To be saved means to be rescued. De-theologizing that the word salvation for a moment may help us here to answer the question. We need rescue. We are in dire straights and without rescue, we will be lost. What sort of rescue do we need and what does it mean to be lost?
What are we saved from? We could answer “sin.” That would be true. We could also answer, “death,” which would be no less true. We could even answer “Satan,” which again would be true. In this sense, we have multiple and interlocked threats from which we need rescue.
Rescue is a useful word. To be saved means to be rescued. De-theologizing that the word salvation for a moment may help us here to answer the question. We need rescue. We are in dire straights and without rescue, we will be lost. What sort of rescue do we need and what does it mean to be lost?
Scripture provides three interlocking answers: sin, death, and Satan vie against us. Sin brings justice which we know as divine wrath, so that we must pay restitution and so satisfy justice’s demand to avoid it; death kills us, so that we need immortality to avoid it; Satan deceives us, so that we need to conquer the deceiver to overcome his schemes.
Let’s take these one-by-one to see how Scripture outlines these threats, and how Christ rescues us from each.
The three deadly threats, the unholy trinity of sin, death, and satan really cannot be parsed apart. For the sake of explanation, we can talk about them separately however. Human sin begins in the garden of Eden. There, the serpent deceived Eve by telling her to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And on the day that Adan and Eve ate from the tree, they began to die.
This narrative probably underlies Jesus’s statement that: “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Satan lied about the tree, and he murdered Adam and Eve by deception. They lost immortality.
They knew good from evil, but not like God does. God knows good in perfection and that evil is the lack of that goodness. Now, Adam and evil lacked goodness. They knew good from evil by privation not by addition. The serpent deceived the first couple to death.