The Very First Sin was not Eating an Apple
If you know anything about the Bible it is probably that Adam and Eve ate an apple, made God mad, and ruined everything. At least that is the story I remember being told as a kid. It was the act of disobedience - to eat what was specifically forbidden - that doomed all of mankind. And why not? It makes a good story to tell your kids as an archetype to teach all kids to obey their parents...At least that is the story I remember being told as a kid. The very first sin, the preeminent sin was eating a forbidden fruit. Or so I thought.
Many years, many teachers, and many hours spent reading and studying have brought be a slightly different conclusion. There is no denying that willfully disobeying God is an act of sin. Moses, the great Israelite patriarch, wasn't allowed to enter the Promised Land because he disobeyed God. Lets not brush over the harsh consequences of our sinful actions as if they mean nothing. Indeed all of our sinful actions are dreadful, both to us and toward God. Adultery, gluttony, pride, authoritative abuse, free sexuality, and a host of others are accompanied by eternal-future and present-temporary consequences. The root of sin is not planted in our actions, but in our motives. WHY do we do what we do. Sin did not enter the world because of a bite. It entered the world because of the belief in a lie.
You're Not Good Enough
The above verse is crucial to understanding the lie that Eve believed. At the end of the creation account, God had deemed everything that was done as "good." Everything was made as it was intended to be made. It was all good! The land and animals were good. The sea and sky were good. Everything in the universe was good - as it was intended to be. And in the beginning, the people and all of Creation live under the premise that all was good.
It wasn't until a fallen member of the choir decided to spin the truth, dish some dirt, introduced to the preeminent plague of the human condition: insecurity.
Take note of the phrase, when the woman saw that the tree was to be desired to make one wise. In this one phrase it unveils the root of all sin. What we have, and more importantly, who we are are no longer good enough. We must now find a way, under our own power and provision, to make ourselves better than God intended - better than what God had declared good. The first sin was not eating the apple, that was merely the reaction that revealed the condition of the heart. The first sin was believing that we were not good enough as we were made.
The Reality of Our Actions reveals the Reality of our Beliefs.
Your actions will always be based on your worldview. How you believe is how you will ultimately act. It was the belief that Eve was no longer adequate that caused her to turn to another alternative sustenance, purpose, destiny, or fate. But the real harsh truth is that Eve believed that she could find a higher status, a new personal peace, a grander affluence by means of her own power and choices.
By Eve's belief in the deception we have been sentenced to the constant realization that we are not going to be good enough. That which was deemed good can never be good again as long the attempt to be good is made by people who ultimately are not good.
Not much has changed. 99% of all marketing campaigns zero on the perceived inadequacy that we believe about ourselves. If you would lose 5 pounds, run a marathon, eat at Carl's Jr., buy a Mac, drive a Lexus... then it you will be enough and you will be enough because it was you who obtained it all.
It is not our inadequacy that is misguided. Because of sin, we have all been weighed in the balance and been found lacking. But our core worldview states that we are able to reach the next highest plane through our own strength. This alone should prove to us the concept of original sin. The first people fell for it and we fall for it.
Both Christian and non-Christian are infected to the core of their souls with this lie. I am and you are. But is this our fait accompli? No it is not.
A short theology of substitutional atonement is this: through our own strength, we are not enough. Through Jesus, in the eyes of God, we are. Our sinful actions are the direct consequence of our sin filled souls. We can do no thing to repair our relationship with God. We are completely incapable - though that does not stop us from trying (hello, legalism). But, the love of God is this, that Jesus, through the power that only God has, stepped in and became enough in our inadequacy.
We are no longer sentenced to believe the deception. We can confess the truth of inadequacy, admit our need for help, and receive rescue from the curse through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That is ultimately good.