In addition to the God-man, Jesus Christ, the view of human sin is another important distinction between Christianity and the other two monotheistic faiths. Christians view sin as humanity’s primary problem and believe that we are born sinful. Adam and Eve, whom God had just created, ignored his warning, “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’” (Genesis 2:16-17 NIV). As Adam and Eve rebelled against God, every person born from that point on inherited their sin. Furthermore, our sin separates us from God:
And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24).
We cannot escape the pattern of sin. Just as we are descendants of Abraham, Abraham was a descendant of Adam and Eve. After Abraham’s death, the future generations coming from his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, continued, through to the birth of Jesus, and in Matthew 1:1-16 we find that Jesus is a descendant of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Matthew 1:17 summarizes, “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah” (emphasis mine).
During all of these generations, the rebellion against God endured. As the pinnacle of God’s creation, and his dearly beloved, we are God’s gift to himself. And yet—the rebellion and the sin spread, oozing its infection into all of humanity, and contaminating God’s vision for his creation. Nevertheless, as the writer of Ecclesiastes 7:29 points out, “This only have I found: God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes” (emphasis mine), indicating that the moral disposition—the original righteousness of humankind still exists.
Our soul is intact, without blemish, fully capable, and poised for action, and it is through our soul that we see God. When we start our Christian journey we start with the best of what God has given us—an immortal soul. So be encouraged by this, because our inherited sin cannot take the place of our immortal soul. God’s plan doesn’t allow for such things.
Still, words of caution are in order.
Our unblemished soul does not relieve us of our sin, and we do not become a Christian just because we were raised in a Christ centered home. We are each one walking on our own separate path, from which we must deal with our own sin, and we become Christians when we respond to God’s call on our own. No one can do it for us. Our relationship with God is personal and private. In the next blog, we will see how true this is.