Hello all! We here at Teen Camps thought Head Counselor John Southards did a fantastic job at our first corporate chapel of the year! We wanted to share an excerpt with you all...we hope it blesses you today!
-Teen Leadership Camp Team
“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22, English Standard Version used throughout). What is Paul going on about? What does it mean to be in Adam and in Christ? In Romans 5:12, Paul says, “sin came into the world by one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” What does this mean? Suppose the first set of parents in the world both had too much exposure to radiation and, as a result, developed a genetic disorder. If both parents both had a genetic disorder, that alteration of DNA would be present in every single person. Paul is saying that something like a spiritual equivalent has happened. When Adam, who was the first father, sinned, something in his soul changed. It is not merely that he had broken God’s law (though he did), it is that when he broke God’s law the human soul ceased to be something that naturally loved God. In a way, the soul died. You see, the human soul was designed to have a loving relationship with God. For the soul to lose the desire to love God is for it to break. And since Adam was the first father, all of his children had broken souls as well. That is what Paul means when he says that in Adam, all die.
Now wait a minute, you might be thinking. I wasn’t the first one to commit sin, so why am I the one suffering? It’s Adam’s fault, not mine. This is how we are likely to think when we don’t want to admit that what we have done is wrong. But I think that every one of us knows that we have done something wrong before. Maybe it is a glaring problem in our lives, like anger or arrogance. Maybe it likes to keep itself in the dark, like envy or lust. Maybe it’s something like gossip, where we try to tell ourselves that there’s nothing wrong with it. Adam may have been the first to sin, but he was not the last.
I am going to try one more analogy that has helped me think about this issue, and I hope it will help you too. Imagine an apple tree. But imagine that this apple tree is not an ordinary tree. Let’s pretend that it is a poisonous apple tree. The poison is made in the trunk of the tree, but it does not stay there. It flows through the trunk and into the branches and from the branches into the apples. Would you ever really say that there was no poison in the apples just because the poison originates in the trunk? Or would you say that the branches are not poisonous because they were not the first ones to have poison in them? I should think not. And we are just like the branches. Sin may not have originated in us, but it certainly flows through us. And since it flows through us, our actions are sinful, just as the branches’ apples are poisonous.
What would you do if the poison apple tree was real, and you constantly saw people eating those apples? Would you pick up every apple and hid them away so no one could eat one? That might help a little, but it does not change the fact that there is a poisonous apple tree that will continue to grow poisoned apples. And you always run the risk that you won’t hide the apples very well and that someone find them and eat them. This is the approach that a lot of people take on sinful actions: they think that if they can hide all their sinful actions, everything will be ok. But it won’t be. As long as sin flows through you, as long as your soul is broken, you will never be able to stop sinning. In fact, we all know that the most effective way to deal with a poison apple tree is to chop it down and burn it. But this is a rather frightening solution when we realize that we are the branches.
What’s the solution? “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” How does that work? Imagine there is a second apple tree. Only this one is not filled with poison, it is filled with life. I’m not sure how much you know about tree grafting—I only know a little myself—but it’s possible to take a branch off of one tree and fit it to another in such a way the branch becomes part of that tree. So, if you were to take a branch from the poison tree and graft it into the good tree, what would happen? The branch would not die, but it would stop producing poison. Remember, the reason the branches are poisonous is because they derive their poison from the trunk. But if the branch is connected to a different trunk, it would eventually produce good apples.
Hold on a minute, you may be saying. If we’re supposed to believe that every man comes from Adam, and Adam is the trunk of the tree, how on earth are we ever going to find a different tree? The solution must be someone who is human but does not have Adam as a father. This man, of course, is Jesus Christ. He is God. And because he loved humanity, even after it had become broken, he became a man. Jesus was born of a virgin by the work of the Holy Spirit. Why is this important? Because while Jesus is fully human, his father is not Adam, it is God the Father. And so, because he did not inherit the brokenness of Adam, Jesus is the only human soul that has never sinned. He is the tree bursting with life, not with poison. And Christians are those who have been cut off from that tree of death and grafted into that Tree of Life. We are in Christ the way all people have once been in Adam. And because Christ is full of life, we are too.