THE FALL

In the story at Genesis 3, Adam and Eve did something, which they knew to be wrong, because they had been told so.
In our text from ‘Romans', St. Paul says that we can all know what to do, and what not to do, because the commandments of God tell us so, and point up the difference between 'right' and 'wrong'.
 
Paul goes on to say that, somehow, the very knowledge of what is wrong, often makes that wrong thing attractive - but more of that in a while.
 
Adam and Eve did something, which they knew to be wrong, and tried to hide their wrong-doing from God.
 
But the Lord, who reads hearts and minds, knew what they had done. He could have forced them to come out from wherever they chose to hide...
 
...but he didn't do that. Instead, he asked them a question: 'Where are you?’. That question is not quite as simple, as it may appear to be, at first.
 
It doesn't so much ask: ‘Which bush are you hiding behind? as ‘Where are you at? What is your state; your condition?
 
God's question is not so much a command: ‘Tell me where you are! but more a challenge: ‘Realize where you are at! Come to know what your condition really is; and then stop trying to hide from me. Instead, come to me, and let me help you’.
 
Something like this applies to us. Because we have been told the basic principles of 'right' and 'wrong', we know when we have transgressed.
 
Even so, that knowledge doesn't always prevent us from trying to hide the fact of our wrongdoing - even from God. If, and when, we try to hide things from God, he will read our hearts and minds, every bit as much as he did those of Adam and Eve.
 
As with them, God will take an initiative of love, and ask us: 'Where are you?’. Do you know where you are at; what state or condition you are in?
God's question is not asked to obtain knowledge; but to challenge us to realize what our true position is, and then want to do something about it. .
 
As with Adam and Eve, so with us. God does not condemn, but offers a new beginning, from which to move on.
 
St. Paul states that, when a commandment points out what is sinful, and what is good, then, in some strange way, the wrong thing often becomes attractive. Read Romans 7: 7-12 'Living Bible'.
 
Here are three examples of something of what Paul meant.
 
Imagine a man walking through a hospital, school or some other large building, with long corridors, and coming across a 'wet paint!' notice.
 
The statement 'wet paint' is not so much about the condition of the paint itself, but more a warning, as to the dangers of brushing against it, and getting some on our clothes.
 
If there are few people around, or perhaps no-one else there, the man might very well reach out with one finger and... t o u c h ! Those who research into this sort of thing; say almost half the people going by, are likely to test whether the paint is still wet.
 
Something like that happens with electric fences on farms. Through the warning notice displayed on such fences; and through the battery, and the type fence itself, it is clear that the wires are electrified.
 
As with the 'wet paint' notice, so with the warnings, about electrified fences. The warning itself, makes some people want to prod the fence with a walking stick, umbrella, or even a finger, to see if it really is - live!
 
In various places, St. Paul says that mankind seems to view God's commandments in much the same way. The Lord warns people against evil, in order to keep them safe...
 
...but human nature seems to be inherently wilful, and wants to test those warnings for itself. Where the thing warned against, is attractive, then the warning tends to be ignored. Here is the third and slightly longer example.
 
A newly-discovered stretch of sea-shore, may look very attractive in the evening light. Everything is all pink and gold, and the wet sands glisten...
 
...There are starfish and crabs lying around to be looked at; and interesting-looking rock-pools to be explored. And what is that big thing, washed ashore, at the water's edge? That looks interesting, too.
But...big and bold; just can't be missed, is a large notice board, which reads: DANGER! QUICKSANDS !
 
The board says: 'you can't walk here', but the attractiveness of the beach may cause an inner argument with self. ‘Can’t walk there? Why not? It looks all right to me'.
'Well, it is dangerous. The board says so. 'Huh! It can't be dangerous all over. I can see some footprints going across the sand, over there’
But have you noticed, that those footprints don't return, and that there is no-one to be seen on the beach?' 'Well whoever made those footprints, just can’t be seen at the moment, that’s all. He’s probably hidden behind a rock. I’ll take a look’.
 
At this point, Christians can, if they are not careful, trip themselves up, spiritually, through taking a worldly view of such images.
 
Wet paint? Well, all that you get for touching it is a dab or two on your clothes, perhaps; or a tacky finger; and you can soon clean it off. Some sins are like that...you can soon get rid of them I reckon.
 
The electric fence? You won’t get a worse shock than the cows do, when they bump into it; and they are alive and well. Some sins are like that. They give you a bit of a shock, but you live through them.
 
But that quicksand beach. That's different. It really is dangerous. I mean, what a foolish man to have put even so much as one foot on that beach. I wouldn't have done so. I reckon that some sins are like that, you know...dangerous! even deadly, just like the Bible says.
 
These examples of worldly thinking, contain a problem; for such thinking claims: 'That's what the Bible says’; and there is a very rea1 sense, in which the Bib1e does say that there are categories and degrees of sin...
 
...and the Bible appears to show that there are corresponding categories and degree of punishment...or reward.
 
But to think like this only; and to stop at that; is to miss a far greater truth and teaching, that the Bible offers us, which is this...
 
All disobedience and sin, puts us out of relationship with God.
 
God desires to forgive all sin, and to restore the now-forgiven man or woman to full relationship. But he will not do this in isolation; but only in conjunction with our desire for forgiveness, and corresponding repentance.
 
The true barrier between God and man; is sin. The thing which most prevents sin being dealt with, is not any reluctance, on God’s part, to forgive; but the unwillingness of men and women to repent...

…and the unwillingness of men and women to repent stands in direct relation to the attractiveness of the sin which creates the barrier.
 
In the images used just now...wet paint and the electric fence...there isn't a great dea1 of attractiveness invo1ved, just nosiness; is it wet? is it live?
 
But in the other image; the quicksand beach; there is real attractiveness. There are sunset colours in the sky; reflected on the water, and on the wet sand; there is a fresh, tangy air; and an interesting-looking thing, washed up at the water's edge. What is it?
 
In these examples, the one with the most attractiveness, contained the greatest danger - even that of death.
 
And so it is, with sin. The greater the attractiveness; the greater the danger, of never entering into a state of contrition and repentance; of staying out of relationship with God, and of dying, spiritually.
 
Adam and Eve claimed an ignorance of what was right or wrong, until, under outside and attractive persuasion, they did something wrong.
 
From that moment of doing something wrong, the knowledge was given; and they reacted; they tried to hide from God.
 
By removing themselves from God, they put themselves out of relationship with him. But the Lord took the initiative; asked them that question: 'Where are you at? and helped them to make a new start.
 
God devised a set of Laws, of rules, regulations or pointers, so that men and women could see for themselves 'where they were at'. But, all too often, the people were content with their 'where they were at' condition; and that contentment blinded them to the dangers.
 
 
And even those who were not content with 'where they were at', and who tried as honestly as they could, to get to the place where they could be…
 
...even those couldn't manage; for the Law which was designed to point to life, somehow seemed to tangle them up in death.
 
There had been a FALL...and a pointing-out of that fact: Do you know where you are at?'
There had been a FALL...and a pointing upwards and away from that place of falling, through the Law, rules, regulations, pointers...
 
The pointing-out, and the pointing up, had not met the need. Now there had to be a lifting up, as God took his last and eterna11y-effective initiative, in the matter.
In the ‘Where are you at?' question, and in the ‘Here's where you could be’ of laws and rules...God was saying:
Know what is required of you; and do what is required of you, and we can enter into relationship together’.
 
Now, in God's new and eterna1 initiative; in that lifting-up in Christ, which overcomes and nullifies the Fall; God says:
 
Accept my Christ, who takes away your sin. Accept him as your personal Jesus, who gives you new life.
 
Enter into relationship with me, through him, and, together, we will fulfil all that is required of you’.
 
‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have eternal life…
 
… For God did not send his Son into the world, to condemn the world, but to save the world, through him’. Amen.