Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” – Genesis 2:7-9, 15-17

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden… 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. – Genesis 3:1-8,22-24

The earth lies defiled
    under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed the laws,
    violated the statutes,
    broken the everlasting covenant. – Isaiah 24:5

But like Adam they transgressed the covenant;
    there they dealt faithlessly with me. – Hosea 6:7

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. – 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

The first covenant made after creation was that between God and Adam. It was a covenant based on Adam’s perfect personal obedience and the promise was eternal life. There was a condition, don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The consquence of disobedience was death. We all know how that turned out.

The thing most of us miss, and I did for many years, is that Adam could have obeyed and could have inherited eternal life based on his obedience. He was created in the image of God in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24).Thus, this is a covenant of works. Obey and live. Disobey and die. This has, of course, affected all of us since Adam acted as our federal head. His decision was our decision. His consequence is our consequence. He died. We all die.  All of creation has been damaged as a result of Adam’s having broken this everlasting covenant (Isaiah 24:5).

I just thought of something. Adam might not be too popular in heaven. Never thought about that before.

The really good news for us, however, follows the pattern of Adam found in the second or last Adam also known as Christ. As in Adam, all die, in Christ shall many be made alive. Here is what is really cool. Just as we inherited the negative consequences of Adam’s disobedience simply because we are his descendants, also referred to as being “in Adam,” regardless of our own conduct. So, if we be found “in Christ,” we gain the consequences of his perfect personal obedience regardless of our conduct. The issue is his obedience and our being “in Christ.” You see, this covenant of works that was made with Adam didn’t end when Adam fell and was ousted from the garden. It continues on through today. Christ fulfilled this covenant of works in his life for us.

Every time we find ourselves attempting to gain approval from God through our obedience, we are putting ourselves back under this covenant of works. Guess what? We fail everytime. Part of the point is to show us we must have Christ, we must have the gospel. Salvation is all of grace having nothing to do with our obedience to God’s law because we can’t obey it perfectly, period!

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! – Romans 7:24-25

Related Posts:

Covenant: The architecture of Scripture

The mother of all covenants



If you would like to do more indepth reading on the concept of covenant in Scripture, I recommend this book, Sacred Bond. Click on the book and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase a copy.