“I have some bad news and some good news.” This expression elicits both tension and anticipation. The usual follow-up question is, “Which one do you want to hear first?” I typically choose the bad news. I want to get it out of the way. Hearing the bad news prepares the way for the good news. This summer, I’m sharing the gospel with my kids, but I realized that before I shared the good news with them that I needed to share the bad news. I’m working from the idea that before we can truly appreciate how good the good news is, we need to understand how bad the bad news is. And, it’s bad. Really bad.
When we are born, we are born into a family. We get this in a physical sense. If you were born into the Smith family, then you are a Smith. But, we are also born into a spiritual family. At birth, everyone is a member of Adam’s family. At all times we are either “in Adam” or “in Christ." Meaning, we are either in Adam’s family or Christ’s family. Before placing our faith in Jesus, everyone is in Adam’s spiritual bloodline. This is bad news because, like with any family bloodline, this comes with an identity. So, who were we when we were still “in Adam?” There are many more, but here are five truths I shared with my kids recently about being in Adam’s family, the condition in which we find ourselves at birth.
We are Sinners
First, we are identified as sinners. Paul refers to us as “utterly helpless sinners” in Romans 5:6. In Romans 3, he assures us that “all people” are “useless." No one is righteous or seeks after God. All have turned away. No one does good, “not a single one.” It’s not that we just commit sins, we are sinners at the core of who we are.
We are Children of Wrath
Paul talks about the desires that come with being sinners in Ephesians 2:3. These “passions of the flesh” made us subject to God’s anger. Gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts was our natural inclination. And, by this very nature, we were “children of wrath.” God’s anger was directed toward us.
We are Condemned
“Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone…. because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners” (Romans 5:18-19). To “condemn” someone means to “express complete disapproval of” or to “sentence someone to a particular punishment, especially death.” In Adam, we have been judged and found guilty. We stand condemned.
We are Dead
“The sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many” (Romans 5:15). When God told Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or Adam was sure to die, God was not kidding. When Adam disobeyed, he also died instantly, not physically, but spiritually. We are all born dead in a spiritual sense. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus that no one could enter the Kingdom of God unless they were born again.
We are Slaves to Sin
A “slave” can be defined as “a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.” Again, in Romans 6:17, Paul reminds the believers in Rome that before faith in Jesus they were slaves to sin. We are born legal property to sin and choose sin and the resource of our flesh to live our lives, every time. We have no other source from which to live.
In summary, “in Adam”, we are dead and condemned slaves to sin who are objects of God’s wrath. I know… not your typical family, fun night devotional. And, no. I don’t have any craft or game ideas. But, I think it’s important for our kids to know how they come into this world. We have a family history that traces all the way back to the garden, and they need to understand what being in Adam’s family means for us.
Now, I’m starting to share with my kiddos four desires that naturally flow out of an identity “in Adam.” These are patterns or ways that we live that promote self at any cost to other people. It’s the way life is experienced for those who choose to remain in Adam’s family. I’ll share these in a future post.