Behold! Tainted

Behold! Tainted

Behold! Tainted. 

There are some individual words and short phrases in Scripture that need to be highlighted as they are read, words or phrases that are significant or point to something meaningful. Some phrases might be: Fear not. Here I am. Woe to you. One another. And maybe some words are: Amen. Hallelujah. Blessed. Abba. Come. The word Behold! is one of those significant words, an exclamation that is intended to get our attention. Listen, people, this is something you need to hear! Behold says to the audience, Look at this and take note! You would be wise to remember these words and think about them! Careful now, don’t be deaf to what I am about to say! Stop what you’re doing and listen up! As the Eastern Orthodox Christians say before the Gospel is read in the Liturgy… Attend! The following verse begins with Behold! So the words that follow must be important.

Behold! I was brought forth in iniquity. I was born a guilty sinner from the moment my mother conceived me. I’ve been out of step with you for a long time; I’ve been in the wrong since before I was born.” (Psalm 51:5).

Listen to this… There is a good reason why we shouldn’t trust our own instincts. For once upon a time there was a man, in fact he was the very first man, who decided to disobey God, his Friend and Creator. In doing so, he passed on a tainted spiritual DNA to all his descendants. So every human being has inherited a stained nature, a tendency to make anti-God decisions. For every person, sin comes naturally. Yes, we are each made in God’s image, we each breathe with God’s breath, and we each are born with a conscience. But the godly momentum that man once enjoyed is now going in the wrong direction. The innocent nature of that first man became impure. So we are conceived in sin, and there remains for each of us a tendency to sin. We are naturally self-indulgent, governed mainly by our fallen impulses. What was once a righteous relationship with our Maker has been broken. But this doesn’t have to determine our destiny. Our sinful nature is now only part of the story, the first part. We inherited sin by the disobedience of one man. But now with another Man’s obedience we have hope and a redeemed nature. This Man was Jesus, with a purity that was divine and sacrificial. One man threw everything off track, now one Man can get us back on the track originally designed by our Creator God. Instead of being prone to sin, we now have the joyful hope of being prone to God’s righteousness. Job once asked a good question… “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” Well, now we know the answer. Jesus Christ, and only Him. Behold! That should get our attention.

Jesus’ representative obedience overcomes Adam’s representative disobedience.   Adam’s family line leads to spiritual death, and leaves an inheritance of guilt, a sinful nature, and God’s judgment. Jesus’ family line leads to life and leaves an inheritance of forgiveness, a new nature, and God’s salvation. Adam’s failure was reversed by Christ’s victory. Christ’s righteousness is more powerful that Adam’s sinfulness. Grace is more powerful than sin. Adam’s inheritance of sin was no match for grace, and his inheritance of death was proved powerless against eternal life.

The context and a little bit of biblical history regarding our tainted DNA… In the center of the Garden of Eden, God planted two trees: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of their fruit. The Tree of the Knowledge was an opportunity… It was a test of obedience. God gave them the freedom to choose to disobey God or obey Him. The other Tree was put there to fulfill man’s destiny of eternal life, the fruit of immortality. The problem after the Fall is that mankind fell into a state of sin, they were no longer innocent. To eat of the Tree of Life would now lead to a hopeless life, a sinful life with no hope of ever achieving innocence, a sinful life that would never end. God would not want sinners to eat of the Tree of life, He would not want anyone under the power of sin to have eternal life. So God needed to protect the Tree of Life at all costs. God knew that if Adam and Eve were willful enough to disobey God with the one Tree, they could sooner or later disobey Him with the other Tree. This would be a catastrophe. So the Lord stationed warrior angels to guard the Tree of Life, with swords of fire surrounding the Tree. Then He kicked out Adam and Eve, exiled out of the Garden. No one could possibly gain eternal life who was indeed a sinner. And the Tree has been untouched ever since.

Because of Jesus’ death and Resurrection, the power of sin has been broken, and the Tree of Life is now ready to fulfill the destiny of mankind, eternal life. This Tree is available in paradise. God wants to restore the Garden of Eden in the new heaven and the new earth, and so, sure enough, God has placed the restored Tree of Life in the middle of heaven. This Tree is now open for business, it bears a fruit that is ripe for each of the 12 months. And it has leaves that are intended for the healing of the nations, the nurture and care of all people. The restored Tree of Life reverses the curse of the Garden. So one can see that this Tree is in many ways the Cross of Christ. Jesus’ death has destroyed the power of sin, and paved the way for believers to have eternal life. The Cross is our source of life, and has taken away the curse of sin. Jesus promises that all the overcomers, the victorious ones, will eat the fruit of this Tree, destined for these who participate in Christ’s victory and salvation.