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I was born in the home of sinful parents. I had no choice. The Lord did not ask about my parenting preferences. He gave me a set of parents, and into the world I came. As I reflect, it did not matter where I was born or who my parents were because all parents are the same in that they are corrupt, totally depraved sinners in need of the transformative gospel (Romans 3:10-12, 23; John 3:7, 15:5).
If there happens to be any difference between my parents and yours, it is the intrinsic nature and the extent of their sinfulness but not the fact of their sinfulness (2 Corinthians 10:12). My parents were victims of sin’s curse (Romans 5:12). Through Adam, sin entered the world, and its corrupting toxin spread to all people. My parents, like me, had no “say so” about being sinful, for all have sinned (Romans 3:10-12).
There is a way to get out from under the control and corruption of sin; you must be born a second time (John 3:7). This opportunity is what makes the Lord Jesus so different and unusual (Matthew 1:18-25). He was not born in Adam. He was not like us, at least, not that way (Hebrews 2:14-15). This difference qualified Him to save us from our first birth (Romans 6:23).
Some people struggle with how their parents parented them. They strongly feel victimized by the sin of their parents (Genesis 3:16-19). They are probably correct. I would never minimize or dismiss people or their stories about what happened to them. That would be cruel. The sad part with many of them is how they still harbor low-grade anger toward their parents and others who hurt them.
Their civility can mask their low-grade churning, but it is still anger. They might call it a disappointment, discouragement, regret, unresolved guilt, unforgiveness, hurt, or even sadness about their rearing. Regardless of the interpretation they give, it’s still anger, which has a way of blinding them from seeing the merciful hand of God in their pasts. Not understanding God in their histories feeds their anger as they rehearse what happened to them.
I’m not condoning what their parents did to them. I’m not suggesting their parents were unable to do better. I am a parent, and I know I could have done better with my children, but I didn’t. I made mistakes. The practical outworking of my salvation is imperfect at best. There are areas of darkness that I have not overcome. It is this truth that helped me to stop hating my dad for all his mistakes. We were both born in darkness, outside the boundaries of God’s love.
Love has to have boundaries. Love requires an antithesis—a counterbalancing opposite. We have love and hate, good and evil, light and darkness. If everything were love, there would be no real understanding, appreciation, or experience of love. Love needs a perimeter to give us a comparative perspective and fuller knowledge of God’s amazingness. This practical truth is what the Lord did for Adam. He told him love had boundaries. Within those boundaries, he would have an incredible experience of worship, peace, goodness, and many other soul benefits (Psalm 103:1-3).
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
God was clear to Adam. He essentially said, “I am love (1 John 4:8) and if you want to experience love, stick with Me. If you want to experience the opposite of love, transgress love’s line.” Outside of love is evil, judgment, and wrath. This reality is what makes peace, love, and mercy so profound. We who have lived under the Lord’s wrath (John 3:36; Romans 1:18) and have been saved by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) fully appreciate these mercies from God (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Christians cannot seem to get over the fact that the Lord would reach into our darkness and bring us into His light (Ephesians 3:20-21). Our kind and merciful Lord gave us a new and permanent condition (2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Peter 2:9).
Think about love like a big, beautiful living room situated in the middle of a home that has many other rooms that are evil. Within the living room are grace, mercy, faith, joy, peace, hope, and purity. If you choose to leave this room, you begin to experience evil, hate, anger, shame, depression, and fear.
The world the Lord created was a room of love, but it had boundaries. Outside of His love was evil, and He gave the man a choice as to whether he wanted to live within the limits of love or experience the evil that waited outside the door (Genesis 4:7). Adam and Eve chose to transgress love’s boundaries, and when they did, they experienced the evil that came with their unbelief.
This consequence was not God’s fault. Adam was the one who brought chaos to the human condition. His deliberate act sent the world spinning out of control. Because of his choice, you and I suffer.
The Lord did not create people where love is robotically mandated, but He did give us the ability to choose love and love’s ways or choose evil and evil’s ways. To sin or not to sin is our choice, not a decision the Lord is going to make for us.
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24:15).
You and I have to decide which path we are going to take. If we do not choose the way of God’s love, there will be proportional fallout just like it was in the days of Adam.
We broke the world. We did this. Everything that was good was shattered. This time, there will be no men. If we were to enter the garden, we would only ruin it again. Mankind must end. Creation will be left alone, safe, and beautiful. –Noah, talking to Ham (from the movie, Noah)
Too many people blame God for the evil in our world. We accuse the Lord of not being there when our worst fears came to pass (Job 2:9). The sinful world we live in is not the sinless world He created. The world we live in was made evil by someone else. Adam chose to walk on the wild side. He wanted darkness over light, death over life, and wrath over love (Romans 1:18). He pushed the boundaries of God’s love–a choice that brought us a cursed world (Genesis 3:6-19).
To blame the Lord is as illogical as standing in the heat on a sweltering summer day and cursing the sun because you’re sweating. All of us were born under the heat of the sun, and until we choose differently, we will always experience the negative effects of the sun’s heat.
I wish it could have been another way for you. I wish you and I were not born from sinners, as sinners, to sinners, surrounded by sinners. It would be nice to be born in a place like Genesis 1 and 2—the world the Lord created for His creation, the place where love was.
But there is good news. Just because you’ve had a horrible experience, it does not mean you have to stay there. All of us are victims. None of us got the life we wanted. To some degree and in some way, you were ripped-off by somebody.
That is a sad consequence of sin’s curse, but it does not have to leave you despairing. The same good Lord who gave us a perfect world has created a plan to provide us with another perfect world. Rather than blaming the Lord for what happened to you, you can bless His holy name for His redemptive plan for your life. The Lord has not given up on you. The original intent for humanity can come to you if you want it to come to you. The garden is gone, and the consequences of the fall remain, but you do not have to be held down by sin. You have a choice to make:
God is asking you to do what He asked Adam to do. He wants you to trust Him. There is a sweet love found in the heart of God, but you have to do something to get it. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). God told Adam what he could do and what he could not do (Genesis 2:16-17). It was his decision regarding life or death, and it is yours, too. If you continue to hold onto your victim card, you will never experience the love of God the way God wants you to enjoy it. It will cause more alienation from the life you could have with God (Ephesians 4:17-19).
Adam has victimized you. And maybe you have been victimized by your parents and others. If so, you understand hurt. There is no minimizing this. I would not recommend pretending that what happened to you is not real and that it does not hurt. Let’s face it: you did not get the life you wanted. Perhaps you’re an angry teenager who hoped to have a better life circumstance. I hear you. That is what I wanted. I was hurt, lonely, discouraged, and angry.
What I could not realize is how this is the way everybody lives. No exceptions. To expect a Genesis 1-2 lifestyle in a post-Genesis 3 world is misguided thinking at best. Looking backward, thinking how things could have been while hoping for a different outcome in the future will not change you.
The Lord has something better for you (John 12:32; 3:14-16). Though He did not create your mess, He has a plan to walk you through your mess, which is what Paul learned when he finally recalibrated his suffering through a God-centered worldview.
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
There are six things you need to respond to in Paul’s passage. If you respond carefully and correctly, over time you can get what you want, which is not freedom from suffering (Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 2:21) but resurrection grace that will release you from the curse of sin’s hardships.
You received a lousy deal: you were born in sin, and your parents reared you sinfully. Other people did hurtful things to you. This reality makes you normal. It was not God’s intended design for His creation, so He developed a plan to reverse the curse. You now have the opportunity to flip the narrative of your life. What evil meant for evil, you can transform for your good and God’s glory.
Perhaps change is too hard for you to do alone. It is for most people. The best place to change is in a community. If we can serve you, please learn about all the ways our ministry serves the body of Christ. It would be a joy to serve you.