Bad traits run in the family
Romans 5:12-21 shows how to break the trend
Family traits are a funny thing. No matter how hard we try, we almost always end up like our parents. Our family has its own peculiar traits, but I remember someone I met recently. Each member of her family – every one (even those still at uni) – is an accountant! Numbers must be in their genes.
Well we, as the human race, do share one particular trait in common. But before we look at that, let’s have a quick look at Genesis 1-3 (you should skim this and especially read Genesis 3 before we go on).
Genesis 1-2 is something like a poem about how God made everything, including man and woman. God made everything perfect – there was no pain, no suffering, no evil, no sin; people lived with God, each other and the world in a right, good relationship. However, in Genesis 3, we see man and woman reject God and follow a created thing instead. This was an outright rejection of our Father, Creator and King. God, therefore, punished the serpent (representing Satan) and mankind. As we were hostile to God, the world would be hostile to us and we would be hostile to each other. Eventually, each person would die physically. Each sinner would also die spiritually: when we reject God, we cut ourselves off from a loving relationship with him.
Romans 5:12-21 says that Adam was the first man to sin, and we all follow in his footsteps (5:12). We might not know what we’re doing is breaking God’s law if we don’t know the Law ourselves (5:13, 20), but we still know it’s wrong and do it anyway (Romans 1-3). In a way, Adam set the trend, so we have an inherited bias to reject God as our ruler as well. We could have bucked this trend, but chose not to (5:16a). While each of our individual sins may not have the same over-arching impact of Adam’s (5:14), we still all suffer and die in this world because we all sin (5:17a, 18a, 19a, 21a).
But then something happened: God gave us a free gift. Jesus did not follow the trend – he lived without sin. He died in our place, that the sins of many people might be forgiven (5:15). We were given his right standing before God (5:16b, 18b) and we can return to a good relationship – spiritual life now and eternal physical life later – with our heavenly Father through him (5:17b, 19b, 21), if only we trust him. We deserve nothing but punishment, suffering, condemnation and death; but in Jesus, we got grace (mercy), justification (made right), salvation (not being condemned) and new life (now and eternally).
So, this boils down to one question: will you follow the family trait and cut yourself off from God, or will you find new spiritual life through trusting in Jesus Christ?