One of the most embarrassing prayers I ever uttered in my entire life was the one I made when I was in high school. I remember being so convinced that I was near perfect that I ended up telling God he should really be proud of me. At least he didn’t have to do much overhauling with my life. He can focus his redeeming work with someone else’s life. Me? I was fine, thank you very much.
That was before I hit puberty—before I became aware of sexual temptation, envy, and my apparent potential to do violence. When I hit puberty, all my notions of near perfection vanished into thin air. I slowly realized that at the very core, I was like the rest of the teenagers I knew. Everyone of us who has been tempted either by anger or by lust knows that something in us gravitates towards wrongdoing no matter how hard we try to stop ourselves. This begs the question: Why are we like this?
Two words: original sin.
Most people know the concept of original sin, the biblical teaching that tells us we got corrupted at our core because our first parents, Adam and Eve, ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Because they disobeyed, all human beings born after them are swept into their sin and became guilty.
Why Original Sin Seems Unfair
Many people across the ages are scandalized with this teaching. Why? Because it all looks unfair. Some reasoned, “Why should I be punished for somebody else’s disobedience?” Others argued, “If Adam and Eve sinned against God, that was their business. Why can’t God just leave me out of their sin?”
Because of this, countless people accused God of being unfair and unloving. Some got angry with the church. Others walked away from the faith. Still others ridicule the apparent loophole of the Bible. But assuming we have all mellowed down from our outrage, now would be a good time to listen and know that the reason why this is scandalous is because we only heard half of the story.
You see, when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they acted as representatives of the entire human race. When they fell to sin, we all fell to sin. That is the bad news. Many people unfortunately stop here. But this is precisely the reason why we need to continue reading our Bibles up to the New Testament so we can get to the good news.
The Other Half of the Story
The other half of the story is that God knew the brokenness that sin brought to the world and he sent someone to fix the problem. Jesus, the sinless Son of God, came in the form of human flesh, obeyed the Father perfectly, died on the cross, and rose again from the dead. Jesus succeeded where the Adam and Eve failed.
Now I want you to read closely because this is where the gospel gloriously untangles the scandalous knot that got many of us riled up in the first place. By virtue of our humanity, we got swept into the sin of Adam and Eve. We didn’t do original disobedience ourselves; the sin was simply credited to our account. But because Jesus succeeded where Adam failed, he effected the complete opposite of what happened in Eden. By virtue of the grace of God, we who believe in Christ also got swept into the righteousness of Jesus. We didn’t do the perfect obedience ourselves; the righteousness was simply credited to our account.
In other words, if you think that you got unfairly dragged into the sin of Adam even if you were not there to commit the sin yourself, you need to realize that by faith you are also “unfairly” piggybacking on the righteousness of Christ even if you did not actually perfectly obey the Father yourself. See how Adam and Jesus stand in parallel to each other? We are outraged with our inclusion in Adam’s sin. That outrage is understandable but we need to move past Adam and get to Christ so that we will see that what we thought was the biggest loophole of the Bible turned out to be the greatest display of the amazing grace of God.