Death Through Adams Garden, Life Through Christs Victory
Although neither Adams garden nor Christs wilderness is ever mention in Roman’s Chapter 5, we should not miss the background environment wherein the fall of man encountered the victory of Christ. And this we will discuss, if you will but permit me to lay groundwork for those who may be unfamiliar with the power of the Gospel.
One Man’s Sin, Another Man’s Righteousness
In Romans 5, verses 12-20, the Scriptures define the principle of death through Adam versus life through Jesus Christ. The text pictures the nature of death due to one sin by one man versus the nature of life through one perfect man who assumes accountability for many sins. Even before the law, sin was in the world. But for those who lived between the closing of the gates to Eden and the deliverance of the Law by Moses, no sin was charged against heavenly accounts of mankind. This is the meaning of grace. It came before the Law of Moses, and it followed after the Law of Moses. Yet even in times of grace, everyone is subject to the power of death because through Adam all have sinned. Thus by one sin, the flesh of mankind is condemned to death and eternal separation from God.
But the text in Romans 5 continues, and suddenly we see how that the perfect life of Jesus Christ enables mankind in general and each person in specific to find justification in the eyes of God the Father for a host of trespasses, indeed for all trespasses save one. Through a free gift of victory over sin exchanged for the shame of uncommitted sin, Jesus Christ brings abundant grace into the life of all who will believe in the gift and submit to the authority of the gift giver.
Thus the only sin that cannot be covered by the gift is the sin of refusing to accept the gift.
“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:17).
And now for all of mankind to know… Whereas one trespass resulted in worldwide condemnation for all mankind so too has a single act of righteous produced justification and eternal life for all who will believe. Where once sin ruled through death, now through the finished work of Jesus Christ our Lord, eternal life with God is freely available to all who will accept the righteousness of Christ in exchange for the curse of sin and death.
There are other points involved in the path to Salvation through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, but this article will now focus on two primary points of interest:
- Adams garden wherein came the fall of man
- Christs wilderness wherein came the salvation of man.
Two Men, Two Settings
Two men were given responsibility for keeping righteousness and remaining holy. One was flesh and blood but eternal; the other was eternal but flesh and blood. Had he not fallen, Adam would have lived in the Garden of Eden for all eternity, walking with God, ageless, in perfect health, and never to die. Likewise, had Jesus not stepped down from Heaven and put on the flesh of a man, the garment of a servant, coat a sacrificial lamb, He would never have known the frustration of humanity, the anguish of betrayal, or the burden of sin that smothered him on the cross.
Note: This is not saying that God is in a learning process or that management of His creation is flexible. If you think such strangeness, I beg you: Read your bible from cover to cover.
Let us look more closely at these two men, one fallen in the flesh and one God in the flesh. For they each battled for righteousness and they were each given the same opportunity to walk in pure holiness. One walked in a garden of plenty, a garden of peace, a garden filled with life and loved ones. The other walked in a cursed world, a troubled and fallen world, a wilderness of hunger, thirst and solitude.
In Chapters 1 & 2 of the King James Version of the bible, a text that I dearly enjoy reading, the Holy Spirit lays out the foundation of creation. Herein we see the wonder of an unblemished Earth wherein every herb grows from its own seed, and no rain troubles the land, and the beasts and the birds walk in peace one with another. Chapter 2, verse 7 & 8 define a garden eastward in Eden, a garden wherein every tree is pleasant and good for nutrition. A river watered the garden, and there was gold and bdellium and onyz stone in the land. Furthermore, God placed Adam in the garden and left him not alone but rather created for him a companion, a woman made from the very rib of the man.
In this perfect environment, there was but one law, one point of temptation, one test for righteousness. But when the tempter came, Adams struggle of resistance was apparently so brief and so ineffectual as to not be recorded. The one man, Adam, broke the only law that God had set before him, and thus God said to Adam:
“Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” (Genesis 3:17-19).
Therefore, through Adams failure, sin and death entered into the physical world.
Christs Wilderness, Christs Victory
Wilderness typically defines a land wherein it is extremely difficult for humans to survive. According George H. Stankey’s, “Beyond the Campfire’s Light: Historical Roots of the Wilderness Concept,” both the Hebrews and the Greeks define wilderness lands or wastelands with three primary physical characteristics:
- Virtually uninhabited
- Arid and desolate
- Vast and empty.
However, unlike with the Garden of Eden, Scripture does not provide readers with a vivid description of the wasteland wherein we witness the first recorded account of Christs victory over temptation. We assume that this place of temptation was the typical wilderness as defined by Mr. Stankey. From the first recorded temptation, we can conclude that the ground in Christs wasteland was stony and without surface water. Beyond that, we can only visualize by comparison to historical records and comparison to other biblical accounts of wilderness life.
Yet surely we can say that for Adam, a lion was a pussycat whereas for Jesus a lion would have been a predator. I think perhaps the fullest image of Christs wilderness can be lifted directly from the passages of Genesis 3 wherein the curse of death includes a cursed land filled with:
- Harsh ground
- And dangerous beast that crawl on their bellies.
Thus it is here, in this, Christs wilderness, that the Son of man first presents Christs victory over sin and death.
For many Christians, Christs wasteland fosters an antagonistic relationship between human society and the wilderness environment. This is a misinterpretation of biblical truths. Whereas this wilderness encounter between the Son of man and the great deceiver of mankind may at first appear antagonistic, in truth it is the power of man alone in the wilderness, fasting, communing with God the Father, growing strong in the might of the Holy Spirit; it is the power of a Christian committed to victory over the tempter and the accuser. It is the power wherein lies the restoration of righteousness through Christ, but is also an example of the power of resistance made available to every Christian through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Miss not this lesson taken from Christs victory in the wastelands. For the curse is lifted, and to those of us who are willing to endure the wilderness, the power of righteousness through service to God may well be at hand.