Contributor: Martins Olubiyi
The ‘team factor’ elucidates today’s subject of discussion- The inter-relationship between participating members, non-participating members of a squad and fans in sports such as athletes, soccer, and racing, etc in terms of sharing success and defeat as a team. The Objective of today’s study is to show that in the same way Adam’s sin brings death, Christ’s accomplishment at the cross brings justification and life.
• VERSE 12: Adam- Effects and Consequences of Adam’s Sinful Act
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—"
Vs 12. Is not a complete sentence. It sounds as though Paul wanted to finish it by saying, “even so …” but he got side-tracked. The King James Version help us understand that by putting the next five verses in parenthesis. Paul doesn’t actually finish his thought until the middle of verse 18. The first of the verse actually repeats exactly what he said in verse 12, and then you will see the words, “even so”. It shows the completion of Paul’s thought in verse 12. Everything between is a digression- a very important digression. But even without the conclusion in verse 18, Romans 5: 12 contains some crucial truth that we need to understand- particularly about a vital doctrine that has usually been called the doctrine of original sin. The one man is obviously Adam; he is mentioned by name in verse 14. And is one act of sin had two disastrous consequences according to Romans 5: 12
1. Sin entered the world as a direct result of Adam’s one sinful act
Sin was unknown in God’s world before Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, but became very much a part of the human scene afterward. Adam is mentioned as the guilty one rather than Eve because he was in charge and he was ultimately responsible. And eventually he would have sinned whether Eve had tempted him or not. When Adam sinned, he suffered a constitutional change. He became a sinner, with a sin nature and a disposition towards sin. And he passed that nature to his descendants just as surely as he passed on the tendency to have two eyes, two ears and one mouth. Everyone born of Adam from that day onward has been born in sin. That’s what it means when we say, “original sin”. All of us were born in sin. Psalm 51:5 (Behold I was brought forth in iniquity. And in sin my mother conceived me)
2. Death spread to all mankind as a direct result of Adam’s one sinful act.
Physical death was unknown in Eden before Adam sinned. Thereafter it became a part of the human scene. In fact, nobody has been able to escape it from that day (except a few others whom God took miraculously into heaven). One may ask; why should I have to suffer for what Adam did?
Hence the reason for the team concept. that is when Adam sinned you were there and participated in it. just as Levi was there in the loins of Abraham and paid tithes to Melchizedek though yet unborn (Hebrews 7:9 -10).
• VERSES 13-14: The Evidence
"13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come."
The question is this: If all mankind was not present in Adam and did not sin in Adam, then why did people die from Adam to Moses before the law was given?
If all mankind was not present in Adam and did not sin in Adam, then why did people die from Adam to Moses, before the law was given? You see, people die because of sin. Sin does not become a legal transgression with a penalty attached to it until there is a law to transgress.
Death is the penalty for sin. But if there was no law given as yet for people to break, why then did they die? And they did die. In fact, they couldn’t escape it. Death “reigned” over them, like a tyrannical dictator. They didn’t disobey a direct command of God as Adam did, yet they died. Why? The only logical answer is that they sinned in Adam, the head of their race. They were on Adam’s team. And so they suffer the agony of Adam’s defeat. They are one with Adam. They inherited his sinful nature. That’s why they died.
Adam is a type of Christ. Paul meant just as Adam is the head of a race of fallen people, Christ is the head of a race of redeemed people. Just as Adam’s one sin brought death to all his descendants so Christ’s one act of obedience- going to the cross. brings righteousness and life to all who are in Him. And in that sense, Adam is a type of Christ.
But that takes some clarification lest we think Adam is a picture of Christ in every way... and he certainly he is not.
• VERSES 15-17: The Clarification
"15 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. 16 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. 17 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.)"
There are three major difference between Adam and what he did, and Christ and what He did:
1. In Adam many died; in Christ grace abounded to many.
The effect of Adam’s sin was inevitable disaster for everybody: death. The effect of Christ’s sacrificial death at Calvary was a gracious and abundant gift for many. Paul call it “the free gift.” He’s referring to our right standing before God (“the gift of righteousness”, verse 17), and our sure possession of eternal life (refer to Romans 6: 23). That’s what Christ gave us. Adam gave us death. Christ gave us the gift of eternal life.
2. In Adam there is condemnation; in Christ, justification.
Just one sin, yet by it the whole human race was condemned. Yet even though we human have committed countless numbers of sins, they became the occasion for God’s gracious provision of justification for all who would believe. That’s different.
3. In Adam death reigns; in Christ we reign in life.
This is an interesting verse. After saying “death reigned,” we would expect Paul to say “life reigns.” Instead, he says we shall “reign in life” We who have trusted Christ as Saviour and been graciously granted a right standing before God have become spiritual kings and queens. We reign in life. Either in this life or in the millennial kingdom on earth. This is because we know Christ. (2Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:10).
• VERSES 18-19 - The Effect of Christ’s Righteous Act - Justification and Life
"18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous."
We have seen the effect of Adam’s sinful act. Now the effects of Christ’s righteous act. And there are two. The first half of verse 18 is essentially a summary of what we ‘ve just studied in Romans 5:12 and the verses that follow. Romans 5: 18a. “Therefore as through one man’s offense judgement came to all men, resulting in condemnation”- that’s a repeat of that whole passage, particularly verse 12.
Adam’s sin resulted in condemnation for the whole human race. Now the inter-link with vs 12 is confirmed with the words - “even so.” Here it is in Romans 5: 18b; “… even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.”
That one righteous act is none other than Calvary- the act of becoming “… obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). And that one righteous act provided justification (a right standing before God), that issues in life (eternal life) for all mankind.
All of us can be on the winning team. We don’t have to be losers. We can all be on Christ’s team. He provided that for all mankind. Don’t miss that in verse 18. You see, “the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” It’s certainly not unfair for all to suffer for Adam’s sin since all can benefit from Christ’s sacrificial death.
But does that mean that everybody will be saved? Look at the “all men” in that verse. “Through one man’s offense judgement came to all men, so the free gift came to all through one Man’s righteous act.” Salvation has been provided for all, but it is only experienced by those who put their trust in Christ as Saviour from sin, and those alone.
The truth of verse 18 is driven home in Romans 5:19; “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience, many will be made righteous.”
• VERSES 20 – 21 - Superabundant Grace
"20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
That’s the first effect of Christ’s righteous act; Justification and life. But there is a second effect in verse 20 and 21, and that is super-abundant grace. Another question that can be asked is “what about the law? What role does it play in all of this? Did Paul not talk about righteousness and life?
Verse 20a. “Moreover, the law entered, that offense might abound.”
We should realise that the ten commandments were never intended to give people a right standing before God. That was always by faith. They were added in order to show sin for what it is: willful disobedience to God’s will, a transgression of God’s righteous standard. The law was brought in alongside so that the offense might abound. The purpose of law was not to make people sin more, but to act as a kind of divine magnifying glass on our sin. However, God’s grace is sufficient.
Grace reigns supreme when we put our faith in Christ as Saviour from sin and God credits to our account His own perfect righteousness. That assures us eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So, can faith in Christ’s one great act Calvary really see us through to glory? It certainly can. Just as surely as Adam’s sin brings death, Christ’s finished work on the cross brings a right standing before God and eternal life. That’s something to thank Him for in joyful praise and worship.