The Problem

Answer for Students
Unit 08 - Pardoned, Prepared, and Powerful

TEXT: Genesis 3:1-10; Romans 5:12-14

Troubled thoughts churned through Braxton’s mind.

Braxton sighed and slumped a little further into his seat at the back of the Biology classroom. Usually this was one of his favorite classes but today he stared unseeingly at his teacher, Mr. Harvey, who was also a close friend of the family. Besides making the subject interesting, Mr. Harvey seemed to care about the kids, even outside of the Biology classroom. But today, Braxton just couldn’t keep his mind on what was happening.

He felt sick. Troubled thoughts churned and tumbled in his head. Why had he done it? He hadn’t needed that gel pen any more than all the other things he had taken over the past few months. But he had seen it there on the counter. No one was looking, and in a flash that pen was in his pocket.

Of course it wasn’t right—something down inside told him that. And then he hadn’t known what to do with the pen once he had it at home, so he had just left it in his jacket pocket. And that’s what had triggered the blowup this morning.

When Mom found the pen, she knew immediately that he would not have had money to buy it.

The memory of her angry face was still imprinted on his mind. The furious words she had hurled at him as he rushed out of the house, still haunted him: “Do you want to end up serving time too? You’re just like your father!”

Suddenly, from the front of the classroom, Mr. Harvey’s words jolted him back to attention. Like an echo of his thoughts, the teacher was asking his class, “In what ways are you like your dad? What characteristics have you inherited from him?”

Hands shot up around the room. “I’ve got my dad’s cleft chin,” one said. “They tell me I’m built just like my father,” someone else offered. “I like to fish just like my dad does!” volunteered another, amidst a burst of laughter.

“Class time is almost over,” said Mr. Harvey with a grin, “but there’s still time to make an assignment! I want you to read the next chapter in your book, which deals with the subject of genetics. Then make a list of five characteristics you feel you may have inherited from your parents.”

Three o’clock. The bell sounded, and his classmates grabbed their books and headed for the door. Braxton sat for a moment, sighed again, and then reached slowly for his books. He wasn’t anxious to go home and face Mom. And now he had a new thought troubling him. Could he have really inherited a desire to steal?

“Braxton,” Mr. Harvey’s voice interrupted his thoughts. He glanced up to find his teacher standing beside his desk. “You seemed a little out of it today. Did you have a question about our discussion or the assignment?” Braxton hesitated uncertainly, glancing down at his books. “Well-l-l, not exactly . . .” his voice trailed off.

Mr. Harvey waited and then continued, “Is there some other problem—anything I can help you with?”

Suddenly the desire to unload on someone overwhelmed Braxton. “Mr. Harvey,” he said with a tremor in his voice, “you know my dad is in jail for stealing. Could I have inherited the desire to steal?”

Mr. Harvey hesitated, then put his hand on Braxton’s shoulder. “Braxton, you’ve asked a hard question. How about my giving you a lift home, and we’ll talk it over?”

Driving down Fir Street, Mr. Harvey opened the conversation. “Braxton, I think I can help you with your question, but I may not tell you what you expect. To give you an honest answer, I have to put it in the framework of the Bible.

“We read in God’s Word that every person is born with an inclination to do wrong. Adam, the first man, was created by God in God’s own likeness—perfect. But Adam disobeyed. And when he did, sin entered into man. A curse was pronounced upon all generations to follow. Every person who comes into the world is born with sin in his heart.

“That means you, Braxton. And me too. So, yes, you have inherited this tendency to do wrong, but not directly from your natural father.”

Mr. Harvey swung his car into Braxton’s driveway. Braxton sat for a moment, thinking about what he had just heard. If everyone was born with sin in his heart, was there any hope for him? What could be done? At last he reached for the door handle, and said slowly, “Thanks, Mr. Harvey. I’d like to talk it over with you some more, but Mom told me to come straight home tonight.”

“I understand, Braxton. But let’s get together again tomorrow after class. God has a solution to this problem!”

(To be continued in the following lesson.)