Troublesome Topic: The Curse

Lesson 3 of 10

Throughout the Bible death is the curse of sin. The curse in Scripture is usually singular in form, and that singular curse is death. Yes, the fall of man into sin did bring on some consequences besides death, such as disease, violence, pain and suffering, but the primary consequence was death. We cannot ignore or forget for one moment the importance of death in the framework of biblical theology. Sin and its consequence have continued to shape our existence.

Why does God allow us to go through suffering?

Some would say that making us all suffer death due to Adam and Eve’s sin is terribly unfair of God since we were not in the garden and did not eat the forbidden fruit. But God has chosen to leave the effects of sin in place in order to force us to think about sin and its consequences and also because without hardship we would never seek God. If life were easy and always happy, we would not sense our need for God and we would never turn to Him. It is indeed a risk that God takes because a certain percentage of the population will become angry at Him and not turn to Him at all. But the risk would be greater, and the responses to Him much fewer, if He removed the consequence of sin and allowed life to be easy.

You may remember Tony Dungy, the former head coach of the Buccaneers and of the Indianapolis colts when they won the Superbowl in 2007. In 2007 or 2008 I heard a broadcast of a speech given by Coach Dungy in which he spoke about his son who had Congenital Insensitivity to Pain (CIP); that means he could not feel pain – at all. His nervous system worked fine in other ways, for instance, he could pick up delicate objects without breaking them, and he could train his muscles to do all the tasks he wanted them to do, which requires feedback through the nervous system. But for some reason, for people with CIP, the message of pain never gets through, or it does not get interpreted correctly by the brain.

At first that sounds like it would be great – no pain? How many of us long to be rid of pain permanently? But it would not be a blessing as we suppose.

Tony said that his wife had to be very alert when she was baking cookies in her oven because their son liked to run into the kitchen, open the oven door, grab a handful of partially baked cookies, and shove them in his mouth as he ran out of the kitchen, his mom’s shouts following close behind him. He would burn his tongue and his mouth by doing so, but he didn’t care. He would also bang into things and bruise himself or even cut his lip open and then he would be bleeding all over himself and the floor and he didn’t care about that either. His tissues suffered damage, but he did not care because he could not feel pain. Coach Dungy concluded that pain has been given to us as a warning that something is wrong. Without pain we would continue doing things that damage us on the outside or on the inside. Without the pain of guilt we would probably never seek God.

Here’s important perspective about the curse. Once again, I go back to the large number of people who think it is wrong of God to apply the consequences of Adam’s sin to all his descendants. However, that thought process ignores the fact that what God promised and what Jesus accomplished have also become reality for all Adam’s descendants; it was not a temporary effect. If the curse were only temporary, God’s remedy to the problem would also be a temporary solution. While Adam’s curse holds sway over all generations, God’s salvation is offered to all generations as well. So we see that the curse and the blessing have the same degree of permanence.

In that light, observe what Paul wrote in Romans chapter 5 verses 17, 18 and 19.

Romans 5:17


For if by the sin

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of one, death reigned through the one, how much more will those receiving the overflowing abundance

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of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign

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in life through the one, Jesus Christ?


For, if by means of the sin of one man (Adam) death took control of our lives through this one man’s action, how much more will those who are receiving the overflow of [God’s] grace and the overflow of the gift of being considered righteous, reign in complete freedom from condemnation and its consequence of death, through that other man, Jesus Christ?

Romans 5:18


Therefore, then,

just as by one sin condemnation [is]

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unto all men, so also by one righteous act, justification of life [is]

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unto all men.


It follows directly from the above that, just as condemnation and punishment came to all men because of one sin,

so likewise the spiritual wrongdoings of all our lives are made right by means of one righteous act.

Romans 5:19


For just as through the disobedience of the one man, the many

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were designated

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as sinners, so likewise, through the obedience of the one, the many will be designated as righteous.


For in the same way that

all who were sinners were designated as sinners

through the disobedience

of that one man [Adam],

all who were considered righteous

were designated as righteous

through the obedience of the one [Jesus].

Don’t ignore the curse. Understanding the curse which all humans are born under is key to understanding our spiritual need and the biblical teaching on salvation.

Our society has largely ignored the curse of death. Here’s an example. If you peal back the layers of thought that support evolution, you will hear questions like, “If God is good, why is there so much suffering, violence, and death? Why is my life so hard?” The answer is sin and its curse. Thus the creation/evolution debate is not about science, it is about  theology. But no one wants to think about or talk about sin or about the curse of death.

Let us never grow silent about the reality and importance of the curse. Also let us never forget that God has one singular purpose for mankind and that is to restore us to healthy communion with Him. The results of Adam’s sin are powerful, but God’s remedy is more powerful.

The next lesson in all three series on Covenants is The Biblical View of Death



“sin” means “a deviation, a misstep, an offence, a fall, a failure, or a sin.”  The word is constructed using the preposition  meaning “beside,” or in this case “from beside,” which shows movement away from a previous position of closeness, and adding on the verb which means “to fall.” We end up with “to fall away from.”  This is not the primary word for “sin” in the New Testament; the nuances are different, but this one has the same force as the other one.


“overflowing abundance” comes from the joining of a preposition and a noun. The preposition peri, from which we get words like peripheral, perimeter, etc. means “around, all around,” is added to the noun meaning “abundance.” So it means “all around abundance,” or “encircled by abundance.” It can also be translated as “overflowing abundance, or extreme surplus.”  Here it used in an attempt to describe grace, obviously God’s grace, and also to describe the gift of justification that has been given to us, whereby we are considered righteous.


This is a contrast between the reign of death and the reign of life. Death previously ruled over us because of Adam’s sin, but we will rule because of Jesus’s sacrifice, and it will be characterized by life, meaning a total freedom from guilt and condemnation. It is debated whether this refers only to heaven, where we will somehow reign under God’s ultimate authority, or if it can also, at least partially, refer to aspects of our life on earth where we are expected to exercise God’s authority over sin and evil in our lives and our homes, and to a lesser degree, our communities. The main point here is the contrast between death and life. Adam sinned and it brought guilt and death; Jesus gave His life as a perfect sacrifice on our behalf, bringing us forgiveness, reconciliation with God, and freedom from guilt. This together spells meaningful life in contrast to just surviving. How and when we will reign is not explained here, for it is not the purpose of the passage.


The verb is not included in the Greek and must be assumed. The most natural thing to add is the verb of being “is,” but in English it is more clear to add something like “came” as seen in the paraphrase.


Once again the verb is omitted in the Greek.


The Greek does not say “all” as in the previous verse, but rather “the many.” While all of us start out with a sinful nature, only those who believe and obey are considered righteous. The use of “the many” in the first half of the comparison and again “the many” in the second half, allows for accuracy regarding how many believe and are considered righteous, while continuing to make the point that the reconciliatory work of Christ is efficacious to undo all the harmful work of Adam.


“designated” is associated with the administration of decisions made by someone with authority. Literally it means “to put down, or to place.” It can refer to an authority figure placing an underling in a position or role, or to the authority figure proclaiming, declaring, or designating someone to be something. “Constitute” is another way to put it. Hence, according to this verse, because of Adam’s disobedience to God’s restriction about the fruit, mankind was designated as, or considered sinful by God (and His opinion is the only one that counts). Later, based on what Jesus did for us, many (i.e. all those who believe and obey) are designated or considered to be righteous by God (and only His opinion matters). We are truly sinners because we continue to do things that offend God; however, we are not truly righteous, but God considers us righteous based on the atoning work of His son Jesus.