The only thing that can exceed the blessedness we've already experienced tonight is the Word of God, God Himself. And with that in our minds, we turn to Romans chapter 5, Romans chapter 5. And we're going tonight to look at verses 15 through 21. I don't know whether we'll cover them all, we'll see. That's part of the adventure of preaching. You have all these great homiletics men and you prepare them all and one good sermon turns into a very poor series because it just seems that the Spirit of God fills up your heart and you just keep overflowing and so it is. That's the joy of the pastorate, by the way. You can always come back next week and finish where you left off.
Romans chapter 5 verse 15, "But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many are dead, much more the grace of God and the gift by grace which is by one man Jesus Christ hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned so is the gift, for the judgment was by one to condemnation but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. For if by one man's offense death reigned by one, much more they who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound, but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound, that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."
Now last week we looked at verses 12 to 14, Adam and the reign of death. Tonight we want to look at verses 15 to 21, Christ and the reign of life. And the theme here is life. Look at verse 17. You see there toward the end of the verse that we shall reign in life. In verse 18 again it says at the end of the verse, we have received justification of life; in verse 21, eternal life. And so we have here Paul's analogy. In Adam there is death. In Christ there is life.
Paul's theme through this entire section of Romans and chapter 3 through chapter 5 is a whole section on salvation. But in this section his theme is that life comes only through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other way to inherit eternal life. There is no other way to have the life of God in the soul of man. There is no other way to be made right with God than through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In fact, in the first part of Romans chapters 1, 2 and the first part of chapter 3, Paul shows how sinful, how lost, how doomed and damned and condemned men are, how they are sentenced to eternal death. And then he proceeds to show how life is available in Jesus Christ.
Now we've been learning about that in particular in chapters 3, 4 and the first part of chapter 5. In fact, chapter 5 verse 11 finishes up with the fact that we have reconciled ourselves to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Now this poses an interesting question. How is it that one man can be the cause of so many men being made right with God? Don't we have to accomplish something as individuals? How can one man do something which affects all of us?
Paul anticipates an argument that might come, how is it that Jesus Christ, one individual, can accomplish a work which is potentially able to save all men? How is it, that one man's act can have such widespread effect? In order to answer that question, Paul draws an analogy. And the analogy is between Adam and Christ. We shouldn't be so shocked that one man's act, that is Christ, could make many righteous when in fact one man's act, Adam, made all men unrighteous. And so it is an analogy. It is summed up by Paul in another passage, 1 Corinthians 15:22, where he says, "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made (What?) alive." So as one man, Adam, affected all of those who followed in his race, so one man, Christ, can affect all who follow in His race.
And so, we're looking in verses 12 to 21 at the analogy between Adam and Christ. Now as I said, the first three verses, 12, 13 and 14, pose the analogy and talk about Adam and the reign of death. Verse 12 says that as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned. In other words, Adam's sin drew us all into the sentence of death. One man's act affected all unto death.
The flow of logic we saw last week follows four points. First he says sin entered the world through one man. Secondly, death entered through sin. Thirdly, death spread to all men and then fourthly, death reigns over all. And he shows that in verses 13 and 14. So that's the basis of his analogy. What he's really saying is you shouldn't be surprised that one man's act could affect so many. You should have remembered that Adam's one act affected the whole human race. We all fell in Adam, we all sinned in Adam. We can all be made righteous in Christ in the same way. It is analogous.
Now that brings us to the second part of his analogy, from verse 15 on. Not Adam and the reign of death anymore, but Christ and the reign of life. This becomes the point of interest. Now I want you to remember that it is an analogy by contrast. The only thing that is analogous is the one-man, one-act factor. Everything else is in direct contrast. Adam's one act brought sin, judgment, and condemnation. Christ's one act brought grace, righteousness, justification, and life. So the effect of the act is antithetical. It is opposite. The analogy comes in the idea that one man with one act can affect so many.
Now we see this contrast then portrayed for us as the analogy of Christ and the reign of life unfolds. And let me just give you five key words as we move through. Otherwise, it's very hard to follow Paul's argument here. In fact, it's very hard anyway. And you're going to have to really think with me through the wonders of this passage. But let me just give you five words. It will be like hooks to hang your thoughts on as we move along so you'll be able to sort of find your way.
He gives five contrasts as he presents Christ as the one who brings life as Adam brought death. There are five contrasts that he makes. There is a contrast in the effectiveness of each man's act. There is a contrast in the extent of each man's act. There is a contrast in the efficacy or the provision of each man's act. There is a contrast in the essence of each man's act. And there is a contrast in the energizing force of each man's act. Now we'll move through these words. And, by the way, let me just say to you that there's a lot of reiteration here. He seems to say things over and again, but the reiteration is not redundancy. It is not redundancy at all. Every time he says it, it has a new nuance. It has a new facet. It is, rather than redundancy, somewhat characteristic of Paul's tendency toward eloquent fullness. It's as if he's examining a truth from every conceivable angle, and the analogy is a marvel of the genius of the Spirit of God who delivered it to Paul.
Now let's look at the first in the series of contrasts, and that we would call a contrast in effectiveness. And that's in verse 15. "But not as the offense so also is the free gift, for if through the offense of one many were dead, much more the grace of God and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many." Now here's a contrast in effectiveness, a contrast between Adam's offense and Christ's free gift. Notice the beginning of verse 15, what it says. Just to give you the literal translation, the free gift is not like the transgression. Now it's important that he say that because he's just given an analogy between Adam and Christ and he wants to sort of back away from that and say, "Now look, I'm talking about an analogy of contrast because the free gift that Christ gives is not like the transgression, they're different. They're analogous because one man with one act affects so many. But the very act itself is very different."
For example, he uses the word offense, paraptma in the Greek. It means fall, a deviation from the path. You could translate it two ways most commonly and that would be transgression or trespass, cross over the boundary, to deviate from the path. So what Adam did was a deviation. It was evil. It was sinful. It was against God. But in terms of Christ it is a free gift. That is the word charisma, it is a grace gift. It is therefore good and righteous and pleasing to God. So the one-man, one-act analogy stands, but it stands in contrast because Adam on the one hand does an evil thing against God, Christ on the other hand does that which is expressive of the mind and heart and will of God.
Now each of these things had an effectiveness distinct to themselves. Look back at verse 15. Through the offense act many are dead, or literally died. Many died, and how many is the many? All men. He uses the word "many" here, by the way, for the sake of his analogy. And we'll see later he uses the word "all" also for the sake of the analogy and he moves back and forth. He uses "many" here, though "many" means all. And then when he says "many in Christ," really "many" means many, not all. Later on he'll say all in Christ because he said all in Adam, and all in Adam means everybody, but all in Christ means many. Got it? But what he's doing is taking a literary device for the sake of keeping his analogy pure, and sometimes he uses "many," which is more true of one than the other, and sometimes he uses "all," which is more true of one than the other. But we understand that because the rest of Scripture will make that clear. And we'll try to make it clear as we go along. But don't worry about it.
There's another reason he uses "many," because I think he really has in mind Isaiah 53:11 where it says the Messiah shall justify many. And so speaking off that prophetic utterance he takes the many, which is true of Christ's justifying and abounding unto many, and he applies it to Adam even though the many means all, and frankly all is many. So we aren't harmed by that analogy at all.
So the sin of Adam, let's look back at it now in verse 15. The sin of Adam involved all his posterity. All here is called many, but it really refers to all men. All of them were involved in the sin in the loins of Adam, as we saw last week. They were all guilty in Adam. They were all ruined in Adam, so that every human being born into the world is born a sinner and he doesn't even have to commit a deed of sin to have the death sentence in him. That's why little tiny infants die. It isn't that they've committed some sin. It is that they bear in them the inheritance of Adam, for they sinned in Adam. Consequently they are born in sin and those in sin have upon them the sentence of death. And so Adam's offense brought death.
Now notice the middle of the verse. And here's the heart of the comparison, the words "much more,” much more. Now here we have a comparative. Adam did this but Christ did what? Much more. Adam's had this effect, Christ had much more. So we see there was a difference in effectiveness. Christ's act had a greater effectiveness. And we'll see that. It's really kind of saying to us, if one thing happened in Adam, much more surely will another happen in Christ. If one thing came from Adam's sin, much more shall we be guaranteed and assured. If we know that to be true, how much more will we know that one thing done in Christ's righteousness shall as well have a great and even greater effect. The evil of Adam brought death. The free gift of Christ not only freed men from death, it didn't just return them to the innocency of Adam; it took them out of death beyond the innocency of Adam to the righteousness of Christ. So it's much more, you see.
John Calvin said, "If Adam's fall had the effect of producing the ruin of many, the grace of God is much more efficacious in benefiting many since Christ is much more powerful to save than Adam was to ruin." And so the emphasis is placed on the greater effectiveness of grace. Look back at verse 15. So much more the grace of God and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. There's a certain sense in which Adam's sin brought a one-dimensional response, it just killed everybody. And that's really all the dimension there is, right? If you're dead, you're dead. That kind of one- dimensional thing is understandable. But when Christ redeems, it isn't just redemption as if it's one-dimensional. It is redemption which opens up for us all of the wonders of eternal life forever and ever. And that's why he talks about it abounding unto many. Adam's one act has a one-dimensional reaction in all men. Christ's one act has a multi-dimensional and eternal reaction in those who believe.
Now notice in verse 15 how he describes this. He says that what is offered in Christ, he says it is the grace of God and the gift by grace. Now, why does he use the word grace so many times and why this particular way? Well the grace of God is expressive of the attitude of God...or the attribute of God. And then it says the gift by grace is that which comes because of God's attitude. In other words, through Jesus Christ God's grace, which is an inherent attribute of His nature, is expressed to men in a gift of His grace, which comes to them by Jesus Christ. And so by one man, Jesus Christ, comes the gift of salvation, justification, righteousness, which is expressive of God's attribute of grace. It's the free gift of God's marvelous grace. And the Bible talks so much about the grace of God; how thankful are we for that unending grace.
So the grace of God, then, now think of it, comes to us and does more than just repair what Adam lost. It doesn't just take man back to where he was before the Fall. It takes him through innocence to eternal righteousness. And so it says it has abounded. It's more than just cancelling sin. I mean, when you were saved it wasn't just a transaction where you came to Christ and He said, well, it's okay, you're sins are gone. I erase the Adamic problem. Ultimately, of course, still you're having a problem with it, but when you get out of this body we'll just erase the Adamic problem and that will be it, you won't have to bother with sin. No, it's more than that. It's not only the ending of the Adamic problem. In this life we get power over our sins. But when we're glorified then we will see the release from all the sin principle. But it will be more than that, won't it? It will be an opening up of the eternal bliss and all the riches of eternity which God will bestow upon us. So the effectiveness of Christ's gift is greater than Adam's offense.
Now in the old days when the Puritans wrote and the Reformers, they used to put in their sermons, they would give an exposition of a passage like I've just done, and then in the bottom on their little books they would put a little thing that said "practical use." Have you ever seen that when you've read some of the Puritan writers? A little statement, "practical use," which means: So what all about this has... What does all this have to do with me, right? I mean, it's a nice thought, but so what. And so there was always this little practical use thing in some of the writers and I just want to throw those in at each point, all right?
What's the practical use of this verse? Here it is. Death came to Adam. Through Adam it came to all men. But death's power can be broken. And Christ can break the power of sin. And it says in 2 Timothy 1 that He has abolished death and brought to light life and immortality. So Jesus Christ can break the power of sin and death. Now listen to me. The converse is not true. Adam and his sin and his death cannot break back into that which Christ has already accomplished. Did you get that? Only Adam's act is overruled. Christ's cannot be overruled. Adam can no longer gain the victory over Christ, though Christ can gain the victory over Adam. The effect of Adam's act can be nullified, but the effect of Christ's act is eternal. In other words, if you have received from God the gift of grace through Jesus Christ, how long are you going to have it? Forever. And no act by any one man, Adam or any other, can ever change that. How marvelous. So God's free gift is not to be compared with the offense of Adam. By one man's offense the whole race died. To a much greater degree, God's grace and the gift of Jesus Christ has overflowed aboundingly forever and ever and ever through Christ to those who follow Him.
What is the practical use? It is the confident assurance that once we are in Christ we are there forever. And that fills our hearts with hope, doesn't it? And joy and thanksgiving and praise, and we live without fear that anyone can break back through the power of Christ.
There's a second comparison, not only in effectiveness but in extent. This is marvelous. And Paul's thinking here is so precise. It's a comparison of extent. It shows the extent of Adam's condemnation and the extent of Christ's justification. Verse 16, follow it, "And not as it was by one that sinned so is the gift." And that's just saying the same thing he said in the beginning of verse 15. Again he's saying the one sinning and the one offering the gift are not the same. I mean, the analogy is only an analogy of one-act, one-man again, but the act of each was so different that the one who sinned and the gift must be seen as distinct. So Adam and Christ are analogous at one point and at no other points. It is not like Adam's sin that is the gift, that's what he's saying. The gift of Christ is not like the offense of Adam, not only regarding its effectiveness but also regarding its extent.
And the point here is that the sentence of condemnation which came on all — and listen very carefully to this so you'll understand — the condemnation that came on all was for one sin, right? Now you need to understand this. Every man ever born into the world is a sinner because of one sin by one man at one point in time, Adam. So his point here, back to verse 16, the judgment was by one to condemnation. In other words, condemnation of the whole race, which was the judgment; the judgment is the sentence; the condemnation is the penalty paid. The judgment is the verdict. The condemnation is the penal outworking of that verdict. When God puts down judgment for sin and condemns men, it is by one that He does that. In other words, men are condemned by the sin of Adam, for we all sinned in Adam. So it's by one sin that all men are condemned.
But look at the end of verse 16. The free gift is not of one sin but of what? Many transgressions unto justification. So the extent is different; one sin with Adam and many sins or transgressions in relation to Christ.
Now let me help you to follow the thought. It's simply saying by one... And somebody says, well what is it? One man there in verse 16 or one sin? It's one man's sin, so it's a moot point. It's by one man's sin, that man being Adam. Verse 15 stresses the one man, verse 16 stresses the one trespass, so it doesn't matter which way you see this. But it's the sin of one man, one sin of one man, brought about judgment, brought about condemnation on everybody. But the free gift is of many offenses. Now this is a marvelous thought and I want you to get it.
What do we mean by many offenses? Listen. The judgment on the whole human race proceeded from one sin. But justification through the free gift of grace proceeds from many transgressions. John Murray writes, "The one trespass demanded nothing less than the condemnation of all. But the free gift unto justification is of such a character that it must take the many trespasses into its reckoning. It could not be the free gift of justification unless it blotted out the many trespasses. Consequently the free gift is conditioned as to its nature and effect by the many trespasses, just as the judgment was conditioned as to its nature and effect by the one trespass."
Now I know this taxes the limits of your mind. But what he is simply saying is Adam's one sin damned everybody, but Christ in justification can forgive all sins, so how much greater than is Christ's one act than Adam's? Adam's being attached to one sin, Christ's being attached to all sin. And so we say the evil from which Christ saves us is far greater than that which Adam initiated. Christ has done more than remove the curse. He gives justification from an innumerable load of sins.
What is the practical use of this? I get excited every time I think about this truth. Listen, here's the practical use. How many sins did it take for God to condemn the whole human race? How many? You got it. One. Does that tell you a little bit about God and His attitude toward sin? What do you think He thinks about sin? One sin, the whole human race constituted sinners on their way to eternal death. Now would you say He's really serious about sin? Would you say that God could have waited until ten or eleven were piled up? I mean, God, I mean, one sin, whammy, the whole human race?
Now that does tell you a little about how God feels regarding sin. And that's very practical to know that, isn't it, because He hasn't changed. Do you understand that? He feels exactly the same tonight about sin as He did then. It is just as damnable today as it was then. It is just as worthy to be the source of the damnation of the whole human race today as it was then. That one sin you may have committed this afternoon is equally enough to have damned the entire human race and sent them all to hell, except for the grace of God. Now that will give you a little idea of what God thinks about sin, won't it? God didn't allow men to sin for a little while and then gradually sort of build up His anger. You see, man, he commits one sin; God damns the whole human race. Whoo. And you know something? When He meted out the judgment, I mean it was a dynamite judgment, wasn't it? He didn't just say, "From now on the whole human race is going to limp. From now on the whole human race is only going to see with one eye. From now on the whole human race is going to have some pain in their back." Oh no. From now on the whole human race is going to enter into spiritual, physical and eternal what? Death. Boy, does that help you when you look at your own life and wonder what God thinks about your sin? It's enough to damn the whole human race, any one of them. Somebody might think it's like meting out the gas chamber for someone who jaywalked. But that's because they don't understand the holiness of God.
Every member of the human race that's died has died because of that one sin. God hates it. He hates it. And any sin, any sin, one sin calls forth His holy instant hatred and judgment. And you want to know something? That not only tells you how much God hates sin, but does it tell you something else about His grace? If He hates sin that much and He can forgive you for all the sins you've committed and all the sins I've committed, then He is a God whose grace is as great as His anger. Right? Very practical.
By the way, there are no first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree sins. Sin is sin. And sin, one sin, has potentiality beyond the power of human calculation. And I submit to you that we need God's view of sin, don't we? Because it will only be when we get God's view of sin that we'll understand how magnanimous is God's what? His grace.
Now would you take it a step further? Do you... You look at the cross of Jesus Christ and you see Him dying on the cross. And will you remember to yourself that God hates sin so much so that one sin damned the whole human race, and He hates that sin so much and yet He takes all the sins of all the human race and He puts them on Himself and He bears in His body our sins? And does that tell you a little about His love? And He offers forgiveness. Oh, marvelous, incomprehensible wonder. And so says Paul, one sin by Adam damned the race but God gathered up many trespasses and in a gracious act bore them all unto justification in order, in other words, in order that men might be made right with God.
Listen, the only thing that is more powerful in the heart of God than His hatred of sin is His love of the sinner. And so, He went to those extremes in order to provide salvation for us, who are so utterly unworthy. So there's a difference in effectiveness and extent.
Thirdly, there's a difference in efficacy, in efficacy. That means the capacity for producing a desired result. You probably know that word, but that's what it means, the ability to produce a result. We could say there's a difference in results. There was a difference in the product. And that's in verse 17, "For if by one man's offense death reigned by one, much more they who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." So Adam brought the reign of death and Christ brings what? The reign of life; so there's a big difference in the efficacy. That is the capacity to produce a desired result.
You see, Adam sinned a sin but he had no idea of the result he was producing, did he? What did he think he was going to get out of that? Why, when Eve was tempted she was told if you eat that stuff you will be like God. And Adam, he wasn't tempted, but I'll tell you one thing, he decided he would rather be like Eve, at least, so he joined her in it. You see, that sin had absolutely no efficacy. In other words, it had no ability to produce a desired result, none. It didn't produce the desired result at all. It produced the very opposite of what they wanted. It didn't make them like God, it damned them. It condemned them.
But on the other hand, much — you see it again in verse 17, the middle of the verse — much more again. There's that much more. Much more they who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ. Here's Adam's one sin, it does not produce the desired results. Here's Christ's one righteous act and it produces not only the desired results, but fully reigning in life. Death reigns in the first half of the analogy but we reign in life in the second half. It's a thrilling concept. And the idea is that grace overpowers the consequence of sin. The free gift of righteousness, given the believer by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, overpowers the reign of death. Sin in Adam set us against God. And death reigns. Righteousness in Christ makes us right with God and we reign.
Now what does it mean there at the end of verse 17 to reign in life through Jesus Christ? What does it mean to reign in life? Well first of all it means to be alive. Jesus said, "I am come that you might have (What?) life." What kind of life? Spiritual life, right? Eternal life. And that you might have more abundant life, spiritual, abundant, glorious life. And it says that we not only have life but we reign in life. We are kings and priests, says Peter, doesn't he? We reign in life. What a great thought. We don't just get life, and again you come to that contrast. I mean, Adam's is a one dimensional thing. He sins: death. But Christ is a multi-dimensional. He grants us justification by faith in Him. And we don't just get life we reign in life. I mean, we get life plus. It isn't that life reigns over us. We reign in life as kings inheriting all of God's possessions, a marvelous thought. And that life goes on forever. What a glorious truth. In fact, Jesus said, I'll give them eternal life, John 10, and they shall never what? Perish. “Nneither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father which gave them Me is greater than all and none is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand.” And in Colossians, Paul says, "Your life is hid with Christ in God." And here we are reigning in that new life in Christ.
What is the practical use of this? Well let's think about it. First of all, it tells us that God is a transformer of life. Isn't that wonderful? Aren't you glad to know that? Aren't you glad to know that in Jesus Christ you can become something different than you were? Aren't you glad that He transforms your life? That salvation is a total change? It is not... I heard somebody say one time it's putting a new suit of clothes on the man. I said no, it's putting a new man in the suit of clothes. It's not dressing up the old, it's making it new. Turns a pauper into a prince. Turns a slave into a king. It turns a child of Adam to a child of God. It turns a dead man into a living man.
And not only do we get life, but we reign in life. What do you mean we reign? Well in that life we have authority and we have power. Over what? Over sin and darkness. You say, "You mean as a believer I do?" That's right. If you're a Christian you reign in the sense that you have power over sin. That's right. That's why Paul in Romans 6 is going to tell us this, and this is a sneak preview, verse 17, "God be thanked that whereas you were the slaves of sin, you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered to you, being then made free from sin you became the servants of righteousness." In other words, you're not a victim of sin anymore. You reign in life. You have power and authority by God's power and His Spirit over those things and so you are called to live a holy triumphant righteous life. You're not a victim, you're a victor. We are to reign in life. I don't think Christians understand what that means. We're kings and priests. We have authority over those things. How great is our salvation.
A fourth element of the analogy is the essence. Not only is the effectiveness contrasted and the extent and the efficacy or result, but the essence. And here we get down to the heart of the matter. Verse 18 leads us into verse 19, which is the key to this thought. Verse 18 by the way sums up everything that's been said, and most Bible teachers would feel that verse 18 picks up at the end of verse 12, and 13 through 17 are a parenthesis explaining the analogy in verse 12. So that if you were to read verse 12, "Wherefore as by one man's sin entered into the world and death by sin and so death passed upon all men for all have sinned” then jump to 18 “therefore as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."
In other words, it seems that verses 13 to 17 are qualifying explanations of the analogy given in verse 12, which is only really the first half of the analogy, that is that one man's sin...by one man sin came, and then the analogy comes full circle in verse 18. And as that happened, the offense of one bringing men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one, that is the Lord Jesus Christ, the free gift comes to all men, bringing them justification of life.
And so we see then this is a sort of pulling together. Through one man, Adam, comes sin, condemnation and death. Through one man, Christ, comes righteousness, justification and life. And you notice, by the way, here he uses the word "all men" are condemned and then he uses "all men" are brought to justification of life. And again it's a literary "all." The "all men" means all that are in Adam. The "all men" means all that are in Christ. The "all" is consistent with that to which it's related, just like the "many" was earlier, as we saw in verse 15. The "many" who are in Adam experienced the result of Adam's act. The "many" who are in Christ experience the result of Christ's act. Here they're called "all." It is the "all" who are in Adam and the "all" who are in Christ. Now some people have used verse 18 to try to teach universal salvation, that everybody ultimately, all men, are going to be justified. But the second clause of verse 18 is restrictive. It is restricted to those to whom it refers. And the "all men" who are brought to justification of life are the "all" affected by the act of Christ. And the only ones affected by the act of Christ are those who believe in Him. He's made that clear in chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5. So we don't want Paul to teach salvation through faith in Jesus Christ in chapter 3, 4 and the first half of 5, and then all of a sudden unload a doctrine of universalism here in verse 18 of chapter 5. What he is simply saying is that all in Adam experience Adam's act and all in Christ experience Christ's act.
Just let me see if I can't support that. I just thought of the verse that comes after 1 Corinthians 15:22 would help maybe. First Corinthians 15:22 I have quoted, "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." And there you have that same use of "all." As in Adam all died. Which all? The all that were in Adam. Even in Christ shall all be made alive. Which all? The all that were in Christ. But verse 23, I think, really sets it out. "But every man in his own order. Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's." Now there's the definition of the "all" of verse 22. The "all" of verse 22 is defined in verse 23 as they that are Christ's. So we don't see any universalism.
So after summarizing in verse 18 he comes to 19 and this is where we see the essence which is different. And this gets us to the very essential nature of the act of Adam and Christ. "For as by one man's (What?) disobedience." So the essence of Adam's act or its essential nature was what? What was it, an act of what? Disobedience. And many were what? Made sinners. "So by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." What is the essential nature of Christ's act? If Adam's was disobedience, Christ's is obedience. Very important.
Adam's sin is labeled as to its essential nature. It was an act of disobedience. God said don't eat, he ate. Disobedience. And what happened? This is really very important theologically. "Many through that act," and the many again are the many who were in Adam, and you're back to that same use of “many” and “all” for the sake of the analogy. "The many in Adam were made sinners." That's a very strong term by the way. It means a very strong identification. They were constituted sinners. Solidarity in sin, sinnership, if you don't mind me coining a word, became ours through Adam's disobedience. And as a result of that, Ephesians 2 says that all men are the children of disobedience. We're all children of disobedience. We've been born into a disobedient race.
And then the contrast, "Through the obedience of one.” That's Christ. He said so many times, "I do only that which the Father tells me to do." "He was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin." And I love what Philippians 2 says, "He became obedient to death, even the death of the cross." He was obedient to death. He was obedient in life to death. He was always obedient. And I think you have here this idea of obedience tying it in with Paul's later statement in Philippians 2. The obedience of which he speaks is the obedience of death. But His whole life was one act of obedience, wasn't it? One uninterrupted act of obedience culminating in the cross. And by it, I love this, many were made righteous. Strong word. We were constituted righteous.
I don't know if I can tell you what you ought to hear about that. What it means is, listen now, watch, follow this, when Adam sinned we sin in his loins, the whole human race were made sinners. Now what is the result of that? What is it that all sinners do? You got it, they what? Sin. Good, class, very good. We were made sinners. And what's going to be the outcome of having been made a sinner? You're going to sin. Listen to this. If you were made righteous, what's going to be the outcome of that? What? Righteousness. And we're right back to what we've been learning for months and even years, that people who are true Christians are going not only to have had some statement made about them, some declaration, some forensic statement, but they are going to have a constitutional righteousness. It is not the eradication of the sin reality, but God plants within the heart a righteousness that must bear fruit. On the one hand we cannot say that as in Adam we're all sinners but we certainly don't have to sin. Hardly, folks. If we were made sinners, we're going to sin. And so if we have been made righteous in Christ, we're going to show that. And I agree there. We're still in the human form. And as long as we're in these bodies there's going to be a problem with sin that's in us. But that's not in chapter 5, that comes in chapter 7. For now he is simply celebrating the constitutional righteousness given us in Jesus Christ. Just as much as we are made sinners in Adam who then sin, so we are made righteous in Christ who then manifests that righteousness.
What's the practical use of this? I guess one of my favorite verses of any hymn in any hymnal anywhere we sang, and that's why I had you sing it. H.G. Spafford's great “It Is Well with My Soul”:
“My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin, not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more."
And what does he say then?
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul
It is well with my soul. It is well with my soul."
What's the practical use of this? Listen. It's that exhilarating joy that says my sin was nailed to the cross. By one man's obedience I have been made righteous, not in my own self but the righteousness of Christ was granted to me as in Christ in the same way that the sinfulness of Adam was granted to me in Adam. And you say, "But I had nothing to do with Adam." And you have nothing to do with what Christ did either, but that's the way God works it. We accept the fact of what we are in Adam and we gladly accept the fact of what we are in Christ.
There's a last element of comparison...contrast, and it's not only the effectiveness, extent, efficacy or result and essence, but the deeds are contrasted as to their energizing force, or their energy. And I guess this is just a word to help us remember we start with E's. It's not really important. But what it means is sort of the driving force behind these. What energized these two things? And now we come to one of the great parts, and we'll pick this up in our study of chapter 6, so I just need to touch it a little tonight and we'll finish.
Verse 20: "Moreover the law entered." We talked about the law already in verse 13. He picks it back up here. "The law entered that the offense might abound." Let me ask you a question? What energizes sin according to that verse? The law; so the law was that which energized sin. But where sin abounded, what? Grace did much more abound. So what is it that energizes righteousness? It's grace, God infusing into us His gracious power. So the energies are different.
A very interesting statement is made by F.F. Bruce. He says this, biblical scholar, "The law has no permanent significance in the history of redemption." Very interesting statement. "The law has no permanent significance in the history of redemption." There are only two things that have permanent significance in the history of redemption, only two. This is MacArthur talking to you. This is my own sense about this. One is the act of Adam, two is the act of Christ. For the act of Adam will be that which damns the lost forever. And the act of Christ is that which redeems the saved forever. They are the only two permanent elements in the history of redemption. The law is not one of them. The law was a complementary element. The law was a corollary. The law, if you will, was a temporary measure with a purpose that never was redemptive. The law does not damn people to hell and the law does not bring people to God. The law doesn't do either one of those things.
You say, "Well what does it do?" Listen, sin was in the world before the law came, right? And what law are we talking about? The law of Moses. But before God wrote the law down and gave it to Moses, there was still sin in the world because everybody who lived before Moses died. And what does death prove? Sin. You say, "I know why God gave the law, He gave the law to restrain sin. He gave the law to diminish sin. He gave the law to call a halt to sin." Wrong. Just the opposite. Really? Sure, verse 20, "The law came that the transgression might (What?) abound."
You say, "Wait a minute. God gave the law to incite sin?" That's right. Let me tell you how. First of all, God gave specific laws to create specific transgressions. Why? Well He wanted to give the sin nature a place to operate. Why? So that it would be very, very clear to men that they were what? Sinners.
Let me give you a second element of it. Not only does the law create specific transgressions against which men see themselves as sinners, but the laws even stimulate sin. Have you ever seen a little kid walking down the street? "Do not pick these flowers." The kid wouldn't even think about it until he saw that sign. I remember the little old lady who went to the board at the church and she said, "I object to the pastor reading the Ten Commandments in church because it puts so many ideas into people's minds." Some truth to that, isn't there?
You see, the law introduced no new principle. It didn't introduce any new principle. The sin principle was always there, right? All the law did was stimulate it so that men would see that they were sinners. And the principle of righteousness was always there, too. And the law didn't bring about that righteousness. The law just manifested how desperately we needed that righteousness. And then once we received that righteousness, the law became the standard we desired with all our heart to keep as an outworking manifestation of that righteousness. So it's a corollary to sin on the one hand, and it's a corollary to righteousness on the other. To the sinner it manifested sin. To the righteous man it becomes the pleasure of his heart. Isn't that amazing? On the one hand, to the unregenerate it excites their sin. On the other hand it restrains their sin to the regenerate. So it is not a permanent element in the redemptive history, it is a corollary to both.
And so the law, he says in verse 20, came that sin, the trespass, might abound. But where sin abounded, what? Grace did much more. Grace did literally, grace super abounded, huper, super abounded. Are you glad for that? "Grace that is greater than our sin," said Juliet Johnston in her wonderful hymn. So the energy of sin is the law, the energy of righteousness is grace.
Finally like a master weaver he pulls all the threads together in verse 21, "That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life." What's he saying? Just summarizing: Sin reigned in death, grace reigns in life. That's just all that we've already said. Grace met sin head on and defeated it. Grace becomes the controlling reality.
And would you notice how the chapter ends? "By Jesus Christ our Lord." Beloved, it's all there, isn't it, in Him. Would you note that that's really the theme that's woven through this whole chapter. Look at verse 1, and let me give you a quick 15-second tour. Verse 1, "Through our Lord Jesus Christ." Verse 9, "Saved from wrath through Him." Verse 10, "Reconciled to God by the death of His Son. Being reconciled be saved by His life." Verse 11, "We have joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Verse 15, "By one man Jesus Christ." Verse 17, "Shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." Verse 21, "By Jesus Christ our Lord." Now do you understand why the apostle said, "Neither is there salvation in any other name, for there's none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved."
What's the practical use of this? I'll tell you what it is. I'm going to close with this. Listen, don't turn off your mind now. Listen to this. Every one of us should bow before God in humiliating consciousness that we are vile sinners worthy of death. Every one of us should realize that apart from the work of Jesus Christ we would be doomed to eternity forever without God because God hates sin. But O my, where there was the reign of death, God came with His grace and overpowered that and death is overruled by life for all who believe in Jesus Christ.
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