Living Sacrifice: Its MotiveRomans 12:1-2Theme: God’s mercy.This week’s lessons teach us the nature of God’s mercy and grace to us in Christ Jesus. LessonLet me give examples to show that mercy presupposes sin. The first is Adam. I would like you to try to put yourself in Adam’s position at the very beginning of human history and imagine how he must have felt when God came to him in the garden after he and Eve had sinned by eating from the forbidden tree. You will remember that God had warned Adam about eating, saying, “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 of it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17). The Hebrew text actually says, “On the day you eat of it you will die.” But Adam and Eve had eaten of it, and now, as told in Genesis 3:9-16, God had come to them to demand an accounting and pronounce judgment.
“Where are you?” God called.
Adam and his wife had hidden among the trees when they heard God coming, and they were terrified. God had said that they would die on the day they ate of the forbidden tree. Eve must have expected to die. Adam must have expected to die. “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid,” Adam said.
“Who told you that you were naked?” God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
Adam confessed that he had eaten, though he blamed the woman for getting him to do it.
God addressed the woman, “What is this you have done?”
Eve blamed the serpent.
At last God began his judgments, beginning with the serpent:
Cursed are you above all the livestockand all the wild animals!You will crawl on your bellyand you will eat dustall the days of your life.And I will put enmitybetween you and the woman,and between your offspring and hers;he will crush your head,and you will strike his heel (vv. 14-15).
God spoke to Eve next, foretelling pain in childbirth and harsh struggle within the marriage. We call it the battle of the sexes.
Finally, God addressed Adam.Cursed is the ground because of you;through painful toil you will eat of itall the days of your life.It will produce thorns and thistles for you,and you will eat the plants of the field.By the sweat of your browyou will eat your fooduntil you return to the ground,since from it you were taken;for dust you areand to dust you will return (vv. 17-19).
Imagine yourself in Adam’s place, living through what I have described. God had told Adam and Eve that they would die, but they had not died. There had been judgments, of course, consequences. Sin always has consequences. But they had not been struck down; and, in fact, God had even announced the coming of a Redeemer who one day would crush Satan’s head and undo his work. Even more, God had illustrated the nature of Christ’s atonement by killing animals, the innocent dying for the guilty, and then by clothing Adam and Eve with the animals’ skins. It was a picture of imputed righteousness.
How must Adam have felt? Adam must have been overwhelmed by an awareness of God’s mercy. Adam deserved to die. But instead of killing him, God spared him and promised a Savior instead.
No wonder Adam then named his wife “Eve,” meaning “life-giver.” It was his way of expressing faith in God’s promise, for God had said that it was from the seed of the woman that the Redeemer would come. The memory of God’s mercy must have kept Adam looking to God in faith through his long life.
How was Christ’s atonement for sin shown as far back as Adam and Eve?
What is the difference between suffering sin’s consequences and experiencing God’s wrath?