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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Saturday Evening, August 7, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).

The great Southern Baptist theologian of the nineteenth century, Dr. John L. Dagg, said,

The narrative of the Fall, as given in the book of Genesis, is to be considered, not as a mythological representation, but as a proper history. It is always so referred to in subsequent parts of the sacred volume; and its connection with other historical events is such as excludes the supposition, that it was anything but simple fact (John L. Dagg, D.D., A Manual of Theology, Southern Baptist Publication Society, 1858, p. 144).

So, we should think of Adam and Eve as real people. We should think of their Fall in sin as a real event.

I am not speaking on this subject from an apologetic position tonight. I am not going to show the reasonableness and evidences for this. I will do that another time. I am simply going to give you the facts from the Bible on this subject. Note that our text says,

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).

So, the New Testament teaches that Adam was a real man. He really sinned. By him sin entered the human race, so that all mankind is born in a state of spiritual death, sinners by nature. As a result of being born sinners by nature, all men act sinfully.

Please turn in your Bible to Genesis 2:8-9. Let us read these two verses out loud.

"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil"
      (Genesis 2:8-9).

Look up, please. These two verses show us (1) God made man, (2) God planted the Garden of Eden, where He put man, (3) God made wonderful plants and vegetables grow up in the Garden to feed them, (4) God placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the Garden. Now read verses 16 and 17. Let's stand and read these two verses aloud.

"And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17).

You may be seated. Adam was told two things by God:

1. First, God told Adam he could eat of the fruit of every tree in the Garden except one "freely." That included the tree of life. But we are not told in the Bible that they ate from the tree of life. That was a great mistake. If they had eaten from the tree of life they would have lived forever. Notice what God said after man sinned. Look at chapter 3, verse 22:

"And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever" (Genesis 3:22).

If Adam had eaten of the tree of life, he would have lived for ever. God had told him to "freely eat" of this tree and every other tree, except one. But Genesis 3:22 shows us that he made the great error of not eating of the tree of life, "lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life." He hadn't done it yet. Now it was too late.

2. Second, God told Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Read Genesis chapter 2, verse 17 again out loud.

"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17).

Look up, please.

The great tragedy of the ages is that Adam did not eat of the tree of life. Instead, he disobeyed God and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That one act of disobedience brought death to the whole human race.

Many unbelievers mock at this. They say that Adam did very little. "He only ate a piece of fruit. Why should God make such a crime out of so little a thing?" But such thoughts are very sinful, and also very shallow. Dr. Dagg said,

Had Adam made an attempt to dethrone his Maker, human reason would admit the magnitude of the crime; but no greater evil would have been inflicted on omnipotence by his puny effort, than when he ate the forbidden fruit…To disobey, is, as far as the creature can go, to dethrone…Be not deceived; God is not mocked. He that disobeys God, rejects his reign; and so God views it. The test of obedience prescribed to Adam was easy; and this very fact makes the transgression the more inexcusable (ibid., p. 146).

Now look back at our opening text, Romans 5:12. Let's stand and read it aloud.

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).

You may be seated. Look at the verse. Sin entered into the world through one man - Adam. Death came through his sin. Now notice the words, "And so death passed upon all men..." When we read that we automatically think of physical death. But that isn't all that Paul means by "death." Dr. Gill said, "By the first sin of the first man; not only corporeal [physical] death, but a spiritual or moral one, man, in consequence of this, becoming dead in sin, deprived of all righteousness, and averse, and impotent to all that is good" (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989, volume II, p. 453). Immediately, when Adam sinned, he became a sinner by nature. His sinful nature was passed on to all his offspring. Thus, every person has inherited a sinful nature from him. All human beings are born "dead in sins" (Ephesians 2:5). Look at Romans 5:19.

"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Jesus] shall many be made righteous" (Romans 5:19).

You are a sinner by nature. You are by nature, cut off from God, with a ruined heart. That is what we mean by total depravity. If you look around you at the people in this city, you will see that it is true. Death passed to all men. All men and women are sinners by nature. They are dead in sin. That is why they think so little about God, and are so unconcerned about their souls. And you are no different from them. The only reason you are here in church tonight is because of God's providence and grace. Without the providence and grace of God you wouldn't be here.

Dr. Dagg pointed out that it is useless to say you believe in total depravity unless you apply it to yourself. You must be aware that you are a sinner at heart. Dr. Dagg said,

A thorough conviction of our total depravity is necessary to humble us before God, and drive us to the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. No genuine Christian experience can exist, where this is not felt… (ibid., p. 157).

Now, I will end with a practical application of this. If you are totally depraved, dead in sin, how can you trust your own thoughts and feelings about salvation? Some of you are trying to "get the right thought" or "have the right experience." You keep testing yourself to see if you "got it right." But how can you "get it right" or "have the right experience" if you are totally depraved? You can't. You see, you can't come to Jesus "the right way." You can only come, I may say, the "wrong" way. By that I mean, you can only come to Jesus imperfectly, as a sinner.

It does no good to look into yourself. There is nothing in your own mind or heart worth looking at. You have to look away from yourself to Christ. All of salvation is in Christ. Nothing of salvation is in you - a child of Adam. Look away from your Adamic mind to Christ. Come out of your own introspection, to Christ. Come away from your own self-examination - to Christ. Stop examining yourself. There is nothing in yourself but death. Instead of examining yourself, examine Christ! He says,

"Look unto me, and be ye saved" (Isaiah 45:22).

Look to Christ - not to Adam!


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