Our Glorious Salvation, 1


Human beings are God’s highest form of creation. All other creations, from animals to plants, to the earth itself, are for the purpose of serving mankind. Human beings were created to serve God. Unlike the rest of the material universe, only human beings are theocentric. Sin, however, has changed this aspect of man’s creation. Sin has literally lowered the very character and nature of man so that God’s gift of salvation is the only way to restore him to where he ought to be.

In this series of brief studies, we’ll see what the Bible has to say about salvation. Churches and denominations have creative ways of teaching this thoroughly Biblical doctrine, often to the point of twisting it into a theological pretzel that only a Philadelphia lawyer can understand. Run as fast as you can from somebody who wants to talk to you about “ordo salutis.” Instead, grab your Bibles, let go of your preconceived notions, and we’ll discover how simple, and yet profound, the Biblical doctrine of salvation really is.

Man has fallen into sin, Genesis 3:1—14; 16—19

The nature of temptation, vs. 1—6

Man was created in God’s image. It surprises many liberal-progressive types that men and women were created completely equal. In every way imaginable, neither sex was given prominence over the other. The reason is simple: both were created in God’s image. The differences in the sexes (think: the so-called and hackneyed “war on women”) are a result of sin, not of original creation. Of course, while Adam and Eve were created completely equal, there was a distinction between the work of each.

And the Lord God said, “It isn’t good for man to be alone; I will make a companion for him, a helper suited to his needs.” (Genesis 2:18 TLB)

In spite of being created in God’s image, when sin entered the world the quality of that image was greatly impacted and compromised. Not only that, sin severely tarnished all of God’s material creation.

Man didn’t fall into sin or accidentally swerve into it. It is important to note that the sin of Adam and Eve was no mere moral lapse, but a deliberate act of outright rebellion and a complete renunciation of God and His will for His creation. And herein lies the nefarious nature of temptation: it’s not primarily the temptation to do something naughty, but rather the temptation to go against the express desire of God. On this, Ed Cole was right when he wrote:

Ability to resist temptation is directly proportionate to your submission to God.

Just so. James put it another way:

So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7 TLB)

No doubt a lot of Christians want to resist the devil. But James says mere resistance isn’t enough. We are to “give ourselves humbly to God.” When we do that, the resistance to temptation will come naturally. That’s not say it will always be easy or that we will always be able to resist, just that submission to God’s will goes a long way to creating the necessary conditions whereby resisting temptation will happen.

Adam and Eve did exactly the wrong things. The conditions for resisting temptation were virtually non-existent. Instead of walking away from the serpent, Eve stopped to listen and even reason with it. In the history of dumb things, this was dumbest. Again, James:

And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and let your hearts be filled with God alone to make them pure and true to him. (James 4:8 TLB)

The guaranteed formula for winning the war against temptation:  Submit and draw close to God, resist the devil’s temptation, put forth the effort to live righteously (wash your hands, you sinners!) and make sure to immerse yourself in the things of God. Philippians 4 is a good place to start with that:

Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. (Philippians 4:8 TLB)

The confrontation by God, vs. 7—13

The very moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the effects of eating the fruit occurred. They died spiritually immediately, and that ultimately resulted in physical death.

If you eat its fruit, you will be doomed to die. (Genesis 2:17 TLB)

That brings to mind the words of Paul:

For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23a TLB)

The first two chapters of Genesis paint a beautiful picture of the relationship that existed and should exist between God and man. It is a picture of wholeness and harmony. God banished chaos and confusion and created for man a world of order where the two—Creator and creature—could fellowship and work together. When they sinned, Adam and Eve broke that relational harmony and they sought to hide from the Creator that loved them so much.

How sad it is when you stop and realize that before they sinned, God had never needed to confront man before!

The consequences of sin, vs. 14, 16—19

The consequences of sin were not all immediate, but they were many. We just have to look around at our sin-sick and sin-cursed world to see them. But, if you want to see them in print, Paul describes some of them:

But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, evil men who push away the truth from them. (Romans 1:18 TLB)

Now do you see it? No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law commands. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying them; his laws serve only to make us see that we are sinners. (Romans 3:20 TLB)

When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. His sin spread death throughout all the world, so everything began to grow old and die, for all sinned. (Romans 5:12—21, verse 12 cited TLB)

Once you were under God’s curse, doomed forever for your sins. (Ephesians 2:1 TLB)

You can see that the consequences of sin began with God’s promised judgment. You could say that all the ills of humanity are the result of what God promised:

If you eat its fruit, you will be doomed to die. (Genesis 2:17b TLB)

Probably the greatest consequences of sin are the effects sin has on our wills, that volitional part of man that enables him to make decisions. We call this our “free will.” Thanks to sin, we now have a sinful nature. Man wasn’t created with one; sin put it in him. It is that sinful nature man now follows—we now act according to what it wants. It is impossible for any human being to act in a way that is contrary to his sinful nature, apart from regeneration.

The consequences of that first act of rebellion are legion, and would touch every area of creation. God made sure man would see the seriousness of his wrong choice everywhere he would look and walk. Curses placed on the serpent, the woman, and Adam’s life (including the very nature of the world itself) would be a constant reminder of what he had done. There would be no escaping the effects of sin.

Man is declared guilty of sin, Romans 3:9-20

Under sin, vs. 9-18

They care nothing about God nor what he thinks of them. (Romans 3:18 TLB)

If you could boil down and distill the essential cause of every sin you can think of, this sentence would be it. This pithy sentence didn’t originate with Paul, even though he wrote it. He’s actually quoting Psalm 36:1. Man’s rebellion against God strikes at God’s sovereignty. When man is tempted to sin, he not only desires to do what he wants, but his actions are a horrible offense to God, who is His Creator. Man, after all, is merely the creature. What right does the creature have to make any decision contrary to what the Creator wants for him? Understanding the true relationship between God and man – between the Creator and the creature – is the very basis of true faith. It is true that God is our Heavenly Father, but He is also our Creator. We are not equal to Him. Our sinful nature, however, repudiates this essential fact.

All human beings, from good citizens to moral reprobates, are dominated by their sinful natures and are, consequently, living in sin and under sin’s influence. It is true that an unregenerate man may do highly moral and upright things, but that does not negate the pull of his sinful nature. In the end, he will will sin because he is in rebellion against God, His Creator. St Augustine captured this idea well:

Sin comes when we take a perfectly natural desire or longing or ambition and try desperately to fulfill it without God. Not only is it sin, it is a perverse distortion of the image of the Creator in us.

The Law cannot justify, vs. 19-20

Now do you see it? No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law commands. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying them; his laws serve only to make us see that we are sinners. (Romans 3:20 TLB)

Paul was writing to Jews in Rome, so it was natural for him to bring in the “law”; that law being the law of Moses, Judaism. Simply put, the idea Paul put forward is that “keeping the faith” does not offset the sins you commit. We aren’t Jews, so if Paul were writing to us, he might say something like this: “No matter how many old ladies you help across the street, you’re still a dirty rotten sinner.” Or, “You can go to church eight days a week, but you’re still a sinner.”

We all stand guilty before a sovereign and holy God, and no number of “good deeds” can change that. Adhering to a religious creed doesn’t change your standing before God. All mankind from the smallest to the greatest have been declared guilty. Therefore, all men are condemned to die.

Humans are trapped in sin, Ephesians 2:1-3

Once you were under God’s curse, doomed forever for your sins. You went along with the crowd and were just like all the others, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air, who is at work right now in the hearts of those who are against the Lord. All of us used to be just as they are, our lives expressing the evil within us, doing every wicked thing that our passions or our evil thoughts might lead us into. We started out bad, being born with evil natures, and were under God’s anger just like everyone else. (TLB)

Paul wrote these words to Christians – people who had been regenerated by the Holy Spirit – that’s why he’s writing in the past tense. What he is not saying is that we Christians are any better than those who are not. This paragraph shouldn’t make us proud, it should make sad. Those who don’t know Jesus are doomed forever. We used to be in that very position, but not any more. Jesus is the great “doom remover.” Good works and religious creeds will not change our pathetic position before God, but Jesus does just that very thing.

This paragraph of Scripture paints an awful picture of the unregenerate sinner as being trapped in an endless cycle of sin after sin after sin. It tells us that nobody is born “good.” Everybody is born a sinner. Leonard Ravenhill, the great evangelist, once wrote:

There are only two kinds of persons: those dead IN sin and those dead TO sin.

Born again believers are dead TO sin. The rest of humanity, sadly, is dead IN in; trapped in it as surely as a bird is locked up in his cage.

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