January 4.—Morning. [Or January 7.]
“The wages of sin is death.”
THE present portion of Scripture contains the sad record of the Fall, in which through our first parents we all fell.
1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (The devil often begins as if he were an enquirer.)
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. (She should have been more precise. God did not say, “lest ye die,” but “ye shall surely die.” Error commences in little departures from truth.)
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (He cruelly slanders God. He hints that God was afraid that man would grow too great.)
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (See the progress of sin, she listened, she saw, she took, she gave to Adam. She had been wiser if she had turned away at first.)
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (He throws the blame on God for giving him a wife. Alas! what wretched ingratitude.)
13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. (Sinners are ready with excuses, and yet they have never a good one. Open confession of our wrong-doing is far better.)
14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Here a blessed promise lies like a pearl in a shell. The serpent’s curse is for us a blessing, for Jesus our Saviour is therein foretold.)
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. (See how obliquely the curse falls. It glances rather on the ground than on man. Wondrous is God’s mercy.)
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Thus sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.)
Yet, mighty God, thy wondrous love
Can make our nature clean,
While Christ and grace prevail above
The tempter, death, and sin.
The second Adam shall restore
The ruins of the first,
Hosanna to the sovereign power
That new creates our dust.
January 4.—Evening. [Or January 8.]
“The Lord our righteousness.”
THE New Testament is the key to the Old. There we find an explanation of the position of Adam in reference to the race of man. He represented us all, and we all share the sad effects of his transgression. He was the door through which both sin and death entered into our world. So the apostle Paul teaches us in
12 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: (All men sinned in Adam who stood as representative for them all, and therefore all men die.)
13 For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, (It is clear that there was sin in the world before the law because men died; that sin came in through the fall,) even over them that had not sinned, after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, (even infants die through Adam’s sin, though without personal guilt,) who is the figure of him that was to come. (For Jesus is the second head of the race, the second representative man. As we fell by our union with Adam, so if we are in Christ we shall rise by virtue of our union with the Lord Jesus, who is here intended by the term, “him that was to come.” But he is the Head and Leader of a believing people: the great question is, are we believers in him?)
15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (Note that salvation is not the reward of merit, but a free gift; and mark how God’s grace outruns human sin. The apostle speaks of “much more,” as if he meant, more likely, more easily, more abundantly. It was God’s strange work when he condemned the race for Adam’s sin; but it is his delight to accept men far the sake of his dear Son.)
16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. (One sin destroyed us, but grace blots out many sins.)
17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. (Ruined by one man’s sin, restored by one man’s righteousness. The rise will be greater than the fall.)
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
All in Adam fell by Adam, all in Christ are restored by Christ.
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
This is the fundamental doctrine of the gospel; Jesus makes us righteous in his righteousness. We are accepted in the Beloved.
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. (The law of Moses makes us conscious of sin, it probes our wounds, it brings out into action the evil which lurks in our hearts, and so by the blessing of the Holy Spirit it drives us from self-dependence, and compels us to look to the grace of God in Christ Jesus.) But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (The floods of grace prevail above the mountains of our sins. Almighty love paints a rainbow on the blackest clouds of human transgression.)
21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Happy are those in whom reigning grace has implanted spiritual life, for the same grace will sustain, increase, and perfect that life till it melts into glory. Are all the members of this family saved in Christ Jesus? Endeavour every one of you to answer the question. Let us not be divided, but let us together seek the Lord, and may we all meet in heaven.
We were lost, but we are found,
Dead, but now alive are we;
We were sore in bondage bound,
But our Jesus sets us free.
Strangers, and he takes us in,
Naked, he becomes our dress,
Sick, and he from stain of sin
Cleanses with his righteousness.
Therefore will we sing his praise
Who his lost ones hath restored,
Hearts and voices both shall raise
Hallelujahs to the Lord.