What is the common theme in the news today? No matter the day, time, or channel, the news is always about some problem(s) or issue(s). This causes me to wonder, is there any earthly thing that can’t be corrupted because of sin? Take a moment to think about that. The answer is no. No matter where we go or what we do, we can’t get away from sin on this earth. In fact, people have made a living exploiting these problems and some even paint these sins in a positive light.
As we identify our issue with sin, a related problem arises, one that many people don’t like to talk about: death. Death is everyone’s problem, and it is a byproduct of sin. Death doesn’t care who we are (our job, our physical condition, our family responsibilities, and the number of people who depend on us). Death is a problem all of us must face, regardless of who we are. So let me ask you a question: What is the death percentage in the United States, compared to say, Chad? It’s the same… 100%.
Now, we can pretend that death doesn’t exist, or that it will never happen to us, but it does and eventually it will. Rather than living in denial, let’s face this problem head on. Let’s look to the Bible for a solution to our death problem.
Romans 5 acknowledges this problem. In verse 12, we read that “death came to all people.” In verse 14, we learn that death reigns. But the Bible also tells us the cause of death. Perhaps if we knew the cause, we could find the solution? In verse 12, it says, “[S]in entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” Sin is ultimately the cause of death, and it all began with one man—Adam.
Imagine being at your home, hosting a big get-together. You receive a package, labeled with the words: CONTAGIOUS VIRUS—DO NOT OPEN. But you decide to open it anyway. As you struggle to tear the tape off, the package bursts open, and the virus spreads everywhere! All your family and all your friends inhale the virus and are now infected. Eventually they will die because of it. Ultimately, whose fault was that? Yours, right?
When Adam sinned, thousands of years ago, it was as though he had opened a package he shouldn’t have opened. When he disobeyed God, sin entered his body, entered the world, and infected everything and everyone. Billions of people (along with all of God’s creation) have been affected by that one moment in the Garden of Eden. Because of Adam’s disobedience a spiritual virus, called sin, entered the world and it is lethal. When Adam ate fruit of the tree God specifically told him not to, our world became one big spiritual quarantine zone, in God’s eyes. From that moment on, people were born with the problem of sin.
Don’t believe me? There is a test we can perform on ourselves to see if we’ve been infected. Do you want to take the test? Here it is: Ask yourself, “Have I been selfish, even for a moment? Have I had any unkind thoughts? Have I lied? Have I cheated anyone out of anything? Have I miss used God’s name? Have I elevated anything in my life above God?” If we honestly answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, then we have been infected with the deadly disease of sin. And if you answered no to any of them, other than being a liar, here is the final nail in the coffin: “Were you conceived by a man and a woman?” Psalm 51:5 says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” No one is safe from sin; we have all been infected by it.
This problem of death and eternal condemnation because of sin is huge, and it envelops all the struggles we have (financial, personal, social, health). So what is the solution?
By God’s grace, the solution can also be found in Romans 5. Verse 15 says, “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” God identifies the problem and then he intervenes, as he always does. I must pause here and point out how amazing it is that God comes to us in our moments of need. He doesn’t wait for us to stumble back to him. He comes and gets us.
He comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ (the second Adam). He sees our problems and offers us a solution for them. He loves us too much to let us suffer eternal death. So Jesus left heaven and stepped into this world as a human being. He left his perfectly healthy Paradise and invaded the quarantined area of earth. He did this in order to visit and save sinners, including you and me. He sees how we all have been infected and affected by Adam’s sin and he offers us a cure, a solution, a way out, a way for us to escape.
Adam’s sin was the worst mistake in human history, but Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the grave was the response needed to right the wrong once and for all. That’s why Paul writes in Ephesians 2:4-10,
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Rev. Michael Natale is pastor of Faith Chapel Lutheran Brethren Church in Cranston, Rhode Island.