Much of the first half of the book of Romans is concerned with this
notion of what God's forgiveness ought to lead to in our lives.
Having established that where our sin abounds, God's grace abounds all
the more, Paul asks a logical question: shall we then sin more, so
that God's grace can be all the greater applied to our lives?
May it never be, says Paul. For God's forgiveness is not freedom to
sin, but freedom from sin. We are to avoid sin not because it's the
best thing for us but God wants to keep us from it, but because it's
the worst thing for us and God wants to keep us from it.
As Christian author John Piper once said, we don't sin out of any
other reason than self-interest; sin, in the moment, offers some
promise of satisfaction, of gain, of pleasure. If we were to spend
any amount of time in God's presence, we would see clearly that that
promise of sin is vastly inferior and mostly deceptive, in comparison
with the great riches of living as God would have us live.
And yet we in fact spend so little time basking in the richness of
life in God and with God that we do indeed choose sin over obedience
time and again, doubting God's goodness and casting our lot instead
with the world's offering, alluring as they are. In short, we are
guilty of Adam's sin.
Adam and Eve, after all, broke the one rule God gave them in the
garden. They were tempted by the devil to eat the fruit because they
believed God was withholding something good from them. They believed
the promise of sin more than the promise of God. And to this day,
that spirit continues to plague us and nudge us to make poor choices
and cause us to stray from the life God would have us to live.
Remember, too, that the experience of Adam and Eve in relation to God
was that God would meet with them face to face -- this, after all, was
before the fall. And yet, their experience with God was also that He
would come and go; note, for example, that after they have sinned, God
steps back on stage and is looking for them and they are hiding from
them. In other words, even before the fall, there were times that
Adam and Eve didn't see God nearby, and yet they still had to trust
that His commandments were for their good.
How much harder it is, sometimes, for us to live out that trust, on
this side of the fall. There are many days that God seems far from
us, and it is easy then to think that the world's offering, maybe just
this once, can be trusted more than God's promises. Though we are
plagued by Adam's sin, and though God may seem to exit the stage more
often now than before, still we are to live in the truth that His
commandments over us are for our good, still we are to live in the
belief that what the world has to offer us is inferior to all that
awaits us in our life with God.