Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's all in the genes

No humorous post today, but something that I have been thinking on for a while, and maybe have finally wrapped my brain around.

I recently saw a segment on television news about a scientist who has isolated part of the human genome sequence that predicts whether a person will be faithful or not. At first this announcement, and ones just like it pointing to genes for homosexuality or to commit violent acts, disturbed me greatly. After all, as a person who believes in the inspiration of scripture, the sinful nature of man, and the grace and mercy of God, I was at a loss as to how to reconcile this genetic explanation for what I believe to be a theological/spiritual condition of the heart.

As I considered this question, my mind wandered over to Romans 5 verses 12 and following. In this passage Paul lays out the sinfulness of man, and how it is passed down from Adam, the first man to sin, to everyone born after him. For years I have heard preachers and teachers explain this passage as a theological explanation of human nature and how the sinful nature is imparted from generation to generation. Consider, however, this passage as an explanation of genetics. Adam sinned, and the result of sin, death, is passed to all men, for all have sinned. The passage of sinful nature from Adam onward, as explained in Romans 5, is not a theological mystery, it is rather a genetic certainty.

It is exciting to read the words in verse 15, “But the gift is not like the trespass.” and verse 16, “Again, the gift of God is not like the result of one mans sin:” The trespass and it’s result is death, and it is handed down to all men. The gift however, came after the trespass, bringing justification and grace. After the trespass came the gift. The trespass or sinful nature is handed down genetically, the gift is not handed down from one person to the next genetically, it is given from Jesus to each one who believes, spiritually.

In fact, Paul uses the term ‘natural man’ to describe a person before receiving Christ as savior, and ‘spiritual man’ to describe a person after receiving Christ as savior. For Paul it was abundantly clear that sinful nature is a natural thing. It occurs genetically, although the understanding of genetics was not as precise as it is now, Paul still used the concept to describe how all became sinners. “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.” vs 18.

What joy and excitement, even though I am a broken and sinful person - right down to my DNA, God gives me victory over that sinful nature, those sinful genes, in the most miraculous of ways, through the gift of righteousness, of new life, through his Son, Jesus Christ.

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