We are born slaves to sin without knowing it because we are descendant from the first Adam. This is our common humanity.
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned– for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” (Rom 5:12-14 NASB)
Adam ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because he believed that he would be like God, knowing good and evil. He believed that through his knowing of good and evil he would be free to be all that he could be. Being descendant from this first Adam we are born with this same false sense of independence, proceeding through life as if we were free beings mapping out our own destiny. “You will be like God”, the “god” of your own life, is the ongoing temptation and promise of the tempter. But the reality is that the temptation never lives up to the promise of freedom. The truth is that we can be nothing more than good or evil expressions of our slavery to sin until someone outside of ourselves sets us free. Paul saw this when the Spirit applied the Jewish law of coveting to him. He describes this in Romans 7:
“What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.” (Rom 7:7-11 NASB)
He then acknowledges his slavery:
“For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.” (Rom 7:14 NASB)
And then he acknowledges the only One who can set him free:
“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom 7:24-25a NASB)
By way of the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ we have been forgiven of our sins but much more than that, “He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:13-14 NASB). We are new creations, members of the new creation IN Christ. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2Co 5:17 NASB). We no longer live by deciding what is right or wrong as the world does. We live by faith in the One “who gave Himself for us, so He could give Himself to us, so He could live His life through us” (Bob George). In this way we participate in God’s eternal purpose!
We are part of a new humanity and the adventure is to discover who we really are now and to let that discovery increasingly become our self-image and the image we reflect to an egocentric world in need of Christ.
The bible indicates that we come to live in that freedom by being transformed, like a caterpillar to a butterfly):
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be “transformed” by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:2 NASB)
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being “transformed” into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2Co 3:18 NASB)
It is interesting that both of these verses are, in effect, saying the same thing, that the renewing of our minds comes about by a revelation of the glory of the Lord. We will let Paul close with:
“For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Eph 1:15-21 NASB)