Wednesday, February 6, 2019

God's Death Sentence

"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin" (Romans 7:14).

Today and tomorrow we will continue to explore the idea of God’s death sentence upon Adam and Eve. We distinguish in theology between the “first sin,” which was committed by Adam and Eve, and “original sin,” which is the state of corruption passed on to all people as a result of that first sin. Original sin is the sin nature, whereby I am wholly inclined to rebellion against God.

In Reformation theology, we call the state of original sin “total depravity” or more accurately “radical depravity.” It means not that people are as bad as they could be, because we can always get worse. Rather, “radical depravity” means that our wickedness goes to the root (radix) and heart of our being. 

Because we are radically depraved, we are also comprehensively depraved, with wickedness infecting to some degree every aspect of our life. Because of these things, we are also progressively depraved, becoming worse over time as we become more self-conscious and mature in our hatred of God. Thus, apart from the grace of God, humanity both individually and collectively grows toward a condition of total and absolute depravity, a situation in which there is no evidence of goodness remaining.

Paul writes in Ephesians 2:1 that original sin is an estate of death. This explains the relationship between Adam’s first sin and our sin nature. The punishment for Adam’s sin was death, and death passed to all people because we were counted guilty in Adam. This death works death in us and is the wellspring of our depravity. Our sin nature is in this sense a death nature. God is the source of life, and our death nature moves us to hate God and reject His life in every sense.

Adam was our representative. His sin (outside of us) brought God’s death sentence upon all humanity, one aspect of which is the death-and-sin nature which we all inherit. Similarly, Jesus is our representative. His obedience (outside of us) brought about God’s justification of the new humanity and God’s gift of resurrection life. That new life we now have in Christ works in us a desire to obey and overcomes our death-and-sin nature.

What evidence do you see of our culture’s growing maturity in its hatred of God? Consider today if your life shows the opposite signs of growing devotional love for the Lord. If it does not, what steps in the right direction should you begin to take?