God’s Salvation By Faith (Part 3 of The Sufficiency of Christ’s Righteousness)
ROMANS 5 (cont.)
Romans 5:12 (NKJV) **
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned
**All scripture is from the New King James Version unless other wise noted
In verse 12 Paul says, through Adam sin entered the world. So Adam ate the fruit in disobedience to the word of God and at the moment he did, sin entered the world. Right before that moment, God proclaimed that if Adam were to disobey His word concerning the fruit, He said to Adam, You shall surely die.
Genesis 2:16-17 (NKJV)
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Adam disobeyed and ate and he still lived over 900 years. Since Adam didn’t physically die on the day he ate, then we know the death God threatened was not a physical death. It was spiritual death, which is the Bible’s terminology for the arrival of a sinful corrupt nature that is opposed to God. So as Adam disobeyed God, his nature changed inside him. He became dead spiritually. And he died in that sense on that very day. The power that accomplished that change in his heart was the power of God’s word itself, since it was the decree of God that Adam would experience spiritual death in the day he ate of it. Furthermore, the Lord responded to Adam’s sin by going a step further as you may remember, He cursed the earth, that is, He cursed the ground and everything that came out of it.
Genesis 3:17-19 New King James Version (NKJV)
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”
Since Adam’s body was made from the dirt (Adam means earth in Hebrew). So when God came upon Adam having sinned, his spirit was already spiritually dead. He had already seen that take place. In the day he ate of it, that happened. But as God came upon them in the Garden and found them in this state, God then took the next step and cursed the ground. Which had the effect of putting his body under a death sentence to go along with the spirit that was already dead. Adam’s choice brought sin into existence, first spiritual death for all humanity and indirectly by God’s decree physical death for all humanity. Paul says this death “spread” to all men. The word spread is very intentional. Spread in Greek is dierchomal – meaning to go through or pass through. Death is passed to you by Adam to his descendants. Death is a quality that comes from your parents. It’s not some law of the universe. It’s being passed on to you, like genetics.
That change in Adam’s spiritual nature, he experienced in the day he ate. That change became part of him, inseparable from his physical existence. So just as Adam would pass on his physical trait when he reproduced, he was also now passing on a sinful spiritual nature to those who came from his body (to his children). That’s how we know all humanity has been born in this sinful way, in the nature of the father, Adam. And that’s why Paul says we all suffer death because death is the result of sin, that is of Adams sin. Death became a part of humanity’s nature, in Adam’s nature it began to be passed down and spread and with it our tendency to sin as well. That’s why Paul says, ‘all men have sinned.’
What’s important about this is God does not individually assess each descendant of Adam. God doesn’t determine individually if we have sin of our own. And then pronounce some sentence against us for our sin. Death, which is the penalty of sin, spreads (passed from) one person to the next and with that, also this nature of Adam spreads so that we all are of sin and that means even at childbirth we are a sinner. What we inherit is from the womb. Death has already spread to us, we know that because infants die. And that means the sin nature that is the cause of death was there as well, at that time. To die itself is the product of sin. If someone dies at one day old that means by definition they had sin at one day old or they wouldn’t have died. Death is the product of sin according to Paul and as death spreads, sin spreads, and we are all like Adam in that way.
There is no magical age when we suddenly become accountable for our sin as some has imagine. We are accountable from birth which is evidenced in the fact that we die at all ages. Paul says in verse 13 this principle held true in the world even before the Law came to Israel. He says sin was not imputed without Law. What he means is that no one could say definitively what was sin before God defined it for mankind in His law. We had the conscious telling us what was right and wrong. There were rules of law and that were part of culture. But you didn’t have the authority of God in the law itself. You didn’t know for sure what God considered an offense or what He didn’t. Yet, Paul says despite the fact that men didn’t know, it was not imputed to them what was sin and what was not sin. Despite that, Paul said people still died. From Adam to Moses, people were dying.
Something was passed on from Adam to all his descendants that resulted in 100% of everyone who comes from Adam dying. That means there was 100% of everybody in sin, even when they didn’t know what sin was. Even before it was imputed to them by the Law. That is what we mean when you hear someone describe the theology of original sin. Original sin does not say, Adam made a mistake and we’re paying for it. Original sin says, Adams mistake changed humanity and we are all just like Adam. And that’s why we are all paying for it. Men and women inherit a nature from parents that drives us to sin. We call ourselves sinners because we look around at our life and at some point we come to realize, oh I got sin in my life. If I act badly I’m a sinner. But the reality is, you were born a sinner and you were a sinner even before you had the capacity to act it out in sin.
So Paul says in verse 14, death reigned from Adam to Moses even though the
Law was there to convict us of that sin. Death was the thing that held people accountable for sin even though they hadn’t made the same kind of mistake Adam made. Even the best person on earth was still dying. That proves that sin is something received through a birth process and not dependent on your individual choices or actions. All of what Paul is citing here proves you come into this life with his quality. The choices and the actions we make are merely the result of that inherited sin nature. So that’s how you need to understand the life of every unbeliever. They are programmed to offend God. The programming they have came from Adam, but they agree with it in their hearts. It’s who they are, it’s all they know. And they are incapable of changing the programming on their own.
So one man’s decision created a chain reaction through the reproduction process that led to all humanity sharing in his nature. And so Paul says if that process can work in that way, to lead mankind into condemnation, then that process can be harnessed by God to provide a solution in the same means. One man can reverse the process and provide a solution. And through a new group of descendants, pass on a better nature to those descendants. That’s how one man can solve the problem for many. It’s not because He is applying His payment so to speak over and over again. It’s because He is birthing you into a new line of descendants who have in His nature.
Romans 5:12 (NKJV)
Death in Adam, Life in Christ
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—
Before we look into Paul’s argument further, we need to pause here for a moment
to appreciate an important theological implication from where we just came. Paul’s statement in verse 12 stands at odds with the teaching of Evolution. The theory of evolution maintains that mankind evolved from lower order creatures over millions of years. Before the first human ever existed, many other living things had existed according to evolution. And those living creatures lived and died over millions of years, growing in complexity and evolving into more sophisticated species. The engine for that change, evolution will tell you, is natural selection, a set of forces that lead to the survival of the fittest and the elimination of the weak. The idea says that natural selection forces the advancement of life because as the weak die out, and the strong gets the opportunities to reproduce they make more of the strong in the culture. So the environment moves forward toward the strength and drops off the weak along the way. There are a lot of problems with this idea, but there is one theological issue we now can say eliminates the possibility of evolution being true if you believe in the Bible. Because here Paul says, “The Bible says death did not exist until after human beings existed.” Not just human death…but all death, Paul says.
Because in Genesis 3 the arrival of physical death is said to come as a result of God’s curses, which He spoke as a result of Adam’s actions. And that curse is where all physical death came from. Everything that came out of the ground will die. Plants, animals – everything that came out of the ground. So evolution says this – death came before mankind evolved from apes and below, and all that time death was working. And
the Bible says death came after mankind and it’s the result of Adam’s sin. So here’s the dilemma. If you or someone was a Christian believing in the Bible and have taken faith as their means of salvation, believing in Jesus Christ’s’ death for their sake. But also believing in evolution is true, here is the dilemma you face.
If evolution is correct and therefore the Bible is wrong, because that is what we are saying right here in this scenario. Then not only is Genesis wrong but so is Romans. We’re no longer arguing simply over which story of origin to accept. Of which version of origin is correct. We’re now arguing over the cause of death itself. And if the cause of death is in doubt, then the meaning of Christ’s death is equally in doubt. And if death is natural which is what evolution would teach, and not the result of some act of man, we have no reason to trust in the death of Christ or any man on our behalf. To what good purpose could Christ’s death be for us if death is not a result of sin.
Because the Gospel says death can only be stopped by sinlessness. Sin is why we have death. The only solution to death is sinlessness. That’s what the Bible says. But evolution says that death has no relationship to sin or sinlessness. It was always here. In which case, Christ’s sinless life and sacrificial death simply don’t have any meaning for us in a search for the problem of death. See how it works? Because evolution would be saying it didn’t start with that problem so it can’t be fixed by that action. There had to be some other cause for death. So it is literally theological impossible to hold both the view of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s’ atoning death and to believe in evolution. Because one negates the other. But not just in Genesis, but in Romans.
So now Paul explains how Jesus can solve this problem for the world, though He is but one man:
Romans 5:15-17 (NKJV)
15 But the free gift is not like the offense (transgression). For if by the one man’s offense (transgression) 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 (transgression) resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses (transgressions) resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense (transgression) 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.
Paul compares what Christ did for us to what Adam did for us. He starts saying that the free gift of salvation through Jesus is not like the transgression we experience through Adam. But he means it this way. It is not like the first (Adam’s transgression) in the sense that it works in an opposite way. They are alike in terms of methodology or they follow a similar principle but they work in opposite ways. One guy did something wrong, we have one guy did something right, we’re all good. By Adam’s life and death, many died with him. But by the life and death of Christ, by God’s grace many will have eternal life.
These two men had an opposite effect on humanity, One produced judgment from a single transgression, because of one mistake and we are all under condemnation because we share in his likeness. But the free gift of salvation covered man’s transgressions resulting in justification. One man’s act of sacrifice, a righteous man dying in our place, can cover as many people as are born into His likeness. Like Adam could be responsible for literally billions of people falling down. Christ can have as many children, those born again in His nature, as God permits.
In verse 17, Paul says if you can accept that one man could bring the world into bondage and under the penalty (death) for that bondage then you can accept that one Man can deliver you from all that. The mechanism that makes this possible is exactly the same mechanism: inheritance. In Adam, we all inherit a sinful nature and a dying body. And in Jesus, the Bible says you are born again. You are literally reformed spiritually in the likeness of Jesus by the Spirit. And you now receive Christ’s nature in place of Adam’s nature. So if one man’s nature could be spread to all his descendants by physical birth, then Christ’s perfect nature can be spread to all His descendants by spiritual birth. The Holy Spirit birthed Christ in Mary’s womb and likewise the Holy Spirit birth’s us again spiritually when we believe.
In fact, our manner of entering into God’s grace is also a direct reversal of what Adam did to get us in trouble. Adam’s mistake in the Garden was he rejected the word of God, he rejected the promise of God, he failed to believe in what God promised concerning the fruit. There was a promise and the content of the promise was the consequences of eating the fruit. It was profoundly important that he obey that one principle. But what was the object of his faith? If he was to have faith in the promise, his object would have been God. Just as it is for us. The faithfulness of God. Adam heard that promise and then acted in a way that repudiated faith in God’s promise. He acted without faith in the word God spoke to him. So a lack of faith in the word of God brought about The Fall and sin and death. So God in His wisdom devised a plan of redemption to reverse that error in every born again believer. Every born again believer has to do the opposite of what Adam did. Put your faith or your trust into a promise of God concerning Christ. The content has change since Adam. The content now is Christ. But, in the essence of it we believe a promise, we place our trust and faithfulness to God. When we do, we reverse Adam’s mistake and then we are born again in the likeness of Jesus.
Romans 5:18-21 (NKJV)
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense (transgression) judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to a
ll 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.
20 Moreover the Law entered that the offense (transgression) 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.
One act of Adam (sin) is reversed by one act of Jesus (atonement). One act drove us way away from the Father, and one act brings us back to the Father. One man’s mistake made many sinners and Jesus’ obedience made many righteous. Paul adds a reference to the Law. The Law didn’t come to solve this problem, because it couldn’t do it. Think about it, by the time you tell someone here’s the Law follow it, they have already sinned a million times. They were born a sinner. You can’t get ahead of the birth process. You can’t stop it before it starts. The Law only serves to highlight all that sin, not to stop it, not entirely. So in that sense Paul says in verse 20 that the Law’s arrival only served to “increase” sin by making it more evident. But then that serves to magnify God’s glory in Christ.
The more you realize how much you offended God by your sin, the more amazing grace is. So as you understand Law better, you see yourself better for who you were or maybe still are. But in the process you also come to realize the grace of God more. Like Jesus said to the Pharisee in Luke 7:47 “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven little, the same loves little.” It’s the idea the more you recognize what you’ve been saved from, the more you have love for God in the process.
Paul ends in verse 21 making the ultimate comparison between these two federal representatives. Sin is reigning over the unsaved on the earth, the sons of Adam. It is their master and they live under it’s power because it condemns them. Meanwhile, grace is reigning in the life of the believer to bring righteousness and eternal life through Jesus Christ. We are not under a curse of death. So death doesn’t master us, since we will live again without condemnation. And we’ll end with a quote from Warren Wiersbe:
“Adam came from the earth, but Jesus is the Lord from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:47). Adam was tested in a Garden, surrounded by beauty and love; Jesus was tempted in a
wilderness, and He died on a cruel cross surrounded by hatred and ugliness. Adam was
a thief, and was cast out of Paradise; but Jesus Christ turned to a thief and said, ‘Today
shalt thou be with Me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:43). The Old Testament is ‘the book of the
generations of Adam’ (Genesis 5:1) and it ends with ‘a curse’ (Malachi 4:6). The New Testament is ‘The book of the generation of Jesus (Matthew 1:1) and it ends with ‘no more curse’ (Revelation 22:3).”
Christ’s Righteousness is Sufficient for All.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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