Tag Archives: trespass

JUST AS…SO ALSO

JUST AS…SO ALSO

“Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were made sinners, so also, through the obedience of the one man, the many will be made righteous. The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But, where sin increased, grace increased all the more so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:18-21.

Amazing, isn’t it, how precise God’s action was to undo at the cross what Adam did in the garden!

But, before anyone gets the idea from the above passage, that Paul was advocating universal salvation, that is that everyone is automatically saved because of the cross, we need to look carefully at what Paul said. Adam’s one act of disobedience brought sin and death on all people because Adam represented the human race. Every human being, past, present and future came from Adam. We are all “in Adam”. Therefore, we were all born with Adam’s nature, with a natural enmity towards God and a bent towards sin.

Jesus Christ died in the place of all human beings, past, present and future, to free us from the punishment for sin, but only those who are “in Christ” actually receive the gift of eternal life. Everyone has been forgiven but not everyone has received forgiveness.  Everyone has been invited to access God’s forgiveness and the gift of righteousness and eternal life, but only those who receive His gift by faith and participate in His life are actually “in Christ”.

Paul was both comparing and contrasting what Jesus did with what Adam did to reveal the extent of God’s mercy over His judgment. Adam disobeyed one instruction which was enough to separate him from God and bring death upon the whole human race. From that one act of disobedience flowed a stream of rebellion which turned the world into a jungle of sin and death.

After a lifetime of submission to the Father, Jesus’ life culminated in one act of obedience which brought mercy to all who believe in Him. He reconciled us to the Father and provided the potential for us to be restored to the His image.

God separated and called one nation, Israel, through Abraham, to be His own people and gave them His law to show them how to live so that the surrounding nations would have a glimpse of the one true God. The law was intended to teach them what sin is so that they, in their inability to keep the law, would experience God’s forgiveness through the blood of an animal sacrificed in their place.

The entire sacrificial system was to be a visual aid of what God had already done through His Son from before the foundation of the world. “So,” Paul said, “God gave the law to increase sin.” But why? Surely. He wanted them to obey Him, not to sin? Yes, that was His intention, but the law could not produce obedience – it could only reveal the extent of their guilt. They had to realise how deep their sin was in order to understand and appreciate the greatness of God’s grace.

It is impossible, through any amount of effort, to produce perfect righteousness because everything we do is stained with sin. Even our best efforts have our filthy fingerprints all over them. So, God did away with our trying as a basis of acceptance with Him. “That was useless,” He said. “I have a better way. My Son did a perfect job of living in obedience to me. All you need to do is accept the gift and put yourself under His authority and I will accept His obedience as though it were yours.”

But there is more. Just as we received Jesus’ righteousness as a gift to save us from God’s wrath, so we accept His righteousness in our everyday living. Many believers come unstuck here. Once we are “in Christ” we think that we have to maintain our acceptance with God through hard work. We keep trying to be good enough. God says, “Stop it!” We’re okay, just as we are. All He wants us to do is to keep trusting and following Jesus. He will recreate us into the image of His Son through the Holy Spirit in us.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

HOW MUCH MORE…

HOW MUCH MORE…

“But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:15-17.

And the river of grace flows on and on and on!

One man; one sin, condemnation; death – the tragic story of humanity. It took just one act of disobedience to release a Pandora’s Box of terrible consequences on the whole human race and the universe itself which God created perfect to sustain man’s earthly home. Once out of the box, those consequences could never be retrieved and stuffed back.

However, we not only have to live with those consequences; we also continue to add to them by agreeing with and perpetuating Adam’s rebellion. And so, through one trespass, condemnation and death came on the human race… but into our sorry plight stepped another man…

Paul was quick to explain that what God did to rescue man, not only rescued us from the consequence of sin but also elevated us to a position even greater than we had before the fall. That is so much like God!

Before Adam’s disobedience, the first pair, who were created in His image to share a unity with their Creator, with each other and with the world in which they lived, were the visible expression of the unity in the Godhead. But sin came in, disrupted the unity and brought chaos into the harmony of God’s creation. Not only Adam and Eve were condemned but also the whole human race because each succeeding generation was born with the nature of Adam. And the crux of it all is: we deserved it!

Now here comes the “how much more” bit!

Through the gift of God’s grace (the favour He lavished on us regardless of us), the effects of what Jesus did on the cross flow to all who receive Him and we don’t deserve it. This is the majesty of God’s grace. We deserve nothing but condemnation and death because we have confirmed God’s judgment on us by our own sinfulness. Yet God has provided, not only forgiveness but also much more – righteousness through grace, underserved favour that releases upon us a new status – children of God, and all the privileges and benefits of being God’s kids!

However, Paul said that it’s even more than that. Not only are we God’s sons and daughters, but we are also on the same level as His Son – kings, reigning in life through Him and with Him. What does that mean? Jesus showed us what it means to reign in His earthly sojourn. He was never the victim of anyone or anything. He lived in absolute submission to the Father, and carried out the Father’s will in everything He said and did.

“Reigning in life” is not about lording it over other people; it’s about being in control of ourselves by being in submission to God. Now that takes grace! Our natural bent towards selfishness and self-will is still there, wanting to be in charge but, because the Holy Spirit is now resident inside us, representing Jesus to us and giving us the power to submit to Him, we are able to overcome our natural bent and live under His authority.

As we are being set free from our fears, our inhibitions, our misunderstandings and our unbelief to embrace the truth that Jesus, not us, is Lord, so we are able to say “no” to ourselves and “yes” to Him, more and more. The “old man” is dying and the “new man” is coming alive. Circumstances no longer control or terrify us because He is in charge. His peace guards our hearts and minds; His word fills our thoughts and mouths.

Now that is reigning in life!

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.