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Far as the Curse is Found

December 7, 2006

Yup, it’s another Advent sermon… 

One of the things that the church has traditionally considered during the Advent season is the way in which the coming of Jesus Christ fulfilled so many promises and prophecies in the Old Testament.  So for the next four weeks we’ll go all the way back to the beginning and consider “Christ in Genesis”.  Today we’ll look in Genesis 3 at the story of the Fall of mankind into sin.  We sang this morning “He comes to make his blessings known far as the curse is found.”  So now we’ll read of that curse upon sin and we’ll find that right in its midst is the promise, fulfilled in Jesus, that one day a descendant of Eve would come and trample upon the serpent, overcome sin, and accomplish the redemption and restoration of mankind. 

Despite the seasonal change in the sermon series, I think you’ll notice some continuity between this week’s message and the last few.  For in 2 Corinthians 5 we have been considering justification, reconciliation, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.  So we’ll see in Genesis 3 that the sin of mankind is described in such a way as to show our need for just such a justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ.  Chapter 3 of Genesis begins by telling us that the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.  Satan is just a creature, he’s not a god, but he is very crafty.  And this word for crafty is used because it sounds just like the word for naked used at the end of chapter 2 “the man and his wife were both naked (arom in Heb.) and unashamed, but the serpent was crafty (arum in Heb.)  The innocence of man before the fall is seen in contrast to the craftiness of the serpent.    This also serves to underscore the importance of this word for nakedness which we will see occurs three more times in the chapter after they sin and when they are no longer unashamed, but rather hide from God. 

Now think about this:  If man’s sinfulness is described as nakedness before God, does it not suggest that we need more than just forgiveness?  We need covering.  We need justification by imputed righteousness.  But more on that when we come to it in the text.  Before we resume proclaiming the glory of Christ’s righteousness covering our sin on the basis of which we are justified, let’s lay the foundation of this doctrine of justification by considering more deeply the doctrine of sin.   Paul follows this order in the book of Romans.  Three chapters on sin precede the good news of justification by faith alone.  We can’t understand justification rightly until we understand sin.  What you believe about sin will determine what you believe about justification. 

I’m just about done reading about the New Perspective on Justification that I mentioned last week.  I don’t have much stamina for reading on contemporary controversies.  So now I’m back to reading John Owen’s 1677 volume on justification.  And he begins by making this same point: that error in the matter of justification comes from denying the depth of the depravity of sin.  He wrote, “small hope is there to bring such men to value the righteousness of Christ as imputed to them, who are so unacquainted with their own unrighteousness inherent in them.  Until men know themselves better, they will care very little to know Christ at all.”

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