I admit it. I’m that guy who never asks for help finding something in a store. Even if I’m having trouble locating an item and a clerk perceives my lost condition and asks to be of assistance, I’ll still not admit I need help and will continue trying to find it on my own! Is that a little bit crazy? Probably. But real men don’t ask for help … or directions!
I told the story in church on Sunday that I’m sure I’ve written somewhere else in the thousands of devotionals I’ve written over the years, about how my family visited the Berkeley Springs castle on our way from New Jersey to Texas about 30 years ago. Not wanting to retrace the roads north to 70 and then east to 81, I sought to trust my sense of direction and just southeasterly drive on country roads until I would eventually hit 81-South somewhere in Virginia. (This was long before GPS systems on phones or devices.) About an hour later, thinking I was surely below Winchester and near to I81, I found myself driving back into Berkeley Springs on another road. I had simply made a wide circuit, thinking I was going straight.
And that is the way a lot of people are: lost without knowing it or admitting it. They think they are driving straight through life, when in fact they are going in circles – often experiencing the same failures over and over.
It is both frustrating and fearful to find oneself in a lost condition in a strange place.
But here’s the great good news that can come even out of the bad news: before one can be found, or seek to be found, or be open to being found, one has to acknowledge that one is lost. And facing the sinful mess we are in because of Adam is a first step toward a solution and finding life.
And again, as we’ve seen in so many of the passages we’ve referenced this week, though very dark statements are made about the sin problem, the answer is in the broader context. And so it is with the primary passage this week from Romans 5 about how we sinned in Adam and a death sentence has passed on to us. But here are some of the preceding verses …
Romans 5:1-2 – Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
Romans 5:6-9 – You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The situation resultant from Adam and our participation in Adam’s sin was as bad as it could possibly be. Verse 6 shares an additional descriptor to all we’ve highlighted this week. It says were powerless. Totally dark!
Often when there is a heinous crime reported in the newspaper of a murder or severe child abuse, readers will leave remarks like, “Lethal injection would be too nice for this scum!” The outrage is largely understandable. But let’s not minimize mankind’s rebellion against the perfect Creator-God who put man in a perfect environment. Yet man rebelled. Who would show mercy to anyone so undeserving of it? The answers is nobody! But in that condition, at our worst, God showed his great love by sending his own Son to die for us and take the penalty that we deserved, and that justice demanded. This is indeed the greatest love.
2 Corinthians 8:9 – For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
We’ll talk tomorrow about exactly how this transaction takes place.