by Andy M
A month or so ago, I took a trip to the store and found several staple items completely gone. People were running scared and stocking up on bread, tortillas, rice, beans, toilet paper, and bottled water. The worldwide scare of the coronavirus (COVID-19) had come to my city. Amid the craze people are glued to the latest news and attempting to social distance to rightly care for themselves and others. It is humbling when we remember that life is not guaranteed, and it is sobering when we realize we don’t actually have control. The fear of death is real.
The Fear of Death is Right
The fear of death is not just real, but also right. From the time I attended my first funeral as a boy looking in that open casket I knew that death was not right. In my life I have sat with a young woman dying of tuberculosis. I have transported my friend’s son’s body who had died from being electrocuted, built his coffin, and buried him. Death comes close to us all no matter how hard we attempt to push it away.
The shock of death is heavy and we instinctively repulse at it. This is because the impulse to live is written on our hearts, pointing us back to the first man and woman who lived in bliss with God in the Garden.
Adam and Eve were created by God and enjoyed being with God in a place without fear and shame. They, like us, were created in the image of God having distinct value, a God-given purpose and a longing that was satisfied in God. They lived with God without sin, without a selfish thought, and without the death and destruction that sin brings.
Sin is the Plague that Kills
Yet, in this perfect place they were tempted by Satan, and a desire to be like God, subverting his order, overtook them. They wanted to rule and not be ruled. They rebelled against God as their rightful king and fell for a lie that somehow they could be king & queen instead. Adam willfully disobeyed God’s word. The result of this rebellion, not only resulted in a judicial punishment-by-death from God, but all of humanity became corrupted in their very nature. We all became sinners (Romans 5:12-14).
This made all of mankind unable not to sin. Sin defined us and had mastery over us. And the wages, from a Holy God, for our sin is death (Romans 6:23).
Perhaps you see your sin as something light. Perhaps you would say: “Yes, I stole fishing lures from a neighborhood store when I was a kid, but that was a long time ago. I treat people well and am better than most.” For the sake of argument, say I grant you that in some moral sense you might be better than the next guy. Your sin pile may very well be smaller than mine.
However, the fact remains that we all have sinned. We know from Adam and Eve’s story that they were removed from God’s presence and were punished with death because of just one sin. If they were removed from God’s presence for just one sin, what hope do we have to dwell with God, we who have many more sins than one (Genesis 3:23-24)?
We Are Unable to Pay the Debt
In desperate times we need to hear things straight and the book of Ephesians gives us the bad news straight without any fluff. Anyone outside Christ is dead in sins and transgressions. Those outside Christ are without hope and without God (Ephesians 2:12). This is exactly where Adam and Eve found themselves after falling into sin. This was a fall from which they could not recover without God himself providing the solution.
Dead things can’t live by their own power. When something is dead, it needs a supernatural work to be done. It needs something outside of itself to give it live. My friend, left to ourselves, you and I are dead and will remain that way.
The Light of Eternal Life has Dawned
But this is not the end of the story. God graciously provided Adam & Eve clothing to cover their shame by sacrificing an animal’s life. The gracious character of God is thus seen and points to a greater reality: mankind’s sin has been dealt with by “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World!” (John 1:29). God has done what only he could; He has intervened supernaturally; He has provided as a gift eternal life in His Son. Satan killed and destroyed, but Jesus came to give us life, and life abundantly (John 10:10).
Only by looking to God to provide the solution for our sin in Christ can we be saved from our death penalty and receive eternal life. Christ’s perfect payment and conquering of death in the resurrection gives us certain hope that we who have turned from our sin and believed upon Christ have been brought from death to life. As we turn from our sin and believe upon Christ we are made new. In Christ we are new from the heart and spiritually alive. The old has passed away, and the sin that once mastered us has been put off by the power of Christ working in us. The light of the eternal life that we will one day inherit has already dawned upon us.
But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. (Mal 4:2).