God’s Remedy for Mankind’s Ruin
It is wonderful to see a family that gets along well. You can sense the harmony, fellowship, and love shared by all. Many people long for such ongoing relationships in their own families, but all too often in our modern society families are broken. They cannot spend enjoyable time together without some form of disunity arising. Their fellowship is broken.
Some years ago, in my own family, two brothers had a disagreement. Consequently, for 50 years they didn’t speak to each other, although both regularly attended the same church. One brother did try on several occasions to reconcile the situation, but without success. Finally, one of the brothers died, and the one who had tried to settle the dispute went to the funeral to pay his respects, but he was asked to leave. The relationship that had been broken so many years before resulted in a separation that will never be settled.
MANKIND’S BROKEN FELLOWSHIP
In a sense, the situation between those two brothers represents what has happened to mankind. Adam and Eve had a very special relationship with God. He would come to the garden in the cool of the evening and fellowship with them. Then one day they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8)—but this time there was no fellowship because they had sinned. The consequences were dire. Adam and Eve tried to cover their nakedness with leaves, for they now feared God. Because their fellowship with Him was broken, God had to judge them. The serpent that tempted Eve was cursed, Adam’s life of ease became a life of toil, and Eve was cursed in childbirth. They were driven from the beautiful Garden of Eden, never to return.
The problem that caused the broken fellowship was sin. It separated Adam and Eve from the Lord. There was no longer that sweet, familial relationship; Adam and Eve were on their own. A few moments of succumbing to temptation brought about an entirely different lifestyle. They were in God’s world but were separated from God. This great tragedy occurred because they disobeyed the Lord’s command: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it” (Gen. 2:17).
Eve was tempted, but Adam was willfully disobedient. Inasmuch as he was the original representative of mankind, was his sin confined to him, or did it make everyone born thereafter a sinner through him?
The Bible teaches that we have all sinned in Adam: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Adam was our original representative, and God considers the entire world to be in sin through him. Therefore, we are all separated from God and without hope.
David, whom God called “a man after mine own heart” (Acts 13:22), clarified the issue: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The Lᴏʀᴅ looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Ps. 14:1–3).
David spoke of his own life in Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was shaped in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” He was speaking not of being born out of wedlock, but of the sin nature passed down to him through conception. Likewise, all those born of Adam’s race—all of mankind—are sinners.
Solomon also addressed the matter in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20).
The Prophet Isaiah added his divinely inspired words to the biblical picture of sin: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). Not only are all people sinners, but even the good works that we try to do are worthless before God. There is nothing we can do to rid ourselves of sin.
The Prophet Jeremiah also spoke about the sin nature: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). What an indictment! We are sinners and can do nothing about our situation.
MANKIND’S NEED FOR A SOLUTION
Because we have this sin problem, which prohibits us from having fellowship with a holy God, we are totally helpless. There is nothing within us that can please God. In the New Testament Paul taught, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), speaking of both physical and spiritual death.
Because Adam’s fellowship with God had been broken, he needed that fellowship to be restored, so he took the problem into his own hands. Suddenly realizing that he and Eve were naked, he decided that they could hide their sin from God by covering themselves with fig leaves. It didn’t work—his solution was not acceptable to a holy God.
Adam was not the only one to try by his own means to get back into fellowship with God. As the saying goes, like father, like son. Cain decided he could please God with a sacrifice of the fruit of the earth, which he had grown with his own hands, but that didn’t work either. In fact, it took him further down the road of sin, eventually leading him to murder his own brother. Cain’s solution did not rid him of his sin problem or please God. It only worsened the situation.
Mankind’s efforts to find a way back to fellowship with God failed miserably. Unable to meet their own need, they had to look outside of themselves for a solution—they had to come to God in His way in order to restore that sweet fellowship with him.
Covering their nakedness with fig leaves did not bring the first couple back into a right relationship with God. Their need could be met only in God’s provision for them. “For Adam also and for his wife did the Lᴏʀᴅ God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21). God’s way required a sacrifice for their needs, and an animal had to die to make that provision. The Lord showed Adam and Eve that a blood sacrifice was necessary to bring them back into fellowship with Him.
Although the Scripture gives very few details, we are told that Abel brought a blood sacrifice to God, and He accepted it. The original language of 1 John 3 indicates that Cain slew Abel with a knife that was used to make sacrifices. Therefore, we can conclude that Adam and Cain knew about the necessity of a blood sacrifice for sin, and Abel certainly understood this principle when he brought an animal sacrifice to God. From this point in the biblical narrative, sacrifices were made regularly. The penalty for sin required death and the shedding of blood, and the only way this requirement could be met was by offering the blood of a slain animal as a substitute for the sinner.
It is easy to look back to the early days of Scripture and see what was required. But, as we have already seen, sin was a problem for not only Adam and Eve. It was passed down through them to all mankind. Therefore, all people born on this earth have the same need for a solution to their sin problem that will bring them back into a right relationship with God. Since we cannot provide a solution ourselves, we must look to God. We need only receive His provision to be brought back into fellowship with Him.
God stated in Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Yet Hebrews 10:4 states, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Did God make a mistake? Absolutely not!
In the Old Testament, blood sacrifices were made by those who had faith in the Lord. It was their faith in Him that saved them; the sacrifices merely proved their faith by their obedience to God. They looked forward to the perfect sacrifice God would one day provide.
The concept of the Old Testament sacrificial system was substitution, as evidenced by Abraham, who, in obedience to God, was ready to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:8).
People still need a sacrifice, and, like Abraham, they must accept the sacrifice God Himself has provided to meet their needs. That provision is not found in a lamb, for an animal can do nothing for a person. Instead, that sacrifice was made by “the Lamb” of John 1:29. The Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect “Lamb of God,” who alone can meet the need of mankind’s sin problem. He is the one whom God designated to be the perfect substitute. Although He never sinned, He was willing to take our sins upon Himself as He shed His blood and died in our place on the cross—the just for the unjust.
A perfect substitutionary sacrifice to meet mankind’s need was provided when Christ died in our place. All we need to do is accept Him as our sin-bearer and Savior. Then our need will be met through Him, and we can have fellowship with God once again. There is no other way the need of mankind can ever be met. God made the perfect provision for us through the death of His only begotten Son on Calvary.