Living Under a Curse?

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to give a short Christmas devotional talk at a center for refugees near where we live.  I accepted and decided to keep it simple and just tell the Creation to Christ story as a way to explain why it is important that Jesus came to earth, and therefore why celebrating Christmas is so important.  You can see that story here:

As I was coming to the end, because I was speaking as a guest, I thought I would just end the talk, pray, and be finished for the day.  However, at the end, another friend of mine who had come with me that day spoke up and suggested that we should take questions as we had both Christians and Muslims with us and some people may wonder about parts of the story.

The first question that came up was what Adam’s sin has to do with my sin.  It is the first part of the story in the Creation to Christ story, so this man wondered why it mattered that Adam’s is part of the story.

The discussion that ensued, and even continued in a subsequent visit to the center yesterday, left me thinking about the precision of what the Bible says and what I understand and believe related to that very question.  What does Adam’s sin have to do with me?

At the time, I answered the question this way:

  1. Obviously, Adam’s sin of eating the fruit from a tree in a garden is not my sin.
  2. But in the same way that Adam made a decision to walk away from God and do his own thing, aside from what God want me to do, I do the same.  I disobey God on a regular basis, choosing my own way instead of God’s way.
  3. Regardless of how you think about the nature of Adam’s sin and its connection to us today, the effect is the same.  God cannot abide with sin.  This is why Adam and Eve were punished and needed to be sent out of the garden, and this is the same reason that our sins are also punished and we are separated from God because of our sins.

There was a subsequent conversation about how the curse that God placed on Adam and Eve affects us to this day, and in later reports that I heard yesterday, it sounds like this was understood better, especially by some of the Muslim friends that were there that day, but the more that I’ve been thinking about this, the more that I’m wondering if this curse that God placed on Adam and Eve actually is directly related to the nature of our sin or not.

So, this post should probably be a really long one, primarily intended to help me think through my own understanding about how Adam’s sin relates to me today.  But I think that I am going to need to break this up into at least two posts, possibly more.  Also, I want to say that I think that #3 above remains true regardless of the outcome and whether or not you agree with any of the conclusions that I might come to here.  In the end, I think that most of this may be academic because the result is ultimately the same.  Whether my sin is based on something that I inherited from a curse and it was not theoretically possible for me to live a perfect life as Jesus did, or whether it is just the nature of being a human and like Adam I make my own decisions and willingly rebel against God through my sin, I have still sinned and still need forgiveness and mercy from God!

My primary question at this point is whether or not the curse from God is the reason that I am considered a sinner before God.  When God administered punishment to Adam and Eve, he said to them:

16 To the woman he said,

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

Genesis 3:16-19

So, I think that if you believe that our sin today is a result of the curse from God, I think that this is the nature of where that would come from since this is the curse that God pronounced.  But the difficulty that I have here is that I don’t see something here that is related to sin coming from Adam, at least here in the pronouncement of the curse.  I see pain, authority, work, sweat, and death as the result of the curse, but I don’t see a pronouncement of guilt for all humans, at least not here.

As a result, at least from what I see here, I’m not sure that it is right to say that we live under a curse from God.  So far, that idea doesn’t really make sense to me.  I will pick up on some other scriptures soon, though, that I think should help fill this out further.

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