THE ADAM LEGACY ROMANS 5:12-14
NEED: TO REALIZE OUR HOPELESSNESS APART FROM GOD.
PROPOSITION: ADAM LEFT TO THE WHOLE HUMAN FAMILY SIN AND DEATH AS A LEGACY.
TO INVITE PERSONS TO CHRIST FOR FREEDOM FROM SIN AND DEATH.
The Nixon legacy has been discussed much over the past week. The death of the former president of the
United States has caused the experts to evaluate his life and work. As they have examined the life of
Richard Nixon, it has become obvious that what one man does can affect millions of others. One event in
the life of President Nixon that they have focused upon has been his China decision. His visit to China
opened the door for relationships between the people of the United States and the nation of China. That
decision affects my life and your life to this very day. You will find many items in our stores marked with
the words "made in China." Before President
Nixon's decision you would not have found any such items. What one man does can affect many others.
Truly, no man is an island to himself.
This is the basic idea developed by Paul in this section of Romans. Someone may have raised the
question, "How can what one man did make an eternal
difference in my relationship with God?" Paul had just indicated that Christ had died for us and that
through his death we have been made acceptable before God. How can this be? In this section of
Romans Paul reminds us that no only are we affected potentially for good by what Jesus did, but we also
are affected negatively by what Adam did. In doing this he focuses our attention upon the Adam legacy.
As the first man the father of the race Adam left a terrible legacy for us all. Your life is impacted today by
the Adam legacy. You'll never understand our world until you understand the Adam legacy.
I. Adam left us the legacy of sin.
"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, can death through sin, and in this way death
came to all men because all sinned." The one man
is Adam. What this one man did allowed sin entrance into the world. What this one man did brought sin
Paul assumes the historicity of Adam. He assumes that there was a real Adam and Eve who lived in a
beautiful garden. He assumes that this man Adam and his wife, Eve, were not only the first humans but
they were also the first sinners. You will remember that inspired account in Genesis how God gave the
instructions to the man that he could eat of any tree in the garden with the exception of the tree of
knowledge of good and evil. You will remember the conversation between Eve and the serpent. The
serpent assured Eve that eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would have only positive
consequences. If she and Adam were to eat of the tree, then they would begin to know as God. He
assured her that they would not die as a consequence of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good
Under the deception of the serpent, Eve ate from the tree. Adam ate of the tree knowingly. He was not
deceived for he knew what God had said. He simply took the testimony of his wife and chose personally
to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In that act he sinned against God. That was the
original sin. It involved an act of rebellion against God and an attempt to become like God. Instead of
fulfilling his role as the creature and being obedient to the Creator, he chose to rebel against the
Instead of being content as the creature, he wanted to be like
God. So, he ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
But what does Paul mean when he says that through this one man sin entered into the world so much so
that all have sinned. About this the theologians have written, debated, and discussed much through the
ages. They are several different theories concerning our personal relationship to what Adam did in the
Garden of Eden. I do not want to discuss all of those theories even though it could be a thing of interest
to most of us. Rather, I want to look at it rather practically and ask how it impacts us today. What is the
1. Sin has a life principle.
It is noteworthy that Paul does not say that "sins" entered the world through one man, but rather "sin"
entered the world through one man. There is a difference to be observed between sin and sins. It is the
between the tree and its fruit. Sins is fruit, but sin is the tree.
At least this much is true about what happened in the Garden of Eden. When Adam partook of the fruit,
he became a different person. Something happened inside of him. We refer to this theologically as "the
fall." There was something broken in this fall into sin. Whatever it was that was broken in Adam's fall, he
passed it on to his children. Then they passed it on to their children, who pass it on to their children.
Finally, when it was time for you and me to be born, our parents passed it on to us. The thing that was
passed on to us was "sin." Sin was passed on to us in the sense that there was in us a dominating sin
principle. This dominating sin principle expressed itself in our inclination toward sinfulness. It wasn't long
until the fruit "sins" began to appear in our lives. Every human being on the earth has received from
Adam this legacy of sin.
The failure to recognize this Adam legacy has led to many tragic errors and misjudgments on the part of
important people. Carl Marx and those who joined him in setting forth the communist philosophy and
goals failed to take into account the Adam legacy. They thought they could create a just society, a
classless society by just the removal of the ruling class and a revolutionary process. What they failed to
recognize is that revolutions like the communist revolution in Russia do not change human nature.
Whether he is a ruler or a laborer every human being has the Adam legacy, this dominating sin principle
We can see then that the act of one man has influenced us tragically until this very hour.
2. Sin has guilt.
This is another side of the same legacy. The Old Testament people thought differently from
contemporary man. They did not think in terms of the individual as much as they did the corporate body.
Much of the Old Testament focuses upon the nation rather than the individual. The individual has identity
only as he is a part of the corporate body. This corporate consciousness is almost completely absent
from our thinking. This is the reason we have difficulty understanding why the whole nation could suffer a
defeat because Achan had stolen the forbidden things in Jericho.
The truth that Paul is sharing with us is that because one man acted in the Garden of Eden guilt has
settled upon the whole of the human family. We are involved in what Adam did in the garden. There is a
common guilt that settles upon all men. You may protest and deny that you have any accountability for
what Adam did in the Garden of Eden, but that will not remove the guilt. Adam acted for all of us. His
legacy to us is guilt.
We see about us some tragic examples of this frequently. You may have read in Texas Monthly some
time ago about the family of my friend Dr. Jimmy Allen. While I was working for the Baptist General
Convention of Texas, I became aware of the tragic situation in the life of his son, Scott. Scott's wife
received an HIV positive blood transfusion before there was an awareness of the danger involved in
blood transfusions. Subsequent to receiving that blood transfusion, she passed on to her two children
who were born with AIDS. Since then she has died and both of her children have died. The children had
done nothing to deserve what happened to them. When they came into the world through their mother
they already had in their bodies the HIV infection that would lead to their death. It passed from
Mother to child. In the same way every human baby had in its spiritual makeup sin and guilt. It comes
because of what Adam did in the garden. It is a part of the Adam legacy.
II. Adam left us the legacy of death.
"Therefore just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through
sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned." When sin came through the door it had
this terrible companion with it - death! Inspite of the assurances that they received from the tempter, it
was exactly as God had said - death follows sin. Death is a part of the Adam legacy.
1. Death is the inevitable consequence of sin.
To understand why death is the inevitable consequence of sin, we need to go back to the beginning.
When God formed man in the Garden of Eden, He made him so that he could have fellowship with God. It
was the intention of God that man and woman would walk in communion with Him day by day. It was also
his intention that man would have access to the tree of life. By eating from the tree of life man could
partake of immortality. But when he sinned man lost both of these.
He lost fellowship with God who is life. Man was to be renewed and sustained by his fellowship with God
in every sphere of his life. There is no life apart from God. When you separate anything from God, death
is the natural consequence.
Because of his sin, man lost his access to the tree of life. He was put out of the Garden and could no
longer eat from that tree. This made death inevitable. The legacy of Adam to all of his descendents is
2. The death is total.
By total we mean that it involves body, soul, and spirit. Since man was cut off from communion with God,
spiritual death was immediate. Adam lost his God consciousness and the enjoyment of communion from
the moment he partook of the fruit. That he had lost it was obvious when he began to flee from the
presence of God rather than to enjoy the presence of God. The death of the body came years later, but
it came as a consequence of the sin. Since the Garden of Eden every son and daughter of Adam, with
the exception of two, has died. Only Enoch and Elijah escaped this Adam legacy. They escaped it only
because of a gracious divine intervention.
In the other verses in this paragraph Paul illustrates the universality of this. Even though from Adam to
Moses there was no written law that man could transgress, still men continued to die. Without the law
there could be no sin charged against them, at least no sin in the sense of the transgression of the law. If
they had not broken a law, why did they die? They continued to die as a part of the Adam legacy. They
carried around in their being that sin principle which continued to affect their relationship with God and
with each other. That the sin principle was still active is obvious as you continue to read those early
chapters in Genesis.
The totality of the death is staggering. Spiritually, emotionally, and physically death is at work in all of our
Adams' descendents. He passed death down to his children like an HIV positive mother passes AIDS
down to her children, or a crack mother passes drug addition down to her children. This is the human
We are living under the Adam legacy. Taken by itself this could be an extremely depressing passage of
scripture. Actually, however, this passage introduces and serves as a background to the good news. Just
as we have been so impacted by the decision of one man in a negative way, we can also be influenced
by the deed of one man in a positive way. Paul summarizes it in this statement, "For if, by the trespass of
the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's
abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus
Christ." You can escape the Adam legacy if you will become a participant in the Christ legacy. The legacy
of Jesus Christ to us is that of righteousness to cover our sins and life to replace the death.
If you choose to be in Christ, you escape the legacy of being in Adam. This is the good news. Christ is
the answer to the Adam legacy. Let me encourage you to surrender your life to the rule of Jesus Christ
so that you can escape the rule of death and can enter the rule of life.