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the Fault Line

27 June 2011 by Neil

Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

Q. 26. How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?
A. Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin.

Q. 27. What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
A. The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, his displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath, bond slaves to Satan, and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  -- Ephesians 2:1-3

The enemy employs a battle-tested mind trick that contrasts the Original Sin of Adam (and it's corrupting consequences), with the specific sins that you and I have committed just since 2:30pm yesterday. The wobbly mind then spirals into quandaries, thinking that maybe it's all just the Serpent's fault, or perhaps wondering why God judges us at all, since he obviously is the one who made us this way.

The enemy wants us to conclude that Original Sin is a bunch of hooey and that today's sin is all that is on the table.  Or he's also content if we blame everything on our ancestor, or on the devil, or even on God. This foe isn't fussy, and he's equally pleased if we somehow come to both conclusions, or to neither, or if we give up in frustration.  By confusing us about sinfulness and culpability, his relentless goal is to wash away the Bible's crystal clear messages that no one is or ever could be good enough, and that our sinfulness results in unending conscious death in a place where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Original sin is bunk? Everyone is responsible only for the sins they've actually committed?  No.  Adam's decision to choose rebellion instead of obedience cascades onto all humanity (Romans 5:12, Romans 5:19). We are all ruined from before the first moment of our existence (Psalm 51:5).  We are corrupt... rotten to the core (Romans 3:10-12); we are unholy, and given the choice between right and wrong, in our own power we will always choose poorly.  Apart from God, we are incapable of even knowing what righteousness fully entails, let alone attaining it or even desiring it for ourselves (Romans 8:7-8).  We simply prefer our own deficient and fouled up definition of what is right.

Sinfulness not really our fault? Try telling that to yourself the next time you lie for personal gain. Or lie to avoid facing the music. Or decline an unexpected opportunity to help out a stranger. Or make a tired checkout clerk's day even worse than it was before. Or check out the checkout clerk. Or check out strangers in high resolution video. Or betray your beloved with your body as well as your mind. Or lead your children astray. Or neglect to lead your children anywhere. Or download stuff without paying for it. Or flip off a bad driver.  Or care not about the answer when you ask how someone is doing.  Or bad-mouth a friend. Or bad-mouth an enemy. Or seethe with resentment. Or crave vindication. Or cultivate bitterness. Or seek recognition.  Or feel a little entitled.  Or procrastinate. Or choose not to protect the weak. Or choose licentiousness over holiness. Or gravitate towards another gospel of rules instead of grace.  Or starve yourself by letting that Bible go unread today.  Or tut-tut over a brother's or sister's stumble.  Or congratulate yourself on your piety.  Or choose silence over proclaiming the truth. Or choose foolish words over silence.  Or, as you walk or drive or click away, leave anyone, anyone at all, with a memory of you that smacks of anything that a herald of Christ is not.  Or love God with something just a wee bit shy of your entire heart, soul, mind and strength.

Better yet, try telling any of that to God. Tell him it's not your fault.  See how that works out for you, k? Like every other human, you're a putrid mess, cheerfully emanating sinfulness and guaranteed by your nature to belch out even more stink before 2:30pm tomorrow.

Death and anguish, here we come.  This is a nightmare. I wonder if it's going to get any better.