I want a DO-OVER!! (July 5, 2020)

I want a DO-OVER!! (July 5, 2020)

July 5, 2020
Benjamin Ehlers

I want a DO-OVER!!

Romans 5:12-15

To watch online: https://youtu.be/Ygx9iwP5kVI

 

“Do over!” A staple move in any child’s game – especially when playing with young children. There’s a lot at stake! The child makes a wrong move, or just simply doesn’t want to lose, and they call for a “do over.” It’s a chance to reverse the mistake. The ability to go back in time and fix what went wrong. But any adult knows that there is no such thing as “do overs” in real life. Once thought becomes action or a word is off the tongue, it’s out there. It can never be taken back. You can’t go back and erase it. At the very best you can spend a lot of time and energy trying to reverse the damage that has already been done. There are no “do overs” in real life.

I really wish Adam could have had just one “do over.” It sure would have fixed a whole lot that is wrong in the world. Ever since that one wrong move, the course of history has been one long and steady downward spiral. Adam was given the privilege of being the one from whom all others would be descended. He wasn’t only given all of creation, but God also made a beautiful garden especially for the crown of his creation. Along with all of this, God gave Adam one command: “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” (Gen 2:16-17). Why? Why, O God, did you have to give that command – that test? Was it your will that we would make a mistake and fall?

So many have asked that question. So many seek for understanding. And in part, I think we need to be reminded of our place and God’s. After chapters and chapters of Job questioning God for bringing such trials and calamity upon him, God fired back with a powerful monologue that didn’t really answer Job’s question, but reminded him of his place and his limited understanding of the grand scheme of things. “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (Job 38:2-3).

In part, we have to accept that we may not fully understand why God gave the command not to eat from that tree. But I think we can begin to have a discussion about it. Realize first the ratio of blessings to commands. God gave Adam dominion over all things. God gave Adam a beautiful garden. Even within that ONE command, God also said, “You are free to eat from ANY TREE in the garden; but you must not eat from [this one].” God was not selfish in dealing with his highest creature. Adam had a wide range of foods to pick from. The command to abstain from one tree was neither irritating nor burdensome.

But it goes far beyond that. All of Genesis 2 speaks of what God did to make his children happy, and this special tree was no exception. God never designed humans to be puppets or robots whom he regulates by pulling strings, pressing buttons, or limiting them in any way. By placing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden, God was giving Adam the opportunity to obey God of his own free will. And this opportunity, this choice was so important in Adam’s spiritual life. You see, When God created Adam, he was in a state of created innocence. By giving Adam the command not to eat, God was offering him the opportunity to progress from created innocence to conscious holiness. God wanted his highest creature to be holy by choice, not just by accident. And this command was God’s way of allowing Adam to consciously grow in holiness every day! It was God’s way to build Adam up in trusting him to provide for every need. It was Adam’s way, essentially, to worship God! By making this choice, the experience would have produced a knowledge of good and evil similar to that which God himself has.

Sadly, man reversed God’s plan. God created man for life! Yet, quite irrationally, Adam chose death. And ever since that moment, the floodwaters of sin washed over the earth, never to recede. There is no going back to reverse this mistake. Even down to the present day, we are still suffering from and struggling with sin. We inherit it in much the same way that we inherit physical and emotional characteristics from our parents. We may not fully understand the functional details of sin’s transmission, but it’s effects are evident. The Bible says, “Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Rm 5:12). We see death. Everyone eventually dies. This death is evidence of our sinfulness.

But we don’t just have Adam to blame for our condition. Even as believers who are alive in faith, who know the will of God, and who know his commands, we still choose death just like Adam did. By God’s mercy and grace, he once again gives us the opportunity to grow in our spiritual life by choosing to live according to his will and rely completely on his strength to do so. Yet, even though he provides everything we need to walk with him again, we choose to go our own way. We stubbornly refuse to budge or forcefully push God away when he comes to help. We choose death. Don’t just blame Adam for your condition. Every one of us is also responsible for reversing God’s plan for us.

If only there were “do overs” in real life. If only we could go back to that moment just before the fall into sin and undo the wickedness that was done. But God’s plan didn’t include a “do over”. Lucky for us, because a “do over” would mean wiping us off the face of the earth and starting over. God’s plan did, however, include a complete reversal of all that went wrong. God reversed the fate of mankind. He did this, first, by providing the gift that would reverse the trespass. The Bible says, “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!” (Rom 5:15).

The gift is righteousness, and it’s for you. Just as you did not eat the fruit, yet you were condemned; so also you did not earn it, yet you are declared righteous! The disobedience of the first Adam ruined us, but the obedience of the second Adam, Jesus Christ, saves us. And when the Bible says, “how much more did God’s grace… overflow to the many” God means it! The gift does not merely free you from your sinfulness and bring you to a neutral state, leaving you to work out the rest. The gift makes you righteous and holy in God’s sight! Nor does the gift merely free you from death, but it entitles you to life! This is who God is! It is his natural work. Yes, he punishes sin. Not because he enjoys it, but because he would not be holy and good if he allowed sin. But this is his “foreign work.” His “natural work” is to show love and mercy, to forgive those who trust in him, and to shower you with blessings upon blessings!

God reversed the trespass with his gift, and he also reversed death by his life. Since God made you righteous and holy by the second Adam, Jesus Christ, there is no longer a sentence of death for you. By dying on the cross and defeating death, Jesus reversed the power that death holds over you. For although every one of us will still die one day, for those who die in Christ it has been made but a doorway to a new and better life where you are completely free from sin and death; where all the destroying effects of sin are completely reversed. “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:54-55).

So in these ways, the first Adam was a “pattern of the one to come” (Rom 5:14). First it was his trespass that caused the rest of us to be condemned of our own inherited sinfulness, even though we did not eat of the forbidden tree. And in this way “death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses” (Rom 5:14) and even far beyond the time of Moses. Yet Christ came in the flesh to be our “do over.” Not by wiping us off the face of the planet and starting over, but by taking on the full condemnation and punishment which we deserved. The Bible testifies to this gracious reversal: “Since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor 15:21-22).

A “do over?” God has given us something so much better. He has taken our reversal of his plan and reversed the fate of all mankind. He became sin for us so that we might become righteous (2 Cor 5:21). And not only does he promise this reversal of sin and death, but he shows us glimpses that the reversal has already taken place. First and foremost in the death and resurrection of Jesus – who is the firstborn from all the dead. But also in instances like we just read in the Gospel (Mt 9:18-26) where he healed the daughter of the synagogue official. Or when he raised Lazarus from the dead. Besides the resurrection of Christ, he didn’t have to give us these glimpses – these rays of hope – of what will one day become ours. But God wanted you to believe with absolute certainty that in him your fate is reversed. Your sins have been exchanged for righteousness in Christ, and death has become the door to eternal life.