Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned – (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed where there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those that had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who is to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
Father, thank You for Your great word, and I pray now, Lord, that You would help me to speak it clearly; that You’d help me to worship You through the delivering of Your word, that we’d worship together through Your word. And God, that You would help us to see, in this passage of scripture, what is the height and the depth and the width of Your great grace and Your love towards us, God. Thank You, Jesus, thank You that You have made the way open where we who were dead in trespasses and sins could be made alive. Jesus, thank You that when we were yet without strength, in due time You came, and You died for us, demonstrating God, Your great love towards us, even when we were Your enemies. So Lord, give us grace now, to have an open heart, an open mind, open ears to receive from Your word, by Your Spirit, what You want to speak to us. We ask this in Jesus’ name, and all God’s people agreed, saying, “Amen.”
You can be seated.
As we have seen over the last few months, the book of Romans is a powerful book. Some have referred to this great letter as the gospel according to Paul, and I’m sure that if you’ve been studying through it with us, you can understand, a little bit, why that is. In the section that we covered in our study together last time, we considered three reasons that we have to rejoice, as a result of the work that Jesus has done for us. That word, rejoice, is seen three times in the text in verses 1 through 11 of Romans, chapter 5. The first time in verse 2, where we’re told, “we rejoice in hope.” And then again in verse 3, the one that maybe is a little hard to swallow, “we rejoice in tribulation” – tribulation, difficulty, trials, distress. Then thirdly, verse 11, “we rejoice in God.” And so we have a reason to rejoice, because of the great things that God has done for us in Jesus. Jesus has made it possible for fallen sinners, like us, for fallen sinners who were once at odds with God, as His enemies, for us to rejoice in hope of glory; to rejoice in hope, expectation, of being glorified in His presence one day. So we rejoice in that, looking forward to that.
But this message of hope that we have in the finished work of Jesus Christ, it flies in the face of all human religion. It goes contrary to all human religion. For religion, which is based upon the efforts of man, of humanity, is always focused upon what we can do to make ourselves right; what we can do to have a right standing with God. Men have always believed that if they’re going to right with “the Man upstairs,” as some people flippantly call God, if they’re going to be right with “the Man upstairs,” then they’re going to have to do so by some ritual. They’re going to have to do so by some good work, or a religious observance, or some achievement that they are able to enact, that they are able to bring to the table, if you will. At the very least, man believes that “there has to be some sort of personal sacrifice that I give so that God is accepting of me.” But, here in the second half of Romans, chapter 5, we’re confronted with one of the wonderful realities, one of the glorious realities of the salvation that we have in Christ. And that is that one Man, by one work, at one time, makes the way unto salvation open to all that believe. That’s one of the wonderful things about the good news that’s called gospel; that one Man, at one time, by one work, makes the way open unto salvation to everyone that believes.
Now, again, the scheme of human religion has always been that, “If I am going to be right with God, it must be by something that I have done. It must be by some good work, or maybe because of some list of things that I don’t do.” So you meet someone who, they are religious, now in 21st Century American culture, Western culture, it’s not hip to be religious, so people have filled in for the word “religious,” now they use the word “spiritual,” spiritual. Now it’s interesting, if you look at the history of the last, say, 120, 150 years, there was a period of time in American culture, especially in the middle of the 20th Century, where we thought that we had figured everything out scientifically, and so we’d come to a point where “we just don’t need religion.” There were a lot of people, hip people, saying, “We don’t need religion, we’ve got science, science is going to answer all the big questions, science is going to finally answer all the difficult things that we are confronted with.” But the reality is, in the culture in which we now live, in what we call a Postmodern era, because the Modern era was all about saying, “Hey, we going to figure it out with science.” Now, in this Postmodern era, we come to a point where people recognize that science has not answered all the big questions of humanity and life. So there’s a recognition that although science and technology are good, they do not fundamentally answer the difficult philosophical questions of life. And since religion is not in vogue anymore, it’s not hip, now we’re spiritual.
And so you’ll interact with people, and they’ll say, “Well, you know, I don’t know if I believe in God, and I’m not really religious, but I’m very spiritual.” And their spirituality may just be to the level of taking a yoga class, because that’s what some people account as “very spiritual” today, contorting your body into ways that is not natural. At least that’s my opinion; you may totally into it. God bless you, if He can, in that. I don’t know. But there are many spiritual people. Oprah Winfrey is one, and she has a whole following of people that think that they’re quite spiritual with her. And so, many spiritual people, and spiritual people tend to think that they’re not only spiritual people, but they’re good people, they’re good people. And they follow some sort of ethic; maybe it’s something they themselves have contrived and put together, or maybe they read it in some book; but it’s some sort of philosophy that they follow to try and be a good person. And their good person is based upon either, number 1 – their abstinence, their abstention from something, they’re not doing something; or their adherence to something. So it’s either an abstinence or an adherence; they don’t do this, and they do this, and so based on that, they’re a good person.
But Paul has masterfully shown, in the opening chapters of the book of Romans, that our abstinence, our adherence will never make us right with a holy God. Look back again with me, at verse 6 of Romans, chapter 5, where we were last week, because we read this, at the crux of that, that you’re never going to make yourself righteous by your own works, we read, “For when we were still without strength, in due time,” “at just the right time,” the New Living Translation says, “at just the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” I don’t know about you, but I love stories where the hero comes in at just the right time. I’m assuming you do to, because Hollywood has found that it’s been very profitable for them to make films about heroes that come in at just the right time. When it seems like all hope is gone, just the right time, the hero comes in. And as I was thinking about this this week, I could not get out of my mind, it may be odd, I couldn’t get out of my mind Toy Story 3. I love Pixar movies, and partly because my kids make me watch them all the time. I’m gonna blame it on the kids. So, Toy Story 3, anybody remember Toy Story 3? Okay, good. So, we have some sort of frame of reference. The opening scene of Toy Story 3 is Woody is trying to rescue the orphans from the potato head, and I don’t remember his name at that point, who’s going to drive them off the cliff, after he’s just stolen all this money; he blows up the bridge, and now the train is careening towards the edge there. And Woody, you know, he’s trying to save the orphan little troll dolls. He gets to the front there, and he pulls the brake, but it’s too late, and the thing goes right off the edge. And then you see this blue explosion, and you think, “Ah, all hope is gone!” But then, Buzz Lightyear comes; that blue explosion is his jet engines taking off. He comes, and he’s holding up the train, “To infinity and beyond,” he wins, he saves the day. And Buzz Lightyear comes at just the right time! I love it. Bought my kids a Buzz Lightyear doll…for them, of course. [laughter] Just the right time.
So Paul shows the scenario is desperate, it’s bleak. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” “There is none righteous, no, not one.” “The wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23. We are all on the train headed towards the cliff, which is death, and ultimate doom, and then at just the right time, “when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Now Paul has to explain, because that just doesn’t make sense. Jesus said, John 15 – “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friends.” But Jesus dies for the ungodly. Now the ungodly, we are told, in Romans 1, verse 18, they are going to be under the wrath of God; “For the wrath of God, it comes from heaven against all ungodliness,” Romans 1:18. But Jesus comes at just the right time, verse 7, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love towards us, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” the ungodly. What does this then mean? Verse 9, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from…” What? “…wrath.” Romans 1:18, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness.” So, wrath was coming to the ungodly, but Jesus died for the ungodly, therefore, we can be saved from wrath through Him. “For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation,” the King James Version translates reconciliation, the atonement. Through Jesus we have received the atonement, that is: He died for our sins. So we rejoice. We rejoice because Jesus paid it all; it’s finished. The last words of Jesus on the cross, Greek word: tetelestai, it is finished. It is an accounting term, it means – Paid In Full…Done. So we rejoice. When we were utterly unable, when we totally without hope, at just the right time, God demonstrates His love towards us through Jesus dying on the cross, in our place, paying the price for our salvation. One Man, at one time, by one act has paid the price, in full, for the sin of humanity.
But, as we’ve already seen in the book of Romans, Paul anticipates the inevitable questions. You see, Paul’s background, the author of this book, was he was a Jewish lawyer. I have a really good friend, he’s a pastor, he’s a former lawyer, he’s a Jewish pastor, who’s a lawyer; he reminds me of the apostle Paul. So, Paul anticipates what you’re going to ask; what a person would ask in light of this great news that he’s just given to us in those verses, from verse 6 to 11 of Romans, chapter 5. It says: Jesus paid it all; He died for our sins. We were utterly hopeless, He’s taken care of it. So Paul anticipates the question; he knows what’s going to come. He knows that someone’s going to say, “How can what Jesus did on the cross pay the price, be so effective, for so many? How can it be that the work of one Person would have such an impact?” How many of you have heard the name Christopher Hitchens? Some of you. Christopher Hitchens, by far my favorite atheist. Yes, I have a favorite atheist. Unfortunately, Christopher Hitchens died this last year of throat cancer. But Christopher Hitchens is most well known for his book, God Is Not Great. Now he was a writer for many years; he wrote a lot of articles in a lot of different magazines, but his most known work, right now, is his book, God Is Not Great. And for many, many months, it was at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. And Christopher Hitchens’ major issue with the Christian faith is the concept of the substitutionary death of Jesus. His major issue with our faith in Jesus for salvation is that that’s absolute foolishness, the idea, the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. So you’ll find many people today who have read his book, who also have a major issue with the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. It’s amazing that 20 centuries after the apostle Paul was dealing with this same issue, we’re still having this as a major question. How could it be possible that one Person, on one day, doing one work is going to have an effective impact on all of humanity?
And so, Romans 5, verses 12 through 21 tackles that question. And it does so by contrasting the two men who have had the most impact in all human history. You see, there have been many individuals in history that have affected large segments of population during their life, or as a result of their life. And when we make that statement, there are people that start to come to mind. Most of the time they are inventors, or they are political leaders. And so names come to mind, names like Gutenberg, or Graham Bell, Edison, or Einstein. Those are some of the inventors, that their life and their work has revolutionized life after their point in history. Or maybe political leaders, names like Mussolini, Mao, Stalin, Hitler. Or maybe not the negative ones, perhaps names like, well, it’s in the news right now because Steven Spielberg’s movie has caused such an impact, but Lincoln. Lincoln has transformed our nation, and transformed many other people’s thinking because of what came through his life. Obviously he’s not the only one, but he was the key leader. So, we understand the concept that there are people, because of their lives, there is an impact, like a tidal surge after they have come, and what they have done. But two individuals in history have affected human history like no other. And of course you would expect me to say Jesus. But you may not quickly make the connection that Adam also has had a monumental impact. In fact, aside from Jesus, the greatest impact on all of humanity, this individual named Adam; who we know very little about, because the Bible doesn’t say a ton about Adam. He’s named, and he’s given some issues about his life in the early chapters of Genesis 1, 2, and 3. From there, the only other time we ever really see Adam is in reference to what he did; a couple of times in the New Testament, it’s referenced, and then we see his name come up in genealogies. But let’s be honest, most lf us skip genealogies, because there’s a lot of names in there that we don’t know, and we don’t understand. So we just kinda, you know…
So Adam, Adam, aside from Jesus, is the most impactful character to human history. You may say, “Well how is that possible?” Well, because Adam, through his life, and specifically, one act of disobedience has brought into the realm of humanity sin. And by bringing into the realm of humanity sin, he has also brought into the realm of humanity death. And every single human being is affected by that. You see, not everybody is affected by the works of, say, Graham Bell, or Edison. Not everyone’s been affected by that. But every single human being that has ever lived has been affected by the work of this man, Adam, and sometimes we refer to that work as the Adam Bomb – A-D-A-M Bomb; because with Adam’s fall, with Adam’s explosion, sin enters in. You see, prior to the sin of Adam, there is no such thing as sin. Of course we recognize, the scriptures reveal he is the first human being to live. God reveals that He created Adam first. But prior to Adam, man was in complete harmonious relationship with God, fellowship with God. And after Adam’s sin, not only does sin come into the realm of humanity, but also death with sin. So, it’s hard for us to comprehend this, but there was a time, many thousands of years ago, where the concept of death was not a normal part of life. You see, death is very normal to us because, well, the statistics are staggering – 10 out of 10 people die. So we’re all confronted with the reality of death. And we are, because of Adam.
Look at verse 12 with me, if you will. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” So, according to the scripture, Adam, the first man who ever lived, he is the one who introduces death and sin to humanity, because of his disobedience. Now before we jump directly into the exposition of this text, I think it’s important to recognize that Paul’s focus in this section is not on Adam. You see you can read verses 12 through 21 of Romans, chapter 5, and think that the whole point of this story is the issue of Adam, but the reality is that Paul is focusing in on Jesus. Because he’s just said that Jesus paid it all, He did the one work that is necessary and sufficient. And so as the result of saying that, now he says, notice the first word of verse 12, “therefore;” because Jesus is the One who did one work, on one day, at one time, and now that work has great impact for all of humanity, he knows that someone’s going to say, “How can one Person, doing one work, at one time really affect humanity in such a huge way?” And he says, “Well, therefore…” remember back to Adam; that the work of one man, Adam, was effective in bringing death to all humanity. There was no such thing as death prior to Adam; but after Adam, we are all well acquainted with the concept of death and the pain that it brings. And perhaps even in the last year you have experienced the pain and sorrow of death of a loved one, a family member, a friend. And so, in essence, you could thank Adam for that. You see he’s had phenomenal impact on humanity, in such a way that we have no frame of reference of a time without death. Therefore, it’s hard for us to conceptualize eternal life, because we’re so affected by the fall and death that came through Adam. So Paul is answering the question here, “Can the act of one man really affect so many?” The one Man that he’s focusing upon is actually Jesus, but he’s using Adam to illustrate the point that, “Yes, the act of one individual can so affect all…in a profound way.”
Now there’s a few things, before we continue, a couple of things that we should note about this passage. Number one, we should recognize that Paul, and Jesus too, they recognized Adam as a historically true individual. That’s important, because we’re living in a day when people question whether or not the events of Genesis chapter 1, 2, and 3 actually happened. And yet, Jesus, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, He Himself quotes and speaks about Adam as if he was a historically true individual. Paul here also does that. So, there’s a recognition that these things that we read in our Bibles in Genesis actually happened. The second thing I think should be noted, before we jump into this, is that this section, being that it’s not primarily about Adam, but it’s focusing in on Jesus, this section should not be focused in on for it’s content, as it relates to a doctrine in Christianity that is hotly debated, a doctrine called “The Doctrine of Original Sin.” This is the most oft pointed-to passage as a proof text for The Doctrine of Original Sin. Now we’re not going to get into the discussion about what Original Sin is today, we’ll just glance over it here in a couple of minutes, but the point we should recognize is the focal point of this passage is actually Jesus, and not Adam. Adam is just held up as a case study to show us that Jesus, by the one act that He did on Golgotha, Calvary, on the cross, is sufficient, but also effectual in bringing salvation to sinners like you and like me.
So, here in verse 12, we find four important truths; note them with me, if you will. Number one – sin entered the world through one man. We see it there in the first section of verse 12: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world.” There are phenomenal atrocities in the world today. We see the manifold evidence of evil all around us, on a continual basis. It’s on the TV news, it’s on the radio news, it’s in the newspapers, it’s on the Internet, it’s beamed to our phone in the form of Twitter feeds from different news agencies. When there is an earthquake that kills multitudes of people in Indonesia, we know about it. When there is a shooting at a school over in Connecticut, we instantly know about it. We are constantly kept aware of the wickedness that is all around us on a continual basis.
And so here is intro to Human History 101, Biblical Anthropology 101, chapter 1, if you will. The Biblical Anthropology is this: Why is the world the way it is? Why is there such wickedness in the world? Answer: All sin came into the human realm through Adam. Through one man, sin entered the world. Now, it’s important to recognize, Adam is not the inventor or the originator of sin. Because the prophet Isaiah, as inspired of God, in Isaiah, chapter 14, he reveals to us that there was sin in the angelic realm before Adam. There was the sin of Lucifer, and the sin of a third of the angelic beings in God’s heavenly host, prior to the sin of Adam. But that was in a different dimension; that was in another realm, the angelic realm. You see, physicists tell us that there are more than just the three dimensions, or four that we live in and sense. We recognize that there are multiple levels of dimension in the cosmos. In fact, one physicist, studying the book of Genesis, he counted at least 10 dimensions just in the book of Genesis. Now we are not cognizant, we are not aware of such dimensions, because we only function in a limited few of them. Of course you’ll always meet someone who’ll say, “Well I have a sixth sense, so I perceive another dimension.”
Yes, there are other dimensions, an angelic realm. And in the angelic realm, prior to the entrance of sin into the human sphere, there was sin. But Adam, if you will, is the route through which sin enters into our world. Romans, chapter 1 and 2 reveal that God had given commandments to humanity; actually Genesis 1 and 2 reveal that God had given commandments to humanity, and we know, in Genesis, chapter 3, that Adam, with his wife Eve, they broke one of those commandments. There were actually only two commandments that God originally gave. One is in 1:28, Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful and multiply.” It’s a good command. The second one is given in Genesis 2, verses 16 and 17, where God says to Adam, the focal point of His creation, the first human, one created in the image and likeness of God; He says, “Adam, of all the trees in the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that’s in the midst of the garden, you shall not eat of it, for the day that you eat of it you shall surely…” What? “…die.” And so in Genesis, chapter 3, we read the story, we know very clearly that Adam, with his wife Eve, they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yes, there’s a progression to it – the serpent, Lucifer, himself, embodied in a snake, tempted Eve, and she ate and she gave to her husband; and when he ate, their eyes, “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked,” and they were ashamed, “and they sewed fig leaves together…” Fig leaves, really? Yes! And they put them on, and they hid, because “they heard the voice of God walking in the garden saying, ‘Adam, where are you?’”
Immediately upon eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that which God commanded them they ought not do, their eyes were opened. And death, second truth, Romans, chapter 5, verse 12 – death entered the world. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin.” So again, if you’re taking notes, truth number two – sin brought death into the world. God spoke very clearly, “In the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die,” Genesis 2, verse 17; and they surely did die. Now, they did not immediately die physically. The immediate consequences of that sin, the disobedience to God’s command, was a death at a different level; not physical death, that would come, but it wouldn’t come for some 900 years. They lived a long time. But the initial realities of that death were on a number of levels. There was a death, that is a separation between Adam and his wife Eve. That was the first death that’s noted to us there in Genesis, chapter 3. Their eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked, and so they sewed fig leaves to cover their shame. Immediately, because of sin, there was a death, a separation between the union of this man and his wife; they now were separated by shame. God’s words are then read there in Genesis, chapter 1, “’Adam, where are you?’” An indication that there was another death that took place when they had sinned. As Isaiah tells us, in Isaiah 59, our sins separate us from our God. And so now there was a spiritual deadness, there was a separation between Adam, who, before that time, had true fellowship and communion with God; now it’s broken, and God says, “Adam, where are you?” Then, as a result of their sin, there was another death that came, because we’re told there at the end of Genesis, chapter 3, that God made skins for them to wear, and so there was the death of an innocent animal that was sacrificed because of their sin. But furthermore, there was a death in creation, through the curse that came. Many things died on the day in which Adam sinned. And we’re told that through one man sin entered the world, and number two: death from sin. So that we know, the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23; and we know, Ezekiel 18, verse 4, “’Behold, the soul that sins shall die.’” You see death was not God’s original intent for man, whom He had created in His image, but, as a result of man’s sin, death entered in.
Now, important to recognize that death is not a punishment for sin, death is the result of sin. It’s as if death is a poison, and you, by digesting that poison, you die; by interacting with that sin, the result is death. So God, in saying, “Do not do this or that,” He’s not up there going, “I’m just trying to keep them back from what…” Now we think that, don’t we? And this is what the serpent, the devil, this is how he deceived Eve, when he said to her, “Listen, you will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes shall be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” How many of us have experienced the same little voice of the enemy, the devil, when we’re approached by a temptation, and there’s a part, a check in us that says, “No, you shouldn’t do that.”
And then we immediately go, “Well, God must be trying to keep me back.” That’s the devil!! He’s been doing that since the beginning.
And so “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin.” Truth number three – death spread to all humanity. See it there in verse 12 of Romans, chapter 5? “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men.” No one is exempt; 10 out of 10 people die. You’re born, you will die. Now, I know the astute Bible reader will go, “Well what about Enoch, what about Elijah? They didn’t…”
Okay, two in like BILLIONS!! The odds are very stacked against you…very stacked. It has been said, “There’s only one thing sure in life, death and…” What? [Taxes] …and April 15th is coming, tax day is coming. Now you may find a way, some do, to escape from taxes, although they end up in Federal prison. So, you might find a way to get out of taxes. But not death, not death. As one undertaker used to sign his letters, “Eventually yours.” So here is the amazing reality, this has been called the Adam Bomb – fallout from Adam’s fall into sin is exceedingly far reaching. We are all sinners, and we all die because of the sin of one man – Adam. We do not die because we do sinful things, we die because sin is working in us. And this is why, although it’s not a pleasant thing to talk about, but it’s reality, this is why even some babies die in the womb; because of the effects of sin. Not their own sin, not the sin of their parents, but the sin that entered in through the disobedience of one man. Now, I realize it’s a sobering thing to talk about, because our first baby died in a miscarriage. And there are many people in our church that have experienced that as well. There are many people also who have experienced the reality of giving birth to a stillborn baby. The very funeral that I ever did was for a stillborn baby. Then we also recognize that there are some children who die very early in their lives, in the first year. In Mozambique, where Luke Rider, our good friend, ministers, they don’t even name their children for the first year because infant mortality is so high. Could you even imagine that?! We live in a culture, we live in a society where we know the sex of the child before the child’s born. We’ve already named it, we’ve already painted their name on the nursery wall. So we’re so invested in life, but death is a reality. And it’s not because of the sin of that little baby. Anyone who says such a thing, smack them. Please. You have my permission. If they get made, they can call me. I’ll smack ‘em. [laughs]
“Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and death spread to all men.” Truth number four – we sin because we’re sinners; we’re not sinners because we sin. Look at the last part of verse 12: “because all sinned.” We sin because we are, by nature, sinners. We are not called sinners because we have sinned. All humanity are sinners because of, not their individual sinful acts, but because sin entered through Adam, and sin spread to all his descendents. So therefore, we are all sinners, inherently, by nature. I know this is the discussion, this is where we get into the issue of Original Sin; there’s a lot of debate in the church about Original Sin. Some people believe that children are not born sinners, but they become sinners after they perform sins. I recognize that. But, primarily, Protestant Christianity, post-Reformation, post Martin Luther, has held to the doctrine of Original Sin, that we’re all conceived in sin. We perform sinful acts, those in accordance with our fallen, sinful, broken nature, because we are sinners at the core. So, the thief, he is not a sinner because he’s stolen something; he was already a sinner before he ever stole anything, and he stole something because, in his sinful heart was covetousness and pride. Covetousness to desire what was not his; and pride to take it. The adulterer is a sinner before they ever committed adultery; they committed adultery because their sinful heart was given towards lust and pride. The murderer is a sinner before he’s ever murdered, because his heart is filled with anger, wrath, malice, and rage. King David rightly observed, in Psalm 51, verse 5: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” So he says, “I’m born a sinner.” Then a few chapters later, Psalm 58, verse 3, he says, “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are broken, speaking lies.” Now, how many parents in here today? Many! Okay. Did you have to teach your kids to be deceitful? Did you have to teach your kids to take those things that are not theirs? And yet, how many of us have experienced that situation where you get in the car, after you’ve been at someone else’s house playing, and you look back in the backseat, and one of your kids is playing with a toy that is not theirs.
“Where did you get that?”
“So-and-so gave to me.”
“Really?!” Deception!! Thievery!! It’s there, it’s there. We try to govern it out of them, don’t we? Most times it doesn’t work the way that we’d like it to. But we sin because, by nature, we are sinners.
So no one could say, “Well I’ve never practiced such things, therefore I’m not a sinner.” We all have sinned.
Paul continues, verse 13, Romans, chapter 5, “(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed where there is no law. Nevertheless,” even though that is true, “death reigned from Adam unto Moses, ever over those that had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type,” he’s a foreshadowing, “of the One who is to come,” “Him who is to come.” So in Genesis 3, Adam bombed, and sin entered in, and death through sin. Now we’ve already noted, in Romans 3:20, that by the law is the knowledge of sin. Then we saw in Romans 4:15 that where there is no law, there is no transgression. So, here in this section, Paul reminds us that from the time that Adam bombed, his sin, Genesis 3, there was no explicitly stated, written law for 2,600 years, until Moses, at Mt. Sinai, received the Law from God to give to the people. So for a 2,600-year period there was nobody who was willfully breaking an explicitly stated law from God. Now that doesn’t mean that there was no sin, because God has given us a conscience. And so we were warring against that conscience, there was sin for that 2,600 years; but God does not impute that sin. Why? Because there’s no law; and if there’s no law, there’s no crime in breaking a law, because there was no law to begin with. So he says here, for 2,600 years people are living sinful lives, but there’s no sin being imputed to them because there’s no law. And yet, even though there’s no law, all those people died, except for Enoch; we’ll talk about him when we get to Genesis; probably a decade from now. [laughter] So there’s no law for 2,600 years, and all those people died. But they didn’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They did not sin, as he says in verse 14, according to the same likeness of sin that Adam’s sin was. So none of those people ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and yet death spread to all, and death reigned over all of those people. They all died. Death reigned; death reigns from and through Adam’s transgression, even upon those that do not sin in the same way as Adam. And Adam then becomes “a type of Him who is to come.” He becomes a foreshadowing, Paul says, of Jesus. How so? Well, what’s the point that Paul is making? This – one man, did one thing, at one time, that had phenomenal impact – Adam. In the same way, one Man, did one righteous act, at one time, on Calvary’s cross – Jesus – and it has phenomenal impact.
Verse 15, “But the free gift,” of Jesus, “the free gift is not like the offense,” of Adam. “For if my one man’s offense,” Adam, “many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.” So you see the connection he’s making. One man, Adam, did a sinful act that affected all of humanity. One Man, Jesus, did a righteous act that makes the way open for all to believe unto salvation.
Verse 16, “And the gift,” of Jesus, “is not like that which came through the one who sinned,” Adam. “For the judgment which came from the one offense,” of Adam, “resulted in condemnation.” So, the work that Adam did brings damnation; “but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.” So in Adam all died. In Adam we have damnation; in Jesus we have the opportunity for justification.
Verse 17, “For if by 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.) “Therefore,” verse 18, “as through one man’s offense,” Adam, “judgment came to all” humanity, “all men, resulting in condemnation,” damnation, “even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience,” Adam, “many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” So here is the awesome reality of the gospel, you and I, we, all of humanity were sinners, not because anything we did, note this – we were all sinners before we ever did anything. Our sinful acts only prove that we are sinners. Jesus’ righteous acts only prove that He is righteous. He didn’t do righteous acts to become righteous; He did righteous acts from righteousness. We do sinful acts from sinful hearts. So we are sinners before we ever did anything. We are born sinners, because through one man, through his sinful act we all are sinners. We were born into sin because of one sinful deed, disobedient deed, done by Adam. And Adam is a type of Christ. Why? Because this: we, who are Christians today, we are not Christians because of any good thing we did. Just like we’re not sinners because of any sinful thing that we did, we’re not Christians because of any good thing that we did, any deed that we did; we are made righteous in Jesus Christ, because of the righteousness of one Man, that He did for us, and we are born again into that righteousness. Just like we were born the first time into sinfulness. “That which is born of flesh is flesh,” says Jesus in John, chapter 3; “and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel, Nicodemus, that I say to you, ‘You must be born again.’” So, we’re not sinners because of any sinful deed that we did; we’re born into sin through Adam. We’re not made Christians because of any good thing that we do; we’re born again into righteousness by Jesus Christ, and that righteous act that He did on the cross. The righteous act brought life, the free gift to all men.
So here’s the question that comes: Are you saying then, that there is universal salvation; that Adam sinned, he bombed out, and all of humanity are sinners; Jesus is righteous, and everybody else is now made righteous? Is that what we’re saying? No. Look at what we see here in this passage. Verse 20, “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound.” So from Adam to Moses, there’s 2,600 years where there’s no explicitly stated commandment from God. So, the law entered in, through Moses. Why? So that the offense might abound; that it might become totally apparent that we are dead in our trespasses and sins. The law was given to show us the exceeding sinfulness of our sinful hearts. So the law entered that the offense, the sin, might abound. “But where sin abounded,” where sin started to explode to the scene, and go, “Wow! That is really bad;”
“…where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” Or, another way to say it, “grace super abounded.” Where sin abounds, grace super abounds, because grace is greater. Verse 21, “…so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might,” would you circle the word might, “might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” So, how do we answer the question of universal salvation? If Jesus died, and His death is sufficient to pay for the sin of all humanity, then how is it that not all humanity are saved? Well, notice what Paul says, two key things in verse 21 – the first is that word might. “…even so grace might…” Sin reigned in Adam; “grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life,” now here’s how we answer the question of universal salvation, “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jesus Christ our Lord, that’s the answer. How so? In Romans, chapter 5, this is now the third time that Paul uses the words Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 1, Romans 5: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Verse 11: “And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we now have received reconciliation,” or atonement. Third time, verse 21: “…so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” So how might grace abound to righteousness unto eternal life? It only comes through the Lord Jesus Christ. What does that mean? Jesus must become not only your Savior, but He must become your Lord, by faith. Christ means anointed Savior. Lord means Master or King. If Jesus is not your Lord, your Master, and King, He cannot be your Christ, your Savior. But if Jesus, by grace through faith, has become the Lord over your life, then He is also your Savior. And so notice the things that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ in these three verses, verse 1, 11, and 21. So, in Jesus Christ our Lord we have justification; we have peace with God; we have rejoicing; we have reconciliation, atonement; we have righteousness; and eternal life, in our Lord Jesus Christ. You see, the one man, Adam, his life has impact upon all who come after him. The one Man, Jesus, in much the same way, His righteous, obedient act there on Calvary’s cross, has effectual impact to anyone who believes. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel,” the good news of Jesus Christ, “for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes,” Romans 1:16. There is no other way. In Adam, all died; in Jesus, atonement has been made; righteousness extended, eternal life is ahead. Amen?
Let’s stand and pray.
Father, thank You for Your great word; “it’s living, it’s powerful, it’s sharper than any two-edged sword,” it cuts deep and divides asunder between joint and marrow, it’s a discerner of the thoughts and intents of our hearts. Lord, we thank You that You have made the way open for us to obtain righteousness; that which we certainly don’t deserve; You made the way open. We thank You Jesus, that in You we have life, eternal life. And so we can boldly say, “Oh death, where is your sting; oh death, where is your victory?” Death is swallowed up, Jesus, in Your resurrection. Thank You that we have an eternal hope, an absolute certainty that we will be with You, because we are in You made citizens of heaven. Lord, help us to reflect that glorious hope to those we come in contact with in our neighborhoods, in our workplace, at our school this week, God. Work in us, that we would shine the glories of salvation. We thank You for Your grace that is extended. Help us to be conduits of Your grace to others in this world, we pray. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.