Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men—Romans 5:12.Or as Paul states a few verses later, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men . . .” (Romans 5:18). Throughout Christian history, many crazy ideas have existed about God, based on a misunderstanding of what these verses seem to be saying concerning our relationship to Adam and his original sin. This week I’d like you to ponder what I believe these verses are truly saying to us. This is Part 1 of a two-part devotional, so please don’t miss next week’s.
You see, Adam was created with conditional immortality—immortality that he lost through the fall. “Immortality, promised to man on condition of obedience, had been forfeited by transgression” (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 533). Moses shares with us the same picture: “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.’” Man became mortal. Over and over again in the scriptures, the contrast is made between “mortal man” (Psalm 146:3) and God, who “alone possesses immortality” (1 Timothy 6:16). But what does this mean for us?
“Adam could not transmit to his posterity that which he did not possess” (White, p. 533).
This means that Adam could not pass on what he himself did not have. Thus we are born mortal, destined to die. So why spend time pointing out the obvious? Because we have failed to realize what this means to us. Even if we could live a perfect life, never sinning by even so much as a thought, we would still die. We still would not live forever. We are born having a date with death, and no amount of obedience can make us what we are not. This mortality we got from our predecessors Adam and Eve.
I remember sharing this one day in a class I was teaching, and one of the students could not take it any longer. He finally stood up and blurted out to the rest of the class, “If that’s true . . . then . . . then . . . then, there’s nothing I can do to save myself.” I looked back at him, grinned, and said, “flesh and blood has not revealed this unto you.” Follow carefully.
“Adam could not transmit to his posterity that which he did not possess; and there could have been no hope for the fallen race, had not God, by the sacrifice of his Son, brought immortality within their reach . . . only through Christ can immortality be obtained” (White, p. 533).
There is only one way we can have immortality, and that is to come into possession of the One who alone is Immortal! And praise God, that “One” has been given to the world!
“For God so loved the world, that He gave [to each person in the world] His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
This week, why don’t you take some time to thank Him for that marvelous gift?