It all began in the garden.
16And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
God’s very first command brought death to the human race through the action of the first man Adam:
12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned–
13To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
Adam’s sin became our sin and all his descendents have since shared in the death that resulted. Though mankind committed all kinds of sin, it was not charged to their accounts until God gave the Law to Moses. Death reigned simply because of Adam’s disobedience to God’s first command.
But even before the garden, even before time began God already had a redemption plan:
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
1 Corinthians 2:7-10
7No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived” —
the things God has prepared for those who love him–
10these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
Did you know that even before God created the world He predestined you to become His legally adopted child? And what’s more He predestined you to become perfectly sinless and holy! And today if you have believed in Jesus the Son of God as your Saviour, then that is exactly who you are- a perfectly holy sinless child of your Heavenly Father, blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. You were predestined to share in Jesus’ nature:
29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
God’s plan was that we might be “conformed to the image of His Son”. The word “conformed” in the Greek is summorphos (σύμμορφος) which means similar, conformed to, by sharing the same inner essence–identity (form); showing similar behavior from having the same essential nature (HELPS Word-studies). God always intended that we would have the same essential nature as His Son Jesus so that we could be part of His family and He has even glorified us. We are now His glorious, holy children, just like our elder brother Jesus!
So God knew that Adam’s one sinful act would bring death to the world, but He had always planned that Jesus’ one righteous act would bring life:
18Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
We were condemned by Adam’s disobedience but we are redeemed by Jesus’ obedience.
Just as we were born into Adam’s family and inherited his sin, so we must be born anew into Jesus’ family in order to inherit his righteousness.
Death came through the breaking of a command but life comes through believing a promise.
God made a promise to Abram (whose name He later changed to Abraham) to bless all the people on the earth through him:
Genesis 12:2-3, 7
2“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
7The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring (Seed) I will give this land.
He repeated His promise to Abram again:
1After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.”
2But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
4Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring (seed) be.”
6Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Abraham believed God’s promise and set us on course for the coming of the promised Seed who would bring about righteousness. But because of our tendency to sin, God had to give a perfect and holy law to Abraham’s descendents; He gave this law to the children of Israel (Israel was the name given to Abraham’s grandson Jacob) through the prophet Moses 430 years after He made the promise to Abraham to bless the world through him (Galatians 3:17). The law was intended to act as a guardian until Israel could receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith. Just as children need parental rules and boundaries until they reach maturity so Israel needed the law until maturity came by the revelation of faith through Jesus Christ; no one could ever be born into God’s family or receive righteousness by keeping the law, only through faith in Jesus.
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
No the law was instituted as a temporary measure until Jesus came and provided the means for us to receive His righteousness by faith:
19Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.
21Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
23Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
26So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The apostle Paul explained to the Romans that:
13It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless,
And Jesus Himself had said:
17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law UNTIL everything is accomplished.
But remember Jesus’ death fulfilled the law and accomplished everything:
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished [teleó (τελέω): to bring to an end, complete, fulfill].” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
And Luke wrote this:
16“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.
Jesus came to fulfill the Law and it was proclaimed until John the Baptist. After Jesus fulfilled the Law He rendered it inoperative by His death on the cross and so enabled the Gentiles to also be given access to the Father by the Holy Spirit. Previously only the children of Israel had access to God by the system of sacrifices in the Law but the gentiles had been excluded:
11Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by setting aside [katargeó (καταργέω): to render inoperative, annul, abolish] in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Actually when Jesus died we also figuratively died to the Law through His body; His death released us from the law to serve in the new way of the Spirit and not the old way of the written code:
4So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Jesus’ death and resurrection rendered the Old Covenant obsolete (Hebrews 8:13) and ushered in the New Covenant that God had promised hundreds of years earlier through the prophet Jeremiah. If nothing had been wrong with the first covenant there would have been no need for a new superior one (Hebrews 8:6-7). Jeremiah had said the New Covenant would not be like the Old Covenant (which was written on stone) but God’s laws would now be written on their minds and hearts. The writer of Hebrews quoted Jeremiah 31:
10This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
13By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
So if the Old Covenant laws are now fulfilled by Jesus and therefore that covenant made obsolete, then what are the New Covenant laws that God will put in our minds and write on our hearts?
John said God’s commands are:
1 John 3:23
And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
2 John 1:4-6
4It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. 5And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. 6And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
Remember Jesus said
6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
And Jesus’ commands are:
John 14:1, 10-11
1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.
10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves
John 15:4, 9-12
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me
9As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Beloved, we have been freed from the Law, which could never bring righteousness to serve in the new way of the Spirit. We are born anew into God’s family as children of God, conformed to the image of His Son Jesus; we have inherited His righteous nature by faith and have become perfect and sinless in God’s sight just like Jesus our elder brother. God’s commandments to believe in the name of His Son Jesus and to love one another are now written on our hearts. And His New Covenant commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3) unlike the Old Covenant law, which was a curse (Galatians 3:10-14).
Death began in the garden but life begins at the cross.