By Barbara Latta, Crosswalk.com
“Adam, where are you?”
These words spoken by the Creator to His created man are some of the saddest in the Bible.
God didn’t ask this question because He didn’t know where Adam was. It was because Adam needed to acknowledge what he had done. Adam and Eve were now separated from God. They knew they were guilty. They knew they had disobeyed the command of the Supreme Ruler of the universe. Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent.
God told them they would die, yet it was centuries before their bodies perished. That day they died in their spirits. Sin nature entered the human race. And now we are all born fallen. Adam and Eve brought this liability upon humanity.
The Father’s nature has always been loving. But the transgression of mankind in the Garden of Eden required Him to deal with sin. Punishment was required.
Death was the sentence (Romans 6:23), yet because of mercy, an animal was substituted. The Creator closed Eden so Adam and Eve couldn’t eat from the Tree of Life and live forever in that fallen state.
Can you imagine living almost 1,000 years with the responsibility of what you brought into the human race upon your shoulders? This offense was passed down to each generation (Romans 5:12).
Sacrifices were offered, but the sin remained: “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4 NIV). Animal sacrifices were a temporary covering until the pure sacrifice could come.
To Feel Loved We Must Know that Our Guilt Was Paid For
We are born guilty because of our fallen nature; but because of what Christ did, we are not held accountable. Our guilt has been paid for.
When we are born again, we receive a new nature. The dead spirit is gone (2 Corinthians 5:17). Yet we still have a mind that defaults to the old nature. Our spirit is reborn, but our thinking must be re-programmed to discover what God has done for us and how we are to live in our new life (Romans 12:1-2).
Our conscience is the compass that guides us toward good against evil. When we veer off course, we feel remorse because we know we went the wrong way. As long as we follow this guide as correction and not a punishment from God, we are letting our hearts fulfill the right purpose. Other people can punish us, the devil can accuse us, and we can condemn ourselves, but it is not God (John 3:17).
“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:19-20).
God doesn’t want us to wallow in the remorse. When we repent and go the right way, even the stigma of wrong should be left behind.
Romans 8:1-2 tells us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
“Since we have now been justified by his blood how much more shall we be saved from wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:9-10).
We were saved from wrath so we shouldn’t feel fear of punishment. Unbelievers are convicted so they will turn to the Lord (John 16:8-9). But once we receive the new nature, unrighteousness is gone and so is the sentence against it.
God poured out His wrath upon His own Son so that when we accept Him we are not judged.
“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:31-32 NKJV).
The word peoples here (men in the KJV) is in italics to denote it was inserted by the translators and not in the original language. The context of what Jesus was telling His disciples was about judgment. When He was lifted up on the cross, He drew all the judgment of God against Himself. The wrath of God was satisfied.
One sacrifice for all time. For all sin (Hebrews 10:12).
To Feel Loved We Should View God Through the Cross
When our image of God is through the eyes of Old Testament restrictions and judgment, traditions of men, or past experiences we don’t understand, we won’t see Him as the loving Father He is.
Do we approach God through fear of punishment? We will see Him as an angry God.
Do we see God through rules? We will come to Him through our works.
Do we focus on God from lack of understanding? We will view Him through confusion.
We can’t know the true nature of God until we understand the finished work of the cross. The ultimate love that destroyed the debt that separated us from the Father is the sacrifice of His Son.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
The word gospel (Strong’s Greek 2098) means good news. It is too good to be true that God would put Himself in our place when we are the ones who transgressed. No other religion in the world is based on love or has a god that would punish itself in the place of its subjects. Only the true God who IS love could do this.
To Feel Loved We Must Know Our Inheritance
In the first chapter of Ephesians Paul mentions several gifts we have been given because of the victory Christ won:
Every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)
Holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4)
Adopted as sons (Ephesians 1:5)
Acceptance (Ephesians 1:6)
Redemption and forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7)
Sealed in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)
A person who received a large inheritance in the Last Will and Testament of a relative who died wouldn’t go back to living the way they did before. They would celebrate the gift they had received, and they would pursue a different lifestyle.
The resurrection of Christ gave us His Last Will and Testament (Hebrews 9:18). When we live with a righteousness mindset instead of dwelling on offenses, we can live in the freedom of acceptance. Damnation was executed. We don’t need to resurrect it. We inherited righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Accusation denotes fear of punishment because in the Old Testament God had to punish people for disobedience because there was no other way to change hearts. But Jesus took all the punishment in our place. The responsibility for wickedness was crucified with Him and acceptance came out of the grave.
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
When we focus on the greatest gift that can ever be given to us instead of our wrongdoing, how can we do anything else but feel loved? God placed Jesus on the altar of sacrifice instead of us. Our iniquity received the punishment, but it was through His body instead of ours.
The goodness of God brings us to repentance (Romans 2:4). And even though we still fail from time to time, unrighteousness is no longer our nature.
To kneel at the cross with the purpose of thankfulness is to receive the grace the blood purchased for us. We can walk away from guilt and leave the cross with the knowledge of the most powerful love man can ever know in our hearts.
When Christ said, “It is finished,” His words wiped away the separation of, “Adam, where are you?” Christ reconciled us to God and our guilt has been abolished (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Tinnakorn Jorruang / EyeEm
Barbara Latta is a true southerner and is transplanted from Arkansas to Georgia. She writes a monthly column in her local newspaper and contributes to devotional websites, online magazines, and has stories in several anthologies. She is the author of God’s Maps, Stories of Inspiration, and Direction for Motorcycle Riders. She enjoys traveling with her Harley-riding prince on his motorcycle taking in the creativity of nature. Drinking coffee on the patio while the sun comes up is her favorite time of day. Barbara shares about walking in grace and thriving in hope on her blog, Navigating Life’s Curves, at www.barbaralatta.blogspot.com. She cherishes her role in life as a wife, a mom to two grown sons, and Mimi to one granddaughter.