There is no one who will stand on the day of judgement, shrug his shoulders and say I did not know.
You see, Christians sometimes read Romans 1 as if it’s about someone else. It’s not about someone else. This is your story. This is my story. This is the human story. This is the backdrop of the gospel to which we are saved. It is not that we do not know God, it is that we will not know him. This is the diagnosis of who we are. Human ingenuity allows us to suppress the truth in extremely clever and self-deceptive ways. We are not only sinners we are the rationalizers of sin and will develop elaborate theories to explain why we sin. But God is not mocked. We have corrupted the knowledge of him. We hide it, we will not know it. We ignore it, and therefore are without excuse.
Romans 1 speaks about God handing us over three times. Some say that this is what will happen if humans go down the wrong path, but this is not a warning of what might happen, it is a declaration of what has happened. It is the portrait of human sinfulness of all peoples everywhere. God gave them over. God gave them over. God gave them over.
Then in v. 29 we have a whole list of sins. It is one of the longest most sobering lists in all of scripture. This list is not a catalogue to see if the sins you commit are in there or not. They are in there. You are in here. They have been filled with every kind of wickedness, evil greed and depravity. Do you see yourself? Without Christ. Do you see you need yet? They are full of envy murder strife, deceit and malice? Do you see yourself? Do you see the state you are saved from?
So chapter 2:1 begins, “you therefore have no excuse, You who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.” Notice how direct he is. You are without excuse. Speaking to the church at Rome. We all see the behavior of sin and pass judgement particularly on the world. In doing so we judge ourselves because what they do we do, what they are we are. When we judge we say we deserve judgement? And when we realize that then we can cry out to God! Save us!
He goes on in chapter two and three explaining how the law has only served to make us more conscious of sin. In the end making the point that all of us are serial repetitive habitual sinners. And if that is where it all ended, we would be in trouble. We might throw up our hands and say Paul we have no hope, and that was the most depressing sermon ever. For But the glorious gospel shines into the darkness of sins heart in 3:21 and in chapter 4. It is amazing that God through Jesus has saved us, and just as the first man fell and caused the curse. The second man stood and redeemed us from the curse.
If you thought the news was worse than you imagined on sin, then you better buckle your seat for the good news. For the good news is far and away better than the bad news could ever be bad. The Good always conquers evil and we see here. In Romans 5:12 and following Paul compares Christ and Adam. And in verse 12 Paul says that the grace and live of Christ, far exceed the sin and death of Adam. The idea of abundant grace is in the foreground. Let me explain: By one human being, sin, as a powerful all-controlling principle, came into the world; in the same way death spread to all humans, because all sinned. All died in a
Adam. It is not just as if you died on account of your sin. 1 Corinthians 15:22 says all died in Adam. From the moment you were born you were dead in sin. So in adam both sin and death, in there connectedness, achieved dominion over mankind, so that as a result of Adams sin, all humans personally becomes sinners, and all die individually.
Then he compares the way sin came to the way grace came through Christ. The way things go in the case of sin and death is also the way it goes in the righteousness and life that Christ acquires. It is imputed to us. There is a difference though in intensity: grace is more abundant and life is more powerful, but the manner in which both are given to us is the same.
In both cases it started with the judgment of God. Death for the sin of the first Adam. Death for the curse of sin for the second Adam. Both started with Gods righteous judgment. Adam failed to fulfill the law of righteousness according to the law, so now a righteous apart from the law was made available. The first death was deserved the second death was undeserved in the place of those who deserved it. The one brought death, the other righteous and life is given. It is because of this that we can confess that “In spite of all this, original sin is not imputed to the children of God to their condemnation but by his grace and mercy is forgiven them.”
Or in the beautiful words of the apostle Pau, “Where sin increased grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” So grace reigns!
But what does this mean? Does it mean we can go on sinning? The confession says no, “This does not mean that believers may sleep peacefully in their sin, but that the awareness of this corruption may make them often groan as they eagerly wait to be delivered from this body of death.” The apostle Paul agrees, just after making the comparison explaining the grace of god in light of original sin – he goes on in chapter 6 and asks, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” He answers in the strongest possible way in the Greek. BY NO MEANS. NO WAY. Even though as the confession says, “original sin is not abolished nor eradicated by baptism” yet baptism in Christ does mean the beginning of new life. The beginning of eternal life now. It means that those who have been buried (or baptized) with Christ also rise with him in newness of life.
As he continues in romans 6:6-7: For we know that our old self (That is the sinful nature inherited from Adam) was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” He continue is verse 11, “in the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”
Indeed because of the work of Jesus Christ in us we are no longer sleeping dead people. We are made alive! That is why our confession echoes Paul when it says, “we may not sleep peacefully in our sin… but we look forward to being relieved from this body of death!” Indeed that is also where Paul will get to when he continues into Romans 7 and there at the end says, “What a wretch that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thank be to God Through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Thanks be to God! He has not left us in our sin! He has pursued us, and given us life! His life! So that we might live for him. What are the practical implications. We are not victims of sin. We are perpetrators of sin. Sin is not imitation it comes from within. So, the battle for each one us starts within us. Don’t make excuses. Look to Christ dwell in him. Your emotions and your actions will change. You are no longer a slave to sin. So stand up and fight in his resurrection power. Some people think Christianity is that you have to stop doing all the things you like doing, and you have to do all the thing you hate. Its not. That ths old adam. Christianity is new life. New desires. New wills. So that we begin to truly love, and find joy in service to Christ in the everyday. If we are saved then we will fight and grow, and the reign of Christ in us will be made more and more visible. May this be true in all of life.