The Curse of Sin, It Is a Blessing
People around me have been talking about sin a lot lately, trying to identify it, working to avoid it. What a terrible waste of time for the redeemed. Easter beckons us to look beyond.
This is a compilation of three blog articles I wrote a couple of years ago about my belief that sin came to be because grace was God’s plan from the beginning.
From the Foundation of the World (Blog #1)
In the beginning, after God spoke all the “LET THERE BE . . . s” and creation formed at his commands, he paused to say, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)
What if . . .
After they spoke into being the magnificent and amenable, God paused in creation and said to Jesus and to the Spirit that hovered there with them,
“Let’s talk about this before we go any further.”
With excitement in in His voice, perhaps God said, “I’d like to make man. I’d like to breathe a bit of ourselves into him so that he will be different than the animals and we can love him.”
At this point, (in the story in my head), Jesus and the Spirit nod. It would be a little more complicated and they might get a little dirt on their hands but what an intriguing idea!
Then God became pensive and He said, “But look down the road of time. If we create them this way, look at the mess they will make. Watch their path as they follow their choices and see where we will go to retrieve them.”
As the Spirit followed the path of man, He nodded his assent. Yes, He would lead them through a desert. Yes, He would visit them in their promised land. He could be there to give courage as they battled. He would happily comfort their kings and prophets in the days of their sorrow and cause them to dance in the days of their joy.
Then He looked forward a little more and He saw the place in time where God would determine that man had wandered long enough without Him. And if the Spirit has something like a heart, it stopped beating for a moment when He realized what making man would cost. With effort, He pulled his eyes away from the cross and He looked at Jesus.
Jesus was still. The breath seemed to have left his body. He had seen too. But his eyes weren’t on the cross. They were on God, the Father. He stood there for what would have, if there had been time, seemed like eternity, . . . looking . . . and seeing . . . and understanding.
And, from the foundation of the world, He was slain.
From the Foundation of the World (Blog #2)
My question is . . .why couldn’t God just enjoy his relationship with Adam and Eve? Why would He tell them “Don’t eat!” when He absolutely knew that they would. And why would He set in motion, at the foundation of the world, a chain of events that would lead to the cross?
Let me tell you what I’m thinking.
My grandmother was a formidable personality. In her house, her husband’s dog was never allowed in the living area. Her grandchildren were never allowed to use the wrong verb tense. And, her 90 year-old mother was given a glass or two of blackberry wine when she began to cause a commotion.
My mother was a free spirit. I have been told that as a teen she was lively and daring and pushed all my grandmother’s buttons just to see which flavor of frustration would pop out. Then she would shake it up and watch it spew.
It turned out that life was hard for my mother. My grandmother was always close by to help if she could. And as they aged, they became closer. After my grandfather died, my mother began visiting my grandmother often to keep her company. She told me they were probably the best times she and her mother had spent together.
By that time, my grandmother had had a series of small strokes and had lost the ability to speak. My mother was life-tired and soul-spent and had few words to say anyway. So, they spent most evenings in silence with my mother laying her head in my grandmother’s lap.
I’m wondering if that picture holds some insight into why the plan for Jesus’ death was in place before Adam disobeyed.
Maybe the cross wasn’t just a fix for Adam’s sin. Maybe a relationship with a faultless man was never God’s “A” plan. Maybe He always wanted the relationship he could have with man after he had tried and failed at life on his own. Maybe, from the foundation of the world, God has preferred redeemed man to innocent man.
Maybe it is that God most wants us after life has chewed us up and spit us out and we are too tired to talk about ourselves . . . and all we can do is shut our mouths and lay our heads in his lap.
From the Foundation of the World (Blog #3)
Every time I ponder the concept and I follow the path of my reasoning to its end, I find myself standing in the same confounding field of thought. And, every time I get to that place, I turn around and head back to the starting point thinking, “Lord, Lord, this can’t possibly be right.”
Revelation 13:8 – And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
. . . the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
If Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world, then God (who stands outside time anyway) knew when He created man that the crucifixion of Jesus would be the cost of man’s disobedience.
If God (who stands outside time and can see the end from the beginning) knew that man would disobey, then He set up Adam to fail when He gave him the ability to choose.
If God set up Adam to fail, and declared that Adam’s failure to obey would result in mankind’s life in sin and separation from Himself, then living in sin and separate from God must be part of God’s plan for Adam . . . for mankind . . . for me.
Oh . . . Crap! I stumble over this same spot every time I go down this path.
2 Timothy 1:9 – He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
I can hang onto this thought and go a little further.
. . . Grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.
If grace was also in God’s plan since the beginning of time then He always had a plan to forgive disobedient mankind.
If God always had a plan to forgive the disobedience of all those who choose to leave him and go their own way, then He always knew that in the end He would welcome them back into a relationship like the one He had with Adam.
If God knew that in the end, He would have what He began with, then why was everything in the middle necessary?!
And . . . now, I’m just turning around in circles.
But, here’s what I see . . .
I see the people who have come through sin to seek God on the other side. They don’t much look like Adam.
They aren’t new and pristine. They are dirty and disfigured by an ugliness that ravaged them in the darkness.
They are beat up and bent over and none of them could walk with God in a garden or anywhere else. They are too tired. Most of them can’t get off their knees.
What these guys do have is a lot more knowledge of God than Adam had.
They know God’s mercy because they have such need of it. They’ve seen God’s righteousness because He clothed their shame and nakedness with it. They appreciate God’s grace because they have nothing to give him in return. They are overwhelmed by God’s love because they can look back and see Jesus carrying their sin to the cross.
They are humble. They are grateful. And they love God more than Adam ever could have.
I always stop here and contemplate the fact that God prefers redeemed man to innocent man. This is as far as my thoughts can go without becoming slightly heretical. But they don’t stop here. They always take one more leap.
If God prefers redeemed man to innocent man . . .
If God wanted man to choose wrong so He could make him right . . .
If God wanted man to disobey so He could offer unmerited favor . . .
If God wanted man to fall into sin so He could reach down in mercy and pick him up . . .
Then, why do we, who stand in the age of grace, spend so much time trying to get back to where Adam was?
Why do we want the church to appear pristine and perfect? Why do we teach new believers to stand strong in obedience more than we teach them to seek God in weakness?
Why do we pray for wisdom and strength but not brokenness and humility? Why are our prayers for our children usually about keeping them safe from the sins and evils of the world?
And, Lord, help us! . . . Why do we still try to hide our sin from God? Why do we let shame and spiritual pride keep us from approaching his throne with sin dribbling down our chins?
Do we not know that from the foundation of the world, He has reached out to us and wiped them clean?!