In Genesis 3 we find the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. At some point they find themselves at the centre of the garden where there was a special tree called the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God commanded Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:16-17 not to eat of the tree “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Seems simple enough doesn’t it? Avoid eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and live. Eat of it and die. You would think that they would have been able to follow such simple instructions but unfortunately, simple isn’t always so simple. Genesis 3 records a conversation between a serpent and Eve and to make a long story short, she eats of the tree, gives some to her husband who was near by and he eats it too in spite of the strong and clear warning God had given them. Now if you keep reading, you might be surprised to find that Adam and Eve don’t immediately drop dead after eating of the tree. In fact, Adam ended up living a total of 930 years, presumably after this event though we can’t be sure.
Why didn’t Adam and Eve die like God told them they would in Genesis 2:17? The short answer is that they did die though not physically in what we would normally call death. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they died spiritually. This sound like I’m making light of the consequence of their eating of the tree but I assure you I am not. First of all, as a result of their sin, Adam and Eve and their descendants, lost access to the tree of life. This too was a special tree in the garden that was essentially the holy grail, the perpetual fountain of youth. Anyone who ate of this tree would never die. Genesis 3:22 tells us that God removed Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden and prevented them from gaining access to the tree of life thereby making sure that they could not live forever in their sin.
It is true that as a direct result of eating the fruit, Adam and Eve were guaranteed to die a physical death that they would otherwise never have had. It is also true however, that at the moment that Adam and Eve took a bite of the fruit, they also died an immediate spiritual death. Their relationship with God instantly changed. Their very natures were transformed from one of peace and purity to one of guilt and shame. At that moment they forfeited the right to life. They made a conscious and deliberate choice to separate themselves from God who is the source of all life. Without outside intervention, they had no hope of being saved.
Enter Jesus Christ, Stage Left…
If this was the end of the story it would be really bad news. None of us would have any hope since we are all children of Adam having descended from the original pair. Adam and Eve could not beget what they didn’t have. Since they now had corrupt natures that were bent on doing evil, they could not have children that did not also inherit this corrupt nature. This is where Jesus Christ comes in.
The bible tells us that Jesus was fully God.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. – Colossians 1:15-16
Jesus Christ is as much God as God the Father. Here in Colossians the author, the apostle Paul, tells us clearly that Jesus Christ is the Creator of all life. Jesus was also fully human.
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil… – Hebrews 2:14
Jesus humbled himself, though fully God and therefore all powerful and all knowledgeable, became a human being. He didn’t stop there however. He went all the way “and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:8) God became a man then went much further. He willingly took on humanity. Willingly gave up his throne, his power, his comforts. He then allowed himself to suffer hardships. Physical hardships as well as mental hardships. He didn’t stop there. He then exposed himself to ridicule, persecution and danger but he didn’t stop there either. He allowed himself to be put to death. Not just any death either but death on a Roman cross, one of the most difficult, cruel and torturous ways to die.
Why did he do this? To save you and me from the penalty of sin (death) by dying himself and supernaturally placing all of us in himself so that we died too. We must believe this by faith.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven. – Colossians 1:21-23
Jesus Christ paid it all. God placed all of us with Jesus on the cross so that his death becomes our death.
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. – Romans 6:6
How can this be? We must accept it by faith. It isn’t necessary to understand all the minute details. We simply need to accept it because the bible tells us it is true. Why are you and I redeemed? Because through the death of Jesus Christ, you and I have died to sin. Our sin natures we inherited from Adam and Eve are dead. We are free. We are saved.
Don’t feel any different? Believe it by faith and God will work it out in your experience. Sin’s power has been broken. Death has been defeated. We have eternal life in Christ Jesus. Don’t doubt. Just believe.