God, perfect in holiness (Isaiah 6:3), created a perfect world without any death, disease, or suffering. In six days, He created this entire universe and on the sixth day He created one man (Adam) and one woman (Eve), both in His image. After He was finished creating, He said that all of it was very good (Genesis 1:31).
God loved His creation and He loved Adam and Eve. He designed mankind to have a relationship with Him and gave man dominion over the entire earth. He gave them permission to eat from any tree on the earth that they wished except for one – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It would be a test of their obedience and the punishment for eating from its fruit would be death (Genesis 2:16-17).
Why death? Does that seem harsh for God to condemn Adam and Eve to death for breaking one law? Being a righteous Judge, He must punish sin. Being an infinite God, the punishment for disobedience to God must be very infinitely serious, as serious as death.
Man broke God's law and ate from the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:6). God, being just and righteous, had to punish that sin. Yet in His mercy, He chose to forgive them of their sin. He did not put His justice to the wayside in order to show mercy, however. There still had to be punishment for the sin. To accomplish this, He sacrificed two animals to cover their sin and shame (Genesis 3:21).
We see later in history that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). They are the laws that God has given mankind to obey and in Romans 2:15 we read that they are written on our very hearts. Everyone knows that it is wrong to steal, to murder, to lie, etc. Yet every day, we knowingly and willingly break God's laws.
We are all sinners and no one is righteous (Romans 3:10). We must be holy as God is holy in order to face the Ruler of the earth and be allowed to enter heaven (1 Peter 1:16). God never changes, and His attitude toward sin is the same today as it was in the day of Adam. Sin must be punished and the punishment for sin is still the same. God's wrath abides on us and we are all sentenced to an eternal death in hell.
How do we cover our sin so that we can stand before a perfect Judge and be forgiven? We can't. Just like Adam, we need a sacrifice to atone for our sin. We need a perfect sacrifice.
This perfect sacrifice is Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God. He came to earth and lived a perfect life, fulfilling every work of the law that we daily break. Then, He died on a cross to take the wrath of God upon Himself that would otherwise be on us for our sin. God was pleased to punish Him in our place so that we could go free. If you were sentenced for crimes in court and someone else paid them for you, that person took your punishment so you could go free. In the same way, Christ took our punishment through His death for our freedom. He was buried and on the third day He rose from the dead, defeating death (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Though we have broken God's law and are condemned to death, Jesus paid the fine for our sins. The fine for our sin was so great that we could not pay it on our own, so He paid it for us. Whereas the animal sacrificed for Adam could only cover his sin, the Lamb of God's perfect sacrifice completely takes away every stain of sin (Isaiah 43:25, Hebrews 9:13-14).
All we have to do in order to obtain this free gift of forgiveness is to repent (to turn away from our sin) and put our faith in Jesus Christ, knowing that He alone can save us. We cannot work our way into heaven. We must be washed by the blood of Jesus alone. "Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9 ESV).
Those who believe this are forever sealed by the blood of Jesus. Our sins are forgiven, and we will no longer be sentenced to eternal death but will be granted eternal life! His death purchased us and if we place our faith and trust in Him, we become His posessions forever and are born-again (John 3:3) into a new life with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Isn't that good news?
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Christian Books and Other Resources
Songs of Encourangement
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated into any other language.