Rick O'Connor
The Things Of The Kingdom And The Things Of The Name
The Atonement


The Fall from Innocence – Part 1

Reading:         Psalm 17

Isaiah 45:18 reveals God’s purpose in creation - that man should LIVE - “He formed it to be inhabited”. Death temporarily has changed this. But God’s plan of restoration will overcome this difficulty.

Another passage, Revelation 4:11, says that we were created “for God’s pleasure” - therefore sin and death must be removed that God may rejoice in His creation.

God made man in a condition that he need not have sinned. It must be our endeavour to give God the pleasure that Adam and Eve did not give him.

Genesis 1:26 expresses God’s intent in making man through his angels (the “us” and “our”) - that man should be in God’s image and like-ness; v27 tells us what was actually done.

Image - cp. Genesis 9:1-4 God reserves full control over life – we eat by God’s permission but not a right; v5 life is God’s alone to give and take; v6 the reason - it was never God’s intent that man’s life be lost - therefore God’s work is to restore the way of life that has been lost.

Colossians 3:1-4 contrast with vv5-9, the reason being stated in v10 that in Christ there is a restoration, a renewal - i.e. new conscience, or mind.

Returning to Genesis 1:26 “image and likeness” - man was in every respect created in God’s image and a likeness of that image was real. Cp. Ephesians 4:17-24 image is readily used of mental and moral matters. There is then to be a restoration to what was after the pattern of God.

Adam was a natural creature, “very good” (but not perfect). In the new creation there is a bringing back to what man once was. See Psalm 17:15 - only the pure in heart shall see God; they will be given a mind of righteousness (a mind fitted for righteousness a restoration of God’s likeness).

Consider James 1:12-13 God doesn’t tempt; He neither suffers temptation nor is the cause of it. How is this possible? Only if God did not make man with sinfully inclined lusts; vv14-16 an explanation of what is the experience of man; v17 What did man receive from God? GOOD GIFTS. Qualities that were completely formed without defect. What is light is that which comes from God; it is clear then that man was made without the qualities lustfulness that now characterises mankind. V18 tells us that what God achieves in us is what was intended for Adam.

James 3 contrasts what qualities have come from the earth verses 14-16,with God’s endowments verses 17-18.

The origin of the evil in man is from man; but that which in good is from God.

Passages to Consider:

Ecclesiastes 7:29 “devices” – inventions, word only used twice in the Bible, here and in 2 Chronicles 26:15 engines.

Peter 1:4; Romans 8:3; Genesis 3:1-11 the deceitfulness of sin; Genesis 2:23-25; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:13; 1 Corinthians 11:7-11; Romans 8:20-25; 1 Corinthians 15:49; Hebrews 10:22.

The Fall from Innocence – Part 2

Two great forces are at work in the world: (1) God, and (2) His enemy – human nature. Even when we want to do right there are in us emotions that want to sin.

Ecclesiastes 7:25 Wisdom that finds out matters; v26 moral consequences involved why does she do this? V27 counted out examples one by one; v28 I looked to find people who could resist emotions. He says I found one man, but I didn’t find a woman. A woman is a softer, more emotional person than a man. All women are vulnerable to emotion and most men also are. V29 “this only I found” is better because he is describing an historical fact.

See Genesis 2:7 - 3 statements: (1) formed of ground, (2) breathed into nostrils, and (3) became a loving soul.

“The upright” of Ecclesiastes 7 therefore describes the mental make-up of Adam. A balanced mental and moral condition. They (i.e. Adam firstly and the human race since) have sought out ways that deviate from God. They have become bent because emotion has entered and taken control.

“Inventions” cp. “engines” 2 Chronicles 26:15 – catapults for war; for use against the enemy. Man uses them against God and fellow man. Why have all fallen into this trap? Remember God had no involvement in the spoiling of the human race. How then did it happen? Genesis 3.

The real marvel is not a talking snake - budgerigars.

Intelligence is not so strange. How many people are there? Man was made by God intelligent; therefore if God for a reason made an intelligent animal such as the snake is not so strange.

Genesis 3:1 “subtil” = cunning, observant. People suggest Satan may have used the snake. To know God does not leave room for a malevolent rebel. But additional to this, consider 2 Corinthians 11:3 - the serpent beguiled Eve through its shrewdness, its cunning. He warns of a model of a problem being duplicated. Eve’s simplicity contrasted the serpent’s cunning. The serpent was pitting his intelligence against Eve’s. The snake and Eve had the same set of facts before them. Eve’s interpretation was uncomplicated - what God said was true. The serpent juggled the facts. We don’t know how long their probationary period lasted.

It took a suggestion from outside before there could be any deceit - this could not come from within Adam and Eve. Genesis 3:1 cp. 2:16 - God speaks in generosity, the snake speaks negatively. V2 the woman states the positive - there’s only 1 tree forbidden. She is educating the snake, but unaware of his resources. Vv2-3 the tree at this stage had no appeal to Eve. V4 the serpent scoffs. V5 you’ll be as angels (Gods - Elohim). He has misinterpreted facts as the snake didn’t know how they had gotten immortality. V6 she now saw what she had never looked at before. “Pleasant” = “desire”; 2x in verse desire is used - she has begun to absorb the lie and she now has “awakened desire”. She took it because being deceived she believed she could get away with it. After she had taken the fruit she was alive with desire - this she took to Adam - he was not deceived. See 1 Timothy 2:11-14. Eve believed it would have good consequences; but not deceived, Adam still proceeded. Why?

2 Peter 1:4 Corruption introduced into the world by Adam. Compare Romans 5:12 Adam chose to have his wife rather than God. Emotion does not have same power over men as it does over women (1 Timothy 2:11-14).

Genesis 3:7 The serpent’s lie awakened Eve’s desires that became powerful in her. After transgression desire was aroused in realms not related to original desire. Their desire for each other was not out of control. Emotions in us are not only there but they are out of control. That’s where God’s enemy is - the uncontrolled emotions in us. Cp. Ephesians 4:22 - in us there are desires that deceive us into sinning. An exposition of this is found in Romans 7:8-11. Concupiscence = lust (same word v7). V11 lust deceives us and bring us into sin. Emotional power can rationalise (wrongly) the word of God. Hebrews 3:13 Lusts are called by the name of what they cause - “sin which is deceitful”. Adam and Eve themselves caused the bias that we now have.

Is God the cause of sin? No. Because God made man upright. Did Adam have to follow Eve? No. Genesis 2:21-22 a sign of death for his bride. Adam had to expect to sacrifice himself for his wife. Adam was to go to God and then to die for her and then be raised again. Adam would so have turned away the course of sin from the world, see 1 Corinthians 15:44-45; Romans 5:14 as happened in Christ. When Adam sinned he then spoiled the figure.

The enemy of God is here within us. Romans 8:5-8 mind = to think. But we thank God that through his word he will enlighten us, vv9-11 (see also Romans 7:22-25). The need was then for God to bring a “new man” to conquer sin.

Why did Christ have to Die?

Reading: Romans 8:1-10

If you had a son the last thing on earth you would permit would be his death if it could be helped. Romans 8:31-32; 5:6-8 - God’s motivation was love – John 3:16 He loved us enough to want to save us. The necessity of Christ’s death was the destruction of God’s enemy by Christ dying. None, not even Christ himself, could come to life until the enemy was overcome.

Romans 8:4 - we are both a person, and a person with a body which has inclinations.

Verses 5-6 - the flesh causes people to think fleshly thoughts the emotional basis of sin. The consequences of natural thought processes is death; but if you think the way the Scriptures teach it leads to life.

Verse 7 - we automatically think in a way that is opposed to God. There is no way to make the thinking of the flesh subject to God’s law. Carnal thoughts must be fought. For this reason, although a sinner may turn and repudiate his sins - the flesh, the real culprit, must be destroyed. But here is a dilemma for us, for in killing the flesh the person dies also.

A man possessing our promptings but never yielding to sin and yet dying provides the answer to the dilemma, Romans 8:1-3. How the Truth is believed can free us from the inevitable consequence of sin which brings death. The weakness of the law was in breaking the linkage between sin and death - its weakness was in flesh’s inability to keep it; the emotions in us from time to time overthrow the law and bring sin.

God did it by sending His own son. How did he break the linkage? By being God’s son he was equipped by God to derive from the Bible to conquer sin; the same power, but a wider channel for operation, than exists for us. God sent His son in “a likeness of sin’s flesh” (the flesh in which sin operates). The idea is of sameness; cp. Romans 5:14 - same word in Greek, similitude. Likeness = identicalness.

Jesus lived a lifetime free from sin and yet died a special death that spoke of “a condemnation”. When put in a grave it seemed that the condemnation stuck. It implied to many that he was a sinner. But his resurrection showed that he personally was not condemned but flesh - the real culprit was condemned. When his body was changed from flesh to spirit the emotions which lead to sin were expunged from his being and he was given immortality (Romans 7:5, 18-20) .

God prevented the processes of Jesus’ corruption for the three days in which the enemy of death would not triumph, 1 Corinthians 15:54-55.

Hebrews 2:14 – the children of Adam share human nature in the same war that Jesus did. The devil is “the law of sin and death” of Romans 8:3. The devil has the power of death, cp. Romans 5:12; 6:23. Human nature is the great transgressor and hence must be destroyed; that is, the force having the power of death can only possibly be destroyed by the death of the individual if it is part of the one dying. The devil is destroyed by death in each one of us.

Where does the Mercy of God Come From?

Reading: Psalm 62

Romans 2:1 The sort Of Person God Most dislikes.
Romans 2:2 Judgment based upon what a man does.

People behave like that for 2 reasons:

vv 3-4
(a) Because they feel they can escape the judgment of God (cp. Psalm 62:11-12, a foundation from which Romans 2 is based);
(b) They despise God’s goodness.

v6 cites Psalm 62.

If God renders according to deeds then what place has repentance (v4)? The answer is in Psalm 62:12 (a universal and invariable rule i.e. a principle) - a “cause and effect” relationship. Because God gives according to a man’s deeds - God’s response is related to what we do, i.e. the merciful receives mercy cp. Matthew 6:12 (vv14-15 expound the principle). God’s mercy is an expression of His Justice.

James 2:12-13 mercy boasts against judgment not Justice.

Matthew 18:23-35 illustrates that God’s mercy is of greater proportion than the forgiveness that we are required to show upon others - it is a likeness of deed, not proportion.

Psalm 18:20-26 (froward = perverse)

Zechariah 1:3 Before we turn to God there is the overture of reconciliation - Thus says God (1); our response (2); God’s response (3).

(Romans 5:8-10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 - the reconciliation is not completed until we have responded vv20-21; 1 John 4:7-11 the man who follows God’s example receives from God that which he shows to others - love, mercy).

Proverbs 24:11-12 If you see someone on the way to death and do nothing about it - you will receive in kind. Jude vv21-23; Proverbs 24:17-18 If we don’t give compassion God might show mercy despite us.

Psalm 130:1-3 None would stand v4 forgiveness in order (a Psalm of Hezekiah - a Song of Degrees) that thou mayest be feared (cp. Isaiah 38:1-17 the history from which the Psalm is drawn vv1-5 God changed His purpose in response to Hezekiah’s deeds; v17 the gift showed that God put away his sins because of his way of life). God doesn’t forgive if we don’t, cp. 1 Kings 8:37-40. Romans 2:4 God is good, forebearing and longsuffering; v7 God bears long awaiting a response that He might show mercy. In seeking glory, honour and immortality we are seeking and following God.

Christ’s Death, Our Ransom from Death

What we have seen is that unless God had intervened, as he has our behalf, after man had introduced sin, then our position would have been hopeless - bound to die and return to dust, and extinction. But God loved the world and “gave” Christ as a sacrifice to redeem us from death (John 3:14-16).

The reason we are bound to die is that we are mortal by inheritance from Adam and, as well, we also sin (Romans 5:12; 6:23), so God Himself sentences us to death.

The great marvel of God’s purpose to save us is that He has solved the dilemma our sins pose:

How can the Holy God, who Himself condemned us to death because of our sins, save us from death without condoning our sins, which He who is “of purer eyes than to behold iniquity” cannot do?

There are three possible alternatives, two of which the Bible makes plain are utterly unacceptable to God.

The first would require God to waive the sentence, and simply condone sins. He will not do this. To do so would be to abdicate from all authority over mankind and forfeit all honour and respect. He certainly did not choose this.

Secondly, a substitute could have been sought, who would die instead of sinners. This would require a man who was righteous, offering to die instead of those rightly guilty and would require God to accept the substitution.

This contemptible expedient would present God in the light, of a vindictive enemy only, concerned with retribution, whose wrath must be placated by blood, with no concern for whose blood; because there is no justice in the death of the righteous so the guilty can go scot-free.

Our God is just and has Himself sought our salvation because of His love for the world - so substitution is impossible. He did not choose this alternative.

God chose to save us by means of a representative sacrifice. Jesus Christ was crucified and died on our behalf (not instead of us) to bring about forgiveness of our sins.

This is the only alternative in which God could Himself remain righteous, while saving us by making us righteous. (Romans 3:26)

A Representative Sacrifice

God is a Great King over all His universe. Having decreed that men who sin must die, He will not lift that sentence. We who disobey are guilty and will die – but in His goodness God has established the means of rescuing us from death, the results of that sentence.        

His chosen means is Christ Jesus, who died as a sacrificial representative of mankind to save all who believe in Him.

So that Jesus can be a fitting representative of us whom he came to save, he was born of our nature. He is the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5), who shared our nature in all respects – Hebrews 2:14:

“Forasmuch as (we) the children are partakers of the flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same...”

He experienced all the temptations to sin which our nature generates (yet he conquered them all and was sinless - Hebrews 4:15)

It is these facts that made Jesus the fit person he is to be both our representative and the sacrifice to save us.

The Source of Sin Condemned

Because he was a sinless man it was not Jesus, but sin, that was condemned when he died. (Romans 8:3) In the lusts to sin which he by nature experienced he was identical to us. These are the source of sin (Romans 7:5,8,11,13) and were condemned and put to death in his death.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is therefore a representative to us of what God’s sentence is on sins, so we should see in him what is due to us because of our sins. God’s means of saving us centres round this recognition.

Since we who believe the gospel of Christ are baptised into Christ to acknowledge and confess to God our sins and accept God’s sentence on us because of them, God forgives us those sins.

It is because we accept the justice of God’s condemnation on our disobedience, as He has expressed it in Christ’s death, that He is prepared to forgive the offences and reckon us to be righteous - without sin. (Romans 5:15-19)

In fact, on account of our faith and acceptance of His sentence, God reckons us to have died with Christ, so that the just punishment of our sins has been discharged. (Romans 6:1-7)

Consequently He counts us to be entitled to rise with Christ from death. (Romans 6:4-5) So Jesus represents us in his death and in his resurrection. Therefore, should we die before Christ returns (and have believed the Gospel), he will resurrect us from death at his coming. (John 11:25)

The Bible always exhibits Christ’s sacrifice of himself as representative of those he saves. (Colossians 1:19-22; 1 Peter 2:21-25)

Only by dying with Christ, as we do in baptism, can we be forgiven our sins, and be rescued from death:

“Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38)

There is no other way that God accepts:

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

A New Way of Life

Christ loved us and gave his life for us. In baptism into his death we acknowledge that the way of sacrifice is the only way to life.

The rest of our life until we die or he comes, as he soon will, is to be a daily expression of that principle. We should put to death each day all the evil propensities of our bodies (Colossians 3:1-5).

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” (Matthew 16:24-27)

Saving Sinners: The Solution from the Holy God

Since God is righteous and loves righteousness, Psalm 11:7, His chosen means of salvation is in keeping with this –

Humanly speaking, there are 3 possibilities:

  1. To waive the sentence of death for sin – IMPOSSIBLE! Since by this God would abdicate all authority.
  2. To substitute an innocent victim and allow the guilty sinner to go free – IMPOSSIBLE! Since by this God would become both unrighteous and vindictive.
  3. To provide a sinless man who offers himself as a representative sacrifice – GOD’S CHOICE! Since by this God remains righteous, His sentence is upheld, while He forgives repentant sinners.

A Representative Sacrifice

A Representative Sacrifice in whom we die and revive

The Qualification for the Representative

Of the nature of sinners - Hebrews 2:14

Tempted like sinners - Hebrews 4:15

Yet without sin, so in his death sin itself was condemned and cancelled - Romans 8:1-4

A focus for us to identify with and acknowledge God’s sentence just - Romans 6:1-7

Resurrected, and rescued from death, so we can be rescued with him - Romans 6:5

And so, God is righteous while forgiving sinners - Romans 3:23-26

Why Temptation?

Because it is part of a process of trial to test our faith -

1. A law from God, defining and prohibiting sin Romans 7:7-11
2. A prompting and inducement to disobey - Genesis 3:4-6; James 1:14

The Source of Temptation

The First Temptation and its Results:

Lust of the Flesh the Source of Sin

Lusts, being now the deceiving and tempting agency, they perform the part taken at the first by the serpent; so lusts may be called “the serpent in the flesh” cf. Ephesians 4:22

Figuratively, therefore, God calls sinners by the name of serpents - Matthew 23:33 and uses serpent as symbol of human nature, Numbers 21:4-9, and in particular, as symbol of human nature borne by his own sinless son - John 3:14-15.

This is to emphasise that flesh is so ineradicably sinful that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom” - 1 Corinthians 15:50

Why was Sin Condemned in the Flesh

A governing and indispensable element in God’s scheme of atonement is that God “might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” - Romans 3:26.

God’s righteousness in the atonement could only be established by founding atonement on condemning sin.

However, condemning sin does not justify the sinner, but rather condemns him also, and necessitates that he must die.

There remains then this problem, that:


And this intractable conflict remains for every sin and every sinner. In fact, this conflict holds true in every circumstance, except one. There is one possible circumstance in which:


It is: Where SIN is condemned in THE FLESH.

Sin can be condemned in the flesh only in unique and special circumstances:

  1. In the case of a righteous man – because in this case only will the condemnation fall on sin, NOT on the man.
  2. By the death of the righteous man – because in this case only can sin actually be condemned IN flesh.
  3. And by the resurrection of the righteous man – because only by the revival of the righteous man could it be demonstrated that his death was not a condemnation of him, but of sin - Romans 1:4; 3:25.

What is Sin in the Flesh?

Being by definition lawlessness (1 John 3:4) unrighteousness (1 John 5:17) and failure to attain the glory of God’s character (Romans 3:23). SIN is necessarily an abstract term, an intangible.

Consequently SIN cannot have an independent, continuous existence anywhere, whether in the flesh or elsewhere -

This means that when the Bible uses the expression SIN IN THE FLESH it is using a figure of speech.

Since SIN is the product of:

Therefore God has branded those passions and lusts with the name of their evil product, so Scripture calls these “SIN” - Romans 7:8, 9, 11, 13, 17, 20, 23; 8:2, 3.

How was Sin Condemned in the Flesh

Romans 8:1-4 presents the most crucial statement in the Bible of how and why Christ’s atoning sacrifice brings forgiveness for us who are guilty of sins:

It’s main substance is contained in the contrast between v1 and 3

There are two great protagonists, whose work and results are contrasted:

The law was imposed in order to condemn transgressions (Galatians 3:19; Romans 4:15); and this it did with great efficiency - condemning sin in sinners - Romans 3:19-20. In this it was IRRESISTIBLY STRONG!

Since the law was given for the purpose of condemning sin, how is it that it could not condemn sin IN THE FLESH? (8:3)

What was needed was a man specially equipped to be a channel of strength from God (8:3) who would blot out the law with its entrenched antagonism to us – Colossians 2:14.

God provided His only begotten son, equipping him by means of his paternity to be THE CHANNEL OF STRENGTH FROM GOD required.


Jesus Christ – Unique Channel of Divine Strength

In both the manner and effect of his begettal, Christ was unique - by it he was made the channel of Divine strength sufficient for the total conquest of sin.

Romans 1:4
Son of God in power as to spirit of holiness
Romans 8:3
What the law was powerless to do, God did, sending His own son to condemn sin in the flesh
Psalm 80:15, 17
Visit this VINE... THE BRANCH Thou madest strong for Thyself the man of Thy right hand... the son of man whom Thou madest strong for Thyself. THE VINE is by nature fit for no work - Ezekiel 15:2-5 I am the vine - John 15:1, 5 I can of mine own self do nothing John 5:19, 30
2 Corinthians 13:4
Jesus was crucified out of, by reason of, weakness; but lives out of, by reason of, power of God. God’s power was the reason he attained life, whereas human weakness was the reason he was crucified.

To Fill up the Sufferings of Christ

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