Tuesday: While We Were Yet Sinners . . .

All throughout the Bible we find that God’s response to human sinfulness is redemptive in nature and motivated by genuine, unselfish love.

Image © Damon Bowie from GoodSalt.com

Image © Damon Bowie from GoodSalt.com

He would have been fully justified in giving Adam and Eve up to Satan’s destructive power; after all, they had made their choice. But God knew that Adam and Eve did not understand the full meaning of what they had done, and He determined to give them an opportunity to become better informed and to be able to choose again.

Read Romans 5:6-11. How do these verses help us to understand what God’s grace is all about?

When we are wronged, we like to have an apology before we accept the offender back into a good relationship with us. Of course, an apology is appropriate in such circumstances. Complete healing of a damaged relationship includes an expression of sorrow and acceptance of responsibility for the misdeed. But God did not wait for us to ask for forgiveness; He took the initiative. While we were yet sinners, He gave Himself to die on our behalf. This is a wonderful demonstration of divine love.

How does our behavior compare with God’s behavior? How often are we offended and angry and seek revenge rather than restoration? We should be eternally thankful that God does not treat us in that way.

God’s treatment of sinners shows the true meaning of love. It is not a mere feeling but a principled behavior in which every effort is made to reconcile the offender to the offended and restore the relationship. God’s treatment of Adam and Eve is an illustration of how He relates to our sin.

“The scenes of Calvary call for the deepest emotion. Upon this subject you will be excusable if you manifest enthusiasm. That Christ, so excellent, so innocent, should suffer such a painful death, bearing the weight of the sins of the world, our thoughts and imaginations can never fully comprehend. The length, the breadth, the height, the depth, of such amazing love we cannot fathom.”-Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 213. Maybe we can’t fathom this love, but why is it so important that we try?



Tuesday: While We Were Yet Sinners . . . — 34 Comments

  1. I believe that a very important take-away from this lesson is that God did not wait for Adam and Eve to ask for forgiveness before He took the initiative of providing a way for a restored relationship. He provided grace before they asked. Christ died for us before we asked for forgiveness, and on the cross He said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

    In the light of Christ's example, Christians have no basis for exacting a confession before granting forgiveness. And it is for our good. Harboring a spirit of bitterness while waiting for a confession that may never come eats us up on the inside. Forgiving an offender sets us free from the bondage of bitterness.

    The author also mentions that, for relationships to be fully restored, requires a confession. In other words, we can forgive someone while recognizing that we cannot trust them the same way as before until they see their error -- because they are likely to do it again, if they cannot see.

    A friend put it this way after someone has grossly betrayed his trust: I see my friend as a treasured vase with a crack in it. I have invested much in this vase/friendship, and I treasure it, but I handle it carefully, ever mindful of the crack. Just so, we can forgive, while remaining "ever mindful of the crack."

  2. If God knew that Adam and Eve were not fully informed about what they were about to encounter, why did He not inform them? Is not that unfair to Adam and Eve? It almost feels like being a subject of experiment like, let's try this and see if it will work or not but let's also have a fixer upper plan in case it does not work.......???????????

    • When your mother or father gave you a command that required your obedience did you always understand the full ramification of disobeying the command? Like children Adam and Eve did not fully comprehend the repercussion of their disobedience, therefore, God in his mercy provided salvation. I am certain that your parent or parents showed similar mercy toward you when you really deserved a more severe punishment. This is called forgiveness.
      God is not a mad scientist experimenting with our lives. He is our loving, just and wonderful Creator. He could have made us like a robot, but instead He made us with an ability to choose. He presented before Adam and Eve the choices and consequences; then God left it up to them. God wants our total obedience out of love, not out of fear. Because of this He provided mercy and Salvation. This is not the action of a scientific experiment, oh no, my dear sister, this is the act of pure love. That is what forgiveness is all about. Grace, Mercy and Salvation all equate to Forgiveness. God is love, God is forgiveness.

      • Oh yes my brethren Our God is love.... Of course he was not experimenting with Adam & Eve's lives just as someone says!We find him giving them onother chance to choose, not giving them up Satan’s destructive power! We find him not wait for them to ask for forgiveness but treating them with a principled behaviour, We find him also at Calvary asking his father to forgive his killers for they new not, what were they to do!

    • Komesina, God doesn't used try and fail method of human researchers of today, in fact he doesn't need research he foresees the future.
      God created Adam and Eve with full choice not computerized robots. He can't change what they were about to encounter simply because they have chosen to do so and he would have not escaped to be call dictator today if he would have diverted their choice. He is a fair God.

    • Komesina, Adam and Eve were fully informed or they would not have been guilty of sin. (James 4:17) We know God to be just and He is always just. Adam and Eve accepted their guilt and did not object, but tried to offer excuses instead.

  3. Our first parents brought sin into this earth.OK,what about us,why are we still sinning?This is because we are still living in a sinful earth.God loves us an gave unto us his only begotting son(JESUS CHRIST)to die on our behalf, John 3:16.Then i will if so then Jesus traped away sin from the earth but that is not the case.Now Jesus has giving us the choice of worship,he does not force anyone to serve him.Let us make good use of the death of Jesus of on the cross.

  4. @ Komesina, the lesson does point out that they needed the power of choice in order to be able to love. The trial given to our parents is one we face daily. Will we choose to do God's will or our own is the question. Though Adam and Eve didnt know everything about evil, I believe God gave them enough evidence for them to know the consequences of their choices as Gen 3 v 1-5 reveals. The main issue here was not how well they knew evil but how much they would be willing to lovingly obey the express word of God. In the same way in life if we are to wait till all makes sense to us before we listen to God's word and do His will, then we will never obey. See Heb 11v1,6.

  5. Not at all Komesina!!NO!God is Love.His character and principle is that all his creation{man and even angels}should exercise freedom of choice.If he could never put the tree there then adam and eve would be as puppets/robots:solely inclined to follow his will.Now this would not be fair since all human race would be indirectly dictated to follo God's Laws instead of Love.

  6. One more thing Komesina.consider the situation that was in heaven.The angels of God were all perfect and wholy created.Now,we are not told of any tree's existence but even without this,"sin originated with him who,next to christ,had been most honoured of God..."GC PG493.

  7. Dear Komosina, according to Spirit of Prophecy Adam and Eve were fully informed. They knew of the war in heaven, and of Satan being cast out.
    " Adam and Eve Warned"
    "God assembled the angelic host to take measures to avert the threatened evil. It was decided in heaven’s council for angels to visit Eden and warn Adam that he was in danger from the foe. Two angels sped on their way to visit our first parents. The holy pair received them with joyful innocence, expressing their grateful thanks to their Creator for thus surrounding them with such a profusion of His bounty. Everything lovely and attractive was theirs to enjoy, and everything seemed wisely adapted to their wants; and that which they prized above all other blessings, was the society of the Son of God and the heavenly angels, for they had much to relate to them at every visit, of their new discoveries of the beauties of nature in their lovely Eden home, and they had many questions to ask relative to many things which they could but indistinctly comprehend. – {SR 29.2}
    The angels graciously and lovingly gave them the information they desired. They also gave them the sad history of Satan’s rebellion and fall. They then distinctly informed them that the tree of knowledge was placed in the garden to be a pledge of their obedience and love to God; that the high and happy estate of the holy angels was to be retained upon condition of obedience; that they were similarly situated; that they could obey the law of God and be inexpressibly happy, or disobey and lose their high estate and be plunged into hopeless despair. – {SR 29.3}
    They told Adam and Eve that God would not compel them to obey—that He had not removed from them power to go contrary to His will; that they were moral agents, free to obey or disobey. There was but one prohibition that God had seen fit to lay upon them as yet. If they should transgress the will of God they would surely die. They told Adam and Eve that the most exalted angel, next in order to Christ, refused obedience to the law of God which He had ordained to govern heavenly beings; that this rebellion had caused war in heaven, which resulted in the rebellious being expelled therefrom, and every angel was driven out of heaven who had united with him in questioning the authority of the great Jehovah; and that this fallen foe was now an enemy to all that concerned the interest of God and His dear Son. – {SR 30.1}
    They told them that Satan purposed to do them harm, and it was necessary for them to be guarded, for they might come in contact with the fallen foe; but he could not harm them while they yielded obedience to God’s command, for, if necessary, every angel from heaven would come to their help rather than that he should in any way do them harm. But if they disobeyed the command of God, then Satan would have power to ever annoy, perplex, and trouble them. If they remained steadfast against the first insinuations of Satan, they were as secure as the heavenly angels. But if they yielded to the tempter, He who spared not the exalted angels would not spare them. They must suffer the penalty of their transgression, for the law of God was as sacred as Himself, and He required implicit obedience from all in heaven and on earth. – {SR 30.2}
    The angels cautioned Eve not to separate from her husband in her employment, for she might be brought in contact with this fallen foe. If separated from each other they would be in greater danger than if both were together. The angels charged them to closely follow the instructions God had given them in reference to the tree of knowledge, for in perfect obedience they were safe, and this fallen foe could then have no power to deceive them. God would not permit Satan to follow the holy pair with continual temptations. He could have access to them only at the tree of knowledge of good and evil. – {SR 31.1}" From The Story Of Redemption, chapter 3. Hope this helps, God's love to you.

    • Perfect answer......rather than sharing our own opinions, sharing what the Pen of Inspiration writes should answer the question of whether or not Adam was fully informed. Thanks for sharing this.

  8. Thank-you Kimberly! I too pulled out the account in The Spirit of Prophecy, rather I read it in Patriarchs and Prophets, about the same as Story of Redemption. We are so blessed to have this illumination of the Bible. I firmly believe, Ellen White was inspired by God. And yes the love for Jesus goes deep for me too.

  9. Inge, I like to read your posts for they are enlightening. However, I must disagree with you about forgiving but "remaining mindful of the crack." I do not think when Jesus said to forgive one another seventy times seven that He meant we are to forgive but hold back some trust in reserve so that if that person should betray your trust then you would not be surprised because you expected it. When we forgive someone that hurts us or betrays our trust, God wants us to completely forgive not holding anything back. If that were not so, then the plan of salvation would be flawed, and I know it's not. We all have "cracks" in the God' sight. I do not believe that when I ask God's forgiveness of an offense that God forgives a little,
    because He knows that I will sin again. Yes, he knows that I will sin again, but each time I ask forgiveness, I am completely forgiven, thanks to His
    grace and mercy. He will forgive me from all (not some) unrighteousness(
    1John 1:9). I thank God for His grace and mercy. In forgiving you should restore the person to pre-betrayal status. In other words, the relationship you have after the betrayal should be the same as before. That is what God expects from His children. Trying to do it in our strength is impossible. But we can do all things through Him who gives us strength. And if we truly love each other as God loves us then it should not be hard. Let us continue to pray to be more like Jesus who forgives our sins and still loves us

    • I think I know what Inge means about being mindful of the cracks. I have been in a position where I have had to forgive others for what they have done to me. I quickly realised that rebuilding trust was not the work of a moment. I think that forgiveness implies a commitment to rebuild that trust. Of course the forgiven person has a part to play in that as well and has to earn that trust.

      If a person has embezzled $100,000 from me, and I forgive that person. I am not going to give that person another $100,000 to look after for me for a long long time. While I may as part of my forgiveness be willing to forgo the $100,000 that I have lost, the forgiven person has to regain my trust.

      I have learned much about salvation from participating in forgiveness. The healing that forgiveness brings to the forgiver is something that I really appreciate, even when the forgiven person does not ask for forgiveness. But for forgiveness to be effective in the life of the forgiven, some changes must take place in the life of the forgiven. How many times must a victim of abuse forgive a violent spouse? There comes a time when the victim should distance themselves from the situation if there is no evidence that they are going to change. It takes two to rebuild trust.

      • Does God look at us with suspicion after He has forgiven us? Do we have to re-earn his favour?

        It seems as if these are the *implications* of what you are saying.

        In my own thinking, God already knows who we are *before* we betray Him. What he does--as a part of the forgiveness process--is to work to try to change our characters so that we do not embezzle Him again.

    • Michelle, thank you for your kind words. 🙂

      Please consider the following on the subject of forgiveness?

      We are asked to forgive all who sin against us. That means that even a severely abused person needs to forgive her abuser. It will set her free. But it does not mean that the relationship is restored or that she needs to put herself again in a situation where she can be abused. It is not an incomplete forgiveness. All the bitterness is gone. But it would be more than stupid to go back to the same situation; it would be wrong.

      I believe it is of utmost importance to make a distinction between forgiveness and restoration of relationship. We can forgive even those wrongs that are never admitted or confessed. It sets us free. However, there is no restoration of relationship if the other person does not acknowledge the wrong and ask for forgiveness. I'm now referring to serious wrongs. (There are some "wrongs" that we may feel but that are quite unintentional on the other person's part, and that's different. That may just mean that we must learn not to be "easily provoked.")

      I believe that is much as God deals with us. Christ died for the sins of the whole world -- everyone in it. So there is forgiveness for everyone, but there is no relationship with Christ and no salvation unless we feel our need, our utter sinfulness, and come to Christ in contrition so He may clean us up from the inside out. This results in changed behaviour. In other words, the forgiveness does not become effective in our lives until we repent and ask for forgiveness.

      Likewise, there is no restoration of human relationships after a serious wrong unless there is genuine repentance (demonstrated by a change in behaviour) and asking for forgiveness.

      In the situation with my friend, the wrong was a serious breach of trust. He decided to forgive, because he had invested much in the friendship. I asked him how he could do that, since the other person didn't even acknowledge the wrong. That's when he gave me the illustration of the vase. His being "mindful of the crack" meant that he would never give his friend power over him again in the same way he had before. But there was a continuing relationship nevertheless.

      When we are dealing with relationships, not all things are black and white or cut and dried.

      God does not ask us to put ourselves in situations where we will be harmed and where we will be of little use to Him or society.(That is what often happens to women who "forgive" their abusers over and over again because they feel it is the "Christian" thing to so, and the abuse just gets worse. Too often they get killed, and it is made to appear as an accident. Such abusers often have no conscience, and society labels them as psychopaths.

      All of us belong first of all to God. We do not have the right to allow someone to abuse God's property, even if we are the property in question.

      Not making a distinction between forgiveness and restoration of relationship results in two problems:

      1) We may feel it is impossible to forgive someone who has abused us to the point that we fear for our lives. It is a healthy reaction to realize that it is not safe to go back to the same situation. If forgiveness means to go back to the situation, then the wronged person feels she cannot afford to forgive, and she is bound by the burden of the wrong. Forgiveness sets us free, even without a restored relationship.

      2) Since most of us instinctively recognize that only repentance and confession leads to a restored relationship, there is a general feeling that we cannot forgive unless someone confesses to a wrong. This is not so. God forgave us before we asked. (It is His love that leads to repentance.) We can forgive even if the other person does not confess. It sets us free.

      Lastly, there's a great deal of common sense in the attitude of "being mindful of the crack." Maurice expressed it well. 🙂 Some people cannot be trusted with certain things, but they can be trusted with others. We are all different, and no one becomes perfect through confession. Thus we need to use the good judgment God gave us to decide in just what way we can trust others.

    • Michelle, being "mindful of the cracks" is like making garments of skin for the newly naked and granting them a probationary mortal life to grow in grace. They were not instantly restored because sin is so powerful and must be fully overcome by faith if restoration is to be fully realized. By choice they were now marred and the choice remained.

      It's not about giving reminders to the cracked vase, or even treating it as cracked, but the constant nurture of grace must continue until that crack is fully healed, and this must be chosen by the one cracked.

      Perhaps others have pointed this out below. I don't have time right now to see and this seems important to understand.

  10. First of all we need to ask was Paul a hypocrite who really didn't follow Christ when he said. "Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words" (2 Tim 4:14-15 NKJV). Or what about Jesus was He also hypocritical when John wrote, "But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man" (Jn. 2:24-25 NKJV). That also includes counsel given by His beloved disciples (Mat 16:21-23). Didn't He commit Himself to die for the world and to forgive everyone? Does He then forget the danger of sin and what it can do? There is a little saying that goes like this, "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me." We are to learn. To be little children doesn't mean to be completely naive about everything.

    There is a practicality involved where we are to forgive as Jesus did but not to be stupid in assuming too much about the sin that inhabits a person. As Jesus said, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues" (Matt. 10:16-17 NKJV) and "For son dishonors father, Daughter rises against her mother, Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; A man's enemies are the men of his own household" (Mic. 7:6 NKJV). Even though a person make seek forgiveness he could still rise up in rebellion and do you harm so we are not to be presumptuous and willingly enter into traps and danger. We are to forgive, yes, but we also need to be aware of potential danger even from those we forgive. Remember the kiss of Judas.

    • Thank you, Tyler, for bringing another facet into focus, and especially for the Scriptural support. Obviously there is a proper place for recognizing the wickedness of others and treating them accordingly. This is consistent with God's treatment of us sinners. While He longs to receive every one of us into intimate fellowship with Himself (1 John 1:3), He also allows us the freedom to reject Him (John 5:40; Matthew 23:37) and treats us according to our choices (Matthew 6:15; Matthew 23:38, Revelation 22:12).

  11. I am so thrilled with the fact that he forgave us before we even asked for forgiveness...........what manner of love it is Christ is love indeed,let us pray for the same love"then we will be in harmony with one another.God loves you.

    if our Father in heaven forgave and still forgives why cant we? it is indeed a very sensitive subject that we can not understand on our own we just need Christ to interviene and create new hearts in us.

    • Regarding “he forgave us before we even asked for forgiveness,” in Exodus 34: 6-7, the Lord described Himself to Moses, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." Notice the balance between the first half (expressing mercy) and the last (expressing justice). His approach to us is similarly expressed in Selected Messages, volume 1, page 260, “The reconciliation of mercy and justice did not involve any compromise with sin, or ignore any claim of justice; but by giving to each divine attribute its ordained place, mercy could be exercised in the punishment of sinful, impenitent man without destroying its clemency or forfeiting its compassionate character, and justice could be exercised in forgiving the repenting transgressor without violating its integrity.”

      Yes, He is “ready to forgive” us (Psalm 86:5), and has made advance preparation that He may forgive us (Revelation 13:8). At the same time, in all His action, He is still just, forgiving “the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). I write this way because forgiveness and “pardon and justification are one and the same thing.” (Faith and Works, page 103). We see in 2 Chronicles 7:14 and 1 John 1:9, His forgiveness is conditional. Notice the word “if”. While Jesus did pray, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:24), of those who crucified Him we read that “they made this prayer an impossibility; for they would not be convicted, they would not repent and be converted.” (The Review and Herald, December 28, 1897 par. 16). Let us not be lulled into carnal security by the thought that we are forgiven when, in fact, we have not fulfilled the conditions God has specified. Remember, the sin of which we refuse to repent is the sin which cannot be forgiven (Mat 12:32).

  12. Thank you for your comments. I like that Jesus allowed Judas to be with Him for about 31/2 years. It tells me that even though Jesus knew that Judas would betray with a such an endearing thing as a kiss, He had hoped that Judas would recognize that he needed to change of heart which comes only through really knowing Jesus. Judas walked with Jesus but did not have a relationship with Him. Only with a personal relationship with Jesus can one fully, and completely understand how to forgive.

    May God continue to bless you as you study His word.

  13. God expects us to forvgive even if that other person does not accept our change of heart. This may be painful to know you have stuck your neck out and the other person chops it off. It's just a small glimps into what God receives for us daily, but He does not change. He continually comes back to us with His love.

  14. I believe it is very important that we try and understand this love or put our minds to full consideration of its length and depth because its the only way we can understand the sacrifice it took to liberate us,this will make one realise how much his or her life is worth before indulging in any kind if sin,this happening will cause one to repent whole heartedly.

  15. To me the dynamics of salvation extend all the way back to eternity past and suggests that God not only knew about and planned for the sin problem but uses it as a benefit to His creation. He could have just told all His intelligent creatures what He was like and warned them what would happen if they deviated from the path He mapped out for His creation but it seems that only gives a rather shallow understanding. He did that with Adam and Eve and they apparently failed to comprehend what they were being told. It then appears that only by experiencing that knowledge and seeing firsthand what God does about it can His creation really begin to understand the love of God.

    Here is a wonderful article by Jon Paulien dealing with the concept of reconciliation in Rom 5:8-11. http://revelation-armageddon.com/2013/02/10/reconciliation-in-the-new-testament-romans-58-11.aspx

    • Tyler, I believe Adam and Eve fully comprehended what they were told, but ran directly into "self" when the crafty temptations came, and chose self over God. They could not have been guilty otherwise, and I would expect would have lodged a fair objection to the whole ordeal.

      Jesus did the very opposite when in Gethsemane He chose God's will over His own very powerful will to save Himself from what He knew was just before Him that very day (He sweat blood over it!). This is having the faith of Jesus, which will be the faith of the remnant people of God. (read about this experience in Early Writings, pg 269-271)

      The fact that Adam and Eve were fully informed makes their sin greater and God's grace even more amazing. He will also be found to have been perfectly Just in every dealing with His creation since the beginning. (Rev 15:3)

  16. If God were experimenting with Adam and Eve, then as soon as they sinned, His experiment was concluded, so He could just clear the scene and start another one, maybe till He gets His desired result. But No!!! He became one of us that we might be one like Him.

  17. Let's understand that this provision for sinners was devised BEFORE there were any sinners on earth, or even the earth itself. It was only revealed when needed, and the promise in the garden was as good as the event that would make pardon possible 4,000 years later (Yes, the event made the promise adequate). The grace of God was given in Jesus before the world began, and He was "slain" at the foundation of the world. In other words: "Let there be light" was really "I'll forgive you". The Lord knew what would follow the creation of that light on this world.

    God has proven the ability to see what has yet to be, and saw even our day, today, before the light was made on that first day over 6,000 years ago. "Let there be light" was God forgiving ME.

    No we cannot fathom this and I wonder if trying to is not such a good idea. We are given what we can understand in the facts of Truth (Deut 29:29) and should study these deeply, but in trying to fathom the unfathomable, man can often forward strange theories. At least we should keep the Truth in sharp focus in our exercise of wondering.

  18. Everything God does is perfect but its the sin that creates blemish. His law is perfect but it shows sin when love & mercy are not the main points of reference to us. Humans he made perfect but with free will therefore the choice is ours to love God who made us his children or Satan who wants us to be destroyed with him & the fallen angels.

  19. In our discussion today, I was reminded again of Christ's provision for us while we were yet sinners and certainly before we asked for forgiveness.

    On the cross, He fully paid the penalty of the sins of the world. In some translations, the Lord's prayer says, "and forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors" (Matt 6:12 NKJV). Thus sins are seen as a "debt" owed to the one who has been sinned against.

    In the same way, when we sin against God, we run up a "debt" with God. Christ paid this debt for the whole world, thus wiping it out. Is this not what forgiveness is -- to wipe out a debt so that the debtor no longer has to pay?

    As someone suggested, forgiveness and pardon essentially mean the same thing. Forgiveness or pardon has to be accepted to become effective. US History contains a pertinent illustration in the case of George Wilson who refused a presidential pardon and was subsequently hanged. A Wikipedia article also makes the point that the acceptance of a pardon is an admission of guilt.

    Thus, in order for the forgiveness of our sins to be applicable in our own lives, we must admit we are guilty (confess our sins) and accept the pardon that God offers. This results in a restored relationship.

    In the same manner, we may forgive those who have sinned against us, without their asking to be forgiven, but for the relationship to be restored requires admission of guilt and the acceptance of forgiveness. (The exception are instances in which we are offended by things we should probably learn to take in our stride. See 1 Cor. 13:5)


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