Monday, January 30, 2012

Romans 7 – The Struggle

In Romans 6 Paul explained how we were freed from the penalty of sin which is death; also how we were freed from the bondage of our own lusts, to where Christ could be our new master. This week He will talk about our relationship to the Law. Essentially there are two views of law, one will focus on the letter of exactly what the Law says, and the other will focus on the spirit of what the Law was intended to accomplish.

Freed from the Law

1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? 2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.

[In verses 1-3, Paul continues the discussion that he began in Romans 6:15, answering the question, "Shall we sin because we are not under the Law but under grace?" He used the illustration of a master and servant to explain how a Christian Should yield himself to God. In today's passage he uses the illustration of a husband and wife to show that the believer has a new relationship to the Law because of his union with Christ.


When Bro. Al spoke on New Year's Day he related the Jewish perspective of the security in knowing the boundaries of the Law. But most of us will understand the difference between a "good husband" who simply does not commit adultery but may have other issues, and a "good husband" who loves his wife the way Christ loved the church and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25).]


4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

[So what is your relationship to the Law? Is it to the letter of the law, where a man could be free from adultery but abusive in many other ways? Paul says we have become dead to the letter of the Law which was "in the flesh". In verse 5 He speaks of a particular sin that is "aroused by the Law" and that is the sin of rebellion; where you only want to know where to draw the line, just so you can step over it. Almost anyone who has raised kids knows about the sin of rebellion. In the flesh the letter of the Law defined man's relationship to God.

But verse 6 tells us we have been freed from the legalistic view of the Law, because as verse 4 said, we are "dead to the law through the body of Christ". But as before we were not freed to our own purpose, rather we are married to the resurrected Christ to bear fruit to God, spiritual fruit.]

Sin's Advantage in the Law

7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet."

[If we say the law is bad, then some might infer that the lawgiver is also bad. So what was the good purpose or intent of the Law? First the Law reveals sin; some sin like murder is obvious, but coveting is a hidden sin or attitude, that only God would know when we are doing it; but the Law calls it to our attention.]

8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.

[Sin is opportunistic. Some people have O.D.D. Oppositional Defiance Disorder, all you have to say is "don't" and that is exactly what they will do. I remember training my oldest son not to go out in the street, he would walk to the edge of the yard and put one little foot across the line, just to see what would happen. Paul says that once he knew the Law all his evil desires were revealed, you see without the law his rebellion was dormant, it had to be aroused from sleep so it could be dealt with. He realized his innocence was really just ignorance, and that once sin was aroused his innocence was dead.]

10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

[So now being aware of our own rebellion and evil desires, opportunistic sin has put us all under the penalty of death. The law has condemned each of our mortal bodies to death. So it is not that the Law was bad, it only destroyed our illusion of innocence; the Law rightly reflects that character of God and man. God is holy, and we are corrupt.]

Law Cannot Save from Sin

13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.

[The letter of the Law is critical it reveals, arouses and condemns our sin, but it cannot fix our sinful nature. This inability to solve the problem is not a weakness of the law, but of the flesh. For as long as we are in the flesh our relationship to God is in the letter of the Law. The Law is spiritual but we are carnal; so we don't need a new Law, we need a new relationship.]

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

[To be honest almost no one will teach and preach on these 6 verses; and those that do usually end up with heresy. A lot of people are very uncomfortable with the brutal honesty of the Christian struggle. You could read Romans 6 and get the idea that sin is dead, it is no long our master, therefore it has no more bearing in our lives. But this focus on our relationship to the Law points a laser beam on the fact that Jesus did, what no other man or woman was able to do. Jesus yielded His will in obedience to the Law and the father, so that he could earn the right to die in our place.

People who are free-will Armenian's have the most problem here because Paul reveals that his own will accomplished nothing because "sin still dwells in me", and as long as I live in this body sin still has the opportunity to be aroused from sleep. And if you stopped right here you would end up with any number of heresies that basically say that "whatever you do in this body no longer matters once you have been saved". But we already learned last week that you are the slave of the one you serve, so if we yielded control of the body to freely follow its own sin nature, then who are we serving?]

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

[So summarizing the situation Paul realizes "evil is present with me" even when I want to do good. I love verse 24, "O wretched man that I am, who will free me from this body of death?" If you're thinking "that's a terrible verse; how could you love that verse"? I love it because the answer is Jesus; thank God it's Jesus. If the answer is me, then I'm in trouble. That word wretched means completely exhausted, and without strength.

There are two verses you really need to get this:

1 Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

Romans 5:6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

You see what really happens to legalist who try to serve God by force of will to uphold their own standard of righteousness, is that they get tired, cynical, and judgmental.

In order to be completely committed to the gospel, we have to make an honest assessment of what we are apart from Christ. We need to draw a contrast between what is "in me" in my body relating to God by the letter of the Law; and "in Christ" in my mind, relating to God by the spirit of the Law. By the letter of the Law I know that sin is alive in me; but by the spirit of the Law I know that I am alive in Christ.

Just to give you a little preview of next week:

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh

We struggle in this world because we are still flesh and blood with a sin-nature, living in a broken sin-filled world. The point of grace was not to say that we would no longer struggle, but to say that the struggle of the Christian life is worth it, because we are in Christ. God is glorified when His redeemed struggle, not by the will of the flesh, but against the will of the flesh, by the power of His Holy Spirit. And we will talk about that more in Romans 8.


  1. Explain this idea "Where there is no authority, there is no rebellion".
  2. How is sin dormant or dead apart from the Law?
  3. Why can't the Law set you free?



Romans 6 15-23 Who’s Slave are you?

On January 1 1863 President Lincoln issued the Emancipation proclamation. In it he declared that all persons held as slaves in the Confederate States "shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free". This executive order was limited in that those states to which the proclamation applied, had separated themselves, formed new government, and did not recognize the authority of Lincoln or the United States. In order for that proclamation to have the authority it needed to be effective, the Union first had to win the war.

Likewise in Romans 6 Paul is making the case that those redeemed by Christ were first dead to the power of sin, and also freed from the bondage of sin. The goal of course is the continual sanctification of God's elect. His intent is to persuade us of the importance of living a spiritual life as God intended, rather than a life serving the things that will perish with us in death.

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not

[Is the grace of God an opportunity to sin? In Romans 5:22 we learned that the Law caused sin to abound, in that sin became more apparent because of the law. But verse 13 reminded us that sin was already in the world before the Law was given to Moses. Sin was not only in the world but God was clearly judging sin apart from the Law. Adam and Eve lost their home in the Garden of Eden, Cain was exiled from his people, and Noah's contemporaries were utterly destroyed from the face of the earth. I think it obvious that sin was offensive to God even without the Law. So would a God offended by sin really extend His grace so we could sin all the more? Again Paul uses the same reply we saw last week "Certainly not". In the strongest terms Paul refutes this false inference drawn from the doctrine of grace.]

16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

[First the bad news, you are a slave; but the good news is, you at least get to choose a master. Now the idea of slavery is offensive to our modern sensibilities, but we should give the analogy a fair hearing because it fits well with the doctrine being taught.

The common form of slavery among the Hebrews was that of a bond-servant, where a man would pledge himself to serve his master as payment for a debt. The standard term of servitude was 6 years, after which the servant could go out free and the debt was paid.

This is very different from the bondage which held Israel in slavery to the kings of Egypt for generations, before God called Moses and brought terrible plagues on the land to free the children of Israel.

Paul makes the comparison between us and the bond-servant, asking the question "who do you serve"? We can choose sin leading to death, or obedience leading to righteousness. If you object to the choice thinking you would prefer to be free and not a slave at all; hold that thought. Paul is about to answer the objection.]

17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

[When the grace of God reached each of us, we were already slaves to sin. Because of our sin nature we have a proclivity to sin, and we understand that since the time of Adam, the end of every sin filled life is death. But those who believe the gospel have been sold to a new master. We have been freed from sin to serve righteousness.

And how have we been freed? Recall verse 7 "For he who has died has been freed from sin". As Christ died for our sins, in Him they can remain buried. Likewise His resurrection is the pattern or mold for our spiritual life. The "form of doctrine" in verse 17 is that pattern where the natural man is diminished and the spiritual nature begins to thrive. As Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 15:22 "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive".]

 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. 
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

[Here we see the progressive nature of sin: "lawlessness leading to more lawlessness".

Most people don't enter into sin with the hope of being enslaved, but every addictive behavior, every self destructive lifestyle begins with a single sinful act. The supernatural regeneration, the spiritual rebirth of salvation gives us a new nature, a spiritual nature that is the antidote to the power of sin in our lives. Just as the slaves of sin do not serve righteousness; neither should those whom God has declared righteous serve sin any longer.

There is an old saying in science that "nature abhors a vacuum", meaning if you take away one thing, something will always take its place. The void of a vacuum is an unnatural state. If Jesus simply took away our sin but left us unchanged, we would naturally return to a life of sin. But thank God, Jesus does not leave us unchanged; in the power of His spirit we have a new spiritual desire, an affinity for the righteousness of Christ.]

21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.

[From the outside looking in, many people imagine they have to give up a lot in terms of lifestyle, in order to become a Christian. What they are seeing is the natural outgrowth of the new nature, where God's redeemed desire the fruit of righteousness, more than the old passions of the flesh. But to those who are powerless to overcome sin, they can't imagine how they could ever give up those passions.

To the Christian Paul asks, what is the benefit of a life spent serving sin? The fruit of a sinful lifestyle is guilt and shame, and it all ends with the life of the body. Paul answered this question for himself in Philippians 3 where he famously declares all the accomplishments of his mortal body were garbage compared to the righteousness of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Moreover in that same passage he makes a connection to last week's lesson of "reckoning ourselves dead to sin" by saying the he is already "conformed to His death", and ready for the resurrection.]

22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

[The redeemed of God are not destined to a life of futility. Unlike the works of unrighteousness, our fruit does not perish with the body. Just as the fruit of sin is death; the new nature we receive in Jesus, produce holiness that lasts forever. But this righteousness is never our own, it was secured for us in the obedience of Jesus Christ. Righteousness and eternal life is the wage or fruit of obedience, and Jesus gives it as a gift to all those who believe.

In this country and around the world slavery has an ugly history. Mankind is too often quick to see our differences as a natural inequality in order to justify the slavery of others who were also created in the image of God.

Even though the time of service for a bondservant was limited, there was a provision in the law for someone to become a servant for life. If at the end of his 6 year service, a servant did not want to go out free, because he had prospered and because he loves his master and his family; the law allowed a servant who wished to be bound for life, to appear before the elders, and stand in the doorway while his master took an awl and pierced through his ear to the doorpost. This act was a public witness that the servant was pledged to his master forever, a man who served for love not money.

Paul was so fond of this analogy, that he took to calling himself a bondservant of Jesus Christ, realizing that the man, who paid the price to free him from sin, was now his master. In fact that is how he introduces himself in the opening of Romans and Philippians. Peter, James and Jude did the same in their letters as well. This term was their reminder that they had been freed from sin in order that they might serve the righteousness of God.]


  1. In what ways are people slaves to sin?
  2. Could we ever be righteous if our nature never changed?
  3. Do you view the term bondservant as derisive or honorary?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Romans 6:1–14 – Life, Death, and Sin

Life, Death, and Sin: How Union with Christ Should Change How We Live. Romans 6:1–14.

Key Question

Romans 6:2—"How can we who died to sin still live in it?"

Key Verse

Romans 6:11—"So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."

One thing you may have observed following Christmas, many people are giving gift cards more and more each year. With so many cards being given people are losing track of what has been given to them. Sometimes hundreds of dollars in gift cards remain inactive because they have been misplaced or are just forgotten. The quite valuable gift that has been given is in practice, of no value at all because it is forgotten, ignored, or discarded. In much the same way Christians do not understand their salvation and the gift that has been given to them.

Romans 6

Dead to Sin, Alive to God

Chapter 6 of Romans is an important chapter in the letter. It plays directly into Paul's broader argument that is laid down in the epistle's key verse: 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." We have been reciting this verse for months now, and it's time to unwrap the salvation proclaimed to us as the gospel of Christ.

As Paul is highlighting that the gospel is for Jews and Greeks the need is equal regardless of national origin or culture. 1. God has made His attributes known to humanity, and 2. since His Law is written on their hearts, no one can claim ignorance. Whether through the law, or some other philosophy no one can earn salvation.

The main message of the early chapters was simple "Righteousness comes from God" and "Righteousness is necessary to be justified". People who see God as only love and mercy, neglect His holiness and justice. Both laws (the one written on the heart and the one written in stone) are incapable of providing righteousness, which must be gained in order to stand before God. This righteousness is provided by Jesus Christ himself who is able to save all of humanity past present and future. This righteousness is applied to specific humans through faith, just as Abraham had faith and receives salvation because of his faith that is secured later on in Christ. This leads to Paul's affirmation that the application of righteousness needed (justification) comes only through faith, not the insufficient adherence to Law, and from that we are reconciled to God.

Paul then turns to how this justification/reconciliation occurs. The answer is Christ's substitutionary work. In Adam all have sinned and death has reigned through sin. Therefore, we are all sinners because of Adam's sin. However, in Christ, those who have faith are given the free gift that reconciles that sin. It is a simple (but not simplistic) substitution; the capable in place of the incapable, the righteous for the unrighteous. The application of this, however, is for those who are in Christ and no longer in Adam. Thus, there is significant emphasis here upon what we are unified with that is important in chapter 6. Furthermore, a false conclusion of what Paul asserts in chapter 5 is: since Jesus has done everything, and we cannot do anything, for salvation there no longer remains a need to live righteously. This is a false conclusion that Paul now confronts.


 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 


Our particular text addresses a logical conclusion that may arise from the previous argument of chapter 5, mainly, "Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?" Paul is asking this question in a similar way that he does throughout other parts of the letter that is purposes to confront possible mistaken conclusions from his arguments. Last week we looked at the inheritance of Adam a corrupt sin nature, leading to sin and death. But that unhappy introduction was turned by the core message "But where sin abounded, grace
abounded more" .

Christ's penal-substitutionary atonement (Christ substituted himself and paid the legal price for our sin) is the price that turns aside the wrath prepared for all guilty sinners. The free gift of salvation is much greater than the offense of sin (cf. 5:17) and, as such, some might say that since it encompasses every sin, past, present, and future, that one need not concern oneself with addressing the sin in one's life. The grace of God will cover it. Salvation is accomplished and secured, there need be no other "work" to be done since there was not any work for humanity to do in the first place. Now that sounds logical up to a point, and that point is God. Remember again last week we saw that sin was already wrong before the law was given, and the sin of mankind is and was an offense to God. Would God work against His own Holy nature to produce a salvation resulting in more sin because His saints are all running headlong into sin waving their "Get out of Hell free" cards?


2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 


Sometimes it is good to answer a question with another question, "how can the dead continue living like nothing changed"?

The answer that we are given to this very important question is, "By no means!" This phrase is one that Paul uses throughout the letter to provide correction to mistaken notions that may arise from his argumentation. This particular phrase is a strong negation and is elsewhere translated "Not at all!" and "God forbid!" Needless to say that in the 14 instances that Paul uses it in the New Testament (mainly in Romans) the reader should pay close attention to what he is correcting.

A possible conclusion that one may come up with after reading chapter 5 is the heresy called antinomianism ("anti" = against, "nomos" = law). Those who hold to this belief basically say that since Christ has paid for every sin we can now do whatever we want since there is no law that condemns us anymore. And though we might be attracted to such a conclusion, we must pause to understand that God, now more than ever because we are His, has ethical demands for our lives.

The basic retort that Paul provides is simply, "How can we who died to sin still live in it?" This question is the corrective question to verse 1 and the concluding thought of chapter 5. It is the key verse of this passage and one that we must ponder if we are to grow deeply in our Christian walk. The best way to understand the import of the question is to realize our relationship to Jesus Christ, which is exactly what Paul does next.


3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.



In verses 3–4 Paul brings up the allusion of baptism and union with Christ. Baptism, as we know from our own water baptism, is an immersion into water that represents our shedding away of our old life and a taking on of the new life in Christ. You hear verse 4 often during baptism "buried with Him in baptism, raised to walk in newness of live". Christ bore our sins in His own body when he died.


1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.


So Paul is not out on a limb by himself here, Peter is in full agreement. Jesus died in our sins so that we could live in His righteousness. We bury the dead, not the living; the implication is that if in baptism we are buried with Jesus, then some part of us is supposed to be dead.


5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of Hisresurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.


Here we have two relatives that died and left us an inheritance, but the terms of the will say we should choose which inheritance to receive as the two are incompatible. First poor uncle Adam left us a broken down house called "Sin Manor" that has black mold, termites, bad plumbing and foundation problems, and it comes with an upside down mortgage as the house is worth far less than uncle Adam paid for it, because he was duped by a dishonest snake of a real-estate agent; but like many men he took the deal because it was the house his wife wanted. Next we have rich uncle Jesus who has left us "Grace Estate", a perfect mansion on a rolling hillside free and clear, it even comes fully staffed with prepaid professional groundskeepers. So now we each must choose, and Paul is saying here, it's time to pick a house and live in it!


8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 


Most importantly though in this connection between our lives and Jesus' is the way in which He now lives His life. Verse 10 says, "but the life he lives he lives to God." Jesus' entire ministry was in submission to the Father and that has not stopped because He is in Heaven. He persists in that obedience to the Father. Since we have been united to Him it is essential for those who are of the faith to also live to God.

But sometimes we let our old sin nature live some weird zombie-like existence like it's walking around on its own and we have no control over it. It reminds me of the 1989 movie "Weekend at Bernie's", were this rich guy dies but his friends keep dressing him up and hauling him around so they can party using his boat and beach house and all the other rich guy toys. But we don't even do it with a rich guy, we do it with poor old broke uncle Adam. In verse 11 Paul is tapping us on the shoulder saying "hey guys, he's dead; it's time to put Uncle Adam back in the ground".


12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.


At work because of the position I hold, I am required to sign a code of conduct agreement. This says I won't work for competitors or vendors who might use my position at Pacific Life to their advantage, nor will I use inside non-public information to invest for my own benefit. In other words the agreement says "remember who is paying you". Paul is making a similar point, don't let your life and your body be used by the enemy, for something that is offensive to the God who saved you.

Paul concludes these prohibitions and commands by stating the reality of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." The free gift that comes with union in Christ is powerfully effective to conquer sin in a believer's life, but the believer has to seek righteousness and actively put away sin. Paul declares that believers have moved from death to life, from law to grace, but still have the ability to allow sin to hold power in their lives. The part of us that is buried with Him in baptism should be our corrupt sin nature. It's time to stop dressing it up and carrying it around for one more party. It's dead, we need to reckon, to think and remember, that's not my life anymore; I have a new life following the Jesus who took my sin to the grave and left it there. Just as he arose victorious over death and sin, so should we live the same way.



  • What mundane (non embarrassing) sins do we allow to exist in ourselves that keep us from holiness?
  • When we commit these sins how in particular do they affect our lives? Or what do these sins keep us from accomplishing?
  • Have you ever considered that by sinning we are not just being disobedient to God, but are allowing sin to control us again?
  • How does the understanding of our union with Christ, our salvation in Him, affect the way we live our lives?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Romans 5:12-21 – Guilt vs. Grace

"Guilt Vs. Grace"
Romans 5:12-21

The first man, created in the image of God, to enjoy creation and uninterrupted communion with his Creator forever, died. He died because of sin. And this is true for all who would come from Adam including you and me. Paul reminds us in Romans 5:12-14 that all of humanity was in ruin because of Adam's sin. But, thank God, he goes on to describe in verses 15-19 the fact that we can be rescued from the guilt of Adam's sin by God's free gift of God's grace and go on to reign in that grace forever!

Paul, by the Holy Spirit, has been setting us up for this "salvation" summary since chapter four. He begins this section with the conjunctive adverb, "therefore", which says, in effect, "Because the preceding information is true, the following is also true". Believers in Jesus receive the righteousness that God requires as a gift through faith, a truth that is confirmed by Abraham's example (4:1-25). Therefore, believers have peace with God and have the right opportunity to live with assured confidence that when Christ eventually sets all things right, we will share in that victory (5:1-11). Therefore 5:12-21…

A "Cliff Notes" version of this passage could be formulated as follows: Adam's inheritance of guilt and death through disobedience is "less than" (<) Jesus' gift of grace and life through obedience. While the Law simply unwrapped Adam's gift, revealing mans' condemnation, faith unwraps Jesus' gift revealing mans' salvation.

Romans 5:12-21


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—


[One of the most controversial and often misunderstood theological concepts it that of "Original Sin". The idea that our inheritance from Adam means that we are born as guilty sinners, seems fundamentally unfair to many people. Why should I be guilty before I do anything wrong? Let's run through the Genesis story to understand this idea.


  1. Man is unique in creation because of the Image of God:

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.


  1. The original state of man was innocent, not tempted by our own imaginations:

Genesis 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.


With the original sin of pride and envy we became ashamed of our own guilt:

Genesis 3:4 Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.


  1. This shame reflects a fundamental change in the nature of man from innocent (not tempted by our own imaginations) to corrupt. Before the fall, Adam and Eve had to be directly tempted by Satan, before they would consider sinning against God, but ever since that time man is tempted by his own corrupt nature:


Genesis 4:6 So the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.
And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."

8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field,
that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.


  1. Notice that there is no mention of Satan in this passage, his participation was not necessary because man had become corrupt in his own heart.


Genesis 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that
every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.


  1. So Original Sin does not mean that you are held responsible for Adam's sin, but that human
    nature was changed from innocent to corrupt:


Psalm 58:1 Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones? Do you judge uprightly, you
sons of men? 2 No, in heart you work wickedness; You weigh out the violence of your hands in
the earth. 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born,
speaking lies.


As Pastor Dave likes to say we are sinners by birth and by choice, because each of us is born with a nature driven by our own desires.]


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.


[Was sin wrong before the Law was given? Of course it was. We see this clearly illustrated in Noah's flood, when the violence of men was so pervasive it offended God to the point that He would destroy all mankind. So even violence that is not illegal, can still be wrong and offensive to God. We see this from time to time in our own laws where something that is clearly wrong, is not technically illegal. Former Vice President Al Gore had infamously violated campaign finance laws, but the law provided no enforcement. So Al explaining his actions while running for president excused himself by arguing that "there was no controlling legal authority".

So sin was wrong, it was a part of the fall, it was Adam's legacy even before it was against the Law. Every one born is born with the same sin nature, but God in His grace has put a fence around sin to limit it to the temporary life of this body, so that every sinner will die.


James 1: 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 5 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.]


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


One translation renders verse 15, "But the gift of God through Christ is a very different matter from the 'account rendered' through the sin of Adam. For while as a result of one man's sin death by natural consequence became the common lot of men, it was by the generosity of God, the free giving of the grace of the one man Jesus Christ, that the love of God overflowed for the benefit of all men".


The "account rendered" of sin leaves us bankrupt; but, in contrast, the gift of God makes us sons of God and joint heirs with Jesus. The old song comes to mind, "He paid a debt He did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay; I needed someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand new song, 'Amazing Grace'. Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay."


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.

Phillips translation is helpful here as well, "Nor is the effect of God's gift the same as the effect of that one man's sin. For in the one case one man's sin brought its inevitable judgment, and the result was condemnation. But, in the other, countless men's sins are met with the free gift of grace, and the result is justification before God". Before believing in Jesus, we deserve the blame for our sin; but since believing, sin's awful guilt is gone due to the gift of God's grace.


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.


Since all men inherit the corrupt nature of Adam and death ends that life of sin; by the grace of God Jesus leaves us an inheritance of His own righteousness so that our soul can be declared innocent, and that innocent soul can be translated to an eternal incorruptible form able to live forever. Verses 13 – 17 are one big parenthetical phrase explaining verse 12. Paul knew he was laying down some heavy theology here, the doctrine of redemption. Now since we understand verse 12 we can go on to the point he wanted to make.


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.

So, while believers are still subject to sin's penalty (death) we are no longer subject to that penalty's permanence. The old gospel songs says plainly, "Ain't no grave gonna' hold my body down!" Paul reminds us in wonderful words of our rescue from own corruption leading to death; to our declared innocence making eternal life possible.

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.

Paul writes, "Where sin abounded, grace abounded MUCH MORE, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (vv.20-21 NKJV).

When God finally gave the law through Moses it was so that the guiltiness of sin might become apparent; but then He manifested His great grace, His unmerited favor to guilty sinners. So, you have a choice, guilt or grace? You can hide your guilt and shame like Adam and Eve, and suffer the inevitable judgment for your sin – eternal, agonizing separation from God. Or you can come clean, acknowledge your sin, admit your guilt, trust in His righteous atonement, and receive His free gift of grace.

God sent Jesus Christ, to live the guiltless life we cannot live, to die the atoning death we deserve, to rise again and claim new life on our behalf, and to usher those who believe in Him to a completely new kind of existence. His gift is free, extended by grace and received through faith. So, the choice is yours - guilt or grace?

Questions to Consider:

  1. Why is the following theological statement true, "We are not sinners because we sin;
    we sin because we are sinners"?
  2. How was God's grace demonstrated in the Garden after Adam & Eve sinned (see Gen. 3:22-24).
  3. In the lesson, I mentioned that the Law is like a light that exposes man's sin. How can he Law be used in sharing the gospel with unbelievers?