Because Adam sinned, we are born with a sinful nature, we are guilty before God, all our thinking and doing is tainted by sin, we are already under the sentence of death, and we unable to do anything whatsoever to save ourselves. Sin and death is the consequence of Adam’s fall. If we don’t grasp this harsh reality, we cannot possibly appreciate the good news of the gospel, and the grace and mercy bestowed upon us by the second Adam, the Lord Jesus.
Most Americans operate on the sincere but misguided assumption that deep down inside people are basically good. When we compare ourselves to others, we might be able to measure up pretty well. Sure, there are some who we might begrudgingly admit are better people than we are, but still, we usually do pretty well in most of our self-comparison tests made against others.
The problem with assuming that people are basically good is that it completely ignores the fact that ours is a fallen race, under the just condemnation from God, awaiting the well-deserved sentence of death and eternal punishment. The reality is that on judgment day God is not going to compare me to someone else, who is a fallen sinner like I am. Instead, God will measure me against the standard of his law (specifically, the Ten Commandments), which is holy, righteous, and good (Romans 7:12). And when God measures me using the standard of his law, it will become all too clear that like everyone else descended from Adam, I cannot meet God’s standard of absolute and complete obedience to his commandments. I am a sinner. I am guilty before God. I am under the sentence of death.
For most folks, this dilemma immediately raises the question of fairness. Is it fair for God to judge me against a standard I cannot possibly meet? The answer would be “no,” if we were to look at this question in a vacuum without any biblical context. The Bible teaches that Adam was not only the first human (from whom all humans are biologically descended), but that Adam was created holy, without sin, and with the ability to obey God’s commands. Adam was placed in Eden for a time of probation under the covenant of works with its condition, “do this (not eat from the forbidden tree) and live,” or “eat from the tree and die.” Adam chose the latter, bringing down the covenant curse of death upon the entire human race. Many people agree with Ben Franklin’s famous adage that the only two things in life which are inevitable are death and taxes, both of which I might add, stem from human sin. Yet, the fact remains, death is not natural to the human race. Death is the consequence of the fall of Adam.