Family Traits

by | May 18, 2018 | Friday Messages

In Adam’s fall, sinned we all.

— New England Primer

I have fatherly joy (although sometimes tinged with sadness) when I see my children display physical and personality traits that remind me of myself and other members of their family. I’ll catch a glimpse of my mother in Willow’s face, and Aiden will have some mannerism or facial expression that reminds me of his Uncle Andrew or my Dad. Both of my boys have rather large foreheads that are perfect little replicas of mine. Like most parents, Claire and I are quick to point out to each other when one of our kids does something that makes it clear that they have our DNA.

A few weeks ago, I was reading in the living room when the shrill sound of one of those bird-shaped water whistles erupted from a nearby room. I soon realized it was Judah (then 3 years old), and while it was annoying and interrupted my reading, I let him continue on for a few minutes before I told him to stop. He obeyed—at first. Minutes later, I heard the ever-so-soft sound of the bird-whistle being blown upstairs. It was pathetically quiet, but also very clear, and blatantly disobedient. I decided to give him a chance to come clean, and I called up to him to ask what he was doing.

“Nothing,” he said. My heart sank as he added lying to his disobedience.

“Judah,” I asked, “Have you been blowing your whistle?”

“No,” came the reply in the transparently deceptive tone unique to 3 year olds. I told him to come downstairs, which he did very slowly.

He came up to me and I repeated the question, hoping he would confess on his own. I saw the struggle in his eyes as he battled his sin nature, and he assumed a curious tone which I have never heard from him before as he maintained his innocence. After he had pled his weak case for a while, I looked at him at simply said, “Judah” in a disappointed voice. He immediately burst into tears and buried his head in my lap. Through his sobs, he said what we could all say when we battle with sin, “It—is—so—HARD!”

As I observed this behavior in Judah, I realized that I could see a family resemblance, not just with me, but with Judah’s earliest forebear in the garden of Eden. “… by one man sin entered the world” (Romans 5:12). Adam, I thought, your sin continues to trickle down to yet another poor soul. Thanks a lot; he gets that from you. Judah was simply showing the same family trait that everyone in humanity has shown since the fall of man. Original sin is alive and well.

Oh how wonderful it is that I don’t have to just witness this “family trait” of sin and quietly lament. I have the joy of proclaiming the gospel to my children, telling them about the first and failed Adam who brought death into the world, but also about Jesus, the last and “life-giving” Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). I can tell them that it IS hard to fight sin—so hard, in fact, that it is impossible. The good news is that someone else came and lived the perfect, sinless life that Adam did not. Jesus never disobeyed or lied, not as a child, not as an adult. He never sinned. That is what was required in order to satisfy the penalty of death: a perfect life. Then he died in our place to make the full atonement for our sin, to give us HIS righteousness that God sees when he looks at us—and to make us part of the family God: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ …”

This means that the redeemed start to show new family traits. We start to see evidences that just as we are related to the first Adam, now we are directly related to Jesus. We see his work in our sanctification—in the fact sin can be conquered in our lives, and the fact the the Holy Spirit brings us to repentance, and the subsequent fruit that follows. This makes me look to Jesus and joyfully say, I get that from you. Let that knowledge bring us peace, and may we have grace as we celebrate the Sabbath this week.

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