Tony Elder

Tony Elder

As we began our recent vacation traveling down the road toward our beach destination, my wife and mother-in-law joked about how they were going to have to be careful what they did on this trip so as not to provide any embarrassing material that I might use in my writings. Well, it didn’t take long for such an incident to occur. As we were unpacking our gear at the condo, my mother-in-law dropped a couple of cans of soft drinks as she was attempting to put them in the refrigerator. One of the jostled cans got punctured, spewing carbonated fizz all over the place.

So our vacation began with needing to do a clean-up job. After the floor and nearby cabinets were scrubbed of the sticky residue, we thought we were done. However, later we discovered more of the mess we had overlooked. Over the course of the next day we kept finding several additional spots we had to clean as that spewing liquid had reached walls and moldings far beyond what we had first noticed or imagined.

I wonder how aware Adam and Eve were of the far-reaching consequences when they punctured the purity and beauty of God’s creation with their sin. It didn’t just mess up things for them, although that in itself was monumental. The effects of what they did splashed across all of creation and throughout the expanse of time. The world was corrupted and future generations would be born with a nature tainted by sin. Immortality in these physical bodies was revoked and death became a certainty for all. Suffering, pain, and sickness can all be traced back to that pivotal moment. And worst of all was the separation it caused between the Creator and mankind.

We wake up every day dealing with the residue from what took place in the Garden of Eden. As our bodies ache, as we watch the latest news of crimes and natural disasters, as we attend another funeral, and as we face temptations to sin, we are reminded of the messy fallout. “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men” (Romans 5:12).

Thankfully, that’s not the end of the story. God’s clean-up exceeds the mess. Adam and Eve may have made a huge mess, but the cleansing provided through Christ’s death and resurrection is greater. It reaches just as far as the fallout from sin and beyond. “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20). We see sin and its consequences abounding in our world. However, let’s not forget that God’s grace is even more abundant and powerful. And it’s not just the grace to forgive us of the mess, but it’s also the grace to cleanse us of it. “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

There is no doubt about it, sin has made a big mess of things. However, for those who trust Jesus, there is also no doubt that cleansing and victory has been provided for us. “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). Notice that this isn’t just referring to some future condition. We can reign victoriously over sin right now in this life through Christ. We still encounter sin’s sticky residue, but God’s cleansing grace can overcome it. Are you trusting Him to give you such victory today?

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.