Paradise Reclaimed

In the book of Genesis, we read about the first instance of evil committed by humanity. Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden and they bought into the lie of the serpent which was that God never had their best interests in mind. The lie told was that they could elevate themselves to God’s status by their actions. Instead, by their sin, they were lowered to a place of the cursed rather than the divine. When God descended upon the Garden, rather than going to meet Him, they fled from Him. Genesis notes, “the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8 ESV) Man hid from the presence of God and has naturally been doing so ever since.

Why do we run from God? If we allow the Scriptures to speak for themselves, we find that mankind does not simply sin because of a negative example displayed in the Garden of Eden. Nor is it the case that we are simply mimicking the countless other lives we see around us or read about in the news.

Instead, Scripture teaches us that mankind was enslaved to sin that very fateful day in Paradise. There is a sin nature at work within us. The Westminster Shorter Catechism summarizes the matter in Question 16, “Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?” The catechism answers, “The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.”

In short, we find sin and its horror laden consequences at work in the world not only around us, but even most basically within us. You and I have sin at work within us. This internal sin nature is often called “original sin” in theology. We need only turn to the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans to explain it, “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12 ESV)

When sin entered the world through the sin of our first parents we witnessed the death of peace, health, rest, and a loving relationship with God. We find in its place pain, betrayal, abuse, abandonment, decay, disease, suffering, and a complete shattering of a relationship with God. This is the natural estate of every human heart. Not a single one of us seeks after God (Romans 3:11) As such, we are utterly hopeless if we are left to our own abilities. God should indeed abandon us for our daily rejection of Him and His Word. But thanks be to God that we find something altogether different in the Bible.

God was pleased to descend again where humanity was found. But this time it was not in the heart of judgment, nor did he descend to clothe humans with an animal skin (Gen. 3:21). This time our God descended to take upon Himself our own flesh and suffer pain, betrayal, abuse, abandonment, and suffering so that we might be reconciled to Him. Jesus Christ is the great Mediator, both fully God and fully man. He came so that our nature could be cleansed by His broken body and shed blood, by His obedience and suffering in our place.

God the Father crowns us with the righteousness of Christ, and the Spirit of Christ. We become lovely in God’s sight by reason of the fact that He sets His love upon us. The LORD sets His goodness upon us and renews us from the inside out so that we are never the same. Though sin still remains in us as long as we live on earth, sin no longer reigns over us, for in Christ we have been raised from death to life. The Apostle Paul implores us, “you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11 ESV)