Original Sin - The War is Not Over

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 7, 2013 0 comments

If you pay attention to the sports world at all or watch ESPN with any sort of regularity, you might know that this week marked the 20th anniversary of the famous “Don’t Ever Give Up” speech by Jimmy Valvano. Jimmy V, as he was affectionately known, was the coach of the North Carolina State Wolfpack, who against very long odds won the 1983 national basketball championship. However, less than 10 years later, on March 4, 1993, Jimmy V could barely walk, his body weakened by a year-long battle with cancer, as he gave the memorable speech at the ESPY Awards in which he urged viewers to “never give up” and even announced the beginning of the “Jimmy V Foundation”, which has since raised over $120 million toward finding a cure for cancer.

Jimmy Valvano died less than two months later on April 28, 1993. You see, friends, Jimmy V continued to fight even in his last days. Even when it seemed like he was losing every daily battle, he continued to fight because he knew the war wasn’t over. And even though he died 20 years ago, his foundation and his legacy are still fighting that war. His motivational speech about never giving up is played several times a year, and listeners everywhere are urged to keep fighting, whether their battle is with a physical disease or something else that is overwhelming them.

Ever since Adam and Eve took a bite of that forbidden fruit (Genesis 3), the rest of humanity has been fighting a seemingly losing battle. Adam and Eve were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and were without sin. However, after they were deceived by the serpent and committed the sin, Genesis 5:3 tells us that Adam “had a son in his own likeness, in his own image”. That means that the original sin of Adam and Eve was passed down to the next generation. And it is a condition that has been transferred to every human from that point forward.

So, if we know that there is no way we can escape the dreaded disease of sin, what’s the point of even trying? Maybe some of you out there have had such a thought pass through your mind. I can assure you that there were times when I thought I might as well just give up and give in when it comes to certain sin issues that had their grip on me. But every time I have had a thought like that, I’ve been reminded of the misery that comes with sin. Misery and the fear that it might continue are great motivators to keep getting back up every time sin knocks you down. The key is remembering that, through Christ, we have been shown grace. While that grace saves us from the eternal penalty that we deserve, it does much more than that. Grace gives us the strength to keep fighting the battle between the flesh and our faith, and reminds us that the One who led by example in defeating his flesh is “always with us until the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

I want to share with you two examples – one from the New Testament and one from the Old Testament – of men who understood the fierceness of the battle against original sin. I have a good friend of mine from Pennsylvania who was golfing with me one time and said, “I play Paul golf”. I looked at him like he was crazy and asked what he meant. He proceeded to tell me that what he wants to do, he can’t do, and what he doesn’t want to do, that’s what he always ends up doing. Any of you readers who play golf would understand the truth of his joke. The words of the Apostle Paul that my friend was referencing are found in Romans 7:14-20. Paul goes on to say that the two laws at work in his body and mind, meaning the law of the flesh and the law of faith in the Spirit, are “waging war” against one another. He concedes that, on his own, he is ultimately hopeless in the midst of this “war”. He finishes his thought by asking and answering the same question as an example for the believers of Rome who found themselves in the intense war with the flesh. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25a)

Paul had lived a life in opposition to Christ, followed by a life as his disciple and instrument to carry his name to others. He understood the battle between the two and also understood the believer’s role in fighting that battle. “I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Paul wasn’t talking about literally beating his body, although that might be part of the process at times. He was talking about the greater battle against all desires of the flesh and the fact that it is his responsibility to deny himself and train his flesh to surrender to his faith. Paul was able to keep the focus on his part in the fight, while still recognizing that it is only by God’s grace and mercy that he even has the chance to keep fighting. King David also recognized his dependence on God’s grace and mercy. He was declared by God to be “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22) and showed impeccable faith and character as he took down the giant Goliath with just a sling and a stone. But later, he gave in to temptation and committed adultery with Bathsheba, who was the wife of another man. It was when he was confronted with that sin by the prophet Nathan that King David penned the words in Psalm 51. He humbly asks God to “have mercy on me” (v. 1). He laments, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” (v. 3). David goes on to declare, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (v. 5). He then spends the rest of the psalm asking God to cleanse him and to “create in me a pure heart” (v. 10). We can get hung up on whether or not David was actually a “sinner” the day he came into this world, but that’s not the point. The important thing is that David humbly viewed himself this way. You don’t see him calling someone else’s baby a sinner. He is simply coming before his holy God and admitting that his situation must have been pretty dire right from the start if the standard of righteousness is God Himself!

Friends, Scripture is clear that we are born into sin. It is clear that, apart from acceptance of Christ as our Savior and Lord, we have no way of escaping the dreaded disease. While we cannot determine who is saved and who isn’t because only God is Judge, we believe that God’s loving and just character suggests that He will not punish an infant for the sins of the parents. However, I want to stress that we DO NOT comprehend the mind of God and CANNOT give any assurance of His judgment decisions, but can only say what we believe and why. The most important thing is that we recognize what choices He has given us. No matter how many battles we have lost, we must continue to surrender the flesh to our faith. We must continue to humbly understand that without God, we are without hope. And most of all, we must remember that whether we feel like we are in a position of winning the battle or in a position of losing it, we can never give up and can never let our guard down, because THE WAR IS NOT OVER!